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Wednesday, November 11, 2009 

Dick Giordano regrets bringing on grim and grittiness

Dick Giordano, one of DC's most successful inkers, who was senior editor during 1983-93, has told The Toronto Star that he regrets how grimness and grittiness arose during his period (via The Beat):
What are the dangers in doing so? What specific pressures were you and Frank Miller working under with Batman? Did you have any road maps that you were following?

Comic readers (and comic companies) often reject change no matter what the intent or execution of that change. "That ain't Batman! DC really screwed up this time" The main goal in re-doing or updating a major character is to retain the audience you have while adding new readers to your audience base

Marketing and some DC execs thought it was folly. A story line set in the future? In a format never tried before (48 pages, square bound with a cover price more than double the current price point)?: "We'll be killed!"

Road map? Flying upside down was the most fun, so that's what I did.

The Dark Knight Returns additionally helped start the "grim and gritty" trends in comic storytelling that still exist today. That was an unintended result, and I am truly sorry it happened. Comics are much too dark today. Er – in my opinion ...

Maybe it's the time specifically, but why are we suddenly so in love with the idea of good guys gone bad?

Who's "we"? Not me! I miss the heroes of yesteryear. Maybe that's why I don't get much work.

I think readers have become inured to the mindless violence on TV, the movies, and are comfortable with the anti-hero ... and the fact that there are so few heroes on our planet, the concept seems kinda silly to them.
That part about few heroes on the planet isn't quite right; there are heroes if you know where to look, even today. But the problem is - people with little or no respect for heroism have taken over the asylum, and are turning even anti-heroes into unlikable losers, as in the case of Spider-Man, or even making them out to look bad for the sake of it, as in Identity Crisis and Avengers: Disassembled, as well as the many other crossovers that both companies have published in that time. I'm not sure Giordano realizes, but that's just why the audience has become so much smaller. In the short term, DKR may have worked, but in the long term, it has had some negative effect on sales.

I own several books Giordano was an inker for as well as editor, and he's certainly one of the better people in the industry, and while there were some bad things in DC's output during his decade as their EIC, there were still plenty of gems to be found, and a time when characterization and storytelling were at a high point for a lot of their comics. But as mentioned, there were bad products turned out, and it was during that time that crossovers got started, and in the early 90s, that's when the crossovers really got out of control with the wholesale slaughter of major and minor characters for publicity stunts and desperate ploys to make sales. It was during Giordano's tenure that Armageddon, which I consider one of the first of these stunts, got published. These too are part of what he now laments.

As sad as I am that he would allow a lot of the things that later spiralled out of control to begin at the time he was EIC for DC Comics, I am glad that he's now spoken up and admitted that he regrets it had to happen. In that case, surely he might want to do even better by speaking up at a convention or going on TV and voicing his concerns there as well, so more people could get an idea what went wrong?

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