Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

April 25, 2012

Before “Before Watchmen” There Was Spain Rodriguez


One of the notions driving some of the Before Watchmen writing out there is that the more distressing creators-rights implications will serve to embolden a strong and sustained reaction to them. While it's true that there will always be corporate-values comics of dubious and even depressing provenance, there will also be a response to those comics, a desire to do something freed from the contractual and creative constraints represented by that kind of project. In fact, I would extend this notion of a response as something that takes place within mainstream comics itself, at least in terms of many of the real, beneficial things that have occurred in that realm over the years.

The greatest example we have in comics of a negative being turned into a long-term positive is the work of underground comix makers like Spain as a response to the self-inflicted kneecapping of a certain kind of comics-making by publishers in the 1950s. I thought the above a funny comic about the mindset that many of those creators brought to the table -- it's hard to remember at that time what a dangerous thing it was to be doing something out of lockstep with mainstream culture, even though a lot of folks still affect that pose. The effects of comics like this one from people like Spain on the legacy of comics as a place to express oneself is difficult to argue away. I can't say anything similar for an editorially-crafted superhero event, as much as people derive pleasure and material reward from them; I bet I'll be able to for the books that people do in reaction to this latest. At least I hope so.

Spain Rodgriguez 5, Before Watchmen 0; comic supplied by Patrick Rosenkranz
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink

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