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Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--This Is Who He Is

Column by Steve Bennett

Published: 02/23/2011 12:50am
Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett looks at the All-Star Superman animated movie and its recently departed writer, the source material on which it was based, and speculates on the Kaboom! Peanuts project.

You can't say the media has been ignoring DC's latest direct-to-DVD animated film All-Star Superman.  There have been a lot of reports on its big Hollywood premiere, multiple interviews of its celebrity voice cast, and of course reviews.  Everyone else seems to be reviewing it so I won't, except to say not only is it very good and very close to the incredibly good source material but the few changes that have been made are actually an improvement; something I didn't think possible.  But then the script was written by Dwayne McDuffie, a man who, among his many other accomplishments, is known for not only having delivered accurate animated versions of the DC characters but once he had made changes to them it didn't spark fan outrage so much as synchronized head slaps and cries of "why hasn't anyone thought of doing them this way before?".

I had already begun work on this column when the news of McDuffie's unexpected passing hit the Internet.  I'm too busy processing the information at the moment to do the man and his career proper justice here; all I can do now is simply state the obvious.  We've all been deprived of a tremendous talent.

Amongst all of this promotion the Comic Book Resources site spoke to the author of the original Grant Morrison and asked him if there was anything in the adaptation that he wished had been included.  He responded:

"Oh, it'd be nice if we could have seen the Bizarros, or great if we'd seen the goth girl alone at the top of the skyscraper,"

I've got to admit I experienced a moment of giddy frisson when I read that because that was also one of my favorite moments from All-Star Superman and was relieved to discover that the author shared my opinion.  Because I haven't been exactly shy about sharing it; I've been putting that page in front of everyone I can (including ICv2 readers; I've posted it in two previous columns in 2008 (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Or Would Rather Be A Pig?" and "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--King of Free Comic Book Day"), citing it as a perfect encapsulation of what the character of Superman is supposed to be about.  Or as I've written before, "This is who he is.  This is what he does.  This is what he's for."

After reading that quote I did a little digging and found something from another interview Morrison did for CBR where he talked specifically about that page and how it tied into what he saw as the post-9/11 mood of the country:

“I had Superman saving the little Goth suicide girl in All Star Superman #10 as a representative of that feeling.  A lot of sensitive young kids out there are carrying the weight of our culture’s dark side of guilt, self-hatred and barbarism.  When those kids cut or harm themselves they’re expressing and contextualizing an entire civilization’s unconscious death wish.  They’re acting out the pain and shame of a whole society and acknowledging all our darkest impulses because ultimately someone has to. When Superman hugs Regan, he’s hugging us all.”
 
The other story of note this week, for me anyway, was BOOM! Kids, now rebranded as Kaboom!, announcing that they'll be doing something unspecified with the Peanuts characters.  Fantagraphics Books has the chronological reprint rights to the strips and it's hard to imagine the Charles Schultz estate permitting anyone else to produce new material, so everyone is left wondering what this could mean.  I had been hoping that the publisher would have given us a hint by now but since they haven't I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest they'll be collecting the Peanuts comic books.  A lot of people, including me--and I was an absolute Peanuts fiend growing up*--don't know this but artists who did advertising art for the strip created original comic book material.  Hopefully by next week we'll find out just how wrong or right I am.

And in case you missed it, Tuesday's Zippy the Pinhead comic strip name checks both Squirrel Girl and the Great Lake Avengers and isn't openly contemptuous of either.

* Now here's a confession for you.  I was such a big Peanuts fan upon my insistence my mother, God rest her soul, made me a homemade Snoopy costume which used an old bleach bottle for the nose.  Without being asked I decided I was going to wear it to a neighborhood Muscular Dystrophy carnival (do kids still have those?), thinking I would be some kind of attraction for them.  As soon as I got there a teenager asked me   whether I was a boy or a girl and a kid ripped off my tail.  And now you know entirely too much about me.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely  those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com. 
 
 
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