Simonson like Neal adams was great in his day, but clearly cuz of old age, the hands are probably much more worn and weary. Not like frank Miller who was ALWays a terrible artist, who just became unbearable
Walt Simonson posted the above tweet on both his Twitter and Facebook pages.
I asked my old friend for the Twitter account of the writer. Walt, the cool mofo that he is, got a laugh out of the post but didn’t give me the info cause he’s a classy guy.
I could not let that comment stand. I had to respond. Why? The kids are why. Back when lions, tigers, and bears were the spirit animals of America, that post wouldn’t have mattered.
Those spirit animals have been replaced by sheep. Not the kind of sheep some men seek out when their eyesight is failing, and the palms of their hands look like furry mittens.
The kind of sheep I’m talking about believe anything. A riot was an ordinary tourist day, bleach will heal you, and Obama killed Kennedy at 5 years old before returning to his home in Africa and job as a pimp.
There’s no hope for those sheep, but maybe, just maybe, we can save their kids.
ComicMix is OK with outing the person who posted the tweet. I, like Walt, will take the high road and address said person as ‘Twit’ and proceed with my response as planned.
I read your post calling Walt Simonson, Frank Miller, and Neal Adams ‘terrible artists.’ Walt and Neal, because of their age, and according to you Frank, always sucked.
Those artists, along with Howard Chaykin, Bill Sienkiewicz, Denys Cowan, Jay Muth, Kent Williams, Dave McKean, and other ‘old’ creators are doing the best work of their careers NOW.
Their careers changed the game in comics and then some.
You are welcome to give your opinion. However, you write as if your opinion was a fact. Er, nope. The facts are that the artists you think are terrible operate at a level so high you most likely can’t see it. Yes
, that level is high, but it’s also clear. So clear Ray Charles, who was blind and is dead, could see it.
Each artist I mention is a friend. Howard and I butt heads every ten years or so, but his work is always on good terms with me.
Speaking of Mr. Chaykin…
If you’re reading this, Howard, I owe you an apology.
I reacted to words attributed to you. I didn’t take my own advice, which was to reach out and see if there was a problem or if you even said it. I’ve written a zillion articles on character assignation through hearsay.
It’s a dick hater move.
I was a dick but never a hater, so once again, my apologies.
Now back to Twit.
That aside to Howard gave me pause to think. Perhaps Twit, I owe you an apology also. I’ve done what you did.
I said a famous aging artist, “Really sucked.”
I said this at an exhibit that was a retrospective of his entire career. This guy was big time. His early work I loved. His early drawings were so realistic, almost like a photo. As he got older, he obviously stopped using reference and drew from his head. His storytelling was all over the place.
His inked stuff was pretty good but didn’t do much of that as he aged. His color work looked like it was painted in one color. By the end of the exhibit, I hated this guy’s art. So
, me being me, when asked what I thought of his work, said, “His early stuff was cool, I liked the ink stuff but everything else, “really sucked.’
The place was packed, and everyone who heard me began laughing. I felt pretty good until my cousin, who took me to the exhibition, explained people were laughing at me, not with me. “He still sucks,” I said.
“Grow up,” he said.
Twit, Once again, an aside has given me pause to think. Nope, no apology. I found out soon enough how wrong I was about the artist. His name was Picasso
I’m rarely impressed, but you wrote an impressive article. The attention to detail, footnotes, research and overall thoughtfulness you put into making your case was indeed extraordinary.
I’m a bit taken aback by your use of my article as the motivation to write yours. My article why are we still complaining about Dan Didio had little written about Mr. Didio. It certainly wasn’t a defense of his work nor a damning of it. He and others mentioned were only used to illustrate my outlook.
Much of what you wrote regarding my views and work can do with a bit of clarity. I fear what you’ve constructed in your narrative is somewhat unbalanced and frankly unfair.
For example, placing quotes around a word when no one is speaking gives the distinct impression you don’t believe, care or respect my resume. You choose to describe mentor as “mentor.” For the life of me sir I have no idea why you would cast such an adverse slight at me.
My Bad Boy Studio Mentor program has achieved a fair amount of success. By all means feel free to ask Bernard Chang, John Paul Leon, Shawn Martinborough, Aaron McGruder and Brett Lewis, who mentored them.
There are more whom you are welcome to request confirmation from; I’ve been very fortunate to have had a small hand helping numerous young men and women join our beloved profession.
You could also speak to Chris Claremont or director Bill Duke. Both called me looking for a talented young person to work with them.
That girl I referred to Chris was Ali Morales. Ali went on to become DC Comics and perhaps the industry’s first Latino woman editor. Tatiana El-Khouri started as Bill’s assistant and finished running his company; now she’s running her own.
Thinking of my Bad Boys (and girls) swells my heart and moistens my eyes. I dare say those who came from my Bad Boy program are some of the best of the best. It matters little what else I’ve achieved in life nothing compares with the love and pride I feel for them.
I’m sure you can now appreciate why “mentor” cut me to the quick.
Hopefully, speaking to any of the above will result in a bit of lucidity into my background If you ever see fit to write about my mentorship program again.
You sir, forgive me for saying so, were a bit heavy handed in your use of conjecture. Nonetheless, it’s not surprising you would write about me in such a manner.
Sadly, that’s the industry model these days. I wrote about such in the very article you referenced so often. The venom and hate displayed in comics today and my hope for a reversal of that trend was the point of my column.
Sir, when you have a moment I’d like for you to clear something up for me. I just can’t fathom why you would use my article to go and do the very thing I wrote may damn us and please spell your name phonetically so if we meet I pronounce it correctly.
And it’s all anyone is talking about.
I mentioned I consider you a wee bit unfair in your analysis of my words.
Please consider the following from my article: The movies making the most money are from our house. But we’d rather bitch about Dan Didio still running DC than applaud Eric Stephenson, publisher at Image Comics. Eric gave the greatest comic book speech since Uncle Ben told Peter Parker; with great power, comes great responsibility.
“I’d like to talk about the future, but first, we’re going to do some time travel, back to a time when there was no Internet, no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram. A time when there were no comic book stores.”
That was Eric’s spectacular opening and it got better from there.
We should still be talking about it. The industry coverage of that speech?
Almost none. Perhaps if Eric had started his speech with the following, we would still be talking about it.
“I’d like to talk about the future, but first, we’re going to do some time travel, back to a time Dan Didio wasn’t screwing up DC, Marvel didn’t suck, and there was no Dark Horse because there shouldn’t be any damn Dark Horse.”
Yep, we’d still be talking about that.
I dare say with your musings put in the manner you put them, we are.
Mr. Khosla, I don’t know you but from your writings, it does appear you are an educated man. You certainly have a passion concerning comic books and I do believe you have comics’ best interest at heart.
I’m very much at my wits end pondering why you transformed what I wrote into something I did not write with your explanations.
I wrote: I once loved the comics industry with a passion almost incomprehensible even to myself but the industry I loved so is gone. What remains is a fat out of shape ghost of its former self. A snake oil salesman selling a yearly new everything hoping fans will consider it a glorious new tune.
You wrote: This is how we’re starting a defense of Dan DiDio – by having to acknowledge that comic industry under his supervision has become an “out of shape ghost of its former self.”
Uhm. Okay. Great argument.
And the victim of comic fans, according to Mr. Davis?
Mr. Davis, eh? If you insist of addressing me so formally, please afford me the courtesy of doing it correctly. I feel it’s only fair after your “mentor” slights you address me as Dr. Davis as I have a Ph.D., please forgive me for my rudeness if this offends you, it is not my intention.
The following is another example of the slanting of my words.
You wrote Mr. Davis continues by trying to identify the culprit – not Mr. DiDio, but of course, comic fans.
I wrote What slays me and I fear will destroy us all is how we see, speak and represent ourselves. Character assassination over a creative decision. Damning a company, creator or content because someone wrote or drew something someone took issue with, rumors perceived as news, news handled like press releases were all once virtually repudiated as just being silly.
The problem with comics is the fans are not nice enough to the people who make them.
That is patently unjust my friend and even more so given life for me these days have been incredibly unfair. I won’t burden you with my many tales of woe. However, I do think the following incident is somewhat appropriate to share with you.
Within the last year, I’ve lost three dogs. I cannot express to you the pain that caused me. No, you have not caused me any pain sir. That’s not the reason I’m sharing that with you.
After some time, I intend to get another dog. To that end it just so happens your article appeared on the day I was wondering when the next time I’d have to teach another little bitch not to shit in my house.
It seems that day is today and the time is now.
We interrupt this professional rebuttal for a word from the wrong nigga to fuck with:
Motherfucker, where the fuck did you see Dan’s name anywhere near the quote you used? Where did you read I blamed the fans?
Nowhere. It’s not there. You made that up.
I’m simply amazed how you pulled that “response” to my article off. No one points out the level of bullshit that you shovel down their throats. Sure, I’ve seen people disagree with you, but I have yet to see anyone take you to task for the little fact that nothing you contribute to me exists anywhere in the article.
Nowhere. Like the emperor, the little bitch has no clothes.
The industry is eating up what is the comic book equivalent of weapons of mass destruction. Just like Bush, you picked a target to attack because it was convenient and you made a convincing case by writing smoke and mirrored attack on me.
Just like Bush, there was nothing there. It didn’t exist it was all bullshit.
I didn’t defend Dan’s leadership at DC anywhere in my article.
I also didn’t dismiss Dan’s leadership at DC anywhere in my article.
I don’t write in riddles my friend; don’t write leaving room for interpretation and I don’t write in some vague style, so later I can wiggle out of what I said.
Within my writings there is no need for deliberation, you don’t have to ponder shit nor is there any reason to think there is a hidden meaning. I write what I mean; say what I mean. You used me and my work to advance your agenda.
That was a bad idea.
I could give you a list of people and companies who tried that and but for one they all wrote me a check. The one that hasn’t got a pass up to now.
Relax dude; I’m not going to sue you. You’re a hell of a writer. That’s not a backward dig I mean that. Where you need help is in reading comprehension
Help is here, Bitch. Get out a pencil and paper because you’re about to get schooled.
How many words were there between “I once loved the comic industry with a passion almost incomprehensible even to myself but the industry I loved so is gone. What remains is a fat out of shape ghost of its former self. A snake oil salesman selling a yearly new everything hoping fans will consider it a glorious new tune.”
And Dan Didio may be the most hated man in comics and for what?
The answer A. 325.
How the hell did you tie the two together? Oh wait, you used the weapons of mass destruction technique. Attack somebody who had nothing to do with the attack you wanted to make. Like Bush, you thought you could get away with it.
If I may paraphrase the immortal words of Bill Duke, bitch, you know you done fucked up, don’t you?
How many words are there in the entire article?
The answer is A. 2564
You gave every impression I’d devoted all my article to Dan. Apparently the people who backed you did not read what I wrote, or they are drinking the stupid flavored Kool-Aid.
Of the 2564 words how many words were written about Dan?
The answer is C. 190
I’ve heard about it but never tried it. How is the stupid Kool-Aid?
Using the following paragraph below show where Dan first appears.
“I once loved the comic industry with a passion almost incomprehensible even to myself but the industry I loved so is gone. What remains is a fat out of shape ghost of its former self. A snake oil salesman selling a yearly new everything hoping fans will consider it a glorious new tune.”
Where is Dan first located?
325 words before
325 words after
In the same paragraph
The answer is B – 325 words after the quote.
Can you get addicted to Kool-Aid?
When did Michael Davis stop working with DC?
He never stopped working with DC
The day DC realized he was black
The day he told a DC executive to suck his dick
The day he refused to shut up about how fucked up DC was treating him while at Milestone.
The day a VP at DC tried to prevent him from becoming President & CEO of Motown Animation and Filmworks
The day the Earth stood still
The day Abhay Khosla realized Doctor Davis has no goddamn reason to kiss DC’s ass, never has, never will.
The answer is late 1993. That’s 23 years.
Fun fact: E, F, G, and H are all true. You think perhaps there was no love lost between DC and me?
Rich Johnson changed my original title, which was “What’s Love Got To Do With it?” Why are we still complaining about Dan Didio is all Rich and being the Johnson that he is he knew full well someone would take his bait.
I like Richard. He’s an important part of our industry. He’s got his critics, but a man without critics is a man with no success. I let what he does slide because he knows his audience.
But, like anyone else if I have an issue with him I voice it, and I have two. Editing my work, so you get F**K instead of what I wrote and that so-called comics power list.
But I digress. Peter David! Hey! As always I look forward to seeing you at my annual Comic-Con party!
Your article paints me as defending Dan with a passion; I didn’t. In fact, I gave an example of how I stood by him when he was at ABC and he, for whatever reason, has not shown me the same courtesy since being at DC.
That to me is a dick move but if that’s how he wants to be let him be that. I got other shit to do, and I certainly don’t need DC Comics to pay my mortgage. Yeah, I’d like to work with them again and on paper, I should be.
I have a long albeit novel relationship with Dan. I met Diane Nelson when she was still at Warner Consumer products, and we still exchange the occasional email. Lastly, Jim Lee and I have been in business together it was Image who published my Machineworks imprint.
I think fondly of the 3 am meeting I had with Image at the Hyatt during Comic Con way back when. I bare no one at DC any malice, and I’m glad to see each of those people whenever our paths cross.
Fun Fact: DC Comics is still my universe of choice, and I’ve said that regardless of the state my relationship is with them.
But, like I said I got other shit to do.
Why’d you do it? Nothing in my article was interpreted correctly so again, why’d you do it?
The first step is to admit you have a problem. It’s the Kool-Aid isn’t it?
My clearly made point was this; all this negative energy spent on Dan would be best spent trying to create a forward movement for the industry. People have been trying to get Dan fired for well over a decade.
How the fuck is that working out for you?
I’m always amazed when someone’s goal in life is to fuck up someone else’s.
You’re like a guy who desperately wants to date a girl. When she repeatedly says no you set out to impress her even more. Flowers and candy don’t work so you post something sweet on her Facebook page a poem. Danielle is her name and your name for your little limerick.
She blocks you.
You then embark on a campaign to make her pay. Your poem becomes a book-length attack designed to shame, sadden and hurt her.
You post, The case against Dan Didio, I mean Danielle secure in the knowledge this will destroy her.
She laughs it off. She laughs you off.
Soon you realize a cruel irony. Like Baum’s Dorothy who wanted nothing but to find a way home, she realized the way was her.
She became her way home.
The thing most wanted from “Danielle” is what you’ve become.
A little pussy.
The truth that you damn well knew unless you’re a fucking idiot was Dan made a minor part of an extensive article.
Nothing you attribute to me concerning Dan, fans and my point of view is accurate. The article’s use of my work is not just inaccurate Zero is written remotely slightly, somewhat or vaguely like you describe.
I’m a simple guy I don’t write in riddles I don’t write with conjecture as my primary source. I never blamed the fans for anything.
Bottom line. If you want to pick apart something I’ve done, criticize something I wrote, have at it just don’t rewrite it to suit your personal bullshit.
I wrote While many in the industry continue to turn on each other, some even creating another tempest of hatred once the last storm has lost the wind that propelled it Len Wein just writes another story creates another character all done without a hateful word towards his fellow creators.
Did you skip over that?
You’ve just being a dick?
Pick a side, pussy? Dick? Which one are you? You can’t be both, unless you pronounce your last name Kardashian.
Oh, and one more thing about being a “mentor” you might want to check with Walt Simonson as well. Walt came to my studio to see how I ran my mentorship program after accepting a teaching position at the School Of Visual Arts.
Fun fact: Rosamond Bernier did the same when she decided to add a young adult series to her career. I never assume anything, but I have a feeling you’ve never heard of her.
Google her; that may give you a small window into who you’re dealing with and at what level I operate.
You’re passionate about the industry I get that. I’ll be the first to tell you I’ve made many mistakes, and I own up to them.
Many years ago I labeled Bob Chapman a racist. I was young and hotheaded and saw things through a lens of bigoted pain. Bob isn’t a racist he and his family are the salt of the Earth.
I wrote and published Bob an apology the very next week when I was proved wrong. When next I saw him I did so in person then I found his wife and then so again. I was young and hotheaded, but I was not stupid. I was wrong, and I owned up to it.
You are wrong. Do the right thing.
You may think I’m writing this in anger. I’m not, this is far from reaching my level of rage.
I’m saddened by the amount of work you put into this was used to fuel yet another fruitless attack on for better or worse one of the leaders of our industry. You’ve added another reason comics get no respect. Hollywood should be our partners, but instead, we are their bitch.
Lastly, if you want to get black boys into your van, it’s easy. Simply tell them you’re a little pussy.
Archie Comics announced the unthinkable today: Legendary comic book character Archie Andrews will die to conclude the hit LIFE WITH ARCHIE comic series.
Tommy Lee Edwards
The iconic comic book character, beloved by millions around the globe for over 70 years, will sacrifice himself heroically while saving the life of a friend in the pages of July’s LIFE WITH ARCHIE #36, the final issue in the flash-forward series, which spotlights Archie’s adventures after high school and college.
“We’ve been building up to this moment since we launched LIFE WITH ARCHIE five years ago, and knew that any book that was telling the story of Archie’s life as an adult had to also show his final moment,” said Archie Comics Publisher/Co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “Archie has and always will represent the best in all of us—he’s a hero, good-hearted, humble and inherently honorable. This story is going to inspire a wide range of reactions because we all feel so close to Archie. Fans will laugh, cry, jump off the edge of their seats and hopefully understand why this comic will go down as one of the most important moments in Archie’s entire history. It’s the biggest story we’ve ever done, and we’re supremely proud of it.”
The story will be available in multiple formats, including an extra-large magazine-size LIFE WITH ARCHIE #36, two comic-sized issues—LIFE WITH ARCHIE #36 and #37—and a trade paperback collecting the entire story, written by regular LIFE WITH ARCHIE writer Paul Kupperberg, with art by Pat & Tim Kennedy and Fernando Ruiz.
While LIFE WITH ARCHIE #36 shows readers Archie’s final moments, #37 leaps a year into the future, showcasing how the remaining members of the Riverdale gang—including Jughead, Betty & Veronica and Reggie—have honored the legacy of their dear friend. Both stories will be collected in the double-sized LIFE WITH ARCHIE #36 magazine and upcoming trade paperback.
In addition to the acclaimed regular LIFE WITH ARCHIE creative team, the two comic book issues—sold exclusively at comic shops in July—will feature a pantheon of artistic luminaries contributing covers to the historic issue, including Francesco Francavilla, Fiona Staples, Ramon Perez, Walt Simonson, Jill Thompson, Mike Allred, Cliff Chiang, Adam Hughes, Tommy Lee Edwards and Alex Ross.
No word yet as to whether Archie will be coming back in six months as a cyborg, an alien, a black man in a suit of armor, or a teenag– never mind.
Comic book writer, editor, and raconteur Clifford Meth took to Kickstarter to fund the publication of Comic Book Babylon, a collection of essays, stories, and interviews drawn from the almost ten years worth of columns he had written for various comic book news sites across the Internet, including ComicMix itself. Promising an introduction by Stan Lee and illustrations by noted comic artist/political crackpot Michael Netzer, Comic Book Babylon almost quintupled its original funding goal with $11,219 in pledges. Last week, Meth delivered with the release of Comic Book Babylon, published in print by Meth’s own Aardwolf Publishing or digitally through the Amazon Kindle store. (more…)
In celebration of the Milestones show at Geppi Entertainment Museum, we present this piece, originally published in the San Diego Comic-Con International Souvenir Book 2013.
Twenty years. Daaaaamn.
I spent a lot of time hanging around Milestone when they were first starting up. I was working around the corner from their 23rd St. offices at a digital pre-press house, where DC Comics was getting their painted covers scanned and separated. And I’d worked at DC and knew a lot of the folks there informally, and Milestone in those days was a very informal place. There was no standing on ceremony, if you wanted to show up and pitch in, you could just do that. And I did, bringing over lots of fonts for typesetting on a Mac and helping out with little production things here and there— I couldn’t do much because of my full-time job, but they were a start-up, which meant they worked after 5 PM a LOT. But even as busy as any start-up can get, you could go in and sit in the editor-in-chief’s office and talk— although, to be fair, that was Dwayne McDuffie, a man who had the laid-back confidence that you can only get from being the size of a small mountain. Of course, that didn’t mean you couldn’t push back— I remember asking him after Hardware #1 came out how he really felt about work-for-hire.
It turned out, years later, that Dwayne wasn’t really sure why I was there. We knew each other, and he’d seen me around various comics offices and conventions and the like, but at the time, for some reason he thought I was Walt Simonson’s assistant. The point is, he didn’t care— you wanted in on what they were doing, you were in. Everybody had something to contribute.
The thing about Milestone, and this was a big one, is that it wasn’t a “black” company, even though everybody outside the office thought of it as such. It was a “people” company. Didn’t matter whether you were as dark-skinned as Derek Dingle or as pale as Matt Wayne, a guy even paler than me and that’s going some. Everybody there wanted to make comics— although there was a lot less of the feeling that people wanted to grow up and become Julie Schwartz. Milestone came from knowing that there was a different kind of story to tell, a story that had been neglected in everybody’s straight white male superhero stories, stories that might as well have taken place in 1960’s Riverdale. Milestone showed an entire generation of readers that there were strange new worlds just on the other side of town, and took you there.
More importantly, Milestone broke the monolith of minority character stereotypes in comics, that there was more to the characters than just being black or hispanic or gay or whatever. Icon, Hardware, Rocket, Static, and Wise Son were all black, but they all had different points of view— which just hadn’t happened much in comics before that; heck, I’m having a hard time trying to think of comics before Milestone where two black characters showed up together for any extended amount of time. Is there a minority version of the Bechdel Test? Let’s make one right now and call it the Milestone test: A comic passes if (1) there are at least two minority characters in it, (2) who talk to each other, (3) about something besides a white person. And if you have to tell the reader the character is black because it’s in his name– Black Lightning, Black Manta, Black Goliath, Black Panther, Black Racer, Black Vulcan– it’s not really a black character.
But the most amazing thing is that, in many ways, it’s not as big of a deal anymore. You can put Static Shock on TV and people don’t look at it as pandering to connect with the urban audience, he’s a character. And for that alone, the work done by Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Robert Washington, Matt Wayne, Ivan Velez, Michael Davis, John Paul Leon, Mark Bright, Trevor Von Eeden, Andrew Pepoy, Janet Jackson, Jimmy Palmiotti, Noelle Giddings, Janice Chiang, Steve Dutro, Mike Gustovich, James Sherman, Joe James, John Rozum, Steve Mitchell, Joe James, Chriscross, Prentis Rollins, Derek Dingle, and so many others… well, it’s a Milestone worth celebrating.
If you’ve ever read anything from Clifford Meth, you know he can be a ferocious writer, and ferociously talented. We like that sort of thing here, and that’s why we’ve published his stuff in the past. He’s compiling his columns and essays into a book, and you have a few hours left to pre-order it on Kickstarter:
Comic Book Babylon gathers icons HARLAN ELLISON, STAN LEE, ALAN MOORE, FRANK MILLER, JOE KUBERT, GENE COLAN, DAVE COCKRUM, WALTER SIMONSON and NEAL ADAMS into a conversation with CLIFFORD METH where anything goes. Among other stories, you’ll learn how & why X-Men co-creator Dave Cockrum became the first Marvel artist to receive a monetary settlement and lifetime royalties for his creations after years of suffering and virtual banishment… You’ll meet a well-known Hollywood film producer who doesn’t like to pay his writers (until someone squeezes his face)… You’ll read Harlan Ellison saying things no one else would publish…
This fascinating book collects Meth’s decades of comics columns and essays–some too outrageous to publish in their day–and adds never-before-revealed material. Everything is brought to life with sensational illustrations by the celebrated and beloved Marvel/DC artist MICHAEL NETZER.
What’s achieved is a startling look at the REAL villains and heroes of comics. Introduction by STAN LEE. Art by NETZER. Rants by METH. Join us!
I caught the movie musical version of Les Miserables recently (and I will thank my brain to stop playing snippets of the soundtrack over and over and over again) and was struck by a line sung by the hero, Jean Valjean, late in the story: “To love another person is to see the face of God.” That line has always pierced me (I’ve seen the stage version of the show several times).
I was raised Roman Catholic but I am now a Practicing Agnostic by which I mean that I don’t know that there is a god but I don’t know that there isn’t, either. Lately, I’ve come to accept the possibility of something like a god out there without subscribing to any of the versions that different religions put out as the One True Version. Even within Christianity, there’s no one vision of Jesus. There are wars over that vision; my Jesus can beat up your Jesus. Within the Moslem community, Sunni makes war on Shi’ites and vice versa. And so on.
In each case, the face of god reflects the belief of the believers and the society out of which that face was carved. Is one truer than another? Not for me. Look, I like the Bible (mostly). The stories in it are the tradition with which I was raised and that means something to me. Do I accept it as the literal truth? No, any more than I accept the Norse gods or Marvel’s version of them as “truths.” Walter Simonson’s depiction of Thor as the Frog of Thunder enchanted me, but I don’t worship it.
One of my proudest achievements in writing comics was the run that Tom Mandrake and I did on The Spectre over at DC. In it, I explored the issues of redemption, of divine punishment, of good and evil that were rattling around in my soul. Even though I was no longer a practicing Roman Catholic, my quibbles were more with the practices of the Church than the beliefs. I was able to explore theological questions I had about those beliefs.
I don’t think I could write The Spectre today as I did back then. I’m not the same person; I’ve changed. I don’t have the same beliefs as I did then so the theological questions and quibbles I had when I wrote the Spectre are no longer relevant to me.
How people see God tells me less about God than it does about those people. Stern, capricious, loving, aloof – these can all be faces of God. God is a reflection of that God’s worshippers and it changes over time. Take a look at all the portraits of Jesus over the years – he’s morphed from a Jewish rabbi into the blonde haired, blue eyed Jeffrey Hunter in the movie King of Kings. I’ve seen striking images of Jesus as a black man; strong and necessary images re-interpreting Jesus as part of the African-American community. Latino as well. Asian. Female. Why not?
I’m not trying to tell anyone that their version of God is wrong; I’ll leave that to Bill Mahr. My doubts are my doubts. However, I have issue when someone tries to tell me I have to think, act, or believe as they do because that’s the truth. That’s their truth and I accept it for that but it’s not my Truth and I don’t accept it as the universal Truth many of them claim it to be. One person’s religious beliefs do not trump another person’s rights. Your God is not my God.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ve just seen the Flying Spaghetti Monster drift by my window. I may have just become a Pastafarian.
When I was a kid, comics were all I thought about. There was no better time in my day than when I was finished all my crap schoolwork and was able to turn my attention to the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man or Batman
I was a child of DC but soon I was just as vested in Marvel as I was in DC. I remember when Kirby left Marvel to do the Fourth World books at DC. That to me at the time was as big a deal as Obama becoming the first black President is now.
Kirby coming to DC was Huge. I’ll never forget when I got my first issue of the Forever People and saw Kirby’s Here on the cover.
Comics golden age for me was the second silver age. That second silver age was Walt Simonson’s Thor, Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!, Frank Miller’s Daredevil, Marvel’s Secret Wars, The Killing Joke, the Dark Knight, The Watchmen and about another dozen or so titles.
I freely admit that I’m biased in my thinking about comics and what’s important and what’s not. I also freely admit that I have no right nor do have any influence over what you may think.
In my day I think comics were better than they are today.
That’s my opinion and I’m welcome to it but consider the following before you dismiss me, are you tired of new universes and new number ones?
In my day a number one was the Holy Grail of the comic book world.
New number ones are as common as a new Kardashian lover and just as relevant.
While I’m on the subject, Kim Kardashian has no talent and contributes nothing to the world, yet millions of people hang on her every stupid move. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for her milking America for millions of dollars when she has no value whatsoever.
That’s not a joke, I respect anyone who can figure out a way to milk millions from people with absolutely no talent or value. Again I’m not kidding I respect that kind of moxey.
Come the (bad word here) on, what does she or her family contribute except some of them have really nice tits? Oh and yes, I’d hit that but that’s beside the point. She and her family really have no significance in the real world.
Comics on the other hand do have significance in the real world.
How so you ask?
A hundred years from now Superman will still be relevant. Kim? She may not be relevant in two years. I know this for sure because America has a way of waking up to bullshit. It may take a moment but soon perhaps very soon the country and world will see that the Emperor (Empress?) has no clothes.
How do I know this for sure? Two words: Paris Hilton.
But I digress (thinking about you, Peter). I maintain that the comics in my day were better than the comics today and what follows are my admittedly flawed arguments.
When ever a comic universe goes to a new number one that erases the vast history of what was gone before. It’s a ‘do over’ and a ‘screw you’ to fans that loved the universe at the same time. When Marvel did Secret Wars and DC did Crisis those were really massive events but they were not do overs or a screw you to fans. Those were events that changed the universe not events that discarded the universe.
They were also the kind of events you talked about for years because they really were events.
Now an event is talked about until the next event, two, three weeks later.
B L A M!! R I M S H O T !! I’m here all week! Try the veal! Herman Cain, try the watermelon!
When Marv Wolfman killed Barry Allen (something to this day I have not forgiven him for) I felt that lost. When Stan Lee killed Gwen Stacy I felt I had lost a girlfriend. Now these sort of deaths are commonplace and it my humble opinion it’s because of Superman.
When Superman “died” no one and I mean no one in the comic book world thought for a second he was really dead. The only people who thought he was really dead were the suckers who brought 50 copies thinking one day they would be worth millions.
If you can kill the most important superhero in the history of the industry then everything and I mean everything is fair game.
That fair game seems to be monthly now. When DC killed Superman it, at the time, was a bold move designed to boost the icon’s lagging sales. Now characters dying, coming out of the closet, going over to the dark side, etc. is no longer an event it’s as common as the Cubs not making the World Series. The Cubs suck; that’s why they don’t make the series. Comic book creators don’t suck; comic book creators are better than the bullshit event like Archie kissing a black girl.
What the heck was that anyway? Archie Andrews pulling a black girl? Talk about imaginary stories.
Yes, I’m quite aware that the audience today is not me. Yes, there are books being done today that quite frankly are works of art and literary genius. Yes, some books today have transcended comics, TV and film and become part of what fuels movements.
Forget all of that. In my day comics were better and that is that.
There’s been a lot of high-quality books lately that reprint classic stories straight from the original. My friends at IDW do a lot of those, so they’ll be deeply depressed that I’m not going to be talking about one of theirs. And of course there’s no reason to believe a comp list wouldn’t change my attitude.
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear; in this case, about two months ago. We’re at the vaunted Baltimore Comic-Con – in specific, the Harvey Awards dinner. Walter Simonson had an advance copy of Titan Books’ hardcover collection of the Alien movie adaptation, as done by Walter and the late and much, much missed Archie Goodwin. This book was the exception that proved my point that doing an absolutely first-rate adaptation of a movie is a near-impossibility.
The needs and treasures of the comic book medium are different from those of the movie medium: we have total control of time and space and we’ve got a special effects budget that is limited only by the collective minds of the producing talent. Movies, on the other hand, have going for them music, motion and the benefit of the shared-experience. Apples and oranges.
The Goodwin-Simonson Alien was one of those rare exceptions; perhaps the best of those exceptions. Either way, it was and is worthy of this new high-quality format.
So when Walter was showing off his advance copy like a proud papa before an audience of some of the most talented people in the artform (Mark Wheatley snuck me in), I thought about doing what every other red-blooded comic book fan would think of doing: cold-cocking the son of a bitch, stealing his book, jumping into my Ford Focus and driving back to Connecticut, laughing hysterically while leaving my daughter to fend for herself.
I maneuvered into position in the darkened room, avoiding Louise Simonson. While I’d take Walter on, I do not have what it takes to take on any person who could be so gifted and so nice after working for James Warren. Then, and only then, did I have an epiphany.
I’ve known Walter for decades and decades. We lived near each other on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, we played on the same volleyball team. We’ve dined hither and yon – he once drew a massive prehistoric landscape on the linen tablecloth at a Skokie Illinois restaurant in order to “illustrate” a point. I respect and admire Walter as one of the nicest human beings on the planet… with the exception of the volleyball courts.
But that’s not why I didn’t cold-cock Walter Simonson. Clearly I’ve gotten old, an aging lion gumming his dinner in the corner of the cage while the younguns are preening themselves for pussy.
No, I didn’t cold-cock him because I remembered I already ordered the book. So stealing his simply wasn’t worth the energy.
But it was worth the wait. Buy it before it sells out.
Some weeks ago I wrote part one of this series then I went to France and forgot to file it before I went. Once I arrived in France I was blown away by my comic experience and wrote about intending to file this once I returned.
When I returned a suicidal next door neighbor of mine placed a bag of shit on my doorstep and that pissed me off to such an extent that I completely forgot to file the article and instead dealt with that idiot whom I’m sure will never ever look at my house again after my visit to his home.
Why, you ask, did someone place a bag of shit on my doorstep? Long story short, this asswipe keeps feeding my dogs after being told numerous times not to.
So, dogs being dogs, they keep sniffing around his yard (we share a short brick wall in our backyards and my dogs can easily jump over it) looking for food. Well one of my dogs must have left a bundle of doo-doo as a “thank you for feeding us” or a “fuck you, where’s the food” on that particular visit.
Either way, this moron picks up the doggie doo and leaves it on my doorstep. I was so livid that I forgot to file this article again. Instead, I stood in front of my neighbor’s house throwing up gang signs while the stereo at my house blasted 50 Cent’s, “my gun go off.” I knocked on his door but he didn’t answer hence my gang and 50-cent serenade. In hindsight, perhaps I should not have been yelling “Open the door, bitch!”
(And Now… Back To “Why Do I Read Comics?”)
Please refer to part oneof this article. Last whenever, I wrote about my love of comics and how I stopped reading them all together by the time I got to college. I was pretty sure that I was done with comics when Frank Miller brought me back.
I was at all places, an Elton John concert, and the guy sitting next to me was reading a Frank Miller Daredevil. I smiled remembering when I was a young impressionable lad who once wasted his time on comics. The guy caught my smile and asked “Have you read this one yet?”
I told him I didn’t read comics anymore. He asked me why and I explained that I grew out of them, yada, yada, yada. He said (and he was right) that it sounded like I stopped reading comics because of peer pressure. He also offered that I didn’t seem like the type of guy who cared what anyone else thought.
That surprised me.
“What makes you say that? You just met me.” I said.
“Take a good look around.” He responded.
I was at Madison Square Garden and I did take a look around. Nothing struck me as anything that would give this guy a clue to what I cared about or not. I was about to ask him what he was smoking when it hit me.
As far as I could tell I was one of maybe four to possibly six black people who were there to see Elton John so, clearly, he was right, I’ve never cared about what anyone thought of me. It dawned on me at that moment that I did stop reading comics because I was concerned about how I would be perceived.
The look of “oh shit” must have taken up residence on my face because my new friend just laughed. He then did something I will always be thankful for, he gave me that copy of Daredevil to read while we waited for the opening act and while reading I’m sure my “oh shit” look never left my face.
I was amazed just how different and damn good Frank Miller’s Daredevil was. The comics I read before I stopped collecting were good but this was another kind of good, this was on a level I had not experienced before in comics.
Forbidden Planet is located in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village and has a huge comic book community presence. The next day I went there and purchased the entire run of Frank Miller’s Daredevil and returned to my home to eagerly read them.
I had no idea who this Miller guy was but these books were some of the greatest comics I’d ever read. In fact they were some of the greatest stories I’d ever read regardless of the format. After discovering Daredevil I went on a pretty good buying spree of comics and realized quickly that the game had changed in six years so much so that I was blown away almost daily by the work that was being done.
Wolfman and Perez’s Teen Titans, Walt Simonson’s Thor, Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg and Moore and Bolland’s The Killing Joke were among the many new (to me) comics I was overdosing on. In the six years I was away from comics there had been a sea change and I was back, like an addict at a crack house.
For me that sea change still exists in the industry and that my friend is why I still read comics. Forget about the glut of Spider-Man or Batman titles. Forget the yearly cross over or the predictable “death of” storylines. Forget the gimmicks such as variant covers or stories “ripped from today’s headlines” like the gay character or Archie kissing black girl bullshit.
Forget all that crap, some of the work coming from today’s creators is just fantastic. I picked up a trade paperback of The Twelve from Marvel while in France and it was simply incredible and that’s just the tip of the creative iceberg of what is being done today.
Yes, comics for the most part are the same superhero crap that it has been for decades but the best of this industry, the original outstanding work being done in comics translates into the best of any industry.
Film, television or under-fucking-roos, the best material from comics makes any other medium worth watching or, in the case of Underoos, worth wearing.
To put it simply, I still read comics because no matter how old I am (21, Jean) comics are the best entertainment available for my money today and I don’t care who knows I think that way.
Oh, I’m sure some of you are wondering why the black guy from the hood was at an Elton John concert. The short answer is like comics; Elton John’s music is something I enjoy because he’s just that good. For any other explanation, consult someone who gives a fuck what other people think.