If anyone wants to imaginatively indulge in some post-holiday profoundly-personel gift giving (or using some of that upcoming tax refund), we wholeheartedly recommend this gigantic little tome we were surprised to come across in our friendly neighborhood Borders over the weekend:
It’s an absolutely JAW-dropping compendium of its inceptional Timely origins up to (and when it was truly) Mighty Marvel during the radically revolutionary 60s (and its resurgence in the mid-to-late 70s as well as the Miller-Claremont]Byrn e renaissance in the 80s and underwhelmingly beyond).
Talk about a terrific time trip – month by month, year by year and chockfull of delicious details and memorable covers. Ya gotta add it to your superhero coffee table collection!!!
If you’re not already aware, there are two intriguingly informative tomes on Smiley currently available, first his (effortlessly entertaining) take on his career,
balanced by this far more incisive behind-the-scenes history of Marvel – especially vis-à-vis the later conflicts and battles The King had concerning his artwork and the final resolution between the decades-long animosity between he and Stan. It pulls no punches and plays no favorites, making it rank rather royally high if you wanna expert appraisal minus extremely emotional fan-boyish blind idolation.
Which brings us to this absolutely MUST-SEE doc from the BBC’s tremendously-tenacious Jonathan Ross (these first two mouth-watering eps will more than wondrously whet yer appetite):
They belong front and center on every serious fan’s shelf
(and, nah, we get noooooo commission or royalties ).
Lets keep in mind though - Ditko wasn't exactly a people person. He was the type that if he felt wronged (even if he wasn't by anyone else's measuring stick) he'd burn ever bridge he had with you without a wanton and fervor that William Tecumseh Sherman would idolize.
(Not that I'm defending Mr Lee's grey areas of how he handled some stuff in the past - but I also find it really distasteful that people so willingly fling rocks at him the moment the wind blows the wrong way.)
Tho he’d been memorably introduced by Stan & Jack in the above ish,
has never really received the showcase he deserved until writer Bruce Jones and artist Brent Anderson
teamed for a truly unforgettable run that still stands out as probably the highest point of creativity, insight, fun and adventure for the character (whereupon he finally emerged once and for all as not just a more fantasized Tarzan-wannabe).
Then there’s the moody urban mystery take
and Bill Sienkiewicz
impressively came up with via their dynamic collaboration on
As to that, prior to their X-Men excellence, Claremont and Byrne first achieved sit-up-and-take notice attention via
and a glorious run on
Which then brings us to artist Bob Layton and writer David Michelinie’s
I've probably mentioned this before, but Steve Ditko's art--like Jack Kirby's--works best when he's rendering super-heroes and other "fantastical" things. I remember some stuff he did for Marvel's Indiana Jones comic that just looked...odd. Eyes were too far apart, disproportionate bodies and bland backgrounds, though that may not be his fault. It was the wrong artist for such an ordinary-looking book. I found it strange at the time that this legendary artist had been relegated to a dying tie-in series (which was actually good in its first 24 issues) because as a child I had loved those early Spider-Man stories that I had in some reprint paperback that stayed in the family car and was compulsively and obsessively read and re-read on many a mundane journey.
Three Years Gone … In Remembrance - September 20, 1947 - February 10, 2008:
“Every journey -- even one to the edge of existence and realms beyond -- must come to an end. Whether the terminus is a place on a map, a marker on the path of life, or a state of being, every traveler gets there ... sooner or later. By intention or fluke. By serendipity or misfortune. Through random chance, or inexorable – Fate.”
neoknewnothin’ but Finally Comes ‘round to British Brilliance Department:
He first came (and made) comics history in the early 70s when Roy Thomas' vsionary
insight brought Mr. Smith's pre-Raphaelite essence so memorably to
Mind you, he’s a great example of why Infinity has its value – sometimes it seems it might just take that long for some thick-headed amigos to come around (like us, fer instance). Even tho we initially found his artwork
too ‘pretty’ and overly-detailed in its decoration – talk about rococo!!! - it finally dawned on us
just how much subtle skill informed his overall style coupled with the undeniable imagination and definitely-disciplined creative talent.
(and how many of you, again like us, missed The Third Eye above, eh?)
Over the years, his trajectory has taken him in more independent directions, tho he’s not totally forsaken the industry’s bread-and-butter icons (yet it’s the former that’s far more interesting vis-à-vis his artistic evolution).
Yeah, yeah, yeah – like those insufferable snobs who say composers for film ain’t ever gonna be nothing but second-class citizens compared to their supposed more ‘superior’ (NOT) Classical cousins,
There’s the same insufferable nitwit nonsense that comics can somehow ever be equated with Real ‘Art’. To which we refer you to that that famous Hill Street philosopher, Joyce Davenport, and her favorite phrase:
“That’s a crock of the well-known article”. Indeed – and In Deed, as well
(particularly with our gobsmacking bravissimo favorite, "Fate Sowing the Stars").
And That - Always in All Ways - is THAT Department:
In a long legal battle (that was never truly in doubt the second he signed the original contracts) between Jack Kirby's heirs and their insistence The King is the creator (and thus is rightly due copyright ownership) of the Marvel heroes he co-created has received the Final Confrontation verdict.
In a 50-page decision, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon sided with Marvel, ruling Mr. Kirby was a freelance artist and that his was 'work for hire,' while Marvel editor Stan Lee wrote outlines for comics.
“The artists were always constrained by Lee’s plot outlines,” she wrote. “Lee retained the right to edit or alter their work, or to reject the pages altogether and not publish them if he did not like them.”. She conceded that, while there's no disputing the artist participated in the creation“ of the characters, that still didn't translate into his owning them.
[ Ol’ Smiley was always in the catbird’s seat – which is also why his relationship with everyone else was NEVER equal – consummate creativity aside. ]
Lest one forgets, The Law is first and foremost overly concerned with Facts, hardly Morality, sooooo ...
“The Kirby Works were created at the instance and expense of Marvel,” the decision continued, “Therefore, Marvel is presumed to be their ‘author,’ and the holder of the statutory copyright as a matter of law.”
Perhaps the most profoundly pertinent point from a legal perspective is her observation “Kirby took on none of the risks of the successes of the many comic books he helped produce. His contribution to the enterprise was plainly critical, but Marvel, - not he - bore the risk of its failure.”
Now, Will Eisner (seated beside Mr. And Mrs. Kirby) never had that problem crop up where his undisputed ownership of The Spirit is concerned.
If there’s any artist whose more closely channeled The King’s kharismatic dynamism than John Byrne, we’d be hard-pressed to come up with someone whose perception, versatility, power and overall influence than this gent.
We can’t think of anyone else whose run on The World’s Greatest Magazine comes as close as his to the fabled 101-issue original brilliant benchmark of Stan & Jack majestic – oh, hell, why not say it … marvelous – run.
And, a’course, this doesn’t EVEN begin to touch what he, Chris Claremont & Terry Austin seminally achieved with a certain cantankeous Canadian and his cohorts …
In the end, peevish personality is utterly irrelevant:
The other day, after a routine doctor's appointment, I had an entire day to myself, with no responsibilities at all, and I sat down and read all four volumes of THE FOURTH WORLD OMNIBUS. Totally messed with my mind. With comic like this, who needs acid?