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It is genuinely galling that Hadjou's science is shitty enough to think the Marvel Method is how ANYBODY makes comics now, let alone everybody. It started in, what, 1963? Dominated the market in 1968, mostly dead by 1973 - the birth year of Seth MacFarlane, Oscar de la Hoya, and Neve Campbell. Poo on him, man. Poo.

If you want charismatic sociopaths in your John Helyar books, "Lords of the Realm" is the book for you. It's a thorough history of the labor relations between the owners of Major League Baseball and its players. MLB's owners have been narrow-minded, venal, arrogant, short-sighted bastards pretty much the entire history of baseball as a professional sport. I'm assuming most of you couldn't give two shits about baseball, but a good book is a good book. Hey, "Moneyball" - Michael Lewis's biggest hit - is his most enjoyable book (I haven't read "The New New Thing," but I've read all the others.) It's kind of strange that baseball has such an enormous wealth of excellent literature, both fiction and non-, easily three or five or maybe even ten times the number of great books as every other sport put together. God damn, I'm boring. I should buy a donut.

When I was a kid, "Dune" was always ranked number one on the list of best Sci-Fi books ever. I read it when I was young, didn't see what the big deal was. It was certainly no "Lathe of Heaven" or "Valis" or "Foundation" or "Cat's Cradle" or "The Demolished Man." BUT, Tucker, I think you have acceptable taste, so maybe I was just too callow to dig "Dune"'s flavors. I found it dry, you know?

I liked Moneyball, that was a pretty interesting book. I wouldn't say I don't give a shit about baseball, but i've probably watched 1000 football games for every one baseball game i've ever seen.

Dune-i do question how much of my enjoyment of it might stem from never having read books in this particular genre before, excluding comics. It was dry, at times ridiculous, but i just can't deny that it was one of the more addictive plane books ever. If i'd doled it out over a few weeks, it's totally possible i would've gotten bogged down and irritated by the droning. But stuck inside it for long periods of time--it just worked.

I should also buy a donut, but in all honesty, the donut places in my neighborhood are complete shit. Krispy Kreme's refusal to enter the Brooklyn market it one of the great tragedies of our time.

Speaking of writing, that is one fine sentence and example of logic you display to begin your screed about David Hajdu. Wow. It only got worse from there.

Well, here you go then: http://www.monkeysvsrobots.com/mvsrpm/features-articles_comments.php?id=320_0_22_0_C

Follow that link, and you can read Michael Chabon (he's a pretty good writer, although I've only read a couple of his books) going after the exact essay that I'm referring to.

Now I'm wondering about how Chabon thinks 300 is a good counter-argument.

It's nice to be read and to be read closely. Thanks for that. I disagree with most of what you wrote about me, and I find some of it harsh, unfair; and, at points, cruel. Still, I appreciate that you've taken my work seriously enough to criticize, and I'm glad that it incited passions.
Keep up the fiery work. We need more of what you do.
All best,
David Hajdu

Mr. Stone: One wouldn't expect this, but 7-11 is currently serving fantastic Boston Creme analogs, moist and delicious and bereft of the tinge of failure that one tastes in the dough-nuts of Mr. Dunkin - a product, I'd guess, of D__'s pre-preparation of cremes and mixes prior to their shipment to the store for on-site deep-fat-frying. Also, they (Mr. 11 and cohorts) are less miserly with their allotment of the titular creme itself, making for a superior donut in every wise. Since the Boston Creme is the clear king of all donuts, this ends the discussion.

Mr. Hajdu: It is unfortunate that today's writers have saved up a surplus of bile and outrage, likely due - says I - to the moral failure of all American media to respond with sufficient hatred to the outrages of the recent Bush administration. HOWEVER. if this is actually a direct quote from your work: "it has become commonplace for comics artists to generate complete stories, leaving empty word balloons in the panels; only when the art is finished does the 'writer' come in, filling in the blanks with dialogue to accommodate the imagery"; then you are legitimately guilty of at least one misstatement of fact which is so egregious that it betrays, all by its lonesome, a serious deficiency of research, familiarity, and affinity for the subject you're covering. A skim through the Wikipedia entry on the "Marvel Method" lets you know that this system existed almost entirely because Stan Lee was very nearly the only writer for Marvel's flock of illustrators in the early-to-mid sixties. Well, okay, I have some facts in there that aren't in the Wiki entry, but I know these things because I actually care about the subject and believe comics to be an art form whose apotheosis in the late 80's paved the way to a current golden age, and also somehow compelled me to write overlong sentences with too many fifteen-dollar words. My point - Mr. Stone's point - is that anyone who said, "Typically, a director of these 'motion pictures' is autocratic and abusive, unwilling to communicate with actors, likely resentful of being second fiddle to the Producer, who is the prime artistic driver of the film," would be immediately recognized by any cinema fan (and most non-fans) as not knowing what he's talking about. And, so, that guy shouldn't be writing about movies.

Mr. Callahan: You are confused. The appropriate response in your case is to post a comment under Mr. Chabon's article telling him that he sucks. Wait, I should be saying this over at GeniusboyFiremelon. Shit!

This site of criticism is just plain amateurish. The only serious comment seems to be: "I'm not even sure how to say what I'm trying to say."
Some generalizations -- like the writing format of Hajdu -- are clearly false. Perhaps there is some resentment in knowing that even if you ever eventually write a really good piece of criticism it won't even begin to approximate the quality of something like the Wynton Marsalis article in Hajdu's book.

“comics, like rock… give fluent voice to their audience’s basest and most cynical impulses”

Don't see why Chabon is getting his peevish knickers in twist about that. That's why we love them both, by God!

read ten cent plague --d.hajdu book on comics history--one word:great

Whatever happened to the Snowdens of old? I betcha that David Hajdu linked to here from his website. Admit it - he Hajdu at hello!

Originally saw Marsalis piece in "Best Am. Magazine Writing" before getting book. (Also read The New Republic.) Wonderful piece. Cannot comment on the criticism of comics. Know zilch about them.
J.S. [email protected]

I'll stand by the generalization of the profiles--that "blank blank was born" format comes up consistently--but I don't have a problem admitting that I liked the Marsalis piece too, nor do I really see any reason to deny the accuracy of your "amateur" swipe. After all, I think i'm pretty upfront that my disappointment with the work is mixed up in the sense that I just can't rely on the research for one thing (the music) when it's so shoddy on the other (comics). Comics articles in non-comics publications (like the New Republic) are predominantly written by the same core group of people, and that's why Hajdu--who isn't part of that group--is someone I was really hoping to both enjoy and learn from. I didn't go into his book hoping to dislike it, or find fault with it, and I wasn't aware of the specific criticisms leveled against these pieces before I opened it. I went in feeling the exact opposite: excitement that somebody had written a book full of things that I care about (like jazz, comics, shitty avantgarde music), and they were coming from a completely untouched-by-the-comics-journal place while speaking to an audience that, like you, doesn't know a thing about the stuff. I wanted to like this book, this writer, and these essays. But the Sacco/Clowes article poisoned the well, and then the Eisner piece took a dump on what was left.

I think I'm probably giving you a more-serious answer than is necessary, as the "resentment I'll never be as good" comment clearly makes an assumption about my personal goals that speaks more about you as a reader than it does about me as a blogger. But if you want to start a torch-fire about my failings as a writer....well, I won't join you, but I can't promise that I'll mount a big defense.

I don't even know how to address the comment left by Hajdu, am not sure I even believe it's real, and think I'll just ignore it.

John, your "hajdu at hello" line had made this whole thing worthwhile, either way.


Amis- I own Einstein's Monsters and Dead Babies, neither of which I could get through more than a third before losing interest. I am sure that is unfair to the novel, but Monsters is a collection, and I found what I read to be pretty dull. Hard-hitting analysis, no?

Baseball inspires the best sports books by far. I have heard that the reason is that baseball tends to be the sport that sportswriters like best, and so they concentrate more often on it as a result. I read way too many sports books (shouldn't be wasting my rare free time on sports when there are comics I haven't read...) and baseball for sure has the best. I also think that there are gradients available to a baseball writer that other sports don't offer. The basic rules of baseball are pretty simple, as is the strategy. As you go down the stat-geek rabbithole, vistas appear which different writers use as they see fit, but you can still discuss fairly intricate strategy without going too far mathwise.

Football is such a complicated game, and I always find that the writers just don't give the readers enough credit. Maybe it would take too many diagrams to really get down to the bone of football strategy, but you rarely see anything but basic bio stuff.

One of my absolute favorite sportswriters is now a senior writer for Sports Illustrated named Joe Posnanski. He is primarily a baseball guy, of course. At his simply awesome blog, he recently asked his commenters to submit their lists of the best sports books, which he is planning on responding to shortly. I read through the almost 500 comments, and the lists were all over the place, but the best-regarded books were primarily baseball. His site deals with baseball more than any other sport, but he touches 'em all, and the commenters are pretty savvy. (For my entry, because I am a show-off loser, I listed comics, including the Golem's Mighty Swing, Slam-Dunk, and just because I could, Abhay's Left Field, complete with link to where they could download the book for free. I would be kinda suprised if anybody took the time, but I thought it would be cool to show the spectrum that's out there, and I am pretty sure that Left Field is the only book on any of the lists which has an author making it available for free. Anyway.)

Chabon- Man, I read Cavalier and Clay, and at the time, I was at least pretty stoked to see comics being at the heart of a "major" novel. Still, there are some pretty cringy moments in that book. It's funny, I feel like I am exactly that book's target audience (middle-brow, same dirty comic habit, willing to read a book just bc it wins a Pulitzer...yadda yadda) yet it decidedly wasn't for me. I would have thought that if you strike out with your directly intended audience, you would be in trouble, but Chabon has done just fine without me. So good for him.

Two fine people whom I respect very much gave me his book on fatherhood after the birth of my son, so I read the thing. Now that book I didn't relate to at ALL. His entire outlook on fatherhood is based on fear and failure. When and how often he is forced to lie to them and how muchand to what degree that will scar them for life. Most of it was intended to be funny, and mostly it succeeds in that aim, but the funny is set up as a vehicle to deliver the moral. These morals are depressing and sad. The flagellation he gives himself for circumsizing his kid is brutal. Brutal.

Hadju- When the 10 Cent Plague came out, I hadn't discovered the internet yet (true story) and was reading just about any books about comics I could find. It's how I discovered Douglas Wolk and then Savage Critics and then FO... I saw Plague just about everywhere when it came out, but was just never interested. No fault if the book itself I guess, bc I obviously never read it, but I just felt I had seen the subject covered so many times before. I just wasn't interested in toiling through a whole book just to get the same stuff repeated to me, by which I mean that so much has already been said, what's left, ya know? It just seemed.. is dated what I'm looking for here? A weird time to roll out another Fredric Wertham book.

And I bet that is Hadju above in the comments. Rings true, and his last name is unique enough that I bet whatever clip service Google has nowadays would pick this right up.

I know this is already boring and longlonglong, but still, one more thing.

When I finally got internet access a couple years ago and started finding all these comic sites, I never saw the point in commenting. I figured, it was the writer's site, nobody went there for my opinion. But then I saw Jog post once about going to a convention and how much it meant to him when someone approached him and told him how much they liked his site. I started to comment basically as a way to thank people for spending their time writing stuff I enjoyed reading. As I have gotten more involved, I now do stupid boring shit like what you are hopefully ignoring right now.

Anyway, I try to stay away from the internet spats, sometimes unsuccessfully (Noah and I went at it a little bit on HU. Friends now, though, so maybe for the best).

Point being, for some reason, the comments here have really taken a turn for the worse. (Look at me, I am scolding commenters on a comic book blog. Life= awesome). All of a sudden, folks keep showing up mad. Blogs seem like such an easy thing to ignore if you don't like the content, you know? It's not like celebrity gossip or news on the oil spill, where you can't get away from it no matter what you do. You just stop visiting the site and boom, no more worries. No more unwanted snark, or whatever. But yeah, FO has some haters these days, and I don't get it.

Tuck- I think your site is the tits. Thanks for your time and effort.

Alright, I have to go rescue my son from the traffic he has undoubtedly wandered into during the forever it took me to write all this bullshit. I hope you ignored every word.

I think this site is the Jaffa Cakes (I like Jaffa Cakes).

Oh, I was going to say how totally divine I find the work of Martin Amis. I get that little fizzy feeling inside whenever one of his books are due out. Which is far too infrequently now. I am going to be cremated with my ex-library battered copy of Money. I really like Martin Amis' books. Did everyone get that bit? But having said that I am (spoiler!)English and I honestly have no idea how his work must read if you are American. Sometimes I have to strain to find a way through his syntax myself. It's a satisying strain though.

Anyway, all sympathies to Mateo and I'm sorry that didn't work out for him. What? You thought I was going to challenge him to a fight with knives because I disagreed? This isn't the internet, oh wait...

So yeah, good site, nice work. End.

Mateo - hilarious post, sir. I wish you would have shared your ideas about donuts.

T.S. - thank you for the lovely compliment. I'm sad that nobody seems to recognize the "Catch-22" reference.

For baseball books, I liked that Bissinger book, 3 Nights in August. It's a 3-game series, Cubs and Cardinals-- heavy on the little details and the decisionmaking. Bissinger's a huge, huge ass, but I really enjoyed that one most. (I'm also partial to Klosterman's essay on football, which... I thought that might have been the best piece in his new book, and I can't say I'd self-identify as a huge football fan, especially, though I like the game...)

Martin Amis-- his book reviews are aces, but the only book I read of his was the Rachel Papers which ... did not go down well. The later books sound like they'd have been better choices for me-- it was his first novel after all, but the bad aftertaste of the Rachel Papers has lingered, however unfairly...

Way to late for anybody to bother reading this, probably, but I figured I could chime in, since the whole Hajdu thing intrigues me. Mainly, I'm suddenly curious about The 10 Cent Plague, which I thought was really good, but now am wondering how much he got wrong. The cool thing about that one was actually separate from all the Wertham stuff, when he was going over the history of the comics industry and the various players early on, which I find fascinating (yes, I also loved Kavalier & Clay, sorry if that calls my taste into question. Actually, no, I'm not sorry, I fucking loved that book. Maybe I should read it again to make sure I remember it right). There were some really nice bits about people like Nick Cardy or Matt Baker (although I bet they fit right into the template Tucker describes), lots of cool details about the way things worked early on. The censorship stuff was interesting too, but it just kind of ends at the point when the Comics Code was established, and then jumps forward to the present day for an interview with R. Crumb for some reason. So, yeah, the first half, good stuff, hopefully not wrong, and the second half is decent if not great. Recommendation!

Other topics: I don't think I especially liked Dune when I read it, but I was a teenager, so I was probably wrong. This has made me consider reconsidering it, but I doubt I'll get around to reading it again. But since Tucker said he hasn't read much science fiction, I'll recommend some Philip K. Dick, who is pretty goddamn amazing. A Scanner Darkly, that shit is awesome. And you know I like me my Neal Stephenson, so there's that. Yup, some half-assed recommendations, that's what I do.

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