Sunday, October 26, 2014


Been a long time since I posted a nice hyperbole-laden rant here, so let's get right to it:

Since joining Marvel Unlimited, I've reviewed a few modern Marvel comics, the most recent being 2012's WOLVERINE AND THE BLACK CAT: CLAWS II, last month. As always, I typed out the issues' credits at the start of the post. For CLAWS II, the credits read like this:

Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray | Artist: Joseph Michael Linsner
Colorists: Dan Brown & Nick Filardi with Ian Hannin | Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry
Production: Maya Gutierrez | Assistant Editor: Jake Thomas | Editor: Mark Paniccia
Editor-in-Chief: Axel Alonso | Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley | Executive Producer: Alan Fine

Does this look wrong to anyone else? The creative team is encapsulated entirely on two lines, followed by three lines of editorial, production, and, most mystifying of all, executive titles! This is insane. Compare the above credits with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #236, from earlier that same week:

Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Frank Giacoia
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Tom DeFalco | Araneophile: Jim Shooter

Creative takes up two lines, editorial takes up one line, and that's it. The majority of my classic Marvel reviews have looked like this, from IRON MAN to CAPTAIN AMERICA to SPIDER-MAN. The majority of Marvel reviews all the way up into the late nineties would look like this, even after an on-page credit was added for Assistant Editor during that decade (assistants were previously credited only in the letter column, meaning if a particular month's issue skipped that page, they received no credit).

I'm all for creators receiving their due. The writer, artists, colorist, and letterer must be credited in every issue of every comic. It's the right thing to do. And I agree that editor, assistant editor, and editor-in-chief should have credits as well, as they are huge parts of the book's production. Personally I think their credit belongs on a letters page, but as noted, sometimes, especially nowadays, those pages are absent if they even exist at all, so putting them in the issue's credit box is fine.

But can't we leave it at that? Don't the Chief Creative Officer and Publisher already have their names in a comic's indicia? Why do they need to be listed twice? And I don't know exactly what "Production" entails, though I'm pretty sure it's always existed (I think it may be the role filled in decades long past at Marvel by the likes of Sol Brodsky and John Verpoorten); however it's a behind-the-scenes role that really doesn't need to be acknowledged on the first page of a comic book story.

But more importantly, and please pardon my language, what the fudge is an "Executive Producer" credit doing in the realm of comic books? Some quick internet research reveals that Alan Fine's official title with Marvel is "Executive Vice President, Office of the Chief Executive". Why on Earth does this guy think he needs his name in every comic Marvel publishes? Does he actually have anything at all to do with the production of the books? And why the title of "Executive Producer"? This is just Marvel Comics trying to pretend they're Hollywood. It's a little sickening.

(Also, I might add, Fine's name, like Quesada's and Buckley's, appears in the indicia as well! And to be clear, I have absolutely no problem with that -- the CCO, Publisher, and EVP should be listed there.)

Lastly, I should point out that this irritating practice seems to be unique to Marvel. To my knowledge, modern DC comics don't even list the Editor-in-Chief on a story page, naming only the creative team, Assistant Editor, and Editor. IDW does their credits in the old Marvel style, featuring only creative and editorial. It's really only Marvel who graces us regularly with five lines of credits, including among them redundant executives who have never so much as touched the issue in question.

Now it's not like I lose sleep over the situation, but every time I happen to see these credits I can't help thinking about the combination of unbridled hubris and gross self-satisfaction that it must take to do this.

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