Oh, by Dennis O’Neil
Sunday, August 17: 155 days left.
Our man the brush clearer is back in Crawford, taking it easy. Having already set a record for presidential vacation days, he’s obviously trying for a record that no future chief executive can possibly hope to break. This may not be how everyone would like to be remembered.
Back when I occupied the celestial throne that is the sinecure of all those noble beings known – here you may genuflect – as editors … make that Editors – this was the time of year when life got calmer. Big travel was done – no trips to distant cities to attend conventions – and the increased summer publishing load completed. We put out fewer issues in the fall because, conventional wisdom had it, the kids were too busy with school concerns to bother with funny books. The same logic dictated that during the summer we cram the newsstands because, presumably, the nation’s youth had nothing better to do with their long, humid days than to laze around getting massive four-color fixes and, besides, since they didn’t have to buy crayons or switchblades or whatever school kids bought, they had disposable income to spend on our productions. Which, of course, was why late spring and early summer demanded industriousness from editorial types. Those printing presses out there in the Midwest were maws…
All that was probably true once. But because the ways comics are marketed, and to some extent read, I doubt that it is true now. But I don’t know. Any editors – working editors, that is – care to enlighten the old man?
The point is, though I was a comics editor at the two major companies for about 23 years… I don’t know. I have a sense that the business has changed a lot in the seven years since I occupied the celestial throne mentioned three paragraphs ago (seven years already?). My skills might be more-or-less okay (though I’m not even sure of that), but my attitudes and assumptions would need work.
Were I to return to the celestial throne, the worse mistake I could make, arguably, would be to ignore the changes that have occurred during my absence, No, check that: maybe the worst mistake would be to think that the changes were wrong and I didn’t have to pay them any mind because my way, gosh darn it, is the right way. Then, if I really wanted to go for the horse’s ass prize, I’d brag about my ignorance.
These glum reflections are in part, as you may have guessed, occasioned by the current political situation which is a lot iffier, and therefore a lot scarier, than it was a month or two ago.
Nothing left to do but heave a big ol’ sigh, I guess. Because beating one’s head against the wall is so Twentieth Century!
RECOMMENDED READING: The Closing of the Western Mind, by Charles Freeman.
Dennis O’Neil is an award-winning editor and writer of Batman, The Question, Iron Man, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and The Shadow – among others – as well as many novels, stories and articles. The Question: Epitaph For A Hero, reprinting the third six issues of his classic series with artists Denys Cowan and Rick Magyar, will be on sale in September, and his novelization of the movie The Dark Knight is on sale right now. He’ll be taking another shot at the ol’ Bat in an upcoming story-arc, too.