Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I like that issue of WHAT IF? where something
changes and at the end EVERYONE DIES.*

One of the interesting things about this blog, for me, is the way the blog-post format allows for almost endless digression. When I began this series a few days back, my primary goal was to talk about how much I loved Marvel's What If . . . ? Almost before I had even begun to write, the posts went in different directions entirely. What started out as a post became a series of posts. I have found throughout the years that the most satisfying writing on this blog comes when these things are allowed to evolve naturally from whichever origin point I choose.

The best example of this: recently, I got a wild lark to write about the triangle numbers on the covers of 90s Superman comics, an obscure topic inspired by Mike Sterling's musings on the same. Well, before I knew it that post had metastisized into a long series of posts about 90s superhero comics in general. That series - which, I will reiterate, started as nothing more than a wild hair - was so well received that I received an offer to produce a magazine article on the subject, and in January I finished and submitted a 10,000 word article on 90s superhero comics for an Australian literary magazine. (I won't say anymore now so as not to steal the editors' thunder when they send out press releases, but as soon as the issue goes on presale I'll post order details in this space.) If you were wondering where that series went, well, it got moved to a bigger venue.

So: what began with a simple desire to write about What If . . . ? has, again, metastisized in conception into something bigger, more ambiguous, and hopefully more interesting. Any blog that has been around this long hopefully has some kind of personality, and if you're a faithful or even occasional reader it is to be hoped that you are tolerant of this particular blog's obvious faults and idiosyncracies. I'm not going to be able to post every day like Mike Sterling - every time I even think of trying that I curl into a fetal position. I'm not going to be able to maintain anything resemble a coherent subject matter - Neilalien stays pretty true to his mission of illuminating the world of Doctor Strange with his digital Eye of Agamotto, and it's clear that even when he goes far afield he never loses sight of that focus. I can't even maintain enough discipline to write about comics all the time, and I'm sure you're all thrilled to death whenever I decide to post 2,000+ words on My Chemical Romance. (Whom you should all be listening to now, incidentally.)

My one real ambition for this blog - to write well-reasoned reviews of good comics has pretty much been left in the dust, because as much as I wish I could muster up the enthusiasm of a Jog or a Tucker Stone, dammit, I just can't seem to make myself sit down to do the kind of formal reviews I would really like to do. It doesn't help that I spend most of all my days since I've returned to school doing real, demanding cogitation on the subject of prose literature. So, yeah, as much as I have been wanting to devote a couple of weeks of hardcore scholarship to discussing Brian Chippendale's Maggots, that part of my brain is just too busy with Père Goriot, The Moonstone, Said's Orientalism and Sappho's collected poetry, to name four books which I have to finish by the end of this week. Whenever I do find the time to review anything, there's no promise that it'll even be rational or coherent. (I am particularly proud of my recent review of Final Crisis #7. The reasons it's such an awesome review are the exact same reasons it pissed everyone off, and if you don't understand the logic behind that sentence you can't understand the logic behind this blog. My motto should be: Proudly Pissing In Your Wheaties Since 2004.)

All of which is - wow, I just realized, what had intended to be an opening paragraph describing the logic behind my intention to do a series of posts leading up to a reasoned discussion of What If . . . ? has, again, metastisized into something entirely different, an apology / defense for the current state of The Hurting. Let us hope that, unlike Socrates, my apology / defense does not end with me drinking hemlock and dying surrounded by a roomful of my young male sycophants (from the Greek συκοφάντης, or sykophántēs). Although, if anyone wishes to volunteer to write about how great I am after I'm dead, the queue begins here.

More on the nature of serialized continuity tomorrow, building towards a discussion of the differences between What If . . . ? and "Elseworlds", and why the former may just be the most important series Marvel ever published. (Not really.)

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