Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's Over: All Star Superman

Here's a Newsarama interview with All Star Superman artist Frank Quitely regarding the series' completion.
Choice quote:
Newsarama: What is the characteristic that you think is most important, and overlooked in capturing the original (Superman)?

FQ: Gentleness, maybe. He's like the perfect dad! Imagine being omnipotent and enlightened - that's an attractive combination.

I couldn't find a recent interview with writer Grant Morrison (at least not one that focused on ASS), so I'm gonna go ahead and pass off this old, Newsarama interview as a shiny, new one.
Choice quote:
Newsarama: There was a very interesting article in The Comics Journal recently about Mort Weisinger and the perspective he brought to the Superman books, something you’ve talked about in the past. The point of the piece was that the Silver Age Superman comics are very psychologically interesting in the way they reflect personal neuroses – how, in many ways, they’re about this man struggling to control the world around him and everyone he knows, and often being subjected to very nightmarish situations of failure, being transformed into something grotesque, or being shown up.
Your arc seems to follow the Silver Age sensibility of, “Let’s throw a lot of ideas out there,” but you’re taking a more life-affirming approach, showing Superman being aware that he can’t solve every problem, but trying to do the best he can with the time he has left. Do you agree with TCJ’s assessment, and if so, are you consciously trying to take a different route than Weisinger’s?

GM: It’s clear from the material that Mort was attending analysis sessions every week. The 1950s was the great time of psychoanalysis in America, and he was coming back from the couch and giving his writers ideas – at least, that’s what I understand from what I’ve read, and from talking to people in the business.
The Weisinger comics, although they were designed to be read by children, were conceived and written by adults, so they actually do speak to the human experience, our fears and hopes and dreams and paranoias.
Like you say, the Superman stories from that era were all about the fears and fantasies of the post-war suburban American male – with his den, his pets, his technology, and his views on women. And we kind of watch the whole thing going into meltdown.
So many of those stories are about loss of self-esteem through physical transformations where he’s old, or fat, or sick and they sort of remind me most of the fairy tales and folk tales we all grew up reading. These are fairy tales and nightmares of the schizoid post-atomic age that created them, but it was also the most popular, iconic “pop art” period of Superman’s publishing history. Back then, as far as I know, those comics were selling millions every month.
So I was interested in modernizing that mass appeal approach. These beautiful little science-fiction fairy tales inspired the take on All-Star Superman, although we’ve been trying to do a more rounded, mature 21st century Superman rather than ape the unreconstructed 50s bachelor/dad guy.
I wasn’t a Silver Age fan – either I wasn’t born or I was too young to read those books when they first came out. I started reading Superman during his ‘creepy’ period in the 1970s but when I was preparing for All-Star and reading my way through the history, the books from the Weisinger era seemed to be most in tune with the human experience as expressed through a kind of pure superhero poetry. They’re not much like what you’d call “superhero” books these days, but they’re really inventive and surreal with an odd kind of suburban twist.
I wanted to make All-Star about being a guy, what it’s like to be a man, and fall in love, or lose parents, or be misunderstood…role models, rivals, all that sort of stuff but viewing it all through the lens of alien worlds, mighty feats and super powers.
It was never meant as a pastiche of Silver Age comics or to service nostalgia…which is why we took care to add new situations and characters to the mythos, like Leo Quintum, Zibarro, new types of Kryptonite and new villains like Krull, the Chronovore, Mechano-Man, or whatever. We wanted the stories to seem timeless, mythic, rather than tied to any particular period or interpretation of Superman.

Lastly, here's a nice Savage Critics review of the last issue (#12) -- spoilers abound!
Choice quote:
In the end, he can only weep from the human enormity of it all.

Wizard Universe has Grant Morrison's favorite Man of Steel moments.
(Thanks to The Comics Reporter for the heads up.)