Monday, October 6, 2003

Looking To The Stars: Thank You, Mr. Kurtz!

In the course of writing about comics over the last few years, I have gotten some attention from the creators whose works I critique. Some were thankful, saying that it was nice to see someone who got what they were trying to do and spread the word about their good works. Some thanked me for the criticism, which hurtful as it may have been, ultimately made them think of things in different ways and attempt to be better writers. Some have hurled insults and questioned my manhood, my mother’s virtue and my own intelligence after reading a bad review of their work. But only one man has gone through the effort to make a public stink about a negative review and in so doing inspired dozens of his fans to write me and tell me about what a horrible person I am for not seeing the brilliance of said writer’s work. That writer is Scott Kurtz, and I am forever indebted to him.

Last week Mr. Kurtz linked to one of my columns from about six months ago from his comic’s website, comparing it to a more favorable review at I’m pleased to report that thanks to Mr. Kurtz linking to 411 Comics, our hits on the first day after his news post were triple the usual rate- a trend that continued throughout the week! The editorial staff couldn’t be more pleased and have in turn tripled my salary in response and have given me carte blanche to stir up as much controversy as I want in my future writings. Look for “Reasons Why I Am A Better Person Than Jesus: Part One” next week.

I feel it worth noting that while I did get quite a few unflattering letters from Mr. Kurtz’s fans, not all of them were filled with profanity, poor spelling and poorly spelled profanity. Some of them did make some good points about my original column that showed me that some of the statements I made were slightly inaccurate. Well, in the interest of clarity and fairness, here are some quick corrections taken from the mouths of the fans themselves…

Apparently Mr. Kurtz has made mention, in the six months since my review, that his book was always intended to be an “anthology” of his past work and was meant to give him a chance to go back and improve old comics. PvP #4, for example, was done to allow him to redraw the first few strips featuring teenage female Marcy in her new and improved form. Any fault in failing to advertise this fact to those of us who don’t regularly review the PvP website is therefore the fault of Image Comics, who advertised the comic as new material. I would like to apologize for implying that Mr. Kurtz was intentionally scamming the comic-reading public and applaud him for making an effort to go back and improve his past works.

I stated, incorrectly, that Mr. Kurtz does not archive the daily comments from his main page, regarding various bits of news and complaints about the current story arc – such as the one I noted regarding his anti-Furry arc and his comment that the people sending him angry letters should stay away from his dog. In fact, he does archive these comments. I simply missed the link, which is not on the prominent display bar at the top of his page under “Rants” but in size 2 font, lower down on the page, between a banner ad and the most recent news articles. I would like to apologize for this oversight.

I stated that based on what I had read of some of Mr. Kurtz’s comments and strips that he seemed incapable of taking criticism in any form, negative or comparative. One reader, who agreed with most of my comments, informed me that the very same week my column saw print, Mr. Kurtz saw fit to shut down the official PvP forum on his website, for reasons that are detailed here.

I make no comment upon this, save that you should read all eleven pages here and judge for yourselves the thinness of his skin.

Finally, I was accused by some of bad-mouthing Mr. Kurtz just to get attention and to break into the comics business. Ignoring all issues of the wisdom of trying to break into a business by insulting the people in it, there are many writers and artists with a much larger readership who I could spew bile at in a pathetic attempt to get a few more readers of my work. I could say bad things about Geoff Johns, for example, and expect a sizable amount of hits from the readers of Teen Titans, JSA, Hawkman, Avengers and The Flash. That would certainly make more sense than my attacking a writer/artist who self-published most of his work – assuming my goal was to drum up publicity for my own work.

However, that is not my goal in writing this column. I am not out to destroy anyone’s career nor promote my own. I doubt quite frankly that I have so much power that my word can sway so many hearts and minds as to make a major difference in a comic company’s policies of what they will and won’t publish.

And even if I did possess that kind of power, I would try to use it, not to end careers, but to save them. Like I would dearly like to save the job of Ben Raab, whose work on Green Lantern I was enjoying immensely. Sadly, I seem to be in the minority as DC Comics has announced that Issue #175 will be Raab’s last on the title. Raab wrote to me earlier this week regarding last week’s “Looking To The Stars”, regarding his work on Green Lantern.

Just read your defense of my run on GL thus far and wanted to say "thanks". Nice to see someone gets what I'm doing with these characters and their ongoing stories... Sincerely hope you (and everyone else at 411) will enjoy where I take them in the upcoming months...

I know I will, Ben. I hope that everyone who agrees with me will join me in writing to DC Comics and asking for you to remain on Green Lantern.

Before I go, one final thought. I write this column simply as a voicing of my opinion, which is no more valid or invalid than any other. We all have the right to our own tastes and opinions and should have the right to voice those opinions without having to worry about the negative reactions of other people.

So if you enjoy PvP, good for you. I personally do not, but that is just me. If you don’t like Green Lantern, that’s fine too. I love it, but that’s just one fanboy’s opinion. If you don’t enjoy my critiques, you don’t have to read them. I certainly enjoy the comments I get about my writing but nobody is holding a gun to your head and making you read my work. At least I hope not. If you want to send a letter to my editor demanding that I be fired for my opinions, ask me for his e-mail address and I’ll refer you to him.

Tune in next week. Same Matt Time. Same Matt Website. Assuming I’m not fired before then.

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