By Joe Hughes
In case you haven’t heard yet, Grant Morrison recently offered his take on the end of The Killing Joke, the seminal 1988 story from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. Widely considered one of the greatest Batman stories — and possibly the greatest Joker story — of all time, the ending is, arguably, a bit ambiguous. In an interview on Kevin Smith’s “Fatman on Batman,” Morrison said he believes that one-shot was Moore and Bolland’s take on what would be a final Batman story —similar to Moore’s Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? — with the story ending when, in his mind, Batman chokes the Joker to death as he laughs maniacally.
The timing of this comment from Morrison is interesting, because I was talking about this scene a few days ago with a friend who I’ve been having this same argument with since 1998. She’s on Team Morrison, believing that Batman kills the Joker as well. It’s an interesting theory, and one I understand, but here’s the thing: Not only do I think both my friend and Morrison are wrong, but I think Batman killing the Joker would make for a completely pointless story.
Joe Hughes, ladies and gentlemen. Part of the ComicsAlliance crew that has been bringing consistently high standards of journalism and critical review of comics for years, now.
I think one of the most fundamental misapprehensions people have about the value of commissions is that no one really gets told how mass production defrays costs to the consumer. So, when they see the prices for custom artwork online, they expect the retail prices they see in stores, and it doesn’t work like that.
You go to the poster section at wal-mart. There’s an amazing poster there. It’s got dragons. It’s got wizards. It’s huge. It’s, what, 12 bucks? Awesome, good deal. You can afford that. It’s as much as three or four cheeseburgers, dang, that’s some serious amounts of art.
You go on the internet. Some asshole wants 12 bucks for a crappy sketch of one character sort of standing there. What the fuck? It looks like crap. It’s nothing compared to the poster you just bought from a store. If that dragon poster is worth 12 bucks, this dumbass sketch should be one buck. Maybe fifty cents. That’s if you’re being generous. You don’t even get a print, it’s just going to be a file on your computer, it’s not even actually real! What a rip off.
The thing is, that sketch took an hour, or two hours, or maybe even four hours. The artist drew it for a fraction of minimum wage. Drawing is hard. It took thousands of hours and a really special kind of dedicated self loathing to learn to do that. It might have taken thousands of bucks of tuition money, which means semesters, which means years of early mornings and late nights and maybe even some crying here and there.
Your dragon poster was not made by a guy who got paid 12 bucks. Your awesome dragon poster was made by a guy who got paid hundreds of bucks. Maybe thousands. Because a company paid him, and then turned around and made even more thousands of dollars off that artwork, by selling instances of it to multiple people, 12 bucks at a time. It’s called mass production, and it leaves the general public with no real clue as to the sheer amount of time and effort and skill that goes into every single thing they can buy for the price of a couple cheeseburgers.
Artists who work on commission don’t generally have the advantage of mass production. Every picture is made new and custom for each client. Instead of charging the hundreds of dollars an hour a professional artist could ask for from a company, we’re asking for just enough to get by, and sometimes a hell of a lot less than that. Because it’s what people will pay, because it’s what they think art is worth, because it’s what a lot of young, naive, desperate artists are willing to agree their art is worth, and because there’s always going to be some kid who thinks they’re being ripped off because they don’t really get what they’re being asked to pay for.
I should have some pithy and clever thing to say here to wrap it up but all I can think to say is basically the whole situation is sad and scary and I hope eventually we’ll all have a better way to deal with each other, and everyone will be a lot clearer on what it takes to do art and to get art.
She responds to insults with humor. Tucker Carlson, co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire,” claimed that he would eat his “shoes [and] tie” if “Living History” sold one million copies. According to the New York Times, Clinton dropped by the “Crossfire” set with a giant brown shoe made of chocolate cake and a signed copy of her memoir for Carlson after the book sold over a million copies in its first month. Pure class.
No doubt due to my parents’ eternal love for Lois and Clark: the New Adventures of Superman, I see the core characters of the Superman mythos as Clark, Lois, and Luthor.
And it’s awesome.
Clark Kent is the BEST. He is a person that wants to help. And what makes him SUPERMAN is the fact that he can. and he does.
Lois Lane is somebody that is ordinary. She doesn’t have powers. She doesn’t have wealth. She’s a reporter, an everyday person. She has no more reason to help, to do good, than anyone of us. But she does help, in every way she can, and she does do good.
Lex Luthor is a great anti-Superman because he CAN help. He has power and wealth and every opportunity to have good come out of his actions with no loss to himself. He CAN help, but he doesn’t.
And that is why Clark is a hero. And that is why Lois is his hero. And that is why Luthor is Superman’s ultimate foe.
It’s the eternal battle - good vs evil, love vs apathy, selflessness vs selfishness. It’s simple, always relevant, and just really great.
I love when tumblr is just filled with really, really smart commentary.
(P.S. You’re correct. The Big 3 in the Superman mythos is Clark, Lois and Lex. In that order. In every incarnation. If that’s not the order then it’s wrong.)
Some people bring out the worst in you, others bring out the best, and then there are those remarkably rare, addictive ones who just bring out the most. Of everything. They make you feel so alive that you’d follow them straight into hell, just to keep getting your fix.
And I don’t want to begin something, I don’t want to write that first sentence until all the important connections in the novel are known to me. As if the story has already taken place, and it’s my responsibility to put it in the right order to tell it to you.