R.I.P. Arthur Curry– better known to the rest of the comics reading world as Aquaman.
In today’s Dick Tracy comic strip, by DC Comics veteran Joe Staton and Mike Curtis, aquarium director Arthur Curry is revealed to have been murdered. Arthur Curry is the secret identity of Aquaman. Even miscolored, you’ll notice the resemblence, right down to the scales on his shirt.
Curry was killed by a villain named Phishface a few strips earlier. We look forward to Dick Tracy bringing the killer to justice in the days and weeks ahead– and we are even more amazed that the killer wasn’t Geoff Johns.
Let the laments commence; it’s official – John Carter is a flop. Looks like the movie’s makers will take a $200,000,000 bath.
We finally trekked north to the monsterplex and settled ourselves to witness a showing of the flop before anyone was certain of its flophood. We did, and we left the theater and got into Mari’s car and drove south and were home.
We’d seen the film. And felt very little. We’d seen it and there didn’t seem to be a whole lot more to say.
Leaving the theater, I wasn’t irritated, or insulted. If I wanted to write a quibbly review I probably could – look ye hard and ye can find garbage, brethren; yeah, the writing was flattish and somehow the fabricated world seemed to be just a jot too fabricated. But nothing on the screen was godawful. The shots were in focus. The effects were okay. The acting was serviceable, except for that of Lynn Collins, whose performance was pretty interesting. (What would she do with Lady MacBeth?) The rest of it was what it was and –
Maybe that’s my problem. What it was was a heaping of déjà vu. I wonder how I would have enjoyed the flick if I hadn’t seen Star Wars in all its manifestations. I guess I can no longer be entertained by cinematic spectacle movies merely as spectacle, even when it’s in 3D. I’m sated with exploding spacecraft and after the baddies did in a whole planet in the first Star Wars…well, pretty hard act to follow, no?
Like a kid who’s been taken to one magic show to many, I’m jaded. (Another friggin’ rabbit?)
Here’s a scenario wrapped in a question: What if a temporal glitch moved John Carter back in time…oh, say, 65 years – moved it to the screen of a small neighborhood picture show (and there were a lot of them, back then.) The stuff we take for granted – exploding planets and the like–would have been absolutely astonishing because nobody would have ever seen anything remotely like it. What effect would seeing even a reel or two of a modern sci-fi film have on the minds of those who paid their money to see Dick Tracy’s Dilemma? (And isn’t that Joe O’Neil’s kid in the third row?) Would they immediately start a new religion? Would they go collectively bonkers? Or would they all go into a fugue state from which they would emerge only after Dick Tracy had reclaimed the screen and when they got home remember only Dick, believing that nothing had interrupted the detective’s pursuit of The Claw?
But wait! How do we know that this didn’t happen?
Allow me one more speculation: What if the memory of the time traveling flick wasn’t entirely erased, but survived as a nugget deep deep deep in some subconscious, a nugget that influenced the life of its host and drove him into a degraded life of writing science fiction and comic books? Wouldn’t that be strange? But – wouldn’t it explain an awful lot?
One of the last of the founding fathers of comic books, writer/editor/artist/publisher Joe Simon, died yesterday at the age of 98.
Joe was the first editor at Marvel Comics, then called Timely Comics. After creating Captain America with artist Jack Kirby, the team moved over to DC Comics to create the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion, the Boy Commandos, and Manhunter and take over the Sandman feature. The “Simon and Kirby” team were the first to receive regular cover credit. In the past several years, both Marvel and DC has reprinted all of this material in hardcover.
After World War II, the team reunited to form their own comics imprints, Prize Comics and Mainline Publications. In those endeavors they created the romance comic (Young Romance) and published titles including Boys’ Ranch, Black Magic, Bullseye, Foxhole, In Love, Police Trap and Young Love. They also created what at first was a knock-off of their own Captain America titled Fighting American. By the end of the first issue, Fighting American became a straight-forward yet satirical series lampooning the excesses of the anti-Communist hysteria at the time.
Their final creative collaborations occurred after the team formally split up following the dissolving of their imprints: they created The Adventures of the Fly and The Double Life of Private Strong (a.k.a. The Shield) for Archie Comics at the end of the 1950s, which was another knock-off of their Captain America, complete with military theme.
On his own, Joe Simon did an enormous amount of work for his friend Al Harvey and Harvey Comics, including covers to many of their newspaper reprint titles such as Dick Tracy and co-creating their short-lived mid-60s superhero line. More significant, in 1960 Joe created one of the few successful Mad Magazine imitations, Sick. It differed from most of the many, many competitors of the era in that Sick was both well-drawn and actually funny.
Returning to DC Comics at the end of the 1960s, he created and edited Prez, Brother Power the Geek, Outsiders, and The Green Team, and reunited with Jack Kirby for a one-shot featuring their take on Sandman.
His autobiography, [[[Joe Simon: My Life in Comics]]], was published earlier this year by Titan Books. Preceding that was a personal history of comics, [[[The Comic Book Makers]]], was co-written with his son Jim.
In the past several years, Titan Books has been publishing The Simon and Kirby Library, starting with [[[The Best of Simon and Kirby]]] and continuing with [[[The Simon and Kirby Superheroes]]], [[[Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics]]], and [[[The Simon and Kirby Library: Crime]]]. This series was compiled and edited by Joe’s long-time friend and agent, Steve Saffel.
Joe was the recipient of the Inkpot Award in 1998 and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame award the following year.
Joe Simon was one of a handful of creators without whom the American comic book field would not be as we know it today. To say he will be greatly missed would be to overstate the obvious.
Fickle little bastards that we are, most of the hubbub around the American comics world has been revolving around DC’s New 52. Is it any good? Are any any good? Which ones really suck? Which title has the most breasts? It’s all great publicity in the short term; nobody’s talking about Marvel Comics.
Marvel movies are another matter. But, this week, that would be a digression, even though the first Avengers trailer was just released.
The House of Ideas (anybody remember that catch phrase?) is in the middle of two Big Events – three, if you count whatever the hell is going on with the X-Men titles. They seem to be going through their own new 52. Or perhaps new 104. There’s so many of these books I couldn’t read them all even if I were Pietro Maximov. So, this week, the X-titles are a digression.
I’ll admit I started off liking both the Fear Itself and Spider-Island Big Events. Neither were spectacular, awesome, incredible, nor uncanny, but both were good solid superhero dramas in the Marvel motif. Not everything has to be better than ever and “good solid” is just fine most of the time. I’d say I recall saying that about the second Hulk and second Iron Man movies but I’d be indulging in digression.
But after the passing of a couple months both became a burden. No, I haven’t been reading all of the tie-ins and mini-series and such – Marvel’s been great about maintaining the sidebar nature of these subordinate series. But the cumulative nature of both Events happening simultaneously has worn me down. I’m having a hard time giving a damn, and these books have been sinking down in my reading pile buried under the weight of comics that show more spontaneity and innovation. Few are published by DC or Marvel these days.
Here’s the rub. I still proudly think of myself as a fanboy. I also proudly think of myself as a pain in the ass, but that’s still another digression. Two of my favorite characters are and damn-near have always been Doctor Strange and the Sub-Mariner. I’ve liked the Red She-Hulk stories I’ve read. Now all three of them will be in the new, new Defenders, along with that one-man Greek chorus, the Silver Surfer.
It appears that the new, new Defenders will be an outgrowth from Fear Itself; writer Matt Fraction is a major force behind both. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s a new event all onto itself. Damn, would that suck. Anyway, I’m reluctant to abandon all this current Marvel Event stuff because these specific characters continue to warm the cockles of my fanboy heart.
Continuing a great and long-standing tradition, about 90 of our top newspaper comic strips will be commemorating the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on and in Boston MA, New York City NY, Newark NJ, Shanksville PA and Washington DC by producing special strips, with each cartoonist making his or her individual comment on the event.
Strips that will be participating include Agnes, Apt. 3-G, Archie, Arctic Circle, Ask Shagg, B.C., Baby Blues, Barney & Clyde, Beakman And Jax, Beetle Bailey, Between Friends, Big Nate, Bleeker The Rechargeable Dog, Blondie, Brewster Rockit: Spaceguy!, Buckets, Buckles, Candorville, Chuckle Bros, Crankshaft, Curtis, Daddy’s Home, Deflocked, Dennis The Menace, Dick Tracy, Dog Eat Doug, Dogs Of C-Kennel, Doonesbury, Dustin, Edge City, Elderberries, Fastrack, Fort Knox, Freshly Squeezed, Funky Winkerbean, Gasoline Alley, Grand Avenue, Hagar The Horrible, Heart Of The City, Heathcliff, Heaven’s Love Thrift Shop, Herb And Jamaal, Hi And Lois, Home And Away, Ink Pen, Lacucaracha, Lio, Little Dog Lost, and Luann.
Continuing our alphabetical list: Mallard Fillmore, Mark Trail, Marvin, Mary Worth, Momma, Mother Goose & Grimm, Mutts, Nancy, Ollie & Quentin, On A Claire Day, One Big Happy, Over The Hedge, Pardon My Planet, Pluggers, Pooch Caf’e, Prickly City, Pros & Cons, Real Life Adventures, Red Rover, Reply All, Retail, Rhymes With Orange, Rubes, Safe Havens, Sally Forth, Sherman’s Lagoon, Shoe, Six Chix, Snuffy Smith, Speed Bump, Stone Soup, Strange Brew, Tank Mcnamara, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Brilliant Mind Of Edison Lee, The Duplex, The Family Circus, The Meaning Of Lila, The Other Coast, The Pajama Diaries, Tina’s Groove, Todd The Dinosaur, Wizard Of Id, Zack Hill, Zippy, and Zits.
Further, special exhibits and presentations will be made at The Newseum in Washington, D.C., The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, The Toonseum in Pittsburgh, and The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) andThe Society of Illustrators, both in New York City. Contact the individual museums or go to http://cartoonistsremember911.com/ for more information.
In this very space a few days ago, John Ostrander said, “By this time next year, we may know if we’re still viable or making buggy whips.” He was referring to comics creators, to comics fans, and to the entire comics art medium.
The first person I heard refer to comics with this term was master cartoonist Stan Lynde. In case you’re challenged in matters relating to newspaper comic strips, Stan was the creator and writer/artist of the strips Rick O’Shay and Latigo. He’s a master storyteller, a brilliant humorist and an artist of fantastic prowess. The time was close to 20 years ago, and Mike Grell and I were at a very enjoyable comic book convention at Billings Montana. One of the promoters promised to introduce me to Stan. This was a real fanboy moment for me.
As it turned out Stan and Lynda Lynde were two of the nicest people on the planet, and probably the universe. After dinner (where I consumed the best prime rib ever), they invited Mike and me to their place in the bluffs overlooking Billings. There Mike and I gazed upon acres of Stan’s paintings, original strip art, awards, historical memorabilia, and simply awesome sundry stuff. We talked for several hours and the subject got around to his career. Stan shared all kinds of great stuff – how one of his assistants was Robert Crumb, who, in many respects, was the anti-Stan Lynde. How Little Orphan Annie creator Harold Gray was an egotistical, arrogant bastard – those are my words, not Stan’s. And how, when he was coming to the end of his tenure his signature creation Rick O’Shay, his first wife asked him how long he was going to be making buggy whips.
That phrase impressed me. Were newspaper strips buggy whips? Maybe. Continuity strips certainly were – today, we have Dick Tracy, Gasoline Alley, Alley Oop, The Phantom, Mandrake, Judge Parker and barely a handful of others. Tracy’s picked up a few papers since our pal Joe Staton took over the art; on the other hand I know Mandrake is still alive solely because it’s online at King Features Syndicate. But the argument itself stayed with me, and during the past two decades I’ve endured the effluvium of the buggy whip factory as it surrounded the comic book medium.
The fact that the newspaper comic strip form remains alive is due to the Internet: a lot of newspapers run lots and lots of strips on their websites and the major syndicates have very low-cost services which email comics directly to their subscribers.
Not to put words in Brother John’s mouth, but the Internet is the only thing staving comic books off from the buggy whip wing of the American cultural museum. I think John’s right: we should know in about a year if that works. If not, ComicMix will become, oh, I don’t know, either a B&D site with all those whips, or a B&B site where you can score a nice home cooked meal.
As we passed midnight Stan drove us back to our hotel. As we were walking to the door and I said something to the effect of “hot damn.” Brother Grell responded, “You better believe it.” Even then Mike and I were two hardened veterans of the comics racket but we effortlessly allowed ourselves to bathe in the most crystal clear waters of fanboy heaven. We shared a truly inspirational time and we actually leapt up in the air out of our shared enthusiasm.
And that’s why I think comics might just have a future after all.
Remember Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy movie? It was released 21 years ago, and as movies go, it was somewhat south of Gone With The Wind.
But according to a federal court in Los Angeles, Beatty retains the movie and teevee rights to Dick Tracy – because he appeared in his Dick Tracy costume on a teevee interview that was filmed in 2008.
That was the year Beatty sued the Tribune Company to prevent the owners from taking back the media rights after 18 years of dormancy. “The court found that Warren did everything that was required of him to retain the rights,” Beatty’s lawyer, Charles Shephard, said. Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman said, logically, “At the present time, we are reviewing the judge’s opinion and evaluating our options.”
The Dick Tracy newspaper strip, in constant syndication since 1931, was revitalized last week when artist Joe Staton and writer Mike Curtis took over the feature.
We at ComicMix now anticipate Mr. Beatty eventually returning to the role of Milton Armitage, the antagonist he played in the classic Dobie Gillis teevee series.
Our old pal Graham Nolan, presently the artist on the Rex Morgan newspaper strip and a former artist on Batman, Spider-Man, Hawkman, The Prowler, The Atom, The Phantom and many other fine comics, has accomplished the near-impossible: he’s got a syndication deal on an original newspaper strip.
Damn. Just when I thought the medium was pushing up daisies, too. And right after the announcement that Joe Staton is taking over the art chores on Dick Tracy next Monday.
(Some of our readers might not know what a “newspaper” is. I suggest going to your local convenience store and check on out – but not the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, who remain comic-less.)
Graham’s strip is called Sunshine State, and it’s about a gator, a pelican, a lizard, and a Tiki bar owning manatee in Florida. Together, they “try to navigate the increasingly technological encroachment of the 21st century,” according to Mr. Nolan. Unlike Dick Tracy, it’s a humor strip and it has been, and continues to be, a web comic. The newspaper version will debut as both a daily and a Sunday feature towards the end of spring.
Best of luck, Graham! Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy!
Long-time Dick Tracy aficionado Joe Staton will be taking the classic Dick Tracy newspaper strip following the retirement of long-time artist Dick Locher after March 13.
That’s the right man for the job. Of course, this writer made that suggestion to the newspaper syndicate 27 years ago. Joe should be admired for his patience as well as his craft.
Staton is well-known for his work on such comics characters as Superman, Spider-Man, E-Man, Green Lantern, the Justice Society, The Avengers, The Hulk, The Huntress, Scooby-Doo, Plastic Man … well, you get the point.
What this means is, unlike Brenda Starr and Little Orphan Annie, Tribune Media Services is not canceling Dick Tracy – contrary to rumor.
IDW Publishing has announced a partnership with Archie Comics to reprint some of the property’s most iconic stories in deluxe hardcover and trade paperback editions. Under the agreement, IDW will reprint sequential newspaper strips for the first time, offer multiple collections of the very best Archie comics material from the past seven decades, and add to the brand’s digital presence. The newspaper strip collections will be incorporated into the much-lauded Library of American Comics (Dick Tracy, The Complete Terry & the Pirates) helmed by Eisner award-winner Dean Mullaney.
Coming of age in post-World War II America, Archie captured the hearts of generations of children and adults. Archie and his friends remain hugely popular today, appealing to comic fans new and old with a blend of timeless stories and classic Americana style. Many popular comic book writers and artists cite Archie as their inspiration to work in the genre. Legendary comic book artist Neal Adams did his first professional work on Archie.
“We are incredibly excited to be working with Archie Comics,” said Greg Goldstein, IDW’s chief operating officer. “There are very few comics as influential in popular culture as Archie, and we are looking forward to offering original, never-before-reprinted strips and a wealth of comic book material to fans.”
In addition to reprinting original strips by series creator John Goldwater and original artist Bob Montana, IDW will also present Best Of volumes that showcase the work of Archie artists, such as Montana, Dan DeCarlo, and Stan Goldberg. “Archie has had so many talented artists throughout its history, each with their own take on the characters,” said Goldstein. “We want to offer fans the best from each of those eras, especially since much of this material has not been in print since its original publication.”
“We are thrilled to be partnering with IDW Publishing on these important historical works. IDW is well known for their outstanding work and we look forward to working closely with the team at IDW to create a line that all past, present and future Archie fans will enjoy,” commented co-CEO Jon Goldwater.
IDW will also publish special collections of Archie’s Madhouse and Archie as Pureheart the Powerful, a comedic super hero series that ran during the 1960’s. Award-winning creative director and editor Craig Yoe will oversee many of these special volumes.