“If so, then you must’ve been distracted when I said the sincere, honest and open bit. I dare you all to think on this level of creativity without dissolving into a blank and squirming puddle, just because I have suggested that real art involves personality and self acknowledgment. And, hey, if nothing else, think of the publicity it’d generate in the media. Ladies and Gentlemen: start your self-engines.”

A bit of history is in order. I understand that Windsor-Smith sees the John Byrnes’ and the George Perezes’ work as surrogates of the true emotional experience of art. And the intellectual drive that can force the spirit of creativity past the common needs of money making has become a lost goal in the field of the comics arts. Tangentially, I suppose, it has never been a real goal in comics, as most of the founding fathers of the medium (both creators and publishers alike) were pragmatists born out of America’s Great Depression era, and the turn-around focus of the Second World War, that, after all the billions of dollars spent and the millions of gallons of blood lost, turned America into a boom country. It is important to understand that although comics were created for children, by middle-aged men who were simply creating a product not unlike toilet paper and with less value, to exploit the post-war spending power of a new generation, we nowadays think of them, all of them, as art; a special USA-made creation of true American spirit and ingenuity. But the comics foundation is not art. It is commerce.

Given this, there would be little incentive for, for instance, Jack Kirby, to question the means by which he made a living and fed his family.

  “My job is to sell books” Kirby has proudly stated many times in interviews. Yet all the revenues from those sales went to the publishers. Only as Kirby was fading into his later years and inevitable death, was the status-quo of “peasant penciller” changed to give royalties to the integral creators. Although we find it heinous now, it was normal then. Compare to the golden age of posters, the Art Nouveau period of Europe. Although we may treasure the work as art, it also served as advertising and packaging art. The Secessionists, including Klimt and Schiele, also came out of commerce, inspired by architectural work and design. Hence it is fair to say that all art should cross over into commerce and back again. Unfortunately, that also means that comics can make the mistake, and has, of becoming too commercial, the equivalent of animated tv shows designed to sell commercials and licensed product with no redeeming artistic value whatsoever.

“ But the suits in those companies, DC, Marvel,” says Windsor-Smith, “doesn’t matter who, they aren’t out there looking for what can happen next, they aren’t looking to change the status quo. When something new happens, even the most fleeting thing like Why I Hate Saturn, the suits think they’ve justified their salaries.”

“ Right.”

“ I bet the first thing the suits wanted was Why I Hate Saturn #2 or Son of Why I Hate Saturn. Fuckin’ fools.” That said, Windsor-Smith lights another cigarette and I change the tape in my recorder.