COMICS: Every day almost it seems as though the comics industry is heading for a very profound split, the kind I've talked about before where the direct market comic shops continue to be just superhero centered and irrelevant to the larger culture and the rest of the world gets their non-superhero comics from elsewhere. Here are this week's pointers toward the schism.

DC announced that they are bringing back Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. For those who don't follow Green Lantern (which includes me really but I can't help but pay attention to this story because it's emblematic of exactly the type of wrong-headed nostalgic crap that superhero comics are known for) Hal Jordan is the fanboy's One True Green Lantern who was given a rare chance to actually change and become something different about a decade ago. His home town was destroyed and in a fit of rage at being unable to change this, he went crazy and I believe killed all the other Green Lanterns. He became a very powerful villian who was eventually stopped and killed. Then he became the new Spectre character and was given a chance to help others for redemption. For a superhero comic, this was change akin to the asteroid that helped kill off the dinosaurs. And of course, fans of the dinosaurs were none too happy. The new Green Lantern, a young modern mammal, was almost universally reviled by the people who wanted their lumbering giants back and some of the fans more in need of medication actually raised money for ads asking DC to put everything back how it was and pretend nothing had actually changed. And so, after a decade of trying to resist the insecent pull back toward the past, DC has relented and announced that they are bringing Hal back. Of course, they assure us, nothing will really be the same but I think anybody who has spent any time around superhero comics knows that's really not going to be the case. This, on top of Marvel's attempts to undo anything new and interesting with the X-Men comics now that pesky forward-thinker Grant Morrison is gone, is just one more push toward the complete insularity and irrelevancy of the superhero market.

The pointer in the other direction, away from corporate trademark service and toward creative freedom and artistic relevance, comes from the always great Permanent Damage column by Steven Grant. Mr. Grant points out a great response from Steve Gerber, creator of Howard The Duck, to a fan who wants to write the duck. I'm going to reprint it here because I want to have an archive of it for myself.

One thing I really don't understand. Haven't you "always wanted" to write your own character? What's so damn special about the duck? That he comes prepackaged? That you have someone else's creativity to leach on? Shouldn't you be trying to write something that's special to you, not me?

This may sound harsh, folks, but if any of you really want to be writers – &@$* THE DUCK AND THE SPIDER IT RODE IN ON! HAVE AN ORIGINAL THOUGHT FOR ONCE!

It's not so hard. Hell, if I did it, anyone can.

And, in the end, you'll find it's more rewarding to yank your own crank than somebody else's.

This may be your last opportunity to "get it," people. Chances are, no creator in the comics industry will ever be this straightforward with you again... Stop and think for a moment where comics would be right now if Siegel & Shuster, Will Eisner, Jack Cole, Stan Lee, Gardner Fox, Steve Ditko, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, etc., had only wanted to write and draw the stuff they grew up with. No Superman. No Spirit. No Plastic Man. No Marvel Universe. No Justice Society *or* League – you get the idea.

You'd still be reading "Maggie & Jiggs", "Gasoline Alley", and "Flash Gordon". Because no one would have invented anything.

All the stuff you love would never have been created.

The point of non-corporate writing and art, even – no, especially – if it has to exist in a corporate context -- is to create something new. Was it Gauguin who said that "art is revolution"? Hey. No revolution, no Green Lantern.

Which, incidentally, is pretty much where we're at in comics right now."

Those last two bits are the crux of the issue right there. Comics wouldn't be where they are today without reinvention and revolution but the problem is that the majority of comics people, fans and creators and companies, all want everything to stay the same. The schism is going to come when it's possible to leave those people behind and still do comics. I think we're coming to that point very quickly and the surprise is that everyone will be much happier when it happens. The superhero fans won't have people talking shit about their dumbass desire to see Hal Jordan in the GL costume again and people like me and companies like Oni will actually be able to buy and sell comics they want without having to compete with Captain Spandex and the Nostalgia Squad. I can't wait.