Monday, November 03, 2008

Jim Shooter: Taking The Blame Or Faking Humility?

In talking to friends and reading a few blogs, it seems people are crediting Jim Shooter with standing up and taking the blame for his run on Legion of Super-Heroes coming to an end.

Heck, even Shooter comes back to try to make sure people get that it is HIS fault:

“Anyway, upon reading the interview, I wonder now if people will focus on the things I said regarding Francis like he’s ‘going to be great someday, maybe one of the best of all time,’ ‘great designer,’ ‘incapable of drawing a dull picture,’ etc. or just think that I’m blaming him for the book’s demise. Read it again. I blame me."

That's obviously what Shooter wants you to come away thinking, but it isn't sincerely his position. Sure, he did say:

“But let’s focus on the real culprit – me. I guess what it really all comes down to is that my work wasn’t good enough to overcome all the small problems further down the line. "

People seem to stop reading that at, "my work wasn't good enough," and ignore the rest.

The man isn't saying his writing was the true blame, he's saying it wasn't good enough to make up for everyone else's screw ups. What screw ups?

Making himself the victim:
  • “I think it had more to do with their being pissed at me for complaining too much and too loudly – to DC people only, not to the media – about various glitches and screw-ups than anything else. DC has incentives for licensing of new characters. Super Lad could, potentially be the new Superxxx, and very licensable. Why reward a pain in the ass like me with extra money?"
  • “Sales of ‘The Legion of Super-Heroes’ aren’t great, but they’re a lot better than those of some of the titles they’re keeping. I think canceling the book is a graceful way of getting rid of me. I complain too much and too loudly.”
It's Manapul's fault:
  • “No, I didn’t begin to get in ‘everything I wanted.’ What saw print was not anywhere near what I imagined or what was called for in the scripts. Not even close."
  • "He works very hard and seems to care a lot – but that and a $1.85 gets you a cup of coffee. As soon as Francis groks what business he’s in – storytelling – as soon as he realizes that conveying the story and information clearly, at a glance, is first priority, he’ll be a contender."
It's Didio's fault:
  • “After delivering the first draft of the 16-issue plot, I was ordered by Dan DiDio to rewrite it – for free – to include the introduction of a young, male Super -- note how I’m avoiding using the word ‘Superboy’ -- as a Legionnaire."
It's everyone but Livesay & Wands at fault:
  • “Inker Livesay and letterer Steve Wands did their jobs well, no problems there, but as for the rest of us, if we had done our jobs right, if the story had been good enough, if the story had been told well, if the coloring hadn’t been murky, if the covers hadn’t been weak, if there hadn’t been so many production mistakes, if there had been more promotion, if there had been enough of a buzz, if we’d been allowed to have a character with that Super ‘S,’ maybe we could have succeeded."
Look in that last one, in particular. In his list of things that actually needed to improve, where is anything about his writing? You can argue "enough of a buzz" could hinge on his writing a buzzworthy story, but I don't believe that is how he meant it. No, when the man lists actual faults, he lists none of his own.

If you believe the rumors about Chuck Dixon's firing (mapped out far in advance, refused to change when editorial demanded), it looks like we might have an epidemic breaking out with old school writers employed during the new school of comic book synergistic storytelling. That Jim Shooter plotted out 16 issues ahead can be seen as admirable. Thinking that he deserved extra pay for having to change things when his work-for-hire employer gave feedback, however, is not.

That he stands up for his right to licensing fees shows courage. That, from appearances, he was expecting licensing fees for a character that editorial pretty much handed to him and asked to have inserted shows avarice.

Anyone can say "I'm sorry" or "my bad". Shooter is saying it is his fault, but he's showing us with every other statement that he believes it to be anyone else's error but his own.


  1. Just to answer your question, "In his list of things that actually needed to improve, where is anything about the writing?"

    Well, "if we had done our jobs right," includes the writing, "if the story had been good enough," is solely about the writing, "if the story had been told well," is part of the collaborative project involving the writing...

    Shooter blames himself for not making something better out of editorial's involvement with his story. He seems content to throw DiDio under a bus, but genuinely likes Manapul (but is offering constructive criticism to his abilities).

    I'm no Shooter fan, but this is not as black and white as you're making it out to be. He blames himself, ultimately, but is also critical of other aspects of the book. Is that disingenuous, or is that just constructive criticism? The only thing that's out of the place is the conspiracy to remove him from the book. Otherwise, it's just not a standardized fluff peace. If the book *didn't* have any of the flaws he mentions, it *wouldn't* have been cancelled.

    Nothin' wrong with calling a spade a spade.

  2. That was a good interview BECAUSE Shooter actually said stuff. His Manupal criticisms are spot on, save for a few covers that actually tied into the story, as well as having to have everything chopped up while he's writing this long arc. I think people are just shocked to see Shooter actually being honest rather than the usual fluff pieces we get from news sites.

    Didio asked Shooter to write the book. Shooter says fine, I've got this 16 part arc. Didio had to have approved it to begin with, but then decides later, "OOPS! Cut it back a few issues because Geoff Johns is so dreamy we're going with his Legion now."

    Maybe Didio should lay out the plans for the DCU in advance and stick to them.

    DC has to learn that just because Johns and Morrison change their mind at the last minute, there are other writers who have things planned that can't be changed on the fly.

  3. Dan: Look at the sheer number of items that DON'T involve Shooter and then tell me that it really seems like he's saying it is his fault.

    If the story had been told well? It goes back to his complaint that Manapul often didn't draw anything close to what he asked for.

    If the story had been good enough? That goes back to him saying he didn't write a story good enough to overcome all of the mistakes on the book (and those mistakes are all someone else's).

    Ken: You're assuming a whole lot to say that plotting out 1 1/3 year of issues was approved by Dan Didio. I'm pretty sure that not only did Didio not give official approval to plot out that far in advance, but Marts probably didn't either.

    At least if we're talking about enough work to bitch about not getting paid to make changes. If we're talking an outline, it's ridiculous to ask for compensation. If we're talking everything but the dialogue, I'm pretty sure no one would tell a work-for-hire writer to go that far in advance. Fairly certain that's all on Shooter and his Texas-sized ego.

    Oh and Ken? I took out that completely unrelated shot.

  4. Anyone familiar with Jim Shooter's scripts or editorial style can quickly see that Jim Shooter was show horned into that series and he was never allowed to produce his style of comic. The art sucked. Other than a few nice curvy breasts here and there, the art looked like crap. The panel flow was not consistent with the way Jim writes scripts and on some occasions the art doesn't even match the dialogue very well. C'mon, the only difference between a desolate palace and a luxurious one was pillows? Give me a fucking break. DC is run by morons. Hopefully Jim won't go back. Hopefully he's start his own company some day with his own assets and he won't be bowing to the idiots that want to dictate to things which he knows better than they do. The guy learned from Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Neal Adams among other legends.... get the hell out of his way!


  5. So Jim Shooter has burned another bridge? Nothing new-the end result is that both Marvel and DC hate his guts now. It's such a shame that a talented writer like Shooter is also one of the most maligned people in the comic-book industry.
    And to be fair, this doesn't reflect well on Didio himself either who I think is starting to make some of the same mistakes that Shooter made during his tenure at Marvel by alienating more and more people with his high-handed edict.


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