John Byrne

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Any story which deliberately violates core concepts and themes of original materials is not, by definition “a good story.”
What we’ve seen here today is an all too typical example of an all too typical attitude: those who are the loudest to defend their “freedom of speech” are the quickest to try to slap down anyone whose “speech” differs from theirs.

John Lindley Byrne (born July 6, 1950) is a British-born naturalised American author and artist of comic books. Since the mid-1970s Byrne has worked on nearly every major American superhero. His most famous works have been on Marvel ComicsX-Men and Fantastic Four and the 1986 relaunch of DC ComicsSuperman franchise.



  • Pedophiles are almost certainly "born that way". Again, we go to evolutionary conditioning. Seek the youngest, strongest, most healthy, for breeding purposes. A sure (or as sure as it gets) way to guarantee the survival of your genes. Pedophilia also brings along a big heaping helping of learned responses, however. In a society like ours, where "normal" sex is considered by many to be filthy and disgusting, "abnormal" sex is of course even moreso. "Abnormal" in this case meaning anything—even simple physical attraction—that is not "age-appropriate", heterosexual, and strictly for procreation. Preferably missionary position. Thus, any confused individual who finds himself attracted to young girls is likely to find himself attracted to increasingly younger girls, as part of his pattern of self-loathing. So much emotional torment—in victims and victimizers—would surely be set aside if our society was sexually liberated enough to even be able to say "Sure, it's okay to be attracted to eleven year olds. Just don't do anything about it!" (2010) [1]

Monthly comics and creator's ability to keep on schedule[edit]

  • Imagine, 24 pages of superhero adventures produced by the same writer and artist every month!! How did they do it? (What? By being professional about it? But that's too much like work!) (2008)[2]
  • One of the things that kept most comics from being monthly was that very few artists could produce 24 pages per month. Jack Kirby was very much the exception to the rule, but his towering presence at Marvel started to dictate the whole shape of the industry—and that's where problems set in! (2008)[3]

Alan Moore[edit]

  • Tom Strong and the rest of the ABC bunch leave me cold for a lot of reasons. First—and I realize this is purely subjective, but what isn’t?—I find a smugness, a condescension that reads to me as nostalgia being done by someone who is not in the least bit nostalgic. Almost as if Moore sits down to write and flips his brain 180°, so he’s not really writing what he feels or what he likes, just the exact opposite of what he would usually write.

    Also, there is the whole pastiche/homage/whatever thing. I find this really annoying. Not just when Moore does it. I can look back on elements of my own work and be annoyed at myself for going down that path. I only did it on rare occasions, tho. Moore has turned it into a career. So much so, that in the post-Watchmen era I have trouble calling to mind much that he has done that was not based on someone else’s previous work. I am not the most original guy on the block, but at least when I do Superman, I do Superman.

    I suppose a lot of this could simply be the bad taste his earlier work left for me. All that tearing down and “deconstructionism.” All that revealing of the flaws and feet of clay, not a bit of which has served the industry in any positive way, and, in fact, has left huge scars across it, like the ones left in the landscape by open pit mining.
  • 1963 was an insult to all the craftsmen who actually worked to produce American comics in that period. I was appalled—and deeply saddened—by the number of “fans” who embraced the series as a “brilliant evocation” of the comics I’d read as a kid. I tried to tell myself the “success” of 1963 merely served to indicate how hungry fans were for “old fashioned” superhero comic books. So much so that they would embrace travesty as tribute. But eventually I came to see this as yet another harbinger of what was to come—of the ever increasing legions who are embarassed to be caught reading superhero comics, and so would rather see them mocked (or changed beyond recognition, as with current M*****) than simply move on and make room for readers who are happy to enjoy them for what they are. (2005) [4]

Grant Morrison[edit]

  • I get no sense from Morrison’s work that he has any “love for the genre.” I get the same vibe I get from Moore—a cold and calculated mixing of ingredients the writer knows the fans like, but to which the writer himself has no eviceral [sic] connection. Nostalgia without being nostalgic, as I have dubbed it. (2004) [5]


  • Being an immigrant myself, I have something of an insight, I think, into the way Clark’s mind works. I was born in England, and I am proud of my English heritage (I was also quite a lot older than Kal-El when I left “home,” so my connections would be stronger) but I grew up in Canada and I have lived for the last 25 years in the US, and I don’t ever—ever—feel like a “displaced Englishman.”

    Clark would be proud, too, of his Kryptonian heritage, but later portrayals of him have tried to shoehorn in too much of the pychobabble of adopted children longing for and seeking out their biological parents. Excuse my French, but to me, they fall under the heading of “ungrateful little sh*ts.”

    Clark grew up as human, thinks as a human, reacts as a human. He lives and loves as a human. And that is what really defines him. (2005) [6]

On Neil Gaiman (after Gaiman announced his next work would be a re-vamp of Kirby’s ‘The Eternals’)[edit]

  • When working with existing “franchises,” any good writer will return to the source material from time to time, to see if s/he can divine from that work something that might have been missed before. This is true whether the work is good, bad, or indifferent. The best place to start, however, no matter what the context, is not by saying “the creator didn’t get it right.” That’s the worst kind of hubris. I have been pilloried for my work on Superman, Spider-Man, Doom Patrol, and in the early days even FF and X-Men, yet I have never once said the creators of those series/characters “didn’t get it right.” It disgusts me not only to read Gaiman saying this—about Jack Kirby of all people!—but to see the cartwheels people are willing to turn in order to make his words seem other than what they are. Apparently, dissing one of the greatest talents this industry has produced is okay, as long as you’re on the Approved List. Next, how Eisner screwed up the Spirit, and Lee and Ditko on Spider-Man—what the heck were they thinking?? Maybe you should keep in mind, then, that the only person who knows if a creator “got it right” is the creator himself. Unless Kirby told Gaiman he felt he didn’t “get it right” on The Eternals, it’s pretty f***ing arrogant of Gaiman to make such a statement. “Kirby didn’t get it right, and I probably won’t either” sound like it should read “I don’t want to do this series.” (2006) [7]

Regarding Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s version of Thor[edit]

  • As I have noted elsewhere, and with the clarity of hindsight, I think Stan and Jack made a mistake when they decided to make Thor the “real” Thor. “Whosoever holds his hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor(r)!” That was really all I needed to know. But, of course, the rest of the Norse mythology began appearing early on, so it was only natural (if a tad anal) that fans should start writing in wondering what had happened to the real Thor. (2007) [8]

On taking comics back to the basics; ‘rewinding’ or ‘resetting’ to the status quo[edit]

  • ...were I in charge of either of the Big Two, my “solution” to the ills of the industry would be to “reset” all the books to where they were at some arbitrarily chosen point in time. Usually I say 1976, for many reasons good and bad. Mostly because that’s the last year when, while actually still working in the Biz, I really still felt like a fan. (2007) [9]
  • To harken back to the pre-Crisis days is to play to exactly what I find most wrong with DC these days—their idea of “innovation” is to press “rewind”. And that is most definitely catering to the “old” crowd. (2007) [10]
  • As I have said many times, I don’t care if they wipe away every trace of every book I have ever worked on. I just wish they’d stop doing so by pressing the “rewind” button. That’s just creative bankruptcy. (2005) [11]
  • If ^^***** had the stones they’d say “Screw continuity! As of January 2007, we’re hitting ‘rewind’ and resetting all the books to where they were in 1972—just set in modern time.” No “cosmic events,” no 100 issue crossovers. Just an editorial fiat, like Man of Steel. Only way to get things done. (2006) [12]
  • I’d go back to 1975. I commented elsewhere, recently, that pressing the “rewind” button would be a good idea, as long as it was done across the board, and not piecemeal or in stealth mode, a la “Birthright.” Take all the characters back to their status quo circa 1975, but set the stories now. Since the most anal-retentive fanboys need “explanations” for everything, have the Shaper of Worlds do it at M*****. Not sure who’d be up for the job at DC. (2004) [13]

Christopher Reeve[edit]

  • I have noticed that people have begun referring to Christopher Reeve as a hero. I do not wish to take away one iota of the courage he must have needed not to wake up screaming every single day, but the hard truth is there was nothing heroic in what happened to him or how he dealt with it...In fact, as far as how he dealt with it he didn’t even have a choice. We could imagine he spent every hour of every day when not in front of the cameras begging family members to simply kill him and get it over with—but none of them did so he had no choice but to deal with each day as it came.* Heroism I believe involves choice.

    *Not in any way suggesting this is what was happening, just in case there are those who are paralyzed from the neck up who might be reading these words... (2004) [14]

    —Comments four days after the actor’s death

Racial semantics[edit]

  • There are lots of people who call black people “niggers.” Are both terms “right”? You seem to have missed the rather important point that my response indicated roughly the same percentage of fans and pros use the improper terms for various elements of what we do—but that percentage does not approach a balance. It is not that roughly half say “balloon” and half say “bubble.” It is that some say “bubble” and they are wrong.
  • point of fact there are plenty of people who use the word “nigger” because that is the word they use, not because they imagine it has any negative racial connotations. That’s precisely why I chose that word as my illustration.

The Onion[edit]

  • The Onion lost all credibility for me a while back when they did a “story” on the Hudson River cleanup GE was forced to do. As some of you may recall, one of my neighbors is a GE veep, and he was directly in charge of this, so from him I found out all kinds of details the press did not bother to pass along to the public. Since The Onion apparently gets its info from other papers, the story was full of inaccuracies.

    What are they, Michael Moore?

    Anyway, I stopped reading The Onion from then on. (2005) [15]

On the death of Steve Irwin, "The Crocodile Hunter"[edit]

  • Okay, time for me to rain on this parade. I didn’t know he had kids. Young kids. This alters the mix considerably. This makes him an asshole. Cops and firemen, to name but two, place their lives on the line every day to protect others. There was nothing Steve Irwin was doing that he could not have done—as did, say, David Attenborough—without putting his life at risk. This takes this from tragedy to stupidity, and, worse, irresponsibility. [16]
  • I am glad this asshole is dead. Sorry for his wife and kids, but relieved they are in no further danger from his lunacy!
  • This guy should have been taken out of the croc pen, had his kids taken from him, and been thrown in the deepest, darkest, dankest pit the Australian judicial system has to offer. Preferably after being skinned alive. Asshole is too good a word. (2006) [17]

To a fan/supporter who suggests he try and regain some of his status as a creator[edit]

  • John Byrne is tired of stepping up to the plate. John Byrne is tired of “doing the right thing” and getting f**ked up the ass for his troubles. John Byrne is tired of being lied to. John Byrne is tired of you. (2006) [18]

When a fan and forum member made the announcement in one of the message board threads that his mother had passed earlier in the day[edit]

  • No. Sorry, but no. I fully appreciate how much “trouble” I will get into for this, but no. I cannot let this pass without comment. Using the only hours past death of your own mother to make a point about a comic book story? There are not sufficient words in the English language to properly express my disgust. (2008) [19]

On Internet screen names[edit]

  • Any opinion—even an informed opinion—expressed from behind the shelter of a screen name is rendered automatically invalid, as far as I’m concerned. Courage of one’s convictions is one of the few things that make people worth the powder to blow ’em up. And, after all, no one would be getting up in arms if I was posting as FuzyBuny and not letting anybody know who I really was. Internet cowards are among the lowest of the species. Grow some f***ing balls, you losers! (2006) [20]

On the idea of comic fans utilizing the Internet to interact and share their hobby with each other[edit]

  • To think that the internet allowing fans to feel that they are “not alone as readers” plays to the “clubhouse” mentality that is a large part of what’s wrong with comics today. When you have isolated fans, reading the books on their own and not knowing (or much caring) if anybody else is, then the prime reason for reading is enjoyment—it’s all about the books themselves. It’s not about “getting together” with fellow fans to dissect and deconstruct...
  • There had been fan clubs before. The Merry Marvel Marching Society shamelessly stole its name from the Mary Marvel Marching Society. I was, myself, a member of the Supermen of America. What was key to these, tho, was that the fans who belonged were not truly interconnected. There was a sense of being part of a greater whole, but the hobby itself remained largely solitary. Which, the history of the industry seems to teach, was a good thing. (2007) [21]

When asked if he had considered closing his forum, since it was part of the Internet fandom “problem”[edit]

  • If you had paid any attention, instead of just scanning for places you can display your sparkling wit, you might have noticed that I use this forum in much the same way firemen use fire to fight fire. But, since you ask, I can shut it down for you. (2007) [22]

The Internet, continuity, and "fans": bad[edit]

  • Usually, I am quick to point out how the internet would have had a profoundly negative effect—as it does today—if it had been in place twenty, thirty, forty years ago. How things like the DC rebirth in the 1950s would have most certainly died aborning had internet chat rooms and forums been around, where a small group of vocal fans could make themselves seem like an army screaming against this utter abandonment of cherished “continuity.” (2007) [23]

The Internet, continuity, and "fans": good[edit]

  • I kinda wish the internet had been around. Or at least some major force that could have screamed “Why are you turning Magneto into a half-assed clone of Doctor Doom?” and cataloged each and every way in which this transformation violated the long standing continuity. (2007) [24]

Alien 3[edit]

  • Aliens 3 [sic] is everything that’s wrong about Hollywood, from an incorrect title (it’s Aliens 2)...[after being shown that the title was, indeed, Alien3]...Aliens 3 or Alien 3—title is still wrong. (2007) [25]

Revealing his aborted plans for a character named Kristoff he created in 'Fantastic Four'[edit]

  • It’s too late for someone to steal this story now, I suppose. I intended Doom to return to Latvaria and absolutely freak out when he discovered what his robots had done to Kristoff. Basically—he’d need a whole lot of new robots by the time he calmed down. And then he would devote a whole lot of time and energy to restoring Kristoff. (I had not decided if he would be successful. Part of my brain wanted him to realize he needed the help of the other smartest guy on the planet—and there was no way he could ever go there!) (2007) [26]

"Good stories"[edit]

  • Oh—and “but it’s a good story” is the biggest load of crap ever foisted on the reading audience. Any story which deliberately violates core concepts and themes of original materials is not, by definition “a good story.” Time some people pulled their heads out of various writers’ asses and realized that. (2006) [27]

The humanity of the original Human Torch[edit]

  • Androids (i.e., artificial humans) tend to blur the line between living and non-living. Especially in a case like the Human Torch, where his origin tends to establish him as something much more than a clever assemblage of non-organic parts. The “instability” which originally caused him to burst into flame spontaneously indicates there’s an unknown factor involved. Push come to shove, I would put Jim Hammond into his own category, and grant that, altho he is “not of woman born,” he is, in a true sense, alive. In other words, not a toaster. (2006) [28]

The humanity of the Vision, an android hero whose body was once the original Human Torch[edit]

  • The question becomes, I suppose, one of value. Knowing that the Vision’s complete personality/memory/intelligence was downloaded into a computer in Titan (was it Titan? Memory blurs) allowed me to scrape his brain in my VisionQuest story, since everything could be restored with a literal flip of a switch. Should something that can be so easily copied and retrieved be treated as having the same intrinsic value as a human being? Should any of the human Avengers, for instance, ever risk their lives on behalf of the Vision? My vote would be no (as some of you have probably already guessed)—but I would say that even if it were not possible to restore or “save” the Vision in any other way. He is a “toaster.” (2006) [29]

On the reconstruction of Jack Kirby's original FF #103, a project endorsed by Kirby's daughter, Stan Lee and inked by Joe Sinnott[edit]

  • I have no interest in this grave robbing. (2008) [30]

Quotes about Byrne[edit]

The neutrality of this article is disputed.
Please see the relevant discussion on the talk page.
  • Byrne has developed a noticeable online presence, with his own website and forum, on which he is a participant and moderator, and a column, titled “In My Humble Opinion” [sic], which has run at both Slush Factory and His comments and statements, both online, and through the years in print, have gained Byrne a reputation as a controversial figure. Whilst noted as “one of if not the most longstanding and prolific writer/artist in comics today” [31]. Byrne has also gained a reputation for engaging in feuding with other comic book creators, being accused of getting into such conflicts with Peter David, Jim Shooter, Joe Quesada, Mark Evanier, and Marv Wolfman [32], whilst in 2003, Byrne and Erik Larsen got into an argument, which saw Byrne claiming, “You can tell when Erik is saying something stupid—his lips move” and Larsen calling Byrne “a habitual liar.” [33] Rich Johnston has noted the feud as ending with Byrne issuing a “non-apology apology” [34].
  • At the Dallas Fantasy Fair, during a panel discussion Byrne made unflattering comments about a number of industry figures, including Gene Colan, Lynn Graeme, Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, and Roy Thomas. After a transcript of the panel was published in The Comics Journal #75 (September 1982), Thomas threatened a libel suit if Byrne did not apologize. In a letter printed in TCJ #82 (July 1983), Byrne retracted his statements. He claimed he was only repeating information from Wolfman and Wein and wrote “I acted only in the office of a parrot.” [35].
  • Mark Waid reportedly responded to an anecdote Byrne had used in illustrating comic book terminology, Byrne recounting “...when Mark Waid stuck up his hand at a convention Q&A to ask me if ‘we can have the real Superman back’...,” by accusing Byrne of fabricating the story: “This, by the way, never happened, even though it’s become one of Byrne’s new favorite anecdotes.”

    Waid then went on to question Byrne’s impartiality as a moderator on his message board, noting “I’d gladly refute it more directly at the message board on which it was posted, but—at least in my experience—those who attempt to correct John’s delusional statements and borderline libels are quickly booted,” further clarifying “I have already been banned.” Waid went on to explain that a previous attempt at extracting a clarification or retraction from Byrne in reference to another matter had ended with Byrne removing Waid’s message: “...I registered, posted a response, and within ten minutes it was deleted and my membership was cancelled.” (2004) [36]
  • In 2005, Byrne complained about his Wikipedia article, claiming it was full of “opinion, rumor and borderline libel” but did not specify what he objected to within the article. He attempted to “delete lies and troll-fodder” [37] by removing most of the article [38], but it was soon restored. The article was revised following a complaint from Byrne to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

External links[edit]

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