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Friday, July 06, 2012 

Dan Mishkin not that impressed with the Amethyst remake

Comic Book Resources interviewed Dan Mishkin, who co-wrote Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld with Gary Cohn in 1983, about how the 2 of them along with artist Ernie Colón thought up the original story, and also about the new rendition of the fantasy adventure in Sword and Sorcery, and he isn't so pleased with how they're redoing it, mostly because of the age factor involved now:
It doesn’t feel great. It doesn’t feel great to see our characters handled in ways that don’t seem true to what we were intending to do. I’ve really been trying to adopt a “don’t hate the player, hate the game” approach, and I don’t even hate the game! I can be unhappy about it; I can be disappointed. It’s never been a thrill to have a writer say to me, “I would love to write Amethyst,” or “I would love to write Blue Devil,” as if I must be dead or something. I would like to write them too — in fact, I created them! But this is the business. I shudder to think what my attitude was when I was first writing comics and working on characters created by other people with this cavalier assumption that I knew better than anyone what this character was all about. The difference with Gary and me is we moved very quickly to creating our own stuff because there was that moment in the early ’80s when DC was open to that.

Would I like to be writing “Amethyst?” Sure. Would I like DC, if they’re going to do this character they’ve announced, to do it with a completely new concept that doesn’t trade on stuff Gary and Ernie and I created? Sure. But that’s not going to happen. I would even say that this new Amethyst might be pretty successful; in fact I imagine that it will. I’ve enjoyed some of Christy Marx’s stuff, I remember years ago really liking “Sisterhood Of Steel,” I really like Aaron Lopresti’s art, so I think they are going to be successful.

I also think what they’re setting out to do isn’t worth doing. My understanding is going to be this is going to be a seventeen-year-old Amy Winston who discovers that she’s Amethyst and that she’s had a pretty rough life in those seventeen years. You can do that, and because of the rules of the game you can even call it Amethyst. But to say that it’s essentially the same as what we did — I’m sorry, I just don’t think that’s true, because essentially what we did was a story about being on the cusp of adolescence and discovering what the moral choices of adulthood are going to be. You don’t do that at seventeen; you do that at twelve or thirteen.

And by the way, Amy grew up in a perfectly happy household and there's not reason she shouldn't have. You can do the Harry Potter version raised by the Dursleys, but I have a room in my house that's a shrine to Superman and I don't think there's anything wrong with having a happy childhood, like being raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent. That's how you get to be Superman -- not by being from Krypton, but by having those parents. Amy succeeds as Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld because, even though at first she has to lie and equivocate to her parents, they raised her right. It's not the only basis for acting heroically, I understand that, but that's who Amethyst is. This other character called Amethyst is pretty different -- well, let them do that. Just don't tell me you're doing the same character.
I won't be surprised if he's not impressed with what they're doing to Blue Devil, another of his creations, either. Why, now that I think of it, Dan Cassidy was surely the biggest victim of political correctness in Underworld Unleashed, because he all but sold out to Neron, Mark Waid's pale variation on Mephisto, agreeing to sabotage a power station and indirectly causing the death of his talent agent Marla Bloom, all so he could become a Hollywood bigshot. And the out-of-character depiction aside, if he were really stupid enough to make Faustian pacts for cheap fame, why would the one wish he'd make be to become a real blue-skinned devil and not have the magically grafted costume removed? What was removed instead of that was the bright personality he once had, and Waid never seemed to regret the galling changes he made. We certainly can't count on any real improvements being made in the New 52 for Blue Devil.

Update: on a related note, Tony Isabella's strongly signaled he's not pleased with what they're doing to Black Lightning either. The last time he'd worked on Jeff Pierce was in 1995 and he quit over disagreements with the editors, and certainly hasn't been satisfied with their treatment of his creation since the 21st century began.

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I'd be mad, too, if someone was abusing my creations the way DC is doing. Which is why if I do go into comics (knock on wood), I'm going to opt for the creator-owned route so I have control over everything and don't have to worry about hacks ruining my work.

I know that Mishkin was also irritated that he was forced to integrate Amethyst with the rest of the DC Universe.

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