Random Whining

While the rest of the comic book industry rubs shoulders — and practically every other bodily part — in a cram-packed San Diego convention center, I’m second-, third-, and ninth-guessing myself on a script that I worry may be too unsparingly human for a superhero comic.

In the ’70s, readers could deal with this kind of stuff. In the aughts, I’m not so sure.

Bitch, moan. Bitch, moan.

Reverse the order of those two words, and an annoying mode of complaint becomes a smutty imperative sentence.

It’s going to be a long and bizarre weekend.

18 Responses to “Random Whining”

  1. Tom Walker Says:

    Just write what you’d want to write for a younger (or even an older!) version of yourself! I’m sure they have far better artistic standards than some mysterious and amorphous “market demographic” you may feel compelled to kowtow towards.

    Even at the age of 13 I could spot “pure class” whenever I stumbled upon an inspired Gerber tale.

  2. Jeff Z Says:

    Agreed! Don’t second guess yourself- the humanity of your stories is a Gerber trademark! A lot of your work inspired some of today’s most commercial talent, such as Gaiman and Morrison(his Doom Patrol was nothing if not Gerber-esque). Time to show ’em how it’s done!

  3. Starocotes Says:

    I have to agree. Don’t write what you think the “audience” likes, write what you think is good.

    I’m just warming up to your style of writing but it grows more and more on me, so stop second guessing yourself and get down to what you do best.

  4. Forrest Says:

    “You must do it.” — Patrick McGoohan

    (“You’re tickling my pineal gland!” — Somewhere In The Convention Center)

  5. beau Says:

    Well, I wouldn’t deign to advise. I’ll just beg. P L E A S E please PPLLEEAASSEE write it your way.

  6. Steve Gerber Says:


    I may waste time and energy second- through ninth-guessing myself, and I may carp about it in blog posts and on Joey Cavalieri’s voice mail, but in the end, believe me, I know — I have no choice but to write the stuff my own way.

    I should add that disclaimer the next time I post a lament, so you’ll know I’m not trawling for encouragement.

    Even so, it’s appreciated. Thank you.

  7. Alex Krislov Says:

    Well of course even your superhero book is loaded with ordinary humanity. You know that this has always been your greatest strength as a writer. Now, I’ll grant that the seventies were far more open to that sort of thing. The books of that era were far more experimental than today’s, with a “hell, let’s try it” attitude. There was more room, as a result, for human vulnerability. But you should play to your strengths. That’s what always made your books special.

  8. Charles Bryan Says:

    The seventies were much open, to any number of things. I can’t imagine network (or most cable) tv even attempting something like the Richard Pryor-Chevy Chase job interview sketch from SNL. People openly discussed the decriminalization/legalization of marijuana. Presidents could be driven from office. Now, we feel the need to tell rap artists to be politically correct. Wolverine can’t smoke a cigar, but he can still ram long sharp thingies through someone’s throat while cracking wise.

    In comics, there was some openness to the occasional “superheroes-standing-around-talking” issue. Now it’s one global catastrophe after another.

    The fact that you even have to wonder whether a story is too human says a whole heck of a lot.

  9. Starocotes Says:

    Wolverine can’t smoke a cigar, but he can still ram long sharp thingies through someone’s throat while cracking wise.<<

    I stopped reading Marvel Comics some years ago and if that’s true I never will pick one up again (with the exception of Feists Magician and anything bei Steve 😀 )

  10. Charles Bryan Says:

    Not just Wolverine, but Ben Grimm, Nick Fury and J. Jonah Jameson, too. If the goal was not to portray smoking in a positive light, I sort of understand the Ben Grimm and – to a lesser extent – the Nick Fury decisions, but the publisher of The Daily Bugle was usually a domineering jackass that I doubt anyone outside the current White House would imitate.

    If all of these characters are supposed to be role models, then there are a number of other characteristics that should be addressed, e.g., Logan’s general personality altogether. (I think he does still get to have a beer once in a while – naughty naughty.) However, if the role model concept was the driving force in Quesada’s decision, I think the assumption is tacitly made that comic readers are terribly impressionable.

    A bad habit does not make one a bad person. It just means that maybe the hero is complex and human. And with that statement, this post became relevant to the initial topic! Whooda thunk it?

  11. Scott Andrew Hutchins Says:

    Just write what you think is right. Your stories aren’t always the most comforting for the kiddies, but they make a strong impact. I say that as someone who bought beat-up copies of your comics from the quarter bin when I was a kid.

  12. Matt M. Says:

    The convention experience is overrated in many ways. But getting a quiet moment to chat with a favorite creator or two usually makes up for the sheer, rampaging chaos and greed that permeates the air on the show floor.

    Best news, though, was that some big creators are looking at doing Their Own Thing and not worrying about when they’re going to write Batman or something.

  13. S. King Says:

    Steve — I’ve followed your work (with great fondness!) since the 70’s. This particular entry reminds me of a question I’ve had for some time. Have you ever contemplated ditching the superheroes altogether (on at least one project) in favor of the “unsparingly human”? That is, telling a story more in the American Splendor/Love and Rockets/Eightball/R. Crumb vein?

  14. David A. Says:

    “Reverse the order of those two words, and an annoying mode of complaint becomes a smutty imperative sentence.”

    That, to me, was the focus of this post.
    It’s sentences like that that make you who you are.

    Er, I mean that in a complimentary way, but take it however it works for you.

  15. Jeff Z Says:

    Seconding S. King’s sentiments; I posted months ago that I’d love to see a Gerber autobiography, with chapters illustrated by his past collaborators, including Sal Buscema, Frank Brunner, Gene Colan, Mike Ploog, Val Mayerik and Jim Mooney. Intense pscycho-drama combined with creative/business tug of wars.. would be amazing reading!

  16. Steve Gerber Says:

    S. King and Jeff Z …

    Sometime in the next few days, I’ll reply to your comments in a separate post. You raise some interesting (and ironic) questions.

  17. Forrest Says:

    Could add Winslade & Fabry to that list…

    “It’s parody!”
    “It’s mimesis!”
    “Folks, folks — it’s parody and mimesis!”

  18. Steven E. McDonald Says:

    Go with your instincts, Gerber, you serve yourself better that way. Don’t fuck with the work because you’re worried about how it’ll go over; you just condemn it (and yourself) to the desolation of reduction. It’s one thing to polish and tune a piece; it’s another to try and make it fit a phantom set of guidelines.