I was talking with my girlfriend the other day and she told me an interesting anecdote regarding her and a friend of hers. She told me she had been having lunch with her friend and they were discussing a number of things, comics, of course, being one of them and her friend asked her, “what does Josh think of Ryan Reynolds playing Green Lantern?” As the question punctured the air in her retelling the world grew distant from me and at the same moment fired a needlepoint hole through my forehead right into my brain summoning hundreds if not thousand of memories of convention goer, comic store clerk, patron, friend, coworker, classmate, teacher and any and everything in between asking me question of “what does Neal think of…” or “Do you think Neal…yadda, yadda.”
A fuse blew out in my head that day. A functioning part of my brain is simply gone, lost to the realization that there would be a time where I wouldn’t be the Metatron to my father’s opinions of which others would seek and that the time has come where what I might say may, not only be worth hear to some, but may actually represent a unique point of view in this industry.
Now I stand upon the precipice of a power trip which, if not careful will lead to ridicule. I will try not to take that leap but be gentle if I do. I have grown up in the age of internet forums and chat rooms and have learned enough to know that you can’t please all the people all the time, not because it is impossible but because it makes you a whore, devoid of a respectable opinion and beyond just a simple malleability. I will end up saying things that people won’t like. If that is the case, those of you who don’t like it, I will be glad to point you in the direction of the door. (Please don’t go towards the door, we like you here, even if Josh doesn’t – Rich)
I consider myself a friendly person but I can be blunt at times. My good friend and writing partner, Matt Bergin has reminded me that I am often very headstrong when it comes to approaching DC with ideas and rather than broaching the subject gently I will call and state “This is Josh Adams, I have a pitch for so-and-so, I need to get a meeting with Dan” or the time I showed up at the DC Offices dressed as Green Arrow, or Superman.
That said, lets get down to business.First on the list, Jeff Balke. Mr Balke has been accused of a number of things all under the umbrella of, well, I guess fraud (This is Josh’s opinion. I prefer to see it more as creative photocopying for profit – Rich). There is a certain understanding between publishers and professionals that they can print things like sketchbooks and the like for shows that do depict licensed characters because they are either being used under the terms of “fair use” (look it up if you don’t know it) (I did Josh, but I don’t think it means what you think it means – Rich) or it’s simply a small run book that isn’t going to hurt the sales of a big publisher. That said, it is different when a piece of work, commissioned by a publisher, or any single entity, is reprinted without consent for profit. Furthermore, to misrepresent oneself as the creator of said piece is downright dishonest. We have come a long way in this industry, too far to be hurt by the ignorance of someone who thinks they can profit immorally from the work of someone else. Convention organizers should be wary of this man’s name, and would be doing themselves a service by denying him space in artist alley (I think there may be other solutions – licensing of images perhaps? Getting permission from the original artists? That sort of thing – Rich).
On a different note, I was looking at DC’s Wednesday Comics, a brilliant little idea from Mark Chiarello, and it got me to thinking, “why must all good ideas be pushed to the point of getting driven into the ground? The Wednesdays is a twelve part series and I applaud the decision to make it so. Often when something turns out to be good the first question is “well, how can we do more?” I think that was the case with weekly comics and television shows like Prison Break. It’s true, I will close part twelve, put it on the table and be left wanting more, but that is the appropriate feeling, isn’t it? I shouldn’t have to get to the eventual end of something after fifty issues and think, “God, I’m glad they finally put this dog down.” It makes me wonder what the future of comics will have in store for its most popular characters. I can’t say I blame anyone for killing off their characters. Sometimes it’s just to protect the overall story. I mean, even Sherlock Holmes died once.
It actually brings me back to an earlier point, I suppose, because after Sherlock Holmes was “killed” along with Moriarty, the uproar it caused and the sudden lack of income it created eventually brought about the resurfacing (almost literally) of Holmes and even Moriarty. For those who don’t know when Holmes “died” he was actually transported to another planet to fight Darkseid…I think. But the point is, while Arthur Conan Doyle might have offed Holmes because he believed it the best way to close the book on Sherlock Holmes (actually pun totally not intended) there was a faction of people who believed otherwise and so much so, that he came back. I mean usually the more profitable opinion is the one that comes out on top. I mean, ever wonder why it takes Jack Bauer exactly 24 hours to solve a crisis and why he has so many of these really crappy days? Or why a show about escaping a prison has gone on for so long? Or why some fairly unknown colorist can lie about whose work they are coloring and improperly copy others work for his profit? Or why publishers don’t have a problem with the production of convention sketchbooks featuring their characters without a proper license?
I’m not saying Jeff Balke is right. Quite honestly he strikes me as pretty sleazy (Your mileage may vary, some people tell me he’s a tip top fellow – Rich) but he is providing a service that people will pay for and will keep on providing until it becomes unprofitable…that is…unless enough people stand up against a cause that is profiting from immorality. Think I am being too preachy? I apologize. I also apologize to Jeff Balke, I didn’t mean to make such an active effort exploit the way you exploit others hard work.
On a side note, my father along with Raphael Medoff had been working with the late Dina Babbitt to get her art returned to her from the Auschwitz Museum. I’d tell you more about it but you can read up on her and her story anywhere on the internet. As some of you may be aware, she passed away a few weeks ago, but she still has a family and they still want to get her art returned. I understand the point of view that it does more good historically to be in a museum, but that is not the point. The point is she deserves to have the choice to put them in a museum. She deserves the choice because without that choice those pieces of art are hanging there as a sign of work she was forced to do to stay alive, to keep her mother from being executed. They represent her last freedom from the hardships she went through, and that freedom has been denied.
I’m not asking anything of anyone beyond simply knowing her story. As the saying, knowledge is power, it’s up to you to decide what to do with it.
Josh Adams work can be found at whatwouldjoshdo.com. He will answer questions sent to email@example.com in the next column. Lawyers willing. His opinions are, naturally, his own. Also, the Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern visual pictured here by Josh Adams was not traced, but it made for a good headline.