Tagged: Walt Kelly

Dennis O’Neil: Santa

Let us forego our consideration of the green unicorn problem and, obeying the dictates of the season, direct our attention to that jolly old elf, Santa Claus.

First, we’ll follow that which is not exactly required but is nonetheless highly recommended and seek to link the elf to comic books, this allegedly being a column devoted to the aforementioned magazines.

So: is Santa a comics character?

Yes and no. Research indicates that he and his cohort of elves and reindeer have never been awarded their own regular title. You could never find, tucked into your Christmas stocking, something like “The Adventures of Santa Claus” or if the comic was published by Disney, “Santa’s Funnies and Stories” or, if it appeared in the 60s and bore a Marvel colophon, maybe “The Stupendous Santa.” Santa has made – I’m taking a shot in the dark here – tens of thousands of comics guest appearances; I may have written a couple-three myself. But he has never been a regular at a comics shop near you. It’s almost as though he didn’t…exist?

And thus, finished with squirming, we come to it and dare ask: Is Santa real?  (You might consider sending the children out of the room.)

Again, and please forgive me: Yes and no.

Begin with yes. There is a mythic/fictive entity whose existence was inspired by legendary folk who were probably real humans and whose lore has been augmented by uncounted artists, writers, actors, maybe dancers… anyway, a lot of creative folk. The first of these was an educated New Yorker who lived in what is now Chelsea, in lower Manhattan (and later in Newport) named Clement Clark Moore. He wrote what he titled A Visit From St. Nicholas, never intending it to be published. But it was, in 1823, by The New York Sentinel and it’s been with us ever since. (Some have disputed Moore’s authorship, but let’s not go there.)

To continue: Are you certain you’ve shooed away the young’uns? Then let’s dare to face the no. So: no, there has never been an actual living human with sorrows, joys, aches and pains, a genome – none of that baggage. He was fiction, just like Spider-Man or John Galt or Hoppy the Marvel Bunny. But that’s not what many of us tell children. We say Santa is real and brings gifts and eats cookies and drinks the milk if we leave snacks out for him. We lie. Tsk

But for much of my life, I thought that the Santa fib was essentially harmless. I’ve changed my mind. What do we gain by teaching kids that adults perpetrate senseless lies that continue for years? That adults, and especially authority figures, are not to be trusted? That the world is full of uncertainty and that the people you love will, just for the heck of it, lie their asses off?

Maybe our final answer is yes Let the urchins learn to be careful and cynical and suspicious. Because look at the world we’re handing them.

Ho ho ho.

Ed Catto: Are you a Bimphab or a Quatix?

Destiny for President

Geek Culture doesn’t provide all the answers to all of life’s tough questions. Or, at least, I try to tell myself that … and then, without thinking, I’ll draw a parallel to a real world issue from an old Batman story or a Star Trek episode.

Like so many Americans, I’m horrified by the divisiveness of the upcoming elections. As a country we’re more than 200 years old, but still so many of our political conversations start with drawing lines and contentious finger pointing.

WaltKelly_OneWayStreetIt’s the same on the local level. For over 25 years, I’ve lived in the great little town of Ridgewood. It’s a mix of Smallville, Camelot and Twin Peaks (on a good day). In Ridgewood, our Village Council eschews the standard Democratic/Republic affiliations. You’d think that would help sand off the rough edges of politics, but lately our village has been facing a perfect storm of municipal issues – and there’s a lot of ugly divisiveness popping up everywhere.

So with all this division, I was thrilled to get an email from my pal Larry.

Readers of this column probably know Columbia University Prof. Laurence Maslon, best for the brilliant PBS Documentary/Random House Book – Superheroes: Capes Cowls and the Creation of Comic Book Culture.  He’s also a great dad, and explained to me in the email that he was sharing this Walt Kelly image with his son. Although this illustration was created years ago, it’s an insight the nation, and Ridgewood, could benefit from now.

aquacel3I should know better. I’m been taught this lesson many times over the years. Despite growing up in tumultuous times, one of my earliest political lessons came from a 1960s’ Filmation Aquaman cartoon.

In 1967’s War of the Quatix and the Bimphabs, writer Dennis Marks chronicled one of Aquaman’s rare interplanetary adventures.  The government’s satellite discovered an all-water planet, so they recruit Aquaman, Aqualad and their pet walrus, Tusky. (Hey! No eye-rolling: it was the Sixties!) for a space trip and a three hour on-site exploration. http://www.toontube.com/video/9232/Aquaman-32-The-War-of-the-Quatix-and-the-Bimphabs
I recall their journey to this distant planet, Q344, was shorter than a car ride with my mom to the local Woolworth’s.

filmationep32fUpon arriving, Aquaman offers some great advice to his young protégé. Having been attacked by alien invaders in just about every other episode of their cartoon show, he thoughtfully tells Aqualad to “Remember, here we are the aliens.”

As a dad, when I took the kids somewhere different, like a vacation spot or a college campus, I’d remind them that we were the outsiders there. They just thought I was nuts.

On this planet, the heroes find that two extremist groups, the Bimphabs and the Quatix are arguing over very important things that seem trivial to the viewer. Likewise their differences, though clearly delineated, seem small and entirely surmountable to the viewer. Even to a young viewer who was slurping his Saturday morning cereal and fighting with this brother (but the brother always started it), these lessons were pretty clear.

FUNFILMATION01Fast forward to today. I haven’t grown up as much as I should have. To use the Aqua-vernacular, I’m clearly a Bimphab. I always vote Bimphab. And I find the positions of the Quatix (the other political party) to be preposterous and perplexing. But maybe reading more Walt Kelly or Aquaman stories will help me grow up a little before it’s time to vote.

PS – Oh, and yes, I know I had written last time that this time I’d run the second part of my look at entrepreneurs at Valiant Entertainment. We’ll push that back and prepare that for next week. It’ll be good one and I think you’ll like it!

PPS – I’m really looking forward to the new WB JLA cartoon this fall too.

Mike Gold: Bloom County? Thank You, Donald Trump!

Bloom County 2015

Count your blessings.

Inside every dark cloud there’s a silver lining.

I’m happy as a clam.

I may be jumping the gun here, but take a look at the artwork above. If you haven’t heard, or read (and, personally, I’d rather be read than dead), Berke Breathed is once again coming out of retirement – or, more to the point, his classic surreal comic strip Bloom County seems to be coming back to life. This is according to his Facebook page, which was a little unclear if he was actually returning to Bloom County on a regular basis or just for another brief run through the campaign season.

Let’s hope for the best and while hoping, let’s look at Breathed’s motivation. Again, according to his Facebook page he’s returning to the fold because of one man – America’s asshole-in-chief, the sweetheart of the Mexican rodeo, the mouse underneath the rat, ladies and gentlemen I give you… Donald Trump!

The Donald brings the best out in political satirists. This past weekend while the Cool Kids were hobnobbing at the annual San Diego clusterfuck, David Letterman came out of retirement to crash Steve Martin and Martin Short’s gig in San Antonio Texas to deliver a truly funny Top 10 list: the Top 10 interesting facts about Donald Trump. We’ll see how long it takes Jon Stewart to stay off of the Trump beat after he leaves The Daily Show at the end of this month.

As his “sample” strip indicates, Breathed certainly won’t limit his repertoire to the Donald, even though the bastard is the gift that keeps on giving – you know, much like herpes. His characters are too well developed, as original as, say, the folks in Walt Kelly’s Okefenokee Swamp and Al Capp’s Dogpatch.

Today newspaper strips thrive not in newspapers (they all have pretty much the same line-up) but on the Internet, on such services as Go Comics and Comics Kingdom. Indeed, Go Comics has had Bloom County among its classic strips content since its inception. In an act of possibly not-coincidence, Go Comics has just about finished reprinting the entire run. Let’s hear it for fortuitous timing!

As I said, Breathed was a bit vague as to when, how and even if Bloom County will truly be returning. Doing seven strips a week is tough, and he’s gone back to that well a few times. But keep your shirt on.

You just can’t keep a good man down.

On the other hand, don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

O.K. Mike has left the building.

 

Mike Gold: Where Have All The Comics Gone?

Gold Art 130925About a thousand years ago, I was on Steve King’s WGN radio show (now sorely missed) and somebody called in and asked about the name “Comic Book.” I was taken aback momentarily, trying to decide if I should go into my “we’ve kicked the kids out of the donut shop” auto-rant. Out of respect for Steve and his 33 state / five province reach, I did a short history instead.

I talked about how the original comics were simply reprints of newspaper strips, some funny (hence the term “funny books”), some were adventurous, and the best were surreal. Within a few years all the licenses were tied up – not just the good ones – and new publishers like Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson had to hire young (read: inexpensive) writers and artists to create new stuff.

Funny comic books continued to dominate newsstand and subscription sales for the better part of two decades. Indeed, Dell Comics’ Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories sold over three million copies each month, the majority as subscriptions. Other movie cartoon stars did quite well, and before long we had a plethora of original funny animal and funny human comics, including Bob Montana’s Archie, Walt Kelly’s Pogo (yeah, the li’l possum and his alligator buddy got their start as a comic book feature), and Shelly Mayer’s Sugar and Spike.

In those hallowed days, comic books were only available on newsstands (stand-alones, in drug stores, transportation stations, etc.) and by subscription. There were no comic book stores. The concept was ridiculous: how could you make money only selling ten-cent product?

This is a question that haunted publishers in the late 1950s when the traditional outlets started to die off. Shopping malls replaced drug and candy stores and five-and-dimes (Woolworths, Kresges) were rendered redundant by convenience stores. Public transportation was severely reduced as people moved out of the inner-cities and into suburbs and outlying neighborhoods, necessitating the purchase of a car. You can’t read a comic book – or text, for that matter – while operating an automobile.

The medium survived, if you call this survival, by the creation of the direct sales marketing system wherein cockroach capitalist comic book stores could order new comics on a non-returnable basis. They received them about three weeks early, so those few remaining newsstands faced severe competition if they were located near a comics shop. Then again, those few remaining newsstands couldn’t care less: the amount of profit in a comic book wasn’t worth the effort of maintaining the racks.

Several comics retailers and at least one severely shortsighted comics distributor discouraged marketing towards children because “they didn’t have enough money and weren’t worth the bother.” Oh, yeah? Well, then, where are your new customers going to come from ten or twenty years down the road?

Well, twenty years down the road, comic book sales were a small fraction of what they had been and, as DC’s co-publisher recently quipped, “our average reader is about 50 years old.” (I paraphrase.) So, in effect, by cutting off the kids we’ve voluntarily placed ourselves in the position the mom’n’pops were in a generation ago. Worse, actually. Most kids know from comics characters not because of the comics, but because of the movies and television shows. They find comics confusing, boring and expensive – if they can find them at all.

As my fellow ComicMixer Marc Alan Fishman said last week, a few publishers are trying to correct this by establishing lines of kid-friendly titles. If they succeed, we’ll have a next generation of comic book readers.

If they fail, the American comic book will become part of our cultural history.

So here’s what you can do. Halloween is coming up. Many publishers have produced special digest-sized comics to give to trick-or-treaters, and that’s great. But if you can’t find them, there’s plenty of new kid’s comics out there. Buy a couple dozen and give them out instead of all that sugary candy stuff.

If you already bought all that sugary candy stuff, ship it to me. I’ve got plenty of comic books.

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: The Debut of Tweeks!

 

Mike Gold: What Goes Around…

Mike Gold: What Goes Around…

Gold Art 130911Having spent the past four days in Baltimore attending my favorite comics convention – the one that’s actually about comics – I had the opportunity to spend some serious conversation time with a lot of my friends. However, because the show is a four-hour-plus drive from La Casa Del Oro, the best conversation is with my daughter and ComicMix cohort Adriane Nash. Whereas much of her work is behind the scenes, Adriane is the one who kills here each year on April Fool’s Day and at least one of her hoaxes has graduated to the level of Urban Myth.

As her dad, this makes me very proud. But (sing along, folks), I digress.

After returning from Baltimore Monday night, while cuing TiVo for Ricky Gervais’ appearance on David Letterman, we had one of those “let’s tie-up everything we’ve been talking about” conversations. This one was about how, given time, them younger generations eventually discover the really great stuff that was done before they were born. Adriane started with Jack Kirby, which, of course, made me feel even older than my present dotage. Younger readers have to discover Kirby, the most influential creator in the history of American comics. And they do… with a little help from their friends.

There’s nothing wrong with that. When I was about half Adriane’s age, I interviewed disc jockey Bob Hale (WLS, NBC, and the guy who emceed the Iowa concert the day the music died). Bob said he didn’t despair for those kids who like crappy rock’n’roll because they eventually grow up and discover the Good Stuff. That was an important lesson (thanks, Bob!), one I’ve remembered for the past, ummm, well, 45 years. And so it is with comic books.

As it stands today, no less than three major comics publishers are reprinting various aspects of the canonical EC Comics. Will Eisner’s The Spirit stays out there on the racks, as well it should. Carl Barks – same thing. Because Jack Kirby’s output was so astonishingly massive, it seems there’s a new reprint of his stuff about every six weeks.

This is true with the classic newspaper strips (I define The Spirit as a comic book that was published in newspapers), these days largely through the efforts of the gifted and knowledgeable Dean Mullaney and our friends at IDW. Milton Caniff, Alex Raymond, Chester Gould, Al Capp… you can bust your back dragging out all those massive hardcover tomes of Terry and the Pirates, Flash Gordon, Dick Tracy, and Li’l Abner, and that’s a small price to pay for the thrill of such discovery. And then you go over to Fantagraphics for Walt Kelly’s Pogo, Roy Crane’s Captain Easy, Charles Shultz’s Peanuts and Elzie Segar’s Popeye.

So… as you age you’ve got a responsibility to pass along the good stuff, to educate the young’uns to the great stuff that provided not only the foundation for our great medium, but the first half-dozen floors as well. I guarantee you that just about every talented artist and writer impressing the hell out of you today has devoured these folks and many others possessing equal gift: Alex Toth, Joe Kubert, Mort Meskin… the Internet doesn’t have enough bandwidth for me to list them all.

It is our responsibility, our duty to pass along the good self.

That’s how art works.

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

THURSDAY EVENING: Martin Pasko

 

Eisner Awards Presented at Comic Con

All Pulp congratulates the winners of the 2013 EISNER Awards.

PRESS RELEASE:

The winners of the 2013 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were announced at a gala ceremony held during Comic-Con International: San Diego, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, on Friday, July 19.

Best Short Story: “Moon 1969: The True Story of the 1969 Moon Launch,” by Michael Kupperman, in Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8 (Fantagraphics)

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot): The Mire, by Becky Cloonan (self-published)

Best Continuing Series: Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

Best New Series: Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7): Babymouse for President, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8–12): Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13–17): A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, adapted by Hope Larson (FSG)

Best Humor Publication: Darth Vader and Son, by Jeffrey Brown (Chronicle)

Best Digital Comic: Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain)

Best Anthology: Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)

Best Reality-Based Work (tie): Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert (Center for Cartoon Studies/Disney Hyperion); The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song, by Frank M. Young and David Lasky (Abrams ComicArts)

Best Graphic Album—New: Building Stories, by Chris Ware (Pantheon)

Best Adaptation from Another Medium: Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score, adapted by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)

Best Graphic Album—Reprint: King City, by Brandon Graham (TokyoPop/Image)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips: Pogo, vol. 2: Bona Fide Balderdash, by Walt Kelly, edited by Carolyn Kelly and Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books: David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil Born Again: Artist’s Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW

Best U.S. Edition of International Material: Blacksad: Silent Hell, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia: Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)

Best Writer: Brian K. Vaughan, Saga (Image)

Best Writer/Artist: Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

Best Penciler/Inker (tie): David Aja, Hawkeye (Marvel), Chris Samnee, Daredevil (Marvel); Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom (IDW)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art): Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad (Dark Horse)

Best Cover Artist: David Aja, Hawkeye (Marvel)

Best Coloring: Dave Stewart, Batwoman (DC); Fatale (Image); BPRD, Conan the Barbarian, Hellboy in Hell, Lobster Johnson, The Massive (Dark Horse)

Best Lettering: Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism: The Comics Reporter, edited by Tom Spurgeon, www.comicsreporter.com

Best Comics-Related Book: Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, by Sean Howe (HarperCollins)

Best Educational/Academic Work: Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass, by Susan E. Kirtley (University Press of Mississippi)

Best Publication Design: Building Stories, designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon)

Hall of Fame: Lee Falk, Al Jaffee, Mort Meskin, Trina Robbins, Spain Rodriguez, Joe Sinnott

Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award: Russel Roehling

Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award: Chris Sparks and Team Cul deSac

Bill Finger Excellence in Comic Book Writing Award: Steve Gerber, Don Rosa

Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award: Challengers Comics + Conversation, Chicago, IL

See more at http://www.comic-con.org/awards/eisners-current-info#sthash.7hRCavEx.dpuf

Mike Gold: We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us

PogoEarthDayPoster1970A great many idioms have their roots planted firmly in the comics media, and to the present generation there is none more vital than Walt Kelly’s famous phrase that occupies the headline space above.

Kelly, in case you didn’t know (and shame on you for that), was the cartoonist who created, wrote and drew the feature Pogo for comic books, newspaper strips, and miniature trade paperbacks starting in 1942 (Animal Comics #1, published by Dell). He continued working on Pogo until his death in 1973. Pogo was a funny, clever strip that was uniquely gentle in its political and sociological satire. The phrase “We have met the enemy and he is us” was used several times, usually in conjunction with ecological issues. Indeed, for Earth Day 1970 Kelly produced a lavish poster with Pogo looking at a beautiful forest littered with garbage; it employed this famous phrase.

A couple days ago I was reading a Pogo trade paperback released in 1972 titled “We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us,” a collection of short… let’s call them graphic short stories. The eponymously titled story wasn’t about ecology at all. In point of fact, were it published today, January 16 2013, I suspect most people would think it was in reference to our extremely unyielding, highly polarized, and therefore do-nothing Congress.

I reprint it here (© 1972 Walt Kelly Estate. All Rights Reserved.) without further comment, except to note that I edited out two panels so that it would make sense without the surrounding story. Enjoy the brilliance of a true master of the form, but dread the reality it reflects.

Gold Art 130116

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil plays the Blame Game

 

Dennis O’Neil: Who Are You?

You don’t exist. So I can advise or even scold you without worrying that something I say will, down the line, cause you to hide behind a therapist’s couch and whimper. (Yeah, I know that the Bhagavad Gita tells us that we have no control over the outcome of our actions. Stop showing off!)

You don’t know who you are? Okay, I’ll tell you. You’re a young comics artist (albeit a wholly imaginary one) and you’re trying to make your way – that is, get work. We’ve all been there. And someone has told you that you must establish your “brand” and you guess that this means you should make many people – hordes! armies! – aware of your existence and of the kind of work you do well. (Who’s your idol? Kirby? Kelly? Adams? Who would you pray to if you believed in prayer?) So, you suppose, you’ve got to get out there, raise your head above the foxhole (where, trust me, someone will shoot at it), clamor, shout, even grandstand like Tom Sawyer walking that fence for an admiring Becky Thatcher.

Since we can assume that you can’t afford television advertising, full page ads in the New York Times, or a great big billboard smack dab in the middle of town, you’ve got to work the internet, Get busy tweeting, Facebooking, all that cyberstuff.

But be aware that there’s a downside, here. No, not the cyberstuffing per se. Though I find such behavior slightly distasteful, believing, like other greybeards, that a gentleman does not call attention to either himself or, especially, his achievements, there is considerable precedent for tooting one’s own horn in the arts. I mention Walt Whitman, Mark Twain and Freddy Nietzsche and invite you to complete the list.

But here’s what I wonder: Do you have enough time for both the self – promotion and the learning of your craft, particularly the storytelling aspects? (We know that you’re already a maestro of the number two pencil and the india ink bottle.) That can be tricky, that storytelling, and while it’s not rocket science, it is something that should be thought about and practiced. If a course is available in your area, take it. If not, find some books – and look at how your favorite predecessors managed the job. And will you have time to do that learning and still bask in the glow of the computer screen? You can network and tweet until your fingerprints vanish and you can tell yourself that your just doing your job.

The basking puts your own ego at the center of the enterprise, which is where the ego loves to be. What should be there is the work. The late, great Alfred Bester said it best: “Among professionals, the job is boss.”

I think that one reason our legislative apparatus is so shabby is that to acquire public office you’ve got to be a full time politician – that is, a good politician – maybe the most ego demanding of professions and one that requires a different skill set from being a wise and just governor. It’s a treacherous and vastly complicated world out there and to make decent laws for it you should be curious and well – read, anxious to be of service, and willing to learn, and not merely a gladhander and fund raiser with nice haircut.

Good politician, meet bad comic book artist.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

Mike Gold: Old Farts Are The Best Farts

In this space last Saturday, my dear friend and adoptive bastard son Marc Alan Fishman stated “modern comics are writing rings around previous generations. We’re in a renaissance of story structure, characterization, and depth… I’d like to think we the people might defend the quality of today’s comics as being leaps and bounds better than books of yesteryear.”

Simply put, the dear boy and my close pal and our valued ComicMix contributor is full of it.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s a hell of a lot of great writing out there today, and I agree with his opinions about most if not all of the young’un’s he cites. Today’s American comics reach a much wider range of readers. There’s also a hell of a lot more comics being published today – although those comics are being read by a much smaller audience in the aggregate – and I take no comfort in saying there’s more crap being published today as well: Sturgeon’s Law is akin to gravity. Marc’s comparison to the comics of the 1960s and 1970s is an apples-and-oranges argument: the comics of the pre-direct sales era, defining that as the point when most comics publishers virtually abandoned newsstand sales, were geared to a much younger audience. Even so, a lot of sophisticated stories squeaked through under the “Rocky and Bullwinkle” technique of writing on two levels simultaneously.

As I said, there are a lot of great writers practicing their craft today. Are they better than Carl Barks, John Broome, Jack Cole, Will Eisner, Jules Feiffer, Archie Goodwin, Walt Kelly, Harvey Kurtzman and Jim Steranko … to name but a very few (and alphabetically at that)? Did Roy Thomas, Louise Simonson and Steve Englehart serve their audience in a manner inferior to the way Jonathan Hickman, Gail Simone and Brian Bendis serve theirs today? Most certainly not.

Then again, some of the writers he cites are hardly young’un’s. Kurt Busiek has been at it since Marc was still in diapers. Grant Morrison? He started before Marc’s parents enjoyed creating his very own secret origin.

Marc goes on to state that John Ostrander and Dennis O’Neil would say that the scripts they write today are leaps and bounds better than their earlier work. I don’t know; I haven’t asked them. But I can offer my opinion. Neither John nor Denny are writing as much as they could or should today because they, like the others of their age, they are perceived as too old to address the desires of today’s audience – which, by the way, is hardly a young audience. I wonder where this attitude comes from?

But let’s look at the works of these two fine authors from those thrilling days of yesteryear. John’s Wasteland, GrimJack, Suicide Squad, and The Kents stand in line behind nothing. As for Denny, well, bandwidth limitations prohibit even a representative listing of his meritorious works, and I’ll only note Batman once. Let’s look at The Question. A great series, and he wrote that while holding down a full-time job and while sharing an office with a complete lunatic. Then there’s Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Iron Man, The Shadow… hokey smokes, I wake up each Thursday morning (in the afternoon) blessing Odin’s Bejeweled Eye-patch that Denny is writing his ComicMix column instead of spending that time doing socially respectable work.

I am proud of this medium and its continued growth – particularly as its growth had been stunted for so long. And I’m proud of my own service to this medium. But, as John of Salisbury said 953 years ago, we are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants.

And, standing on those shoulders, we swat at gnats.

THURSDAY: The Aforementioned Mr. O’Neil!

 


DENNIS O’NEIL: Celebrating Will Eisner

Well, I didn’t see you at the Will Eisner panel/celebration, held last Thursday, March 1st, at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, which, if you need to ask, is located at 594 Broadway, New York City, in the district known as SoHo. (And if you did need to ask…let’s just say that any comics reader, casual or otherwise, who is in lower Manhattan and has not yet visited MOCCA, and continues not to visit MOCCA just may have condemned themselves to an eternity of having Seduction of the Innocent read aloud to them by Bobcat Goldthwait.)

But back to the panel/celebration: you weren’t there and we didn’t miss you because we had what was pretty nearly a full house and that was gratifying. The “we” to whom I refer was three people who knew, or knew a lot about, Will, who died in 2005; Judy Hansen, Karen Green and your humble servant. Moderator was the always reliable and excellent Paul Levitz, so pertinent questions were asked, both of the panelists and the audience (of which you were not a member). I left knowing more than when I came, and I suspect that most of the other folk there did, too. I was particularly interested in Ms. Green’s discussion of Will’s business practices, which helped confirm my belief that Will Eisner was what Mark Twain wanted to be: a successful capitalist as well as a superb storyteller.

Did I mention gratifying? For openers, it’s always nice when someone of genuine merit gets recognized, especially when that person was a friend. And the fact that the venue for such recognition exists is nice, too. It indicates that the (always) artificial demarcations between “high” and “low” culture are going the way of the dinosaurs, and some would say, amen and about time.

(But not you because you probably wouldn’t be where amen and about time was being said.)

It might be possible, humbly, hat clutched in whitened fingers, to suggest that respectability does not always benefit what becomes respectable, but that is a pretty damn complicated topic for another occasion.

As we comics geeks continue our gradual trek toward the nicer parts of town, and the world outside our borders comes to recognize that the great comics guys – Eisner, Jack Kirby, Walt Kelly, and, no doubt, young others who are too busy at their boards to wonder about plaudits…these guys were as accomplished in their ways as Dickens and Michaelangelo were in theirs, we’ll have further opportunities to pay them the homage they deserve Is a televised awards ceremony too much to expect? Oh lordy, I hope so. (As I told you last wee, televised awards shindigs are, I boldly state, post-industrial versions of the Inquisition.)

Not that any of this concerns you. Awards? Panels? Not for you. You’re too busy watching Cops reruns. Bad boy bad boy.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases