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Thursday, July 05, 2007


John Byrne in a Nutshell

Queen Bitch, on the New Gods Omnibus: "the first volume has an introduction by Grant Morrison, who is, of course, well known for his association with these characters."

John, that you can't see the fundamental connection between Morrison and Kirby is exactly your problem. Hint: it's not about redoing the same exact comics that Kirby already did first, and better. Morrison wrote the introduction not because he did time in the trenches doing alternately decent and forgettable Kirby homages like you, but because he is the obvious heir to Kirby's weird, boundless creativity. He actually took the old man up on the challenge to fill the world with your own crazy-ass shit. When he's actually worked on books Kirby started, like X-Men, he, unlike you, has had the good sense to make them contemporary, make them relevant, and make them his own. You're a decent (even improving) penciller, John, but most of your career has been illuminated by reflected light from Kirby's sun. What's bizarre is that you actively decided to do this, like it was the moral high ground.

The Invisibles. The Filth. WE3. Vimanarama. Seaguy. Seven Soldiers. JLA: Rock of Ages. Flex Mentallo. That's why Morrison got to write the introduction.

What you said, brother.

Though I will add, when it comes to straight-up direct homage, the Mister Miracle and Manhattan Guardian and Klarion components of Seven Soldiers each showed a vastly greater appreciation of Kirby's values and moral character than John Byrne has ever been able to summon in any of his slavish attempts at redrawing Kirby.

What Morrison did isn't what Kirby would have done -- and yeah, he'd probably have said "hey, this kid does great coming up with his own stuff, so why would he want to copy someone else?" -- but I wouldn't be embarassed to think of Kirby seeing one of those Morrison stories. I'm sickened to think of Kirby seeing some of what Byrne has done.

Byrne's love for Kirby is clearly genuine, so far as that goes...but by his words and actions he's only ever proved that he doesn't understand the thing he loves so much, and he doesn't know anything about the man who created them.
Given the amount of original material Morrison has come up with, I like to think Kirby would see the runs on JLA, X-Men, etc. as akin to Kirby's own work on Green Arrow and Jimmy Olsen. In each case, Morrison added tons of freaky new concepts & characters to the company properties. Didn't Arnold Drake consider Morrison to be the only one who ever got the spirit of what Drake was trying to do with Doom Patrol? It's not about trapping Mento and Beast Boy in amber issue after issue, but about introducing Danny the Street.

And to give Byrne his due, he did have a brief window from X-Men through Fantastic Four where he nailed his surface Kirby homage so well that it's hard for me to criticize it--even if he's never displayed a facility with Kirby's ideas or ideals.
Preach on!
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Not to mention, of course, that Grant Morrison is, even ignorning his connections with Kirby, one of the greatest writers to ever contribute to the medium of comics, and of a higher stratum of creator/cashcow than Byrne will ever hope of returning to for the rest of his now-decidedly-mediocre career.

I mean, seriously, why does Byrne even show his face in public anymore? When was the last time he actually did something good, let alone something that would warrant the autofellatio?

I know, trying to rationalize it, but... it just makes me so angry!

(God I'm a Morrison fanboy. Kill me.)
John Byrne is a sad case. The most bitter, twisted prick in comics, his gift has long since left him and all he can seem to do these days is fling shit from his filthy gilded cage.

I used to be a real fan, but then I realized he hasn't said anything original since the early eighties.
I long ago stopped feeling any annoyance for Byrne's increasingly idiotic ravings.
Instead I've just started to feel increasing pity for someone so obviously eaten up with an feeling of unfairness with the (comics) world.
His primary arguments appear to be:
Why am I not as famous as (insert good author's name here).
Why do my comics not sell anymore?
Why do people think I'm an unoriginal, washed out has-been?

Sad really.
I loathe John Byrne, probably a little bit more intensely than I loathe Grant Morrison, so... um... well... never mind, then.
John Byrne is STILL God.
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