Former DC Comics writer and the creator of Bane, Chuck Dixon, recently diagnosed why current DC Comics and Marvel Comics are atrocious.
Dixon’s comments came in his most recent Ask Chuck Dixon episode on his personal YouTube channel.
Dixon responded to a question by Josh M, who asked, “Why does it seem like all writers know how to do with established characters is a deconstruction story? Why can’t writers do anything fun with established characters anymore and why can’t they create new characters that we can love without having to give them the ‘mantle’ of an already established character? It’s making picking up my pull list pretty miserable.”
Answering Josh, Dixon said, “Well, I feel your pain. It’s all lazy writing is basically what’s going on here.”
“Once upon a time, they created a comic book character and then they wrote really cool stories for them to be in. Now, they make all the stories about the character. So they have to plunge deeper and deeper into what makes the character tick or their psyche,” he begins.
He continues, “And of course the irresistible urge, to pull like gravity, is to tear the character down, to deconstruct them. That stuff gets tired after a while. And when you are all down deconstructing there is nothing left. So then you have to make unwarranted changes to characters that nobody asked for because you don’t have any more ideas for any more character development.”
Dixon then asserts, “And you certainly don’t have any ideas for good stories because you never did. You never did write any good stories for these characters because writing good stories and plotting are hard. It’s the heavy lifting.”
“Whenever I hear a writer say, ‘I’m more about character development than plotting,’ I always say, ‘Go away. Stop writing. Stop making us suffer for your lack of ability.'” And so this is why see a lot of them morphing characters, changing them, making them unrecognizable because they are bereft of ideas,” he posits.
Later in the video, Dixon states, “And when they do create new characters, they don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know how to create an appealing character. In fact, they seem to dead set on creating unappealing characters that simply exist to piss off the majority of comic book readers. To say basically, ‘If you don’t like this character, there’s something wrong with you. Go away.'”
He continued, “Now, there’s nothing wrong with the comic readers. Once upon a time, comic book companies listened to the readership. It was called redundant publishing…comics are a raw medium, you just throw crap out there. A guy writes a story, another guy draws it, simplest thing in the world, and then you put it out to the public.”
“If the public buys it, you do more of that. If the public doesn’t buy it, you do less of that. And that’s how get multiple X-Men titles, and that’s how you get fads in the 50s like horror comics, and then western comics, and then war comics, and then romance comics,” Dixon detailed.
Dixon then addressed what he sees as one of the major problems with current comic book writing, “But now they seem to be stuck. And all they ever do is one flavor, one size fits all superhero comics and they try to make them as woke as possible. So even superhero fans are turned off by what they are doing. In addition to that they are generally not well crafted.”
He then references Marvel Comics’ unpublished New Warriors by Daniel Kibblesmith and Luciano Vecchio, “Look at the drawing here. I mean, come on, it looks like they took it out of someone’s high school loose leaf notebook. Someone doodled this during math class.”
Dixon goes on to tell a story about the last Bat Summit he attended , at the same time DC Comics was also hosting a Superman summit.
During this summit, the Superman writers came up with the idea that Superman gets amnesia and believes he is Batman. So, in effect there would be two Batmen, but one of them was actually Superman and had superpowers.
After telling this story Dixon relays, “So this phenomenon of not knowing what to do with the characters and just wanting to basically mess with the characters instead of creating good stories is simply not a new phenomenon.”
He then goes on to reference Die Hard 3, “I often use the example of the movie Die Hard 3. Die Hard 3 is the best Batman movie ever made, it just unfortunately doesn’t have Batman and Robin in it. It does have the Riddler.”
“So it’s a perfect example of an established character, John McClane in a good story. The movie is not about John McClane, his life, what’s happened to him, his divorce, or anything like that. It’s all about how John McClane is going to react to Jeremy Irons turning New York City into chaos for a few days. And it’s a Batman and Robin and Riddler story,” Dixon explains.
“Think about it. Re-watch it with that in mind and you’ll see what I mean. It’s perfect,” he concluded.
What do you make of Chuck Dixon’s analysis of the current crop of writing at Marvel and DC Comics?