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Wednesday, March 28, 2018 

William Messner-Loebs is living homeless in Michigan

Messner-Loebs, the writer/artist known for having only one arm to write and draw with, and famous for his runs on the Flash and Wonder Woman, now lacks a permanent residence in his home state of Michigan, as does his wife Nadine. Which is a terrible shame, mainly when you think of how he could make the ideal candidate for hiring at many publishers today. Instead, he's shunned and ignored by today's gatekeepers.

The article does bring up one item from his Flash run that was downright questionable, however:
He said he works about 16-20 hours a week, which is good, but when you sprinkle in the inconvenience of being homeless, it doesn’t leave him much time to draw. That sucks because damn, Bill is good. He’s innovative: back in 1991 he introduced one of the first gay characters into the DC universe. Until he took the ‘Pied Piper’ and relaunched him as gay, the only homosexual comic book characters were flawed people who could be “fixed”. But in 1991 Bill took a chance, when that type of thing was a little harder to pull off.
Loebs may have been one of the better writers of his time, but tampering with an established character - even a former professional crook - may have set the stage early for subsequent examples of the same, not the least being Iceman's abuse under Axel Alonso as Marvel's EIC. And what's their point about homosexual characters being flawed? That they shouldn't have any? This is exactly what's undone many of Marvel's own SJW hack jobs - according to their vision, characters of different racial background or sexual orientation have to be perfect, and homosexuality apparently is not supposed to be changed or abandoned. Exactly what went wrong with Northstar too, and press sources covering the dreadful Scott Lobdell's Alpha Flight story in 1992 wouldn't pay any attention to how bad the tale actually was, one of the reasons it got cancelled less than 2 years later.

Still, like I said, Loebs was far better for a writer/artist of his time (and he introduced Linda Park as Wally West's developing girlfriend and later wife, one of the most plausibly introduced Asian protagonists in comicdom), and shouldn't have had to suffer his modern fate. In some ways, this is the result of social justice mentality that's led to even liberal thinkers getting thrown under the bus by ingrates who believe what leftist steps were already done isn't good enough for them. Not mentioned in the article is that at one point in Loebs' Flash run, Hartley Rathaway, the Pied Piper, was depicted helping squatters break into closed-down houses as part of aiding socialist causes (he even argued "property is theft"), and this actually was depicted as a flaw on Piper's part, contradicting the reporter's implication that homosexuals shouldn't be flawed.

I think Marvel should be the one to rehire Loebs for a job, and above all, allow him creative freedom without crossovers flooding everything. Yet C.B. Cebulski hasn't done that yet, and Joe Quesada's still reigning supreme behind the scenes, ensuring their continuity will remain a shambles.

The local Fox channel asks if anybody can offer Loebs assistance, and for now, he could certainly use some help finding a permanent residence again. DC and Marvel, among other publishers, should also be reprinting his work already, because most of the pre-Mark Waid Flash tales haven't been, and only one WW story Loebs wrote may have been reprinted to date.

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I don't think the Pied Piper was identified as being either gay or straight until Loebs came on the scene; the character was a blank slate for him to work on. Northstar was gay from very early on, under John Byrne; Byrne hints at it very heavy-handedly in the early issues of Alpha Flight, although Jim Shooter's editorial policies would not let him say it explicitly.

Loebs is an example of how older artists and writers get thrown to the curb in comics, whatever their political beliefs. The search is always for something young and new, with only the most prestigious name artists (like Neal Adams for example) as exceptions.

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  • I'm Avi Green
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