Tagged: Joe Kubert

Ed Catto’s Convention Treasures!

I’m still reeling – in a good way – from Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con. It was a fantastic comic convention where I had way too much fun. And I’ve got some observations to share with you about it, but they’ll have to wait until next week.

This week I like to share some of the treasures I found at the show.

Let’s start with the “full disclosure” routine. I’m at the point where my comic collection is way too large, and I’ve been taking the steps to prune it back over the last few years. I’ve found this process difficult to adjust to, but my wife and I are in that downsizing mode. Surprisingly, I’m finding that maybe I am not that much of a hoarder after all. I actually feel better when I get rid of stuff.

But… I can’t help but wander a convention and stumble across a few treasures. And I was delighted with what I found at Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con.

In a 50-cent long box, I found this fantastic copy of Fantagraphics’ reprint title from 1987, Untamed Love, showcasing Frank Frazetta stories. Even though this reprint collection was published thirty years ago, the comic felt pretty new. The coloring is vibrant and the high-quality paper really holds up. The stories are a bit silly, but that Frazetta artwork is gorgeous!

Neal Adams was our guest of honor and, as he often does, told us few stories. Iwas especially intrigued when he revealed he’s working on a new Deadman series. I pressed him for details, and instead of offering just a few coy or cryptic teases, he outlined the whole first issue. And then he showed me the page he was working on. I was really impressed and think it will be his best work in years.
So… in anticipation that new series, I picked up a reading copy of Strange Adventures #209. It was a thrilling story with innovative storytelling and clever page layouts. The big climactic fight atop a Ferris wheel kicked my vertigo into high gear. I have trouble with heights these days, and that frenetic battle above the midway isn’t going to help matters.

Of note: there was a circulation statement in this issue. It turns out Strange Adventures was reported to be selling 146,600 issues each month. I find that so astounding, especially compared to today’s print runs.

I just loved the cover to Girls’ Romances #160 and couldn’t resist snagging it. The brilliant Jay Scott Pike is the artist. While the composition is solid and strong, the non-traditional sketchy, scratchy line work was what grabbed me.

It turns out this was the last issue of this long-running series. By this time, they must have decided it wasn’t worth it to create new stories. Inside are reprints of old John Romita stories – but the women’s hairstyles were retouched to give it a “modern” 1971 feel! These bizarre edits create a double layer of retro.

Most fans fondly remember those Antonio Banderas Zorro movies from a few of years ago. My dad was just watching it on cable, in fact. And comic fans all agree that Alex Toth’s Zorro comics were a pinnacle for that character. So I was pleasantly surprised to find myself buying Zorro – The Complete Dell Pre-Code Comics from the Hermes Press booth at the con. It’s a totally different version of Zorro.

Hermes Press was an energetic and committed exhibitor. I may be a bit biased, as I do like so many of their books. They created two convention exclusives and they were selling everything at a discount, so all attendees found a lot to like about their stuff.

In the forward of the Zorro collection, ace author Max Allan Collins provides a brief history lesson about the main artist of these stories – Everett Raymond Kinstler. I wasn’t familiar with this artist, but he is work is evocative and often confused with, Joe Kubert’s style from the 50s. “You had me at Kubert,” I thought when reading the forward.

It’s a tremendous book and after I read it, I think it deserves a spot on my coffee table. Then after a while, I’ll lend it to my dad. Another treasure from another comic-con.

Ed Catto’s Comic-Con Conversation with Graham Nolan

I can’t agree with fans that hate big crowds at big comic conventions. I tend to like big crowds. And I am always astonished by the way the San Diego Comic-Con takes over that town. I’m also in awe that the New York Comic Con is the biggest convention held in New York City’s Javits Center. The massive attendees at every big comic-con are both testaments to Geek Culture, and virtual victory laps for all fans everywhere.

To be honest, I also enjoy smaller comic conventions. There’s something special about being able to just wander up to a favorite creator and engage in a conversation with him or her. And at smaller shows, it’s empowering to be able to casually flip through a long box of comics to search for treasures, without elbowing your way through a crushing wall of other fans searching for their own treasures.

I’ll never forget a great experience I had at a smaller show years ago. A local comic con decided to expand with a second show. They decided to hold this spinoff convention in in the open area of a mall. Attendance was abysmal, but that worked out in my favor. Jim Shooter, the headlining professional, very patiently answered all my young fanboy questions for hours and hours. There was no one else waiting to speak to him, after all. I don’t think I talked for 24 hours straight, but I’m sure it seemed that way to Jim. And you know what? That was a kindness I’ve never forgotten.

So it’s no surprise that I’m very excited for Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con in June. I’ve recently moved from metro New York to the Finger Lakes, and we’re finding so many cool things going on up here. This convention looks to be a very substantial comic-con with a small show feel.
One of my favorite artists, Graham Nolan, will be a guest at this year’s show. Part of why I like his art so much is that he’s been involved with so many of my favorite stories. I fondly recall the introduction of Bane, the first villain to soundly defeat Batman. And the adventure of two immigrants from Thanagar assimilating to American culture in the Hawkworld series was fascinating and fresh.

But the other part of why I enjoy his work is that Nolan’s always been able to deliver solid artwork with a flair for the dramatic. It’s grounded, but it’s fantastic. Every Graham Nolan page is an example of fine draftsmanship, but also always infused with a thrilling level of action and adventure.

So, unable to wait until the convention in June, I wanted to have a one of those
substantial convention conversations with this fine artist. I reached out to Graham Nolan for this pre-con conversation:

Ed Catto: You were an early graduate of the Joe Kubert School. What are your fondest memories of that experience?

Graham Nolan: Actually, I never graduated from Kubert’s. I ran out of money for the third year. The two years I did attend were a great experience though. I learned a lot and was surrounded by people that shared the same passions as I did.

EC: We tend to revere Joe Kubert around here – what was it like learning from him?

GN: Joe was a force of nature. He had a presence that few have. When he spoke, you listened. He made everything he did seem so damn easy.

EC: You worked on Power Of The Atom, an Atom reboot, with CNY-er Roger Stern. Those were exciting times and it seemed to shine through in that series. What stands out in your memory about that series?

GN: It was a fun series that I wish I had been on from issue #1

EC: Our regular readers know how enamored I am with your Hawkworld series. Can you tell us a little about that series, what you were looking to achieve with it, and what your thoughts on it today are?

GN: That was a tough act to follow. I was passed the reigns from the popular mini-series by Tim Truman and Alcatena. I wanted to capture the feel of that series but add my own sense of storytelling dynamism to it.

EC: Follow-up question – Any thoughts on following in the footsteps of Joe Kubert on Hawkman?

GN: Not really. Hawkworld was so far afield from Joe’s work I felt like I was following Truman and not Kubert.

EC: You spent so much time working The Phantomwith fantastic results. Was that a labor of love for you?

GN: I always loved The Phantom. When Don Newton did the art for the Charlton books, I really flipped over the character. The Phantom was my Mom’s favorite character growing up. I regret that she passed before getting to see me take over the character.

EC: Comic strips like Rex Morgan, M.D. don’t seem to get the same fan appreciation at comic conventions. Do you find that frustrating?

GN: Comic strips don’t seem to get fan appreciation anywhere! The newspaper is a dying delivery device for comic-strips. They are so small these days that there are some strips I can’t even read!

EC: Monster Island was your own property. How different is it work on something like that as opposed to big company characters?

GN: Everything has to be created from scratch vs. it being established by others. But the creative freedom is wonderful.

EC: Let’s look ahead – can you tell us what you’re working on now?

GN: I’m currently doing my weekly humor strip, Sunshine State for GoComics.com and Chuck Dixon and I are back at DC working on a 12 issue Bane project called Bane: Conquest.

EC: Sounds like fun stuff, Graham, really looking forward to it all.

For more information on Graham Nolan, check out his site here, and for more information on Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con, check out their site here.

Ed Catto, Tarzan, Jane, & Tom Yeates – Plus 25


yeates-dark-horse-cover-tarzan-the-bIt’s time for me to review this brand new book for the second time.

Before we get into that paradox, the bottom line is that Thomas Yeates’ recently published Tarzan The Beckoning is a gorgeous book. But there’s a little bit more to this column than that simple appraisal.

Back in the early 90s, a new publisher called Malibu Comics was creating innovative and fun comics. Malibu had just published Tarzan The Warrior by Mark Wheatley and Neil Vokes. As you probably know, Tarzan, perhaps more than any other character, has been rendered by some of the industry’s all time greatest artists – Hal Foster, Burne Hogarth, Russ Manning, Neal Adams, Joe Kubert, John Buscema, Joe Jusko…the list goes on and on.

So when Malibu was promoting this new Tarzan The Warrior comic mini-series in the 90s, they signaled that they were going to try something very different. It wouldn’t be a comic where the art tried to compete with the fantastic artists that came before. No, this comic invited the readers to take a little detour with the King of the Jungle to try something new and different.

pencils-yeates-for-comicmixIt worked! It was fun and it was fresh. Tarzan The Warrior had a very loose artwork style, and it wasn’t all about jungles and animals. I told them as much in letter that I dashed off to the publisher.

Malibu’s assistant editor was a wonderful woman named Kara Lamb. She liked what I had to say and invited me to write more. And then she sent me a preview of the next Tarzan miniseries Malibu was publishing and asked me to write a letter about that as well.

This was a pretty common practice back then. Letter writing fans would be asked for their thoughts based on early previews so the editors could then populate the letters page of the first issue with a few real letters.

I certainly wasn’t one of the “big name” letter hacks, so I felt pretty special to be asked. The comic they gave me, on stapled black and white pages, was Tarzan: The Beckoning. It had spectacular art by one of my favorite artists – Thomas Yeates. Yeates and Henning Kure wrote the story.

yeates-dark-horse-jane-three-quarter-pageThe Tarzan: The Beckoning mini-series was a thriller with a fair amount of globe hopping. It presented Tarzan and his wife as mature adults. And it dealt with what was then, and what is still, a real issue – the poaching of elephants and the despicable ivory trade.

The art was jaw dropping gorgeous. Yeates’ brilliant page layouts and strong rendering created a fantastic yarn that could stand shoulder to shoulder with Tarzan classics by Hogarth or Manning.

kubert-tarzanI essentially said that all in the letter that was printed back then, and I’ll say it again.

Dark Horse has now collected the series in a new volume, also called Tarzan: The Beckoning. It’s fascinating to see the early color cover sketches, which are included. A handful of pencil sketches and brush and ink illustrations help remind readers of Yeates classic art skills.
The new collection of Tarzan: the Beckoning also includes a letter from Allan Thornton, the President of the Environmental Investigation Agency. The letter speaks about elephants and the scourge of poaching for ivory. It helps provides us all with a little perspective.

And if you’re interested in learning more, might I also suggest you check out www.99Elephants.org?

There’s also a nice synergy to this graphic novel. Thomas Yeates was one of the early graduates of the Kubert School. So it’s only fitting to see this gorgeous adventure re-released at about the same time Dark Horse released Tarzan: The Complete Joe Kubert Years volume. (Legendary artist Joe Kubert was also the founder of The Kubert School.) Far be it from me to say the student has surpassed the master… but it’s close.

Dark Horse’s Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan: The Beckoning and Tarzan: The Complete Joe Kubert Years are both on sale now. Yeates current work appears on Prince Valiant each week in many Sunday newspapers, and is available online at http://comicskingdom.com.


Ed Catto: Teaching The Teacher at the Bergen Arts Festival

Teen Arts Students in Class

Teen Arts Freida CryingKids these days… they’re all irreverent slackers, consumed in the little bubbles of social media and self-absorption, right? Not so fast! That’s not what I just experienced at all.

Each year, Bergen (County New Jersey) Community College is the site for the Bergen Teen Arts Festival. This impressive event invites outstanding high school students to participate in a daylong celebration of creativity, youth and the arts. It’s packed full of live performances – music, theater and more. An art exhibit showcases impressive drawing, painting and sculpting talent. The Festival offers more creative workshops than any student could ever attend in one day.

And the weather gods must support it, because it always seems to be held on a gorgeous, sunny day.

Evan Cooper, the Teen Arts Administrator is a focused and supportive guy with a great skill for setting the stage and then letting the students and teachers shine. Three years ago, Evan, along with creative writing expert Jim O’Rourke, recruited me to teach a class on creating graphic novels.

Teen Arts Superhero GuitarIt’s been a fantastic experience. For my part, I try to distill some of my best (art) life lessons, learned from the likes of everyone from Scott McCloud to Joe Kubert to all my own art teachers. My goal is to help spark an interest in kids for the art form of comics. We have a lot fun in these classes, and if you’ll allow me to brag, they are always SRO.

Newsflash – they don’t really need me. They already get it. They’ve already earned their pilots licenses, or are in the process. I’m just the airport runway.

So, in fact, as the teacher, I have the opportunity to learn a lot in these classes. Here are some of this year’s observations:

Teen Arts Student Manga SketchbookManga is a Second Language to Many – If you attended the Book Expo and talked with bookstore retailers, they might have told you that the Manga craze (i.e. Japanese Comics) is dead. That’s not what I saw at all. So many of today’s high school students, presumably having enjoyed manga in their formative years, love this style and love to express themselves in this style.

Today’s Cool Kids – Years ago, when I was in high school, I made the mistake of wearing Batman apparel and was mocked (by one of the school’s prettiest blondes, no less) for my absurd, immature pop culture tastes. Today it’s so much the opposite. This isn’t a newsflash to anyone who’s been paying attention, but it’s still just incredible to me.

In each of the three classes I taught that day, there were one or two kids who wore superhero shirts and they were instantly the experts. They’d talk about the recent Captain America: Civil War movie, or Steve Ditko or digital comics or AMC’s new Preacher series. They knew their stuff and everyone respected them.

Lots of Talent – These kids were good! One student had already had his work accepted onto ComiXology’s Submit program (click here for more details) there was such a wide range of imagination and creativity.

What a day! Can’t we just fast-forward to the near future when these kids are published and see what they have to say?

Mike Gold: Buying Comic Books

Pittsburgh Newsstand

For most of those of you who are lucky enough to have grown up near a comic book store, you may be unfamiliar with those hallowed days when we had to go to our local drug store, candy shop), grocery store, and/or newsstand to get our four-color fix.

Right there among the legitimate journals, next to the “men’s sweat” magazines that cover-featured well-dressed Gestapo agents torturing hapless well-endowed American women who somehow got caught up in the war effort, beside the farm magazines and the science monthlies and the news weeklies, awaited our favorite comic book characters ripe for the plucking. We didn’t have fanzines, let alone the Internet, to tell us what was coming out each week. New titles and new characters simply appeared at one or another outlet – no one place had them all – and that element of surprise was vital to our bouillabaisse of comic book entertainment.

Each Saturday my friends and I would hike down Devon Avenue from Kedzie to Western Avenue on Chicago’s north side, stopping at seven or eight different stores that met our needs. Mind you, some of us – most certainly yours truly – had already gone to as many as three different drug stores located nearer to our school. Oh, sure, we did lots of other things kids did back then, like lag baseball cards and scarf down Vienna hot dogs and mock the adult passersby and wise off to the police who seemed to hate us kids (I wonder why?). But that part of our itinerary varied from week to week. The constant was gawking at all those comic book racks.

Afterward we would go to one of our sundry abodes to read our stash, often sharing purchases with one another. Then we would discuss what we read. I remember when my best friend declared he did not think my favorite artist, Joe Kubert, actually knew how to draw. Another in our group declared he was uninterested in the embryonic Marvel Comics line because they were all written by the same guy. “If Stan Lee got hit by a truck,” my pal surmised, “they’d be up shit’s creek.”

Well, I certainly would have been. Fantastic Four #1 came out right when I turned 11 and I was just beginning to tire, just a little bit, of DC’s domination of the superhero genre. Marvel’s continuous growth stoked my interest in the medium.

As Flo and Eddie informed us, before too long those sing-along days were lost to us forever. Contrary to the popular belief of the time, it wasn’t television that really killed comic book sales. It was the slow death of all those mom’n’pop stores as families bought cars, moved out to the suburbs, and shopped in malls and chain stores where the profit margin on a ten or twelve-cent comic book was way too thin to justify retail floor space. Comic books that had been selling a half million or more copies drifted downward to maybe 100,000, and then even lower. Sell-through percentages spiraled down from 70% or more to 40% or less.

Cast-off from the growingly elitist science-fiction fandom, comics fans got organized. Comic book stores started popping up and the wondrous Phil Seuling cut deals with the publishers to get their wares directly into those comics shops. Phil saved our beloved medium’s ass.

The sad by-product of this was if you didn’t live near one of those comics shops, you were out of luck. The average age of the average reader went up as you pretty much had to have access to a car to get to a direct sales store… assuming there actually was one within driving distance. For most… no soap.

It was a deal with the devil but the comic book remains alive in America. Unfortunately, those kids today who live within walking distance of that one-mile stretch of Devon Avenue have exactly zero places to buy comic books and those other three drug stores are all out of business.

Life changes for better and for worse. But it was really fun to be surrounded by all those newsstands.


Mike Gold: Comic Books Are Heavier Than Ever!

Simon and KirbyThis time around the honor of writing the last ComicMix column of 2014 falls to me, and I am grateful for the opportunity to taunt the gods and goddesses of irony once more before the Cherub of the New Year arrives, gets a good look around, and shits his diaper.

Many, if not all of my friends seem to be happy that this year is coming to an end. String theory tells us that such optimism is silly, but since I’m starting 2015 with a left arm different from the one I had last January – and the anesthesia almost killed me – well, sayonara old bastard and take your scythe with you. (more…)

Review: “Comic Book Babylon”

Comic Book Babylon

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…)

Martin Pasko Hates Comic Book Movies

Pasko Art 130627It might surprise you that a writer who spent so much time writing coverage on Warner Bros. film scripts for DC and won an award for an animated TV series about Batman … Hates. Comic. Book. Movies.

Usually. Not always, but most of the time. There’s a reason for that, though.

By virtue of my peculiar set of writing credits, I am a graduate of the Berlitz course in Geek-to-Hollywood translating. Doesn’t mean I have to like it, just make enough bank off it to pay back the student loan.

Ever since comic book artist lizards first started crawling out of the four-color slime and evolving into knuckle-dragging primates with Panaflexes on their shoulders, the meme that comics are little more than frozen movies – when what they more closely resemble is storyboards with half the frames cut out of every scene – has visited a host of unfortunate consequences on the medium we supposedly celebrate here.

For one thing, the intrusion of the Hollywood mentality on mainstream comics often results in exactly the sort of Big Mistake that Hollywood itself makes. (Mistake in the art crime sense, mind you, not the ka-ching, ka-ching sense.)

“Auteurs” we have up the wazoo, but directors who write their own stuff are seldom well-served by their writers. The two disciplines aren’t necessary mutually-reinforcing. And it’s a far rarer creature than we generally assume who can do both well. Which is why I think most talented comic book artists probably should have their typing fingers broken. Not everybody who graduates from UCLA film school is Orson Welles, and not everyone who buys a diploma from Joe Kubert’s school is Frank Miller.

And, to put a metaphor into the Cuisinart and push for “puree,” this epidemic of the sins of one medium being visited on another is a two-way street. You can’t get good movies out of styling or constructing a film as if it were a comic book, though Chthulhu knows Hollywood now seems to be trying to.

The two media aren’t the same. Each has a grammar of its own which is part of its unique appeal. (After too many instances of watching Robert Downey, Jr. debase himself and repudiate his profound talent by playing flying Spam, I hesitate to use the word “charm.”) And if you conflate the two, IMO you dilute the unique appeal of both.

That, uhm, whack Batman TV series in ‘66 not only proved that, but leveraged those differences to create its signature whackness. By “transliterating” — as opposed to adapting — the tropes and conventions of one medium (the “Meanwhile…” V.O.s, the POW!s and the ZAP!s, the “I’m a duly deputized law enforcement officer” even though I look like I just escaped from Liberace’s closet) into a completely different medium, it commented on the absurdity of superheroes from a non-Geek perspective. Which is why Geeks hated it.

No amount of redesigning the Spandex as Tutti-Frutti Kevlar can hide the self-evident fact that any grown-up celebrity-wannbe who goes outside looking like that will do his 15 minutes of fame in Celebrity Rehab. But I preferred the Batman: Animated stuff because it worked in animation: everything was stylized, appropriate to the surreality of it all. You could accept that Batman existed when he stood next to a Commissioner Gordon who looked like an inverted pyramid with eyes, in a suit jacket whose lapels grazed his earlobes. By contrast, Christian Bale’s teeth-gritting just looks silly.

The live-action stuff used to make me giggle. Now, of course, it just pisses me off as much as mainstream comic book pacing does: you can’t figure out WTF is going on in any of these things unless you’ve seen the previous five entries in the series. And date night at the Octoplex still costs more than five “floppies.”

All that said, I eagerly look forward to being dragged to see Sin City: A Dame For Our Rape Culture, secure in the knowledge that I won’t be too pissed off to fall asleep on it. If Frank and Rodriguez light this one the same way they lighted the first one, I won’t be able to see WTF is going on there, either, and won’t have to care.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


Scholarships Are NOT Entitlements!

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 cliffmeth@aol.com  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.

Thank you in advance for your kind support.

Read the original at The Clifford Method.

Dennis O’Neil: Giants

O'Neil Art 130411The latest issue of Roy Thomas’s fine magazine Alter-Ego arrived in today’s mail. This one was dedicated to the late Joe Kubert, who died some seven months ago. It arrives a couple of days after I learned of the passing of Joe’s contemporary (and my ex-boss) Carmine Infantino. The synchronicity is odd and painful. These two men were excellent artist/storytellers and quite a bit more and they were among the first of their kind; they helped invent comic books.

Years back, when I was chipper and unbald and fanzine folk began asking to interview me, I was flattered and – sure, always happy to open my gob. And so I did. But I wondered: shouldn’t these young journalists be talking to the older guys, the ones who were there at the beginning? Because most of them were already past youth and, as novelist Samuel R. Delany observed at the time, comics were still new enough for interested parties to read almost everything that had been published. Wasn’t this an unparalleled opportunity? Didn’t the happy coincidence of accessible talent and available work provide a chance to really examine, closely, the emergence and evolution of an art form? Because, for obvious reasons, this ideal coincidence wouldn’t be in effect forever. Wasn’t a lot of interesting and potentially valuable information in danger of being lost?

Well, maybe some was lost, or will yet be lost, but probably not as much as I feared. There were interviews that I knew nothing about and a lot of the pioneers still had plenty of talk left in them. And communication was about to boom: the quaint mimeoed and hectographed fanzines were giving way to stuff produced by slicker technologies and those, in turn, were in the shadow of forthcoming electronica, an example of which is before you at this instant. Scholars and hobbyists alike are continuing to investigate and document comics and please allow me a modest hurray.

It seems safe to say that comics are the most documented art form in history (though cinema may have some claim to that honor.) We have large amounts of what. Now, how about some more why? There are, I hereby aver, correspondences between the evolution of comics, particularly superhero comics, and that of mythology/religion. A properly focused exploration into one might reveal something about the others and, storytelling being one of mankind’s primary activities, this revelation could help us discover meanings that have so far eluded us. Another possibility: the influence cartooning in general and comics in particular has had on journalism.

Does anyone sniff a term paper? A thesis, even? Or have such papers already been written? Could be, I guess.

Meanwhile: we have lost two of our founders, and in our usual helplessness, we can do no more than mourn, and we should.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman