Hi reddit, I'm Michael Uslan, I'm an Executive Producer, a Professor of Comics Books, and I'm currently co-teaching the Smithsonian's free online course The Rise of Superheroes and their Impact on Pop Culture with Stan Lee. You can read my full bio here. Becky from edX and my son David are helping me out today.

I'd love to talk about comic books, superheroes, pop culture, etc. Unfortunately I can't talk about upcoming projects, sorry. Other than that: Ask Me Anything!

Proof!

EDIT: I have to sign off. This has been a lot of fun, I love sharing the comic book experience with other people who are as passionate about it as I am. I'll do another AMA again soon. Meanwhile hope to see you in class!

Comments: 158 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

davec7916 karma

Is there anyone else that is connected to each and every modern Batman film besides you? And how did you land such a great gig?

MichaelUslan21 karma

Yes! My wonderful partner, Benjamin Melniker, who just turned 102 this week and is still sharp and vibrant. Ben is a legend in the movie biz and, I think, may be the only one in its history to have worked actively in nine different decades, as he started at MGM in late 1939. Ben was Exec VP at MGM in its glory days and all divisions reported to him. He put together the deals for Ben-Hur, Dr. Zhivago, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gigi, and the list goes on and on. He also helped Hanna-Barbera get their careers started and later their own company started. With the other studio heads and President LBJ, he was one of te founders of the MPAA.

TalCarfas8 karma

Hi Professor Uslan, and thank you very much for this course. The 50's gave us a lot of romance comics, westerns and horror comics, but they also gave us another genre: The Superhero Dog Comics. Superman had Krypto, Batman had Ace the Bat-Hound and even Green Lantern had Streak the Wonder Dog. Is it true that during that time "Canine Comics" were doing much better in sales than Superhero Comics? I've heard somewhere that Green Lantern's book was canceled and was replaced with a Comic book that featured a dog, is there any truth to that?

MichaelUslan9 karma

Yep! Take a look at late 1940's issues of "All-American Comics!" And Rex the Wonder Dog had his own comic book. This was all a result of popular TV shows like Lassie and Rin Tin Tin... and Roy Rogers' dog, Bullet. Dell was putting out lots of TV comics including those based on the above properties.

sim1taichou6 karma

Professor Uslan, I have a question about diversity. You've spoken about underrepresentation of women in comics and how that is changing. Can you comment on people of color in comic books and tell us your thoughts on race-bending vs. white-washing? Thank you!

MichaelUslan7 karma

Back in the 1930's-50's, African Americans in comic books were often portrayed in a way that mirrored the biases and prejudices of American society. Characters were often in the Steppin Fetchit mold. Comics were not the only pop culture doing this, it seemed they all were: movies, minstrel shows, radio, etc. It really wasn't until the mid-1960's when things began to change... slowly. I look at Sgt. Rock's Jackie Johnson ("What Is The Color Of Your Blood?"), The Black Panther, The Falcon, Luke Cage, Black Lightning, John Stewart as being game-changers for the industry. I think the seminal game-changing moment came courtesy of Denny O'Neil in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76 when GL is confronted by an older African American man demanding to know why the hero has done so much for the purple people of one planet and the orange people of another planet, while nothing for black people in America.

godsofmayhem3 karma

Why isn't this discussed in our class? We haven't seen mention of these realities or issues so far.

MichaelUslan6 karma

Hang on! They're coming in the context of the 60's and 70's.

whydoieventrythis5 karma

Being a person who is uninterested in comic books, what reasons can you give me to start reading comic books?

MichaelUslan30 karma

Comic books are, to me, our modern day mythology. They are the descendant of oral tradition and stories from The Bible to The Odyssey to Beowulf, et al. In addition, the graphic story-telling marriage of words and pictures provides a unique entertainment experience.

nowaythisisdan5 karma

Are you following any comic books now? What is your favorite Batman story?

MichaelUslan9 karma

I love Scott Snyder's work. Anything he does on Batman is of keen interest to me. Of all time, my favorite Batman story is "Night of The Stalker" from Detective Comics back in the 1970's. Batman doesn't say one word, yet it is, to me, the most powerful Batman story ever written. Other favorites: Batman #1, "Night of The Reaper," the Steve Engelhart/Marshall Rogers run, especially "The Laughing Fish," "Robin Dies At Dawn," everything Denny O'Neil wrote and Neal Adams drew, especially the initial Ras Al Ghul story arc.

LinweEnelya5 karma

What is the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel? Can you elaborate on the distinction between the two, however fine it may be, if there exists a distinction?

MichaelUslan10 karma

I'm happy to say I've been privileged to write many comic books and several graphic novels. My latest g.n. goes on sale Wednesday (unabashed plug!) from Dynamite and is "Justice, Inc."... the first ever team-up of The Shadow, Doc Savage and The Avenger! I also wrote the hardback g.n. "Batman: Detective #27," "The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Nights," and "Archie Marries." What I love about the g.n. format is that I get to structure it like a three act screenplay and often have over 100 pages to tell my story... as opposed to the 22-24 in a normal comic book tale. This allows for more textured, layered characterizations and character arcs and sub-plots, which I enjoy.

GasOnADugong4 karma

Because DC is entering the superhero movie universe game after Marvel, there's a chance to observe and learn from them.

So what do you think Marvel has done well/poorly? What do you think has yet to be represented about superheroes on screen?

MichaelUslan5 karma

Answered this in another question. Check it out.

RageExTwo3 karma

What is your opinion on the DC event Convergence and the ongoing Marvel event Secret Wars?

MichaelUslan5 karma

I'm hooked. Let's give a tip of the hat to the comic book editors, writers and artists who bring us back every Wednesday with creative takes on stories and characters that continue to bedazzle us!

Jcordray3 karma

Hi Michael,

Who would you consider your real life superhero and why?

Thanks, John

MichaelUslan8 karma

My parents, Lil and Joe Uslan, supported their uniquely quirky sons in every weird interest we had. In an era when other parents were forbidding my friends to read comic books or bring them into their homes, mine read them, found nothing wrong with them, and allowed me to read and collect them. My Dad worked six days a week his whole life as a stone mason. He only had Sundays off. But he and my Mom would drive me and my friend, Bobby, to interview comic book creators in NJ and NY, or take us to the first comic cons ever held, and my Mom would take us into NY to go on the DC Comics tours back then and even, when I was 11, take us into the City to try to find the Baxter Building (unsuccessfully, I might add, but it did lead to my first meeting with Stan Lee!) Also, great teachers can be our real-life super-heroes. I had two English teachers in 7th and 8th grade, Mrs. Stiller and Mrs. Friedman, who convinced me I was creative and had a writing ability and could make this my future work. They then taught me the skill-sets and attitude I needed to succeed in life.

sa7es3 karma

Marvel had created and is expanding a massive Cinematographic Universe (re)telling theirs comics history. So far they made a great job. Personally, and to many others, The Dark Knight trilogy is one of the most amazing Hero Movies, but it will be rebooted for the new DC Cinematographic Universe. Using this opportunity, what kind of history could still be told about Batman? What could they use and what should they forgot from your Trilogy?

MichaelUslan5 karma

The best path to success for any comic book movie franchise is to find filmmakers who are passionate about a character, have an understanding of the character, have a vision for it on screen, and have the ability to execute that vision. Tim Burton, Chris Nolan and Zack Snyder each have had all of the above, although their cinematic interpretations may be as different as night and day. Luckily, Batman is open to many interpretations as the comic books have shown over these past 75 years.

sunsetnurveins3 karma

I am a theatre educator and I want to use comics to help teach students about character development. How would you go about doing this?

MichaelUslan7 karma

You might want to start them in an unusual way by letting them read reprints of Joe Kubert/Bob Kanigher Sgt. Rock and Enemy Ace stories. The depth of character brought to these battle-worn WW2 heroes was powerful.

CitizenCain4153 karma

As a professor of Comic Books, what are your personal favorite comic book films?

MichaelUslan8 karma

Marvel: Three of the X-Men films; the first two Spider-Man films; Guardians of the Galaxy; Iron Man. DC: Batman; The Dark Knight Trilogy; Mask of the Phantasm Also: Road To Perdition; The 300; A History of Violence; American Splendor And others!

evoj23 karma

In your opinion, do most superhero movies engage people in reading comics or, on the contrary, make them think comic books are just a (children) pastime?

MichaelUslan12 karma

I think there's a missing link. How can millions of people go to an "Ant Man" movie yet the comic book not sell over 25,000 copies (that would equate to selling 500 copies per state in the US). By the way, this is not a real example, I'm just using Hank Pym as a hypothetical. How can San Diego and New York Comic Cons get 150,000 fanatical fans, yet a typical super-hero comic can't sell over 50,000 copies in a month? A link needs to be found to unite the movie, TV, animation and videogame fans with the comic books themselves. I would LOVE to hear all your ideas as to how best to accomplish this goal!

Axel9273 karma

It's a hard question to answer (getting fans of the other comic media to pick up comics themselves). Part of it may be a sort of stigma surrounding brick & mortar comic book shops; there are certainly ones that can be very uncomfortable to be in - though for every bad shop, I argue there are maybe 5 great shops.

The rise in digital comics was supposed to help bring comics to the masses who don't have access to a shop or don't want to go to a shop, but it's hard to justify to a consumer why they should pay the same price for a collection of pixels that they would for a physical book (I mean, as a publisher it makes sense - you don't want to undercut your physical sales). Both Marvel and DC have seen their digital sales plateau, and I don't see any reason why those numbers will increase in the near future.

In addition, to an outsider, trying to get into comic books can be very intimidating - they often feel like they'd have to read up on decades of past issues in order to understand what is going on in the present. The major companies try to fix this through reboots, but it doesn't always take. I recall that one of Stan's rules when writing was to always treat any issue like it was someone's first comic book. That helps individual issues stand on their own (and make it easy to jump in), but massive, multi-arc stories would be impossible if that rule were followed. It's a trade-off. We can either make it very easy to dive into comics, or we can create long and complex stories. But it would be very hard to do both. It's the difference, really, between The Big Bang Theory and LOST.

DoctorDang1 karma

about the shops, this would be great. i've tried only 2 (relatively) near me and found both rather off-putting. this might mean that there are several great ones in my future.

Axel9272 karma

Here's my advice about finding a good comic book shop: if you find one that holds events for the community beyond stuff related to comic books, or one that welcomes kids in some way (candy, free comics), that's the one you want.

When I say events, I mean music, or comedy, or cartoons, or something. Essentially, you want a shop that is an active and invested member of the community.

MichaelUslan3 karma

Excellent feed-back! Thanks!

JeaWolf3 karma

Hello Professor Uslan, What is the difference between a graphic novel representation of a character, and a film representation of a character? What kind of issues of audience identification do you have to consider?

MichaelUslan7 karma

One of the hinges is believability. That created the environment of The X-Men forsaking the comic book spandex uniforms for the leather look, which was ground-breaking for the genre of films based on Marvel or DC characters.

EmpyreanDraco3 karma

Hello Professor Uslan, and thanks for taking the time to do this AMA.

I'm sure one of your passions involves discussing comics and heroes with others, maybe even with those that aren't sure if it's for them, whether they can relate to the characters, etc. With that in mind, if you wanted to get someone hooked and only had one shot to draw them into the world and make them a comic book reader for life, what issue or storyline would you recommend to them? Of course, this isn't the same as asking what the greatest comic book issue or storyline is nor what you would choose as THE quintessential example of a comic book if you had to put one in a time capsule for future generations to know what the medium is, but it might be a good starting point to answer the question.

Many thanks for the course as well so far. It's been AMAZING!!

MichaelUslan4 karma

This SO depends on a reader's age and interests. Hmmm... I think you have to start with "The Watchmen." Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" is a contender. Anything by Will Eisner is a contender. And for non-super-hero readers, I'd suggest the Pulitzer Prize-winning, "Maus" by Art Spiegelman.

lula24883 karma

What do you wish you started doing ten years ago?

MichaelUslan6 karma

Buying Google and Apple stock. And copies of Action #1 and Detective #27.

NorbitGorbit3 karma

what does the exec producer credit entail -- does it give you points on the movie revenue?

MichaelUslan3 karma

Hi Everybody! The Exec Pro role varies completely from project to project, as does the producer role. Many times I've done the exact same thing and based on contractual negotiations, gotten Exec Pro credit and Producer credit. In television, the proliferation of producing credits has been amazing to see! There are Exec Pros who are money people, others may be attached to an IP or to a specific director or star,,, I like to consider myself as a creative Ex Pro, although I also have a legal/biz background.

praystationfoh3 karma

How difficult is it to get comic book writers to develop scripts or at least participate in the development of original stories for future films?

MichaelUslan4 karma

I believe in comic book writers and would like to see more of them transition to film and TV. Who is better at visual story-telling than writers trained in comic books?

CheezeBo2 karma

What is the best piece of advice you could give to an aspiring comic book writer?

MichaelUslan2 karma

Show up if you can afford to at the bigger comic cons. Each comic book company normally provides time and a forum for prospective artists to show their portfolios to editors and for writers to meet and establish a relationship foothold with editors. Network at every opportunity!

DoctorDang2 karma

we've talked a little about the Golden Age, the Dark Ages, and the Silver Age of comic books. what kind of age would you say that we are in currently? is this a renaissance? what does it mean for comic books when the majority of superhero fans don't read them? when, instead, they watch them on TV shows and movies?

MichaelUslan3 karma

This is a challenge faced by book publishers, newspaper publishers, and the world of print. The answer will probably be a combination of audiences who will be comfortable with the digital reading experience of comic books, and those of us who still want the tactile experience of holding them and collecting them on our bookshelves. We as an industry have an obligation to explore new paths in technology to expand the reach of the comic books themselves. Today's young talent pool and fans consider this "The Modern Age" of comics. I think that's broad enough to capture what is.

DoctorDang1 karma

thank you for responding to this question. i think it's telling that Star Wars seems to be the big hit in comic books so far this year. clearly, we first saw Star Wars in theaters and later in comic books. maybe this isn't a new phenomena, but maybe it's telling us something about the "Modern Age".

MichaelUslan3 karma

I think it's also connected to the building interest in the upcoming new "Star Wars" movies.

MichaelUslan2 karma

This is a challenge faced by book publishers, newspaper publishers, and the world of print. The answer will probably be a combination of audiences who will be comfortable with the digital reading experience of comic books, and those of us who still want the tactile experience of holding them and collecting them on our bookshelves. We as an industry have an obligation to explore new paths in technology to expand the reach of the comic books themselves. Today's young talent pool and fans consider this "The Modern Age" of comics. I think that's broad enough to capture what is.

Jcordray2 karma

I recently met comic book artist and writer Michael Golden, he seems like a nice guy. How would you compare or describe the culture of comic book artist from the golden age era to the more recent artist and writers?

MichaelUslan1 karma

In the Golden Age, it was an era of the great Depression and World War. The artists were working desperately and feverishly to put food on the table and a roof over their families' heads. There was little to no thought about "the art-form" or the mythology of what they were creating. older pages of Original art were often used to soak up spilled ink and crush cigar butts. Today, they are often like rock stars when they appear at cons and their originals are hanging on the walls of galleries, universities, and museums. It is totally different.

LazyCouchPotato2 karma

Crap I completely forgot about the course. Is it too late to start now?

MichaelUslan3 karma

Go to Edx.org and failing that, write an impassioned email to the Smithsonian Institution. (Kidding...) I'm not sure, actually. Do note that we have students registered in the course from 160 different countries!

Dixiemom72 karma

I think, at this point, it's clear that comic books/graphic novels are written for YA and older. As a family, we have gotten into comics a lot more in the past couple years. I have been frustrated by the lack of books geared toward children in elementary or even jr. high. Are there books you recommend for that age as "entry" into the larger comic universe? Do you have recommendations for enlarging the market for that audience?

MichaelUslan3 karma

I grew up on Harvey Comics: Casper, Wendy, Little Dot, Baby Huey, etc. and Sugar & Spike, and Archie, Jughead, Betty & Veronica. Take a look at the independent comic book companies and some of the great titles from IDW and LionForge Comics.

evoj22 karma

Do I have to start reading comic books from issue #1? There are too many comics for each superhero!

MichaelUslan3 karma

You always have the luxury of waiting for the trade paperback collection or go digital and read the older issues on-line.

MJPLifeographer2 karma

Professor Uslan, Thank you so much for taking the time to teach this course. It is truly amazing! Are you saddened with Edgar Wright stepping away from Antman? What are your feeling on the way comics are changed to the big screen?

MichaelUslan5 karma

I have fought against (unsuccessfully three or four times over the years) changes merely for the sake of change. I don't like the notion of ignoring decades of history just to create a character out of whole new cloth while using a brand name. I, for example, was an avid reader of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. So to me Sherlock Holmes was very cerebral, not an action hero. That said, I had to acknowledge that action sells movies today. I remember when Tim Burton had Jack Napier as the guy who would kill Bruce's parents. I was very concerned about this change and campaigned long and hard to make sure there was someone with him who, at least in my own mind, was Joe Chill. I also recall going to see Bob Kane and asking him about this change. Bob said that as far as he was concerned, if The Joker had been created back circa Detective Comics 27-32, he would have preferred to see it happen this way. That's when I accepted what was.

letsgetweirdkbye2 karma

What did YOU think of the Green Lantern movie? Knowing that those in charge of that film are now overseeing multiple DC TV shows truly saddens me, was wondering your thoughts on the crushing impact that movie had.

MichaelUslan6 karma

The villain was a cloud of gas.

puppymail17k2 karma

What is a good way to match a villain with a superhero, when it comes to their powers?

MichaelUslan4 karma

Ultimately, I believe it is the super-villain who defines the superhero, so the yin and yang must be fully explored.

pearljamfan6132 karma

Hi, Is there any truth to the way comics are depicted in Kavalier and Clay, (by Michael Chabon), in that they were drawn by out-of-place-feeling immigrants as a Freudian way to kill the Nazis?

MichaelUslan3 karma

I loved that book. Michael did a superb job! I know or knew many of the characters (or composite characters) portrayed in that book. And, yes, I think it accurately reflects the immigrant experience in the creation of the industry and the super-heroes in the era of the 30;s and 40;s.

sa7es2 karma

Professor, what story would you like to tell today in a Comic book? Would it be a new hero or a existent one?

MichaelUslan4 karma

I might like to tell my own personal story of my journey though life... inspired by Harvey Pekar and Stan Lee.

godsofmayhem2 karma

I've noticed in the class there really hasn't been much mention of minority comics, characters, artists, etc. Why is that? Were they not around?

MichaelUslan2 karma

Oh! There's plenty of mention of them. Make sure you view all the lessons/videos!

godsofmayhem0 karma

I have looked...please let me know where I should re-focus my attention. I see Storm in photos and a brief mention but not a rich presentation to truly understand the reason for their position at the time. I know the issues during this time period. I was classically trained academically. Given the wealth of information available I feel the presentation is a bit stilted as I still have learned very little about their presence during this time. What you have told I can recall from history class in school. The class is not bad. Again, so much opportunity for enlightenment of other missed and important contributions.

MichaelUslan4 karma

Check out the section on the 1970's. I'm not a trained educator so you'll have to bear with a guy who is simply crazy passionate about comic books, comic book characters, and their creators, trying to impart a life-time of accumulated knowledge in a sharing experience. If it is, indeed "stilted," do know that I was a huge fan of "The Stilt Man" in Daredevil.

KevlarJersey2 karma

Hello Professor Uslan,

My question is actually in two parts and, though it is not based on our course, it is about superheroes and movies. First off, I am an aspiring script writer, focusing mostly on superhero scripts, and was wondering if there was any advice you could give to someone looking to get any traction in the industry as a writer with no connections?

The second part of my question is more specific to my experience trying to enter the industry. I had written 3/4 of a script on the origins of the X-men member, Gambit. The script had been through revisions and I was nearly completed what I had hoped was a next to final draft (with the final being some minor polishing). I stopped writing the script when I discovered that a writer had just been hired for the project. So, my question in this case is, must a spec script be completed before sending in a query to the producers/stars/or their agents, or is it acceptable to send the query and subsequently a treatment before the script is complete, and at what point of script completion would it be acceptable to do so?

Thank you for your time and thank you for bringing us this course on superheroes and pop culture.

Sincerely,

Jeff

MichaelUslan2 karma

Hi Jeff... Studios and production companies have strict policies on not accepting or reading unsolicited manuscripts. The world has become too litigious. So my advice is only write ORIGINAL content and characters that will best show off your writing ability. That is what will lead you to then gaining REPRESENTATION... the most important thing for a writer looking to access Hollywood companies.And don't forget to first copyright your work before submitting it to anyone! Go to the Library of Congress web-site, Registrar of Copyrights, fill out form PA, and send it in with your check and a copy of your work.

AllGoodNews1 karma

Hello Professor Uslan,

Thank you for this course.

What are your feelings about “superhero origin fatigue” in films, since you were so instrumental to Batman’s origin in film?

Entertainment Weekly writer, Darren Franich recently gave me his response and I’d be interested to know yours, particularly because my superheroes’ origins are key to their further stories that I also hope to make films of. Should I leave their origins out and just jump into the stories?

http://www.ew.com/article/2015/02/15/entertainment-geekly-mailbag-amazing-spider-man-talkback The response from Darren Franich is the last question listed after clicking the link.

One of my superheroes and a bit about their origin. http://on.aol.com/video/son-of-ex-sounders-player-turns-talent-to-comics-517848130

Lastly, what do you think is needed to keep the superhero film genre consistently engaging and fresh?

With gratitude,

Aaron

MichaelUslan3 karma

To me, the genius known as Christopher Nolan invented the modern-day reboot. After him came James Bond Begins (Casino Royale) and Star Trek Begins, and new versions of Hulk, Spidey, Daredevil, and Superman. I think personally, the prime example of origin fatigue occurred on Spider-Man. Sometime you just need to believe that a character is sufficiently engrained in the world culture and jump into the story with both feet and no origin or origin re-cap. In order to keep any genre fresh, I think you need two things: great creativity, especially in the writing (it's all about six things--- story, story, story, character, character, character); and avoid over0-saturation? ("Danger, Will Robinson!")

HipsterOtter1 karma

Which comic book character do you believe had the biggest influence on modern day pop culture, and how, in your opinion, do you think they influenced our view on superheroes in the modern age?

MichaelUslan2 karma

No question. Batman. Because he has no super-powers and everyone around the world can identify with him. He transcends borders and cultures. He has the most primal origin story, the best rogues gallery of super-villains, and has... the car! His impact is hard to measure globally.

LexFuckingLuthor1 karma

Who is writing the best comics today?

MichaelUslan5 karma

Scott Snyder, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid are three of my personal favorites today. But there is so much great talent out there, it's stunning.

LexFuckingLuthor1 karma

You have decent taste. Those guys are the guys to me. I give any new book they put out a chance. We really are in a golden age of writing right now.

MichaelUslan1 karma

Totally agree!

Axel9271 karma

Professor,

Thanks for doing this AMA, and for running the course - I'm enjoying it very much. I was wondering what your favorite book, and your favorite comic book are?

I know that you and Sam Raimi had, for a number of years, been trying to get a new Shadow film made, but the project was dropped. Is that something you'd like to go back to in the future (and can I help)?

MichaelUslan3 karma

Outside of Batman, currently I follow books from most of the publishers big and small. What I don't at all like or read (and I'm prepared to accept that this may simply be "Old Fart Syndrome") are comic books that have maybe 5-20 words on a page, showing how the writer has abdicated the creative process to the artist. This now for $4.00 provides an entertainment experience of 2 minutes. These are called "comic books",,, that's half "comic" and half "book." I want a marriage of the written word and the artwork in a more equal partnership of graphic story-telling and a significantly longer entertainment experience.

LadPrime1 karma

I'm just curious what you might think of the "cinematic universe" concept Marvel has been pushing and that other franchises / film studios are now seeking to utilize, DC included. Do you think it is sustainable? Do you see any holes or flaws in the strategy?

MichaelUslan9 karma

In my sole, fanboy/comic book historian opinion (not my Hollywood producer opinion), there is a huge seminal difference between the Marvel Universe and the DCU, which has a bearing on how they play out on the silver screen and the TV screen. The Marvel Universe was co-created by one writer who was also the sole editor. As a result, it was a single unified vision from the start, determining all the rules, the tone, the settings, what would be the future or what exists under the ocean or among the stars or via different dimensions. Having that consistency from inception is awesome! At DC starting way back when, there were a number of different and very strong editors, each of whom had their kingdom of characters they personally controlled in terms of tone, characterization, settings, etc. So if you read Aquaman, you saw one version of Atlantis back then, but if you read Superman, Atlantis was a domed city of mermen and merwomen. For a kid like me in the 50's and 60's, that could be confusing unless you just read each on its own. Also, Batman might be written for an older comic book audience, while Teen Titans might be written for tweens. So I think it's a grand idea for the studios to be growing these universes both on TV and in the movies (as well as in videogames), different as they may be.

vivvav1 karma

Oh crap that's right I still need to go through week 2 now.

Michael, I read Detective 27 a while back. Lots of fun. But when I look at your career it seems like you deal almost exclusively with Batman, at least as far as the big-name superheroes go. Are there characters outside of the Dark Knight you'd like to flex your creative muscles with?

Also, I'm currently working on a pitch for Oni Press, who are holding open calls for comic talent. I'm a writer, so I have no art to go with it, nor can I pay an artist to make any. Any advice for impressing them?

MichaelUslan3 karma

My favorite characters of all-time: Batman; The Spectre; Captain Marvel; The Spirit; The original Sandman; Captain America; The Shadow; Doc Savage; Sugar & Spike; Archie; Richie Rich; Little Max; Mr. Justice; The Hangman; the original Fly; Spider-Man; the original X-Men; The Hulk as portrayed in "The Incredible Hulk" #6; Dr. Strange; and THUNDER Agents.

MichaelUslan3 karma

Impress them with your professionalism and intelligence. It works.

bararad1 karma

Hello proffesor Uslan! I am a film school student from Israel my questions relates to of the comic book genre of film and television and their preception by people: 1) what do you need are the necassities that must be kept and respected in order to make a good adaption of a comic book into a script? (I am a writer so that one is particularily intersting to me) 2) About oversaturation of the market - as a writer who hopes to one day make his own take on such mythological characters - what tips can you give me to deal with that issues and remain fresh and original while writing stories of that nature 3) some times I encounter people in my department (and even some proffesors!) who look down at popular culture in general and comic books and super heroes in particular as opposed to the "higher and more intelligent and artisitic" movies and I believe that there are people in holywood who do so as well (as examplefied by Alejandro González Iñárritu's speech ) as one of my proffesor went as far as to call superheroes movies : "infantile meaningless violence for 4 year olds" - as someone who made an academic career researching the subject of superheros- what tips can you provide me for combating such deragatory opinions about a medium which love love and know to be so much more? Thank you very much! Bar Arad

MichaelUslan3 karma

I do a lot of public speaking and over the years have spoken at about a hundred colleges and universities. Everywhere I have spoken since "The Dark Knight" came out, people tell me of the deep emotional impact they experience during the scene on the boat where a decision must be made as to whether you blow up the other boat full of people to save yourself or not. Chris Nolan posed the question to audiences, "What do you do when you must make a moral choice and the choices are bad and worse?" So many people told me that in the darkness of the theatre, they came to terms with what their own personal choice would be. Beyond that, I loved when many critics, both on the right and left politically, called Chris' Dark Knight Trilogy the most important post-9/11 movies to date. For a comic book movie to have that sort of impact with such strong thematic power, that was, to me, a bar raiser for the entire genre and disproves your professor's narrow-minded response.

supergirl1992-2 karma

Where are all of my female superheroes? It's so frustrating to always see ladies all the way down in the supporting cast or not at all. Are there more plans for bigger representation in the superhero community?

LexFuckingLuthor2 karma

A-Force just came out this week, loads of fun.

DC is launching their DCYou campain and did 44 sneak preivews on some very diverse titles in both character and story.

And among indy comics there's all sorts of stuff with great female leads. Rat Queens is a personal favorite, lots of kick ass action with foul mouth female mercs.

MichaelUslan2 karma

I'm off to my comic book store after this to check these out.

MichaelUslan-1 karma

I think women are terribly under-represented today in the talent pool, whether we are talking about comic books or movies. Look at the brilliant work of Gail Simone. We NEED more of that. The history of comic books is that they were originally geared to pubescent boys and servicemen. Today, we all need to present the diverse world in which we live accurately and I think that applies also in terms of the physical representation of many females in the super-hero world. I have felt that for too many years, American comic books turned their backs on females and that contributed to the huge rise in popularity of manga and anime through which American and European female readers, young and older, could find vibrant and powerful and smart female protagonists. The comic book industry is standing up to this responsibility and I think positive strides are taking place but we all need to push. In film, it's crazy not to have movies with strong female protagonists. In fact, I really was expecting (SPOILER ALERT!!!) in the latest Mad Max film that in the end, "Max" would be revealed to be Charlize ("Maxine") rather than Tom.

sa7es3 karma

Professor, why do that? I confess that I do not know the story of MadMax, neither book or movie. But why should we have a twist in stories just for sake of equality and diversity?

In the recent events, we have at least three stories of plot twist in this situation: Fox Black Human Torch, Charlize "Max"-like and Jane Foster Thor, in the Marvel comics.

I think is a better cause to have their own SuperHeroes. Why should the mythology, as you pointed, be changed instead of created. We should have more female heroes, homoafetive ships, black, latin, asian protagonist. And all of them with they own story and past and relevancy, not of another, not a substitute. What do you think of this and your opinion in the quoted events?

MichaelUslan2 karma

It wasn't me. It was the filmmakers who made the new Mad Max movie more about Charlize than Tom. I was following her story. But that's just my opinion and I may be wrong.

godsofmayhem1 karma

In class, when appropriate, why are these points not intertwined with the presentation? Is it necessary for issues like this to take a back seat or have to be singled out? In life we deal with issues of gender, race, etc as a whole. Why in academics do "minority" issues have to be singled out for a more male "white" dominant point of view focus?

If I have failed to see these points please accept my apologies.

MichaelUslan2 karma

I concur with you that these are essential, important issues.