Tagged: Stan Lee

Jean Giraud, aka “Moebius”: 1938-2012

English: Jean Giraud at International Festival...

The BBC has bad news to report: Jean Henri Gaston Giraud, who first came to widespread prominence in America with the importing of Heavy Metal and known worldwide to his fans as Moebius, has died in Paris after a long battle with cancer. He was 73.

He was popular in the US and Japan, working with legend Stan Lee and manga artists, as well as in his homeland.

He also worked on design concepts and storyboards for a number of top science fiction films, including Alien, Tron, The Abyss and The Fifth Element.

Giraud trained at art school and turned to comics after working as an illustrator in the advertising and fashion industries.

His best known work in his native country was probably the Lieutenant Blueberry character but he also worked on the Silver Surfer with Stan Lee.

via BBC News – France comics artist Jean Giraud – Moebius – dies at 73.

Active in comics since the 60s, Girard was a three-time Harvey Award winner and a two-time Eisner Award winner, and a Hall of Fame inductee for both. He also won the Shazam, the Yellow Kid (twice), the Angouleme International (three times), the Haxtur, and the World Fantasy Awards.

Here’s a trailer from the documentary Moebius Redux: A Life In Pictures, with commentary from Jim Lee, Mike Mignola, and Enki Bilal, where Giraud talks about his life and his work.


Our condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

MICHAEL DAVIS: African-Americans in Comics Exhibit

I’m looking for a few good artists.

In February 2013, I will have the honor of curating a galley show called Milestones: African Americans in Comics. Pop Culture and Beyond. The show will held at the Geppi Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

It’s  my goal to make this the most comprehensive showing of black comic and related content ever assembled.

The Geppi Museum is nothing short of fantastic and as mentioned I am indeed honored to be creating this show for them. The best of the best will be showcased… but that’s not what I’m writing about today. Today I’m looking for a few good artists.

A few good new artists.

Soon the process will begin to select the professional artists for the show. Some will be invited others will be asked to submit work for jury selection. Consider this my ComicMix reader jump start for any new artist out there who may want to submit work for the show before the official call for entries.

I want to showcase new creators who may not be published yet. The show will have a worldwide audience as it will be up for a year and the press coverage will be massive. The opening of the show will surely attract comics elite and powerful and will be a grand way for a new artist to have his or her work showcased.

The show is not just open to black creators. It’s a show about African-American impact in pop culture. I’m open to any art that features or has been influenced by the African-American experience.

To put it another way, the Black Panther was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.

‘Nuff said.

I’m looking for creativity, excellence and above all voices with something to say.

In the months ahead, the Geppi Museum will be releasing information on submissions and updates on the show as it progressives.

If you can, try and see the show while it’s up. There will be punch and pie.


“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.

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Creators Are People Too

Hot off the lips of far better men and women than I (aka all the other ComicMix columnists) comes a little discussion weighing in on all this legal mumbo-jumbo going on in comic-book-land. Not to be outdone (remember when I lit a wee fire under Michael Davis a few weeks back?), I figured I’d let loose a few witticisms on the injustices being faced by far too many comic creators these days. Or just as every week, I’ll bury my foot in my mouth making wild assumptions, and asking dumb questions. Either way, you’re entertained… right?

For those not following the drama, read a few posts (such as here and here) and catch up. Basically Gary Friedrich got torched by Marvel for having the gall to turn a pocket out to them now that Ghost Rider is making them a few greenbacks. Gary isn’t alone in doing this. The creators of Superman did it. The family of Jack Kirby did it. And even over in the land ruled by Robert Kirkman, his longtime friend is doing it. And in all the cases, there seems to be a very simple precedent: When the check was cut to these creators for their initial involvement, signing it waived their rights to own their creation. Before the 1980s these checks had the contract right there on the check. I assume in the Kirkman case there were contracts and papers and lawyers, etc. In any event, for a small-time creator like myself, it’s scary and sad to read. A large part of me is angry. A smaller, more Jewish part of me is saying “Didn’t they know what they were signing?”

Please note, I am Jewish. So, it’s cool for me to go there.

Honestly, I’m torn on the subject. On one hand you’d figure that the person who did the legwork creating something should see the eventual fruit of their labor, when the money starts flowing. Would Marvel or DC be anywhere near as big as they are right now without the hard work and creativity of guys like Jack Kirby, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and the rest? The short answer: Hell No!

Creating a character that becomes a cultural icon, even for five minutes, takes real skill. And a suitcase of money doesn’t make Spider-Man’s rogues gallery, or designs Superman’s iconic costume. When the profits from the Spider-Man franchise, or the Nolan Bat-Franchise started rolling in, is it wrong to think that the person who initially created the character be able to see a little cash come their way? Certainly, as a compassionate person, I say of course. I’m not looking to be a communist here, but seriously, are a few shekels sent to the Mr. Friedrich when Nic Cage’s movie sells a few pairs of Underoos really going break Marvel’s bank? I doubt it.

On the other hand… if the paperwork is all signed, these creators are up a creek without a paddle. When I signed on the dotted line for my car, it’s mine. Even if I hate it the second I take the keys from the salesman… I’m stuck with it. Not a perfect metaphor, but I think my point is clear enough, no? When Gary, or any of the aforementioned creators were given their assignments from their editors… was there not a discussion about compensation? Assuming there was, it’s really on the head of said creators to know exactly what they are getting into. At the end of the day, if you sell your soul to the Devil, there’s no way out of Hell. Even if everyone agrees that you got screwed. It’s your name on the dotted line, and it’s your duty to read every word above it.

Face facts, no comic book artist or writer I know is living in a mansion, with extra money flowing out of their pockets. The fact is as I write this very column, I’m scouring Craigslist for freelance gigs in hopes of earning a few more bucks so I don’t have to send my wife back to work, so we can barely pay for daycare for our son (who is only a few weeks old). If Marvel or DC came calling at my door right now and told me they wanted to offer me a book, I’d sign papers so fast they’d need a fire extinguisher to cool my hands off.

Why? Money. I need it. They have it. And I’m safely assuming most anyone working in comics before me was in the same position. And therein lies the problem. The bigwigs behind these publishers have all shared the same evil grin behind their creators’ faces. Having the rights to the characters means raking in all the money from all the avenues open to said characters. Movies, TeeVee, T-shirts, action figures, sippy cups, night lights, toothbrushes, online fan club memberships, cereal, and oh yeah… comics. There’s no doubt in my mind that those with the cash have maintained the mentality that it’s their money, and they’ll hold onto it by any means necessary.

Remember that whole #OccupyWallStreet thing? Well, I’m certain the people behind the people behind the people at both the House of Ideas and the Brothers Warner aren’t in the 99%.

At the root of all this is the human factor. Money doesn’t grow on trees, and when you need to pay a bill, you do what you have to do to pay it. If the check is sitting on your desk, and all that stands between your next meal is your integrity, do you starve with a belly full of pride? Do you go the route of Robert Kirkman or Mike Mignola, and take your million dollar ideas to places where they let you keep your soul? Well, it’s different for everyone in comics. And when the good guys like Paul Levitz (see John’s column) step down, who will be there to fight for the little guys? Cause let’s face it… the second someone turns heels and walks away with their idea, there’s a line out the door and around the block of people waiting for a chance to walk right in.

And I’ll be damned if I’m not one of them.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander Changes The Subject


MIKE GOLD: The Curious Case of The Ghost Rider

Last week, the Internets were all aflutter with the story about how Disney/Marvel successfully defended itself against Gary Friedrich’s Ghost Rider lawsuit. This was hardly surprising. Just ask Marv Wolfman or the ghost of Steve Gerber.

Then Disney/Marvel turned around and demanded $17,000 from Gary for the Ghost Rider prints he sold at comic book conventions – you know, just like hundreds of other artists do at every artists’ alley at nearly every comic book convention held in the past decade. This was very surprising. And quite disgusting. Not to mention overwhelmingly petty.

Well, those of us who followed Disney’s Air Pirates lawsuit weren’t surprised at all, but that’s another story.

When Gary filed his appeal and the noise went into the can for a while, I whipped out Marvel Spotlight #5.  On that very first Ghost Rider story, the credits read “conceived and written by Gary Friedrich.” (Emphasis mine.) That was unique for comics at that time. The lawyers discouraged publishers for printing creator credits lest said creators pull what is affectionately known as a “Siegel/Shuster.” I remember being a bit surprised – perhaps impressed is the better word for it – back when I read that issue back in 1972. Nonetheless, Gary lost his case.

This wasn’t the only thing that surprised me. I was also surprised that Marvel plowed over the name of their western hero, first and last seen in his own seven-issue series back in 1967. It was a clever use of recycling intellectual property.

I remembered that Ghost Rider rather fondly. It was a good, solid macabre western character told in then-contemporary Marvel style featuring some of Dick Ayers’ best art in years. So I whipped out Ghost Rider #1, cover-dated February 1967. And then I took a look at the credits.

Please note that both Ghost Rider origins were edited by the same person, a guy named Stan Lee. And Roy Thomas was involved in both – as co-dialogist on the western, and as “aider and abettor” on the motorcyclist. And Gary Friedrich was a writer on both.

That didn’t give Gary any legal coverage, but it’s an interesting chain-of-evidence. Core to the issue of who owns what – in a moral sense but not legal – is the derivation of the original Ghost Rider. The first one. The one before the two published by Marvel Comics.

The one that was damn near exactly the same as Marvel’s western, right down to Dick Ayers’ artwork and design. The one that was published by Magazine Enterprises in various of their titles, including one called “Ghost Rider.” That one lasted twice as long as Marvel’s. The feature got its start in their Tim Holt title. This original version was, as noted, drawn by Dick Ayers and written – some say created – by editor Raymond Krank, who later replaced himself with Gardner Fox. Many of those Tim Holt covers were drawn by Frank Frazetta, who also illustrated a Ghost Rider text story.

This wasn’t the first time Marvel assumed the name of a character they did not create, as geriatric Daredevil fans know all too well. But that, too, is another story.

Ghost Rider has had an interesting history, one that isn’t over. It’s a good example of how the whole comics creation thing is a can of worms. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman and Clark Kent and Lois Lane, but they did not create Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, and Kryptonite, among a great, great many other vital Superman concepts. If their estates wind up owning Superman, what happens to Perry and Jimmy and the rest?

Good grief. Back in the day, nobody was supposed to take all this seriously. But I think I know how either version of the Ghost Rider would have handled it.

Screw the lawyers. We’ve got us our six-guns, and one mother of a bike.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Make Mine Valiant

So, I’ve spent the last few weeks ranting and raving about DC. And face it, there’s still plenty there to mine. From their recent canning of six titles and announcing six more (none of which I think will last a year) to their recently leaked ”sticker logo”… I could have a field day continuing to bash and dash. But alas, I grow weary of being hypocritical. I bitch and moan about them a ton, yet the majority of the cash flowing out of my pocket to frivolity generally concerns a majority of DC books, and related merchandise. So, for now, I’m waving a white flag, and turning my gaze elsewhere. Somewhere dashing, daring, and dare I say… Valiant.

On May 2nd, Valiant Comics will be reborn. Their flagship title, X-O Manowar, will hit the shelves. I will admit freely to you all that I know nothing of the Valiant universe. Let’s quickly Wikipedia that, for those in a similar boat. Wow, what a story! In 1989, Jim Shooter, one of the Allman Brothers crew, and some other financiers tried to buy up Marvel. They didn’t get it. Thus Valiant was born! They got a few heavy-hitters, and released a line of books. In 1994, they got dumped by their initial investors, scooped up by then-important video game creator Acclaim, and died a slow and boring death as their continuity-heavy line became too heavy a load to bear. Legal battles and the like kept things grounded for a while, but as you’ll now note: it’s all been solved, and the line will reconvene with Free Comic Book Day 2012. And due largely to some lackluster books by DC, and Marvel’s Next-Big-Waste of Time, I’m at a loss for why I shouldn’t take this as a sign to give Valiant a shot.

A recent press release for the budding brand hyped the announcement of the creative team for X-O. Surrogates scribe Robert Venditti and Conan artist Cary Nord will unite to bring us a tale of a time-lost ancient warrior given amazing future technology and plopped on the populace in 2012. Color me intrigued. I happen to love the Surrogates original graphic novel, and sneak peaks at the pencils of Nord show me that the book will look amazing to boot.

But this leads me to the bigger question. What is Valiant’s battle plan? Will they rise up and be a contender with the Big Two? I doubt it. The marketplace is crowded as it is. Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Dynamite, Avatar, and Boom! all struggle to keep a cohesive line. Face it, each of those aforementioned second stringers all have one or two big fish, and then spread themselves thin on bargain-bin fodder from licensed properties that appeal to the niche audiences. Well… the niche of this niche, if you get my drift.

Mind you, I’m not trying to poop on the parade, I’m just wary for any “line launch” in a continually crowded comic rack. And a subsequent Google search doesn’t even have the company site at #1 in the rankings. What appears to be a company website is just a form with “Notify Me!” on it. Bad mojo my friends.

Let us consider Boom! Studios’ Stan Lee line, launched in 2010. Four books with solid concepts released very close to one another. The critics didn’t quite rave about any of them, and I rarely hear anyone discuss them at the shop when I pop in on new comic book day. Valiant certainly has picked a good time to strike, but I’m hoping it’s done more intelligently. Case in point?

Boom’s other cash cow, the Irredeemable universe. Launched as a single amazing comic, smartly spun off into a single other title that has refrained for years before crossing directly into one another. Join that to a solid base of fans consistently purchasing the book due to high standards of art teams and consistent writing… and you have something worth copying. While I myself have recently stopped my subscription to Irredeemable, I don’t knock those still following on. It’s the kind of model I hope Valiant is paying close attention to.

Ultimately, X-O Manowar‘s release got me genuinely excited for a new title to latch on to. With a strong creative team announced, and DC and Marvel knee-deep in their own crapulence, Valiant stands to gain a following again. If they stick to releasing solid books, refrain from event-driven releases, and put their books out on time… I see no reason why they won’t stick around for a long while.

Also, they should hire Unshaven Comics.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

DENNIS O’NEIL: Who Needs To Be A Superhero?

File this under Art Imitating Life Imitating Art.

Or maybe, clothes don’t make the (super) man.

Last month, the New York Times ran a story – front page, no less – about ordinary citizens putting on costumes, giving themselves superheroish names, hitting the streets and combating real-life crime. Apparently, they mostly content themselves with non-violent intervention, or calling the cops, though one guy in Seattle was arrested after pepper-spraying a street fight.

They even have an organization called The Black Monday Society.

It’s been creeping into the zeitgeist for a while, this business of plain Janes and Joes putting on odd clothing and assuming alter egos. There’s been at least one movie that uses the idea as a springboard – it’s called “Super” and it’s popped up on cable channels hereabouts – and it was the core of a weekly television show titled “Who Wants To Be A Superhero?” hosted by my one-time boss, Stan Lee. (Stan: If you’re out there and asking that question, I’m not raising my hand.)

I imagine that for most members of the Black Monday Society, the masked-and-caped patrols are a hobby, a slight mutation of the dressing up at comics and science fiction conventions that can make a good time of just sitting in a hotel lobby and watching the fantasies parade on past. And hey, maybe the Black Mondays are actually of some service to heir fellow citizens. What’s not to like about blowing the whistle on some creep breaking a vacationing neighbor’s basement window, or directing a befuddled partygoer to the nearest bus stop? But here’s the catch: these well-meaning people are not superheroes, and neither are you, or I, or Stan, or Ryan Reynolds, or anybody else who ever trod the planet. We are not faster than a speeding bullet, we can’t outpower a locomotive nor leap over tall buildings, and if we were ever bitten by a radioactive spider we’d need medical attention. As a species, we homo sapiens need medical attention pretty often, and we especially need it when we meddle with strangers who are bigger, stronger, meaner, or have better weapons or ornery friends or, as almost happened when congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot, a good Samaritan packing a gun mistakes the heroes for the villains.

The psychosexual aspects of role playing in dangerous contexts were touched on in Watchman, still the high water mark in comic book superheroics, and the perils of being a self-appointed vigilante were the subject of last week’s episode of Harry’s Law, which dealt with a young woman’s putting on a Wonder Woman suit and bashing abusive spouses.. I’d been watching the show for about 20 minutes before I remembered that its co-writer, and the show’s creator, the prolific and generally excellent David Kelley, was also honcho on a Wonder Woman series that NBC decided not to air. The episode was unusually glum for a Kelley production, with the faux WW ending up in therapy, but it did give the producers an excuse to put a gorgeous Erica Durance in that costume.

Several decades ago, the mythologist and sage, Joseph Campbell, warned of the dangers of conflating myth with fact. A news story and a fable tell different kinds of truth and it might be unhealthy to confuse the two. So maybe we’d all better save our superheroing for the next convention costume parade and find other ways to help our neighbors.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases


JOHN OSTRANDER: Prognostications 2012

Crap. Crappity crappitry crap.

It’s New Year’s Day. If it was New Year’s Eve I could look backwards and wax philosophic about 2011. But here we are smack dab in the middle of New Year’s Day, Day 1 for the year 2012, so I really should be looking ahead and prognosticating about what the year will bring especially for comics and related media.

I’m a crappy prognosticator.

Years ago, I read a squib in a newspaper about how a Japanese cell phone company had worked out how to add a camera to their phone and I thought, “What a stupid idea. They’ll have these crappy little photos and how good could the lens be and so on. Who would want that?”

Well, everyone, as it turned out.

Before that, I read another little squib about how the Dean of St. Paul’s cathedral in London was going to do a controlled jump with a parachute from the top of the church to bring attention to a rock opera that was premiering called “Jesus Christ Superstar.” And I thought, ‘What a stupid idea. A rock opera? About Jesus? Who would want to go see that?”

Well, gobs and gobs of people, as it turned out.

So I’m not the world’s foremost prognosticator. The Great Criswell I ain’t.

This year, however, it may not matter. The Mayan calendar ends with 2012 and some people predict that means the world is going to end in 2012. Heck, they’ve already done a big, loud, lousy movie about it. How you can take such a potentially fantastic event and make a lousy movie about it is beyond my – wait. The director was Roland Emmerich, wasn’t it? He’s also the one who directed Anonymous which says Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare’s play (piffle, I say!). And the producer/director of the heinous Godzilla remake. Never mind.

Okay, I grant you that maybe this isn’t real strong evidence. I mean, just because the calendar I have on my wall ended last night didn’t mean the world ended. Not if you’re reading this. I bought another calendar. And if the Mayans were all that sharp as prognosticators, why didn’t they chop up every single Spaniard they met into tiny little pieces?

In 2012, we have The Avengers movie coming out, the new Spider-Man movie, The Dark Knight Rises, and even the first of The Hobbit movies. The first of The Hunger Games movies, the next James Bond movie (Skyfall) will also make their appearances. Heck, based on the latest trailer, I’m hyped to see John Carter. This doesn’t even include the stuff that I don’t know I’ll want to see yet. I didn’t know about Hugo until relatively late this year and that may be my favorite film of 2011.

Seriously, would any sort of just and loving god end the world before Mary and I get to see The Hobbit?

Wait, That’s right. I’m agnostic. Said so last week. Doesn’t matter; I’m not going to believe in the Mayans either. We’re going to have 2012 and it’s going to be fun. Despite the Mayans, despite the elections, there are good times waiting out there.

As Stan (the Man) Lee himself was known to say: “Face front, True Believers! Because that’s there the future’s coming from!”

Words of wisdom for us all. Happy New Year, folks.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell


MICHAEL DAVIS: Comics in Black… And White

I am a black man.

Well that’s not really true. I’m a tall and unbelievably handsome black man. I work in television, mainstream books and comics. Most of the works I’ve created in all of those mediums have featured black people in foremost roles.

I create black characters because I’m a black creator and I’d like to see more black people represented in the media and I think it’s my job to…yada, yada, yada…

Over the years I’ve said a zillion times that the reason I create black characters is because I felt we were under represented and I did believe it was my responsibility to create characters so young black kids can feel themselves represented.

But is it really my responsibility to create black characters because I’m a black man now? Have we come far enough in the country and the industry for me to give up the fight?

When I was growing up there were no black superheroes of color except for the Black Panther and Luke Cage, Hero For Hire. So my two black superheroes role models were an African King and an ex-con who was a superhero only when he got paid to be.

As hard as I tried I just could not identify with The Black Panther; he was an African king in his secret identity. “Oh, that’s a wonderful black man to aspire to be like.” I’m sure some of you are thinking.


I was born in Queens and the last thing I wanted to imagine myself growing up to be was an African king. I’d seen enough Tarzan movies as a kid to know I would not look good with a bone through my nose. I mean… ugh.

What about, Luke Cage Hero For Hire?


Hero for hire?


Like I said, I grew up in Queens or to be more precise, the hood in Queens. I could not imagine being a superhero that sold his services, that as they say in the hood is ghetto.

The young Harlem mother and her child were coming home very late one evening. The bus they were on was empty except for the driver and some gang bangers who looked like they wanted to start some trouble.

She was not worried, there was a rule written in stone in the hood among gangs, mothers and kids were off limits.

Written in stone…

The problem was these gang bangers could not read.

 “Yo, (bad word starts with B) what cha lookin at?”

He rose, slowly removing a gun from his jacket.

 “I said (bad word starts with B) what cha lookin at?”

She was frozen in place. She had never seen a real gun before and it was at the moment she knew this was the end of her life. She held her child close to her and said softy, “Close your eyes honey it will be OK.”

The bus stopped. Cage entered the bus. Paid his fare and stared down the thug with the gun. The woman’s face lit up as she realizes she is saved!

 “Oh, thank God! He was about to shoot me! I’m sure of it! He called me a…”

Cage puts his hand up to silence her then says; “I can save you for $500, your kid for another $500 so that’s $1000,00.”

The woman looks at Cage, she can tell by the stern look on his face he is not kidding. “ All I have is $500 to my name!”

 “Then you better tell your kid to keep his eyes closed.”

Really? Hero for Hire? Really?

Neither The Black Panther nor Luge Cage, neither of those black heroes seemed as good as the white heroes I was so in love with. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and the like.

Superman was an orphan from another planet whose parents were blown the F up and he had a cool ass secret identity. He was Clark Kent, reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper. Batman’s secret identity was equally as badass, another orphan whose parents were shot the F up. His cool ass secret identity was rich ass playboy Bruce Wayne.

Spider-Man was another orphan whose parents were shot the F up AND as a bonus he was responsible for his Uncle Ben being shot the F up. His cool ass secret identity was a high school student and he worked for a great metropolitan newspaper as a photographer.

Why couldn’t I have a black hero whose parents were shot the F up? Why couldn’t I have a black hero who was an orphan? Why couldn’t I have a black hero whose cool ass secret identity was to work for a great metropolitan newspaper and not as a janitor?

No. I got an African king. In my mind, Tarzan (according to the movies my seven year old ass was watching) would soon rescue a white couple from a boiling pot the Black Panther had placed them in while waiting for a visit from The Fantastic Four, and I got a hero who people had to pay to protect them or in other words…

Super Pimp.

Also, Super Pimp didn’t even have a secret identity. Like I said, ghetto.

That’s what I grew up with. That’s what the African American comic book artists of my generation grew up with. It’s no wonder many of us felt it was our responsibly to create black heroes that our black kids could use as real role models, heroes that spoke to them not just in skin color but in experience.

When I was a kid a black GI Joe action figure was just a white GI. Joe painted brown. That made him black to me back then but that was not good enough for my kids when I had them.

Don’t get me wrong; I grew to love Lee and Kirby’s Black Panther. I realized just how cool it was to have an African king be his secret identity. That’s around the time I also realized those Tarzan movies were racist bullshit. Hasbro eventually came out with a black version of GI Joe that was a Black Joe. The lips, nose and even hair were modeled after black features. I still remember when I got my first real Black Joe. It was so damn cool.

As for Luke Cage, Hero for Hire?

That, in my opinion was and will always be ghetto. I mean damn, a Super Pimp? Come on! Really?

I grew up wanting and frankly needing black heroes that I could look up to and that spoke to me.

That was then.

Now, there is still need for more black superheroes as there is a need for many heroes of color but is it the job of people of color to create them?


Are the characters of any creator as valid as any other creator regardless if the creator is black or white?

In other words, would Blade be even cooler if a white guy did not create him? Would Spawn be even more badass if a black creator had created him?

Can white creators create viable black characters and vice versa? It seems the answer is an easy “yes” if you look at the success of some black characters created by non-black creators. It’s a easy yes in the marketplace to be sure but how about in the industry and the homes of those black kids who grow up wanting to be Blade?

Does it matter that an white guy created Blade? Should it matter? A great white guy and my dear friend Marv Wolfman but a white guy nevertheless.

Should we even care?

Anyone? Bueller? Bueller…?


MIKE GOLD: Gifts for Comic Book People

Yep, the gift-giving holidays are upon us once again. Here’s three recent releases that are among the top of my list.

The Stan Lee Universe, by Danny Fingeroth and Roy Thomas  TwoMorrows Publishing, $39.95 hardcover; also available in softcover and digital

If you’re asking “who’s Stan Lee and why should I care about his universe?” then I’m asking “why are you reading a website called ComicMix?” I’m not going to waste bandwidth establishing Stan’s street cred. The Stan Lee Universe is not the definitive biography of Stan Lee; even at 89 years of age (in three weeks), he’s continuing to create new comics properties and appearing on television shows and in movies and his story remains a work in progress. As a life-long comics fan and practicing professional, I find great comfort in that.

The Stan Lee Universe is a massive gathering of articles, interviews, tributes, and – best of all – items from the Stan Lee Archives from the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center. All this stuff was hoisted up and organized by two of the medium’s best, Danny Fingeroth and Roy Thomas, both having served time at Marvel Comics with Mr. Lee and both having an encyclopedic knowledge of the field. The folks at TwoMorrows (Alter-Ego, Write-Now, The Jack Kirby Collector) did the design and layout, and the result is a black-and-white and color extravaganza that actually taught me a thing or two about both Marvel and Stan… and I’ve been here forever.

Danny and Roy knocked themselves out, and it shows. No matter what you think you may know about all this, you’ll learn a lot from The Stan Lee Universe and I recommend it most highly to anybody the least bit interested in comics or our American heritage.

Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Volume 1 by Walt Kelly, edited by Carolyn Kelly and Kim Thompson, consulting editor Mark Evanier, forward by Jimmy Breslin  Fantagraphics Books, $39.99 in hardcover.

Everybody’s been reprinting the great classic newspaper strips with such effort that it almost gives a fanboy like me religion. This Pogo series was announced back when Albert the Alligator lost his egg tooth, leaving Walt Kelly’s many fans panting.

It was worth the wait. We get all the dailies from the long-defunct New York Star from the beginning on October 1948 through January 1949, the series nationally distributed by the Hall Syndicate from May 1949 through December 1950, and the initial year’s run of Sunday strips in color from 1950. Reproduction is first-rate; the paper isn’t quite as good as I’d like, but that’s being really picky.

A lot of the conventions with which we are familiar from Pogo were birthed during this period, and most of the characters with which we are most familiar have already been fully realized during the initial Dell Comics run. Walt Kelly’s wit and charm is unmatched in the history of sequential storytelling, and is in evidence here fully developed.

I’d get this book for Jimmy Breslin’s introduction alone. Go. Read this. You’ll charm the pants off of yourself.

The Art of Joe Kubert, edited by Bill Schelly • Fantagraphics Books, $39.99 in hardcover

I have previously gone on record in this and other venues that Joe Kubert is my all-time favorite comics artist and, once again, I will not establish Joe’s bona fides. I’m running out of room, and that is what Google is for. Fan/historian Bill Schelly who, like Roy Thomas is from the first generation of organized comics fandom, knows his stuff and it shows. This is the definitive biography of Joe Kubert, and I would say it is lavishly illustrated but the word “lavishly” pales in comparison by even a quick flip-through of this 232-page tome.

Pure and simple, this is the tribute that Joe deserves. From his youngest adolescent days working for Will Eisner’s shop (obviously, Will was oblivious to child labor laws) to his golden age work to his innovations at St. John’s Publishing to his latter and most familiar DC work to his current efforts as a graphics novelist, The Art of Joe Kubert truly covers, well, the art of Joe Kubert in all its four-color glory. This is an entertaining read, one that will motivate the young wannabe and illuminate the cultural historian. It even taught me a bit about my own roots as an Ashkenazi-American.

For about a hundred bucks, less if you can talk your comics shop owner into ordering them for you for a discount (c’mon, it’s a guaranteed sale), you cannot go wrong with these three books. A couple decades ago, I would have been thrilled with any one of them during a given year. In 2011, all three were released in recent weeks and that is simply breathtaking. Kudos to all.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil