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From the cool passion of sci-fi and occasional comics writer Harlan Ellison to the soap opera explorations and genre twisting of X-Men writer Chris Claremont and Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber, between 1966 and 1985 a generation of writers emerged that changed the face of American comic books forever. Many were fans every bit as much as they were professionals, creat From the cool passion of sci-fi and occasional comics writer Harlan Ellison to the soap opera explorations and genre twisting of X-Men writer Chris Claremont and Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber, between 1966 and 1985 a generation of writers emerged that changed the face of American comic books forever. Many were fans every bit as much as they were professionals, creative artists working from an understanding of what felt right on the comics page forged by years of close scrutiny above and beyond the final sales figures. Some were tempered by exposure to new waves in cinema, new voices in writing, and new comics from Europe and Japan. Coming to comics at a time when the financial awards were poor and the chance for ownership of what one created was even poorer, these writers breathed new life into the dying icons of the past. Writers like Len Wein, Steve Englehart, Gerry Conway, Harlan Ellison, Marv Wolfman, Denny O'Neil, Mark Evanier, Mike Baron and Alan Moore infused comics like X-Men, Captain America, and Swamp Thing with a progressive social outlook that ran directly in the face of decades of simplistic might-makes-right pseudo-moralizing. Some made their careers in other writing fields but toiled in comics out of a sense of loyalty and passion; others became comic book writers just out of their teens and never left. They were America's comic book children come home.The Comics Journal Library: The Writers celebrates the ascendancy of writer-driven mainstream comic books with a series of revealing, in-depth interviews, many conducted at the height of their influence.


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From the cool passion of sci-fi and occasional comics writer Harlan Ellison to the soap opera explorations and genre twisting of X-Men writer Chris Claremont and Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber, between 1966 and 1985 a generation of writers emerged that changed the face of American comic books forever. Many were fans every bit as much as they were professionals, creat From the cool passion of sci-fi and occasional comics writer Harlan Ellison to the soap opera explorations and genre twisting of X-Men writer Chris Claremont and Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber, between 1966 and 1985 a generation of writers emerged that changed the face of American comic books forever. Many were fans every bit as much as they were professionals, creative artists working from an understanding of what felt right on the comics page forged by years of close scrutiny above and beyond the final sales figures. Some were tempered by exposure to new waves in cinema, new voices in writing, and new comics from Europe and Japan. Coming to comics at a time when the financial awards were poor and the chance for ownership of what one created was even poorer, these writers breathed new life into the dying icons of the past. Writers like Len Wein, Steve Englehart, Gerry Conway, Harlan Ellison, Marv Wolfman, Denny O'Neil, Mark Evanier, Mike Baron and Alan Moore infused comics like X-Men, Captain America, and Swamp Thing with a progressive social outlook that ran directly in the face of decades of simplistic might-makes-right pseudo-moralizing. Some made their careers in other writing fields but toiled in comics out of a sense of loyalty and passion; others became comic book writers just out of their teens and never left. They were America's comic book children come home.The Comics Journal Library: The Writers celebrates the ascendancy of writer-driven mainstream comic books with a series of revealing, in-depth interviews, many conducted at the height of their influence.

30 review for The Comics Journal Library, Vol. 6: The Writers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    I read this right after reading Sean Howe's history of Marvel comics, which was particularly good timing - it's nice to have a broader scope of the times in which these interviews were conducted. I'm always up for a good Comics Journal interview, I wish they'd collect all their interviews in books like this, because I'm kind of a luddite and don't want to read them all on the tcj.com archive, even though it'd be cheaper, save space, possibly cost less energy. Can't go wrong with TCJ interviews i I read this right after reading Sean Howe's history of Marvel comics, which was particularly good timing - it's nice to have a broader scope of the times in which these interviews were conducted. I'm always up for a good Comics Journal interview, I wish they'd collect all their interviews in books like this, because I'm kind of a luddite and don't want to read them all on the tcj.com archive, even though it'd be cheaper, save space, possibly cost less energy. Can't go wrong with TCJ interviews in any format. I particularly liked reading the Harlan Ellison interview, just because it led to a lawsuit. Now we just need Fantagraphics to finally put out the long awaited book of their history.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brenna

    A surprisingly disjointed book, The Writers tackles several major comics-themed issues head on with writers and dilettantes such as Harlan Ellison, Steve Gerber, and Chris Claremore - as well as dull, uninvolved commentary revolving around narcissism, defeatism, and professional panderism. The interviews with Ellison and Gerber are fascinating, and on a lesser scale, parts of the tete-a-tetes with the others. For the most part, however, the book is comprised of Gary Groth pissing off big name wri A surprisingly disjointed book, The Writers tackles several major comics-themed issues head on with writers and dilettantes such as Harlan Ellison, Steve Gerber, and Chris Claremore - as well as dull, uninvolved commentary revolving around narcissism, defeatism, and professional panderism. The interviews with Ellison and Gerber are fascinating, and on a lesser scale, parts of the tete-a-tetes with the others. For the most part, however, the book is comprised of Gary Groth pissing off big name writers with his unsubstantiated (often solicited) single-minded opinions and views. Groth seemingly thrives on the uncomfortable interviewee, never giving way to tact or poise, and going for the jugular after faux-camaraderie and gales of forced laughter (which, for the benefit of the reader, is included in the text). And the interviews not conducted by Groth himself leave much to be desired, seemingly meandering free-association from disconnected ideas, ramblings, etc. Ironically, for a book pieced together by a team of "journalistic" editors, the book is slipshod in terms of mistyped, even omitted, words. As much as Groth decries the pulpy, melodramatic nature of the comic book medium, his own interviews veritably stagger with a similar ramshackle presentation. The writers herein are primarily those selected from the "Big Two:" Marvel and D.C. Comics. Great. Interviews are clipped directly from The Comics Journal from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s, leaving little room for matured opinions, changed conditions, or differences between the writer's work at that particular time versus what he (unanimously) had been writing twenty years prior. Spurgeon includes a supplementary introduction prior to each interview, sometimes stating the time and circumstances during which the interview originally took place, but it remains unsatisfying. The aforementioned two interviews are, however, very interesting and deserve to be read by comics afficianados. The remainer are not exactly illuminating by any means, but may serve to enhance one's preformulated notions of the popular writers.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    A collection of interviews culled from the Comics Journal during the late seventies and early eighties. Only one (the Chris Claremont interview) is really particularly dated, referencing contemporary X-Men storylines that are pretty much forgotten now. The others are far more interesting than most of the comics the era comes from, ranging from insights into the day-to-day routine for creators hidebound by corporate restrictions on what comic books could be, considerations of 'art' (with at least A collection of interviews culled from the Comics Journal during the late seventies and early eighties. Only one (the Chris Claremont interview) is really particularly dated, referencing contemporary X-Men storylines that are pretty much forgotten now. The others are far more interesting than most of the comics the era comes from, ranging from insights into the day-to-day routine for creators hidebound by corporate restrictions on what comic books could be, considerations of 'art' (with at least one responding that comics could never be thought of as anything other than mass produces ephemera) to almost spookily precient observations of the insular and self-consuming nature of the direct market. And then there's the notorious Harlan Ellison interview (responsible for not one, not two, but *three* court cases, one of which is being contested now, 25 years later!). If you have any interest in the history or status of comics in contemporary culture, then this is definitely worth a read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Don

    I normally avoid The Comics Journal like the plague; their articles and interviews are generally in-depth, but the attitude of arrogance and elitism drips off every page, and this ever-present sense of disdain is commented on by a few of the interviewees herein. But when I saw the list of writers whose interviews were reprinted in this volume - Chris Claremont, Gerry Conway, Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber, Archie Goodwin, Alan Moore, Denny O'Neil, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, and Harlan Ellison (inclu I normally avoid The Comics Journal like the plague; their articles and interviews are generally in-depth, but the attitude of arrogance and elitism drips off every page, and this ever-present sense of disdain is commented on by a few of the interviewees herein. But when I saw the list of writers whose interviews were reprinted in this volume - Chris Claremont, Gerry Conway, Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber, Archie Goodwin, Alan Moore, Denny O'Neil, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, and Harlan Ellison (including the infamous interview I'd first heard about ten years ago, and which has just this past September led to a second lawsuit - oy!) - I figured that the combined awesomeness of all these writers would probably overcome TCJ's general grossness. This turned out to mostly be the case, although I laughed to see how the interview with Marv Wolfman starts off: I have seen from you spectacularly good material and absolutely terrible material, and the divergence annoys me, because it indicates that you are capable [of] attaining a much higher level than you are currently reaching. Granted, I'll give you that there's a really interesting question in there about excellence and its presence or absence in works by the same artist. But I imagine Marv sitting down to this interview, and the first thing out of the interviewer's mouth is essentially, "Boy, you've written some complete shit." Ah well - no one ever accused TCJ of tact, I suppose.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rog Harrison

    I started reading US comics in 1962 and probably continued reading them until the mid 1990s when I got sickened by the increasingly gratuitous violence and stories running over lots of titles which struck me as a cynical ploy to get me to buy titles I would not normally buy. I do have an affection for most of the comics I read back then so was pleased to be able to get hold of this book. Basically this book deals with US comics from 1965 to 1985 and consists of interviews with nine writers plus I started reading US comics in 1962 and probably continued reading them until the mid 1990s when I got sickened by the increasingly gratuitous violence and stories running over lots of titles which struck me as a cynical ploy to get me to buy titles I would not normally buy. I do have an affection for most of the comics I read back then so was pleased to be able to get hold of this book. Basically this book deals with US comics from 1965 to 1985 and consists of interviews with nine writers plus a long interview with Harlan Ellison. I had read about half these interviews before when they were originally published in The Comics Journal back in the late 1970s and early 1980s but it was great to read them again and a real treat to read the interviews I had previously missed. If you like US comics from this period this is a wonderful read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dominick

    This collection of interviews with comics writers (mostly), conducted in the seventies and eighties, provides some fascinating insights into the state of the mainstream industry twenty-thirty years ago. Things have changed a lot, often in ways unanticipated at the time. The one big disappointment here is that the notorious Harlan Ellison interview seems pretty lame and inane today.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Fantagraphics Books

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jack Haringa

  9. 4 out of 5

    Scott Mills

  10. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Møane

  11. 5 out of 5

    Warren Acoose

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dion Lay

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marty

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  15. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Everett

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mike Thompson

  19. 5 out of 5

    fonz

  20. 5 out of 5

    Santiago Sánchez

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mike g

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bruno Simon

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris Estey

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tom Shapira

  26. 4 out of 5

    Moby-Nostromo

  27. 4 out of 5

    D.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Juha

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tim S.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alan

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