Friday, August 28, 2015 

DC lost $2 million over the past year, but they're not learning any lessons

It looks like they've been willing to admit to some failure of recent:
Word reaches Bleeding Cool from numerous well-connected sources that, according to the books, DC Comics are down over 2 million dollars for the financial year beginning in 2015 than they were originally budgeted for, so far.

And why?

I’m told that it’s a mixture of excess costs from the move from New York to Burbank, over and above what was planned, as well as a reduction in revenue due to a poorer performance that was expected from the Convergence event, and a lack of a bump for the June mini-relaunch.
Obviously, few people think their reboot and new directions have any substance. What else can you expect when the editors mandate that the superheroes all wear similar, mundane costume designs that look like a mixture of plastic and armor? When they decree that Superman cannot wear red tights and think symbolic diversity alone will impress anybody?

But has the staff learned any lessons? If this is any suggestion, the answer is no:
Here’s where the other shoe gets dropped. I understand from a number of senior sources that DC editorial have been told to “stop Batgirling” and go back to “meat and potatoes”.
Translation: if they've been allowing any storytelling with optimistic and more family friendly elements recently, they intend to ditch it and boomerang right back onto darkness yet again. Without any convincing intelligence in writing.
The lesson learned is that you cannot calculate and manufacture “surprise” hit books. The reasons books like Batgirl or Harley Quinn hit – or Ms Marvel and Hawkeye hit – is because they’re doing something that the rest of the line wasn’t doing. Marvel aren’t trying to make every book into Ms Marvel. Not yet, anyway. The audience it seems doesn’t want the bulk of the titles like that, it’s the fact that there’s only one or two that make them special and it does well.
Once again, they insist on using the Muslim Ms. Marvel as a talking point, and it only misses the irony: a superhero title like that is only allowed to be bright and shiny if it involves politicized propaganda. That's unfair and does no favors for mainstream. Nor does it help that they're not being honest about the low sales levels, which don't prove success at all.
Comic book audiences are a lot more conservative than some people give them credit for.
That's why they don't buy mainstream superhero books anymore. They've come to realize there's no point putting their money into the pockets of people who force repellent politics into the books they're writing.

Now, page reduction counts and other cutbacks are becoming clearer:
That DC recovery plan will see the publisher double down efforts on selling trade paperbacks, pursuing custom publishing projects for other clients, upping ad sales and, of course, Dark Knight III.

Page rates are also likely to take a knock. DC Comics are famed for paying higher page rates than other publishers and often offer to beat rivals to get creators on board. Expect those to be negotiated downwards.

And then there’s the price of the comic books to bear in mind.
I'm sure plenty more are on their way to 5 dollars. Sooner or later, thanks to the incompetence a lot of the apologist news sites still aren't fully willing to admit took place, they'll go up a lot more in price, inevitably. It won't be a big loss if they go under. But they could at least get rid of men like DiDio from their staff before their time is up.

Update: The Outhousers has an important reminder:
But we've seen all this before, back in the nineties, when the entire comic book industry almost went under due to similar shenanigans. One retailer called Marvel's October All-New All-Different Marvel NOW relaunch "approaching the Heroes world debacle," and we've been preaching about the dangers of gimmick-based sales boosts for years now. What makes the current speculator bubble particularly egregious is that it isn't that publishers are unaware of history, and so doomed to repeat it. Everyone knows what happened the last time comics were more about variant covers, super-mega-crossover events, and constant #1 issue relaunches; they just don't care, because they want that short term profit anyway.

All comics have ever needed to do to grow readership is to tell engaging stories over the long term to get readers hooked on comics, but, instead, the big publishers focus on continually bilking the existing readership for more money with these gimmicks. It can't last forever. It never does. And while DC Comics is showing possible signs of a crash, Marvel is about to embark on a large-scale repeat of DC's 2011 reboot plan, which, as we are seeing right now, resulted in a short term boost and a long term loss. Constantly rebooting your line leads to diminishing returns.
Exactly. Yet neither company has any interest in learning from history, or acknowledging the most truly awful mistakes they've made.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015 

Child's school bans WW lunchbox because it supposedly represents violence

Here's an odd story of a school that barred a student from bringing a lunchbox with Wonder Woman's picture on it to lessons:
A child’s school has banned her lunchbox, because it features the comic book character Wonder Woman.

The school sent the unnamed girl home with a letter for her parents, explaining why they deem it inappropriate – which a family friend and Reddit user has posted online for the world to weigh in on.

Reddit user twines18 posted a photo of the letter sent, along with a couple of snaps of the child’s lunchbox, explaining that the school finds Wonder Woman to be a figure that represents violence.

But it’s not just this particular superhero that the school has it in for – they don’t allow any superheroes to be worn on clothing, backpacks or lunchboxes of the children.

“We noticed that Laura has a Wonder Woman lunchbox that features a super hero image,” reads the letter. “In keeping with the dress code of the school, we must ask she not bring this to school. The dress code we have established requests that the children not bring violent images into the building in any fashion – on their clothing (including shoes and socks), backpacks and lunchboxes.

“We have defined ‘violent characters’ as those who solve problems using violence. Super heroes certainly fall into that category.”
I think the point they miss is that it's not like superheroes use violence because they want to, but because they have to. At least, that's decidedly the best vision that would apply. The pictures on the lunchbox only feature WW's pretty face and one running with her magic lasso, so their argument doesn't make sense in that regard. And Yahoo's writer says:
Seems fair enough, superheroes do tend to throw a few punches. But anyone who’s ever picked up a Marvel or DC Comics book, or watched one of their films, will know that superheroes only turn to violence as a last resort and it’s always in a quest to save and protect others.
So what's the school board's beef? They're clearly basing their judgement on a superficial, pre-determined view of superheroes as a whole, not unlike Fredric Wertham, who had a similar view about Superman decades ago.

Unfortunately, anybody who's picked up a DC and Marvel book from the past decade or so, will know that today's superhero tales are nothing like the older ones. That is, now they're less about saving innocent lives and more about infighting between heroes, while battles against villains are less emphasized, if at all. That's certainly been the case when company wide crossovers like Civil War turn up.

There's also a goof made here:
So surely aspiring to the likes of Wonder Woman (one of the only female superheroes, let’s not forget) is a positive thing?
Of course WW conception as an inspiration could be a good thing, but she's NOT, and NEVER was, "one of the only" superheroines. Mainstream or creator-owned, there are plenty of other sci-fi comics with superheroines around, and even lady stars who aren't superheroines per se, but do fight for the same causes.

I also have to wonder if they'd take the opposite stand if lunchboxes with supervillains on them were sold? Maybe it'd be a different story then? Seriously though, I'd be more understanding if  the school boards didn't want lunchboxes and t-shirts with villains like Dr. Light brought to class, if they were aware of how Dan DiDio and company exploited that costumed criminal for a bigoted story where he was depicted as a rapist. It's not the character's fault, but still, what DiDio and company did does embarrass and tarnish the character for quite a while, and fixing that damage won't be so easy. If no toys and t-shirts have been produced for a decade now because of Identity Crisis, it shouldn't be surprising. Any self-respecting parent who found out would have a hard time associating their families with a Dr. Light t-shirt and lunchbox because of the damage wrought by that miniseries. 3 years afterwards, Dr. Light was even technically killed off, because the editors must've realized they'd written the villain into a corner that'll take a while to clean the stench away from. But then, why did they go miles out of their way to do it in the first place? The Joker could be considered unfit for t-shirts too because of his lethal profession.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015 

Mike Grell's uninformed view of Islam and Yugoslavian war

I found an old interview Westfield Comics did in late 2001 with artist/writer Mike Grell on the Internet Archive, from the time he'd written Iron Man for about a year - and a very poor job at that - where he wrote up a story that whitewashed Islam. It was in issue 50 of the second volume (post-Heroes Reborn), and what he had to say was pretty distasteful:
Westfield: What can we look forward to in upcoming issues?

Grell: Storywise, the angle I'm taking is I want to, first of all, deal with the character. To me, the stories are not necessarily secondary, but the character development itself is always the important thing and the stories build around the character. So, one of the first things that I'm doing is restoring the human frailty aspect of Tony Stark having to recharge his heart on a regular basis, or an irregular basis, which is even more alarming for him. Depending on how much energy he uses during the course of the day, he gets somewhere between a 24 and 48 hour charge on his heart before he begins to weaken. So we're adding that one aspect back into his character. Then, going on from there, one of the things that I'm dealing with is the fact that Tony's spent an awful long time involved in one aspect or another of weapons development. Basically what he's done is, he's developed this super powerful weapon that, if it were to fall into the wrong hands or if it were to be misapplied, could cause more harm than good. It's one thing when you're young and you're approaching things from an academic standpoint, more or less on the angle of a mental exercise, "can I do this?" as opposed to "should I do this?" It's quite another thing when something you might have developed in the past jumps up and bites you in the butt. That's the direction that I've taken him in the very first storyline that I'm doing. In issue #50, I'm very pleased to say, given the state of the world and everything else, I took the problems in Eastern Europe of Kosovo and Bosnia and rolled them into a situation with a character that I call Milos Radanovic (a very, very slight take off on Slobodan Milosevic), and put Tony Stark into the situation where he has to deal in a country where the leader is conducting ethnic cleansing, which is a thinly veiled term for genocide, against the Muslim population. At this stage in the game, given recent events, I think a lot of the readers are gonna be surprised and a little startled to find that my romantic lead in here is a Muslim woman, which I'm actually very pleased about. (Of course this story was written months before the 9/11 attack.) I took Tony over there with the express intent of separating him from his armor and forcing him to deal with the issues at hand as an ordinary man. The way the story develops from there, I think, is both logical and interesting for the reader to see what happens when a guy who's come to rely on this super powerful armor, this ace in the hole that he always has, is forced to deal with it on a one-to-one human basis.
Boy, this man sure didn't sound like he wanted to be informed at the time, and no telling if he's changed even now. Milosevic may not have been a saint, but if he thought the Serbians started the Yugoslavian war, he should take a look at the following info by Andy Wilcoxen:
...Alija Izetbegovic, the war-time President of the Bosnian-Muslims, and his Defense Minister, Hasan Cengic, were both outspoken jihadists.

Izetbegovic is the author of a book entitled the Islamic Declaration, which he wrote in 1970 and published in 1990. In his book, Izetbegovic advocates Sharia law, asserting that “the Islamic movement should and can, take over political power as soon as it is morally and numerically so strong that it can not only overturn the existing non-Islamic power, but also build up a new Islamic one.”

Izetbegovic brands Western feminists “a depraved element of the female sex” and says, “There can be neither peace nor coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic social and political institutions.” Izetbegovic asserted that “means of mass influence — the press, radio, television and film — should be in the hands of people whose Islamic, moral, and intellectual authority is indisputable.” And he advocated banning “casinos, night clubs, dance halls and all other forms of entertainment incompatible with the moral tenets of Islam.”

In 1983, Izetbegovic and Cengic were tried and convicted by the Yugoslav authorities for attempting to incite an Islamist uprising similar to the Islamic Revolution that gripped Iran in 1979.

According to the 1983 trial judgment, “Alija Izetbegovic asserted that Islam must be a state system or social system in all countries where the population is Muslim, and that the necessary conditions should be created to turn Bosnia and Herzegovina into an Islamic republic with Islamic laws.”

The judgment also quoted Izetbegovic as saying “Our imams should be armed and they should interpret and apply Islam following the example of Iran’s Shiite imams.” The judgment quoted Cengic saying, “The goal of the Islamic revolution in our country is the creation of a unified Islamic state comprising the area of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sandzak, and Kosovo.”

The judgment went on to quote Cengic’s view that “Jihad should be pursued to its final outcome in order to exterminate the enemy and the infidels.” He said, “We should not wait for a challenge or a provocation. Muslims must invent a challenge. They must be the ones who produce the challenge, and the goal will then come by itself.”

Cengic believed that “The Muslims should be prepared for self-sacrifice to achieve their goals.” The judgment quoted him admonishing Muslims, “do not take an infidel as your friend. Do not be friends with your fathers or your brothers if they favor the absence of our faith.” He said, “A Muslim woman should not nurse the children of a non-Muslim woman. A Muslim cannot receive the blood of or give blood to a non-believer. Muslims must be superior to all others, and every effort should be made to create an environment in which everyone will be of pure Muslim blood.”
So who really started the war and held the most morally reprehensible visions? A few years ago, a Bosnian woman was arrested in Kentucky for torturing/murdering Serbs (H/T: Pamela Geller):
According to court documents, [Azra] Basic is charged with fatally stabbing a prisoner in the neck in 1992 during the bloody conflict in the Balkans.

Court documents accuse her of numerous other atrocities, including: Setting a prisoner ablaze, pulling out prisoners' fingernails with pliers, ripping off a man's ear with pliers and carving crosses and the letter "S" into another man's flesh.
The federal courts have ruled last month that Basic can be extradited for her repulsive crimes. Gee, these are the kind of people Grell thought were perfect saints? I lost respect for Grell after he penned his propaganda piece in Iron Man, which conflicts with the premise he wrote for Jon Sable, who witnesses the terrorist atrocities at the 1972 Munich Olympics in the titular series from the mid-80s. What if it turned out Grell even bought into all the anti-Israel propaganda depicting Israel as "aggressor" against the so-called palestinians? The PLO, the very terrorist gang who conducted the invasion at the Olympics, takes its name from the "race" even Golda Meir said was non-existent. I found his bragging about being "pleased" with the setup he wrote insulting too. He just proved himself another leftist who always goes for the easiest path.

Still, he got punished in a way: the overall writing in his run was very sloppy, including the storyline where Tony Stark unmasks and goes public about his identity as IM, which involved getting into armor so he could rescue a cat. IM is the kind of heroic role whose wearers like Tony I don't think should go public about their IDs. The run also saw a weak battle between Tony and the son of the Mandarin, who fought without rings. It was pretty lame too. And the unmasking was all but ignored soon after. Also, the story with the Muslim woman named Aisha (which was the name of the child bride of Muhammed), was soon forgotten too, though not before Grell insulted everyone's intellect. As noted, his run was only a year at best and then he was let go.

He also defended his angle in an interview posted at Alvaro's Comic Boards. First though, here's something he had to say about the delay of a new Jon Sable story:
Q: There was some potential movie stuff with your character Jon Sable, but then that got placed to the side due to 9-11 stuff. Has that situation changed?

A: Not anything right at this moment, but there is continued interest. Sept 11 did factor in there. We were close to a green light in March of 2001, and the company was trying to push production ahead in light of the potential Screen Actors Guild strike. They would have had to start shooting March 15 so that they could have it in the can to have it released in October of 2001, but when it became a tight fit, they decided that rather than rush it into production they would wait. If you saw some of the movies that came out around that time you can tell they were rushed and not great movies. They felt Sable was a good enough project that they wanted to spend the right amount of time on it so they put it on hold and planned to start shooting parts of it in October.

Then 9-11 happened and the funding for the features just evaporated. Lots of the capitalization was European and it just vanished, it wasn’t anything personal and it certainly wasn’t anything against the character. The producer, Gene Simmons of KISS, was a big admirer of Sable and loved the character for years and years and felt really bad that it happened, but Sable wasn’t the only project of his that got axed. So we are still looking.
And still are; I don't think there's ever been a Sable movie, and with the dominant politics today, there's no chance there ever will be. Now for the part about his propaganda part in IM:
Q: Does fan reactions and comments factor into what you decide to do with the titles you are on?

A: I think it effects the editors more than the writers, because when I have a character and story in mind--when I have formulated the plot and the relationships and decided the direction everything is going and begun that journey--by the time it gets to the fans I have already gone 5 steps beyond. My lead time on most of those stories was around 5 months. As a matter of fact issue 50, where I featured a Muslim woman as the primary romantic interest and made her into a reoccurring character, had nothing to do with 9-11. I had no political axe to grind whatsoever. In hindsight people would look at that and the timing- especially since the issue that followed that involved firefighters trapped in a burning building- and say, “It is all connected to 9-11”. Nothing could be further form the truth. It was a story line that was pursued for the drama of it and the development of the character. It had nothing to do with what was going on in the world because I was already so far ahead at that time. What the reader reaction does effect on a very quick ongoing basis is other directions publishing companies elect to take from the stand point of sales.
"Nothing to do with 9-11", yet everything to do with his perception of the Yugoslavian war, which was doubtlessly informed only by mainstream papers who long made up their minds they were on the side of the Islamofascists. It makes no difference whether it was before or after 9-11; what he wrote would've been ludicrous and galling anytime, and an insult to many innocent victims of jihad past and present. Grell did nothing more than reveal himself as somebody with a bad grip on reality and no interest in doing deeper research on challenging issues.

And interesting that a Jon Sable movie would be shelved, but his IM story was given full approval. This certainly says a lot about how mainstream editors (and film producers) are thinking. And it likewise tells how questionable Grell's view of the 1972 Olympic massacre could be. I hope he's learned his lesson since then. But chances are he didn't.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015 

Chris Roberson detests Charles Schumer for opposing Iran deal

Several days ago, Roberson tweeted the following:

And what's that supposed to mean? That Roberson's okay with it? Bleah. To some extent,it's weird coming from a man who co-wrote the Fables spinoffs, since, whatever one thinks of Bill Willingham, the Fables series is supposed to feature right-wing metaphors. I guess that makes Roberson the wolf in the flock. Then again, this was the same man who said all men are bad after the Isla Vista murders. Mr. Roberson doesn't understand that the whole "deal" is just a faustian farce, and last week, the UN was said to be willing to allow Iran to conduct its own inspections. Unfortunately, Roberson must think this makes perfect sense, when it doesn't. He's just another ostrich putting his head in the sand.

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6 more tweets by Marz

Here's a few more of Marz's head-shakers. Let's begin with this:

Does he thinks it's great news? If he does, that's shameful.

People like him seem to think constitutional rights don't apply to dissenters with Islam. Not even apostates. So what's his point?

Marz's notion that an awful politician like Carter is pretty informative of what his mind is like. Carter's the one who led to disaster in Iran, as he abandoned the shah in 1979, and made it easy for the ayatollah to take over. Carter's even tried to skirt around the gross abuses of women under Islam. Marz only has faith in the most dreadful of politicians.

So he still thinks the lion issue is the biggest deal this side of swiss cheese. If he really thinks preservation of carnivores is so important, then here's some ideas for other causes he could support and donate to:
But alas, knowing Marz, he probably won't consider any of those suggestions.

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Monday, August 24, 2015 

What's the use of relaunching Fantastic Four?

An editor at Newsarama is urging Marvel to relaunch the FF as soon as possible. But what good would it really do? They say:
The even more-epic-than-expected-tranking (get it?) of 20th Century Fox’s reboot has cracked open a door for Marvel Comics that might not been open at all if Josh Trank’s film was even a limited success. But that now-open door has an expiration date and may close again in short order, leaving Marvel with what it has before this debacle started – a franchise of an elevated stature that it holds perhaps due more to historical relevance than commercial success … or in other words, a title more beloved than actually read.
Well there's a reason why - modern writing became so bad and hindered with crossovers, who would really want to read the post-2000 tales? On which note, they don't help the situation by sugarcoating the following scripters:
The latter is a problem Marvel’s first family has been facing for some time. Despite being put in arguably top-notch creative hands – Jonathan Hickman, James Robinson to name a recent couple – the title really hasn’t been near the top of Marvel’s depth chart since the John Byrne days of the early 1980s, and there are reasonable questions to asked about how viable the nuclear family superhero concept is – again commercially – in 2015.

The vocal, seemingly hardcore fanbase the franchise holds seems far more interested in a faithful movie adaption (and criticizing anything that isn’t that) than a monthly comic book series. And for a time, some of the comic book readers that were interested viewed Marvel Comics as a co-conspirator with Fox in keeping a “true” FF from them.
Well that's interesting. But the truth is, the company executives are the ones more interested in movie adaptation than comics per se. And Hickman/Robinson have done the FF no justice on their part, mostly because even their efforts tied into the flood of crossovers just as much as every and any other writer's for at least a decade now. I wouldn't call their stuff top notch. Nor would I say the FF hadn't been on top since Byrne last wrote it; there was a run by Walt Simonson in the late 80s-early 90s that was pretty good. But by the time the Onslaught crossover came about, that's when it really began to collapse under poor writing.
...Of course, nothing in comic books stays dead or missing forever, and while it’s probably only a matter of time (years?) before the “All-New” Fantastic Four make their quadumphant return, with the idea that time away will help build anticipation for a comeback, now might be as hot as the iron will get for Marvel.

The FF’s catastrophic movie failure has provided Marvel an opportunity – as opposed to being part of a problem, they can be the solution. They can be the party that gives fans back a true, faithful, high-profile Fantastic Four, at a time when the appetite while perhaps artificially inflated, might be as strong as it’ll get for some time.
With Axel Alonso and Joe Quesada running the show? I doubt it. The window of opportunity closed long ago, and any relaunch will only wind up with mediocre sales numbers again pretty fast. Since any FF relaunch would likely be pretentious in storytelling (and artwork would be the same or just wasted on poor writing), some Fantastic Fans would probably think it better than new ongoing series be left untried, and stick with older efforts pre-2000 instead. At this point, hardly anybody's really interested in FF continuing in new volumes, or any Marvel superhero books at that. So I think there's little point in asking for a relaunch when it would only end up losing more money than it gains. For the sake of the FF's better image, that's why it's best to just let it rest, along with the rest of the MCU.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015 

A story that could lead nowhere out of political correctness

Marvel published a Secret Wars tie-in called Secret Love, where they seem to put in a brief love between the Muslim Ms. Marvel and a new Ghost Rider of a different racial background than his predecessors, though I've got a feeling it won't last, for guessable reasons:
The cover story is a Ms. Marvel/Ghost Rider team-up, pairing two of Marvel’s newer, younger legacy characters of diverse backgrounds. And I mean “diverse” not only in the fact that they are not your standard-issue white characters, but that they are very different from one another, with little in common beyond the fact that they’re both still in high school.

This story is both written and drawn by Felipe Smith, who penned the short-lived ongoing starring this new Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider (and drew a little bit of it). Based on the looks of this, Smith could and maybe should draw his next Marvel ongoing (and he definitely should get a next one, if he wants one, even if it doesn’t star his Ghost Rider). He has a very animated, very glossy style that is heavily manga influenced, and actually seems to be a better fit for Ms. Marvel than it is for Ghost Rider.

In “Battleworld,” Kamala Khan and her dad work with Bruno at a Circle Q concession stand located in the “Killasieum” where Robbie and the other Ghost Racers compete. When the pair share a few panels of action against a rogue monster, they look deep into one another’s eyes and publicly display their feelings for one another, something that keeps both Bruno and Robbie’s girlfriend in a state of high anxiety.
On the surface, it looks surprising they'd greenlight this. But I won't be surprised if this is as far as it'll go, because they don't want to offend Muslims with a love affair between a Muslim girl and an infidel.

And that would prove just how political correctness ruins creative freedom. Even though the premise they're using for the Khan character is poor enough already as it is.

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Friday, August 21, 2015 

Kotaku writer accuses Snoopy of bringing down Peanuts

A writer for Kotaku says he blames the Beagle from Charles M. Schultz's famous comic strip for the decline in its later years. At the start, he says:
By the end of its run in 2000, Peanuts was an institution. It had become an omnipresent part of American culture, and that’s not a compliment.

The general response to reading the average Peanuts strip in the 80s and 90s was a ‘meh’ half-smile — a snicker, maybe, but never a full-blown laugh. The strip had run for over 50 years, but it was a flicker of its former flame, mostly coasting on its reputation and its endurance. Humor-wise, it was aggressively safe and took no risks, which of course, made it ripe for global, unprecedented popularity. [...]
And that's a problem? Hardly. Sure, most of the energy may have worn thin by the late 80s, but it was still well worth reading, still had some amusing moments, and keeping the laughs on the safe side, or suitable for kids/family, was far from wrong. He comes off sounding like he's not happy Peanuts made such a huge impact.

When he gets around to telling how, in his view, Peanuts had lost it by the 80s, he says:
And unfortunately, much of the blame for this can be traced back to Snoopy, the most beloved of Schulz’s creations. As the strip progressed, the beagle hogged more and more of the spotlight in increasingly negative ways. And the intelligence and darkness of the strip, which once made it so distinctive on the comics landscape, was replaced by more mainstream, cutesy humor.
And that's a problem why? I disagree with his assertion the early humor was dark. Sure, there were sad moments for Charlie Brown and company, but I never got the feeling Schultz had made that the sole status quo. It had its moments when it was brighter too. Like when Sally was born in 1959, and Charlie was overjoyed to be an older brother to a baby sister.

As for Snoopy, he mangles it all up, predictably. Snoopy didn't "hog" anything. Schultz just used and featured Snoopy more and more in the spotlight, right down to the added anthropomorphic traits like walking on his two feet, years before Jim Davis decided to do the same with Garfield.

When he points to the strip where Lucy van Pelt says, "happiness is a warm puppy", he says:
But that’s all most people know of Peanuts, and that’s a gross oversimplification of the strip. [...]
Oh, what nonsense. He makes it sound like nobody cares about the early material, and just knows everything from the later half of the run. Like nobody reads any of the archives published by Fantagraphics, where they'd get an idea of what the early strips are like. I don't agree with the following putdown either:
...near the end of the 60s and well into the 70s, the cracks started to show. Snoopy began walking on his hind legs and using his hands, and that was the beginning of the end for the strip. Perhaps he was technically still a dog, but in a very substantial way, Snoopy had overcome the principal struggle of his existence. His opposable thumbs and upward positioning meant that for all intents and purposes, he was now a human in a dog costume. One of his new roleplays was to be different Joes — Joe Cool, Joe Skateboard, etc.

None of this had any greater, narrative payoff, or ended with Snoopy realizing he was a dog. It was always a pure visual gag, and it lacked the subtlety, pain, and vision that had previously been the strip’s trademark. In short, there was no balance. [...]
Nuh-uh. I don't agree at all. Did the tone and approach change over time? Sure. But it never looked to me like Snoopy didn't know he was a dog. It was more like he realized he was a canine, but was still able to engage in the kind of activities normal humans could. Plus, he couldn't and never talked. It was the same with Garfield in later years. I remember a panel from 1980 where initially, Davis had the now famous feline try walking on his hind legs. He tap-danced, reached the table top, and drop-kicked Odie. Until Jon Arbuckle came by and told him cats can't walk on their hind feet, and he fell flat on his face. But this approach was soon abandoned in 1984 to make Garfield more anthropomorphic, and even before that, he was using his front paws to pick up and hold certain items. That Davis already wrote in this kind of surreal behavior clearly was what made him decide go all the way, and that's not the reason why Garfield ever lost any of its charm in later decades.

And if Schultz depicted Snoopy early on trying to be something he supposedly wasn't before the shift in tone, then that's just how he must've been encouraged to take the next big step towards additional cartooniness. Which didn't make Snoopy any less of a dog, of course. If it had, he would've become a talking dog, and not just thinking with balloons.
Snoopy even passed for a human in many circumstances — Peppermint Patty referred to him as the “funny-looking kid with a big nose,” and took him to her school dance. And thus, the ‘humanizing’ of Snoopy also meant that the real kids were used less and less. Snoopy filled their roles, and eventually, many human characters were discarded altogether. By the 80s, Shermy and Patty, who started the strip with Charlie Brown and Snoopy in 1952, were gone, or reduced to brief cameos. Violet and her high bred snobbery were gone. Frieda, who used to challenge Snoopy more than any of the other characters, was also gone. Instead, we got more strips of Snoopy in cute costumes.
Umm, no, he's missing the joke as much as the point. It was supposed to be funny how Peppermint and others like her wasn't immediately aware in all instances that Snoopy was a dog. Not to mention the humor to be found in an anthropomorph mingling with real humans, acting like it was one too. He also doesn't seem to recall that Snoopy sometimes thought of Charlie as the "round-headed kid", even though some of the other cast members had pretty round looking heads too.

And he's wrong about Snoopy pushing out some of the early cast members like Patty, Shermy and Violet. They just got overtaken in popularity by their successors. Violet was surpassed early by Lucy, who was given a more boisterous personality, and all 3 of them were finally surpassed for real by the addition of Peppermint Patty, Franklin and Marcie. They're the ones who gained wider recognition, and that's because Schultz was putting so much emphasis on building up a group of characters who came from a different neighborhood a short distance away from Charlie's. Now to be fair, maybe Schultz made a mistake of not trying to flesh out Patty and Shermy a bit more than he ever did. But that's why the writer of this piece should've taken the time to lament that Schultz never took up what could've been a better challenge. Still, Patty, Shermy and Violet didn't fade away entirely. They still made appearances in several animated specials in later decades, so it's not like Schultz and Bill Melendez didn't have a use for them.
[...] And as for Woodstock, he did the strip no favors either. Here, we had a character who didn’t use words at all, and primarily existed just to be cute. It broke the chemistry of the main cast, because now, Snoopy wasn’t forced to interact with the kids; he could just adventure with the birds and disappear into his own little world. There was a defined split between the Snoopy strips and the human strips, and both suffered as a result.
Yawn. Snoopy and Woodstock never parted ways with the human cast entirely. Plus, there was one strip where Woodstock complained (in wordless pantomime, of course) to Snoopy that he was feeling cold at night in his nest, so Snoopy joked that he could "put booties on your feeties or line your nest with a warm pizza!" But Woodstock was offended by his joke and made it clear by kicking him off the top of his doghouse (with the sound effect word of "BOOT!") So what's that about Woodstock just existing to look "cute" again? The little bird's friendship didn't come that cheap. Also, there were still some jokes to come about Pig-Pen, the boy who had a dust cloud following him around. He was one early cast addition who lasted a long time too.

And towards the end, when the writer points to the new cartoon movie set to debut in November, he says:
You can see Violet, Patty, and Frieda, right in the front rows. You can even see the Little Red-Haired Girl, and of course, she’s covering her face. But we’re a long way from the 1960s, and most people don’t even remember what the strip used to be like before Snoopy hijacked it.
And he doesn't remember there's been archives of the whole run put out by Fantagraphics for a while now. Nor does he understand Snoopy's an imaginary canine, and that he can't "hijack". If he's really got an issue with how much Snoopy was put to use, any blame has to be laid at the feet of Schultz, who, in more logical terms, decided to concentrate more on gags spotlighting the Beagle than some of the other cast. The quality of jokes and other subjects in Peanuts may have declined over time. But it's not too much Snoopy that caused it, IMO.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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