TreasuryCast #50 – Alex Ross

TREASURYCAST #50 – ALEX ROSS

For the special 50th episode of TREASURYCAST, Rob interviews the legendary Alex Ross to talk about some of his favorite treasury editions plus his own contributions to the format.

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Opening theme by Luke Daab: http://daabcreative.com

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19 responses to “TreasuryCast #50 – Alex Ross

  1. Rob just gets the best guests. I’m not jealous because he does such a good job with it.

    And man, it sounds like Mike Carlin committed a lot more editorial sins than just Zero Hour…

  2. Rob,

    Congratulations on getting the Alex Ross interview.

    While I enjoy hearing writers and artists talk about projects they worked on, I’m always fascinated to hear them talk about comics they enjoyed as fans….that let’s us know they actually are fans. Sometimes since the 80s, creators have been hired for their “name” and they weren’t fans….or worse yet, they were just fans of a few books. Great job asking Mr. Ross (may I call him Alex since he’s only a year older than me) about treasuries that he enjoyed. Listening to Alex, I can tell he is a true comic book fan and I think his work shows that.

    I felt a bit of sympathy for Alex when he mentioned not having the Ra’s Al Ghul treasury when it was released.His essay about the Ra’s treasury cover for the Batman : Cover to Cover book was a fun read, so I was shocked he didn’t have it from the time it was released. How sad was it that he only saw the cover in a store and flipped through the book, there, but was so in love with it that he coveted it for years? I can kind of feel his pain. I know how I felt really wanting some comics I saw in house ads on those occasions when I found comics in the used book store, and thinking I would never get to read them.

    I also enjoyed Alex talking about the treasuries where he provided the artwork. Normally, I tend to like a less realistic looking Batman (I want him to look scary), but his two-page spread of Batman looking out over Gotham in War on Crime is one of my favorite Batman images.

    You’re skipping treasury cast for a month????? NO!!!!!!! Rob, why do you hate me so much? What mean thing did I ever do to you????? Just teasing, but I’ll miss the show. I’ve loved the treasuries since childhood, and enjoy listening to other people with a fondness talk about them. I don’t really know anyone in real life who is a fan so I don’t have anyone to talk about them with. On the bright side I did get the Ra’s Al Ghul treasury when it was knew….of course, if I hadn’t got it, maybe I would have honed some artistic skills because I wouldn’t have spent so much time staring at it, and I could have been a talented artist like Mr. Ross. Ok, yeah, I never had any talent to hone, but you know Mr. Ross spent a lot of time and hard work developing his abilities.

    I thought the Batman’s Strangest Cases would have been a good pick for a Halloween treasury, so I’m surprised you covered it on a regular show. I’m curious what treasury you’re going to cover. I can only think of two treasuries that might be tangentially related to Halloween. I won’t mention with ones they are, so I won’t spoil the surprise if I’m right about one.

  3. What a great conversation about two great comic nerds! Nicely done, gentlemen!

    I had read about Alex Ross’ reasons for not including Firestorm in his versions of the JLA, but his own explanation of it, and actual referencing of the deaths of Arthur, Jr and Iris West Allen, make so much sense to me. I don’t think I realized it back in the days, but for sure when I listen to Ross’ explanation, DC made some serious editorial mistakes back then in the day.

    And I had to laugh when Ross talked about fans wanting a certain something from him that he wasn’t willing to give, because I think I was one of those fans! I resisting picking up his and Paul Dini’s solo treasury books until either Wonder Woman or Capt Marvel, I don’t remember which. Then after I read and loved those two I went back and picked up Superman and Batman, too. Of course, I had to have the JLA books. Glad Ross stuck to his creative guns and gave us the stories he wanted to make; they were totally worth it.

  4. Such a wonderful interview, Rob! It’s always great to hear from creators who are enthusiastic fans themselves. And Ross’s deep love of the DC characters really comes out in your conversation, and I particularly liked hearing his perspectives on Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman.

    By the way, I’m glad you finally got some answer as to why he didn’t do an Aquaman Treasury.

    I was sorry to find out that an immense talent like Ross faced some pushback on his desire to do the treasuries and other work that he felt inspired to do. Good for him for staying true to his creative vision because he ended up giving us stories that are timeless and entertaining.

  5. Congrats on a wonderful interview. Alex Ross is one of those creators whose work just makes me happy. I’ve got 3 of his lithographs hanging in my campus office & a fourth is on order. His treasuries of the DC heroes are a delight & I bought multiple copies then & subsequently. Bravo’

    Now, he needs to return on Digestcast!

  6. Congratulations on 50 episodes and getting Alex on, and thanks to Alex for being a great guest. As regards his treasury works, I’m surprised to hear Alex thought there would be resistance to comic books that look like a comic books in the mass market – to me it’s a great native American art form… pretty much everyone grew up with it. I’d just assumed he and Paul Dini had wanted to do beautiful looking, timeless, sincere children’s picture books. I bought the Superman one and loved the art.

    I’m so grateful that we have Alex creating great comics – I’d love to see him produce a more traditional treasury, with soft covers and word balloons!

  7. Yeah, congratulations on 50 episodes, Rob. It’s been a great ride so far.
    I enjoyed listening to the interview with Ross – his art style is not necessarily my cup of tea, but it’s always fascinating to listen to creators talk about comics from both the creative standpoint and as fans themselves.

    Otherwise, like Gothosmansion, I’m dismayed to learn that there will be no Treasury Cast in September. Maybe you could throw out a few Digest Casts for us to chew on the meantime?

    1. Well, the upcoming Zorro one will give us something to “digest” in the meantime.

      Thanks for the setup, Edo!

  8. Rob, congratulations on 50 episodes and getting a fantastic guest in Alex Ross! This was a fantastic episode and it was great to hear the joy in both of your voices in talking about the treasuries. Like people mentioned above, I love hearing comic book creators talk about the comic books they loved as kids and how that shaped their lives.

    As a big fan of Captain Marvel/Shazam, I loved hearing Alex talk about his treasury dedicated to the hero. That treasury is such a great story and, like Alex talked about, really distilled the character down to his roots and I really love that book. Though, I do feel bad that he took the place of what Rob wanted in an Aquaman treasury. Maybe, now that you two are fast friends, you could convince Alex to do some new treasuries?

    This was fantastic to hear and here’s to 50 more episodes. Wait, are there 50 more Treasury books to talk about?

  9. Wonderful episode Rob. This would have been a great conversation between two fans of the medium and this format, either way. The fact that it was with Alex Ross, one of the premier artists in the industry was just gravy!

    I really enjoyed Ross’ treasuries and wish they would have continued. It’s sad that retailers didn’t embrace these, due to the format. As Ross put it at the end, I think retailers are desperate for anything to get folks in stores now, and maybe it’s time for them to return.

    I would love to see Ross back at DC. He gets the legacy, and that DC ISN’T Marvel. Going back to the Bronze Age as Ross pointed out, the company has given so much of their soul up over the years trying to be so, and it’s just never going to happen. There’s very little of what DC was left at this point, in my opinion.

    Again, GREAT episode. Happy anniversary!

    Chris

  10. What a great way to celebrate your 50th episode! Mr. Ross’ insights were fascinating, and your shared enthusiasm for the treasury format was infectious. I’m also reminded that I still need to get a hold of the Justice series. Thanks.

    And, since we’ll have an extra month between episodes, I guess I can tell my red tide story, which I mentioned in the comments for last episode.

    The year was 2009 and I was a bright-eyed young fisheries biologist working in Miami, FL. We were conducting stock assessments for two reef fish species in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, a stock assessment uses a statistical computer model and data collected from fisheries and scientific surveys to estimate the number of fish in a given fish stock (or population). The results of the assessment are used by fishery managers to set fishing regulations for the following year.

    For this story to make sense, you need to know about one particular type of assessment data, indices of abundance, which use the average number of fish caught by a single unit of fishing effort (e.g, a net tow) to track relative changes in the number of fish from year to year.

    Now here’s where things get interesting. The assessment for my particular fish species used six indices of abundance representing different fisheries and surveys. All six indices showed a sharp decline in the number of fish in 2005. (It’s unusual to see such a high degree of agreement between indices of abundance.) The indices of abundance used in the assessment of the other species being assessed showed similar declines. After consulting with other scientists and fishermen, we realized that this decline in numbers was due to a sudden mortality event caused by a large red tide algal bloom.

    Unfortunately, our assessment models could not account for this sudden loss of fish. A typical assessment model includes two ways to kill of fish: 1) fishing mortality which represents deaths due to human fishing activity, and 2) natural mortality which represents deaths due to all other causes (e.g., being eaten by other fish, disease, meteorite strikes). Fishing mortality rates are estimated by the assessment model using catch data reported by the fishery, while the natural mortality rate is assumed to be a fixed value through time, because it’s difficult to collect data on fish deaths due to natural causes. Given the reported catches and the assumed natural mortality rate, there was no way for the model to kill off all of the fish that the indices said should have died in that one year.

    In the end, we had to do some creative programming to allow our assessment models to estimate a special “red tide” mortality rate for 2005. This new source of mortality allowed the models’ predictions to better match the observed data that had been collected, and they all lived happily ever after… until the next red tide event!

  11. I could have listened to Alex talk all day. He has such affection for the characters, and I was just enjoying his stories. Congratulations, Rob, and well done!

  12. Rob, amazing interview, amazing opportunity, wonderful to hear that Alex Ross is the same kind of nerd we are, everything everybody else said, etc. Now on to my non-redundant comment:

    I think you two hit on something key to the Batman mythos and our understanding of crime when you talked about how we don’t get enough of Bruce Wayne and the Wayne Foundation anymore. As a veteran, I can tell you, violence is often a necessary part of the solution, but it never solves a root problem by itself. Bombing and shooting people stopped the Holocaust, but it took many more years of sustained non-violent work by a lot of people — many of them German — to change racial attitudes in Germany and Europe as a whole. Without that work, genocide could easily have happened again in the same place (and yes, I know it has in other places).

    Batman creates space for the Wayne Foundation to work more safely, and he finds the leads on where the work should be done, but it takes cops and teachers and social workers and parents and ministers and volunteers and the Wayne Foundation to actually change the conditions. That can be a source of exciting stories, too, and it’s one they did a much better job of exploiting in the Bronze Age.

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