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I'm Cathy Leamy, an East Coast cartoonist. Check out my comics! They're mainly about autobiographical stories and health care.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2004

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rehash browns

According to Newsarama, Marvel is starting up a new campaign called "Marvel Age" which pitches existing characters at younger readers, retelling their original stories "in a modern way."

This sounds fairly similar to what the "Ultimates" line was supposed to do - retell the original stories in a modern way (shedding 40+ years of convoluted continuity and providing outreach to new readers). It sounds like they're anticipating this comparison - in the Newsarama interview, the distinction is drawn between the more mature, cinematic Ultimates line and the new kid-friendly Marvel Age campaign.

Don't get me wrong - I'm in favor of reaching out to new readers. I thoroughly approve of trying to build a new fanbase in their formative stages while they still have many potential years of comic buying ahead of them. But sweet jebus, another retelling of Spider Man? Another relaunch of the Fantastic Four? "House of Ideas", my ass! They've got about five! How many times are they going to rehash, relaunch, and otherwise tool around with the same overused set of characters?

Still, it's pretty sneaky - there's some efficiency in simply reusing the same idea pool over and over again under different campaigns. You get at least a few readers who've never seen it before, and you get the fanboy contingent who will eagerly reread the same stories in hopes of seeing how their favorite characters fare under the revamp. Crafty!

4 comments!     click to join in

1 Jeph!   (11:38am - Jan 19, 2004)

Wow, Kitty, you're becoming a fatbeard.

First off, the Ultimate line was NOT supposed to retell old stories for new readers -- it was supposed to sell the old CHARACTERS to modern readers. Look at the first "Ultimate X-Men" story arc -- does that look ANYTHING like 1963's Uncanny X-Men #1?

Secondly, I sort of applaud this "Marvel Age" idea -- it seems like the new powers at Marvel are starting to be less afraid of their 40-year history. Now it seems they're actively pointing out the fact that they HAVE older stories -- the next logical step is for them to be able to draw on them in current stories.

No kid is going to sit still for Steve Ditko's old stuff -- I'm not too sure that they'll sit still for THIS new stuff either, but it's got a likelier chance. Especially in digest form. Did you notice that "Marvel Age Spider-Man Digest" #1, collecting #1-6, is going to hit the stands BEFORE all the individual issues are out?! That's a big first -- and might possibly lead to some digest-only experimentation, which I've been waiting for them to try for three years now.

Plus, have you noticed that Marvel has put all 32 of the Masterworks back into print? They've also commissioned at least one NEW Spidey Masterwork, for the month after that Marvel Age comes out.

There's a definite feeling of repackaging and drawing attention to Marvel's history in the air. After the last three years of Jemas-led flat-out ignoring of older books, let's celebrate this swing of the pendulum, yes?

-Jeph!

2 zarafausta   (5:47am - Jan 25, 2004)

I'm not sure if the issue really is "repackaging" "rehashing" or even "reguritating". What really offends me with all these so-called reahing out effort is the lack of exposing new people to the work of classic talent. I think it's balderdash saying younger readers "won't stand still" for Steve Ditko-when I was first exposed to his work I was 10 and learned to repect it after years of searching out more of his work and making an effort to get the total story of characters I loved. What's relevant is that I actually got to choose because Stan Lee wasn't prejudiced enough to "retell" the story with a different artist-he reprinted the issue because he wanted to people to know Steve Ditko, just as he wanted them to know Jack Kirby, Don Heck, etc. (regardless of the crap I hear about him not giving proper credit). What a disservice to deny the new comic audience the experience of reading an "old" comic story and make a connection with the creators with the bigoted ecchs-cuse that that particular stories art is dated. I recently came to realize something about the Ultimate line at Marvel and any efforts that change the continuity of a characters history and that is that modern creators are basically taking/stealing another artist's creation away from that artist and making his efforts irrelevant while modern creators then get all the credit. Ultimate Spider-Man is Spider-man in name only and certainly not the character Stan and Steve made which is a crime because I think some other 10 year old kid has the right to be more readily exposed to the original work than that of a thief who only took it from the original creator at the whim of a coporation who owns the name so the said-thief wrongly gets all the glory by basically regurgitating ideas you see all the time in movies and TV anyway (whew!). I hate modern comic creators because they're mean, depicting a world where life has no value unless it resembles Hollywood's quick-fix thrill with the warmth of a dishrag. That's the mentality in comics today, thanks to dorks like Marvel's EIC/pornographer and Wizard's 12-year-old-Manchild mind-set who cater to and promote the Hollywood value system as a leech would attach itself to a genetalia of a whore. *Sigh*...I just would like to see something resembling respect for the men (and some women too) who made Marvel comics in the first place as it was a reflection of their simpler values that I think are more important and relevant than a Frank Cho-fart joke or boob-shot.

3 Kitty   (4:29pm - Jan 25, 2004)

Wow, Kitty, you're becoming a fatbeard.

FATBEARD PRIDE! :: waves grilled-cheese-sandwich-stained copy of Wizard ::

First off, the Ultimate line was NOT supposed to retell old stories for new readers -- it was supposed to sell the old CHARACTERS to modern readers. Look at the first "Ultimate X-Men" story arc -- does that look ANYTHING like 1963's Uncanny X-Men #1?

Good point about the characters and not the stories - this, I didn't know. But to my eyes it's the same characters, slightly jiggled a bit, and the familiarity of that greases the way to routine stories: battling Magneto, confronting an anti-mutant organization, etc..

Secondly, I sort of applaud this "Marvel Age" idea -- it seems like the new powers at Marvel are starting to be less afraid of their 40-year history. Now it seems they're actively pointing out the fact that they HAVE older stories -- the next logical step is for them to be able to draw on them in current stories.

[snip rest of message]

I'm all in favor of making old stories available. For ages I've been irritated that I hear all of this fantastic stuff about the "Family Man" story in Hellblazer and I can't read it because it's not in any collection and the issues themselves are hard to find. Actually having old stories is fine - I'm irked because Marvel is (yet again) retelling them. These are just new retreads of the old stories.

I wish that Marvel could split their efforts in two:
1. Celebrate old characters and stories by keeping them in print, making them available, and referring to them in story
and
2. Create entirely new characters and new stories.

If they devoted some creative resources toward new story development, they might come up with the next Spider-Man or X-men, new myths and heroes for today's generation. Instead, though, they spend their time spit-polishing old stories and tinkering with details to make them look slightly new and repitchable. It's the comics equivalent of The Italian Job or Psycho. Why risk profits on untested new material when you can dust off and retool something old that people already like? And I understand the motives for this; it's just frustrating as someone who likes to read new material.

4 Jeph!   (10:15pm - Jan 29, 2004)

Zarafausta wrote:

What a disservice to deny the new comic audience the experience of reading an "old" comic story and make a connection with the creators

Uh, you DO know that Marvel just put all 32 of its Masterworks back in print, right? They've just given modern-day fans the opportunity to experience reading around 320 "old" comic stories. With a 33rd volume on the way in April. And price isn't really an issue either, since Barnes & Noble now carries softcover Masterworks for $12.95. Racked in the same section that the "Marvel Age" collections will be.

-Jeph!

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