Soundtrack: U2 — War
Didn’t “the author” die a few decades ago?
I only ask because a lot of people out there, in the blogosphere, seem to be clinging to the notion of the artist as self-begetting genius–it’s not just A.C. Douglas this time, it’s the whole ever-lovin’ comics-bloggin’ community (links to your left)! I held aloof from the Tony Isabella wars that took place in October, because I’m not a consumer of current-day comics, and I didn’t feel like my input would be helpful in any way–but it’s becoming apparent that I ought to speak my mind re:”creative control”.
Here, in a nutshell, is my position:
As a (rather tender-hearted) person, I feel bad for Tony, because I hate to see anyone suffer, and I’d be delighted to see him financially compensated for his trouble… However, as a critic, I consider the “Tony Isabella position” ludicrous, and counter-productive.
I touched on this in my own comment-threads yesterday–as far as I’m concerned, the “indie” aesthetic is reactionary nonsense, the artworld equivalent of the “Jeffersonian yeoman” ideal. We cannot retain “control” over the works of art that we labour upon any more than we can all return to the land and become self-sufficient producers. Leaving aside the question of influence, it should be obvious that, as soon as you let anyone else read what you’ve written, you have lost control of the piece, and–a fortiori–of “your” characters. The Marvel and DC universes are vast, interactive sites which make manifest the way all creation really works. A work of art is not a thing (i.e. set apart from culture)–by definition, it’s embedded within culture. That’s what makes it art!!! And once you plug into culture, you are no longer in control.
So, when Tony Isabella comes up with Black Lightning and places him within the larger context of the DC universe, it’s a de facto abandonment of the possibility of “taking his character and going home” (the legal issues don’t matter at all here–I mean, it’s very likely that, in some cases, a writer/artist can use legal tools to effect the rescue that I deny is possible, but that’s beside the point–when the “corporate comic model” is functioning properly, it provides a textbook example of the debt that creators, all creators, owe to their respective environments). Now, as to who gets paid, well, that’s a different issue, and I always prefer to see an individual win out over a soulless corporate entity, but that doesn’t change the fact that I think it’s a good and chastening thing for a creator to be reminded that he/she does not have anything like a god’s power over his/her creations–or, at the very least, if the creator is a god, he/she is more like a member of a (really overpopulated) pantheon. Zeus, for example, can try to make things come out his way, but he’s always got to worry about Hera or Poseidon’s interference. There ain’t no Yahwehs at the typewriter! A lot of “indie creators” don’t seem to realize that…
Now, some of you might be saying, “how would you like it, Fiore, if they took your characters, and made them do things that you know they’d never do!!!” What if they dragged Dawn Paris out of Darkling I Listen and made her into a murderess or something? And you know what? Maybe I would hate that, but it wouldn’t make any difference, and anyway, the whole point of that character (and all of the characters I write) is that I don’t know what the hell they’re going to do next, and I don’t want any part of explaining what they have done. As far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as “interiority”. The world is all surface, and we’re all entitled to grope–it feels pretty good…
Good night friends!