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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. D.N.
    June 8, 2020 @ 11:14 am

    “…But DC was a minor subsidiary of Warner Communications, who were on one front engaged in an extensive legal battle with Paramount to try to acquire Time, Inc., and on another in the leadup to the release of their tentpole Batman film with Jack Nicholson…”

    …and is also the same corporate entity that has been actively suppressing the complete version of Ken Russell’s The Devils since 1973 on the grounds of the film’s “distasteful tonality.” The institutional desire to keep Russell’s cut of the film buried for nearly five decades might point to fear of offending conservative Christians.

    (I imagine DC and/or Warners would also have been uneasy about putting Jesus in a comic book in 1989, in light of the backlash Universal Studios faced the previous year after releasing Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ.)


    • Corey Klemow
      June 18, 2020 @ 5:09 am

      Speaking of Universal, I also seem to recall at the time that one of the reasons given for the cancellation of Veitch’s story was that they were in negotiations with Universal at the time for the “Swamp Thing” TV show that debuted in 1990 on the USA Network and were worried the Jesus story would derail it.

      Joseph Stefano (“Psycho,” “The Outer Limits”) developed the show and I recall him posting his frustrations with USA on the old CompuServe GO COMICS forum sometime in the early 90s. He wanted to do a hardboiled horror series with social commentary that was inspired by Moore’s run, and was well down that path with the first few scripts written, when the USA execs read them and basically said, “What is this? We thought you were making a COMIC BOOK show!” and forced huge changes.


  2. Simon Fox
    June 9, 2020 @ 4:45 am

    Meanwhile over at Marvel during the same time period: “Bah, who gives a shit about being literary? We don’t need any British guys to win us acclaim or money. We got Jim Lee. We got Todd Mcfarlane. We got ROB LIEFELD, BABY! And we can do gritty and extreme better than they can. We just need to make Spider-Man and X-Men books. The kids and our True Believer fans will eat it right up.”


    • D.N.
      June 11, 2020 @ 2:59 pm

      For all the crap that Jim Shooter gets (much of it deserved), the comics Marvel produced under his tenure in the 1980s generally hold up a hell of a lot better than the ones Marvel churned out in the 1990s after Shooter was gone. Didn’t Shooter save Marvel (and lose friends) after industry tumult in the 1970s by cutting down on bloat? Cancelling poor-selling titles and scaling things back to ensure quality control? Then after he got pitched out, Marvel got seduced by the comics speculation boom and started swamping the market with new titles? Mutant books all over the place, 5-6 Spidey titles a month, Venom everywhere? Flashy “superstar” artists like McFarlane and Liefeld getting their own books and being allowed to draw and write despite not being able to write for toffee? Innumerable variant “#1” issues with die-cut holografix covers and collector’s card inserts? I’d be curious to know if Marvel made any genuine overtures to the Brit Pack during this time, but I suspect that wasn’t where the company’s priorities were.


      • CJM123
        June 12, 2020 @ 12:33 pm

        Shooter’s a jerk it seems, but a jerk with some sense. The guys that replaced Shooter (and many of the guys before) were stupid jerks.

        That’s pretty much my take on the matter.


        • D.N.
          June 13, 2020 @ 7:20 am

          I’d be hard-pressed to disagree. Shooter was an asshole, but a necessary asshole.

          I think Marvel’s belated attempts to go grim ‘n’ gritty had a great deal to do with why I turned away from the books circa the mid-1990s. Even when he was frequently a hard-luck superhero, Spider-Man was a good-natured guy – heck, for a time his books were marketed with the tagline “the non-gritty superhero!” But at some point in the 1990s, when Marvel was cynically exploiting cynical and violent anti-heroes, demons, terminator-like cyborgs etc, the decision was made to turn Peter Parker’s life to shit, send the poor guy off the deep end, and subject him to lousy “psychological” stories where he’d go on vengeance sprees while inner-monologuing guff like “PARKER IS DEAD. I AM THE SPIDER.” That kind of crap didn’t even qualify as second-rate Alan Moore copyism.


          • John
            July 20, 2020 @ 7:42 pm

            I think the interesting thing is that the guy who replaced Shooter – Tom DeFalco – seems to have generally been a nice guy (certainly compared to Shooter), and also his own inclinations in comic writing seem pretty classicist. Like, his most famous run is Spider-Girl, which is straight up Silver Age nostalgia.

            The key was that, so far as I can tell, DeFalco didn’t really matter. He was chief catherder, not a tyrant the way Shooter was, and it was the editors below him who were making story decisions, the suits above him making business ones.

          • John
            July 20, 2020 @ 7:52 pm

            Like, Shooter had a vision of what his job was. He saw himself as the guardian of the intellectual property. And sometimes that meant he had to come down in a very heavy-handed way on the creatives who were messing with the characters too much.

            He also had a very clear (and limited) vision of how stories are to be told. His vision mostly worked, with some obvious failures like Secret Wars II and the New Universe, but it was also a very conservative vision.

            Like, a lot of the classic runs of the Shooter era (Simonson on Thor, Byrne on FF, Stern on Avengers) are extremely well-crafted comics, but they aren’t quite doing anything new with the medium – they’re “we can do Stan and Jack, but better!” And then below the top tier, you end up with a lot of comics that are sort of samey.

            It makes sense that Marvel, as the industry leader, was aesthetically conservative, while DC was more willing to take risks and do interesting things.

            But what you see after Shooter leaves is that the conservatism gets replaced by – no clear creative vision at all?

  3. LovecraftInBrooklyn
    June 9, 2020 @ 8:48 am

    I love all the Hellblazer mentioned here for different reasons, but Gaiman’s story is number one in my elaborate Canon of Loneliness. It’s the best evocation of the brutal loneliness I feel and how that longing for connection destroys people.

    Constantine is a Craig Finn character in a John Darnielle world, using punk values and a bit of clairvoyance to beat dark forces.

    The Batman & Robin movie picks up the Woodrue/Poison Ivy connection and makes him responsible for her and Bane.

    Gerard Way was a mole in the War, contributing his (surprisingly decent) Desolation Row cover to the Watchmen movie, knowing that it would infuriate Moore & thus please his master Morrison, who symbolically kills him in the Killjoys videos.

    Desolation Row, of course, tapping the same Burroughs well.


  4. Isaac
    June 11, 2020 @ 2:29 am

    I don’t have much to add to the discussion, but I’m happy to see that posts on The Last War are back!

    I was recently re-reading Sandman and some of Gaiman’s other related DC work like Books of Magic. The first time I read Sandman was before I’d ever read most of Moore’s work. It amazes me how much of Swamp Thing I can see in Gaiman’s Sandman and Books of Magic now that I’m more familiar with Moore.

    It’s been so long since I read Veitch’s Swamp Thing or Delano’s Hellblazer that I had to struggle to remember precisely what was going on in those books where they intersected with Sandman too. I wish I’d read this post a few weeks ago before I started re-reading Sandman!

    Anyway, that’s not that relevant to what’s going on here. Again, I just wanted to say it’s great to have posts on The Last War back!


  5. Damien
    June 14, 2020 @ 6:03 pm

    I remember reading a piece at the time that part of Jenette Kahn’s reason for stopping the Jesus story was that she was afraid of anti-Semitism. Karen Berger, Paul Levitz and Kahn are all Jewish and apparently there was a fear that publishing the story would be interpreted as Jews (DC) trashing Jesus. To be honest, I can see why this could have been a worry. The Christian right was pretty nasty at the time (in the UK they were a big part of section 28 which feeds into the war through the establishment of Madlove) and I could understand a media executive being reticent to publish anything that could antagonise them. Of course self censorship is often more restrictive than outside censorship which brings us back to Alan Moore’s reason for leaving DC.


  6. Daru
    July 8, 2020 @ 5:47 pm

    “Delano’s Hellblazer would be diminished if it were as ostentatious and insistent on having its genius recognized as Moore’s best work. It works because it is present, immediate, and furious, not because it is seized with mad ambition. And more to the point, it works because this suits John Constantine, who, in Delano’s conception at least, is not a figure of grandiose and well-worked plans.”

    ““Hold Me” is a comic that one can present to someone and have them immediately see its virtues.”

    I really love the structure of this chapter, the intercutting between Hellblazer and Swamp Thing, between Delano and Veitch. This period of these comics hit the sweet spot of my memories, studying illustration and basking in the angry scratchiness (in terms of plot and drawing style) of Hellblazer, (and later the beauty of art by Piers Rayner and Mark Buckingham); and the bright and sensual art of Veitch and Alcala. Even though Delano’s run doesn’t narratively hold up, I have a lot of affection for it.

    I hadn’t known about the proposed story idea by Veitch for Swamp Thing #88 – sounds truly fascinating and I feel genuinely sad to have missed it.

    “Hold Me” I think is a real masterpiece, and underrated piece of work by Gaiman, and great to see another side of McKean’s work – I love the weaving of empathy into a horror tale too. Great stuff, thanks El.


  7. T Birds Jacket
    August 12, 2020 @ 11:52 am

    I am amazed by the way you have explained things in this article. This article is quite interesting and I am looking forward to reading more of your posts. Thanks for sharing this article with us.


  8. Oliver
    September 14, 2021 @ 1:14 am

    Correction: DC has collected the last issues of the Delano run in trade. It’s in the Dangerous Habits volume (though not in its original printing). I’m fairly sure every issue of Hellblazer has been collected at this point.


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