An entry from my Marvel blog of more than a decade ago, this one responding to some unkind statements that John Byrne had made publicly during that time. In the years since, John has produced something like 30 issues of his X-Men fan fiction comic but hasn’t really ever done any further substantial amount of work in mainstream comics. Oh, and I am on Twitter these days, at @TomBrevoort
Sorry, just couldn’t let this one go by without a response, since it’s such a desperate cry for attention.
As has been reported a number of places, a week or so ago, former Marvel creator John Byrne posted a wish list of things he’d like to see—and not see—within the pages of Marvel Comics in the coming year. Putting aside the very obvious fact that the list in question was clearly written by somebody who hadn’t looked at a Marvel comic in many months, it was also a litany of story elements and approaches that John himself had employed during his time in the business. And that’s all right, I guess—in theory, everybody grows older, and learns things, and changes their viewpoint. I’d rather than John’s critique was a little bit better informed, but he’s as entitled to say stupid things on the internet as the rest of us.
But the nature of John’s challenge got me thinking. And it leads me to issue this follow-up challenge:
John, it is painfully obvious that you’d like nothing more than to be back in the industry and working on these characters that you love. The bright green envy that exudes from your constant observations as to what Marvel—excuse me, M****l—is doing wrong does nothing to conceal the longing that you wear on your sleeve like a badge of honor. And there’s really no reason or excuse for it.
Rather than sitting back and pining for the days when your work was at the forefront of the industry, get off your keister and get back in the game! If you want to work at Marvel, you’ve got my number, and that of Ralph Macchio (whom I expect you’d be more comfortable with.) Or, if not Marvel, then one of the other major publishers in the field. You’ve clearly still got game if you chose to use it, so instead of casting aspersions from afar, why don’t you do something about it? Lead by example, either from within or without. There are any number of creators up at Marvel who’d love the opportunity to work with you, and while I know it salves your ego to think that you’re a pariah, that really needn’t be the case. The truth of the matter is that you choose to be an outcast, you choose to be that person. It’s a waste, of your talent and of what you could contribute.
There are others of your generation—George Perez and Walt Simonson, to name two—who continue to be relevant to an audience in 2008 by keeping their hand in, and by not resting on past laurels. (Though you’ve certainly got plenty of those.) And sure, I know you’re doing STAR TREK books for IDW, and acting as an expensive “art robot” on a creator-owned property for Dark Horse—but look at you. That’s not what you want to be doing, you know it—you can’t hide it.
They say “Those who can’t, teach.” There ought to be a corollary: “Those that won’t, kvetch.” Put up or shut up, John—show us how it’s done.
P.S. I am not on Twitter, so if you’ve signed up to follow me there, all you’re doing is encouraging Steve Wacker in his mischief—and that’s not going to make the Spider-Man comics come out on time (which, in some quarters, is almost a good reason to follow Steve-as-Tom on Twitter…)