News Watched

The mystery of the Comics Journal’s phantom coverage of Bill Jemas’s ouster and CrossGen’s near-collapse has been solved for me by various correspondents: the Jemas story received a four-graf treatment in the Journal’s recent Fort Thunder-centric issue (also known as the one with the ad for “THE FIRST EXPLOSIVE ISSUES OF RAKAN AND AYA” on the back). CrossGen’s situation, meanwhile, got a paragraph (necessarily truncated, it would seem, since little of the real blockbuster information was available when the issue in question went to press) in that same issue, with a reference to earlier reporting on the company in issue #255. Both appear under the catch-all title “Breaking News.”

(News editor Mike Dean has since written a longer article on the current status of the CrossGen affair, which you can find excerpted here. It includes a clever bit pointing out that CrossGen is attempting to have it both ways by touting their comic-book line to comic-book readers by saying it’s not superheroes, while touting the potential of their comic-book line to be made into lucrative movie properties to non-comic-book readers in the movie biz by pointing to the grosses of superhero films; this is offset a bit, unfortunately, by Dean repeating the silly “we don’t publish superheroes” party line unchallenged. Listen, they’re in crazy outfits and have extraordinary powers. You do the math. That these books can be referred to with a straight face as non-superhero says a lot more about the narrowness of the “mainstream” than the broadness of CrossGen.)

I apologize once again for having overlooked these articles–well, mentions–when putting together my list of major stories on which News Watch appears to have dropped the ball. But I’m not going to back down from asserting that the ball has, in fact, been dropped. These stories were huge, but together they took up half a page: to give you an idea of context, the upper half was dedicated to a Doonesbury strip about Howard Dean flash mobs. And this was after fully 28 pages of con reports, obituaries, and bad-girl shenanigans. The priorities this suggests are, well, interesting.

And while we’re on the subject, the Jemas coverage characterized his reign at Marvel by focusing almost exclusively on the bravado and publicity stunts–in other words, the most easily noticed aspects of Jemas/Quesada “New Marvel”–and steered completely clear of meatier changes made by the pair: the new emphasis on hiring highly-regarded writers rather than relying on flashy art; the relative creative freedom (for the big-name creators, anyway) that lasted until Jemas’s last months at the company, at which point he seems to have decided he could write every book in the line himself through a heavy editorial hand; and the long, strange trip of Jemas’s abortive Epic line from anything-goes bastion of creator ownership for tyros and superstars alike to a single rigorously edited, intentionally stillborn Marvel superhero anthology. News Watch’s speculation on reasons for Jemas’s departure is just that–speculation; no mention is made of Jemas’s rivalry with Marvel West Coast honcho Avi Arad, his mutual antipathy society with retailers, or the pre-ouster dressing-down he received at the hands of Ike Perlmutter (ostensibly spurred by fan outrage at the firing of Fantastic Four creative team Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, and/or a well-timed letter of complaint by retailer Matt Hawes that mentioned everything from Marvel’s controversial no-overprint policy to what’s seen amongst fanboys as a New Marvel-wide disdain for superheroes).

My point: Covered properly, this wouldn’t be a story one would have to rack one’s brain to remember.

(Still no word on the whereabouts of manga, by the way.)