Tagged: Danny Fingeroth

Ed Catto’s Black Friday Gift Guide!

Ed Catto’s Black Friday Gift Guide!

Beyond the toys, eggnog and family time, a nostalgic part the Yuletide season for me are books about comics.  When I was growing up, there were just a few : Batman from the 30s to the 70s, Les Daniels’ Comix, Stan Lee’s Origins of Marvel Comics.  But boy, did they make an impression on me.  Today there’s a plethora of spectacular books available. Here’s a few of the best ones for your gift list consideration:

KIRBY & LEE: STUF’ SAID! : THE COMPLEX GENESIS of the MARVEL UNIVERSE 

by John Morrow and Jon B. Cooke, Twomorrows

I really enjoyed A MARVELOUS LIFE: THE AMAZING STORY OF STAN LEE by Danny Fingeroth. Somehow, Fingeroth seemed to thread the needle to deliver a fascinating book and thoroughly explores the myth versus the man.

But there’s two sides to every story, and that’s the approach that John Morrow took in this brilliant book, STUF’ SAID.  This book serves up a detailed step-by-step, quote-by-quote walk through the early days (and beyond) of the Marvel Universe. Morrow analyzes the roles of not only Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but so many of the creators involved with the birth of Marvel.

For longtime fans, there’s a lot of nostalgia and new information. For new fans, it’s a balanced look at the real-life characters behind the fictional characters they love.

STAR TREK SHIPYARDS STARFLEET STARSHIPS: The Encyclopedia of Starfleet Ships Plus NCC1701 Enterprise

by Ben Robinson and Marcus Reilly, Eaglemoss

Books are great, but when you throw in a toy or two they are even better. Eaglemoss’ thorough book, STAR TREK SHIPYARDS  is a chronological history (even though it’s all about the future) of the Starfleet starshipsThis edition includes a specially packaged with a die-cast collectible, the iconic U.S.S. Enterprise.

This book has it all – from the most obscure ships to the recent additions to the mythology from the STAR TREK: DISCOVERY series.

HASHTAG: DANGER: PANIC ON DINOSAUR MOUNTAIN!

Written by Tom Peyer, Art by Chris Giarrusso and Richard Case.  Cover by Richard Williams, AHOY! Comics

As Tom Peyer says, this collected edition is “Twice the colons! Half the Thrills”. HASHTAG: DANGER is a wickedly funny take on adventurer comics, like Fantastic Four or Challengers of the Unknown. Peyer, always acerbic and witty, starts at “11” and turns up the dial from there.  At the same time, he is somehow able to let his authentic love of the source material shine though. The humor never seems mean-spirited.

Richard Williams, the celebrated MAD artist, brings an element of pseudo realism liberally mixed with kooky absurdity to the covers.

This trade paperback collects all the irreverent HASHTAG: DANGER stories from issues #1-5 of the AHOY! Comics series, plus the back-features from other AHOY! titles like HIGH HEAVEN and CAPTAIN GINGER.

ROD SERLING: HIS LIFE, WORK AND IMAGINATION

by Nick Parisi, University of Mississippi Press

Nick Parisi’s Rod Serling biography isn’t only for fans of The Twilight Zone. It’s also for fans of early television,  scriptwriting and Planet of the Apes. And somehow, Parisi finds a way to celebrate Serling as a persistent entrepreneur – both winning and losing creative and economic battles.  A great read!

STRONGHOLD Vol. 1

Written by Phil Hester Art by Ryan Kelly, Aftershock

Phil Hester’s written a lot of great comics over the years, and Stronghold is another great one. It’s a quirky, creepy take on the Superman legend. This thriller reveals a clandestine organization that monitors the world’s most powerful man. This series blends a conspiracy feel mixed with an us-against-the-world vibe to create a compelling series.

FRESH HELL IN FITS

by Steve Cerio, Psychofon Records

Steve Cerio, a creative innovator and gallery artist who blossomed as part of the old NYC Comix scene, is back with another trippy book.  His newest  is subtitled “A False History of The Residents”, but the imaginative illustrations appeal to art lovers beyond that band’s fan base.  Fresh Hell in Fits is also  available as a special signed collector’s edition (only 33 copies) complete with extra goodies.

This book is best found at the Psychofon Records site: https://www.psychofonrecords.com

BATMAN: THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF THE DARK KNIGHT IN COMICS, FILM AND BEYOND

by Andrew Farago and Gina McIntyre, Insight Editions

This is the type of the book that you start in the morning, and when you look up again it’s getting close to bedtime.  This lovingly thorough history of Batman touches all the bases, provides new information and is loaded with goodies.  I must admit it’s a thrill to be reading about the Batman mobile from 1950s comics, and then to fold-out a set of blueprints.

$75.00 various levels 400 pp. • hardcover  • ISBN-10: 1683834372


Have a fantastic Yuletide season, everyone!

Dennis O’Neil: Deadlines and Ducks

My old friend Danny Fingeroth has nothing to do with the subject of this column, at least I don’t think he has, but we are at the beginning and, you never know maybe some absolutely brilliant idea will occur any second now, an idea with Danny’s name graven on it in fiery letters as big as the cosmos, in which case, I guess, that’s what’d I’d write about.

Hey idea, I’m waiting.

Okay, to hell with you, idea.

And onward. I wanted to get in touch with Mr. Fingeroth because he often knows things I don’t and I wanted to fact-check myself on an assignment that I blew (I think) but I don’t care to scramble names/dates and such. We are, by thunder, in the truth telling business here, citizens (and therefore are not qualified for a job in politics. We’ll live with it.) The immediate problem here is, I want to telephone Danny and people don’t always instantly answer emails and so communication by computer is iffy, leaving the alternative of the phone. But I’ve misplaced Danny’s Rolodex card. Just like me!

Do we have a topic yet, or are we just blathering?

Okay, if the cupboard is bare open the pantry.

What I was hoping to get confirmed by the encyclopedic Mr. F was an article being prepared by another magazine, the ancient kind made of paper and ink (though I do think it has a web presence and don’t I wish that Dan was here to confirm that?!) The editor of this publication was seeking anecdotal information about deadlines and, having been dueling with deadlines on and off since I was a wet-behind-the-ears journalist back in southeast Missouri I thought, sure, I can knock out volumes of copy – both pro and con – about deadlines, so clear the way to the computer!

But I didn’t. One reason might be that, as a general policy, we don’t sling mud in this venue and the ripest of my deadline tales would entail doing just that. Sure, I could and would omit proper nouns or use pseudonyms but my readers are extremely astute and would effortlessly see through such a paltry stratagem and probably think less of me for trying to perpetrate it. And the most egregious deadline flaunters, well…I’m sure others have stories, too, and don’t need mine.

Not that I myself am completely innocent in this matter. I once thought I was and mentioned this in a conversation with the late and beloved Archie Goodwin who was my editor at the time. Archie gently rectified me. I was, indeed, a chronic deadline misser. I always got assignments done in time to keep their dates with the presses, but I was not as prompt as, living in a fool’s paradise, I believed I was. I was, in short, a dumb cluck.

And here we are almost 500 words into whatever this is and still no topic. Feh! And cluck cluck cluck!

 

 

 

Mike Gold: My Timey-Wimey Toddlin’ Town

Well, last Sunday my pal John Ostrander did a lovely and quite informative column around his inability to come up with a topic. And tomorrow, my pal Denny O’Neil has an equally interesting column addressing the same basic issue. So, damn, I’d look pretty lame if I pulled the same stunt today, wouldn’t I?

Yeah, I know. I should be used to that.

So, instead of impressing you with my astonishing ability to wax on for 591 words about how there’s an echo chamber between my ears – it’s August; there’s supposed to be an echo chamber between my ears… or, at least, the Attica! chant – I’m going to write up a couple of paragraphs about a comic book show I’ll be doing in 15 days. Stream of consciousness, to paraphrase Kris Kristofferson, means you have nothing left to lose.

Danny Fingeroth, who’s name will magically reappear in Denny’s column tomorrow, finally found the one way to get me out to Chicago’s Wizard World show August 24 – 27. No, it’s not the availability of that wondrous delight, the Italian beef sammich. I get back to Chicago three or four times a year, so that’s not quite a deal maker.

No, Danny suggested we do a panel about America’s first mammoth Doctor Who convention, held as part of the Chicago Comicon (since sold to Wizard World) way back in 1982. Larry Charet, who, along with Bob Weinberg and me, were sponsors of the Comicon back then and Doctor Who had pretty much just taken a serious hold among American geekdom. We massively underestimated the number of folks who would be interested in attending… by… well… a lot. We made the Chicago Fire Department nervous, which, historically, is a dick move. We made the American Nazi Party nervous as well, but you’ll have to attend our panel in order to find out why.

I believe this was one of the first, if not the first, Doctor Who show that attracted the attention of a 15-year old named John Barrowman, who had been living in nearby Joliet Illinois at the time. John also will be a guest at Wizard World, so hopefully, I’ll be able to find out. Not that we’re taking credit for inspiring the man who became Captain Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and on Torchwood… but, with him no longer part of Arrow (at least for the time being), maybe the good folks at BBC-Wales can get him back to the timey-wimey stuff.

Of course, going home for Wizard World puts me back in the neighborhood of a hell of a lot of friends, as well as a gaggle of good folks that I haven’t pissed off for a while. Writers, artists, retailers, media folks, actors, broadcasters – it’s a fun place to be. And I’ve always had a great time at Wizard World Chicago, even though it’s actually in Rosemont Illinois, a town sandwiched in between the City of Chicago and the Airport of O’Hare. If you go there, check out Rosemont’s water tower and, if there are children around, try not to laugh out loud.

A month later, I’ll be at the Baltimore Comic-Con, one of my favorites. A damn good show run by damn good people.

That’s the reason we started these big comic book shows. Friendship, seeing people from all over the planet and making rude and obnoxious comments about the high price of stabbed comic books.

At least, we think those are comic books in there. Outside of the cover… who knows?

Ed Catto: Inspiring Creativity – 100 years later

This is a little story of a little town that shifted from stoking fear to promoting creativity.

A few days before Christmas 1949, one of the Catholic elementary schools in Auburn, a small town nestled in Central New York state, encouraged children to bring their comic books from home and burn them in a school bonfire. The fear was that reading comics promoting juvenile delinquency. In fact, the school’s principal would even write a positive letter about the burning that was published in the local paper, The Auburn Citizen. This was before those misguided efforts really gained steam, culminating in the 1954 Senate Subcommittee Hearings on Juvenile Delinquency, focusing on comic books.

But a lot has happened since then. The region gave birth to one of the first-generation comic shops. Several more would follow, and recently the town just enjoyed its first comic convention.

And to celebrate the annual Will Eisner Week, Auburn hosted two events. Will Eisner week is a worldwide annual event that celebrates the birth of Will Eisner, called by many the father of Graphic Novels. And to make it special, 2017 marked the centennial celebration.

“Comic books are truly international. Will Eisner Week is celebrated in Angouleme, France to Sofia, Bulgaria, in Amherst, Massachusetts to Winter Park, Florida, in libraries, museums, bookstores, comic book shops, and online. Will Eisner was born in Brooklyn, New York 100 years ago during the Great Depression of first-generation immigrant parents, but even at an early age, he knew that comic books could be literature and would eventually hang on museum walls,” said Carl and Nancy Gropper of the Will & Ann Family Eisner Foundation. “We therefore celebrate sequential art, graphic novels, free speech, and his enduring legacy.”

On Eisner’s actual birthday, I presented an overview of the Will’s career and showed part of the 2008 movie, The Spirit, at The Seymour Memorial Library. This small town library embraces creativity and has a fantastic graphic novel collection. This library was actually designed by the same team who created the iconic New York Public Library, so there’s an impressive majesty to it all. The Library’s Director, Lisa Carr, is an enthusiastic proponent of graphic novels and has worked with Seymour’s Community Services Coordinator Jaclyn Kolb to create this unique event.

The following night, the Auburn Public Theater screened the documentary Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist, followed by a Q & A session. Angela Daddabbo, one of Auburn’s most passionate and creative voices, works hard to ensure that this venue provides a variety of enriching events to the local population.

Geek Culture at large got behind these events too. Paul Levitz donated an autographed copy of his recent book: Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel. Dynamite Entertainment donated comics of Will Eisner’s The Spirit (by Matt Wagner, Dan Schkade and Brennan Wagner) and Will Eisner’s The Spirit: The Corpsemakers #1 (by Francesco Francavilla) as well a hardcover of the recent Will Eisner’s The Spirit collection. Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con awarded three pairs of tickets to lucky attendees for their upcoming June comic convention.

“We’re thrilled by all the events for Will Eisner Week, especially in this Centennial year., in which we have over 100 events worldwide! I’m especially encouraged when new cities, like Auburn, New York, join the celebration,” said author/editor Danny Fingeroth, Chair of Will Eisner Week.

It was an invigorating experience for all involved. And Auburn’s pretty much stopped burning comics.

 

Ed Catto: Podcasts… and an Enduring Favorite

I’ve been driving a lot more since my move to the Finger Lakes and I’ve been trying to use my time wisely. For music, I catch up on Pete Fornatale’s Mixed Bag from WFUV and ComicMix’s own Mike Gold’s Weird Sounds Inside the Gold Mind from The Point Radio. Both offer great tunes and insightful, thoughtful commentary.

And for thoughtful discussion, I’ve been really enjoying John Siuntres’s Word Balloon Podcast. John’s an incredibly passionate interviewer with a deep knowledge of and respect for pop culture and comics. Each week, he sits down to have an extended conversation with a creator. John has the uncanny talents of getting people to open up (often a creator will say “I haven’t told anyone this before”) and for making the listener feel like he or she is part of it all too. When I listen to Word Balloon, I feel like I’m sitting right there with them, but just can’t get a word in edgewise.

Recent interviews have included:

  • Tom King – one of the industry’s hottest writers, talking about his recent work on the Vision and Batman, and all the while framing it against his real life as a husband a father of young kids.
  • Danny Fingeroth – talking about Spider-Man and Will Eisner Week. It was so compelling, that I’m now working with my local librarian on an Eisner Week event. (More on that soon!)
  • Rob Liefeld – a polarizing figure who provides great insight into his creation Deadpool and the box office success of the movie. No longer a “young punk creator,” Rob is now able to offer a unique perspective to his success and the marketplace’s wants and needs
  • Ryan Browne – on Image’s new Curse Words Normally, I have passed over this series, but the passionate discussion and insights on the Word Balloon Podcast got me excited enough to give it a try.
  • Paul Dini – providing great insights into his new animation work on Justice League Action and his Jingle Belle character.

I’ve been doing more writing, and I just finished my first article for TwoMorrow’s Back Issue! magazine. Editor Michael Eury asked me to write about the 80s comic series from DC called Thriller. Created by Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden, Thriller was one of those innovative series that DC launched during the excitement of non-traditional comics like Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns & Ronin, Barr and Boland’s Camelot 3000, and Howard Chaykin’s The Shadow. During my research, it was amazing to find out how many fans fondly remember Thriller too.

Maybe it was the tagline. Fans vividly remember how the series announced, “She has seven seconds to save the world!” This actually had a double meaning. On one hand, Trevor Von Eeden’s innovative page layouts pushed the reader along the page with a real sense of urgency. And we were all soon to find out that the main character had seven agents, called “seconds” that she guided on her Mission: Impossible-like adventures.

Maybe it was characters. Robert Loren Fleming packed Thriller with so many unique characters. Most series would build a story around one fresh new protagonist. Fleming had eight heroes, two villains and another half-dozen supporting characters that the reader was dying to learn more about. And that was just in the first story arc.

Maybe it was the creative risks the creators took. Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden were trying something new and different. They took risks on a very public stage. They didn’t play it safe. They gave it 110% and left it all onstage. We all can applaud that. And even after all these years, that’s just so very impressive.

And I was able to dig up some fantastic insights and track down the startling truth behind a secret Thriller rumor. Back Issue! #98, focusing on DC in the 80s, will be on sale this July, just in time for San Diego Comic-Con. It should be a lot of fun.

Ed Catto: Planning for Geek

There’s a big year ahead in Geek Culture with lots to look forward to. Upon reflection, I feel like should have more clearly defined plans.

Cosplayers are the best at looking ahead and especially planning their convention attendance. The inherent creativity and creation of cosplay demands disciplined convention selection and scheduling. Cosplay entails developing elaborate timelines so that cosplayers have the necessary time to envision, plan, purchase materials and sew and/or assemble their cosplay costumes. And of course, so many cosplayers create multiple costumes. The finished products are impressive, and the work it takes to get there is impressive.

I’d like to attend several conventions this year and have my favorites. But in general, I find myself really looking forward to the smaller ones. That might be just because I’ve had so many great experiences at the big ones. And as a very impatient guy, I hate waiting in lines but I kind of like those big crowds at big shows.

But I think there’s something else going on.

There are many small shows that are very professionally run. They serve as a counterbalance to the chaotic frenzy of the larger comic-cons. Maybe their growth is part of the emerging “shop local” or “homegrown” trends. So, for me, shows like Ithacon, NJ Comic Expo, Salt City Comic-Con and Awesome Con are all on the radar this year.

There also bog two centennial birthdays to celebrate this year.

March marks the annual Will Eisner Week. Danny Fingeroth and The Eisner Foundation organize of series events nationwide at Comic Shops and libraries. I’d like to get one going locally, in fact. I never tire of Eisner’s work and we can all continue to argue about the validity or obsolescence of the term “graphic novel.”

Jack Kirby, the King of Comics, was born 100 years ago too. The more we understand the vast tapestry of comic creators, the more we can appreciate the many creators who contributed to comics. In fact, sometimes I’m surprised when speaking to industry professionals or historians, and they’ll casually categorize Kirby as a creator, just like any other.  That’s probably a rational way to approach the man and his work, but…

I was part of the generation that was taught to revere all his work. We believed all the hype. “Don’t ask: Just Buy It!” was a command we eagerly obeyed.

One event I’m looking forward to is the clever Kirby-themed issue of Back Issue! just announced, even though it’s not scheduled for publication until 2018. Back Issue! #104 is all about “The Fourth World After Kirby,” and the articles will be focusing on all the series and creators that followed in Kirby’s huge footsteps.

And there’s one other artist that I’m definitely going to have to learn about this year.

Two weeks ago, Disney and Warner Brothers artist Tyrus Wong died at the age of 106. The New York Times reported his passing on the front page. As a Chinese American, Wong suffered great hardships and bias throughout his life, but somehow he managed to become the guiding creative force behind Disney’s Bambi. He worked in the Warner Bros animation division for years after that.  His artistic vision was so great that he even contributed to live action films like Rebel Without A Cause and The Sands of Iwo Jima.

Wong has been given overdue credit, most notably in major exhibition at the Disney Family Museum and in a documentary called Tyrus. But most of his life seemed defined by enduring racial prejudice while producing incredible artwork. I’m looking forward to learning more about this fascinating artist.

These are my shoot-from-hip plans for Geek Culture in 2017. What are yours?

Mike Gold: Sweet Home Comicon

Mike Gold Boba Hawk

Last week, I reported in this space I was about to leave for Wizard World – Chicago, well-known to readers as my home town and the first love of my life. I got back late yesterday, when I wrote (or will write, depending upon your concept of consensual reality) these fabled words, a heartbeat before deadline.

We ComicMixers (Glenn, Brandy, Marc and me) had a swell time, some of it actually at the convention. We met all kinds of people who were interested in ComicMix Pro Services, which gives me hope, and I got a chance to catch up with a whole lot of friends. Unbelievably awesome meals with; Wednesday, Alex Ross, Hilary Barta, Monte Beauchamp and Jim Wiznewski; Thursday, Dean Haspiel, Danny Fingeroth, J.J. Sedelmaier and Rivet Radio’s Charlie Meyerson; Friday, Ty Templeton and KT Smith; Saturday, if I told you I’d have to kill you; Sunday, The Unshavens. Nothing makes me happier with my clothes on than fine conversation, and I was truly lucky to break bread with all these folks. Including the people I can’t tell you about. Yet.

I was on two panels – a ComicMix Pro Services Tells You How To Get Press For Your Comic Book panel where we got to meet even more talented indy writers and artists, and the Chicago Comics History Panel with Danny and J.J., Larry Charet, Ron Massingill, and the completely wonderful Maggie Thompson. It dawned on me that I’ve been going to conventions since 1968 and Maggie has been going to them… well, longer, but this is the first time we were on a panel together. That simply defies the odds. I’d crawl over a mile of broken glass to do a panel with Maggie.

That latter panel provided the opportunity to do a nice and extremely well-deserved tribute to my former partner, First Comics Co-Creator Rick Obadiah. That was very cathartic, and Rick would have enjoyed it. He wouldn’t have believed it, but he would have enjoyed it nonetheless.

I haven’t done too many shows this year, far fewer than usual. That was fine, but it was great to see fans and old friends and about twelve thousand cosplayers dressed as Deadpool. Next show: the Baltimore Comic-Con, in Baltimore (hey, Wizard World – Chicago was in Rosemont) September 25 through 27. I love that show.

One more thing. Shortly before Wizard World closed on Sunday, I was handed the opportunity to take the above picture with Boba Hawk. As a lifetime Chicago Blackhawks fan, that was… well, you can see for yourself in the photo. No, Svengoolie wasn’t there, but I wore his t-shirt anyway. It glows in the dark, and at a comics convention, one can never tell.

Mike Gold’s Off To See The Wizard

chicago_comiccon_logo

I haven’t done as many comics conventions this year as I usually do. By the end of 2015, I think I will have been to maybe five. That’s less than half of what I did a decade ago.

It’s not that I don’t like comics conventions; in fact, I love them. Most of the larger shows really aren’t about comics. They are pop culture shows, much like ComicMix is a pop culture website. We differ in that ComicMix is a pop culture website for comic book enthusiasts and the comics medium is our focus. ReedPop, to note but one, runs clusterfuck shows in New York, Chicago, Seattle, India (several; it’s a big place), Singapore, Sydney, Paris, Indonesia, Vienna, and probably Mongo. These shows have little to do with comics, the ReedPop staff acts like they wouldn’t know a comic book if it bit them on the ass and probably wouldn’t get my Mongo reference without Googling, and they seem as though they couldn’t care less. If you’re real nice to them and try to explain to them a different point of view, they might actually patronize you. And among comics pros, mine is not a minority opinion.

Yeah. I know. There goes my chance at scoring pro invites to Mumbai. I’ve been to their shows; I’ll live.

So it’s probably a bit surprising that this weekend (Thursday though Sunday) I’ll be at Wizard World Chicago, which is really in Rosemont but next to O’Hare International. Yes, Wizard World is a pop culture convention. I’m going for any number of reasons: Chicago is my home town so it’s an excuse to see my many buddies in the midwest comics field, it is an outgrowth of the old Chicago Comicon which I co-founded and worked on for ten years, it really has a massive comics focus and one of the best Artists Alleys around… and because my pal and Wizard World consultant Danny Fingeroth asked.

For the record, ComicMix is at table #1024 at the show, and I’ll be on two panels: the How To Get News Coverage panel on Saturday at 12:30 that ComicMix is running , and the Chicago Comics History panel on Sunday at 12:30. Check the con schedule; these things have a way of changing. I’ll be sharing the stage with a great number of close friends.

And the food. Damn, I need an Italian beef sammich.

This is not the only big show I enjoy. For example, I love the Baltimore Comic Con and I love Heroes Con in Charlotte North Carolina. I also really enjoy the smaller cons that are oriented to independent comics creators such as MoCCA in New York City. These shows are full of people who couldn’t care less who’s drawing next week’s Spider-Man but love the medium every bit as much as… well, as I do. By and large they’re young and full of enthusiasm and they put their money where their mouths are. Over the years we’ve hired a decent amount of talent at these shows.

If you happen to be at Wizard World Chicago, or you happen to be in or near Chicago this weekend, drop by and say hello. We look at portfolios when we can, we’re usually polite and we only bite when we’re hungry.

Or when the moon is full.

 

 

Mindy Newell: The Amazing Adventure Of Mohall And Newell

So today (Sunday, which is yesterday), Editor Mike sent me a link to a column on The Jewish Daily Forward’s website which asks the question “Do Marvel Movies Have An Anti-Semitic Problem?” – which also happens to be the dumbest article I’ve ever read on their site.

Granted, The Forward – which was born way back in 1867 as a Yiddish language daily newspaper published by dissidents from the Socialist Labor Party – is a left-leaning paper whose heart and soul is the Jewish-American experience, with strong ties to Israel, and its articles are purposely written with that audience as its primary target. And granted, The Forward has not been the only news media outlet that has noted and remarked upon the recent rebirth of overt and increasingly violent anti-Semitism around the globe, especially in Europe. And yes, The Forward should be praised in its unadulterated and unabridged journalism that consistently calls out the perpetrators.

But sometimes the paper looks for boogey-men where no such creatures exist. And in this article, author Susan Mohall is not only trying to lasso the moon but gets critical facts wrong – such as stating that Stan Lee was born in Romania.

Excuse me, Ms. Mohall, but Mr. Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber) was born on December 28, 1922 in New York City, specifically an apartment house at the corner of West 98th Street and West End Avenue. Our pal Danny Fingeroth, former Marvel Comics editor and writer and author of Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero and – by the way – co-author of The Stan Lee Universe, confirmed this to Editor Mike.

Susan Mohall apparently takes umbrage at the fact that the Jewish characters of the Marvel movies don’t go around with yellow Stars of David on their clothing identifying them as Jews:

In the comics, Kitty’s Jewish heritage is extremely important to her. In the movies, her Jewish identity isn’t even mentioned. In “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which introduces us to Pietro and Wanda – a.k.a. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch – the omission is even more blatant. The film portrays Wanda as a baby (despite the fact that the two are twins in the comics) and her name is never even mentioned. Quicksilver’s Jewish identity is at least alluded to.

 “After rescuing Magneto, Quicksilver implies that Magneto might be his father, but if you don’t already know that, then this moment goes by so quickly that it hardly matters as a relevant part of Quicksilver’s character. Quicksilver’s name was also Westernized from Pietro to Peter in an attempt to erase not only Pietro’s Jewish identity but his Romani identity as well.”

Oh, God, I’m so frustrated and annoyed that I wish that I could write this in all caps!!!! Instead I will use numerous exclamation points to assert my impatience with this idiot!!!!! Susan, my dear woman, the X-Men are mutants!!!! For over 50 years mutants have been Marvel’s superhero stand-ins for every single person who has ever been ostracized from society!!!! Ostracized and abused and tortured and killed for their religion, the color of their skin, their political beliefs, their birthplace!!!!

Ms. Mohall also accuses The Powers That Be behind the Marvel cinematic universe of focusing on Magneto as a Jewish villain:

The only character in the X-Men franchise whose Jewish identity is ever specifically mentioned and explored is Magneto. In the first X-Men movie we see Magneto being taken away to a concentration camp, and in X-Men: First Class we see Magneto hunting down and killing Nazis. Magneto also uses his own experiences with prejudice as a Jewish man to justify his violent motives. But while Magneto is a well-written and complex character, he is still a villain who murders people and uses his background to justify it. Having another Jewish character to challenge Magneto would have been excellent storytelling. Instead what we get is the erasing of all other characters’ Jewish identities and the only character who is identified as Jewish is our murderous villain.

Okay here come some more exclamation marks!!!!! My dear Susan, you are beyond words in your ridiculousness!!!! Didn’t you at the least read Exodus?!!!! I’m sorry to have to enlighten you, my dear, but Jews are quite capable of murdering and other quite immoral acts!!!! Please tell me that you have heard of the Irgun!!!! The “paramilitary” organization that splintered away from the Haganah during the Palestinian Mandate (1931 – 1948) and conducted terrorist activities like blowing up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on July 22, 1946 because it was a base for the British occupation!!!!

You do know that Menachim Begin, signer of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty with Anwar Sadat, was a member of the Irgun!!!!! Susan, sweetheart, I guess you never heard of Operation: Wrath of God, in which the Israeli government authorized the Mossad to terminate the perpetrators of the Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes!!!! Steven Spielberg made a movie based on it!!! It’s called Munich!!! I suggest you watch it!!!!

Okay, take a breath, Mindy. Count to 10.

The author also accuses Marvel Studios of “white-washing” HYDRA from its Nazi roots.

“Why is HYDRA’s identity as a Neo-Nazi organization completely sanitized in the movies?…HYDRA originates during World War II as part of the Nazis military. However, Red Skull, the leader of the organization, wants to run things and turns HYDRA into his own terrorist group. But he is never not a Nazi, and HYDRA never abandons Nazi beliefs. From the movies, you would glean that HYDRA just wants totalitarian power. The Nazi part is glossed over. It’s as if the producers are worried about the potential fallout of comparing HYDRA to the Third Reich, which is just so strange, especially since Nazis are the perfect villain. Everyone hates them”

Oh, Susan. I guess you never saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier and you never have watched Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. HYDRA evolved, my dear. It’s gotten smarter, its adapted, it’s gotten smoother – just as our own rat-fuckers learned from Watergate – but it is certainly is still fascist, and it’s certainly not “shy[ing] away from its Nazi roots.”

And, Ms. Susan Mohall, I would certainly be surprised if you have read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, the 2001 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Michael Chabon, which tells the (fictionalized) story of the birth of Marvel and the U.S. comics industry, which was 99.9% midwived into life by the sons (and some daughters) of Jewish immigrants.

Including Mr. Stanley Martin Lieber.

And by the way, you forgot to mention Jack Kirby.

Born Jacob Kurtzberg.

 

Mindy Newell: Who Are You?

“Whooooooooo are you? Who? Who? Who, Who?”

WHO ARE YOU
Composed by Pete Townsend
The Who, 1978

Picking up from last week

All our super-powered mythic creations, whether hero or villain, man or woman, are avatars—whether we realize it or not.

Superman, of course, is the Big Kahuna avatar of comics. Every corrupt politician that Superman put in jail, each mobster who pulled a gun and watched the bullets bounce off Superman’s chest, every misogynistic wise-ass jerk who insulted a woman and was punished by Superman was really being punished by these two bookish, nebbishy, and schlemiel-y kids from Cleveland, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, who weren’t able to fight the anti-Semites or win the gorgeous goyishe blonde.  I doubt very much either of them were consciously aware of the psycho-sociological underpinnings of their alien hero who would capture the world’s imagination, but it’s all there, as many critics and writers, including Danny Fingeroth, Jules Feiffer, Grant Morrison, Scott Bakutman of Stanford University, and A. C. Grayling of The Spectator have noted.  Grayling’s article, “The Philosophy of Superman: A Short Course”, discusses the need for a Superman over the decades since his creation in the 1930’s, including the early 21st century and events post-9/11, stating that:

…caught between the terrifying George W. Bush and the terrorist Osama bin Laden, America is in earnest need of a Saviour for everything from the minor inconveniences to the major horrors of world catastrophe. And here he is, the down-home clean-cut boy in the blue tights and red cape.

Others more erudite than I am may have used more polysyllabic pronouncements when analyzing the characterization of the Man of Steel, but I will say that he is a fugue, an escape, an exodus into a world in which, simply put, the good guys win.

Depending on your definition of “the good guys,” of course.

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