Eruditorum Press

The struggle in terms of the strange

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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.

13 Comments

  1. Daibhid C
    September 4, 2015 @ 3:27 am

    only to have DC ask him to rework it with original characters when it became obvious that Moore’s take was going to render the Charlton characters unsuitable for further use within DC.

    I've never really got this. I mean, it's 1986. Crisis on Infinite Earths has already happened, but there are still some books set in the Before. Why not put Watchmen on Earth-Four? It's not like you're planning on using those versions of the characters again anyway. I know Peacemaker appeared in Crisis, which is a problem, but not an insurmountable one, given the nature of the Crisis – this is set "after" the Crisis in local universe terms but "before" it in terms of the Crisis itself. (Like all Earth-One Legion of Super-Heroes stories.)

    try to imagine what it would be like to be Captain America.

    Atom?

    Reply

  2. Spoilers Below
    September 4, 2015 @ 5:41 am

    Joe McCullough wrote a lovely (and very exhaustive) piece on Steve Ditko for ComicsComics about 5 years ago, comparing his latest published comics to his older material (including Mr. A) that's well worth your time if you're interested in the man and his history. I've always found him a fascinating figure.

    http://comicscomicsmag.com/?p=8320

    The Watchmen relevant section:

    "Only through an intense examination of Ditko’s work is it possible to appreciate exactly how thoroughly he was parodied by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in their seminal Watchmen, through the Question analogue character of Rorschach. For one thing, Moore takes the clipped manner of Ditko’s ‘abridged’ style of dialogue and hardens it a little into fuller sentences to make it sound like the rantings of a mentally ill person. Instead of proudly embodying the best in humanity as a crusading reporter, Rorschach parades around in his civilian guise declaring the end of the world, eventually submitting his work to a fringe right-wing magazine. His noir uniform is stained and filthy in a mockery of Mr. A’s clean white gear, so essential to embodying the white (good) vs. the black (bad).

    "Moreover, in visual terms, the name Rorschach signifies a blend of white and black into a blot that can only be subjectively read – there is no place for Reason in that, much like how Rorschach’s mask constantly, inexplicably shifts in its blend of white and black, an unsteadiness more becoming of a Ditko villain, especially the new ones we’ve seen here.

    Granted, Rorschach is right about a lot of things going on in Watchmen, and he’s eventually dignified with a climactic glittering death, wiped from existence by Dr. Manhattan, the analogue to Captain Atom, Ditko’s very first superhero – the metaphor needs no major unpacking. Ditko, who contributed greatly to four of six primary Watchmen characters, would sink into the background as the superhero concepts he worked on adopted lives reactive to their societal context – ongoing adventures, which do tend to supplicate the Individual before the Collective that is continuity. How then, could a compassionate fellow like Moore not feel a little for Ditko? How could a now-decried iconoclast not admire that stick-to-your-guns steel that Ditko has lived, and that Rorschach/the Question/Mr. A embodies?"

    Reply

  3. Spoilers Below
    September 4, 2015 @ 5:42 am

    Whoops, that should be "Joe McCulloch" not "McCullough"!

    Reply

  4. timber-munki
    September 4, 2015 @ 6:40 am

    The idea behind Crisis on Infinite Earths was to streamline their operations by getting rid of the multiple earths concept that had accumulated through the prior 50 years of DC/National Publications and acquisition history so having a story set on one of the alternate realities their marquee title had just spent a year destroying/assimilating would muddy the water creatively.

    Whilst they're super heros so would have eventually come back from the dead, the Watchmen storyline executed with the Charlton characters would have created an indelible mark on them, akin to Henry Pym's domestic violence, effectively ruining (From a marketing perspective) them potentially for decades, as it is Watchmen can serve as a continuity–free introduction to the ideas & themes of the characters as well as providing new readers an excuse to avoid the execrably lettered Charlton material.

    Reply

  5. timber-munki
    September 4, 2015 @ 7:07 am

    The thing is, with Ditko's world view from his comics (As with any derived from Ayn Rand's ideas IMO) is that it comes across as an attempt to make sociopathy socially acceptable, a perspective that I feel Moore would have no issue with ridiculing.

    Reply

  6. Ice
    September 4, 2015 @ 7:26 am

    “original idea had started off with the dead body of the Shield being pulled out of a river somewhere.”

    I did not know this. The only thing I've ever really known about The Shield is the similarities to Captain America. This, coupled with this quote:

    “iconic figures like Superman, Batman, and Captain America.”

    I wonder if The Comedian might have drawn some inspiration from Captain America.

    Millar's Ultimate Cap from the 90's kind of reminds me of The Comedian, now that I think about it…

    Reply

  7. Ice
    September 4, 2015 @ 7:29 am

    A post on the Alan Moore sub-reddit this week has a letter from Steve Ditko. (Here's the link: http://imgur.com/gallery/fE67BG2)

    Ditko replies to a writer's questions about Watchmen and Pax Americana, saying he's "not familiar with the WATCHMEN".

    Reply

  8. Daibhid C
    September 4, 2015 @ 10:19 am

    Yeah, that makes sense.I was considering the fact that there were still Earth-One titles being published, as DC worked out what Post-Crisis Earth was actually like, but I suppose they saw that as a problem, and one they were disinclined to make worse.

    Likewise, when you've got a multiverse in place, you can do Pax Americana and everyone understands that this Captain Atom isn't that Captain Atom, but if you're also saying "No more parallel universes", and the "alternate" versions of the characters are the most visible ones, then yeah, that becomes "how the characters are".

    Objection withdrawn.

    Reply

  9. Neo Tuxedo
    September 4, 2015 @ 12:36 pm

    On the subject of "attempt[s] to make sociopathy socially acceptable," I just want to mention that, scrolling past the Mr. A panel just now, despite having seen it on previous viewings of this entry, I read "Mr. A" as "MRA". (And I don't know about anyone else, but Objectivists and MGTOW sound a lot alike to me.)

    Reply

  10. Matthew Blanchette
    September 4, 2015 @ 2:25 pm

    I read it as "MRA", too. Not surprising.

    Reply

  11. Spoilers Below
    September 4, 2015 @ 9:40 pm

    The thing about Ditko is that he takes objectivism more seriously than 99% of its followers do, including Leonard Peikoff, Nathaniel Branden, and probably even Rand herself. Dude does not compromise under any circumstances, does not take short cuts, does not do any work not for himself or accept charity or ask to be let out of contracts that he signed, and the result is he lives in a crappy apartment in NYC drawing weird comics he sells for a pittance to hardcore fans who mostly don't care for his philosophy and are only buying them on the strength of work he did 40+ years ago. He uses old Spider-Man pencils for cutting boards because he feels it would be immoral to sell work that he drew under contract for another company, and anyways the finished product is what matters, not the drawings themselves, which are trash — despite being worth a fortune to collectors. He could breathe at Disney and they'd throw millions at him to prevent a very justifiable lawsuit, but he's never so much as lifted a finger — because he didn't work on the movies, action figures, lunch boxes, etc. he doesn't feel entitled to money from them.

    If he'd written The Fountainhead, it would end with Roark in jail, not applauded by the masses. Ditko was completely aware of how unpopular his philosophies made him, and a great deal of his stories end with the hero alone, or actively being trashed by his compatriots for being a jerk or a hard-ass. Many of The Question stories leave it open as to whether the hero's actions have actually done anything at all to improve the world at large.

    He's the kind of guy MRA types wish they could be, but, you know, without the whole living as a recluse in poverty with no wife or children thing. They want to ignore the almost Catholic guilt that Ditko's work carries with it, the level of responsibility that one has when one has the power to help others, and the lack of absolution possible for crimes one commits against one's own moral code. (Think of Spider-Man's constant guilt over Uncle Ben's death, a death that occurred because Spider-Man didn't stop the robbery.)

    I'm definitely not an objectivist — Rand's philosophy itself has plenty of holes, to be sure, and the rigid inflexibility of character's like Mr. A I find appalling — but I do find Ditko fascinating, and maintain a great deal of respect for the man for keeping to his moral code despite hardship — even if others who follow said code tend to be huge jerks. Plus, there is a lot to like in his comics. He's a lovely artist with a great imagination.

    Reply

  12. Elizabeth Sandifer
    September 4, 2015 @ 9:49 pm

    Yeah, the thing about Rorschach is really that he's so ruthless a Steve Ditko parody that it's hard to imagine Ditko doing much more than shrugging and saying "yeah fair enough" and getting on with being Steve Ditko.

    Reply

  13. Daru
    September 7, 2015 @ 10:52 pm

    Loving this section on the Charlton characters. Not much more to say just now except that it's great reading about a background to the Watchmen characters that I had only vaguely read and heard about.

    Reply

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