Wednesday, March 04, 2020

A Farewell to Tom

In an interview with today on his forthcoming book Strange Adventures (where he'll tell some tale of self-disillusionment with Adam Strange and the dirty, stinking Rannies), author Tom King said,

"Hello, I'm Tom King. I make people cry for a living and it's a weird way to earn a dollar."

Doesn't that just say it all?

Tom King views making people sad AS HIS JOB.  Well, he's certainly made plenty of people miserable with his writing of Batman, so: Achievement Unlocked, Tom. Time to move on.

Look; I get it.  I was a stage performer for 25 years.  Being able to move people to tears IS one of the most intoxicating experiences an entertainer can have, and I LOVED doing it. It makes you feel as though your art has meaning and that it actually touches people.

But there are good touches and there are bad touches.  When I was a performer it was my job to make people cry. But it was also my job to make them laugh.  And smile  And exult. And ponder. And reflect. And relax.  Etc. My job as a performer was to be ABLE to do all of those and to vary which I was doing.  Singing the same note again and again and again doesn't make a song.  Or at least, not a very good one.

That's an exception. Along with One Direction's "Kiss You" and the bulk of Gregorian chant.

Tom King has a one-note song of sadness and it isn't our sadness or Batman's... it's just his and we've been paying to watch him sing it. 

Batman's fed up, too.
And he's a pretty patient guy as a rule.

I want the corpse of Julie Schwartz or Mort Weisinger (who weren't particularly pleasant WHEN STILL ALIVE) to claw out of the grave and drive Tom King and all those like him from the temple of DC:

Like that, but with more flaying and fewer pigeons.

Time to go, Tom, and inspire emotions OTHER than sadness as you do.


John C said...

Eh. There's only, like, seven pigeons. I say keep'em. I little scrubbing, some shrewd public relations, and they're doves, and people like doves. Mr. My-Nipple-and-I-Must-Faint-but-We-Forgot-Our-Fainting-Couch, though...
But yeah. There's definitely a huge space in the industry for talking about PTSD, especially among the anti-heroes, who are surely traumatizing themselves in every story (to say nothing of the opponents they're maiming and killing), but...wah, look how damaged the heroes are is...well, it's insulting and already hack comedy when Watchmen was first published.
That said, Adam Strange with King-imposed PTSD almost makes sense, since Adam's basically surrogate mother to a billion needy toddlers. We read the parts where they're screaming, "Adam, we're under attack by the Khund armada and never considered building our own weapons, even though this sort of thing happens at least once a week!" But you just know that, between stories, it suddenly shifts to "Adam, there's a monster under my bed!" and "Adam, I can't reach the thing on the shelf!" I never understood how they made the logical leap from not being able to have children to being unable to defend themselves.

Bryan L said...

The weird thing to me is that I've never experienced emotion from a Tom King story. Well, maybe ennui, but is that on the emotional spectrum? Is there a Lantern Corps for Boredom? I haven't been keeping track that closely. There's an Anger Corps, right? Pretty sure he's made me angry (Wally West) but even that is fleeting. A better writer will retcon it eventually.

I digress. My point was I certainly never cried from a Tom King story. At all. I'm not sure I actually remember any, except for the Wally West debacle. So maybe he should set himself another goal, like writing a decent story? I mean, let's not go nuts and shoot for "good," let's just aim for "okay."

And before someone asks why I'm reading it if I don't like it, my wife is a librarian and I basically "curate" the graphic novel collection for her. So yeah, free comics. I should check the circulation numbers on King's work, but y'know, ennui.

cybrid said...

I've never read any of his stories. Sounds like I've missed out on nothing.

John C said...

I wanted to follow up on this, because King has a brief (and poorly done, honestly) interview on DC Universe, where he describes his Adam Strange story as trying to deconstruct (probably not the word he used) the colonial-influenced stories that the Adam/Rann concept descends from. I'm honestly not against a story that puts some distance between the characters and the idea that everybody in the universe needs a strong human of European descent to show them how to survive in the places they've been living for millions of years...

Neil said...

Honestly, I'm not a fan of his way of writing dialogue. It's akin to what Shonda Rimes does and drives me crazy when my daughters are watching one of her shows.

The dialogue is a lot of short, repetitive sentences. Someone says something, to which another character replies, quoting a specific word or phrase. That then gets restated again by the first person speaking. And on and on. It totally takes me out of the moment.

The shows, comics, and movies I enjoy the most are the ones that make me feel the most. I want to laugh, cry, feel scared, sympathize, root for someone, etc. I'm re-watching Scrubs while introducing it to my youngest. That show got it. One moment you'd be laughing your head off and then next brought to tears. Run me through the emotional spectrum, get me to want to care, so when the moment comes, I do.

yrzhe said...

"The Iraq invasion recontextualized as a superhero comic" was powerful and evocative the first time around, but it's not really a gimmick that can keep getting repackaged with different superheroes.

I thought Sheriff of Babylon was excellent. They might be less commercially viable than the DC franchise characters, but I'd really prefer if King got to move on to writing more straight war dramas along those lines.

Scipio said...

"Is there a Lantern Corps for Boredom?"
Yes. The Grey Lanterns. Their oath takes an entire arc to recite.