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Just to point out that I still rule.

I knew this would happen. Don’t ask me how, but I knew.

The context: The comics quiz I did three days ago. There was one pretty straightforward question – “In comics, what is a ret-con?”. The question went to DD and Ochintya’s team, and as they were trying to explain the concept, I asked them to give me an example, which would make things easier for all of us. Their answer was that a ret-con is creating an established history for a known character – “RETroCONceptualizing” him/her, so to speak, and the example they gave was that of the Phantom, creating the histories of all the Phantoms much later after the character’s creation. Which was the wrong definition, and so the question passed to Udupa and Dibyo’s team, who said it was changing the history of a character, like Batman : Year One. I gave them points ( because I am a lenient quizmaster, and am fairly generous with points. ), and the next thing I know, the rest of the teams ( with the exception of al_lude and Co. who were trying to look as nonchalant as possible. Possibly because they were leading by quite a huge margin at that point.) are clamouring for my blood. Among the shouts, I could hear someone shrieking the words “Alan Moore” and “Swamp Thing” rather loudly, to which I responded, in true God Mode, with the words “Alan Moore’s version of Swamp Thing was not a ret-con. We can discuss this later, and that’s that”. Things cooled down, the quiz progressed, there was no rain of hellfire and brimstone.

So today I get a mail from Shakuni with an impassioned subject-line “Why Beatzo, Why?”, a mail in which he copy-pastes this segment from Wikipedia:

The term “retroactive continuity” was popularized by comic book writer Roy Thomas in his 1980s series All-Star Squadron, which featured the DC Comics superheroes of the 1940s. The earliest known use of the term is from Thomas’s letter column in All-Star Squadron #20 (April 1983), where Thomas wrote that he heard it at a convention. The term was shortened to “retcon” by Damian Cugley in 1988 on USENET to describe a development in the comic book Swamp Thing, in which Alan Moore reinterpreted the events of the title character’s origin. (See “Examples”, below.)

………

Alan Moore’s additional information about the Swamp Thing’s origins didn’t contradict or change any of the events depicted in the character’s previous appearances, but changed the underlying interpretation of them. This verges on making alterations to past continuity.

Hmm. Now I knew about the Roy Thomas origin of the word, and I had based this question off John Ostrander’s column in the first issue of Shazam: A New Beginning#1 by Ostrander and Tom Mandrake, one of those ret-conned series of the mid-eighties, in which Billy Batson’s origin is retold with minor variations. I honestly did not look at the Wikipedia entry, nor did I know that the term gained prominence through USENET; I had always figured it was a hardcore comicbook term, with none of the l33t-public intruding onto its origins. So I guess that was a boo-boo on my part.

BUT

Alan Moore’s additional information about the Swamp Thing’s origins didn’t contradict or change any of the events depicted in the character’s previous appearances, but changed the underlying interpretation of them. This verges on making alterations to past continuity.

Technically speaking, “verges on making alterations to past continuity” is NOT the same as “making alterations to past continuity” or, more specifically “adding new information to ‘historical’ material, or deliberately changing previously established facts in a work of serial fiction.” Moore did not change a word of what happened before, if I remember correctly, he just gave a different explanation for why things happened (which i won’t mention here because they are quite spoilerific) , and cleared up quite a bit of misunderstandings. Like that bit about Alex Olsen. So technically, I was not wrong, eh? Eh? Eh? So I still maintain that Dibyo and Udupa deserved their points, because they specifically said “changing the history of an established character”, and that ( war-dance) is (war- whoop) exactly (yodel) what ( yabadabadoo) a (tippity tappity tap) ret-con is. (Phew!)

We need to get a life, JK. Seriously. I could feel the pain of that ‘Why beatzo, Why?”, you know. Just in case you’re still peeved, I will burn a DVD for you. With oodles of stuff on it. I will even sign and number it, if you want. So smile, da.

P.S Please try and do Graphic Rampage next year. Or do a version in Chennai.

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21 thoughts on “Just to point out that I still rule.

  1. Waitaminute……

    Now that you have dragged this in to public, I have no option but to respond.

    Granted, retconning is so overused and abused these days that it’s almost like postmodernism, nobody knows what it is anymore.

    “Some retcons do not directly contradict previously established facts, but “fill in” missing background details necessary for current plot points. This was the sense in which Thomas used “retroactive continuity”, as a purely additive process that did not “undo” any previous work”

    “The term was shortened to “retcon” by Damian Cugley in 1988 on USENET to describe a development in the comic book Swamp Thing, in which Alan Moore reinterpreted the events of the title character’s origin.”

    So your point being, the guy who coined the phrase and the one who concatenated it to the present form were both wrong. Yeah dude, whatever. You win.

    “On Friday night, a Comedian died in New York. Someone threw him out of a window and when he hit the sidewalk his head was driven up into his stomach. Nobody cares. Nobody cares but me.”

    Great quiz though.

    “I shall go and tell the indestructible man that someone plans to murder him.”

    • Re: Waitaminute……

      Och. The man did not get the point – I guess the war-dance and whooping helped distract you.

      What I meant to express in the post was – yes, I was lazy, and in all my omniscience, I didn’t read up ret-con in the Wikipedia. That was why I said Alan Moore’s work on Swamp Thing was not one – Ostrander’s words were the only ones I considered while setting the question. The post was an ungentle apology of sorts. The rest were…red herrings. Even that bit about Moore and ST. Heck, you knew the answer, dude, and probably could have given me a better explanation than D&U. Can’t you let me have a wee bit of moral satisfaction on my own LJ? Eh? EH? And I liked that mail too, so there!

      But yeah, D&U still deserved their points. *snicker*

      And what’s with all these Watchmen quotations?

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