SDCC09 Day Four: The Hangover
It ended with a ‘pfft’. At least, that’s the impression that I get from way up here. After the Marvelman announcement on Friday, it seems the news out of San Diego dried to a trickle. What happened the rest of the weekend? Where did everyone go? Saturday was dead, and Sunday is always dead. In fact, Sunday is where publishers stick their ‘oh and also’ panels; the low priority panels that they don’t expect to draw much of a crowd.
Sunday is when Marvel closed out its schedule with its ‘Women of Marvel’ panel.
Yeah, baby. Feel the representation.
‘Women of Marvel’ is actually about women working for Marvel, rather than the female characters, which is probably just as well given how the company tends to market female-dominated books like Heroes for Hire and the horribly named Marvel Divas. It even seems somewhat remarkable that Marvel can field a six woman team for such a panel, though three of those women are colorists, and one was an editor. The only writer on the panel had proved herself as a novelist first.
Before anyone snaps at me for disparaging colorists, let me be clear; I like colorists. Some of my best friends are colorists. But where else would you see Marvel fielding a panel that’s 50% colorists, except maybe at a colorists panel? Colorists are becoming the nurses of comics. It’s a fine profession, but there are other options for women to pursue. Why can’t Marvel field a panel with at least two female writers, and at least two female pencillers? Maybe even on a panel that doesn’t have the word ‘Women’ in the title? (According to the schedule, ‘Women of Marvel’ was the only Marvel panel with more than one woman on board. Mondo Marvel, aka ‘World of Marvel’, had none.)
The X-Men panel was not on Sunday, but I’m just catching up on that coverage. According to Comic Book Resources: “September is when “Nation X” begins, with two other September shipping specials, ‘Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus’ and ‘Dark Reign: The List - Uncanny X-Men’ laying the groundwork for the story. “They all sort of flow into each other,” Fraction told CBR News.”
I’m so confused. I miss the days when they used sequential numbers to get the flowing going. I am very much in favour of putting the crossovers in their own little mini-series, but as soon as you start needing checklists to follow a story, there’s something wrong.
In other news, Scott Pilgrim is becoming a side-scroller video game! I have nothing really to say about this; I’m just excited. If they don’t have an Honest Ed’s level, I’ll cry. (Honest Ed’s is not in the movie. I consider this a disaster.)
Zachary Quinto is getting into comics - at last, Sylar in mylar! And when Hollywood comes to comics, you know what that means; generic ideas that the author thinks are original, presented in a style that shows no understanding of the medium, on a schedule that would try the patience of a saint. Hooray!
But, what’s this? Quinto isn’t writing comics? “We’ve talked about it. But I feel like my instincts as a writer probably lend themselves more, at this point, toward screenwriting,” said Quinto. So what is Quinto doing? His production company is teaming up with Archaia to develop new comics, and his role will be… well, it’s not clear. From the sounds of things, he may just be using his star power and geek cred to lure in talent. (When it comes to selling comics, celebrity names don’t seem to count for much.)
Reading between the lines, one suspects the aim here is to produce ‘proof of concept’ comics for potential TV and movie licenses. Let’s hope he can come up with a bigger hits than Jada Pinkett Smith’s Menace, or Rosario Dawson’s Occult Crimes Taskforce.
Finally, let’s talk Torchwood. There was a Doctor Who/Torchwood panel; it wasn’t on Sunday. But let’s talk about it here anyway, because Children of Earth finally wrapped in the US on Friday, which means it’s now safe to talk about it. Spoilers follow, of course.
Ahead of SDCC, Russell T Davies spoke to Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Ausiello about the series conclusion and the backlash over the death of Ianto. One of Ausiello’s questions was whether Davies has felt pressured to ‘de-gay’ Torchwood, and Davies’ answer infuriated me:
“I think you can forget about people picking up gay rights as an issue. It’s rather like children picking up nursery blocks and waving them in the air but having no idea what it entails. We’re talking about issues in my entire life here, not just one small television program. If they did research they’d go and look at the history of gay and lesbian characters that I have put on screen. They should simply grow up, do some research, and stop riding on a bandwagon that they actually don’t know anything about.”
There you have it, kids. Russell T Davies is the only gay in the village. He knows about the gay, and you do not. Not even if you are, say, gay media website AfterElton, where they asked this weekend, ‘Who killed the gay better, Buffy or Torchwood?‘. In poll on the same site, which has a predominantly gay readership, more than half of readers said they would not tune in to a fourth season without Ianto. But what do they know about being gay?
Was the death of Ianto homophobic? I actually don’t think so. It is another in the storied canon of ‘kill the queer’ stories, sure, but as with Joss Whedon, I think it comes down to what has the most narrative impact. It was cheap and sloppy writing, but it wasn’t a case of killing the queer because he’s queer.
That’s just my opinion, and other people read it differently, and not because they’re dabbling in arcane things they cannot understand. It is a legitimate question to raise. It is especially legitimate to wonder whether, even if Davies was not consciously being homophobic, he was subconsciously responding to certain pressures.
Russell T Davies has a deeply pompous image of himself as not just a writer, but a ‘writah-darling’, as in, ‘I am a writah, darling’, and this is a manifestation of it at its worst. At the Who panel this past weekend, Davies tried to ameliorate fan rage, saying, “I have nothing but respect for internet fandom: I understand that some things I have said have been taken the wrong way - and I understand that, and that’s OK because sometimes people will always read things the way that makes sense to them.”
So, you see, when he said, “They should simply grow up, do some research, and stop riding on a bandwagon that they actually don’t know anything about”, that was taken the wrong way. Stupid fans.
Torchwood has been confirmed for a fourth series, in which an adorable puppy will join the Torchwood team, only to be flayed alive and drowned in vinegar.
The puppy will be bisexual.