Newsletter #43: A 2021 Best Jackett Recap & A Look Ahead

Going over the first year of Our Best Jackett and some more thoughts on The State of Media (feat Harrison Ford!)

  
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Hey guys, it's Scott.

First of all, I hope you had a great, great Christmas and holiday season and you're gearing up for New Year's full of lots of resolutions that you can actually meet. I'm sure I will never meet mine, but I'm excited to make them and break them within a few days. Christmas was great here, my parents came up visited from the city. They still live in my high school apartment and they’ve been going down to Maryland a lot to hang out with my sister who has a baby who’s one year old today (happy birthday, baby Claire, we love you). And so we haven't seen them quite as much as we used to, so it was great catching up with them. And my manager had gotten me one of those Keurig drink machines, the DrinkMaster 4000 or whatever it is that makes you mixed alcoholic drinks with these pods in it that literally just got discontinued this week, right after I got it. So, we were basically having a funeral for it where we just tried every crazy drink it would make in a pod from strawberry spritzers to Jack and Cokes (which, by the way, I don't know why you need a pod to make a Jack and Coke, but it was a blast getting to see them).

And we had bought Quinn lots of presents, lots of little things, because we were worried he'd be jealous of his big brothers opening their presents (and in fact, he cared more about the wrapping paper and thought it was so cool). And one of his gifts was a little trampoline and he spent the entire time hanging on the bar from it instead of jumping on it and thinking that was hilarious. So, we still have all of these gifts to give him whenever he's ready for them. But it was a lot of fun, and now comes the dragging out the humongous tree part, which I'm sure I'll be paying for with my back for a long time. But it was a blast and I feel very lucky to have gotten to spend it with family—I have friends who had to isolate from family members and other friends that were alone, and I feel very grateful to have gotten to spend it with family.

And I feel very grateful to be ending the year on such a high note with all of you. I really mean it when I say this year was easily the best of my career. I don't mean that in some business way (although it was in a business way as well), but it was the first year I was completely in control of my own books with my creative partners, and it was the first year I really took a risk in terms of counting on you guys to show up to give us a chance with all of these projects, and with this with, the teaching, and with the newsletter. And the reward for that—finishing the year in a place where I'm happier than I've been, I feel more creatively energized than I've been, I feel like I'm taking more risks than I ever have, and I have new opportunities unfolding in front of me, like getting to be the showrunner in this Wytches writers room all of a sudden, or do books in a new way with comiXology and Dark Horse. And all of it has just been incredibly gratifying and I cannot thank you enough. I mean, I owe it all to you guys, so I wake up every day with the best job in the world thanks to you. And it only got better this year. So, however I can give back to you please let me know.

Again, the program that we're going to start right after the new year is to allow you to ship one book of your choice to me that I will sign free, you just pay for shipping, if you're a paid subscriber. And if you want to add more books to it, you can for a fee. But ultimately, the whole goal of the program is to allow you to have access to me to be able to sign books for you without any added cost. I really want to say thank you. We're going to add all kinds of cool stuff in 2022 to the paid subscription, also. I think I'm going to start doing material that's exclusive to the Substack platform in addition to doing the class. The class is only about a third of the way through and all of the previous sessions are archived, so if you join now, you get everything we've done so far at your disposal to watch anytime you want. So, again, it makes a great end of the year gift, not trying to shill, but I'm trying to shill because I love doing it. I think our last class, the three-act structure one, was one of the most fun ones I've done. So, it's never too late to sign up or get somebody else a subscription. It's only $7 a month and you get the class and free signed comic with shipping and all that stuff. So, anyway, that's my pitch. (And if you sign up before the new year, you can get an Annual subscription for an additional 10% off!)

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A couple other quick things: next week we have Nocterra coming out—Blacktop Bill Special, it begins the new cycle of stuff for us. So, that book is with legendary Denys Cowan, Kent Williams and Chris Sotomayor, and it tells the origin of Blacktop Bill. And then in the first week of February we have Nocterra #7, which begins our next big arc with Tony back on art and everything roaring ahead, so there's all that. If you subscribe to comiXology Unlimited, you get all the books that we've been doing over there for the price of one comic a month. Again, one of the goals of this whole year was to try and make comics in a way that's going to be affordable for you and that pushes the industry and medium in a different direction. I believe in subscription-based browsing and in subscription-based exploration, so I really hope you're enjoying it and you'll give it a shot with comiXology as well.

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Y’know, on a thoughts note, too, beyond the personal and the ‘what I have going on professionally,’ I wanted to talk a little bit about this moment that I'm wondering if you're feeling this way, too. I did this a couple newsletters ago and you guys seem to respond to it pretty well. But again, choosing that discussion as a springboard about this cultural moment, I just saw No Way Home, which I really enjoyed. And I saw Matrix Resurrections, which I enjoyed. And I've been reading about the new Indiana Jones, and I watched the trailer for The Batman and I started thinking about how this moment feels different than some of the moments in the 90s and the 00s when there was all of this talk about how everything was a reboot or a sequel in that way.

I feel like back then there was this desire to kind of rehash or recombine or remake things of the past into new modern stuff, and there was a crass commercial aspect to it that overshadowed a lot of it but every once in a while produced something great either way. But it wasn't the same feeling. I feel like right now, all these things that I'm seeing, and tell me if you agree, I feel like they're also trying to be comfort food. And sometimes they work really well, and I think the reason they work well when they do is because they're threading this needle or walking this line between giving you everything that you want from this legacy franchise that you've missed, and trying to do something new—trying to push it in a direction that you didn't expect. And when that works, like I think it does in No Way Home (and I won't give any spoilers), it really feels good. It feels like you're getting what you wanted in this kind of nostalgic way or this way that brings back things that you loved and then at the same time paves the way for something you didn't expect. I mean, that's that's the goal. And I think that movie does it really well.

I think Matrix Resurrections sort of tries a little harder to do something new at the beginning, which is really admirable, and then runs into problems later on in my opinion, for reasons I again won't get into because I don't want to give spoilers. The talk about The Batman, for example, I feel is doing the same thing. There's a comfort zone to Batman and the Riddler, there's no new villains, right? There's a comfort to Batman and Catwoman being together. It's a part of the franchise forever, it's from Batman Returns to Dark Knight Rises. It's built in forever. And yet, I feel like they're trying to do something that seems oddly progressive or new when it comes to what it means for him to be an agent of vengeance or justice. And there feels like there's a social discussion happening with it somewhere in there about what Bruce Wayne should be. And as somebody who worked on that character for a long time, I think my goal when I was working on it with Greg was to always try and make something that felt important to me at that time with him, that felt like it was speaking to things in the air, for my kids—fears that kept me up at night, hopes that kept me up at night, all that stuff. So, sometimes it was more engaged with the zeitgeist, sometimes it was more personal, but it was always that and I feel that with this movie, too. It's interesting. I'm excited for it for those reasons.

But everything feels like it's moving along that strange liminal ground in between nostalgia and the new. And sometimes, I don't know if you feel this way, but I get this way, a movie will tip a certain way, whether it's Ghostbusters or other things, and you get tired of being comforted. There’s a big part of me right now that wants to see Indiana Jones because it's my favorite franchise. I waited outside when I was 13 years old because Harrison Ford was filming Regarding Henry on my friend's block. And we lucked out, we happened to be in my friend’s apartment (Peter Mishara, I still remember) when they were filming it and they covered the whole place in snow even though it was spring. So, we were on the block. It was being filmed and we waited and we waited and we waited and he finally came out of his trailer. And I called my dad, my dad came with a camera, and the camera didn't take the picture. And Harrison Ford looked ever the movie star, he was in his Regarding Henry suit. He was very nice and he said, “sorry, kid, I'll be back out in like a couple hours.” So, we waited a couple hours more. He came back out and my dad got the camera to work and I look terrified in this picture that it's not going to work, but I still have it:

But anyway, my point is I'm dying to see Indiana Jones. I love Indiana Jones. But looking at those set photos. If you haven't seen them, they kind of imply that one of the possibilities, and I don't know any more than you do, is that it's going to be a time travel movie where he goes back in time. I understand, as a writer, the calculation of that perfectly. You're going to get to see him in safer times, in the 30s and the 40s and the 50s, the times that he fought the Nazis and all of that stuff that feels good and evil, that goes back to the Indiana Jones core. So, it makes sense and it celebrates the past. But there's also part of me that wants to see something weird and different where he is in the 60s or 70s. You want to see something that pushes it into a new direction. Same thing with James Bond, all of it.

It feels like a moment where we desperately want comfort because everything is so stressful now, right? If I had one word for it, it's a stress. The last five years were incredibly volatile, incredibly difficult, and now it feels like this strange moment of quiet, even though in the quiet, it's a terrible year. I mean, Omicron and everything happening politically, the completely entrenched immobility of politicians to be able to get anything done. Everything feels self centered, everything feels on that level like we're in a terrible place. And I think all of us just feel like, or at least I feel like, it's this thin ice that we're on and this strange Eye of the Storm calm before things get worse again or more volatile or more pugnacious and vitriolic and scary again once the election cycles start up again and all of it. So, it's this moment of stress where I feel like even driving, you don't want to even engage with people because you don't know how angry they are behind the wheel. You're angry, too.

Everything feels charged, and so there's this desperate need for comfort food all the time. And I get that, I want it too. But on the other hand, my appeal to you guys is that there's also a desperate need—And I'm old, but I feel it so I imagine young people must feel at 10x more—for new things, things that engage, things that surprise us, things that are the new Matrix. hat movie was groundbreaking, not just because it was so cool and such a great story, but because it was about all of the weird things in the air at that moment. I’m talking about things that just take what's happening and make something cool and transformational and transportive and inspiring out of it. So, my hope is that you'll do that. I promise I'm trying, the next wave of books with Book of Evil and Canary and Dudley and Duck and Cover and Barnstormers, I mean, they're all very different but they all try in hard ways to be different and new in terms of my bibliography.

But what I hope with you is that you'll feel energized to make something that you feel is personal to you, but also a yell and scream and something that's passionate. Make something like the new Indiana Jones, make something that isn't based on things that exist already or reinterpreting those things, as exciting as it can be to see those things reimagined. Try and make something that's going to wow me by bowling me over and being like, that's the new Batman. So, I really hope you will, that's what I hope your resolution will be: to make something that is brand new and shocks people and makes them think and feel and all those things.

So, anyway, thank you again. I'd love your thoughts on this. If you feel the same way about this moment, if you feel I'm completely wrong and it's something wildly different than all of that, tell me. I'm making a big effort in 2022 to dive in and really engage with you guys here and on Discord and all that, so as soon as this writers room winds down in January, it'll give me a lot more time.

Anyway, thanks again and have a great new year!
S