Tougher – Better
You are much stronger than you think…

When is a Robin costume not a Robin costume?

Ever the Prince in waiting...

Conan O’Brien is one of my favorite performers in any medium.  Please click on the pic for a fantastic two minute stretch of Conan discussing a prank he pulled as President of the Harvard Lampoon.  Suffice it to say, Burt Ward caught the blunt end of the comedy stick that day my friends.

How does that tie into anything comics related?  Well, we’ll see if I can bring it all around.  If not?  Good for a chuckle and by Grace, that’s good enough.

I’ve heard it argued eloquently and recently (Too Busy Thinking About My Comics) that if you don’t understand a comic concept or property we are all better off if you just leave it alone.  One of the beautiful things about Colin’s blog is that the ideas don’t reduce well and clearly I’m short changing the breadth and depth of the thought by covering it in one paragraph.  Please do visit his site and catch up for yourself.

My take is that comics does not lend itself well to conservation.  As I’m reading the first 24 appearances of Batman for a piece I’m working on I have to tell you that the ideas in their infancy exhibit a kirby-esque crackle when read fresh and collected.  the speed with which Batman changes and morphs his methods, his unparalleled gallery of rogues, it all explodes NOW, NOW, NOW.

Before we get all out of sorts I don’t think by any means the original argument was to stagnate characters – only to put them into the right hands.

However, how can you rely on one position and damn it at the same time?  What post am I referring to?  Editors, my friends.  Editors.

We must remember that it is an editor’s role to decide whether or not a story has legs, an idea can sustain eight issues or four, a character can support one series or become a tent pole property.   Recently, we’ve seen editorial control driving more and more of our comics into dirty words and phrases like synergy, cohesive universes, and event comics. This tendency drives the books into the world of hooks and tie-ins.  Colin forgot to mention the derivative tag-along possibilities for the Friar Tuck, Little John, and Maid Marian spin-off one shots not to mention the Sheriff tie-in mini during his fever pitch for Robin Hood.

I think what it comes down to is the possibility that Editors need only be more selective about the possibilities inherent in a one page pitch.  “Where does this supremely talented person want to take me on this ride?”  “Where will we end and what is the state of the story and characters at that end?”

Don’t keep writers from characters.  The first step in a great story is always intent.  If someone wants to take a swing, it’s editorial responsibility, or in some cases irresponsibility, that lets them take the chance.  Writers SHOULD play the iconoclast.  Editors should be held responsible as the caretaker of a VERY unique bit of intellectual property.

Speaking of intellectual property…Oh, ah, Burt Ward’s Robin is not my Robin but it was a take that made a lot of people happy and a lot of money.  The good and the bad of it are up for debate – Schumacher’s Batman and Robin I’m giving you the stink-eye – but I’ll leave it to the side, keep the bits I like from other sources (Batman’s out of wedlock child is a 10 year old ninja with an artificial spine?  I’m in!) and build my own continuity.


One Response to “When is a Robin costume not a Robin costume?”

  1. Ha! Ex-Sherwood Forest Team-Up featuring the razor-edge-Bible throwing Lemur & Zombie Little John! I would buy it!

    Actually, I would write it too!

    You’re right that it’s the editorial role that’s key here, and I’m glad we both agree, implicitedly, that the editorial offices are far too often driving radical change when they should be assessing proposals from creators through a more stewardly eye. And since some editors and executives seem to have become comic-level celebrities in their own right, I fear that modesty and restraint where their decisions are concerned may not be the order of the day. But though I believe you’re closer to the “innovating” side of the debate and I’m closer to the “leave it the hell alone” side, the fact we agree on the editor’s particular role is a cool thing. If I may say ‘cool’. I am too old to say ‘cool’.

    And of course a totally static stewarded universe would be no good to anyone. It’s a hell of a juggling act that istewardship demands. And of course, we both know that something which no decent steward should have let get made such as Schumacher’s Batman & Robin must be loved by tens of thousands of kids in that “I watched it when I was young” way.Even ‘bad’ developments seem to inspire love and respect, which means …. something disturbing which I’m not going to consider now.

    Have a good day, Mr S!

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