I'm going to answer Ian's post in some detail here, because I think this will be instructive to other members. Don't everyone expect such detailed answers to every post, please. These things take time out of work.
Ian Ryan: Hi Bill.
Bill Willingham: Hello, Ian.
I: I want to thank you for posting a response to the latest issue of Batman.
B: You're welcome.
I: It's a shame you weren't willing to post on the DC boards, which I'm assuming you check out, but anyway.
B: No, I only check it out rarely, because I find it a distastful place, which DC in its infinite wisdom has decided to let become a cesspool. Life is much too short to spend time in such places.
I: I actually would have liked to post to you sooner, but I wasn't aware this forum existed. I've enjoyed your work on Day of Vengence, I've heard very good things about Fables and plan on reading the trades soon, and found your issue of Legends of the Dark Knight to be enjoyable as well.
I: I've also found your run on Robin to feel very forced, portraying the characters in extremely out-of-character ways.
B: Yes, I get that impression from many message-board posters.
I: I still cannot wrap my head around Batman saying "I'm so proud of you I could burst." That is one of the worst lines I've seen come out of Batman's mouth in years.
B: Yes, the line as originally written, "I'm so proud of you I could drop kick an innocent little puppy," didn't make it past he editors. Darn those controling martinets.
I: Robin has suddenly become freakishly talkative in dangerous situations. Yeah, you explained it but that still doesn't make it in-character. He also become quite a bit of a jerk, something he wasn't before your run. Sure, you may say this is a result of how he's dealing with the deaths of his loved ones, but he was doing it before they died.
B: Here's the part where I begin to have a problem with your posting. By all means express critical opinions of my work. I can take it. But if you're also going to add my possible responses, and try to provide both sides of the conversation, why should I bother to weigh in at all? So, as instruction to future posters, please limit your arguments to your side of the question. If you try to add both sides, just to be able to dismiss possible answers in advance, one might reasonably conclude you're not actually open to an actual debate and simply intend to have your own say, and that's it. We don't do that here. So, Ian, if you intend to participate here in the future, please don't do this sort of thing again. Trying to premtively defend your stated opinions paradoxically only weakens them.
I: He also took down Mr. Fun rather easily in War Games, a man who has been shown to be able to give Batgirl troubles in a fight. Where his suddenly-excelerated fighting skills came from I cannot say.
B: He got them from the suddenly-excelerated fighting skills store -- a division of Wall Mart. Seriously though, street fighting is a tricky thing. They aren't formalized, with clear rules, and there is no referee on hand to keep things fair and balanced. Two folks taking an hour to fight each other one day in no way guarantees that the same two combatants must take a similar amount of time the next time around. Too many variables. Robin seems the type to plan ahead for such things. Maybe he questioned Batgirl about her encounter, with an eye towards what he could learn from her after-action debriefing? Those are the kind of things that one assumes happens among the Bat folks, but which will seldom be shown in the books, due to space and a desire not to bring generally action-oriented stories to a screeching halt by adding extra pages of talking heads.
I: Your Batman work is even worse, I feel.
B: An opinion you are absolutely entitles to have and even entitled under the rules of conduct here to express.
I: I have no doubt that you're a good writer on the right projects. I've seen very good writing from you. I do not feel that carrys over to Batman, though. I found War Games to be one of the worst Batman stories post-Crisis, and the final issue was the greatest offender. Even with the "explaination" given in the recent issue of Batman of how Black Mask was able to hold his own against Batman in the final fight in the Clocktower, the last issue was bad. Black Mask was beaten up the day before by a Spoiler that was near death, yet the world's finest hand-to-hand fighter, even in an exhausted state, can't even hold his own against a reject from the burn ward.
B: Actually Batman did hold his own against him. If he couldn't hold his own, Black Mask would have been clearly winning the fight, which wasn't the case.
I: And this is what, the next day after Batman easily takes down Zeiss, someone who he's never been able to take down without extreme amounts of effort before?
B: See my above answer about the always mercurial nature of combat.
I: Oracle feels the only way she can convince Batman to stop fighting is by blowing up her home, rather than using the myriad defenses she has in it. On top of this, there were also any number of unconcious gang members in the lower levels of her building. She willingly crushed them all in the rubble and explosion of her collapsing building just to get Batman out of there? Were these things even thought through by yourself and your editors before they made it to print? Was no forethought given to these ideas that any joe-schmoe fan could pick up on immediately after having read the issues?
B: Well, see, there you have us, Ian. At the big secret Bat conference wherein all of this was planned, we didn't think anything through. One of the dirty little secrets of the funnybook biz is that no one currently working can outthink the joe-schmoe fans. Pardon the mockery, Ian, but this is the kind of statement from you that wanders into unreasonable discourse. By all means dislike or even hate what we've produced. But taking that extra step of speculating openly that we didn't put any thought into it crosses the line. Don't do this again.
I: War Crimes, though, is without a doubt the worst story of any Batman title I've seen with your name on it.
B: Once again, this is a fair statement to make. By all means express your opinion of any story in the harshest possible terms.
I: Yeah, the Batman editors as of late have been making dictates that are bizarre at best, crap at worst, but this one takes the cake. All the screwed up events as of late probably tie in with the Infinite Crisis but that still does not excuse them in the slightest.
B: Now you're once again crossing that line, speculating about things you have no knowlege of. I've never had to ban anyone in any forum I've run, but this is the sort of thing that will quickly earn a banning.
I: The very idea of having the ultra-pacifist Leslie Thompkins kill a teenage girl in cold blood makes ANYTHING to come out of Infinite Crisis not worth it. There is not one single ending or resolution or future development that can make this tale worthy of being told. The price you guys are making us pay for the Infinite Crisis is nowhere near worth it, no matter how it all ends.
B: I'm not making you pay anything, Ian. We still practice a few freedoms in this country and getting to decide what reading entertainment you buy or choose to bypass is still one of the things in your hands.
I: You say that while you would prefer to get positive feedback, negative is almost as good because at least it's not boredom with the work.
B: Not quite, but close enough of a paraphrase of what I said.
I: Perhaps you should try to get some positive feeback then?
B: I don't try to get feedback at all. It comes or it doesn't. Go back an read what I actually wrote.
I: When someone does something with the knowledge that it will piss people off just for the sake of doing it, which is what War Crimes is, that person is generally called a jerk.
B: And this is the final example of why I chose to give a detailed response to Ian's post. This is the sort of statement that, though it seems perfectly allowable in other forums is not allowed here. Even though Ian dances around with his sentence construction, a careful parsing of the above statement shows us that he intended to call those people who worked on War Crimes jerks. Name calling isn't allowed here. Not at all, no matter how one disguises it in odd sentence construction. In addition he accused us of intentionally setting out to piss people off. This kind of speculation is also not allowed. Ian, you have no idea what motivations we had in doing this story. At no time have I ever said I or anyone else involved with this story set out to intentionally piss people off. This is the point at which you need to step back, think things over carefully, then come back with an apology in your very next posting, or go away from this forum forever. Since we've gotten to the point I wished to show, where you've passed far too far over the line, I think we can forgo the rest of your post.
B: Once again, people, we practice manners in this forum. And though we can't protect people from getting insulted -- no one can do that, especially in this current indignation-loving culture -- but we can and will prevent people from being insulting.