Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Last Temptation of Mark Millar

Tamora Pierce has written a fairly scathing critique of Sue Storm from Civil War #4 that, lets be honest, is:

a) right on the money, and
b) no different than a ton of others that have been written out there in cyberspace.

Tamora has has been murdered, absolutely murdered, by people on the internet over this. She's even issued an apology over this, for no good reason than I can assume than she see's the lack of work looming over her from Marvel.

Sad, sad, sad. Since when is calling a spade a spade unprofessional? When it interferes with work politics. And with Marvel's biggest product.

Personally, I've never met Mark Millar, and I've actually liked a ton of his writing over the years. I've loaned my Ultimates trades out to a number of people. I have no vendetta against him at all. Mark will probably never want to work with me after I say that Tamora is absolutely correct in her remarks.

Yes, I know how the system works, how you can never savage someone doing bad work as you might be there sitting next to them in a con trying to make nice and sell your next product, but I also think that this system lets a lot of really shitty comics get created and sent down the pike to us, the readers. And it shouldn't have to happen this way.

I never got into comics to make shitty comics. And, oddly enough, neither did almost anyone I ever met in all my years in the industry. So why so much bad work?


RAB said...

Not only was Pierce correct in her original remarks, she also said nothing so far as I could see that was overly personal or cast aspersions on Millar as a human being. On my blog I described what I think might have been the root of her feeling the need to apologize (he said, trolling for visitors) but you're also right that there are issues of professional courtesy we ignore at our own peril.

In addition to "this guy might be sitting next to me someday" and "this guy might someday have the power to hurt me" there's also the fact that some creator who's doing really awful and/or offensive work might be someone you know personally as a wonderful human being and a genuinely nice guy or gal. And if tact prevents you from badmouthing that guy, isn't it unfair to go after others for lesser sins?

All that said...Tamora Pierce was a high-profile hire for Marvel at a time when Quesada was starting to feel heat over remarks he'd made about the absence and unsuitability of any female writers at Marvel. Marvel needs Pierce way more than Pierce needs Marvel. Cutting her off from future work for criticizing the poor writing of a prominent female character by a prominent male writer would only be shooting themselves in the foot. So if she apologized out of any fear of professional retribution, it was a misplaced fear.

Timothy Liebe said...

RAB, Tammy didn't apologize out of fear that Marvel wouldn't let us write for them again, at all. Writing comics for Marvel always has been nothing more than a sideline that might be interesting and fun - after all, she's predominantly a novelist, and a fairly successful one at that (her latest book, TERRIER, debuts at No. 2 on the 11-12-06 NY TIMES Children's Chapterbook Bestseller List!). She's not J.K. Rowling or Stephen King "successful" by any means, but successful enough that she can live off her writing and not have to take a editing or teaching gig, or crank out a dozen or more books plus articles and short stories each year, just to pay the bills - which most writers we know have to do.

She apologized b/c it was apparent that, whatever she actually said, a certain number of people chose to see it as a personal attack on Mark Millar rather than a strongly-worded criticism of his writing. I don't see she where had anything to apologize for - but then, she's a better person than I am. It didn't help that some of the other respondents took her criticism as license to vent their own antipathy for Millar - some of which WAS gratutiously personal. (But try and get people who take advantage of Anonymous posting on LJ to apologize for anything!)

As I've said elsewhere in on Tammy's LJ (and other places), she and I both mostly like Millar's writing (we were really impressed by a lot of his work on THE AUTHORITY, THE ULTIMATES and SECRET WAR) - which is what makes parts of his CW arc so disappointing. I've speculated that part of the problem might be that he's not being given enough room to expand his story, and adequately clarify some of the characters' ambivalent actions and motivations - which, I have to confess, I'm totally in sympathy with, having to cram a lot of stuff into 21 pages of dialog balloons and thought captions, minus how much of that needs to include splash pages and fight scenes! :D

Anyway, thanks for letting me post this,
Tim Liebe
Dreaded Spouse-Creature of Tamora Pierce
- and co-writer of Marvel's upcoming White Tiger comic

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

I guess that the problem I have with her apologizing is that SHE DIDN'T PERSONALLY ATTACK MARK MILLAR. How many more times must these people have it said to them? She wasn't wrong, and I hate that, with the apology, it seems an admission of guilt on her part. She shouldn't have to do that. It annoys me that internet politics work by mob rules most often, and that others have brought up the fact that she's a female, and brought gender internet politics to bear on the discussion.

If we want to move into the question/hypothesis of how much of a compromise writing job this is, then that's a whole different discussion, and perhaps and one that Mark may fuel in coming years when asked about the series. I guess I would just love to know how much of the plotting is bendis and quesada since there are traits that remind me so much of their work in all of this. And some of those traits would be at odds with the writer that I read in the Ultimates.

Thanks for posting guys.


RAB said...

Tim, in fairness to me, I do just want to clarify that my own point was exactly the same as what you say in your first paragraph. I only mentioned the idea that the apology could have been motivated by fear of being cut off from future work to explain why that reason didn't apply here...though it was one of the possible connotations suggested by what Charles said. (And it's a damn big factor for those of us who work primarily in comics.)

I really wish Tamora hadn't apologized, because I think anyone else's notion that she needed to apologize for making a legitimate comment comes from a sexist double standard that really needs to be exterminated.

Timothy Liebe said...

Charles, RAB - I understand what you're saying, and even appreciate your viewpoint. OTOH, Tammy saw her choice as being either (a) Apologize for anything that might have been considered a personal attack on Millar (and that was all she apologized for - her position on his writing of that incident hasn't changed) and move on; or (b) spend the next several weeks explaining herself repeatedly to people who'd already made up their minds...while on tour for her latest book from our laptop, which she's none too fond of at the best of times.

Anyway, the Adventure Continues on Newsarama, where a couple of trolls are spending 12 pages deciding they don't like it that Tammy apologized...or how she apologized...or I don't know what anymore....

Tim Liebe
Dreaded Spouse-Creature of Tamora Pierce - and co-author of Marvel's upcoming WHITE TIGER comic!

James Meeley said...

It annoys me that internet politics work by mob rules most often...

I couldn't have said it any better myself, Charles. Not only on the issue of this apology, but on a great many other things concerning "discussion" on the internet.