Tagged: John Romita Sr.

John Ostrander: First Times

Ostrander Art 131229The 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?

MONDAY MORNING: Mindy Newell

TUESDAY MORNING: Jen Krueger

 

Marvel’s Original Sin

Sean Howe shows us proof that Marvel sold original artwork instead of returning it to the artists, or compensating them in any way.

Marvel began returning current pages to artists sometime in 1974, and eventually worked retroactively back a few months, to comics cover-dated from January 1974; among the earliest issues from which art was sent back were Avengers #119 and Amazing Spider-Man #128.

But a year earlier, Marvel sold the covers to these issues, cover-dated January 1973, to the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Seven covers, plus progressive proofs and color guides for each, for a total of $770.

Back in 1986, Irene Vartanoff (who began managing artwork return in 1975) told The Comics Journal that Marvel would occasionally send artwork to exhibits. But as far as I know, this is the only evidence that exists of Marvel actually accepting money for pages of original art.

It’s unclear if the gallery still possesses the pages; nothing comes up on their inventory database. But if Rich Buckler, Joe Sinnott, Barry Smith, John Romita, Sal Buscema, or Tom Palmer happens to read this, they may want to give them a call.

via MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY (Untold Stories: Marvel Sells Stash of Original Art…).

It has been long suspected that lots of comic art went out the door. But this is the first documented proof I’ve seen that Marvel did so and profited from it.

A quick guess puts the value of all that original art at $35,000 today. We wonder if the artists are ever going to see any of it.

Mike Gold: The Baltimore Fun

I like comic book conventions, although I’ve been pretty hard on them lately. These days most conventions have little to do with comic books. They have a lot to do with pop culture and celebrities and movies and autographs and promotion, but over the past decade or two comic books have become the ugly stepchildren within their own temples.

Except for a handful. Mid-Ohio Con has been consumed by the dreaded Wizard ogre; that one used to be a favorite. HeroesCon in North Carolina is high on my list of the exceptional; I wish I could get there each year. There are plenty of great small shows, usually held in hotels and attracting people from about a 200 mile radius, if the weather is agreeable. And, as I’ve incessantly proselytized to the annoyance of thousands, my absolute favorite: the Baltimore Comic-Con.

First and foremost, the Baltimore Comic-Con is about comic books. The panels are about comic books. The exhibitors are about comic books. The awards ceremony is about comic books. In short, it is a comic book convention.

Second, it’s only two days: Saturday and Sunday. The burnout rate is low and people tend not to leave as early on Sundays. You can get as much done in those two days as you can elsewhere in three… or four. Third, the staff is well-trained, efficient, and so damn polite if you’re from New York your skin just might peel off in strips.

I’m happy to say I’ve got a hell of a lot of friends who go there. It’s one of the few shows Timothy Truman attends. Mark and Carol Wheatley both put me up and put up with me year after year; my daughter and ComicMix comrade Adriane Nash gets to stay in Mark’s breathtaking library and studio. Marc Hempel joins us at the Insight Studios booth. Great folks like Gene Ha, Brian Bolland, Amy Chu, Andrew Pepoy, Denis Kitchen, Jack C. Harris, Walter and Louise Simonson, Joe Rubenstein, Larry Hama, Matt Wagner, John K. Snyder III … we don’t have the bandwidth to name a tenth of the people I hang out with at the show. Even the (fairly) recently liberated Paul Levitz showed up as a freelancer.

Better still, the ambiance of the Baltimore Comic-Con allows me to make new friends, something that’s almost impossible to do at the largest shows like San Diego, New York, and Chicago. This year I was exceptionally lucky, spending memorable time with Phil LaMarr and Ross Richie.

ComicMix was there in full-force: Vinnie Bartilucci, Glenn Hauman, the aforementioned Adriane Nash, Emily S. Whitten, and the non-alphabetical Marc Alan Fishman – who was there with the rest of the Unshaven Comics crew, Matt Wright, and Kyle Gnepper, where they managed to sell out of their excellent indy comic, Samurnauts.

Probably the highlight of the Baltimore show each year is the Harvey Awards dinner, and this year was no exception. Phil LaMarr served as master of ceremonies, keeping the three and one-half hour show moving while keeping the audience in stiches, Ross Richie delivered an inspiring keynote address, and as usual Paul McSpadden did his usual amazing job coordinating the whole event.

The Hero Initiative honored Joe Kubert with its Humanitarian of the Year award – a decision made before Joe’s passing last month – and Dr. Kevin Brogan delivered a moving tribute to the late cartoonist and educator. As it turns out, Joe left us one more graphic novel. Their annual Lifetime Achievement Award went to John Romita Jr., in a presentation made by the team of Stan Lee and John Romita Sr.

I particularly enjoyed seeing Marc, Kyle and Matt there for the first time – being sequestered in that room with most of the above-mentioned folks as well as with Stan Lee, John Romita Sr. and Jr., Mark Waid and so many others seemed like a heady experience for our pals, who, I think it’s safe to say, were in fanboy heaven. Pretty damn cool. I’m proud to say our own Glenn Hauman helped in the IT end of things, and ComicMix joined Insight Studios, DC Entertainment, Boom!, Comixology, Richmond Comix and Games, ComicWow!, Painted Visions, Bloop, Captain Blue Hen, Cards Comics and Collectibles, and Geppi’s Entertainment Museum as sponsors.

And I managed to sign up a new columnist for this site. I mentioned the name above somewhere (good hunting), and this person will start out as soon as we iron out scheduling issues and the usual start-up stuff. I’m very excited about this, and you will be too when you read this person’s stuff.

We also went apeshit covering the cosplay scene. Adriane posted about 100,000 pictures on our ComicMix Facebook page, all to the obvious enjoyment of the masses. We’ll be expanding our cosplay coverage considerably, while at the same time polishing our alliteration.

On behalf of the whole ComicMix crew, I want to deeply thank Marc Nathan and Brad Tree for once again putting on the best show in comics, and to thank my dearest of friends Mark and Carol Wheatley for being our personal sponsors. We-all had a great time!

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

 

“Daredevil”, “Hark! A Vagrant” Lead 2012 Harvey Awards Winners

If you weren’t following our Twitter feed or our Facebook page in real time on Saturday night (and good heavens, why weren’t you?) the 2012 Harvey Awards were given out at the Baltimore Comic-Con. Daredevil was the big winner of the night with four wins for Best Series, Best New Series, Best Inker and Best Writer. Hark! A Vagrant‘s Kate Beaton won three with Best Online Comics Work, the Special Award for Humor, and Best Cartoonist. Jim Henson’s Tale Of Sand by Ramon Perez won two for Best Original Graphic Album and Best Story, tying Walt Simonson’s The Mighty Thor: Artist’s Edition with wins for Best Domestic Reprint Project and the Special Award for Excellence in Presentation, and J.H. Williams on Batwoman snagging Best Artist and Best Cover Artist.

The Dick Giordano Humanitarian Award from the Hero Initiative was given posthumously to Joe Kubert, while the Lifetime Achievement Award was handed to John Romita Jr. by his father and Stan Lee, much to JR JR’s shock and surprise.

Phil LaMarr did an excellent job as Master of Ceremonies, speaking from the heart as a true fanboy who’s made good as the voice of Green Lantern and Samurai Jack, as well as (and I didn’t know this until after the ceremony) playing future Mr. Terrific writer Eric Wallace in Free Enterprise. It didn’t really matter that he was a first-time host since, as he commented, the Harvey Awards were starting over and renumbering from #1. The keynote speech was delivered by Ross Richie, Big Kahuna at BOOM! And for our part, ComicMix was proud to be one of the many sponsors of the Harvey Awards this year.

The nominees are below, with winners in boldface.

1. Best Writer

Joshua Hale Fialkov, ECHOES, Top Cow
Laura Lee Gulledge, PAGE BY PAIGE, Amulet Books
Jeff Lemire, ANIMAL MAN, DC Comics
Jason Shiga, EMPIRE STATE: A LOVE STORY (OR NOT), Abrams ComicArts
Mark Waid, DAREDEVIL, Marvel Comics

2. Best Artist

Paolo Rivera, DAREDEVIL, Marvel Comics
Chris Samnee, CAPTAIN AMERICA AND BUCKY, Marvel Comics
Jason Shiga, EMPIRE STATE: A LOVE STORY (OR NOT), Abrams ComicArts
Craig Thompson, HABIBI, Pantheon Books
J.H. Williams, BATWOMAN, DC Comics

3. Best Cartoonist

Kate Beaton, HARK! A VAGRANT, harkavagrant.com; print edition by Drawn and Quarterly
Jeremy Haun, PILOT SEASON: THE BEAUTY #1, Image Comics
Jeff Kinney, DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: CABIN FEVER, Amulet Books
Roger Langridge, SNARKED, kaboom!
Comfort Love & Adam Withers, RAINBOW IN THE DARK, uniquescomic.com/rainbowinthedark
Craig Thompson, HABIBI, Pantheon Books

4. Best Letterer

Chris Eliopoulos, FEAR ITSELF, Marvel Comics
Laura Lee Gulledge, PAGE BY PAIGE, Amulet Books
Todd Klein, S.H.I.E.L.D.: ARCHITECTS OF FOREVER, Marvel Comics
David Lanphear, SECRET AVENGERS, Marvel Comics
Jason Shiga, EMPIRE STATE: A LOVE STORY (OR NOT), Abrams ComicArts

5. Best Inker

Laura Lee Gulledge, PAGE BY PAIGE, Amulet Books
Mark Morales, THOR, Marvel Comics
Sal Regla, THE MAGDALENA, Top Cow
Joe Rivera, DAREDEVIL, Marvel Comics
Jason Shiga, EMPIRE STATE: A LOVE STORY (OR NOT), Abrams ComicArts

6. Best Colorist

Elizabeth Breitweiser, CAPTAIN AMERICA AND BUCKY, Marvel Comics
Francesco Francavilla, BLACK PANTHER: THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR, Marvel Comics
Sunny Gho, ARTIFACTS, Top Cow
Dave McCaig, THE MAGDALENA, Top Cow
Dave Stewart, HELLBOY: THE FURY, Dark Horse

7. Best Cover Artist

John Tyler Christopher, ARTIFACTS, Top Cow
Marcos Martin, DAREDEVIL, Marvel Comics
Paolo Rivera, DAREDEVIL, Marvel Comics
Mark Simpson (Jock), DETECTIVE COMICS, DC Comics
J.H. Williams, BATWOMAN, DC Comics

8. Most Promising New Talent

Nick Bradshaw, ASTONISHING X-MEN, Marvel Comics
Nathan Edmondson, WHO IS JAKE ELLIS?, Image Comics
Laura Lee Gulledge, PAGE BY PAIGE, Amulet Books
Justin Jordan, THE STRANGE TALENT OF LUTHER STRODE, Image Comics
Sara Pichelli, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, Marvel Comics

9. Best New Series

ANGEL & FAITH, Dark Horse
ANIMAL MAN, DC Comics
DAREDEVIL, Marvel Comics
LAST MORTAL, Top Cow
OZMA OF OZ, Marvel Comics
RACHEL RISING, Abstract Studio

10. Best Continuing or Limited Series

ATOMIC ROBO AND THE GHOST OF STATION X, Red 5 Comics
DAREDEVIL, Marvel Comics
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: CABIN FEVER, Amulet Books
ECHOES, Top Cow
RACHEL RISING, Abstract Studio

11. Best Syndicated Strip or Panel

BIZARRO, Dan Piraro, syndicated by King Features Syndicate
CUL DE SAC, Richard Thompson, syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate
DOONESBURY, Garry Trudeau, syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate
MUTTS, Patrick McDonnell, syndicated by King Features Syndicate
PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, Stephen Pastis, syndicated by United Feature Syndicate

12. Best Anthology

DARK HORSE PRESENTS, edited by various, Dark Horse
FLIGHT #8, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, Villard Books
JIM HENSON’S THE STORYTELLER, edited by Nate Cosby, Archaia Entertainment
SHAME ITSELF, edited by Tom Brennan, Marvel Comics
SOMEDAY FUNNIES, edited by Michael Choquette, Abrams ComicArts

13. Best Graphic Album – Original

EMPIRE STATE: A LOVE STORY (OR NOT), Abrams ComicArts
HABIBI, Pantheon Books
INFINITE KUNG FU, Top Shelf Productions
JIM HENSON’S TALE OF SAND, Archaia Entertainment
ONE SOUL, Oni Press
PAGE BY PAIGE, Amulet Books

14. Best Graphic Album – Previously Published

BIG QUESTIONS, Drawn & Quarterly
DARK TOWER OMNIBUS, Marvel Comics
THE DEATH RAY, Drawn & Quarterly
ECHOES, Top Cow
PS MAGAZINE: THE BEST OF PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE MONTHLY, Abrams ComicArts
S.H.I.E.L.D.: ARCHITECTS OF FOREVER, Marvel Comics

15. Best Single Issue or Story

DAREDEVIL #7, Marvel Comics
ECHOES #5, Top Cow
GANGES #4, Fantagraphics
THE HOMELAND DIRECTIVE, Top Shelf Productions
JIM HENSON’S TALE OF SAND, Archaia Entertainment
OPTIC NERVE #12, Drawn & Quarterly
ZORRO RIDES AGAIN #1, Dynamite Comics

16. Best Domestic Reprint Project

BLACKJACKED AND PISTOL WHIPPED: A CRIME DOES NOT PAY PRIMER, Dark Horse
THE COMICS: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION, Abrams ComicArts
DEFINITIVE FLASH GORDON AND JUNGLE JIM, IDW
WALT DISNEY’S MICKEY MOUSE (THE FLOYD GOTTFREDSON LIBRARY), Fantagraphics
WALT SIMONSON’S THE MIGHTY THOR ARTIST’S EDITION, IDW

17. Best American Edition of Foreign Material

ADVENTURES OF HERGE, Drawn & Quarterly
THE KILLER VOL. 3: MODUS VIVENDI!, Archaia Entertainment
THE MANARA LIBRARY VOL. 1: INDIAN SUMMER AND OTHER STORIES, Dark Horse
ONWARD TOWARD OUR NOBLE DEATHS, Drawn & Quarterly
SINGLE MATCH, Drawn & Quarterly

18. Best Online Comics Work

BATTLEPUG, Mike Norton
BUCKO, Erika Moen and Jeff Parker
DELILAH DIRK AND THE TURKISH LIEUTENANT, Tony Cliff
GRONK, Katie Cook
HARK! A VAGRANT, Kate Beaton

19. Special Award for Humor in Comics

Kate Beaton, HARK! A VAGRANT, harkavagrant.com; print edition by Drawn and Quarterly
Evan Dorkin, MILK AND CHEESE: DAIRY PRODUCTS GONE BAD, Dark Horse
Jeff Kinney, DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: CABIN FEVER, Amulet Books
Roger Langridge, SNARKED, kaboom!
Lela Lee, FAIRY TALES FOR ANGRY LITTLE GIRLS, Abrams ComicArts

20. Special Award for Excellence in Presentation

JIM HENSON’S TALE OF SAND, designed by Eric Skillman, Archaia Entertainment
PS MAGAZINE: THE BEST OF PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE MONTHLY, selected by Eddie Campbell, Abrams ComicArts
RICHARD STARK’S PARKER: THE MARTINI EDITION, designed by Darwyn Cooke, IDW
SOMEDAY FUNNIES, edited by Michael Choquette, Abrams ComicArts
WALT SIMONSON’S THE MIGHTY THOR ARTIST’S EDITION, designed by Randall Dahlk & edited by Scott Dunbier, IDW

21. Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation

ALAN MOORE: STORYTELLER, Universe Books
THE COMICS JOURNAL, Fantagraphics
GENIUS ISOLATED: THE LIFE AND ART OF ALEX TOTH, IDW
GOVERNMENT ISSUE: COMICS FOR THE PEOPLE, 1940s-2000s, Abrams ComicArts
PS MAGAZINE: THE BEST OF PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE MONTHLY, Abrams ComicArts

22. Best Original Graphic Publication for Younger Readers

ANYA’S GHOST, First Second
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: CABIN FEVER, Amulet Books
FRAGGLE ROCK, Archaia Entertainment
MYSTIC, Marvel Comics
OZMA OF OZ, Marvel Comics
SNARKED, kaboom!

Congratulations to all the winners!

Marie Severin Gets What She Deserves – At Last!

It was 1978, and the electric current going through DC Comics’ offices could have lit Times Square. Vice-President and Production Director Jack Adler was strutting around like a proud papa. For the first time in what seemed like a millennium, Marie Severin was paying a visit.

If you were from outside the donut shop, you’d think the President was in the house. Work came to a complete stop. Everybody swarmed to the production department to meet, or to see once again, the famed artist and gifted humorist. That she toiled for the company’s competition and yet received this reception is an acknowledgement of her talent and abilities.

The masterful colorist of the legendary EC Comics line, Marie worked at Marvel Comics for decades as an art director, a penciler and an inker. Her credits read like a Who’s Who at the House of Ideas: Doctor Strange, the Incredible Hulk, Sub-Mariner, and Robert E. Howard’s Kull the Conqueror. That’s quite a range, but she was best known for her satirical work in Marvel’s underrated Not Brand Echh, a book worthy of Masterwork edition if there ever was one.

She was even better known within the industry for her sense of humor. I have never met a person who wasn’t a fan of her work – and a fan of hers, personally.

TwoMorrows just published Marie Severin: The Mirthful Mistress of Comics ($24.95; digital from TwoMorrows for $7.95), a long overdue review of her work written by Dewey Cassell with Aaron Sultan. It was worth the wait.

174 pages of analysis, history, interviews, photographs and about a zillion examples of her work, including a healthy amount of unpublished work – much of it in-house stuff reflecting her breathtaking sense of humor. Tributes abound: Marvel and EC honchos Stan Lee and Al Feldstein, Jack Davis, John Romita, Mark Evanier, Tony Isabella, Roy Thomas and maybe a dozen more folks, all fronted by a foreword from ComicMix columnist and comics luminary Denny O’Neil.

Marie has been one of the most important and most creative people in the history of this medium. Marie Severin: The Mirthful Mistress of Comics tells you why. If you’re already a fan of hers, you either have this book or it’s on your short list. If you’re not all that familiar with her legacy, you need this book.

 

The Amazing Spider-Man: The ComicMix Mixed Review

Glenn and Mike were at the movies – separately – just so they could have a heart-to-heart conversation about The Amazing Spider-Man. This time, each has a fairly different opinion.

Of course, there are spoilers ahead.

Glenn: So, this is going to be an interesting exercise. I believe I could hear your teeth grinding from Norwalk…

Mike: You liked it?

Glenn: Most of it, yes.

Mike: Jeez. I found only the last third the least bit tolerable. What did you like about it?

Glenn: The casting, for starters.

Mike: The casting was fine. But it was in service of a director who put everything he learned in community college up on the screen.

Glenn: Andrew Garfield won me over very quickly, with a naturalness that Tobey Maguire never quite seemed to have. Emma Stone could have carried the film even if she didn’t look just like a John Romita drawing.

Mike: The direction was amateurish and the script was worse. They’re lucky this wasn’t an adaptation of an Alan Moore story.

Glenn: I’m curious – what marked this as amateurish to you? The action scenes played fine, the character scenes worked to the actor’s credits – although I think the film may have trod a bit too much to the sort of aspirational stuff out of a Aaron Sorkin script… of course, that might have been a subconscious reaction to Uncle Ben Bartlett.

Mike: Gwen is the nexus of all coincidences. Her dad just happens to be a police chief in charge of the Spider-Man beat. She just happens to have an after-school job that gives her seemingly complete access to all areas and secrets of one of America’s largest high-science development companies – at 17 years-old – where she just happens to work for the arch-villain, who just happens to be the lab partner of the hero’s dead father.

Glenn: Yes, there’s a bunch of coincidences jammed there. But she was a science geek in the comics, just at the college level, and her dad was a police captain.

And yes, Connors and Richard Parker also happen to work for the upcoming big bad villain, too.

Mike: And all that was spread out over several years’ worth of comics. Here, this was all crammed into two hours – although, to be fair, it seemed like much longer. There’s coincidence, and there’s really bad storytelling. This is really bad storytelling. I really wanted to like this movie. Unfortunately, we knew two best actors weren’t going to make it out of the movie alive. There most certainly is such a thing as a great remake. The classic versions of Maltese Falcon and Wizard of Oz were both remakes. The Amazing Spider-Man is in absolutely no danger of joining this crowd. A remake has to answer the question “Why bother?” This movie, like the Superman remake, didn’t.

Glenn: Two best actors? I mean, we knew that Uncle Ben had to die. I can see a few reasons for retelling the story. For one thing, the effects work has improved a lot in places – the web-swinging in particular. Although the Lizard… well, you don’t always get it perfect.

Mike: Yeah, and we knew the Titanic was going to sink. But the latest movie was about a lot more than the sinking of a boat; ASM wasn’t about anything we hadn’t seen before. Why didn’t they show us Spidey actually using his powers? The webbing thing was fairly cool, but outside of that we rarely saw him in action. He’d be on the ground and there’d be a quick cut to him stuck to the ceiling. Web-slinging through the Manhattan cityscape? Nope; it was mostly long-shots or Peter’s point of view. You don’t have to get the villain perfect, just menacing. Certainly the Goblin looked less-than-stellar in the original.

Glenn: Just out of curiosity, did you see it in 3-D?

Mike: No, 2-D. Which doesn’t address a single one of my storytelling and direction complaints. You rarely saw Spider-Man being Spider-Man. Not even if he pops out of the screen and eats the popcorn out of your lap, 3-D has nothing to do with storytelling. Certainly not in this movie. It doesn’t come close to the Sixth Avenue shots in the first movie. Talk about your John Romita influence…

Glenn: The action sequences, web-slinging, etc. worked for me in 3-D. The Lizard – well, it’s a giant lizard. Hoping for emotion in a lizard’s face is going to be an uphill battle, no matter what insurance company mascots teach us.

Mike: You don’t have to get the villain perfect. Certainly the Green Goblin looked less-than-stellar in the original. But the Lizard looked like the Hulk had pooped out a baddie.

Glenn: Of course, there’s a point. How many times can Spider-Man lose his mask in this film?

Mike: About as often as they want the 12 year-old girls to go all Beatles over Garfield. Who, by the way, looks about 30. Did they cast Garfield and Stone because Dwayne Hickman and Tuesday Weld looked too young?

Glenn: Yeah, college age would have been easy to believe. High school?

Mike: And Peter, Gwen, and obviously ol’ Lizzieface certainly weren’t New Yorkers in the least. Flash might have been, Ben and May and Stacy certainly were, but the three leads seem like they never even visited New York. Conners had been there longer than Peter has been alive.

Glenn: I don’t think the Lizard was a poor choice of villain. Curt Connors was played well… except for that “must turn evil” bit, and even there, it played in character more than Doctor Octopus’s character turn in Spider-Man 2.

Mike:. It was in character for the original comics version that evolved over decades. In a two-hour movie (that played like an eight-day bicycle marathon), it was almost campy. At least Alfred Molena had the chops to pull Doc Ock off. I’d seen scarier villains on Doctor Who… in the black-and-white days!

Glenn: One thing that did work for me was the more naturalistic interactions between characters. Garfield and Stone clicked here in a way that Maguire and Dunst never quite did; for that matter, Garfield seemed more natural with everyone – Sally Field’s Aunt May, Martin Sheen’s Uncle Ben, Denis Leary’s Captain George Stacy, and even the crooks.

Mike: I agree, but those moments were brief. ASM wasn’t about the one-man Greek chorus, and that’s good. It’s about a 17 year-old, but only at times did they allow themselves to go there. Tell me. Did you like this movie as much this morning as you did last night?

Glenn: No, but I’ve had a morning that would make Pollyanna grumpy.

Mike: Did anybody applaud at the end? At my screening, absolutely nobody applauded. Not a one. Virtually everybody who wasn’t in the comics business left before the end of the credits.

Glenn: A decent amount of applause, nothing like the roar at the end of Avengers.

And I have to wonder how this plays in the rest of the country, since Spider-Man is really such a New York character.

Mike: That didn’t hurt the development and the success of Marvel Comics, which was almost entirely New York based for decades, and largely remains that way today. There was nothing particularly New Yorkish about the movie. It could have happened in Cleveland or Phoenix.

Glenn: There’s that same moment in this film that came in the first Spider-Man where New Yorkers pull together to help Spidey out.

Mike: New Yorkers like to think they live in the only city that pulls together in a crisis. It’s human nature. It’s what’s kept humans alive as a species. And wolves.

Glenn: Sadly, it didn’t work nearly as well as it did in the first one, mainly due to a big logic problem. There’s a helicopter right above him. Why doesn’t he just hitch a ride on that?

Mike: By the end of the movie I think only Flash Thompson didn’t know Peter was Spider-Man – and he was the one guy who should have figured that out, given all the scenes where Peter used his powers against him.

Glenn: Flash, despite his name, has never been that quick. And Aunt May – well, I don’t know if she knows or not.

Mike: I was never certain what Aunt May understood, except getting over her husband’s death right quick. Oh, and the costume really sucked. Seriously. Cirque du Soleil should stick to cribbing Mummenschanz.

Glenn: One of the nicer bits between Peter and Aunt May is there’s a lot of unspoken subtext there, with her obviously knowing there’s something Peter’s not telling her, but not knowing quite what – maybe that Peter’s suddenly going in for rough trade or something.

Mike: Sally Field handled each scene quite well; not once did I think “Flying Nun!” But together the movie made May Parker seem schizo.

Glenn: Was there anything you liked about this movie?

Mike: Denis Leary, both his performance and the way they handled his character.

Glenn: Agreed.

Mike: This movie will do well opening weekend because opening weekend lasts six days and has a major holiday in there. But I don’t see it conquering the world. I can understand Garfield wanting to be in Avengers 2. He wants to be in a good super-hero movie.

Glenn: I’m still thinking Sally Field is too young to play Aunt May, but that’s purely a construct that carries over from the comics that has almost no logical basis. Of course she shouldn’t be old enough to be his grandmother, but still.

Mike: You’re absolutely right – if May was Ben’s husband and Ben was Richard’s brother, then Sally was the right age. In the comics Aunt May was born sometime before Barnabas Collins. I should point out I liked this movie more than most of my companions. One, who’s about 17, said it was the worst movie he ever saw. Ric Meyers (who thought less of this than I did) and I replied in unison: “You’re still young.”

Glenn: And ironically, my companion is one of the surliest bastards in comics and prose (David A. Mack, the killer of the Borg) and he enjoyed it even more than I did. This may be the rare film where I can’t easily say in advance whether or not a particular viewer will enjoy themselves.

Mike: Yeah, well I give it a thumb’s up – where the sun don’t shine.

Glenn: I give it a thumb, index finger, and pinky up. Which makes for a very tough review. But hey, kids, go and find out for yourselves.

Marc Alan Fishman: In Defense of the Modern Comic, Part 1

Once again, my Facebook friend Jim Engel tipped me off to another jumping-on point for a rant. I think I owe him a Coke. Seems someone at the Wall Street Journal perked up at the news that the Avengers crossed the bajillion bucks meter, and it stemmed a very obvious question: If the movie is that popular, shouldn’t there be some kind of carry-over to the parent media? And the simple answer is one we comic fans hate to admit: Ain’t no carry-over cash coming through the doors of the local comic shop over this (or any other) movie. So the WSJ writer, one Tim Marchman, decided to take his book review of “Leaping Tall Buildings” and turn it into a tirade on the industry  I want so badly to call home. Now don’t get me wrong, Marchman makes a few solid points. OK, he makes a lot of them. But I know you guys like me when I’m pissy… And one point in particular boils my blood faster than Wally West got eliminated from the New 52:

“If no cultural barrier prevents a public that clearly loves its superheroes from picking up a new Avengers comic, why don’t more people do so? The main reasons are obvious: It is for sale not in a real bookstore but in a specialty shop, and it is clumsily drawn, poorly written and incomprehensible to anyone not steeped in years of arcane mythology.”

First off? On behalf of the industry as a whole? Fuck you. And normally I refrain from the potty mouth, but here is one occasion I feel damned correct in using it. Second, let me clarify where my anger lies. I agree with him about location. The local comic shop is indeed a specialty store. One that carries a stigma of exclusivity that can’t be broken, except on very rare occasion. Most comic shops try hard to throw open their doors to the general public in hopes of enticing them in with their fictiony wares, but the general public doesn’t look to consume their books off the shelf anymore. Ask Borders. But I digress.

I won’t even argue his point about continuity. I could easily argue that, mind you, and if people respond violently enough to this article I may talk about it in a few weeks. Suffice to say, yes, it’s a big barrier to entry. Anyone walking in, fresh out of the theater, would be hard pressed to know where exactly to start reading an Avengers comic. The movie-roster tie-in isn’t well-liked by any reviewer, and the modern Bendis epic-arcs (Disassembled, Civil War, Dark Reign, etc.) are amazingly dense with history. Enough at least to perhaps scare off someone from really taking a leap of literary faith. Again, I digress.

The jab Marchman takes specifically toward the “Clumsily Drawn” aspect of modern comics. Frankly, I don’t get where he’s coming from.

Let’s talk about those clumsy drawings he’s obviously so urped by. Take a look across the racks of your local comic store. Do you see what I see? I see a breadth of styles more diverse than any other period of comic book publishing. Do you think, even for a nano-second, that years ago you’d see Travel Foreman’s sketchy macabre style sharing shelf space with Mobius-inspired types like Frank Quitely and Chris Burnham? Or the crisp and clean lines of the Dodsons bunked-up nice and cosy next to the loose and energetic John Romita, Jr.? No. You’d get 17 Rob Liefeld clones boasting whips, chains, impossible guns, and thigh pouches. Go back to the 80’s? You’d get a sea of house-styled Neal Adams / Dave Gibbons / George Pérez wanna-bees and an occasional Bill Sienkiewicz or Frank Miller thrown in.

I truly believe we are in an amazing time for comic book art. Artists and editors are finding a real balance between new styles, and composition to tell a story. Not every book is perfect mind you (and yes, there is still a house style to both Marvel and DC… but assuredly not as rigid as it once was). On the whole, a comic off the rack today has more chance of being an original artistic statement than a commanded tracing of “something that sells.” While comic sales have plummeted from the false peaks of the 90’s… I truly doubt it is the fault of the art on hand. Well, except for Scott McDaniels’ stuff. Yeesh.

Now, I know that there’s some debate amongst my ComicMix brethren about this point-in-question. I openly beg for some of that debate to happen in the comments below. I’m hard-pressed to believe that on an industry level that the artwork is to blame for comics’ dwindling sales. As I look across the smattering of books I’ve been reading these days – Daredevil, Invincible Iron Man, Batman, The Boys, The Manhattan Projects… and flip through the pages of artists truly giving their all to every panel – I get a little verklempt. I want all of you to go on with out me. I think about this Marchman, and all I can think is “Ver es kon kain pulver nit shmeken, der zol in der malchumeh nit gaien!”

Now go on… discuss!

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

“The creators of Spider-Man, Storm, and Power Man are unknown”?

We thought this was settled by now. Certainly Marvel Comics should know it. But apparently not. In the recent trade paperback, Spider-Man Fights Substance Abuse, we find this blurb on the credits page:

The creators of Spider-Man, Storm, and Power Man are unknown.

Apparently, Marvel is having some substance abuse problems of their own over there, or this is the latest salvo in the Disneyfication of Marvel where they decide they own everything, and it was all created by nameless workers.

Since some people at Marvel appear to be on drugs themselves, let us make this perfectly clear:

Oh, and while we’re on the subject:

Hopefully, we won’t have to repeat this. But knowing Marvel of late, we probably will have to repeat it. A lot.

MICHAEL DAVIS Is Bringing Sexy Back

I am far from being a prude.

In fact, I’m so far away from being a prude the next level in my open mindedness would be to become a prude.

I’ve met a lot of prudes in my life and nothing makes a prude more prudish than their views on sex.

Me? As long as it does not include kids or animals I say what ever floats your boat sexually, have at it. You would have to be into some sick shit (kids, animals, Republicans) to disgust me.

I’m not quite at the point that I’m disgusted by the depiction of some women in superhero comics but I’m far from all right with it and have not been all right with it for a while now. It’s just a real turn off to me and it’s also one of the reasons a lot of people still think comics are juvenile fare at best.

The depiction of super titty women is not something I consider as important to be concerned about like some sicko who’s into gerbil love or some other crazy action.  I guess for the most part absolutely unrealizable depictions of women with breasts as big as a weather balloons is harmless, except for giving young men a bullshit unrealistic view of women and demeaning women in all sorts of ways. But other than that, it’s harmless.

But-that does seem to be what the audience wants, though it seems to me the 38 double-D tits, tiny waist and banging booty that appear to be the preeminent portrayal of women in comics is just silly in this day and age. Yeah, I can hear the decades old ridiculous argument “they are drawn that way for the 15-year-old boy audience.”

Really? So those 15-year old boys are not into the guys in tights that beat up on other guys in tights, which is the reason most superhero comics exist?  So doing away with the big titty women would result in those 15-year old boys no longer reading about the men in tights who like to pound other men in tights?

Oh, wait a sec.

Perhaps the reason for the big titty women is to insure that no conservative family value group complains that comics are nothing but guys in tights pounding each other.

That can’t happen. It would destroy the sanity of marriage.

So I guess we are stuck with the 15-year-old boy defense for the reason that big titty superhero women are on the rag…I mean all the rage!

Heh.

That defense is weaker than OJ’s but it’s working just as well I guess. It’s the cop out of all cop-outs and artists who spin that line are just wrong or really horny.

I mean really.

The only thing that’s possibly worst than comic’s big titty women are the big titty women in some video games. Have you seen Catwoman in Mortal Combat VS. The DC Universe? She looks like a porn star that has seen way too many one eyed monsters. I mean…damn.

I often wonder what the wives and girlfriends of the artists who draw big titty super women think. But then again, maybe that’s the problem. Maybe most of these guys have no wife or girlfriend. Maybe they just need to get laid.

Well if that’s the case I’m not here to judge, I’m here to help. Follow the steps below and your pent up frustrations will soon be a thing of the past.

Step 1. Go to a bar.

Step 2: Buy the ugliest or the fattest girl a drink or seven.

Step 3. Get real drunk yourself.

Step 4. Take her home.

Step 5. Tap that.

Note: for even faster action, buy a fat and ugly girl the drinks.

This works. Trust me. How do I know? It’s in the Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain handbook and just look how much tail those guys are getting.

On the very, very slim chance there is a woman artist out there drawing big titty women in comics the followings are steps that you can use to get laid.

Step 1. Go to a bar

Step 2. Look for the guy trying to get a fat or ugly woman (or both) drunk.

Step 3. Go up to him and just say “yes.”

Step 4. Let him take you home and “tap that.”

Step 5. In about two minutes after he is “tapped out,” leave and go home and work.

By the way, shame on you for being such a slut.

Look, kidding aside, I’m a big a fan of big titty women with tiny waist and banging booty as the next guy but I prefer real and not plastic.

That’s the problem with the way some artists depict woman. Their depictions just do not ring true.

Yes, I know that neither does a guy who comes from another planet and can bend steel in his bare hands and who, disguised as Clark Kent is tapping the ass of one of the few female characters who is not a big titty woman. I know that does not ring true either but that’s a non-truth I can live with.

The new guys would do well to take a page from some of the masters of comic book art. They took the time and effort to draw women with grace, style and attitude and those women were hot!

Gwen Stacy as drawn by John Romita Sr. is the hottest comic book woman character ever created bar none.

Who’s hotter? Nobody.

Gwen Stacy was not a superhero but she was still a piece of ass to beat any other piece of ass.

Female agents of SHIELD as drawn by Jim Steranko – hot!!! Nick Fury’s girlfriend Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine as drawn by Jim was sexy beyond words.

Jack Kirby’s Sue Storm was so fine that she was my second pretend girlfriend. The first was Gwen Stacy and the third was Laurie Partridge.

Yeah, I had a thing for white girls. I had to have a thing for white girls; there were no black women in comics or on TV for my 10-year-old self to develop a crush on.

I’m proud to say as a proud African American man, all my crushes now are of women of color…Asian.

What?

I don’t expect anything to change anytime soon with regards to super big titty woman but maybe some artist will read this and check out how the greats did women.

Give that a sec.

You know, if those comic book artists who draw those outlandish women  would simply draw less big titty women the big titty women they did draw would become that much more of a  sex symbol because she would be rare.

That would be sexy.

I miss you Gwen Stacy. I’m sad that the Green Goblin broke your neck.

That sucked.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold

Tribute To A Master

Tribute To A Master

When you think of the classic Marvel artists, you think of masters of the medium such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita Sr, John Buscema, and Gene Colan. No wonder Marvel left all other American comics publishers in the dust.

This coming February, Marvel Entertainment will honor one of those gentlemen by releasing The Invincible Gene Colan, a visual tribute and biography of one of the most brilliant and influential comic artists in the genre’s history – and one of the nicest guys on the block. Edited by our pal Clifford Meth, the book includes observations from Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Neil Gaiman, Walter Simonson, Marv Wolfman, Tom Palmer, John Romita Sr., and Tom Spurgeon, as well as tons of Gene’s beautiful art.

Aardwolf Publishing will have the exclusive signed-numbered copies as well as the extremely limited double-lettered remarqued, book-plated edition (each containing a unique sketch from the hand of Gene Colan).

Here’s the details:
• Signed/numbered: $60 plus $5 shipping
• Double-lettered remarqued edition (contains Colan sketch; only 52 will be created): $140 plus $5 shipping
• Special offer: With any order, add another $15 and receive The Uncanny Dave Cockrum hardcover numbered edition ($40 retail value).