In an interview that went up in the not-very-distant-at-all past, Newsarama asked Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Wonder Boys) what he thought of the argument that too much of modern popular culture relies too heavily on the materiel that has gone before.
Chabon said: "What needs to be done is not simply for the past to be riffed on – well, 'riffed' is maybe the wrong word, it should be 'invoked and suggested' or 'recreated.'
"What you’re looking for, what you want to see, what’s really interesting, is stuff that takes the received materials and really wrings changes on them, puts them through their paces, that challenges them and confronts them at the same time that it invokes them.
"That’s where...there’s some things you watch, and they may be cool, they may be very faithful, they might make you feel kind of happy because stuff you know from some kind of prior era is being brought back and reanimated.
"That stuff can be fun, but there’s ultimately something very hollow at the core of something like that, like it’s just an exercise in style more than anything else."
I mention this because a) Michael Chabon is a very smart man and b) I agree with him, and there is too much going on in comics that apes the efforts of earlier creators without adding significant value or without providing anything of interest to potential new readers. Amazing Spider-Man, I'm looking at you...
Chabon also mentions Jonathan Lethem among his favourite authors. Lethem has a new book (Chronic City) out which this BoingBoing article makes me want to read.
Newsarama has the full, quite interesting interview.