Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Who edits DC letters pages? And what in the world is wrong with them?

Letters pages are back in most DC comics, and despite the fact that recent reintroduction was just a cheap way to trim the story page count down by two, there is something comforting about them - the nostalgia, the interaction, the permanence of seeing your name published on a sheet of paper...maybe it's something that will one day disappear for good, but as long as readership demographics stay the same or similar to what they've been for a while, they'll have a place in comics.

That's not to say that I think the current letters pages are very worthwhile.  In fact, I've been a little creeped out by the editorial responses in most books when I've taken a minute and looked at them.  For some reason, the answers to most letters seem so hyperbolic, so vacant, so generic, like DC picked the most hyperactive computer in a room, handed it some mail and said "GO!"

Case in point is the recent Justice League of America #58.  I'm generally a fan of James Robinson's writing, but right now the book, to me, is just a directionless mess.  Now, the JLA title seems to have a fairly pronounced ebb and flow, so I'm sure it'll get on track at some point, but for now the book seems to be drifting without much purpose.  The letters page falls in line, too.  The first page of letters is posted above, and its vapid over enthusiasm is a little off-putting.

The second page, though, has some real winners.  Here's the first letter:

I'm not sure if its meant to be ironic or something, but when you realize that the assistant editor typing this response is probably a 30-year-old man writing to other 30-year-old men, the phrase "OMG" stands out a little.  Really?  OMG?

This next letter was the one that did it for me:

"Hey, we messed up lots of information about your home country and implied that Algeria is home to rampant, uncontrolled drug cartels, but who cares?  It's a comic book, so it doesn't count."

Now, I understand that we're talking about the Justice League, here.  The book with a giant gorilla as one of the main characters.  And I don't think that every single comic has to be a serious piece of high literature, but "It's just comics"?  Way to set the bar on factual accuracy as low as you possibly can!

Beyond all of this, doesn't it seem like DC is trying to go with "14-year-old on a sugar rush" as a house style for letters page responses?  It's got just right blend of excited sales pitch and fuzzy disconnect to create an altogether unnerving experience.  "Keep coming back for more...and enjoy the summer!"  Yikes.


Jeff Lafferty said...

That’s funny dude, you ever wrote a letter to a comic Jeff?

I didn’t get a chance to comment on it, but I’m loving that Fubar cover!

Jeff said...

You know, I've written a few letters in my day, but honestly not for years and years. I had one published in an issue of Superman: Man of Tomorrow which I'm sure I could dig up at some point. It's an awful letter...I basically said "BOY I LOVE THIS BOOK" and they printed it.