Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Open Letter to Disney, Regarding your Recent Purchase

Hi, Disney.  Normally we would send this to you directly, but we're fairly certain you have a vast computer network beneath Disney World which scours the web for any reference to your company.  So we presume you'll get this, anyway.

Now then.  A little while ago, you bought Marvel.  You may recall this; you may not (we have it on good authority you may have been drinking beforehand).  At any rate, if you check your back pocket, you'll likely find the lease.

We wanted to discuss this with you.

You see, right after you purchased Marvel Comics for a cool four billion (that's US dollars, by the way: we're unsure what the current exchange rate is for Disney Dollars), many of us on the internet panicked and asked - no, pleaded - with you to retain the integrity of Marvel's operations, to leave its editorial and business staff untouched to continue the work they've been doing for years.

Well, we've given the matter some thought, and we think we might have made a grave mistake.

Recently, we had an opportunity to view the new Super Hero Squad Show, Marvel's attempt at kid friendly entertainment.  We were, in a word, disgusted.  It wasn't the fact that the characters were reduced to childish caricatures: that's been done successfully elsewhere.  It's that the Super Hero Squad Show is a disgusting, obnoxious blight on the Earth, one that cheapens characters we've loved for decades and toys we've collected for years.

And the fault, is seems, cannot merely be laid at the feet of the writers.  Consider the recent Newsarama interview with Cort Lane, Marvel's director of animation development, where Lane discusses editorial involvement with the program:

"We have a lot of fart jokes, too. You can thank Joe Quesada for the fart jokes. I think Joe’s really a 4-7 year old in his heart because he really pushed for Mole Man to be gassy. I wasn’t going to argue because I knew boys were going to love that."

Now, we hear rumors that Mini-Marvels, a far more clever and artistic work, may be canceled to prevent confusion with this new program.

This logic frustrates us, in part because we can't imagine the distinction between these two projects as being clearer.  Mini-Marvels = good.  Super Hero Squad Show = bad.  You see, no one could ever get these confused.

This got us thinking about the past few years; about the destruction of Spider-Man's marriage, the deterioration of the X-Men titles, the constant barrage of event books redefining the 'status quo' of the company for precisely one year, and editorial mandates - such as a total suspension of smoking - which have upset fans.

And we asked ourselves why we were so adamant about keeping things the way they are.  So, we've given the matter some thought, and we want to revise our earlier statement.  Please.  Go nuts.

Seriously, you put some real money into this buyout: go ahead and play with your new toys.  You've got some fantastic writers and artists at Marvel; let them keep doing their thing, but why not get some new suits in the head office?  As for the Super Hero Squad Show?  Well, if you want to appeal to kids, why not mix things up with something they're already familiar with?  At first, all those drawings of Micky Mouse dressed up as Spider-Man or Wolverine were created to mock the merger.  But, you know something?  They're kind of growing on us.

In the right hands, Disneyfied versions of Marvel heroes could make a good read or a great show.  And, hey, if you're looking for talent to make such a bizarre concept work, we hear this guy's free.


The Middle Room

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