[B5JMS] Attn JMS: Com-Con panel followup

b5jms-admin at cs.columbia.edu b5jms-admin at cs.columbia.edu
Wed Aug 14 04:28:06 EDT 2002

From: kjhiller at yahoo.com
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2002 21:40:35 -0000
Lines: 21

If you're currently reading this newsgroup...

Someone at the panel you did with JRJR in San Diego on Friday asked a 
question about "Baby May".  From your response (and John's), neither of 
you had any idea who this question was referring to.  (The answer is, 
Peter and Mary Jane's baby, who was apparently stolen soon after being 
born but is believed to be dead.)

This ties back to a question that I was going to ask at the panel but 
didn't have time for:  I understand that you're not interested in going 
back and drawing elements from old continuity (especially the lackluster 
continuity from recent years).  However, I'd think that certain elements 
-- like the death of a child -- should be part of the writer's awareness.  
If someone else were writing the future adventures of Sheridan and Delenn, 
the writer should at least know that that a son, no?

So my question was:  How much of Spider-Man's continuity are you familiar 
with?  You're a big comics fan -- how much of his history have you read?  
And is anyone at Marvel doing anything to get you up to speed on 
continuity that you may have missed?

Lines: 54
From: jmsatb5 at aol.com (Jms at B5)
Date: 13 Aug 2002 21:04:04 GMT

>So my question was:  How much of Spider-Man's continuity are you familiar 
>with?  You're a big comics fan -- how much of his history have you read?  
>And is anyone at Marvel doing anything to get you up to speed on 
>continuity that you may have missed?

I was a huge Spidey fan for many years, starting with his first appearance
right up through about maybe five, six years ago when it wandered away (for my
tastes anyway, ymmv) from what I was interested in following.

What I tend to do is check with Axel to find out what's current to make sure I
don't step on anything significant (though there's so much out there that it's
nigh impossible not to step on *something*).  For instance, when I did the Doc
Ock story out now, I asked Axel for the latest on the doc, what he did and
didn't know, what his relation was currently if any with Aunt May, and so on. 
He checked it out at his end, and gave me the skinny.  Which is what a good
editor does.

The problem with being strict on continuity is that there's so much that has
been done in and around the character, for so many years, that it begins to
wall you in dramatically.  So my take on this is that you have to be mindful of
the major themes and major stories and broad strokes of the character's
history.  They are there and they work for a *reason*.  But in the small
strokes, you need to have some measure of flexibility.

What art is about -- and I'm going to call comics art because I've always
believed that's what they are -- is not regurgitation of facts; it's about
interpretation.  In his plays, Shakespeare took liberty with stories and
histories that preceded him, bending them to the story he wanted to tell.

Similarly, in present, you'll often see many of his plays presented in modern
dress, or with a female in the lead role of Hamlet; you look at what's there
and re-interpret things to see how they look when you turn the mirror just a
bit to one side.

Otherwise, if you don't have this freedom, you may as well have one of those
computer programs where you input the names, histories, and powers of the
various Spidey characters, input plot complications, and let it keep
regurgitating elements of the same formula, over and over.  Or you turn the
book over to supporting characters, which I think is what happened over the
last few years.

I think you have to be mindful and respectful of continuity; but a writer's
*job* is to reinterpret the world, and the past, in new and interesting ways. 
If you ain't doing that, you ain't doing the job.


(jmsatb5 at aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2002 by synthetic worlds, ltd., 
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine 
and don't send me story ideas)

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