Thursday, January 25, 2007

Boys Cancelled By DC

The Boys is a hard edged, almost pornographic comic exploring the dark side of super humans. Ennis has a well known disdain for super heroes and this comic was his story to end all stories. After about four issues I thought this comic was total trash and was strictly a comic that was trying to shock someone for the sake of being shocking. It was bordering on being a porno comic book. Then in issue #5 we saw that a character in the Boys (Hughie) and Starlight from the super hero community were looking to start a relationship. I'm sure the exploration of these two characters reaction to everything would have been a central element of the story. Issue six was a showdown with a group of heroes where one shot showed a hamster crawling out of one of the heroes pants after he had been killed or knocked out. I believe that scene may have been the one to push it over the edge for DC. Below is the cover image to issue #6.

I have no inside knowledge and it is all pure speculation on my part, but I think that inside any corporate structure brands have to protected. Still being daring and edgy is one thing, being vulgar and rude and enforcing a negative stereotype on a group is suicide in today's market place. I think DC did the right thing in pulling the plug on this book (pun intended). There has to be lines and if creators want to go beyond those lines they can, but they have to find their own venue. DC is paying for the work and publishing the work, they have a right to have some say in what is in the material. DC did the right thing.

As this is creator owned Ennis and Robertson are free to shop this book around. I believe IDW would be a great place for this book as they are an independent publisher trying to be the next Dark Horse. Having an edgy, politically incorrect series that already have a built in following would be a fantastic book to add to their line. If Darrick is allowed under his contract with DC to do work for an independent, it could be a win/win for everyone. DC maintains a certain level of what their books will and will not be. IDW gets a book that has a bigger press run that most of their books (if not all) and I'm sure find a new audience where they can cross market their other books. Ennis and Robertson remain true to their artistic vision of what they wanted the Boys to be.

Personally, I found the book distasteful and over the line at times, but they had drawn me in enough that I wanted to know what happens with Hughie and Starlight. Plus I think that even distasteful subjects are worth talking about, especially if it makes us understand certain behaviors. There is a dark and nasty side to our society that most of us try to ignore and the adult bookstores and pornographic websites that thrive lend credence to the fact that there is a darkness within our race. Ignoring it is not the answer and maybe even a cursory examination of it via a super hero book is a discussion that has merit.


  1. I gave up on Preacher after 2 trades because I really did get a sense of "Hee hee, look how naughty and disturbing I'm being". So I've already been a little wary of Ennis in general and pretty much knew The Boys would not be up my alley.

    That being said, I am enjoying his run on Midnighter so far. But since that is also a DC imprint I wonder if this cancellation could affect his work on that in any way.

  2. Brit - I don't think so, I'm sure Garth is disappointed but he is a committed professional.

    Preacher was tough at times to get through but the overall story was an interesting look at relgion.

  3. Everyone is bowing to their corporate Masters!

    Robertson is under DC exclusive. They can theoretically take it somewhere else but now while he is exclusive.

    DC knew what they were getting into with this. Now they look like uptight wussies.

    Oh and PREACHER is one of the best books in the last ten years.

    Can I get an AMEN?

  4. Shawn - Preacher was good, but I don't know if it will last as an all time great book. Personally I loved the ending.

    And did DC know what it was getting into - maybe, but also maybe the decision came from higher up.

    Do you as a writer have lines that you won't cross? If yes then if you hired someone to publish under your name and they crossed that line would you stop them?

    If this book caused Rusty to be sued and shut down would you still want artistic freedom at any cost?

    Freedom still comes with restrictions. This is not preventing the book from being published and I bet DC paid them for the work already done past issue #6.

  5. I can't believe you people give DC a get-out-of-jail-free card on this.

    There were a million better ways of handling it than sweeping it under the rug.

    As far as I am concerned DC is in the penalty box, and I have a long rant for my next column.

  6. I am on bended knee thanking the Lord for cancelling The Boys. One of the worst pieces of crap to hit the stands in ages. Hopefully this marks the beginning of the pendullum swinging away from South Park, Family Guy type gross out humor and the return of quality writing. Pretty sick of Ennis' "I hate superheroes" rants. We get it Garth, we get it. He's doing good on Punisher but upon re-reading Preacher the story just doesn't hold up. Reads like a sophomoric and juvenille attempt at seeing how far he can push the envelope of disgusting his audiences for giggles. Underneath the goo and grotesques is a very good love story, but all in all Preacher will not be one for the Ages. Garth's best work to date has been Punisher, War Stories and Pride&Joy. Guy needs to grow up and get over fart jokes. Either that or he and Kevin Smith can start a support group for adults who cannot leave their teenage years behind them.

  7. Hmmm.

    Here I go.

    There is room for every kind of book and story. If you don't like something, that is fine. Stop reading it. It really is that F***ing simple. My issue is that DC never made an announcement. Ever. Newsarama broke the story and the creators came out and made their statements. Not a peep from DC. I think that was weak, stupid, and to be honest, cowardly as all hell.

    Now if you honestly think PREACHER was, "Reads like a sophomoric and juvenille attempt at seeing how far he can push the envelope of disgusting his audiences for giggles." Then you obviously didn't get the book to begin with.

    PREACHER and Ennis' HELLBLAZER is worlds above PUNISHER. Punisher is good, I enjoy it alot, but it is not the best thing Ennis ever wrote.

    THE BOYS, I will give you, could be sophmoric but Ennis was illustrating what the world would be like if you handed some of the wastes of human excrement that the world has given birth to, superpowers. You see how pathetic and gross and disturbing young hollywood types are, right? Britney with her millions but still intent on living the trailer park dream, Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton, and the like?

    Imagine wanks like that with powers. That was what THE BOYS was about. And contrary to popular belief, Ennis what forming a tale behind it. It wasn't all shock value, though it did rely heavily on that.

    My remarks were that DC could have come out with the creators and stated all parties involved decided to part amicably over the content of the book. Every one looks happy. DC now look like unapologetic fools.

    And it does, quite frankly appear, that the bigger a writer seems to get and more notoriety he possesses, the less you like him.

    I love to see a book about not liking superheroes. Particularly since the racks are full with 90% of books that cater and reinforce that genre.

    It's not like there is some shortage.

    Joe Quesada did his weekly thing on Newsarama today and when they asked him:


    He said:

    "THE BOYS obviously.

    Sorry that was too easy."

    I hope Marvel lets them do it as ICON.

    That would be brilliant, and very, very funny.

    Oh, and PREACHER will be around for a very long time. The series I hear about the most when Veritgo is mentioned are SANDMAN, TRANSMET, and PREACHER.

    Plus HBO is doing a show of the series soon, which will renew interest in it.

    It was a book that was at heart about friendship, love, loyalty, and standing up for what is right.



  8. Shawn--

    I like Ennis very much and place him among the best comic writers of all time. When I was reading Preacher back in the 90's it was one of the best books coming out. However, upon re-reading it now, some 10 years later, it does not hold up. Test of time wrecks this puppy. I understand the story perfectly and really like all the human moments Ennis put into it. But the rest is all just so childish and disgusting that the better, deeper parts of his story are lost. Go back and re-read. Remember the cult of New Orleans who actually ate shit and did ever other depraved thing the writer and artist could think of. And while you might get a chuckle out of him turning Herr Starr's head into a penis you have to admit that that was quite adolescent. Starr came off as a Wyle E Coyote clone rather than a believable character. Yes there were moments in Preacher that tugged on your heartstrings, but the grossness and childish humor took away from the story. If you thought Preacher was great, you must have been floored by Hitman. Hitman buries Preacher in every way. That book handled the concepts of friendship and love, be it between best friends, father and son, or boyfriend and girlfriend, in an expertly way. Hitman is way underappreciated while Preacher is slipping into the realm of the forgotten. When I ask people what their favorite Vertigo series were they say Sandman, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Transmet and Fables. Preacher rarely comes up now that we've moved out of the 90's.
    I don't think DC knew how negatively The Boys would be received. Ennis said he was gonna out-Preacher Preacher with this book. From what we saw, we can infer that Ennis himself only sees Preacher for it's grossness and disgustingness. Ennis certainly didn't put themes of friendship, love, nor loyalty in The Boys so that can't be what he meant by out-Preacher Preacher. No, when people think back on Preacher they only remember the shock value elements of the book. Not Ennis' best by any means. I am an Ennis fan and have read just about everything he's written. I agree that his run on Hellblazer was great, even brilliant at times. Preacher on the other hand is a lot like Hair Metal. Everyone is rocking out to it and loving it during the 80's, but looking back you have to ask yourself, "What was I thinking? I reall liked this crap???"
    Take care and have a great CosmicConversation this weekend!!

  9. How negatively it was recieved?

    Does that translate into sales better than alot of other things the publisher sells and was actually GROWING an audience? Because then YES, it was then negatively recieved.

    Of course the first issue sold 31,535 copies. (estimate on THE BEAT) by issue #4 was down to 24,848. By issue #5 it had started going UP to 26, 842.

    Just for contrast: recent issues of FABLES sold in the 25,000 range. It was outselling CHEKCMATE, JLA CLASSIFIED, WETWORKS (though the first issue started with 43,000 copies sold.) It was basically outselling everything from Vertigo and Wildstorm.

    And I had forgotten about HITMAN b/c DC are losers in the trade paperback fight and still will not reprint this series. And yes, that was a very good Ennis series, and no, didn't particularly like superheroes either.

    I find people that don't like PREACHER are those that get uncomfortable at the idea of it attacking their religion. Very rarely is someone that put off by the gross-out factor. Though, to be sure, it wouldn't surprise me.

    LUCIFER is another wonderful series, but it is dark and will make any Christian I know turn away in digust. I love it. And I'm Catholic so imagine the fight going on in my mind.

    Either way: DC are lame, weak, and afraid of their own shadow.

  10. Why should DC support a book with such little literary content that was purely filth and characters acting disgracefully? What Ennis did to Supergirl was just silly and purely self-indulgent. This book was the comic equivalent of a snuff film and got the fate is justly deserved. Thank God it's gone.
    As for Preacher, do you really feel it's good enough to give to family members or friends to read? Personally I would be embarassed. Comic fans already have the reputation for being sexual perverts and social deviants and books like Preacher just further that depiction. Many people I know dropped Preacher around the time of the story about the gay cop who was coming to grips with his sexuality. It wasn't the subject matter, but moreover the grotesque way Ennis told the story that was just too much for people. I know a guy who is openly bi-sexual, loves anal sex and often talks to me about the best way to break in a new cockring. Preacher was too gross even for him. Others have not liked the book cuz they felt Ennis was trying too hard to shock them. Came off as desperate. However, Ennis can be great. I have bought Dangerous Habits numerous times and given it away to people I know who couldn't give two figs about comics. It took a lot of arm twisting to get them to read it, but all have loved the story and looked on comics in a more favorable light because of the quality of that tale. I can't think of a single Preacher storyline that I would give to someone that wouldn't cast me in the light of a sick, twisted, psycho.
    Most people I know who love Preacher have not reread it since the series ended. In fact, very few even remember how it ended. They just remember that the Saint Of Killers ended up on God's throne. Ask them what happened to Tulip or Jessie or Cassidy and they just don't recall. They'll tell you about Arseface or the fat guy getting dropped out of the helicopter, but they don't remember much about what the book was actually addressing: love, friendship, standing up for what it right.
    It isn't that I felt Ennis was crapping over heroes nor that he offended my sensibilities in any way that makes me loathe The Boys. It's the fact that it was just so poorly done, such utter drivel. Obviously Huey was meant to be the focus of the story, but he was just lost in all the outrageous things Ennis was doing to try and shock us. "Bet you haven't seen this before!" Glad this book was axed. Kudos to DC for getting rid of a pointless book! Maybe now Ennis can get to work on the autobiographical series that's been years in the making.

  11. Shawn--

    You're right about Lucifer. Great stuff! Why do you think more people didn't read this wonderful series??

  12. Um, I suggest Preacher (and others) to friends all the time and some family. But I would only feel weird about suggesting Preacher the same way I'd feel weird about suggesting a Palanhiuk novel to my mother, or the like.

    My mom doesn't like DEADWOOD because of the cursing in it, but it is a fine piece of TV nonetheless.

    Did you really complain about "Supergirl"? It wasn't Supergirl. It wasn't like Ennis was using existing heroes from the DCU in there. The AUTHORITY had anagrams of the AVENGERS doing all kinds of horrific things to people. And Millar went on to worship at the superhero temple of Marvel.

    Did you read all six issues or just the first few? Yes, there was a tremendous amount of depravity going on, but there was an actual story going on underneath.

    Once again, in case you missed it, 90% of the stuff on the shelves caters to men running around in their underwear. One book about how people need to keep those freaks honest is not hurting the damn direct market. That's absurd.

    There weren't a whole line of these books. Just one.

    DC has every right to cancel it and ask the creators to take it somewhere else, but hell, they haven't even gone on record saying it's canceled yet. It was a rumor that got published and then the creators slowly came out to verify it.

    My claim is they handled it badly and look like uptight a$$holes. the book wasn't for everyone but I maintain they handled the situation badly.

    Sometimes things affect me weirdly because I was brought up Catholic. LUCIFER was a lot harder for me to get into than THE BOYS was.

    You don't have to like it. But the book didn't hurt the industry. It won't affect the millions of superheroes comics that will be gracing the racks.

    So if you don't like it and gave up reading it, why do you care?

    I hate most reality TV, but I don't jump up and down and get excited when they cancel it and take it off air, nor would I begrudge you because you happened to like it and it pissed you off.

    DC could have handled the separation better.

  13. I read only the first 4 issues of The Boys. That was all I could take. And you're right, to each his own. What you might love I might loathe and vice versa. If you don't like, change the channel, don't read, walk out of the theatre. The Boys bothered me for different reasons. First, I am a huge Ennis fan and this book really felt like he was just phoning it in, trying to see how far he could push the envelope before the book was axed. There was very little of value to this title. Pure masturbation on Ennis' part.
    What really bugs me is the harm a book like The Boys does to comics and comics fans in particular. Used to be that comic book fans were highly intelligent, socially awkward, hygene-challenged individuals who lived in their parent's basements doing no harm to anyone, just loving their comics. Somewhere during the British invasion of mainstream comics this all changed. To the general public comic book fans are now seen as sexual perverts and sicko freaks. Tell someone you're a comic fan and watch them pull their child closer to them. As the comic fare changed to more adult, violent, sexual and overtly disgusting material, so did the make-up of fandom. The days of the cave-dwelling comic geek are over. He's been replaced by a less intelligent breed who want only to be shocked by scenes of Batman on Joker on Gordon on Batgirl sex, death by anal rape via a jackhammer, superhero cannabalism and other images that have not appeared in comics outside of Vertigo. Sometime when Millar was writing Authority and it was the number one book among 12-15 year olds was when this change occurred.
    Is it a good thing for comics that many fans today aren't even reading the books, just flipping through to see what violent or unusual images they can find? Are comics better now that the mainstream is more violent, more sexually overt and more graphic than the majority of the Vertigo books? Should you feel embarassed, as Jim has said he would be and many agree, to leave these comics out on the coffee table where your friends or spouses can see the cheesecake covers and draw their own conclusions about what you're really doing with the "funny books" all alone at night? Should comics be turned into 4-color softporn??
    That's why I'm so glad The Boys was cancelled. If it had been a huge success, everyone would take notice and start copying the book in an attempt to duplicate the book's high sales. We don't need that. So while I wouldn't begrudge you your enjoyment of the book, mainstream comics is famous for offering only one flavor and I would hate that flavor to the deep, dark, mocha brown that The Boys was presenting to us.
    As for DC's handling of it, I think they did it right. In this day of leaked secrets and presidential nominations hitting the public via youtube I find nothing wrong with DC's actions or lack thereof. I'm just really happy that they cancelled this book. Thank you Santa for the belated Christmas gift!!!!

  14. Hmm.

    I value everyone's opinion.

    But your's saddens me. I don't think how I am percieved as a reader of comics changes by reading that.

    Again it is putting your personal tastes above someone else's.

    I make fun of SPAWN to Ron all the time. I hate that book but I don't begrudge him from buying it.

    THE BOYS didn't hurt DC any more than THE AUTHORITY did, any more than PREACHER did, etc.

    I think if it hadn't had people in capes and tights no one would be bitching about it nearly as much.

    I'm done with this conversation now.

    I leave everyone to their worship of the superhero in it's wonderful, sterile, and hopefully non-ridiculing form.