Monday, September 13, 2010

Talent or personality? What matters more to the reader?

This question could certainly entertain a discussion beyond the realm of comic books, but since I'm here blogging (mostly) about comic related topics, we'll keep it tight and focused if we can.

I asked yesterday if it matters to you what kind of people your favorite writers or artists are, and I told you that to me it doesn't matter. Now I'll tell you why:

I read to be entertained.

I don't read to get to know somebody, or to reward them for being a person that I like (actually that might not be entirely true!) I consider Alan Moore to be one of the strangest and most unusual people I've ever read about, and not knowing him personally, I can only extrapolate on what he might be like to meet. I suspect I would find him interesting for about twenty minutes, but the more personal the interaction became, the more I fear I would consider him hard to relate to or like. That's just the feel I get from the interviews, reports and descriptions of his character that I've read over the years.

It has zero impact on how much I enjoy his work.

Where does all of this come from?

When I started discussing how much I'm enjoying Jim Krueger's work on both Earth X & Universe X, as well as pointing out that he's currently working on Project SuperPowers with Alex Ross, I heard from one of the blog's readers that they could never get past the fact that they were told he was a nightmare to work with by a friend they have at Marvel. As a result, he doesn't read Krueger's work.  To him, it mattered what kind of a person Krueger was, and so he has kept himself removed from a terrific writer's work because the man's reputation stains his opinion of Krueger.

I started thinking about it, and realized that I read a lot of books by people I don't admire or respect.

I met Warren Ellis once, and was turned off by the experience, yet I consider Ellis to be a phenomenal writer with a nearly limitless imagination and incredible characterization skills. The fact that my meeting with him did little to endear him to me means nothing to me when it comes time to place my monthly order for comic books.

The encounter with Stan Lee, as previously noted, was so sterile and empty that it left a sour taste in my mouth. Maybe you can blame that on Stan and maybe you can't, but as a person I no longer admire him. As a comic industry icon I still admire his impact deeply.

Now, I didn't enjoy meeting Joe Quesada or Todd MacFarlane, and at the time that I met each person I did opt to drop one of the books they were working on. However, I should point out that neither book was particularly good, so it's not really the same thing as passing on a contender for the Top 10 Best Stories Ever (which one of these Earth/Universe/Paradise X books might be!) I didn't care for their work overall to begin with, so deciding that they were enormous morons and staying away from those books was easy. But if Mark Waid ever turns out to be an enormous jackass, I won't rush out to drop my order on Irredeemable or Flash, or whatever book of his I'm reading at the time. He's just too good at what he does for me to deprive myself of the satisfaction of enjoying his art.

Now I should point out that if I have a little extra money, I might buy a book or two from somebody I really liked and enjoyed as a person, simply to support them. I met Beau Smith once at Mid-Ohio and he was such an incredible guy that I actually bought and followed some of his work for a while, despite the fact that I wasn't captivated by it. The same story can be told of writer/artist Mark Oakley who was so awesome and personable that months after meeting him a few times at different shows and shops around Toronto, I bought almost two dozen issues of Thieves & Kings (which is a great read.)

It inevitably doesn't last of course, because in the end I only have so much money and I want the best product for my money. Which means the best writers, and the best artists.

Even if they're jerks.

What about you?

Oh, and here's the feedback from some of my experiences:

Brian Bendis *This guy impressed me on a level I cannot even express. This is a guy who understands.
Bill Willingham *Bill was incredibly personal. Sensational!

Mark Oakley
Beau Smith
Geoff Johns
Phil Jiminez
Ian Churchill
Mike Wieringo

Gary Frank
Steve McNiven
Humberto Ramos
Jim Shooter *No meeting, but correspondence has always been excellent! 
David Finch *Not just because he's Canadian either!
John Byrne *At a baseball game no less....and he makes the list for handling it sooooo well.
Terry Dodson
Rachel Dodson

Mike Mignola
Stan Lee
Matt Hawkins *Should be noted that it started out as Awesome, and deteriorated as he became more and more successful 
Warren Ellis 

Todd MacFarlane
Joe Quesada

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