After I spoke about the portrayal of Mary Jane in SPIDER-GWEN, someone passed along a very passionate post that transcribed the interview and responded in kind. I generally don’t like answering this kind of stuff because I do think the work should stand alone, but I am very impressed by the amount of energy devoted to defending Mary Jane and I do feel like that there is a contract with the readership that goes into creating mass art and/or entertainment. One of the reasons I set out to write at all is to communicate with and learn as much about people, as I can. So as briefly as I can given my schedule…
First: Death of the author. It doesn’t matter what Latour thinks or intends; what matters is what the page says.
I completely agree with you. At least in the ideal.
Reviewers have pointed out MJ was, in fact, in the right. So it’s not that we think Latour thinks she’s wrong. It’s that EVERY OTHER CHARACTER argues with or puts down MJ, to the point where Glory rolls her eyes and says “Yeezus” during a television interview, and then quits the band in disgust. In the world of the comic, MJ is demonstrably depicted as wrong.
Again, it’s only verifiably seen by Glory Grant as wrong. Which doesn’t mean it is. These are the characters words and thoughts. What would be disingenuous of me is to act like an artists life is a subject I don’t have personal and intimate opinions about. Part of what I try to do in my work is to parse them out objectively. I do feel that all artists struggle with what it takes to gain acceptance versus what it takes to hold onto the personal reasons behind why you do what you do. From a certain POV art is an inherently selfish thing. The very belief that standing on a stage or picking up a pen or brush is pretension in that on some level it requires a belief that someone else wants to hear or read or see your art. But the flip side of that is that art is completely subjective and if your work gives even one person joy or release then you’ve done something selfless. Given time we’ll hopefully get to see both sides of that play out in this book, and see how those two conflicting ideals can co-exist not just within a band, but within individuals. It’s hopefully already clearly in progress with Gwen Stacy. Just because a character starts in one place, doesn’t mean that’s where they’ll end up. Or maybe it does. The journey is the fun.
In addition, if he truly wants the reader to read from a MJ-centric POV, then Latour needs to present her POV. Instead, he shits all over her perspective and explicitly tells us we’re not to have sympathy for MJ by having Gwen - the heroine and the POV character - agree with Glory.
I suppose that it’s possible it reads that way, but isn’t it also possible that “We’ll see how long you make it out there all alone”— followed by Gwen finally checking her father’s many voice messages before leaping into action implies something with much more to do with what’s going on inside her own head. That maybe what resonates with Gwen is that she should finally take a very tiny step towards not being out there alone?
-no, the others concur the band is only successful because of Gwen. She’s the jackpot, not MJ
Or what Randy Robertson implies here is that the band is successful as a unit, and had a hit together. I should also add— that every single member of the band goes along with it being called THE MARY JANES. It would stand to reason that there are motivations beyond being bullied into it.
In any event. I’m not setting out to convince you that I’m right and you’re wrong. As I said I respect your passion. That’s what comics are all about for me. I’m certainly aware that I have flaws as a writer and that the books are never going to be perfect, all I’ll ask is that you don’t make assumptions about my motivations or how I feel about things beyond these pages. Fortunately we live in an amazing era for comics, where I think you can find whatever kinds of stories you’re looking to read, and if your dollar is better spent somewhere else then I’m happy that it was. But if you do continue to read our book— I think you’ll find that that things are going to change over time. Maybe not as quickly as you like, but they’ll go in a lot of different directions. The “point” of every story I write is to go on a journey, (yeah right— who am I kidding I just ate a whole tub of hummus with a spoon, I don’t know the point of anything) and if you decide to come along all I’d ask is for you to try and take things as they come. I hope we’ll surprise you.