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Old August 27th, 2005   Matches is offline   #1
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Default Bill Willingham speaks re: War Crimes

Offered without comment.

Bill Willingham's words on the story...

full text here

"Yes, deliberately withholding treatment, except in the context of a legitimate triage decision, is quite the unequivocal violation of the Hippocratic oath. In a court of law one could reasonably expect to be found guilty of murder.

"Seems like Leslie snapped. Seems like Batman doesn't like her much anymore (though he still couldn't bring himself to be the one who brought her in).

"After this issue came out, I took a rare tour of other message boards to try to gauge what the general reaction might be. As expected, it was overwhelmingly negative, with lots of "how dare Willingham do this!" What I didn't expect is how much message traffic this book would generate. Message boards that might have one or two regulars post every few days, or so, suddenly exploded with five and six pages of new messages per day.

"Here's something you readers need to realize: Though we generally hope readers will like our stories, hating them is almost as good. Hating them so much that yours is the one book everyone is talking about now -- well that's golden. One can't hate without passion and involvement. The one reaction we most fear is indifference.

"Yes, I'm a little put out by the (at least three and counting) reputedly male readers who posted testimony that they wept after reading this issue (one claiming it was for the loss of innocence). Not that I believe they actually did. But I'm still from an early enough #### generation to find men claiming to act like overly dramatic little girls just a little bit cringe-making.

"And of course there were scores of those claiming that this incident was the last straw and they're giving up my books, or the Bat books, or all comic books, forever. Here's a splash of water for everyone who ever has or ever will make such an hysterical claim on a message board: We never believe you. If you're the type to indulge in "how dare they do that!" we know you'll always be back for further outrages. Those addicted to indignation need constant indignation feeding.

"But, that aside, all is good. Feel free to blame me for ruining Batman. I could claim that editorial mandates were in force here and thereby split the blame a bit, but I think this time I won't. I willingly took the job, and I'm too greedy to want to share the credit this time.

"How do you like them apples?"
 
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Old August 27th, 2005   Chris Hansbrough is offline   #2
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"But, that aside, all is good. Feel free to blame me for ruining Batman. I could claim that editorial mandates were in force here and thereby split the blame a bit, but I think this time I won't. I willingly took the job, and I'm too greedy to want to share the credit this time."

I always blame things on editorial....
 
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Old August 27th, 2005   callla is offline   #3
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While I respect him for not blaming this on editorial, I'm more than a little tired of hearing creators whine about and/or talk down to "internet fans."

I don't care whether he believes I actually dropped Robin because of him or not (though to be fair, I stopped at 134, months ago). And I don't, actually, believe my dropping the book made any difference in...anything. I just didn't want to spend my money on it anymore.

But the fact that I did drop the book at all - and the fact that I, by delurking to post about this specific story, contributed to the traffic phenomenon he mentions - well, it rather makes me the sort of fan he's bitching at, doesn't it?

Oh well. I'm going to go cry like an overly dramatic little girl now - he's laid such an awesome internet smackdown on me. I cannot cope. ("Reputedly male." As though it would be any more normal if these supposidly crying fans were female. )
 
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Old August 27th, 2005   married guy is offline   #4
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He is right though. In somuch that it IS a win when people are talking about the book. Good, bad or indifferent people are talking about the book and giving it some much needed 'face time'.
He's also right in saying the people who often cry "HOW DARE THEY DO THIS!" don't drop the book.
It's time to worry when there's NO conversation about the title and the numbers start falling. He's done EXACTLY what he was hired to do.
 
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Old August 27th, 2005   callla is offline   #5
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Oh, I agree, married guy. Regardless of whether I liked the book or not, I certainly bought it, and I've spoken to quite a few people about it. If his sole purpose was to make money, he did a great job, and I don't have a problem with that.
 
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Old August 27th, 2005   Sk8maven is offline   #6
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He is right though. In somuch that it IS a win when people are talking about the book. Good, bad or indifferent people are talking about the book and giving it some much needed 'face time'.
ddf
married guy
Controversy always works - in the short run. But to survive, businesses need to look at the long haul - and these days that's exactly what DC doesn't seem to be doing. It's just one shock after another after another.

Being talked about for a short time (for how awful a story was/how dreadful it was to do that) is one thing. Being talked about YEARS later (for what a great issue/series that was) is quite another.

He's also right in saying the people who often cry "HOW DARE THEY DO THIS!" don't drop the book.
ddf
That needs rephrasing to "often the people who cry HOW DARE THEY DO THIS! don't drop the book". But sometimes they DO. And sometimes they decide that if that's what comics in general are becoming, then comis in general is no place for them - and they drop ALL comic books.

Haven't you ever wondered why the "despised, silly" Silver Age sold umpteen times more copies per month than the "kewl", "gritty" modern age?

It's time to worry when there's NO conversation about the title and the numbers start falling. He's done EXACTLY what he was hired to do.
ddf
Uh...yarite. I just hope he's still of the same mind when the fans are still spitting at the mention of his name ten years from now.

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Old August 27th, 2005   Chris Hansbrough is offline   #7
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Haven't you ever wondered why the "despised, silly" Silver Age sold umpteen times more copies per month than the "kewl", "gritty" modern age?
ddf
I equate that more to being able to get 300 cable television channels for pretty **** cheap and having video games that can tell a story that starts and ends. back in the silver age there wasn't as much media to compete with. Fans weren't alienated away from comics so much as they were seduced away by more interactive mediums. It's also been killed by the 90's multiple cover boom which took comics off the shelf of stores and has put them strictly in the hands of comic shops which in a lot of cases are not very pleasant places to go. Because of that iut's hard to create new fans. Movies are insanley popular but guess what. the people that love the movies don't read the books. why is that......as I said it's a competing medium. X-men 3 isn't going to cause a spike in x-men sales. batman begins didn't cause batman sales to go up. same fith fantastic four and spider man. the comic s community is an enclosed one and it's hard to get in to. that's the reason people have steadily dissapeared. someone has a kid and needs to cut back there is noone there to replace him. I think you'll find the alienation from all comics reason to be few and far between...Yes you hate all DC the same way I hate Green Arrow. good. but don't say that's the reason fans aren't being brought in......there is no mainstream comic culture anymore. there used to be.
 
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Old August 27th, 2005   callla is offline   #8
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Controversy always works - in the short run. But to survive, businesses need to look at the long haul - and these days that's exactly what DC doesn't seem to be doing. It's just one shock after another after another.

Being talked about for a short time (for how awful a story was/how dreadful it was to do that) is one thing. Being talked about YEARS later (for what a great issue/series that was) is quite another.
ddf
Sk8maven
Hmm. It's been, what, three years since Devin Grayson started writing Nightwing? Her sales now (last month's 38,000+; admittedly it's a tie in, but June was at 36,000 +) are slightly more than her sales were in the beginning (33,000+ for her second issue, August 2002) - this in spite of the huge amount of internet bile that gets flung in her direction. In fact, the most recent month to month sales put her at a 28.3% increase over the past two years. People might rant and rave about how much they dislike her work now, and they might continue to do so long after her run is over and/or she's left the business, but the numbers are there.

Compare that to a longtime fan-favorite writer like Waid, who has a book selling in roughly the same range (Legion) whose sales continue to fall in spite of great reviews. People still talk about how much they loved his run on Flash, his work in KC, etc. - but it isn't keeping his book from losing thousands of readers each month, and neither is the great buzz it's been getting.

The state of things might indeed be too short term. But I don't see the entire industry reconfiguring its sales tactics when even the books with noisily unhappy fans are selling in the 30,000+ range - and books with great buzz and dedicated fans, like Manhunter, just aren't. We can whine all we want, but it's how the money's moving that tells the industry what sells.

I don't like seeing it this way, but it really seems like it isn't *just* about making people happy in the short OR long run. I don't mean to say that no creators care, or that none should care, because that's just not true. But for those who don't - like, apparently, Willingham - it's more to do with money and short term sales. And if his job, or even his goal, was to make money with this issue, I'd say he was successful.

Uh...yarite. I just hope he's still of the same mind when the fans are still spitting at the mention of his name ten years from now.
ddf
Willingham's nonfans (of whom I am one) are in a dificult position because no matter how poorly he writes Batman or Robin or...whatever, he's also the creator of Fables, which is supposed to be all intelligent and deep and whatnot (I wouldn't know). At this point, I'm not sure whether he'll be remembered more for his work on that book or his work in the mainstream DCU.
 
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Old August 27th, 2005   Chris Hansbrough is offline   #9
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maybe I need to start pissing all over marc to get people to read manhunter......the book is horrible....so everyone needs to buy it so they can complain too.
 
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Old August 27th, 2005   Adam Jones is offline   #10
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I love Willingham's stuff, and respect him even more for this now.
 
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Old August 27th, 2005   callla is offline   #11
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I agree, Chris. A smear campaign is clearly in order!
 
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Old August 27th, 2005   married guy is offline   #12
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The bottom line is it sells.
Hell, Joe Quesada & Bill Jemas REDEFINED the technique!
Everyone STILL bristles over Chuck Austen, but his work STILL sold well.
In fact, if memory serves, sold BETTER than BEFORE he took over the reins of the titles in some instances.

Like it or hate it, controversy works.
 
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Old August 28th, 2005   John Hays is offline   #13
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While I respect him for not blaming this on editorial, I'm more than a little tired of hearing creators whine about and/or talk down to "internet fans."

I don't care whether he believes I actually dropped Robin because of him or not (though to be fair, I stopped at 134, months ago). And I don't, actually, believe my dropping the book made any difference in...anything. I just didn't want to spend my money on it anymore.

But the fact that I did drop the book at all - and the fact that I, by delurking to post about this specific story, contributed to the traffic phenomenon he mentions - well, it rather makes me the sort of fan he's bitching at, doesn't it?

Oh well. I'm going to go cry like an overly dramatic little girl now - he's laid such an awesome internet smackdown on me. I cannot cope. ("Reputedly male." As though it would be any more normal if these supposidly crying fans were female. )
ddf
callla
Yeah, it's not very professional for a DC writer to post an "oh yeah, well sucks to you!" type of post, regardless of where they're coming from. Geoff's never posted anything like that, at leas that I know of. Sounds remarkably like what Ron Marz said in an interview shortly after Emerald Twilight. (not trying to compare the quality of the stories in any way, just the remarks)

By the way, the idea that massive internet chatter equates to higher sales wouldn't be accurate, since I, like many, have been interested in reading the threads regarding this, but never actually picked the issue itself up.
 
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Old August 28th, 2005   FotoCub is offline   #14
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To be honest, all the controversy aside, the story made sense to me as a good way to remove Leslie from the book in a semi-permanent way. Let's be real: she's a second Alfred and a way less interesting one. DC is making a firm attempt to strip Batman to the bare necessities: not relying on Oracle, getting rid of his army (sending Robin & Batgirl away, killing off Orpheus and Spoiler, sending Huntress off to the Birds of Prey), making him at odds with the police again, and now removing a character that was shoehorned unnecessarily into his story in the eighties & nineties.

Course, Willingham could have been a little less snide in his remarks, but then again, I'm not sure I'd be inclined to act any other way in the same situation.
 
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Old August 28th, 2005   Jeffrey Neary is offline   #15
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Three words.

I love it.

 
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Old August 28th, 2005   Michael Painter is offline   #16
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eh, still have to say from Bill this,
Keep doing fantasy stuff, your Bat book worked has majorly sucked, and it really doesn't interest me to see paranormal stuff in Robin, or to see retread on an arc that didn't make a difference at all to me. I never bought War Games or whatever, and I won't care about Gotham city from a writer until I see something in where I see a story arc that is done by one writer in one book.
Sorry, never cared what's happened in Gotham, except for Gotham Central, and even there I might drop the book. So Bill be proud all you want because I'll only buy Fables and Jack of Fables from you whenever you write something.
 
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