Friday, February 19, 2010

Hack Attack

There's a new, wonderful trend going around that's really starting to get on my nerves. Well, okay, chances are it's not new. And it's certainly not wonderful, but you knew that.

But it is a trend, and it is getting on my nerves.

I'm hearing the word, "hack" thrown about quite a bit recently, mostly pertaining to one of my favorite comics writers, Jeph Loeb. And this annoys me. Loeb's books (Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Hush, and the Marvel "color" books, especially) are very much responsible for my love of the comics medium.
Batman: Hush coverI've talked many times about how an issue of Hush, and later, the trade of The Long Halloween were some of the first books I ever bought, read, and fell in love with. And for that, I'll always follow Loeb's work, and I'll always appreciate what his writing did for me.

So, sure, I'm biased when it comes to such things. Sue me. Everyone else seems to be.

Cryptic jokes aside, obviously, Jeph Loeb does not need little ol' me to defend his abilities to anyone else. He's a critically acclaimed writer and producer, and he's had great success across different media.

And, if you wanna just look at cold, hard facts--forget the "critically acclaimed" tag, is what I'm sayin' here--just look at the sales figures on Loeb's comics. They always crack the top ten, and they often bust the top five.

He consistently works with the very best artists in the business, and before you say, "uh, Alex, that's why the books are in the top five all the time," hear me out. Only the best writers--and by "best" I mean the best craftsmen as well as the best to work with--get to work with the top artists in comics.

There's a reason Loeb only works with the likes of Jim Lee and Tim Sale. It's because he knows how to make great comics, and he knows how to sell great comics.

Now, this isn't to say that I love everything Loeb has ever written. That's never the case with a comics writer. Even the hardest of the hardcore Alan Moore or Grant Morrison readers have books they wouldn't have purchased had their favorite writer not been attached to the project.

And that's how I am with Loeb.

While I really enjoyed his early work on DC's Superman/Batman title, I thought his run went kinda loopy towards the end there, and the story line got a bit convoluted, and I lost track of the title. It just wasn't my thing. Those books still sold like gangbusters, though, so it was clearly someone's thing.

See? I can be impartial sometimes.

Now, a lot of the (vitriolic) comments I've heard about Loeb recently have to do with his writing on Marvel's Hulk book, which features a Red Hulk and a Red She-Hulk in addition to a huge cast of other, similarly wacky characters.

Hulk purists--apparently that's a thing--are outraged with how the character is being portrayed.

You know, the character known for too-small (are they jean shorts?) and his exclamations of HULK SMASH. Followed up, of course, by things. But, yeah, fine, let's all jump on the Jeph Loeb Killed the Hulk Bandwagon, because it's fun.

See, I really don't mind if you don't like his take on the book--that's a perfectly valid point, and you are entitled to that point. I wasn't nuts about Alan Moore's From Hell, which is a high point in the history of the medium.

Just not my thing, man.

So not liking a book is not what I have a problem with. What I do have a problem with is when commentators--be them on the comics Web sites or on various comics podcasts--use the word, "hack" to describe a writer's output.

Because that is an ugly word.

"Hack" implies that the writer is simply not trying. Instead, he or she is just looking for a paycheck, and couldn't give a Galactus about the work, the characters, the company, or the fans. And that's a heck of a thing to say about a professional person--in any field.
GalactusSo, even though we have a limited audience of readers here (and I know that none of you would ever use such a horrible, mean-spirited word), I hope someone from a Newsarama or CBR or iFanboy reads part of this.

And instead of immediately playing the hack card, let's intelligently break down why we don't like a certain book, or even a certain creator. Listen, creators in the comics business have one of the greatest jobs on the planet--and they put their work out in a public, open forum.

So people not liking their stuff is just part of the game.

But let's move beyond the comics community's version of "you're a big stupid-head" and let's eliminate "hack" from the fan lexicon, shall we?

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That's my mad rant for the day. Happy Friday, everyone, and enjoy the weekend!

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