Thursday, July 09, 2009

Age and Innocence

When I first started reading comics, I always imagined that the people who created them were wizened old men who'd gathered the secrets of the universe — as it related to spandex superheroing — and doled them out on a monthly basis. (Okay, that's not entirely true: When I first started reading comics, I was 11, and I thought they just appeared — fully formed wads of coolness. It wasn't until later that I realized that people actually made them.) Those secrets seemed like the hard-won treasure of a long life lived to the fullest: These guys (and they were always, in my mind, guys) had been to the Well on the Edge and brought forth the Knowledge.

That image of comics creators has stuck with me, to this day. (Not the "guys" part: I know some great women going great work, and wish there were more of 'em. Hey, I like women.) People like Ed Brubaker, Warren Ellis, Brian Bendis, Neil Gaiman, Brian Vaughan, Kyle Baker, Geoff Johns — they all had such mastery of the craft, such surety of voice, I couldn't see them as anything else but Obi-Wan Kenobis.

Then I started meeting them. And so many of them were young.

Given the skill with which he spins those beautiful, knowing noir sagas, I figured Ed Brubaker to be a dude in his sixties. Nope. Half that, give or take a nickel. The regularity with which Warren Ellis complains about the weather, his need for a cane, his failing body and addled brain brings to mind a bloke minutes away from a nursing home (or an asylum). Instead, he's perhaps a few months older than I am.

I say all of this for myself, really. To put this into a bit of perspective. Every now and again, someone will comment on the speed with which we've climbed into the professional comics arena. It'll be five years, this San Diego, since I first pitched Monster Attack Network to Larry Young. And, yes, in that time lots of doors have opened for us, between The Highwaymen, Genius, Push, and the other assorted projects we can't talk about.

But every day, I read something that floors me, something that makes me wonder how someone using the same tools that I do — a keyboard, an artist, and paper — can create such rich magic.

You see, we're not going so fast to get ahead. We're going so fast to catch up.

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