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Friday, January 25, 2019 

Howard Chaykin distancing himself from his Star Wars work?

Veteran artist and writer Chaykin, known for works like American Flagg, seems to have a low opinion of the Star Wars adaptations he'd launched for Marvel when they originally attained the license during 1977-86 (though he doesn't mention it directly), even though he only drew/wrote the first 10 issues with Roy Thomas, and isn't feeling fond of attending conventions now based on that (via Newsarama):

I’m a well-regarded and welcome guest at comic book conventions—and as those who meet me at shows have heard endlessly, my belief is that the convention is my client, the attendees are my clients’ customers—and I am present to engage and be of service to those customers, in shared respect and dignity.

That said, and to reiterate the thoughts and perspective of my post last week, in regard to my choosing to decline an invitation to this year’s San Diego ComiCon…

…If you’re inviting me to your show because of hackwork that runs the gamut in only a few issues from indifferent to dreadful, work I produced over forty years ago, in the service of what turned out, to my surprise, to be a billion-dollar brand, producing a string of comics that were part and parcel of the salvation of the company for which it was produced that has profited me no more than the paltry page rate of the time

…If you choose to promote such an appearance at your show with images of that hackwork, because that billion-dollar brand is what first or perhaps only comes to mind when you think of me as a guest at your event…

…Then please think at least twice before you invite me to your show.

This work was done when I was an unformed and marginally skilled newcomer to comics, and is only revered because of the brand it supports—and more specifically, because the comic book business has been extraordinarily successful in convincing the majority of comic book enthusiasts that the material, the character, the product is the brand.

I strongly beg to differ. I strongly believe—fuck, I know—that the talent is the brand. Naturally, this attitude and belief system avails me nothing—since the enthusiast still loves these characters unconditionally—and in my case, nostalgically.

With all due respect, fuck nostalgia.

This obsession with junk I made in my twenties demeans and insults the actual good, clever, innovative and influential work that has sustained me in my nearly fifty-year career—work that continues to emerge from my studio to this very day.

Understand—I know full well how I am regarded by the majority of mainstream comics enthusiasts—and a certain measure of professionals, as well.

The comic book industry is a branch of show business just like all the others, and just like all the others, it tends to reward the anodyne, the variations on a familiar and frequently tired theme, at the expense of the occasionally transgressive—and certainly at the shock of the new.

That said, I’ve come to realize and grudgingly accept the fact that my genre interests and enthusiasms embarrass and perhaps even frighten the majority of those mainstream comic enthusiasts—while at the same time, because of those selfsame genre interests and enthusiasms, I’m dismissed as unworthy of interest by the art school “Graphic Novel” crowd as just another mainstream waste of time.

Maybe this will change before I’m dead…but I’m not holding my breath.

Now, not to worry. I will gladly sign these four decades old comic books at your show, and I’ll do so with grace and good humor, as I always have. You and your fellows are all too entitled to love the shrieking fuck out of this insipid adolescent junk.

I’m not here to change your minds about something you’ve loved so dearly and for so long that it’s engrained in your cultural DNA…because, as any honest man or woman would tell you, we all have things we love that remain, despite that love, pointless dreck.

I simply don’t have any that are worthy of being foisted on anyone but my all too patient wife—who puts up with me out of unconditional love.

All this notwithstanding, please don’t use my long-ago mistake of associating with this particular slab of pointless dreck as either your reason for inviting me to be a guest at your show or, at least as important to me and my self-esteem, as a calling card to your potential conventioneers.

I am not a has-been, and will not be treated as such—even if, and perhaps especially if, that treatment appears to be one of kindness—which we all know is really patronizing condescension.

Trust me on this.

Thanks for reading, and I’d be perfectly delighted if you shared the living fuck out of this, should you so choose.

I remain, as ever,

Howard Victor Chaykin—a Prince and contrarian with all too clear an understanding of his own value, thank you very much.
Let me guess. He's not happy Lucasfilm demanded the canning of Jaxxon the green anthropomorphic space-rabbit, who only lasted about 8 issues at best before Archie Goodwin jettisoned the character. (Despite this, Lucas had no problem coming up with Jar-Jar Binks in the prequels.) More importantly, why the negative view of nostalgia, which his own works of the 70s and 80s are part of? Pretty weird, alright.

What he should really complain about is when Disney, as owner of the Lucasfilm products today, starts dumbing down what he originally began. The irony is that, as this post recorded from IO9/Gizmodo reveals, both Jaxxon and his sexy partner Amaiza were brought back in one of IDW's adaptations. That's the good news. But the bad news regarding the latter, is that, as this caption from the leftist website states is:
Thankfully, Amaiza got a brief costume update as well that’s a little less, err, skimpy.
Oh, that's all they care about, is it? Making another moral panic over sci-fi pulp that's not meant to be taken seriously? Nothing new of course. These are the same propagandists who threw Dungeons & Dragons developers like Gary Gygax under the bus in the years after his passing, by telling everyone whatever sexiness may have been featured in the game's art that it needed to literally be canned, even as Wizards of the Coast, as current owners of the brand, may have "rectified" the alleged problem by sexualizing the men!

Now as for nostalgia, it's not bad in itself, so long as, if you're paying tribute in the present, you do it in good taste, not resorting to the kind of crudities Geoff Johns was notorious for foisting on the comics he wrote in the past 2 decades, which only demonstrated a lack of confidence to sell without them, and additionally suggested he believed the modern audience to lack intelligence and not have what it takes to enjoy simpler elements in better taste than he had. And I think Chaykin ought to consider what makes nostalgia work well, rather than act like it's something bad. He might also want to consider his recent mistakes trying to pander to the far-left, and why it won't work in the end.

But, I do agree that talent makes the brand, not the finished product alone, and that's why entertainment today's fallen so far, because you have all sorts of phonies insulting the intellect of the consumer, acting like the customer is inherently wrong, not how the product is handled. And I do agree it's regrettable most writers who originally wrote the SW comics didn't make much in residuals off of an adaptation of a movie franchise that was making big bucks all over the place. I'm sure that didn't change much when Dark Horse later took up the license, which they now lost back to Marvel again as Disney Corp. bought the Lucasfilm properties. Even so, I think most people working freelance should try to take some of these matters with a thicker skin and more pride, and be in the profession more for the glory than the money proper. At the same time, if they think the hard work they did in the past is being soiled in its modern iterations by ingrates who don't actually respect their past work, they needn't refrain from saying so. That's surely one of the reasons why the SW franchise today has gotten to the point where it's tanking, and losing popularity with the fandom.

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I remember reading a interview with Chaykin a few years ago in which he described how little work he put into the first Star Wars issues, as he had no idea that it would become so popular. Maybe he's embarrassed by his art and what he considers poor workmanship.
Chaykin wasn't happy with the first issue of Star Wars because he was rushed, although Thomas says, "Howard did a fine job on the first issue, he just wasn't geared to do a monthly book. Without him doing the whole job, it didn't look as good as we would have liked it to." (Chaykin also created the Star Wars advance poster that appeared at Comic Con before the movie's release.) https://www.tested.com/starwars/462380-remembering-original-marvel-star-wars-comics/

I agree with Unknown. Creators can often be very critical of their early work because it doesn't have the polish that comes with advanced years in the business. They look back and see someone not nearly as good and would rather be praised for their later work, which their more proud of because they are, in his/her opinion, of higher quality as befits one who had done it more often. Think Da Vinci had his greatest works been considered the stuff he did out of art college or something compared to works where he knew what he was doing and improved talent.

"even though he only wrote the first 10 issues, ..."

He only drew the first issues, he did not write them. Amaiza' s costume or lack thereof could well be Chaykin's idea, though; he does have his kinky side and she looks like a lot of other woman whose costumes he came up with. But the art was rushed, worse than jobs Chaykin did both before and after. I can understand that is not how he would want to be remembered. He knows the fans of those books are Lucas fans, not Chaykin fans.

Marvel kept telling him he should do it for the glory rather than the money; after all, they told him, that was the reason Marvel was publishing the book, not being interested in money but just in winning honour for advancing their liberal agenda, in which rabbits, humans and wookies were all equal. He didn't quite buy it.

Yeah, my mistake about the writing part, which was mostly done by Roy Thomas. I added a bit of a correction by noting Chaykin drew it and making sure to cite Thomas's part in launching the original series.

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