Friday, November 24, 2006

Free Form Comments

Random comments -- anything you want to say, including shameless self promotion (feel free to advertise your blog here), go.


LurkerWithout said...

The Tick vs. Season One is missing episode #11. What were they thinking?!? Its madness I tells ya! Madness!

Anonymous said...

i like your blog very much. it has many interesting thing in it.

Marc Caputo said...

Oh, what the hell...I'll grab for the turkey first. I'd love people, especialy people who post to this blog (you too, Geoff) to visit my blog, ;
It would be nice to have intelligent posters, my brother and I notwithstanding. But with just the 2 of us, it's kind of like Sunday dinner.

Dan Carlson said...

Random it is then:

I don't read superhero titles, but Joss Whedon's Astonishing run is pretty much rocking my world.

As is Y: The Last Man. Good Lord, it's amazing.

I'm at And

I've meant to comment for the longest time, either about Studio 60 or comics or Superman, so I appreciate the ability to finally make my mark.

DBD said...

Perfect timing for a free-form comment opportunity, as I just discovered this page, thanks to the "hustlaofcultcha" blog (listed in your links, in fact...), and I was looking for a broad opportunity to say I dig it quite a this is perfect.

And no, of course, this is not one of those random "I like your blog" posts that has a little link at the bottom to take you to some sort of stock tip, search engine, or livecam-party-time-chat-room. Although some may be looking for any of those items, I suppose.

Anyway, great site. Anywhere I say see Barthelme and Lost at the same time gets serious respect.

Anonymous said...

I’d like to rant about Grant Morrison.

When I read "How to Read Superhero Comics and Why", I remember being struck by an extended quote of Morrison’s included in the book. I don’t have the book at hand to reiterate the exact wording, but the basic gist was that Morrison was likening writing superhero comics to writing pop songs. The basic analogy was that superhero comics all have to contain certain basic elements, but within that framework you can shake things up by adding a few unfamiliar elements. When he made the analogy to pop songs he said something like, "Every blues song is based on three major chords. Throw in two minor chords and you have every Beatles song ever written."

As a huge fan of The Beatles, and a music theory student, this immediately leaped out at me as a big "Wrong!" Because in fact Beatles songs were incredibly harmonically active by the standard of pop songs. Today especially, as modern-day pop songs have incredibly slow rates of harmonic change, but even back then The Beatles’ songs were very harmonically rich by pop standards.

Yes, there are Beatles songs that have only five chords or less, but to say that three majors and two minors covers "every Beatles song ever made" is a complete misrepresentation of The Beatles’ canon.

That said, it seemed like forgivable hyperbole. I sort of read that with a grain of salt and figured, "Well, I get his point" – even though, in fact, realizing how wrong he was about that completely skewered the entire point of his analogy.

Anyway – this weekend I bought the Comics Creators on X-Men book. And I got to the Grant Morrison part, and he made the same analogy (more or less) again, albeit in slightly different terms. He talked about how he felt that when writing X-Men there were certain elements that he had to include, that were essential to writing the comic properly – stuff like Magneto, the Imperial Guard, etc. And he says, "You can’t play a blues song without a C chord, just as you can’t have X-Men comics without the Imperial Guard." Or, again, words to that effect. His point again being that you need to have the basics there, but then you shake things up inside that framework.

And again, I had to look at that and immediately say, "No." A blues song requires the standard chord progression of I, IV and V7, but you can play the blues in any key. There are only three keys (out of a possible twelve, for crissakes) that would require a C chord. So, no, Grant, you CAN play a blues song without a C chord.

Then he says, "The way Jimi Hendrix played the blues is the way that Grant Morrison wrote the X-Men." So – putting aside for a moment the fact that comparing one’s self to Jimi Hendrix (and doing so in the third person, no less!) requires so huge an amount of ego as to be positively grotesque – what exactly does that even mean, when his initial analogy is so flawed? Part of Hendrix’ whole deal, what made his work so striking, was that he desired to completely abandon blues scales, because he found them too limiting. He found it incredibly liberating to play what he called "the wrong notes" (which was his phrase for describing alternative musical scales to the pentatonic blues scales that had come to dissatisfy him).

I’ve never really got into Morrison’s work, and yet I hear so many people talk about how incredibly intelligent the guy is. But then I read quotes like this, in which Morrison is either betraying a complete ignorance of the mechanics of ‘60s pop music or else deliberately dumbing down his analogies (but why should he feel the need to do that? why not just be accurate?). Either way, it makes me wonder.

Because yes, one could look past the specifics of these music analogies and get down to the essence. Because indeed, there ARE structural elements in pop music that are consistent throughout, and which more or less HAVE to be there to some degree in order for them to be considered pop songs at all. (The verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus structure, for one, which WAS the template for "every Beatles song" this side of "Revolution 9".) Just as blues does have a specific harmonic structure that is never deviated from too far before the song becomes something other than a blues song.

So these are the kind of things Morrison means, I guess, when he makes his inaccurate assessments of Hendrix’ or Lennon’s music. So if I squint and make some substitutions, I can look at these comments of his and get the essence of what he’s saying, even though he’s actually failing to say it properly. But why should I have to do that? Isn’t this guy supposed to be really smart, or something?

It probably seems as if I’m finding a very tiny string and harping on it ad nauseum. But it’s just a microcosmic little idiosyncrasy that perfectly encapsulates the same disconnect I get on those few times when I’ve picked up a Morrison comic and tried to read it. I always read it going, "Wow, this comic book really thinks a lot of itself." I’m never struck by how smart it is, nearly as hard as I’m struck by how much it wants you to KNOW how smart it is. And it just makes me wonder if, as in the fatally flawed music analogies, I’m just reading a consummate bullshitter at work.

Since there’s a lot of love for Grant Morrison demonstrated both in "How to Read Superhero Comics and Why" and here on the blog, I thought maybe Geoff or other fans of Morrison’s work might be able to tell me what I’m missing. I’m happily willing to be shown that I got off on the wrong foot with this guy’s work.

-- Jason Powell

Geoff Klock said...

Lurker: That goes against the whole idea of the DVD set, which is all about being complete. Crazy.

about Anonymous: I bet this is one of my students.

dbd: yes, thank you for not linking to porn (though it is a free form comment thread, so I guess you could...)

Jason. WOW. Thanks. That was fantastic and huge and smart. I will think on it and get back to you, but my first impression is that you have your facts in order and that Morrison's metaphor is messy (in the worst way) and ill advised. But a bad metaphor should not keep you from his work: check out Seaguy or the Filth and WE3 and if you don't like them, then you are a smart guy who is not a Grant Morrison fan. At least you have clear, thought out reasons, and you tried.

I will defend Morrison on one point here, though: EGO. Do not hate a creator for having a huge ego -- huge egos have given the world some of the best stuff there is: Wordsworth and Emerson, two of the best writers of any kind, had such egos they barely believed other people were real, but their writing is essential, important, and fun. Often, ego is the only way to get the job done, and we need the job done.

Also, though I have said Morrison is so smart, the better phrase is that he has a huge imagination (the Filth) and can be a great storyteller (WE3). He might not be as smart as some people think he is (or he thinks he is), but that is not the point, I think.

Anonymous said...

Geoff, thank you. I should point out , since it occurs to me I didn't really mention this in the initial post, that I did gain a new appreciation for some of Morrison's accomplishments when I first read your book. At that point, I had read some borrowed copies of scattered issues from Morrison's JLA run. (The fact that they were scattered were the fault of the friend lending them to me, not myself -- it was endlessly frustrating to me that he would, for example, lend me only four parts of a six part story!)

Possibly because my experience was so piecemeal, the stories never really clicked and I was left pretty cold by the experience.

So reading your take on JLA in "How to Read" was really great -- because I remembered some of the dialogue you were quoting, and it was so nice to have it finally put into the larger context that I hadn't seen when I read the actual issues. The book definitely lived up to its title for me, at that point! It was very instructional.

I'll give "Invisibles" or "WE3" a try at some point. And hopefully I'll finally be able to set straight whether Morrison is a writer that I can really enjoy, or if he'll always be just a writer that I enjoy watching other people, who are much smarter than I, talk about.

-- Jason Powell

Patrick said...


where and what are you teaching?

Geoff Klock said...

I currently teach two classes at LaGuardia Community College -- a class on poetry appreciation and Hamlet (a basic writing class), and a class (upcoming) on Kill Bill and genre (a research paper class).

Geoff Klock said...

Jason: let me warn you that the Invisibles is quite a mess: though it has great stuff in it, there is a lot to turn you off (much of the art work for example) if you are not a Morrison fan.

sara d. reiss said...

Haven't posted in awhile, but then again, I don't really need to.

But today I find myself with downtime at work and I just feel like screaming:


it's not that the fact that harry, a supposedly passionate, intelligent, incredibly talented multi-hyphenate, has been acting like a complete and utter gobshite in the last two episodes (two weeks ago she didn't get that people find devout christian girls hot -- er, ok -- this week she can't tell a joke? wtf was that all about, whatever it was it wasn't cute or funny) that irks me. And it's not matt's being a comedic genius but still haven't seen much truth to that, that's old news. It's the fact that, from what we keep being told, this is supposed to be a spark-filled, legendary romance. They are pushed at us like they are the next Hepburn and Tracy but they have as much chemistry as a dead trout and a piece of beef jerky of indeterminate age found under the radiator in your grandmother's guest room.

yes, this great romance between people we are constantly told are hilarious and fiery and passionate and such opposites they are irresistable to one another, yet whose scenes together are so riveting I use them as a chance to sort out my recipts for taxes will make for an excellent "special holiday episode"

well. that rant took up a good two minutes...

Geoff Klock said...

Sara: yeah. dead right, especially about Harriet not being able to tell a joke and saying that finding a devout person sexy was "counter-intuitive" (she has never heard of strippers wearing Catholic schoolgirl outfits?).

Patrick said...

Geoff, I wanted to drop you a note-I'm doing a presentation on Bloom's Anxiety of Influence tomorrow night and I plan on giving your book a plug.

Geoff Klock said...

Patrick: if you can give the BLOG a plug. Where and what are you teaching?

Patrick said...

I'm working on a Master's at Eastern Michigan University.

Anonymous said...

This blog seems to be filled with smart comic readers.

So am I the only one here who liked the television show "Heroes" more when it was called Watchmen?

Or Squadron Supreme?

Or New Universe?

Or Rising Stars?

Or the early Valiant universe?

Why can't comic book geeks be proud of comic books and only feel validated when the stories they enjoy show up in a mass medium, somehow putting a stamp of approval on their existence?


So sick of hearing about Heroes, when I have watched three episodes and not seen a single original idea the entire time.

Tim from MySpace

Matt Brady said...

Hey, Geoff, I just found your blog via Jog's link to your Casanova review on guttergeek. I followed the linktrail back here, and I'm liking what I see. I especially like this freeform comments post; it's good to invite discussion. I've only read a little of what you've got here, but I can already tell you'll be a new addition to my blogroll.

Notes on Grant Morrison: I really dig his writing, but I often find it hard to read his interviews, since a) he seems to have a big ego, or at least presents himself as such, and b) he's goes crazy promoting his stuff and hypes it up so much that it almost can't live up to the reputation he gives it. For instance, at the beginning of the Seven Soldiers project, he went to great lengths claiming each of the miniseries would stand alone apart from the others; hell, every ISSUE would be self-contained! It kind of obfuscated the intent of the series for me, and led to discussions (on Jog's blog, and other places) of how self-contained the issues were and what Morrison meant by that. So now I mostly avoid interviews with him, at least ones about upcoming works; I find his hype messes with my expectations for the series, so I would rather go in fresh and maybe read what he has to say later.

Studio 60: I'm finding that this show has really inspired some interesting debate on the inter-blogo-community-web. I've had some good discussions on and If you keep it up, I'm sure I'll join in the debates here as well.

And I'll go ahead and give myself a plug: my blog is at . I'm trying to keep up with previews and reviews of comics, as well as movies that I watch, and hell, whatever else I damn well feel like. The other night I wrote a review of volume 8 of Death Note, a highly enjoyable manga series; I think the review's readable, at least. Check it out, if you want.

Geoff Klock said...

Tim (and anyone else reading): my review of Heroes can be found by going to the archives for September and reading the post on the 25th (the day the show first aired). I can't say much more cause I never watched it again, and every ad for the show makes me glad I didn't see any more ("Save the cheerleader, save the world": how is that a hushed intense whisper and not a joke?).

Matt: glad to have you on board. Post often. And yeah, Morrison hype(and Studio 60) hype is a problem, but not the main one, when things go wrong.

Matt Brady said...

Regarding Heroes: I did watch the first episode, and it seemed kind of interesting (although mostly in potential), but I completely lost interest about halfway through the second episode. Maybe I'm just too used to reading comics; I've talked to several people who don't read comics that really like the show. The comic shop I go to each week has a shelf with recommendations of comics for people who like the show: Rising Stars, Squadron Supreme, The Long Halloween (Loeb and Sale both work on the show), etc. They also have recommendations for fans of The OC and other shows that might draw people into the store. It's a good idea.

Geoff Klock said...

matt: yeah, that is a good idea. As Auden said, and as I am fond of quoting, if someone likes boiled cabbage you don't get them to stop by telling them it is horrible, you get them to stop by introducing them to new and better foods and seeing if they see the difference.