Top Ten Controversial Quotes from Comic Book Creators

A column article, Top Ten by: Danny Djeljosevic, Nick Hanover

Frank Miller said some stupid shit the other day that managed to set the Internet ABLAZE! In light of that, we present 10 of the most controversial quotes from comic book creators. Not all of them are bad, but all of them did cause one shitstorm or another. And if there's one thing we love at Comics Bulletin, it's turbulent, excremental weather.


10. Robert Kirkman's Creator-Owned Manifesto

"I want everyone to understand, I'm not saying no one should aspire to write for Marvel and DC characters...I'm just saying that it shouldn't be the pinnacle of a comic book career...everyone who only does Marvel and DC books gets ushered out of this business eventually...There's no retirement plan in comics"

Danny: We're going to showcase a lot of negative stuff in this list, so let's start with a positive one: In 2008, Robert Kirkman -- his career well underway with books like Invincible and The Walking Dead -- quit writing for Marvel Comics (where his work wasn't incredibly well-received) and urged his fellow creators in a video manifesto on Comic Book Resources to pursue their own works as opposed to writing and drawing corporate intellectual property.


Nick: While plenty of people took this as a call to arms and were inspired by it, not everyone was quite so eager to support the cause. Like Brian Michael Bendis, who took to the Bendis Board to somewhat mock Kirkman's treatise with the one liner "Coming soon from Image: MASSIVE GENERALIZATIONS!" Bendis's comments culminated in a debate between the two creators at Baltimore Comic Con. Nonetheless, Kirkman's ascent to a top-level position at Image has enabled him to literally put his money where his mouth is and more creators are taking up the cause, as this year alone saw similar mission statements from Steve Niles and Eric Powell.

Danny: Any fan of Chew owes that book's existence to Kirkman's manifesto, as it notably inspired John Layman to pursue the project.

Nick: I was going to say something snarky here, but fuck that: buying creator owned is like supporting Fair Trade or going to local there any reason NOT to?


9. Erik Larsen's "Name Withheld" Letter

"More artists writing won't spell the end of good comics, just as it didn't when Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko started doing all their own scripting. What it may mean is that fewer mediocre writers will find themselves with work or decent artists to work with -- but then the repetitious, rehashed, reworked hackwork of these tired writers is likely to drag this industry down, anyway."

Nick: On the note of Image Comics and the creator-owned issue, let's go back to a letter that was supposedly helped lead to the creation of Image. Frustrated by comments made by Mike W. Barr in DC's Shop Talk, Erik Larsen wrote an anonymous letter to Comic Buyer's Guide about the inequity of the comics industry at that time, specifically the way artists were treated as disposable labor.

Danny: Larsen pointed out that a writer can bang out a few scripts a month while many artists have to TOIL for an entire month and suffer grueling schedules to complete a single issue.

Nick: Larsen's points boiled down to a belief that the assembly line approach benefitted no one creatively, and that writers were more suited to that approach anyway and thus got favorable treatment from editors. Larsen specifically took umbrage with Barr's assertion that artists writing their own work would create subpar material. Countering with a list of creations that might not have happened had certain artists not written their own work, like Frank Miller's Elektra and any number of Jack Kirby creations, Larsen clearly felt as though Barr was attempting to demean artists' creative abilities.

Danny:  It certainly sounds that way. To refute Barr some more, even '60s Marvel had Ditko and Kirby essentially writing the books themselves based on Stan Lee's loose summaries, with Lee just coming in to write the dialogue.

Nick: Which Larsen himself pointed out. Of course, in Barr's defense, the books that Larsen and his partners debuted at Image in the beginning weren't exactly sterling examples of creativity.

Danny:  Hey, you leave Savage Dragon alone. That book is DOPE. But either way, they were (mostly) massive hits, so they captured something in the public's imagination, and on the artist's own terms.

Nick: It's important to note that during this time, the North American people were in the midst of a deep pouch obsession.

Danny:  These were the days of the fanny pack.


8. Todd McFarlane: Bridge Arsonist

"Let me explain myself more clearly. I am an asshole to assholes. It's that clear. So I don't really care if I offend assholes who've been assholes. The definition of an 'a-hole' unfortunately in my life falls on my shoulders, just like the definition of fair trade and good play and neighborly falls on your shoulder. I'm only in control of one person in this planet -- me."

Danny: That bit comes from a "no holds barred" Q&A at SDCC 2002 with Todd McFarlane, moderated by Peter David. McFarlane preceded that quote by explaining his policy about burning bridges, which pretty much amounts to, "Burn the bridge, fuck it, you'll always find another one." This panel, by the way, sounds hilariously antagonistic, with David at one point getting up and banging his head against a wall during one of McFarlane's responses.

Nick: David also gets in some pretty cheeky barbs with his questions, at times implying that McFarlane's star has fallen quite a bit and now he's at the mercy of all the little people he routinely mocked and bringing up McFarlane's ability to attract lawsuits. Through it all, McFarlane attempts to make himself out to be a super family friendly guy who is the constant victim in controversy after controversy. Needless to say, he does not succeed at this effort.

Danny:  That panel is an entire series of beautiful moments of Peter David antagonism. And it's not even the first time it happened!

Nick: Which brings us to...


7. It Was Kinda Hard to Pick a Peter David Quote From This Instance

(NOTE: I tried so, so hard to find the photo from Faces of Fantasy of Peter David posing nude across a sofa with a copy of Sachs & Violens over his crotch. I have failed you all. - Danny)

(ANOTHER NOTE: It's occurred to me that the above sounds like I was trying to write a joke. I assure you: I was not, that thing exists, and I spent like half an hour trying to find it. The Internet has failed us all.)

(ANOTHER, ANOTHER NOTE: I am not well.)

"Ladies and gentlemen-- Switzerland!"

Nick: That quotes comes from Peter David and Todd McFarlane's earlier public debate, wherein David took a remark McFarlane made about John Byrne and David being psychotic and flipped it into a public diagnosis of McFarlane. David laid out the case that McFarlane was suffering from an obscure mental illness called paralogia, which is characterized by the patient utilizing "false, dream-like logic" to come to absurd conclusions. In this particular instance, David was speaking of a case where a man believed he was Switzerland, because Switzerland and the man both loved freedom. The debate itself was structured around McFarlane's insistence that the media, and David in particular, were unfairly criticizing Image Comics, which was brand new at the time, and McFarlane in particular. To settle the matter, David and McFarlane were allowed to debate the issue in public with George Perez moderating.

Danny: ...don't these men have JOBS?

Nick: Well, this did occur around the time that Peter David was transforming into Comics' Angriest Writer, thanks in part to the column that started this debacle, But I Digress, which David penned for Comic Buyer's Guide. David used the platform of it to question, well, pretty much anything he saw fit to question about the industry, from the treatment of writers and artists by comic publishers, to feuds with almost every single big creator of the time.

Danny: So you're saying that Peter David was like the Big Ghost Chronicles of comics?

Nick: I think you're on to something.


6. Bill Willingham: Superheroes for America

"Folks, we’re smack dab in the midst of the Age of Superhero Decadence. Old fashioned ideals of courage and patriotism, backed by a deep virtue and unshakable code, seem to be… well, old fashioned."

Danny: That's basically the thesis statement of a column Fables creator Bill Willingham wrote for the website Big Hollywood, where he decried the current state of superhero comics as one where the heroes aren't "heroic" anymore (whatever that means) and toots his own horn about writing a story about Robin deploying into Afghanistan (ugh). Basically, his point was that superheroes aren't jingoistic enough these days. Violent, fascistic imposing of your will on others is okay, but for God's sake, wave a flag every once in a while!

Nick: And this was actually before Frank Miller's Holy Terror was a real thing that actually existed. Which makes me wonder: has Willingham read that Miller effort? And did he crap his pants with glee after doing so?

Danny: That column jammed in my craw the day it came out because Willingham seems be trying to impose some kind of sweeping rule on a genre (which drives me insane as a writer) and then succeeds in muddling that idea by basically saying well, actually, the problem is that superheroes need to be more "American" -- even though a staggering portion of writers and artists working on superhero comics aren't American. Stick to the fairy tales, Bill. You have a better handle on those.

Nick: Clearly those non-Americans need to be removed from the industry if they can't get with the program. Preferably through the use of gigantic fences around the offices of the big two. Like huge fences. With barbed wire and electricity and shit.



5. Alan Moore and the Half-Baked Conspiracy

"However, given the way that Dave Gibbons was apparently used as a messenger boy, it seems to me that I can't really afford to have any contact with anybody who is employed in the mainstream comics industry, because, it's a shame, they may have just wanted to get in touch for old times' sake, but I can never know that for sure anymore, because I've been given an illustration of what they are prepared to do in order to get me to play ball. It seems, at least in my opinion, that they have been completely ruthless and utterly inhuman in pursuit of this. And I reserve the right to state that opinion."

Nick: Everyone knows Alan Moore likes to say all kinds of odd things in interviews. But over the past few years, Alan Moore's interviews have featured less of the "I'm a mad genius who has a direct connection to the snake god that rules us all" Alan Moore and more of the "I am an increasingly more paranoid and cranky old man who apparently loves to make my defenders and 'friends' jump through all kinds hoops in order for me to recognize their existence let alone be cordial to them."

Danny: In pretty much one fell swoop Moore accused anyone currently working in comics to be part of some widespread conspiracy against him and pretty much slagged off everyone in his medium who previously respected him. All prior evidence leads me to believe that Moore is an otherwise very lovely man -- but can we please stop asking him to talk about an industry he wants nothing to do with? It makes him (and us) look bad. On the other hand, we've heard countless stories of creators getting screwed over by their companies -- but Moore's starting to resort to conspiracy theories.

Nick: What bothers me is that he doesn't want anything to do with the industry, and especially wants nothing to do with adaptations done of his work within the industry, yet he gets angry when people like Dave Gibbons don't call to thank him for "allowing" them to get all of the adaptation money Moore so adamantly washes his hands off... after explicitly telling them to never call him about those adaptations. What kind of mindfuckery is that? Who does that? That goes beyond not wanting anything to do with an admittedly broken system and unfair contract issues and into the realm of just being a dick who projects his problem unto others and gets upset when they are incapable of bending themselves to fit the illogical version of manners he has created for this situation.

Danny: Okay, okay, I'm ready to admit it: Alan Moore is insane.

Nick: You're only admitting this now because he's outside your window trying to figure out how you fit into this vast Watchmen conspiracy. Which is weird, because somehow he's outside of mine too.

Danny: Hurm.


4. Scott Adams Overestimates the Average Dilbert Reader

"The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It's just easier this way for everyone. You don't argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn't eat candy for dinner. You don't punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don't argue when a women tells you she's only making 80 cents to your dollar. It's the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles."

Danny: Who'd have thought that the creator of a mildly amusing comic strip about the ridiculousness of office life would be a complete and total dipshit?

Nick: Hey man, let's not be so mean to the lady behind Cathy. I mean, I hate that strip too, but it's gone now anyway and I'm sure she's nice. Oh, wait you mean Scott Adams, don't you? According to Scott Adams, if you disagree with his opinions, then your reading comprehension is probably pretty low and you're too emotional. Or at least that's what he wrote in the comments on after they took him to task for equating women who ask for equal pay to the handicapped and toddlers, thereby insulting, well, pretty much everyone with even an ounce of empathy.

Danny: Yep -- he basically said his readers are smarter than most and that the women reading his article were way too emotional to even understand his words. Which has to be the most dick thing I've ever read a comicker ever say -- and I've read a Garfield strip!

Nick: The whole controversy gained another level of absurdity after Adams admitted that he had created his own "sockpuppet" accounts to go and defend himself on forums and in comments on other sites. Because nothing makes you look like less of an immature asshole than pulling a stunt that was first perfected by 15-year-old nerd boys on AOL message boards.

Danny: Guy seriously gives comics about dweebs with talking animals a bad name -- and I've read a Garfield strip!


3. Dave Sim: The Original Scott Adams

"In one of those Poor Us studies for which the Emotional Female Void is notorious, it was pointed out that after a divorce, the average male standard of living rises... the average female standard of living drops... I think the...explanation is that the excision of a five-to-six- foot leech from the surface of a human body is going to have more of its own blood in its own veins. Unless the leech finds another body, it is going to go hungry."

Nick: Making Scott Adams look like Andrea Dworkin, Dave Sim is the O.G. of He-Man Women Hating. You'd think that writing a comic about a barbarian aardvark would give Sim few opportunities to show off his self-described knack for writing "Hate Literature against women," but Sim's sexism has become the defining quality of his work.

Danny: Dave Sim was a pioneer of self-published comics in the '80s, but he also developed a theory where men are "lights" and women are "voids," and "voids" suck all the life from the "lights." I think. Also, he insulted Bone creator Jeff Smith's wife and challenged Smith himself to a boxing match. 'Sup with this guy?

Nick: Either Sim's latter-day creative career is one gigantic performance art stunt, or he's working at making himself some kind of unholy combination of Tucker Max, Norman Mailer and Uwe Boll. Those two scenarios aren't necessarily mutually exclusive either.

Danny: Why do all our geniuses have to end up insane?

Nick: Painters used to go insane because they would put their paint brushes in their mouths and get lead and mercury poisoning and such. Maybe there's something in pencils?


2. Frank Miller, Inspiration for at Least One Top Ten

"The 'Occupy' movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. 'Occupy' is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America."

Nick: While Bill Willingham is angrily wondering why there isn't more patriotism in comics, Frank Miller is out there fucking living it, man. This year, Frank Miller released his long gestating magnum opus of batshit insane propaganda Holy Terror (which, curiously, Danny and myself are both on record as careful defenders of) but not content to fight the terrorists with pictures, Miller has now moved onto angry public statements.

Danny: Frank Miller's always been for angry public statements, first as a proponent of creator's rights in the face of big companies like Marvel and DC, later as a guy who accepted a Harvey Award by tearing up an issue of Wizard. Nowadays, after 9/11 made him go bonkers, he mostly goes on hilariously conservative tirades that have little relationship to reality. Recently, he took on the Occupy Wall Street protests, accusing the protesters of being rassafrassa kids with their confounded iPads and their noisy music who were hurting America by distracting it from the War on Terror. The Occupy movement, by the way, is all about standing up to the trespasses of huge corporations. Which is what Frank Miller used to be ALL ABOUT.

Nick: Forcing one to wonder: how exactly would Batman prepare for and deal with this development?

Danny: According to Frank Miller's two Dark Knight books, Batman would organize the kids into a unified gang with bat symbol face paint, then kick the shit out of Ronald Reagan's rotting corpse, fake a heart attack, and then fly the Batmobile into a building.

Nick: Now we finally get some answers as to what the next phase of the Occupy movement will be!


1. Everything John Byrne Has Written Since He Discovered the Internet

Yeah, we're not choosing JUST ONE quote for this one. He gave us a lot to work with.

Danny: So, John Byrne has a little website called Byrne Robotics, where he espouses his ridiculous opinions to only the sycophantest of sycophants. As a result, homeboy has had a shit-ton of, um, let's say "bon mots."

For example:

"Hispanic and Latino women with blond hair look like hookers to me, no matter how clean or "cute" they are. Somehow those skin tones that look so good with dark, dark hair just don’t work for me with lighter shades."

Nick: Or this gem:

"So much emotional torment -- in victims and victimizers -- would surely be set aside if our society was sexually liberated enough to even be able to say 'Sure, it's okay to be attracted to eleven year olds. Just don't do anything about it!'"

Danny: How about:

"I've gotten tired of people calling Christopher Reeve a hero. A really terrible thing happened to him and our society can’t deal with it when terrible things happen so we try to make out that it isn’t a terrible thing -- "It's an uplifting thing. He's a hero." He's not a hero, he's in hell."

Nick: Sure, that's terrible, but let's not forget the ample opportunities Byrne offers up to clarify whether he's simply a lunatic or an idiot or both. Like, say, this remarkable quote: 

"The Onion lost all credibility for me a while back when they did a 'story' on the Hudson River cleanup GE was forced to do. As some of you may recall, one of my neighbors is a GE veep, and he was directly in charge of this, so from him I found out all kinds of details the press did not bother to pass along to the public. Since The Onion apparently gets its info from other papers, the story was full of inaccuracies. What are they, Michael Moore? Anyway, I stopped reading The Onion from then on."

Danny: John Byrne is some kind of Andy Kaufman level genius, right? That's what' this has to be. I mean, he tips his hand with this Real World-like rant:

"John Byrne is tired of stepping up to the plate. John Byrne is tired of “doing the right thing” and getting fucked up the ass for his troubles. John Byrne is tired of being lied to. John Byrne is tired of you."

Nick: Well, Danny, you're clearly missing the point, because this is Byrne's real purpose:

"If you had paid any attention, instead of just scanning for places you can display your sparkling wit, you might have noticed that I use this forum in much the same way firemen use fire to fight fire."

Because who could forget that firemen use fire to put out fires?

Danny: Look, John, I know superhero comics are generally unrealistic, but maybe do a tiny bit of research, yeah?

Nick: Don't worry, there's a Byrne for that question too:

"Face it -- for the most part, when you say "comic book professional" what you mean is "unprofessional yahoo who is more concerned with making a name for himself and masturbating all his emotionally retarded fans than paying any attention to the history of the titles, the characters, or the work done by other creators.'"

I imagine he'd loop "research" into that as well.

Danny: Why haven't these been collected into a book yet?

Nick: Someone just needs to pair them with relevant pictures of cats and BOOM! Best seller! Shit My Comic Book Hero Says.

Danny: All the pull-quotes can be from Byrne himself!

Nick: This could be stamped right across the front:

"Look at some other comissions, Anal-Boy."

Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter at @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his comic, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics and check out his other comics at his Tumblr, Sequential Fuckery.

When he's not writing about the cape and spandex set, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and a staff writer for No Tofu Magazine. He also translates for "Partytime" Lukash's Panel Panopticon.

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