Tagged: Dick Sprang

Marc Alan Fishman: So How Do I Get My Kids Into Comics?

Last week I got a little hot and bothered over Dan DiDio and Jim Lee’s declaration that their holy trinity (and let’s assume all the rest of their ilk) were being introduced to would-be-suitors for the third time via the printed page. They sought to make the comic shop the first meeting point between the kiddos (you), and their heroes (you know, the ones with the muscles and tights). Simply put, it’s a cute idea but it’s pretty much impossible to pull off.

It leads me to this week, where my good friend (and real-life Wolverine) Todd asked me point blank: so how do I get my kids into comics? Well, bub, here’s my step-by-step guide:

  1. Let the TV, movies, or the Internet be that first touchpoint.

Let’s not split hairs here. It’s astoundingly simple to flip on a show, YouTube clip, or take the family to the matinee. Especially for pre-literate wee-ones. The screen is a part of their lives from birth unless you’re one of those holier-than-thou-hipster-parents who turn your noses to such savagery. You can’t shake a stick these days without hitting something comic related that will speak to your li’l lads or lasses. Ray gun to my maw? Teen Titans Go! is as great a place to start as any. Proof in point: My five-year old has been watching since the pilot aired, and still regularly calls me “Dude” because of it. When a show/clip/movie hits the mark, you’ve got the spark.

  1. Now, take that spark, and add some kindling

For me personally, it was stumbling over the Adam West Batman – more specifically the Dick Sprang inspired animated intro that truly made me pause and glue myself to the set – that would lead to my first foray into comicdom years later. Had I a time-machine I’d find that younger me and immediately take that newfound curiosity and stoke a fire with actual comics.

Much the same, I propose that when your wee-one has sunk their teeth into a character, it’s time to take their love to the page. If Teen Titans tipped their curiosity, introduce them to Tiny Titans. It’s just as funny, just as accessible, and widens the breadth of known commodities with aplomb. Or, take a horizontal swing from the Titans to their adult counterparts. The Justice League comes in a veritable rainbow of iterations – one is bound to suit the proclivities of your scions.

  1. Now, put those kids in a helicopter, and rise above the ground

A few movies or TV shows got them hooked. The comic (or related adapted kids books, etc.) hinted at a larger landscape. Now, with them invested… show them the world! The best part of the age in which we live now is the access afforded to anyone with an attention span. To like Teen Titans Go! is to like team action adventures. From that single precipice, you can leap across the aisle to Avengers or X-Men. Or, be bolder, and let your hellspawn into the realms of the smaller creator-owned fodder. I’d give a kid Molly Danger a hundred times out of ninety-nine versus anything Marvel or DC published. The key here is simple: A trip to the comic shop should come with an invitation to be curious.

Even if the words are above their pay-grade, comics have pictures for a reason. Give your kids the keys to a castle choked to the moats with possibilities. Now, all that’s left is to close the deal with a pair of key action items.

  1. Take your kids to A Comic Con

Be it big or small, a full weekender or just a day-trip, attending a comic con is a rite of passage every lover of pulp and paper should take in. In the real world, comic heroes may be mainstream but the books they hail from are still a niche market. They open up the realm of the fandom to innocent eyes. The very first time I went to the Wizard World Chicago show, it felt literally larger than life. In a convention hall bursting at the seams with comics, toys, cartoons, and anything else I could imagine, it was seeing thousands of like-minded ne’er-do-wells rifling through long boxes, and debating at panels that really stuck with me. To know that beyond those at my local shop, there existed a community gave me a sense of self that stoked the eventual fire to become a creator. Which leads me straight away to my last suggestion.

  1. Give them a piece of a paper, a pencil, and an assignment

“Now, you make me a comic!”

Let their mind run wild. There’s a visceral universe living and breathing behind the cookie crumbs and desire to play video games. For those you are trying to will into nerdery, I offer no better advice than to invite them to create. When a child becomes the owner of an idea, I believe it bonds them not only intrinsically to the notion itself but to the world from which it stems. Be it anime, a random cartoon, a specific action figure, Lego playset, or, yes, a comic book. Give them the task, and open the floodgates. Before too long, you’ll be taking them to the comic shop on the regular, you know… for reference.



Dennis O’Neil: Hunky Dory on the Potomac?

So this is the bardo, huh? Let’s look around… big Dick Sprang Batman print on the wall, lots of books, big repro of a Green Lantern/Green Arrow cover. Statuettes of comic book characters here and here, exercise gear, computer… You know, it looks a lot like my house, this bardo does.

Whoa! You, over there, perched on one of the Himalayas (can never tell the damn things apart) – yes you, the Tibetan dude, stop with the sneering, okay? I mean, how do you know that a bardo doesn’t look like my house? You ever seen a bardo? Has anyone seen a bardo and returned to report on it? No and no!

So keep your attitude to yourself!

Is that a hand I see raised? Okay, we have time to kill. (In fact, if we’re really inside a bardo, time may not exist.) You have a question?

What the heck is a bardo?

Where’d you learn to speak italics? Never mind. To address your question: I’ll give you a rough, back-of-the-envelope definition and you can resort to Google if you want more. According to Tibetan beliefs, a bardo is where your soul goes after it sheds its body and is not yet reincarnated in another. A region of waiting. Waiting for what? For whatever comes next.

(No more dumb questions, please.)

Bardo is one of my favorite tropes because it expresses situations in which we sometimes find ourselves. It’s a bit stronger than plain old “waiting” because, for me, it expresses not only waiting, but not knowing what you’re waiting for.

And doesn’t that just about say it all! I’d offer the proposition that, ever since November 7, most of us have been existing in a bardo state. Let’s agree, at least until I finish this sentence, we human Americas have lived through the worst case scenario. And?

Most everything in daily life is as-per-usual. But if we’re the kind of anachronisms who read newspapers or are the more common variety of carbon-based American life forms who get our news from television, we’re aware that things aren’t hunky dory on the Potomac. Those questionable appointments, that chumminess with Russia, that skipping of important meetings and ego-fraught tweets and belligerence toward China… Nothing has happened to give us hope that the situations won’t get worse after the inauguration when a huge lump of power lands in the lap of the guy in the red tie.

Meanwhile… hey, nice bardo we got here! But could we eliminate whatever’s tainting the air? It smells a lot like anxiety… and I don’t like it at all.

Joe Corallo: The Joker’s Name

darkdetective1This past weekend was WonderCon out in LA. DC made many announcements about it’s upcoming Rebirth, some of which we already had some idea about. Now we were given information on creative teams, like Scott Snyder heading up All-Star Batman with rotating artists including Sean Murphy and Paul Pope, and James Tynion IV taking the reigns on the soon to be back-numbered Detective Comics. One of the other Bat family announcements was that they will soon be revealing the Joker’s name.


The short answer is that Batman found out his name when he asked that question on the Möbius chair in Justice League #42 (42, the answer to the ultimate question of life. Coincidence?). The long answer is a combination of figuring out how to handle a decades old franchise coupled with changes in audience expectations.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. Don’t we already know the Joker’s name? Many comic historians will tell you that the Joker is Jerry Robinson. Some out there may still argue his name is Bill Finger or even Bob Kane. Or maybe it was Conrad Veidt?

His name has changed many times over the years. Dick Sprang, Carmine Infantino, Denny O’Neil (Hi Denny!), Neal Adams, and many others. Personally, I liked when the Joker was both Marshall Rogers and Steve Englehart. Maybe sharing two minds helped to fuel his insanity. In more recent years, he’s gone by Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Grant Morrison, Dave McKean, Tony Daniel, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and many other names.

Conrad Veidt JokerThere are some purists out there who will tell you that no, the Joker only has one name. They’ll argue with you that his one true name is Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill, or Heath Ledger. Some new Joker worshippers are even claiming that his real name has been Jared Leto all along. Perhaps we’ll find out soon enough.

Now that I’ve had my fun, I’ll address the long answer to that question (kind of the sort of thing the Joker does, isn’t it?) of why we are finding out the Joker’s name. The real answer is we’ve changed a lot as a society. Part of that is entertainment is different. Oddly enough, in the disposable age where we create more garbage than ever, the one thing we won’t discard is a story.

Way back in May of 1939 when Batman debuted, back when the United States was only comprised of the continental 48, comics were not intended to be reprinted the way they are today. Audiences were not expected to stick around either. No one imagined that a nine-year old reading Batman would still follow that character for decades to come. All of that came later. Television was the same way. People used to just pump out television programs and if an episode was rushed and turned out to be pretty bad, who cares! People will forget by next week. Who would ever see it again?

Now that’s all changed. We’ve gone back and we’ve read many of those stories. We’ve tried to make continuity out of stories that were never intended to have any originally because we demand that the world makes sense. We even demand that the Joker makes sense. Part of making the Joker make sense is giving him a name.

Detective_Comics_475Personally, I have less than no interest in the Joker’s name. Just tell me a good story with the character. That’s not the point of the Joker. Audiences want it though. Or we think they do. In the age of the Internet, people want to know everything about the things they like. Many people “keep up” with comics by reading wiki entries of storylines at this point. Maybe it’ll sell a few comics too.

In defense of the decision to reveal the Joker’s name, audiences do appreciate an immersive world and I do appreciate that and I even enjoy that myself. Escapism is easier in a fully fleshed out world that we can imagine. When imaginary worlds leave out pieces of information like that, it can be harder to be immersed in that world. Plus, selling a few comics isn’t and shouldn’t be a bad thing. Having issues of comics sell big in this market helps to allow the wiggle room to try more experimental comics or to keep a critically acclaimed comic that might not be selling as well afloat for a few more months.

Either way, we’re finding out his name whether we like it or not. I could have sworn Tim Burton already told us his name was Jack. I don’t see why Burton would lie to us.

Marc Alan Fishman’s Top 10 Batman Cartoons of All Time*

Batman TAS

As we near the debut of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Sepia Tones my mind races towards those pure gems of the Dark Knight that already exist in the ether of Animatia. Animatia is, of course, the fictitious country where all cartoons come from. Paul Dini is the dictator there – as he should be – and he rules with a dynamically drawn fist. And here, on this wonderful island, sit the tomes that built a generation of Bat-fans. Some (me) would say these tomes were truly the best generation of adaptations and explorations of Batman. I’d like to pontificate, ruminate, and extrapolate to you those episodes of Batman: The Animated Series (and The New Batman Adventures) that truly defined a cartoon legacy.

1 and 2. Two-Face (Parts 1 and 2)

Of all the designs Bruce Timm would bring to light for the Dark Night, it was Two-Face who took the prize in my mind for the most striking. Up to that point I personally had no knowledge of Harvey Dent. Being introduced to him a mere five episodes earlier, I’d figured the Gotham DA to be the fastidious order in Bruce Wayne’s reenactment of Law & Order. With this chilling origin story though, Alan Burnett and Randy Rogel show a deeply scarred man come to terms with is inner demons made flesh. The fact that Batman was just a step or two behind the explosion that would lose him a great friend to villainy was the kind of mature punch I wasn’t expecting in a children’s program. Keep that in mind as we continue our journey.

  1. Feat of Clay (Part 2)

Origin stories were B:TAS‘s most potent products of the series. While I could hit on so many points already listed with Two Face, here, it’s really the ending sequence of the second half of Clayface’s debut that earns it a spot on my all-time top ten. As Matt Hagen is confronted with a bank of TV’s mocking his present malleable form with the visage of a career’s worth of characters, he can no longer hold a single form. The muscle memory of his Clayface form jerks and contorts Hagen into a gloppy nightmare as a tenderized Batman seeks solace in the back of the bay. With no other option to stop the cacophony, Clayface electrocutes himself into unconsciousness – but not before he snarks to Batman that he would have killed for a death scene like the one he just performed. Natch.

  1. Almost Got ‘Im

Quentin Tarantino, eat your heart out! The key line here “And then I threw a rock at ‘im!”… “It was a big rock.”

  1. House and Garden

Simply put, if you don’t find yourself disturbed at Poison Ivy’s children mutating into plant monsters, then there’s just no hope for you. Again we’re presented with a concept no kids’ cartoon would touch prior, or frankly, afterwards. Was it all in service to megalomaniac super-villainy? Sure. But when you see the carefully placed seeds of doubt – that Ivy might have actually wanted normalcy at some point in her prior life – then you know that behind the ass-kickery is an artful commentary on the biological desire to procreate.

  1. Harley’s Holiday

While Mark Hamill’s Joker is the Joker of pop culture (in my opinion), it was the creation of Harley Quinn that deserves the recognition on my list. Here, amidst some obviously campy comedy, comes a deeper heart and message. That the broken Dr. Quinzelle still lingers somewhere beneath the makeup and madness. And while Mad Love would likely steal a spot on anyone else’s list, it’s the quick decent into villainy here that earns the episode my love. Harley truly tried to reform. But the universe had other plans.

  1. Deep Freeze

Mr. Freeze is forced to turn Walt Disney into an immortal life himself. OK, it’s not actually Disney, but… yeah. The final image of Grant Walker frozen on the ocean floor for eternity is frozen in my mind for the sheer ironic terror it invokes.

  1. Growing Pains

I think it should be clear: most of my favorite moments from the show all curtail towards the mature. Such is life. Here, Robin (Tim Drake, now), is duped into saving a little girl afraid of her evil father. The dad? Clayface. The daughter? Just an extension of malleable mud, played perfectly by the former actor. Robin? Never the same again.

  1. Legends of the Dark Knight

Look, I know I put another anthology on this list, but c’mon. Dini and his crew were able to capture the essence of Frank Miller, Dick Sprang, and Bill Finger in 22 minutes. That’s not just a novel approach to presentation. That’s a master class in adaptation.

  1. Perchance to Dream

Laren Bright, Michael Reaves, and Joe R. Lansdale deserve the highest kudos. We drop into the episode in medias res (yet another mature presentation choice, for kids cartoon show). Things feel off. Bruce Wayne’s life isn’t as it should be. He’s happily in a romantic relationship.  But the words in the paper are illegible. Confused, he stares out to the skyline. And Batman swings past him. The tension reaches a boiling point. And then, Thomas Wayne gently offers his hand to his adult son, Bruce, in comfort. The needle scratches on the record of the young minds watching. The Mad Hatter has captured the actual Batman in a dream machine, whilst he pilfers and plunders Gotham City. Before the dream can end (with Bruce Wayne pitching himself into oblivion), the Hatter appears. “I was willing to give you any life you wanted… Just so you’d stay out of mine!” Consider my mind blown, and my heart stolen for an amazing moment captured in celluloid.

* Please note: I figured I should finally title my article with a super link-baity trap like this to lure the unsuspecting and angry public to my musings. Suffice to say the list above represents just my opinion. If you don’t share that opinion, clearly, you are wrong and you should feel ashamed that you’d dare disagree with me.