Mike Gold: Four Comics Things That Piss Me Off
Number One: Bitch Planet
Bitch Planet ran only five issues. I know it’s coming back in a new mini-series story arc thingy, but nobody – not even Valentina De Landro and Kelly Sue DeConnick – have any business producing such a compelling series and not publish it every damn month for the rest of their lives. And I’m counting string theory afterlife dimensions.
I mean, look folks, characters like Batman, the X-Men and My Little Pony are being published weekly under a variety of titles. Marvel’s pumping out so much Deadpool that even Emily S. Whitten has a hard time following them all. So is it so much to ask that we get Bitch Planet at least once each month? These are two incredibly talented cartoonists. I’m sure they have lives and loved ones and such, but I don’t care. October will come and go without an issue of Bitch Planet, and that is wrong.
Number Two: Roots of Evil?
Last week, the courageous and gifted Svengoolie ran the movie Monster On The Campus on his Saturday night Me-TV show (a great channel, usually on one of those digital side channels the broadcast stations use to fill out their bit of the broadband spectrum). It’s about a not-mad scientist – although at times he’s rather testy – named Doctor Donald Blake who imports a honking big fish that’s been frozen for over one million years. Blake gets pricked by one of the fish’s humongous teeth. It turns out the fish was preserved with Gamma rays for some reason that kind of made sense when they said it. Donald Blake temporarily gets transformed into a gigantic hairy monster who is violently cantankerous.
Seeing as how this is a website named “ComicMix,” three facts probably leap out at you. First, the dude’s name is Doctor Donald Blake. Second, the major plot point is that he transforms into something mighty. And, finally… Gamma rays, huh?
This movie was made in 1958. The Incredible Hulk got his dose of Gamma rays in 1962. Doctor Donald Blake first transformed into The Mighty Thor that same year. My question: is this an incredibly amazing series of coincidences (Ian Fleming would have called it “enemy action”), or did Stan Lee happen to see it and those elements impregnated his imagination? Or did he simply borrow the material, never thinking (logically) anybody would ever see that movie again? Probably not; Stan always had a lousy memory.
Sven did mention both Donald Blake and Bruce Banner during his always-brilliantly-silly studio segments.
Number Three: Color Everywhere
Now that small print runs of color comics are economically feasible (well, feasibler) we seem to have a drought of black and white comics. That’s annoying. The so-called independent comics movement started out in black and white – Elfquest, Cerebus; even Dark Horse’s first title was in black and white. By and large, the Warren magazines (Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, and particularly Blazing Combat) featured some of the best artwork by many of the best cartoonists ever, all in glorious black and white. Whereas they weren’t quite up to Warren’s level, the Marvel Comics magazines were pretty damn good and I think Conan in particular looked great in that medium.
Number Four: What’s Black and White and Dead All Over?
And let’s take this one step further. Many of the few surviving newspapers, perhaps most, have been coloring their daily comic strips for several years now. This is also true of the newspaper strip websites GoComics.com and ComicsKingdom.com. Here’s a news flash: guys, you’re not helping. By and large – there are notable exceptions – the coloring is dreadful. Comics are not coloring books where everything is cool if you just stay in the lines. Color is a storytelling device. That’s why the great color artists deserve the big bucks.
Note I did not say “the great color artists are getting the big bucks.”