Whatever happened to the Real Pros?

March 3, 2005

By Avi Green

When I read reports recently on how William Messner-Loebs ended up in poverty in the past few years, mostly due to the fact that the industry wouldn’t hire him for any more work in comic books, it led me to think about how a lot of veteran names seemed to have largely dropped out of sight in the past decade. Steve Englehart, Joe Staton, John Ostrander, Jim Aparo, Roger Stern, Roger McKenzie, etc.

What’s really disturbing and troubling about all this is that a lot of these fine folks were given the shaft mostly due to the fact that Marvel and DC just had to make way for all the hot new writers of recent, whether we current readers like them or not, including J. Michael Strazcynski, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis, Judd Winick, Geoff Johns, etc.

These writers, if not artists, seem to get a lot of work by companies that consider them the best there is for a job, and will give them the first available top project being worked on within an instant. And not because of how good they are, but rather, because their names garuntee sales.

So in other words, what we have here is a situation wherein artistic quality is not what matters, but rather, that the books will sell well. And it’s simply not good. Simply put, thanks to this kind of thinking, a lot of good writers end up being left out in the cold, and, come to think of it, artists too.

And it really tires me. What I want is dedicated writing that isn’t based on writer’s popularity alone, nor the artist’s. And I’d appreciate it if the freelancers of my choice were invited to return to working on some major books, like the Superman franchise, or even the Batman franchise, certainly if they know what really makes it work.

And I’d really be happy if Messner-Loebs were to get the job in writing Batman, if he knows how to restore something that the Masked Manhunter’s been sorely lacking in for quite some time now: humanity. Just like when Denny O’Neil was writing Batman during the Bronze Age.

So I should hope then that work will be found in eventual time for Messner-Loebs, and that he’ll return to working on some of the stuff he made work well back in the late 80s, and the 90s.

Like Neal Adams and others who are trying to help Messner-Loebs and his family back on their feet, I too would like to issue a plea to the industry:

Find him work!

Simply put, it’s not creator’s popularity that should matter, but how well the writer can understand and manage the series at hand. And Messner-Loebs, if you ask me, can do just that.

Copyright 2005 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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