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  1. #1
    Moderator Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Default Why Peter David Would Have Been Happy To Kill Off J. Jonah Jameson

    Peter David had an interesting comment an interview in the book Writers On Comics Scriptwriting on the subject of leaving toys intact for the next guy.

    He was asked if he was trying to deliberately shock or provoke with stuff like the deaths of Jean Dewolfe and Betty Banner.

    The thing is, people have a bit of trouble with my world view, because I am very aggressive in terms of trying to twist things around or say, 'Let's do this because it would make a really cool story.' I remember an occasion when I was in Jim Owsley's office and Tom Defalo was trying to explain to me the need to take the longer view. His feeling was, "Don't do a story just because it's a really good story. You have to think about the long term.' He told me I could write a story where J. Jonah Jameson dies, in which there would be this final meeting of the minds between Spider-Man and Jonah and there wouldn't be a dry eye in the house. It would be really great, but what do you do next issue with J. Jonah Jameson dead? Without hesitation I said I'd have the Kingpin buy the Daily Bugle, and Tom said 'No, you're missing my point.' And I said, 'No, no, this would be great, we have the Kingpin buy the Daily Bugle but he comes in and says he has no intention of running it as anything other than a newspaper. It puts this big split among the editorial staff, because some people quit immediately, but other people who need the job, who need the money, don't want to resign and Peter's caught in the middle.' Poor Tom's going, 'No Peter, you've completely missed my point', and I'm jumping up and down, saying to Owsley, 'Let's kill of J. Jonah Jameson, this would be so great'. So Tom never really managed to make it clear to me that's not the sort of thing you should do.
    It's an interesting view on something that's discussed often enough here: what changes should be allowed in the Spider-Man comics?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member witchboy's Avatar
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    Writers are too quick to kill off comic characters, resulting in awkward resurrections. Great characters that catch on with fans are hard to create, and the short term death story wipes out a whole lot of future potential.
    They should find more creative ways to write a character out for awhile if they need to. You don't need to kill JJJ for Kingpin to buy the Bugle.

  3. #3
    Four degrees higher Cheesedique's Avatar
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    This is intriguing, because it seems to me that PAD left characters intact very well, especially when he was on Spider-man (I'm not counting the clusterf*ck that was the Ned Leeds as Hobgoblin revelation, since that was by all accounts an assignment handed down to PAD from James Owsley).

    I think a good recent example, not to pile on Dan Slott, is bringing back Dr. Ashley Kafka for three pages before killing her off recently in Superior. Was the shock value worth not having that character around ever again?
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  4. #4
    Four degrees higher Cheesedique's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter David
    The thing is, people have a bit of trouble with my world view, because I am very aggressive in terms of trying to twist things around or say, 'Let's do this because it would make a really cool story.' I remember an occasion when I was in Jim Owsley's office and Tom Defalo was trying to explain to me the need to take the longer view. His feeling was, "Don't do a story just because it's a really good story. You have to think about the long term.' He told me I could write a story where J. Jonah Jameson dies, in which there would be this final meeting of the minds between Spider-Man and Jonah and there wouldn't be a dry eye in the house. It would be really great, but what do you do next issue with J. Jonah Jameson dead? Without hesitation I said I'd have the Kingpin buy the Daily Bugle, and Tom said 'No, you're missing my point.' And I said, 'No, no, this would be great, we have the Kingpin buy the Daily Bugle but he comes in and says he has no intention of running it as anything other than a newspaper. It puts this big split among the editorial staff, because some people quit immediately, but other people who need the job, who need the money, don't want to resign and Peter's caught in the middle.' Poor Tom's going, 'No Peter, you've completely missed my point', and I'm jumping up and down, saying to Owsley, 'Let's kill of J. Jonah Jameson, this would be so great'. So Tom never really managed to make it clear to me that's not the sort of thing you should do.
    More towards the point, I find it interesting that PAD had the idea of Kingpin taking over the Bugle, and that's just what they did with Norman a number of years later. Except no one really had to die to have that plot happen.

    That said, come back to Spider-man, PAD!!
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  5. #5
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    I think any change is okay, but it needs to be thought out.

    For example, to kill JJJ off for shock value is unnecessary, but the way PAD suggested would've been good.

    Further examples:

    To kill Harry off in SSM200 was good. It changed the tone of the series, had lasting consequences and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. To kill Dr Kafka in Superior was bad. She hadn't been in the book for years and to bring her back just to kill her was stupid (maybe even selfish?). Any doctor would've sufficed, Otto didn't give a damn it was her and now because Slott didn't want to use her, future writers can't either.

    Contrast that with Slott's decision to kill Marla. She wasn't in the books much, but it was good decision because of the effect it had on JJJ and Peter. A bad decision was to kill Mattie Franklin just to make Peter mad enough to rip a woman's face off. She wasn't in the book for years before her death and even her uncle wasn't shown to give a shit on panel.

    I think I'm going to try and read some of PAD's work today.

  6. #6
    Four degrees higher Cheesedique's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Russell View Post
    To kill Harry off in SSM200 was good. It changed the tone of the series, had lasting consequences and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. To kill Dr Kafka in Superior was bad. She hadn't been in the book for years and to bring her back just to kill her was stupid (maybe even selfish?). Any doctor would've sufficed, Otto didn't give a damn it was her and now because Slott didn't want to use her, future writers can't either.

    Contrast that with Slott's decision to kill Marla. She wasn't in the books much, but it was good decision because of the effect it had on JJJ and Peter. A bad decision was to kill Mattie Franklin just to make Peter mad enough to rip a woman's face off. She wasn't in the book for years before her death and even her uncle wasn't shown to give a shit on panel.

    I think I'm going to try and read some of PAD's work today.
    I think I can see the reasoning in using Kafka that way, though I didn't like it; Otto is the protagonist early on in a newly-launched book. The reader has to get on his side somehow, and has to be put in a mindset where they're thinking "yeah SpOck, kill that sumabitch" (Massacre). Readers, not all of course, know of Kafka and have some sort of connection based on recognition. But it was cheap. At least Marla got a funeral, and the repercussions of her death are still coming up in the book (Smythe).

    Incidentally, I got to ask DeMatteis what he thought of Kafka being offed in such a way. He said he hadn't read it yet, but that Dan Slott is a great writer, so it was probably done well.
    Last edited by Cheesedique; 07-21-2013 at 07:00 PM.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Shadowlarvitar's Avatar
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    The only character that should be killed off is Ock. I would hang that issue up in my room.

  8. #8
    Moderator Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesedique View Post
    This is intriguing, because it seems to me that PAD left characters intact very well, especially when he was on Spider-man (I'm not counting the clusterf*ck that was the Ned Leeds as Hobgoblin revelation, since that was by all accounts an assignment handed down to PAD from James Owsley).

    I think a good recent example, not to pile on Dan Slott, is bringing back Dr. Ashley Kafka for three pages before killing her off recently in Superior. Was the shock value worth not having that character around ever again?
    It is funny that PAD wasn't able to shake up the series, partly because he was always on the satellite book. The biggest change to a supporting character in his run was Flash Thompson's recovery from a coma in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.

    In the case of Kafka, that was a character that didn't appear in the books all that often, so it was different from someone like Jonah. That particular story beat (Spider-Ock is motivated to take a life) probably required the death of a supporting character.
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  9. #9
    One Hoopy Frood Schmed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowlarvitar View Post
    The only character that should be killed off is Ock. I would hang that issue up in my room.
    Yeah we get it, can you stop going into every thread and derailing it with your mewling?
    Why should I want to make anything up? Life's bad enough as it is without trying to invent any more of it.

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  10. #10
    Moderator Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Russell View Post
    I think any change is okay, but it needs to be thought out.

    For example, to kill JJJ off for shock value is unnecessary, but the way PAD suggested would've been good.

    Further examples:

    To kill Harry off in SSM200 was good. It changed the tone of the series, had lasting consequences and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. To kill Dr Kafka in Superior was bad. She hadn't been in the book for years and to bring her back just to kill her was stupid (maybe even selfish?). Any doctor would've sufficed, Otto didn't give a damn it was her and now because Slott didn't want to use her, future writers can't either.

    Contrast that with Slott's decision to kill Marla. She wasn't in the books much, but it was good decision because of the effect it had on JJJ and Peter. A bad decision was to kill Mattie Franklin just to make Peter mad enough to rip a woman's face off. She wasn't in the book for years before her death and even her uncle wasn't shown to give a shit on panel.

    I think I'm going to try and read some of PAD's work today.
    It can get subjective. It does bug me when characters are killed off without seeing how it affects others (Mattie Franklin, White Tiger in Daredevil.) Although I can understand that sometimes writers don't want to spend a lot of time setting up a scene that requires establishing a lot of backstory.

    I think Harry's death was a great story, but it just wouldn't stick when Norman came back from the dead. And all we got out of it was a good story at the cost of a great character. There wasn't anything else to it.
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  11. #11
    One Hoopy Frood Schmed's Avatar
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    More to the point, if it's a good story I think anything should go in Superhero comics. The fact of the matter is that anything can be changed back with an equally good story if need be. That being said, I think that character deaths should be reserved for long term story lines, to keep the illusion of permanency intact.
    Why should I want to make anything up? Life's bad enough as it is without trying to invent any more of it.

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  12. #12
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    I think that Darren Lynn Bousman put it best when he said:

    "Kill 'Em All".

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    That particular story beat (Spider-Ock is motivated to take a life) probably required the death of a supporting character.
    I thought Massacre's mass murder rampage was enough. Kafka's death didn't even feel personal.

  14. #14

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    This is a topic that will always bug me. As much as I love Peter Parker and Spider-Man, and even the Marvel U as a whole, I've loved the growth and development. I also grew up with the Young Avengers and Runaways and feel like some of these characters deserve a shot to grow the same way Peter Parker has grown. I like the development. Peter Parker growing old with his wife and family is great to me because it's what I think he deserves and should have after the work he's put in. I think that dynamic of Spider-Girl was awesome because while he was done, the fight still carries on into the next generation, but he and others before with him could give birth to a new legacy. While there are some great stories to be had and introduced for these company characters that have been around for decades, it doesn't seem like we'll ever see a sweep of original new concepts or characters like Stan Lee and co. came up with because people will never be allowed to. Not with the brand unable to evolve really. Think about it. I've seen so much love for Spider-Man 2099 on here, but if we do make it to 2099, Marvel will still be telling Peter Parker stories

  15. #15
    Senior Member Brannon's Avatar
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    I completely understand a writers burning need to do something different and to tell a good story, but the rules are indeed different for serialized, corporate owned, superhero comics. I think that the quasi-realworldness of superhero universes fool people into thinking the characters are built to be that much different from, say, the never aging or changing Simpson's or Peanuts. They really aren't at their core.

    It's a matter of perception, really. I do agree that, ultimately, a character that is allowed to evolve and grow, and reach some sort of conclusion to their "story", is the ideal storytelling method (and this is why I read and have read creator owned comics), but that doesn't mean that that is the only way it should be done. Pillar-like icons serve their purpose as well.
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