Comic book writer, editor, and raconteur Clifford Meth took to Kickstarter to fund the publication of Comic Book Babylon, a collection of essays, stories, and interviews drawn from the almost ten years worth of columns he had written for various comic book news sites across the Internet, including ComicMix itself. Promising an introduction by Stan Lee and illustrations by noted comic artist/political crackpot Michael Netzer, Comic Book Babylon almost quintupled its original funding goal with $11,219 in pledges. Last week, Meth delivered with the release of Comic Book Babylon, published in print by Meth’s own Aardwolf Publishing or digitally through the Amazon Kindle store. (more…)
The trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is out and you’ve no doubt seen it here on ComicMix and elsewhere. It looks pretty spiffy, I think, and I’m ready to shell out my shekels to see it.
I came into the living room the other day as My Mary was watching the end the previous Amazing Spider-Man on the tube. She mentioned how her friend Sherry preferred Toby McGuire’s Spider-Man to Andrew Garfield’s and made an interesting observation: McGuire’s Spider-Man was more Todd MacFarland while Garfield’s was more Steve Ditko. I found that pretty astute.
McGuire was also Sherry’s first Spider-Man and I think that also plays into it. Who your favorite artist (or even writer) on a given character or property may depend on who was on the book when you first read it. For me, my Spider-Man artist was John Romita – and that’s Senior, not Junior (who is a fine artist in his own right). I would only encounter Ditko later, in reprints (this was long before the Internet or even comic book stores with longboxes). I’ll be honest; I was not keen on Ditko at first. My guy was Romita Sr. My Spider-Man was the one he drew.
I don’t know who was drawing Batman when I first read the book; the first one I remember was Neal Adams (and scripted by our own Denny O’Neil). I think my first Doctor Strange artist was Marie Severin, inked by her brother John, a mighty duo.
The idea (I wouldn’t call it a rule) also extends to Doctor Who. The definitive Doctor for an individual is often the one you first saw in the role. For me, it was Jon Pertwee, with the capes and the bouffant hair. The episodes were aired sporadically in my area and one day I came across one with a horse faced actor in a big multi-colored scarf swanning around and being called the Doctor. I was resistant to Tom Baker for a good while; my Doctor was Pertwee. I came around and Baker became one of my faves along with most of the rest of Who fandom.
I found it interesting in a special mini-episode where David Tennant’s Doctor comes in contact with Peter Davidson’s Doctor and said, “You were my Doctor!” I think that was true for Tennant; he would have been the right age.
The concept doesn’t always hold. My definitive Avengers artist would have been John Buscema, definitely not the first artist I saw on the book. OTOH, my definitive Conan artist would have been Barry Windsor Smith and not John Buscema. BWS was the first. Gene Colan was the first artist I saw on both Daredevil and Iron Man and remained the definitive artist for me, over both Wally Wood and Frank Miller on Daredevil and Bob Layton on Iron Man.
These are all artists whose work I have enjoyed on the various books but they don’t hold the special place in my heart that the first artists did. They marked the first time I encountered the characters and fell in love with them and there isn’t anything quite like your first love, is there?
If you’ve ever read anything from Clifford Meth, you know he can be a ferocious writer, and ferociously talented. We like that sort of thing here, and that’s why we’ve published his stuff in the past. He’s compiling his columns and essays into a book, and you have a few hours left to pre-order it on Kickstarter:
Comic Book Babylon gathers icons HARLAN ELLISON, STAN LEE, ALAN MOORE, FRANK MILLER, JOE KUBERT, GENE COLAN, DAVE COCKRUM, WALTER SIMONSON and NEAL ADAMS into a conversation with CLIFFORD METH where anything goes. Among other stories, you’ll learn how & why X-Men co-creator Dave Cockrum became the first Marvel artist to receive a monetary settlement and lifetime royalties for his creations after years of suffering and virtual banishment… You’ll meet a well-known Hollywood film producer who doesn’t like to pay his writers (until someone squeezes his face)… You’ll read Harlan Ellison saying things no one else would publish…
This fascinating book collects Meth’s decades of comics columns and essays–some too outrageous to publish in their day–and adds never-before-revealed material. Everything is brought to life with sensational illustrations by the celebrated and beloved Marvel/DC artist MICHAEL NETZER.
What’s achieved is a startling look at the REAL villains and heroes of comics. Introduction by STAN LEE. Art by NETZER. Rants by METH. Join us!
As a student at Rutgers, FDU and Wroxton College in the U.K., I often competed for writing scholarships. The awards proved invaluable on numerous levels:
1) As an amateur/student, I was forced to bring my writing to the highest possible level, at that juncture in my development, without any assistance.
2) I learned to meet a deadlines and follow word-count parameters.
3) Winning awards for my writing increased my confidence and allowed me to envision life as a professional.
4) Awards are solid resume material for as-yet unemployed wannabes.
5) Any monies I won were enormously helpful to my father, who earned a meager living but was otherwise happily burdened with my tuition and upkeep.
Needs-based awards have some value but, let’s face it, everyone has needs.
Merit-based awards are far more valuable. And character building.
After Dave Cockrum’s passing, Paty Cockrum and I launched the Dave and Paty Cockrum Scholarship at the Joe Kubert School
where we annually award a second-year student with some tuition assistance based on their ability to create seductive, sequential art. We designed the award for someone who has demonstrated a stick-to-itiveness by hanging in for that second term. The scholarship now enters its 6th year and is funded, in part, by sales of Dave Cockrum’s personal comics collection.
After Gene Colan’s passing, I began funding a second scholarship to a promising penciller at the school, also in his or her second year. I was pleased to be informed that these scholarships inspired the creation and private funding of other named scholarships, including one in Dave Stevens’ memory.
With Joe & Adam Kubert at 2012 Scholarship Ceremony
This year’s award ceremony will take place next month and I plan to be on-hand once again to meet and congratulate winning students. This will be the first year my friend Joe Kubert is not there to emcee the event. But in contemplating that loss, I’ve decided to add a third scholarship (as yet unamed), which will be funded by selling signed comics. Today’s collectors like their comics signed and, fortunately, I am able to pick up the phone and ask some old friends for signatures. Stan Lee, Walter Simonson and George Perez were among the first to offer help.
I invite your participation in this new scholarship, too. If you have any signed comics that you are willing to part with (even one), please send them to: Clifford Meth (attn: Kubert Scholarship), 179-9 Rt. 46 West, Rockaway, NJ 07866. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Donated items will be auctioned on Ebay under the account DaveCockrumEstate (which is currently in use to fund the Cockrum and Colan Awards).
Scholarships helped me and kept me going forward. I am delighted by the opportunity to maintain the circle of life.
The opening night of the movie Blade, I was sitting in a packed Magic Johnson Theater in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. Crenshaw is a predominantly black community, so needless to say the crowd for a black superhero movie in a black neighborhood in theaters owned by a black sports superstar was overwhelmingly Jewish. The Jews, they so love to hang in the hood. Black hats, long black coats – they roll big pimpin’ style.
I kid, I joke. The audience was crushingly African American. There was a lot of excitement in the crowd. When the lights went down the audience started to clap and that’s rare in a black movie house. To have a black crowd clap for a movie before they have seen it is extraordinary.
Black people rarely do that. We take our leisure time seriously. We are also very vocal about entertainment and we expect our monies worth. If a black crowd does not like a film – no that’s wrong – if black people don’t like a movie we will not be shy about voicing our opinions immediately.
Yep. I freely admit we can be a bit loud in the movies but for us it’s part of the show. To be fair we only tend to get loud during action and horror movies. You will seldom hear, “Yo! Henry Fonda! Don’t get in that motherfucking row boat!” during a screening of On Golden Pond.
Black people by in large don’t go see a film. We go to the movies. What’s the difference?
My Left Foot, film.
Die Hard, movie.
Still confused? OK, try this. A film is a motion picture that many may consider art. A film will have these elements in it: a story, a point of view, and a message. It will make little or no money but will win lots of awards and always features white people.
A movie will have these elements; some kind of story that won’t be important, shit that blows up, sex, violence, vampires, it will only win special effects awards, it will make tons of money and always features white people.
The one thing you will find in both a movie and film is white people. From time to time you will find black people in movies but you will always find white people in every movie ever made. Most times those white people will include Nicolas Cage.
But, (man, I wonder why Peter David hasn’t pimp slapped me yet) I digress… As I was saying, black people take our movie going outings very seriously. We don’t clap just to clap (that’s why we have sex), we clap to show appreciation for the work. So the reaction by the sold out crowd at the Blade opening was quite the pleasant surprise to me. Clearly some of the applause was because this was something rarely seen in movies, a black superhero.
When the credits began Wesley Snipes got quite an ovation and the crowd continued giving props to some other recognizable names. Then up on the screen came this gem: “Blade created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan.”
“Oh, yes!” I screamed like 40-year old woman who just had her first orgasm after being married for 20 years. “Oh hell yes!” Much, like I imagine that 40-year old woman would react, I did not notice that everyone else had stopped hollering and were looking at me. A large, as in large like the Hulk, man noticed my outburst had occurred during the “created by” credit.
“What you yelling for?” He asked. “I know Marv Wolfman, one of the guys who created Blade.” I said, hoping this guy wasn’t a Crip because I had on a red sweater.
He asked, “Is he a brother?”
What? Is he a brother? Marv Wolfman? I mean come on! Before I could answer I noticed that there were others listening and realized that I could dampen the mood of the crowd. But I’m not a lair so I told him the truth.
“He’s my brother.”
“Right on!” Someone shouted!
That was a great moment in what would turn out to be a great night.
The move was wonderful. The crowd loved every minute of it and me? I was in cloud nine.
Blade was a great movie. It featured a black superhero but it was not a “black” film. Nope. It was a superhero movie, period. Not long afterwards I ran into Marv Wolfman at Comic Con in San Diego. I recounted to him my interaction with the Bulk (black Hulk, get it?) and he was pleased as can be. Up until I told him he did not know that he had gotten an entire card in the credits. A “card” is what the credits are called in the industry it’s a big deal when your name is the only name on a card or is shared with just one other name. Big Deal. Marv created Blade at a time when black superheroes were few and I mean very few. Here’s the kicker: Blade does not have to be black.
Blade could be just another white guy who kills v. The character works just as well as a black character as it does a white character. Marv created a good character and that’s why it works.
I’m of the opinion the color of the character really does not matter as long as the character is a good character. That said I’m a comic book fan first and I get a little pissed when a character I’m familiar with in the comics has a race change in the movies. You would think that as a black man and a black comic book creator I’d be happy that Nick Fury was turned into a black man.
I liked Nick Fury as a badass white super spy.
That’s because of the Steranko comics. Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. was one of the greatest comics ever! When Fury was changed in The Ultimates it pissed me off. When I saw Samuel L. Jackson as Fury in Iron Man it pissed me off even more.
I know Sam Jackson, Sam Jackson attends my annual Comic Con parties, Sam Jackson is a huge comic book fan, Sam Jackson is a great actor, alas Sam Jackson is not Nick Fury.
I want my comic book heroes to be like the comic book. I can hear some black people now “Man we need more black superheroes… and you’re stupid, Davis!”
I know we need more black superheroes, but Nick Fury will always be the cool ass super spy white guy in the Steranko comics to me.
The fact is I care that Nick Fury is not white in the movie because he’s white in the comic book. Did it stop me from seeing The Avengers?
Here comes that 40-year old first time orgasm woman again, Oh Hell No!
Did I like Sam Jackson as Fury? Damnit, yes, yes I did. Did anyone seem to care in the two sold out showings of the movies I sat through that Nick Fury was black?
Did Blade not make a zillion dollars and spawn two sequels?
And speaking of Spawn (damn I’m clever) did Spawn, another black superhero, not make a grip in movies, television and toys?
Was Static Shock (still seen in reruns to this day) not one of the highest rated animated shows on television?
I’m told often, black doesn’t sell. Clearly that’s bullshit. Just ask Will Smith, the biggest star in the world. He has played a few superheroes and all made serious bank.
With these examples and many more why does Hollywood still think that “black means death” when it comes to black superheroes?
Denny O’Neil used to have a T-shirt that proclaimed “Growing old is not for sissies.” As I get older, the hard truth of that keeps coming back to me. Case in point.
Two days ago, there was an article here in ComicMix about Gary Friedrich who lost his case against Marvel about participation in the monies made from the movie (now movies) of Ghost Rider, which he created at Marvel. Among other reasons cited by the judge, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, was that Friedrich gave up his rights to the character when he signed checks that had, above the signature line, language requiring him to give up any rights to the character.
I’ve done that, too. You had no choice in the matter in those days. If you wanted to cash the check, you had to endorse it and you had to endorse it beneath the legal crap. There was no negotiation, there was no discussion. It was, to be blunt, coercion.
The name, Ghost Rider, had also already been used at Marvel as one of the Western characters they had – said character, again, being created by Gary Friedrich. Friedrich also had to sign a document giving up all rights – and why wouldn’t he? This was seven years before the first Superman film with Christopher Reeve showed up, six years before George Lucas made Star Wars and showed there was a ton of money to be made off of ancillary rights such as toys et al. You signed those documents because that’s what was necessary to get the work. No movies were being made, no toys were being made, there were no video games – the only money to be made was from the work itself. There was no indie market in those days where you could take your ideas. You made the deal that was there to be made.
The judge had to base her decision on what were the legal facts – and they said that Marvel owed Gary Friedrich nothing. Without Friedrich, however, the property doesn’t exist. From all reports, he’s not in good shape. He could use the money – even a taste.
What is he owed?
Injury to insult department. The judge has not only told Friedrich to stop saying he created Ghost Rider, he was ordered to pay Marvel seventeen grand in damages.
Friedrich owes Marvel $17,000.00!
He’s not the only freelancer in this position. Years ago, I saw Gene Colan and his wife at a convention and I steeled myself up to go say hello to someone I thought (and think) was one of the unique great talents in the industry. He was having eye troubles at the time (with which I would come to completely empathize) and he was, to be honest, a little angry and bitter. Like other old pros, he felt cast aside and forgotten by the industry and he warned me to make sure I had money in the bank or find something else I could do. I wish now I had taken his advice more strongly.
This is not to say there are not groups like the Hero Initiative out there who do tremendous work in helping people who have given to the industry but there are financial limits to what they can do. There is no equivalent to a union or a guild in this industry; if you even think of starting one, you’re gone. John Broome, fabled writer in the Silver Age, found that out.
What is owed to any of those who built a company, built this industry, and then got left behind?
I won’t pretend; I’m more or less in that boat and it scares me. I’m luckier than some; with Amanda Waller, who I created, I’ll see some participation for her use in the Green Lantern movie, just as I did for her use in Smallville and Justice League Unlimited. I think that’s fair and, fortunately, legally binding. Thank you, Paul Levitz.
But what about others, like Gary Friedrich, who worked before there was any such notion? There is, as always, a wide distance between what’s legal and what’s right.
What is owed to those who came before, who did the work on which later, more lucrative, works are built? The contracts, the law, says nothing is owed.
Does that seem right to you?
It doesn’t to me.
If you agree, tell Marvel, tell their parent company, Disney, that they owe the creator something, contract or no contract. Fans can do something and it can be effective. Gary Friedrich isn’t one of the big, great names in comics. But he created Ghost Rider and, legally or not, they owe him.
The Sidekick Foundation is a new confederacy that seeks to generously aid comics creators in need of financial and medical assistance. Sidekick’s board of directors and advisors consists of established, respected comics professionals who have agreed to support the organization’s initiative which, in its first year, shall be to donate 90% of all generated proceeds directly to those in need.
“Sidekick was established by Clifford Meth, whose work on behalf of comics creators in need is well known,” said Jim Reeber, president of Aardwolf Publishing and Secretary of Sidekick. “By adding the weight of some of the industry’s most respected names to his own, I believe Cliff can help more people than ever before and do so more effectively.”
“I’ve spent the last three years working for well-known charities and non-profits,” said Meth, a former Executive V.P. of IDW Publishing and recent spokesman for Kars4Kids. “Regardless of the cause, the one thing that always irked me was how much money goes to the overhead of charitable organizations. While it may be legal to only give away a small portion of collected proceeds, I find it ethically unacceptable. The Sidekick Foundation will not have a paid Director nor full-time staff. Most work will be done by volunteers allowing the foundation to keep expenses to a minimum.”
Sidekick’s Board of Advisors includes Neal Adams, Harlan Ellison, Joe Sinnott, Tom Palmer, Herb Trimpe, and Morris Berger (former president of IDT Entertainment and chairman of IDW Publishing).
“I’m particularly proud to have Neal Adams and Harlan Ellison with us,” said Meth. “Neal laid the foundation for art returns and his work on behalf of Superman’s creators is legendary, while Harlan Ellison is a stalwart champion of creator’s rights. With friends like these in your corner, you can move mountains.”
Sidekick will debut at New York ComicCon on Sunday, October 16. Artist David Lloyd (“V for Vendetta”) will be drawing for Sidekick at the Cadence table #3153 from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. In addition, Clifford Meth and writer Don McGregor will be selling donated art as well as items from the late Gene Colan and Dave Cockrum, among others. Future signings and events are planned from artists Michael Netzer and Bill Messner-Loebs.
Don McGregor‘s elderly mother and other family medical emergencies have forced this fine man and fierce writer of the Black Panther, Killraven, and Detectives Inc., to put his personal collection of art (from stories he wrote) on the selling block.
I will be representing Don McGregor’s personal collection of artwork–original pages from stories that he wrote for Marvel.
I am not taking a commission from Don. All monies will go directly from you to him and he will ship directly to you; I am just sitting in the middle because Don is a wonderful and kind man who has never been about money (imagine that) and I don’t want him to get a dime less than he deserves or might otherwise get.
When a man like Don McGregor sells cherished art that was gifted to him by the artists that drew his beautiful stories, you know it’s painful for him. Don loves this art and it should go to people who love it, too. It’s being sold because he needs the funds. Ain’t that America.
I won’t allow art dealers to steal these from him. And I am not expert enough, despite the posturing, to know what these pieces are really worth. So here’s the deal: Some friends of mine and I going to bid on Don’s art while spreading the word far and wide. We are hoping you’ll beat our bids because we want Don to get top dollar. We hope that you will help spread the word. The bidding can end at any time (when Don says, “That’s a fair price; I’ll take it!”) But let’s not let this drag out too long, chums. Let’s pretend we actually learned something from those superheroes we grew up reading when Don was still writing them.
What else can you do? If you’re an artist, a small drawing would be nice. Black Panther, Killraven…something that Don worked on for sentimental reasons. I’ll be the first bidder and I’ll bid generously…and then I expect others to do the same. Let’s make the world go round.
Contact me if you’re genuinely interested in buying art from Don at fair market value. And spread the word to other art collectors. This is a rare opportunity, and you will have my gratitude and Don’s. And you will have Gene Colan’s gratitude where he rests in the World of Truth.
Current bid on the piece you see on this page: $1750.
I regret to announce that my friend Gene Colan died at about 11 pm on June 23. Gene spent this last week in a quasi-coma state following a broken hip and complications from liver disease. He was 84.
I am terribly saddened to lose Gene. He was a gentle and deeply spiritual man, a bright light in every context, and those who knew him at any level were enriched by his warmth and generous nature. Below are some thoughts I cobbled together when he slipped from consciousness earlier this week.
I leave the historical perspective and details of Gene’s significant career to my friends Tom Spurgeon and Mark Evanier. For now, I mourn.
My Friend Gene Colan
When I was in Morristown, New Jersey, in the early 1990s, there was a girl of about 12 or 13 who lived around the corner. Every time I saw her, she was out walking a German Sheppard puppy. I’d see the pair every two weeks or so. But as the years passed, I realized the girl’s puppy didn’t seem to age. My young neighbor was blossoming into a young lady, but her little dog was like Peter Pan, or Jefty in Harlan Ellison’s story. Eventually, I inquired and learned that the young lady took her young dog from the Morristown Seeing Eye. After she had house-broken and bonded with the little dog, she returned it when it was ready to be further trained to help one of the blind. And then she’d get another puppy and start over again.
It must be heart-breaking, I thought, getting to love something the way only taking care of it will allow you to love, just to say goodbye so quickly.
Two cover recreations, one of THOR #126 (originally rendered by Jack Kirby), the other of SUB-MARINER #8 (by Gene’s pal John Buscema) — both reimagined here by the team of Gene Colan and Michael Netzer (12×18). Starting bid on each: $1200.00
Complete 6-page story from Life With Archie – current bid $325 (email@example.com)
Plots and Misadventures by Stephen Gallagher (hardcover, limited edition from Subterranean Press) signed by Gallagher; only 750 copies issued – starting bid $25
Pages 24, 25 and 26 Original Art from Gene Colan’s Little Shop of Horrors – min. bid $180
Two random Firestorm (DC Comics) Original Art pages by Gene Colan – min. bid $200 for the pair
Spawn #33 – signed by Todd McFarlane – $15
A handful of comics signed by Gene Colan: Glamourpuss (Aardvark-Vanaheim), Creepy – Book One (Harris Comics), Journey Into Mystery #4 (Marvel, 1973), and Daredevil #89 (in rough shape) – min. bid $40
A pair of comics signed by Gene Colan: Captain Marvel #5 and Howard the Duck #3 (collects newspaper strips) B&W – min. bid $40
The Marvel’s Project (Variant Edition) #1 signed by Gene Colan with small, original black & red marker drawing of Daredevil’s head on the cover – min. bid $100
The Savage Return of Dracula #1 (Marvel) Gene Colan file copy – signed in red by Gene) – min. bid $40
The Tomb of Dracula: Book One – signed by Gene – min. bid $40
Tales of Suspense #39 reprint (Marvel Milestone Edition) signed by Gene Colan and Don Heck – min. bid $75
Tales to Astonish #79 – signed by Gene Colan – current bid $45 (kpedd)
Nathaniel Dusk #1 – Gene Colan’s file copy – signed in red by Gene – min. bid $30
Iron Man #124 signed by Stan Lee and Gene Colan – current bid $60 (josephc)
“The Simpsons: Sub-Basement of Dracula” script (signed by Marv Wolfman) – min. bid $5