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Monday, July 29, 2019 

Garth Ennis thinks superheroes ruined comics, but not his own writing technique

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times for a new TV show based on The Boys, Ennis wants everyone to know he has no love of the superhero genre. It also notes what The Boys itself is built upon:
In other words, “The Boys” — whose sprawling ensemble cast includes Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Laz Alonso, Chace Crawford, Tomer Capon, Karen Fukuhara, Jessie T. Usher and Elisabeth Shue — deconstructs the superhero tales that now dominate the entertainment landscape. And it’s not alone: The genre has been turned on its ear as projects with darker, more serious themes have arrived to counter the brighter tales of heroes like Supergirl and Captain America. Marvel’s Netflix duo “The Punisher” and “Jessica Jones,” AMC’s “Preacher,” HBO’s upcoming “Watchmen” and films like “Brightburn” reimagine and redefine superheroes as angsty, alcoholic, egomaniacal or any other number of very human traits considered undesirable in polite society.
Yup, because darkness is all we need, and wholesome, inspiring examples simply aren't acceptable in fiction anymore. This is what's led to Superman's ruin over the years too, as the idea of a guy living through bright, optimistic adventures supposedly doesn't carry any great ideas for a whole generation that's a]practically been taught to shun the past, b]show no appreciation for it, c]distinguish between what works or doesn't in a specific angle, or d]to recognize that just because past generations had different tastes doesn't automatically invalidate them. Ennis, alas, appears to belong to such a bunch and its disastrous upbringing.
Ennis, who wrote the comic book in a “grim time of bad men and their doings,” doesn’t mince words when it comes to the now-ubiquitous superhero genre and the question of whether we’ve reached a point of too many capes onscreen.

“There’s apparently no end in sight to the saturation of film and TV by superheroes,” Ennis wrote in an email. “They seem to be the perfect fantasy of hope and empowerment for a world that increasingly lacks either. Personally, not having grown up with superheroes, I find them completely moronic.

“Bush and Cheney had just been returned to power, the Iraq bloodbath was boiling away, and Hurricane Katrina had devastated New Orleans,”
he continued, referring to the comic’s 2006-2008 run. “So I was writing about corporate corruption of government, abuse of power and abandonment of ordinary people. In terms of fiction, the kinds of protagonists we had at the time were Tony Soprano and Vic Mackey — bad men guiding us around a bad world.”

And that’s how “The Boys” was born.
And that's where he/they admit how some of his writings stem from his leftist politics, and he probably puts the blame for Katrina entirely on the shoulders of conservatives to boot. His opposition to the Iraq war in itself is offensive, suggesting he has no issues with tyrants like Saddam remaining in power.
Showrunner Eric Kripke, who serves as executive producer alongside Point Grey Pictures’ Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and James Weaver — the team behind AMC’s ultra-violent “Preacher,” also based on an Ennis comic — saw how Ennis shaped the world and wanted to make sure the show was as close to that as possible.

“I’m just doing my best to reflect the tone that Garth Ennis created. He’s a master at mixing hardcore violence with absurd humor with political commentary, and I’m just trying to match that,” said Kripke. “We’re depicting how we feel real humans would behave if they had the power: They would abuse it.”

Kripke is mindful of the backlash that appears to be growing among some moviegoers — despite “Avengers: Endgame” recently becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time. There have been allegations of superhero fatigue, of it being a genre of the moment (à la westerns) and a diversity ploy. The conversations have generated multiple Reddit threads by fans discussing the criticism and future of superheroes onscreen. Even stars such as Jodie Foster and Simon Pegg believe the genre is harmful to the industry. Grumbling aside, though, Kripke still feels that his show is exactly where it should be.

“In any massive cultural movement, the next wave of people will start examining it and deconstructing it. It’s kind of human nature,” Kripke said. “The thing it reminds me of is the western. For a couple of decades the western was a huge genre. Eventually it’ll fade, because every genre has to. But it’s going to be a while.”
See, that's just the problem. Some generations just can't appreciate what past ones offered, and that's what "social justice" was coined to reference, even when it's not political per se. But do they recognize Democrats can abuse power as much as they surely believe Republicans can? If not, then they lack a point. It's almost funny the same papers who'd surely speak favorably about superhero movies would also run this garbage belittling them, though they do allude to how Marvel's just set out on a path for the sake of diversity valued over story merit.
“The Boys” actress Erin Moriarty, who plays Starlight, a super-powered hero with (so far) a good heart, was never particularly a fan of the superhero genre, but she recognizes the tonal shift and relishes being able to tell more grounded stories.

“The backdrop always involved superheroes in a world alternate to our own reality,” she said. “I think that the art we pump out tends to reflect the state of the world. At least in terms of ‘The Boys,’ we’re trying to handle some topical issues right now, so that lends itself to an inevitable darkness.”
What if they're not? Or, what if they're playing it all for cheap sensationalism? I'm not taking this idiocy at face value.
One of those issues is women being represented in the genre. Films and TV series like the now-canceled “Jessica Jones” — which Moriarty was also a part of — “Captain Marvel” and the recently announced “Black Widow” put women front and center in the genre. Moriarty knows that her current show, despite its title, does the same, deconstructing the “boys club” superhero mythology. How many Batman, Spider-Man and Superman reboots had to happen before there was a “Wonder Woman” film, despite the character being just as revered and established?
The issue isn't whether they're being represented, but how well they are in terms of story quality. In earlier times, they weren't, as the unsuccessful Supergirl movie from 1984 made clear. Even Barb Wire was not a success, and that was produced on a low budget of $17 million.
In going back to the origins of darker characters in comic books, the Punisher may have the most recognizable symbol: a white skull on a black background. Ennis wrote the Punisher comics for a stint, and it’s considered one of that book’s best runs. Current writer Matthew Rosenberg is a fan of Ennis’ run, and knew what the Punisher was when he took on the job.

“There is no debating whether Frank Castle is a good guy or a hero. He isn’t. And Ennis does a great job of making you root for him and then scolding you for doing it,” Rosenberg wrote in an email. But he also resists violence for violence’s sake.
Sure, I'll bet he does. I think there was a scene in that run where Frank blasted Wolverine's face, as a cheap laugh. And IIRC, in one of the early 2000s issues, the Punisher raided the White House, all so he could confront Dubya, depicted there as something of a drunk, over policies he didn't agree with. I don't see what's so non-sensationalized about that.
I always want to have a moral true north somewhere. It’s easy to get lost in the world of ‘bad people doing bad things to other bad people.’ I think a lot of writers and readers can find themselves rooting for things they shouldn’t be rooting for. And that’s fun for a while, but in the end it’s cheap and it’s a little dangerous.”
So Rosenberg's another member of the boat who considers Punisher a criminal all the way through, and sees no differences between him and the criminals he battles. I just don't understand why, after all these years, this is even an issue anymore. IMHO, the whole debate over whether Punisher is a good guy or a bad guy has long been beating a dead horse. Especially if, despite their put-downs, they still consider Frank Castle perfect Hollywood material.
“The danger for a subversive and outrageous tone is that you become gratuitous — or that you become shocking for shock’s sake,” said Kripke. “We can have totally insane moments, but we have to be able to justify it.”

Though there may be a line that can’t be crossed, “The Boys,” which often uses crude comedy to attempt levity in tense situations, still makes some choices that could be considered questionable.
Well at least we know the defense they're not relying on the sensationalistic isn't as honest as they must want us to think it is.
“I read Garth Ennis and Neil Gaiman. Those were the guys I was obsessed with,” Kripke continued. “Both the comic and the show are about how completely ridiculous celebrity culture is. It’s also about how completely ridiculous and corrupt politics are, and media, and how the worst of it all is when they combine into one thing. And Garth was writing about that in 2006 and 2007. The [real] world has come to reflect the world of ‘The Boys’ more than it ever has.”
Maybe Ennis has attacked celebrity culture, but I've got a feeling he's always been restrained when it comes to Hollywood, and since he's an ultra-leftist, that's why there's minimal chance he's ever been critical of the left overall. At the end, he said:
“The appeal for me is that I can write about life as I find it, rather than idealized fantasy figures that bear no relation to reality,” said Ennis. “The notion that the medium I work in is dominated (and, sadly, defined) by such a stupid genre is not one that feeds my sense of idealism. They’ve ruined comics, so there’s no reason they can’t ruin film and TV as well.”
I think Ennis counts as an early example of what we now call SJWs. A pity he can't appreciate fantasy and its wish fulfillment components whenever used. Similarly, a real pity if he doesn't think the people of his standing have ruined superhero comics as they stand now, what with rabid leftism running amok, increased reliance on darkness and deconstruction, to say nothing of a most mean-spirited tone laced with cheap violence. One of the biggest victims of recent is women's sexuality, which is now being considered by some leftists an inherently negative example, while making no distinctions between sexuality and how it's conveyed/made use of. All this tearing down on escapist fantasy is leaving comicdom without a proper balance, yet it means nothing to phonies like Ennis, who shouldn't even be associating with superhero comics if he really has such a problem with them. At least here, he's working on something that's his own creation rather than somebody else's.

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A lot of people used to complain that the superheroes muscled out all the other comic book genres. War comics, romance, horror, westerns, comedy and funny animals, all the popular genres of the 1950s, got squeezed out until all that was left was fantasy in spandex. But that is not true these days; grim and gritty no longer predominates at Marvel or DC, and what with manga and webcomics and book format comics, there is more nonsuperhero books than at any time since Spider-Man came on the scene.

"generations just can't appreciate what past ones offered, and that's what "social justice" was coined to reference, even when it's not political per se"

Social justice is about making sure everyone gets treated fairly; that poor people can still get paid a living wage and get decent health care, that minorities have the same rights as the majority, that women have the same rights as men. And then you get into arguments about how to achieve that, and whether you need to take action to compensate for past injustice or not. But it has nothing to do with not appreciating past generations; past generations were fighting for social justice back then too. Basically, it is just saying don't let the system be loaded in the favor of the rich against the poor, and don't get played for a sucker and let racism blind you to the more serious problems.

Ennis is a hack: his war stories are just the usual dime-store novels dialed up in gore, hopelessness, and lack of decency, he deconstructs anything and everything he can get his hands on without somebody holding a leash to keep him under control, and he honestly hasn't produced anything decent or wholesome in his whole life.

"Iraq bloodbath", eh? Perhaps he's in dismay that his "invincible British special forces" haven't been able to steamroll the opposition and end the conflict in a matter of weeks at best? Would certainly fit in with past behavior on his part.

The problem with the American invasion of Iraq was that there was no plan or thinking about what to do after they got there. It was just presumed that democracy would be sucked into the vacuum created by the absence of Sadam. The British allies who supported the war effort were a lot better suited to the day to day work of nation building and counter insurgency, better able to establish rapport and links with the Iraqis on the ground.

A lot of Ennis' books are ugly. You know what you are getting when you see his name on the cover. But the book he did with Amanda Conner, The Pro, was also funny and touching, and The Preacher has a lot of comedy and thought mixed in with the violence.

"for a whole generation that's a]practically been taught to shun the past, b]show no appreciation for it, c]distinguish between what works or doesn't in a specific angle, or d]to recognize that just because past generations had different tastes doesn't automatically invalidate them."

You could say the same thing for every generation in European and American civilization over the past 120 years. The generation that fought the First World War had no reverence for Victorian tastes; the counterculture had no respect for what it saw as 1950s hypocrisy and repression.

I think Ennis is right in that the American comic industry did put a lot of its eggs in the superhero genre. Chuck Dixon says this was deliberate. Other genres sold well but superheroes were sen as genre that was growing in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s whereas other genres weren't.
The industry--particularly, Marvel and DC decided to focus on a smaller, more dedicated group of readers who primarily read superhero comics.
It's not so much the focus on superheroes but the focus on a smaller, more dedicated group of readers that ruined comics.

The Direct Market was created to serve them and now they are dying out.

Around the time the Direct Market was created, retail outlets and distributors removed comics from their shelves because they said they weren't profitable.

During the duration of Garth's career, he had a chance to turn the tides and make war, or crime or whatever genre more popular and he failed.
It took me a very long time for me to realize that he has no real audience for his work in the U.S. or the U.K. other than academia (librarians) and Hollywood producers. The legacy of him, of the British invasion of comics writers is that they failed to bring in new readers and interest to comics.
Sure, librarians, college professorS, and Hollywood producers may be buying PREACHER for their sequential art--I mean graphic novel collections but the general public has no idea Vertigo comics ever existed.

One of the recent comics Garth wrote for the big two, was full of feminist tropes.

The transitional adventurous male is portrayed as stupid and inept whereas his lesbian co-star is smart and stronger than him. his lesbian co-star is a Mary-Sue.
I'm not sure if this was Garth's idea or the editors but Warren Ellis did something similar with his 007 seven/James Bond comics.


If Garth thinks what he has done or is doing, is bringing in new readers or interest in other genres, he's living in a bubble with his head so far up his ass he can see his tongue.

*traditional adventurous male

The direct market was a life raft for the industry at a time when traditional outlets for comics, like the newsstand the corner variety store, were disappearing; but the direct market was also catering to the fan, not the casual reader. Comics could not compete with tv for romance or war or jungle adventure, but they could still do superheros better than any other medium. Marvel really tried to do other genres when the popularity of superheros declined in the late 60s, and DC always kept its eggs in more than one basket, but those other genres just didn't sell; horror and sword and sorcery did well for a while, but they didn't last.

Preacher the tv series was the fourth or fifth highest rated show on its network, and it stayed faithful to the comic book. Sandman brought in a lot of new readers to comic books; that doesn't mean they suddenly started reading Superman and Batman, but it opened up the industry to new paths and new readers for new kinds of material.

...Mike, I just can't picture academia professors reading Ennis' stuff: probably too low-brow and brain-damaging for their tastes.

I think I know that book you're talking about guys, it's called Where Monsters Dwell and was produced during the 2015 Secret Wars event. Apparently its Ennis' attempt at producing what TVTropes would call a Two-Fisted Tale in his usual disgusting and demolishing fashion. Don't think he was too popular with Phantom Eagle fans for a while following that debacle.


", I just can't picture academia professors reading Ennis' stuff: probably too low-brow and brain-damaging for their tastes."


Ennis has always been a critically acclaimed writer who sold a low amount of comics.

Someone has been buying the PREACHER trade paper backs and I'm not sure it's superhero fanboys.

If academia can defend Frank Miller's work, even if they disagree with his sensibilities, they will defend Garth Ennis. After all, these creators made it acceptable to deconstruct religious and secular concepts.




"Sandman brought in a lot of new readers to comic books; "
Stop you fucking lying. If Sandman brought new readers into comics, Neil Gaiman would have stayed in comics. What Sandman brought was interest from college professors and librarians.

Super smooch bi-grrl Mike wrote;
"If Sandman brought new readers into comics, Neil Gaiman would have stayed in comics. What Sandman brought was interest from college professors and librarians."

If college professors and librarians aren't readers, who is? Literacy is kind of a job requirement for those guys.

By the end of the Sandman series it was DCs top selling title. Gaiman makes more money writing fiction and television than he would writing comics, but he still returns to the medium every now and then. His popularity developed through the comics and those readers buy his books. Publishers lose no opportunity to put his name on a comic book cover; see the recent adaptation of his American Gods book for example. Most of his comic book work is still in print. He is one of the most high profile comic book writers around, up there with Stan and Alan; no one else has anywhere near that kind of name recognition. Maybe Coates and Highsmith and Spillane, but they are popular because of their other work; Coates brings that popularity to his comics, not the other way round.

What is it with Mike and librarians?

Librarians are very, very liberal. It's not a coincidence that comics that are marketed to librarians and academia have to mention a progressive talking point.

Most social justice warriors have academic credentials and use academic terms and definitions.

Why should Mike have anything but disdain for these "people" when they are committed to ruining everything they touch?



Super Smooth Liar Mike wrote:

"If academia can defend Frank Miller's work, even if they disagree with his sensibilities, they will defend Garth Ennis. After all, these creators made it acceptable to deconstruct religious and secular concepts."

Does anyone understand what this even means? Which academics are defending Miller and who are they defending him against? Miller is the writer who brought Daredevil's Irish Catholic identity to the fore, introducing his lost mother as a nun and infusing a character who had been a lighthearted swashbuckler with heavy religious themes of guilt and redemption. Does that count as deconstructing religious concepts? If it does, is there any writing on religious themes by anyone that isn't deconstruction? Miller is basically lurid pulp noir in stark graphic images - he is not a deconstructionist, unless you mean that he is deconstructing superheroes.

Comics were "deconstructing" religious concepts long before Miller and Ennis. Lee and Kirby with Galactus and the Silver Surfer, Kirby with the New Gods and The Eternals, Jim Starlin with Warlock, Jaxon with Justin Green, Jack Katz in The First Kingdom, Marv Wolfman in the latter half of his Tomb of Dracula run, Chester Brown in his gospel adaptations in Yummy Fur. Religion is a powerful force in people's lives, so when they write about it or criticize it they are always going to reinterpret it in their own terms. By Mike's standard, St Augustine and Martin Luther were deconstructionists.


'Someone has been buying the PREACHER trade paper backs and I'm not sure it's superhero fanboys.'

Sounds suspicious. Someone should call the cops. Or alert Alex Jones.

I guess sales don't count as sales unless they are sales to our kind of people. The money of academics and evil liberal librarians just isn't green enough.


Snaggle Tooth Whiner Mike wrote:
"If Garth thinks what he has done or is doing, is bringing in new readers or interest in other genres, he's living in a bubble with his head so far up his ass he can see his tongue."
Most people don't have to go to all that bother to see their tongue. They just stretch it forward out of their mouth. Maybe Garth's anatomy is different from most people. Hard to picture, though. I guess Mike knows Garth more intimately than the rest of us do.

Correction: the comic book Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary was written and down by Justin Green in 1972. Jaxon, also known as Jack Jackson, deconstructed religion in his God Nose comic in 1964, before turning to meticulously researched comics about the history of the American West.

About Gaiman's popularity, and the readers he brought to comics, check out ---

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/01/25/kid-goth

That article wasn't about the readers Neil Gaiman brought to comics.

It did not prove the large influx of female readers who read Sandman are still reading comics other than Sandman. They did not all buy the Sandman spin-off comics that Vertigo produced after Neil left and aren't buying anything now.


A good comparison is when Marvel or DC start a new monthly comic with an artist with a large following like Jim Lee and then replace Jim Lee with a less popular artist and watch sales go down as readers lose interest. Jim Lee did not bring a large number of new readers to comics, Jim Lee's fans were just attracted to comics with his work in it.


The fact that Neil Gaiman has stayed away from comics and has continued to release books tells me his audience never became comic fans but are really Neil Gaiman fans.

His fans just aren't that interested in the comics medium or else the artists he worked with on Sandman would be much more popular than they are.

His predominately female fans prefer to read novels than comic books.

They don't care if Neil works with P. Craig Russell or Charles Vess.

Many sjws cite as Frank Miller along with Alan Moore making it acceptable to write superheroes stories with overt political tones aimed at the NPR crowd. Frank made it okay for people who hated superheroes to be given high profile-highly promoted opportunities to deconstruct superheroes--and other targets of progressives. What has happened since DKR and Watchmen is that the audience for superhero comics continued to shrink and age...and this was done with the hope that once superheroes were made as unappealing as possible...other genres would flourish (Alan Moore admitted to that as being the motivation for Watchmen.). Other genres haven't flourished. All deconstructing superheroes did was made the market for superheroes comics slowly become academia and we know that progressives were sated with that and moved on attacking all genre fiction to remove "harmful" tropes.

Mike, you do realize that a lot of awards and reviews are paid for behind the scenes, and then they make a big show-and-tell to fool the masses right? Besides, I can't see guys like Miller and Moore attending collage, or any kind of schooling at all.

I can't help but wonder if America and Russia should've provided brainpower to go along with all that weaponry they've been sending out to third-world countries to fight their battles for them? Then we wouldn't get situations like the one in the Middle East.

" the audience for superhero comics continued to shrink and age...and this was done with the hope that once superheroes were made as unappealing as possible...other genres would flourish (Alan Moore admitted to that as being the motivation for Watchmen.). Other genres haven't flourished."

When did Moore ever say anything like this? Besides, other genres are flourishing. Biographical/autobiographical comics, the children of Maus and Persepolis and Fun Home, are flourishing. science fiction/adventure like Saga and The Walking Dead is doing well. Manga and American imitations of manga are thriving. Graphic novels for kids, which were lost in the desert for decades, are on the best seller charts. westerns haven't made a comeback yet, but how many modern artists can draw a horse?

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