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Sunday, April 10, 2016 

Did overrated celebs really learn to write comics?

NY's Vulture section wrote about how Marvel got so-called celebrities to write their products, including propagandist Ta-Nehisi Coates:
Last year, acclaimed nonfiction writer and lifelong comic-book geek Ta-Nehisi Coates stumbled into an incredible opportunity: Publisher Marvel Comics asked him to write a superhero series. The plan was for him to pen a number of issues of Black Panther, which chronicles the adventures of a long-running and much-beloved character from the Marvel pantheon named T’Challa. He’s the king of a fictional African nation, and Coates’s deep understanding of history, politics, and superhero fiction all made him well-suited for the job. There was only one problem: He had absolutely no idea how to write a comic book. Didn’t know what word-processing program to use, didn’t know how to describe what the artist should draw, none of it.

“It was very apparent to me right away that this could suck,” Coates says in a phone interview from his home in Paris. “Some people get a level of fame and people give them the ability to do things that they probably should not be doing. That is exactly what I did not want to happen.” Coates was not the first person to run into this specific problem. In the past few decades, an array of stars from outside the comics industry have gone from being comics fans to being comics writers. After speaking to a few such people, it became clear that publishers don’t have some kind of boot camp for celebrity novices — people largely get thrown in the geeky deep end and learn how to swim.
So he doesn't even live in the USA? He's certainly found one way to demonstrate how much he dislikes America, by not living there per se. And truly, he doesn't know how to write superhero comics whose original values were different than what he's espousing. He only knows how to apply ideas that are incompatible with what made the superheroes work years before.
“Those really aren't the sorts of things someone can teach; you pretty much have to figure it out on your own,” says J. Michael Straczynski, who started writing high-profile comics in the late 1990s after he was already famous for creating and writing the TV show Babylon 5. “Mark Twain once said, ‘A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.’ Comics-writing is a lot like that.”
And he didn't figure it out at all. When he wrote Spider-Man, all he could seem to do was distort some of the origins for the sake of cheap drama, right down to forcing in his leftist politics. The Sins Past story really scraped bottom, as did his last act on the title, with Peter Parker selling his marriage to Mephisto.
If you’ve never written a comic before, that plot-script method might seem like an ideal way to go about things. After all, how hard is it to just jot down a few story beats and let the artist go to work? But the trouble is threefold: Plot scripts are very uncommon these days, meaning your artist will likely be expecting a full script from you; a plot script means relinquishing a huge amount of creative control; and on top of that, you can end up with a major artistic traffic jam. Filmmaker Kevin Smith found out that latter bit when he was tapped to do a run on Marvel’s Daredevil with artist Joe Quesada in 1998. “I was trying to fit too many words onto his drawings,” he recalls. “If you're scripting backwards like that Marvel method and you're a writer like me who just can't shut up, your balloons are taking up all the art space.” After one issue done with a plot script, Smith switched to a full script.
That's just the problem with Smith too - he just doesn't know when to quit, and it resulted in a superfluous retcon for Black Cat's origin, which included sexual assault. Whatever talent he may have for movies doesn't translate into comicdom, and let's remember that he took nearly 2 years to complete the BC miniseries that he should never have been hired to write in the first place. Hiring screenwriters and novelists to write comics only wound up dumbing down superhero comics even more, and it's not getting any better now with leftists like Coates in Quesada/Alonso's employ.

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Have you forgotten YOU aren't living in America either?

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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