Tuesday, February 18, 2014

LIKE A FOUR-COLOR CARPET

Way back in 2010 I posted an excerpt from an essay I wrote for a book called Hey Kids, Comics!  Edited and compiled by artist/blogger (and all-around swell guy) Rob Kelly, Hey Kids is a collection of reminiscences from comic book connoisseurs like Alan Brennert, Steve Englehart, Chris Ryall, Bob Greenberger, Paul Kupperberg and many others about the joys of growing up addicted to, and obsessed with, panel-by-panel storytelling.  The book finally came out last summer, it's been getting terrific reviews, and, in a bid to intrigue you—and perhaps get you to click on over to Amazon and purchase it—I thought I’d run my essay in its entirety.  Enjoy!


Portals to Other Dimensions—Ten Cents Each!

I've said this before, and it's true:  I don't remember ever not reading comic books.  I can’t say for sure who first exposed me to them, but I do recall a married couple that lived in my apartment building (the kind of adults you’d expect to be reading comics in the late 50's and early 60's:  smiley, rotund, slightly odd people) and they had a treasure trove of comics—stacks and stacks of them—they’d often share with me.  I also remember a cousin giving me what must have been twenty or so comics (to my young eyes, they seemed more like twenty thousand).  There was something deeply satisfying in spreading them all out on the floor—like a four-color carpet—not to be read, but to be stared at, studied, absorbed to the deeps of my soul.  I enjoyed comic book covers as much as I enjoyed reading the stories.  I could sit there, in a quasi-hypnotic state, and study the illustrations for hours:  they were like cosmic portals, opening up doorways to other dimensions; colorful parallel universes far preferable to the one I inhabited.

The best covers communicated an entire story in one image and my mind would wander off and run the story in my head like a movie (which was often far different from the one that unfolded inside the books:  sometimes it was better).  Drawing was one of my great obsessions as a kid and I could spend an entire afternoon on the living room floor, with pencil and paper, studying a Batman cover—I’m talking about the Dick Sprang-era, square-jawed, fun-loving Bats, not the ultra-serious Dark Knight of today—and trying to replicate it, line-for-line, freehand.  (Tracing, of course, was verboten.) 





My family didn’t have much money—we were lower middle class, my father worked for the New York City Parks Department (he was the guy who raked the leaves and shoveled the snow) and my mother was a switchboard operator for the New York State Parole Board—but I never felt materially deprived.  My parents were always incredibly generous.  And they generously indulged my passion for comics.

I have very vivid memories of being six, seven years old and taking walks with my father on summer evenings after dinner:  We'd head for the local candy store, which—in Brooklyn, at least—was its own magic world, with a long soda fountain inevitably presided over by an elderly Jewish wizard who could magically conjure egg creams (if you’ve never had one, you have my sincere condolences); more comics, newspapers and magazines than you could count; every gloriously trashy candy bar in existence; and an odd assortment of toys, from Duncan Yo-Yos to that lost ancient artifact, the Pensy Pinky.  My father would buy a newspaper for himself and a comic book for me.   A comic was ten cents in those days—which was probably more than my dad’s New York Daily News cost—but it was still a bargain.  (When my best friend, Bob Izzo, was going to the hospital for minor surgery—I think he was having a mole removed—his mother gave him an entire dollar and he bought ten comic books.  I was paralyzed with envy.)


I was seven when, after three decades, the price jumped from ten to twelve cents:  I walked into the candy store with my mother one afternoon and Eva—the not-to-be-trifled-with wife of the egg cream making wizard—was in shock, ranting about this outrageous price hike.  My mother was equally irate.  “Twelve cents,” she gasped, “for a comic book?”   

To my immense relief, the extra two cents didn’t dissuade my parents from buying me comics—and I continued to consume them.  It didn’t matter what the comic book was, I read everything—from Hot Stuff and Casper to Sad Sack and Bob Hope (given the current comic book market, it’s astonishing to realize that the Bob Hope series ran for eighteen years.  The Adventures of Jerry Lewis lasted even longer).  Today the super hero dominates the mainstream market, but, back then, the variety of comic books—all of them kid-friendly—was astounding.  Still, to a boy raised on George Reeves flying across his black and white television screen, the DC super hero comics were the Holy Grail.

We took it for granted that every male under the age of twelve worshipped Superman and Batman—and most of them did—but each of us had our special favorites.  Mine were Justice League (all the DC heroes together in one book?  How could you beat that?) and Green Lantern.  GL was the perfect vehicle to capture the mind of a child.  The concept was as elegant as it was simple:  the hero just thought of something—brought his will and imagination to bear—and he manifested it.  (Even as an adult the concept still works:  I think it’s a perfect metaphor for the way we should all live our lives.)   John Broome’s wonderful stories spanned the galaxies—his place in Comic Book Heaven is secure—but, for me, the the primal enchantment came from Gil Kane's extraordinary artwork.  Before I discovered the force of nature that was Jack Kirby, Kane was the artist whose work meant the most to me:  a mixture of elegance, power and crystal clear storytelling.  As noted, drawing was my childhood obsession and one of my absolute favorite things to draw was Kane’s flying figure of Green Lantern, ring-hand confidently outthrust, one leg cocked back (almost as if it was amputated).





When I was in Junior High School, I underwent a religious conversion.  No, I didn’t suddenly become a Hindu or a Born-Again Christian:  I converted from DC to Marvel.  Contemporary comic book readers can’t possibly understand how different Stan Lee’s Marvel books were in the 1960’s.  DC’s comics—for all their imagination and artistic flair—were pristine and sculpted, All-American and squeaky clean to the point of being nearly antiseptic:  no rough edges, no raw emotions, nothing messy at all.  If you looked at the Marvel books, especially in the early days of the line, it was all mess.  The covers said everything:  lurid colors.  Captions screaming for your attention.  Oversized word balloons with thick, black borders around them.  Artwork so primitive it was frightening.  Marvel Comics were dangerous.

A few years before my conversion, on a whim (or perhaps out of desperation), I’d picked up the first issue of Marvel Tales, which reprinted the origin stories of Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man and Ant Man.  Imagine a young mind accustomed to the gentle elegance of Curt Swan suddenly encountering the wonderful weirdness that was Steve Ditko and the dynamic lunacy of Jack Kirby.  Reading the Hulk origin, I was certain that General “Thunderbolt” Ross had to be the one who was going to turn into a monster because—the way Kirby drew him—he already looked like one.  There was a panel of Ross yelling at Bruce Banner and the old man’s mouth was so impossibly wide I was sure he was going to eat Banner alive.  





At that point in my evolution I wasn’t ready for Marvel:  the stories were simply too intense for my tender psyche, so I put the books aside and returned to the more comforting confines of the DC Universe—until, in 1966, Marvelmania swept through the halls of Ditmas Junior High.  Among my crowd of comics cognoscenti, you were looked down upon if you still read Superman (which I, of course, did).  I resisted the tide—no way was I giving up on GL and the League—but by May or June of that year (and, yes, I’m sure peer pressure had something to do with it) I decided to once again investigate this strange Marvel phenomenon.  The first comics I picked up were Fantastic Four #54, Daredevil #19 and Spider-Man #40.  After reading those three issues—I still have a clear memory of sitting on the steps of the massive Catholic church across the street from my apartment house (the appropriate place for a religious conversion) and devouring the Daredevil story “Alone Against the Underworld!”, entranced by Stan Lee’s hyperbolic intensity and John Romita’s muscular grace—Marvel had me.  Peer pressure may have piqued my curiosity, but what sold me was the quality of the stories:  the creative audacity that exploded across every page.






There’s been much debate, down through the decades, about the relative contributions of Stan Lee and his collaborators.  From my perspective, Stan’s contribution was incalculable.  Even if, hypothetically, Kirby and Ditko plotted every single one of those stories on their own, Stan created the vibe and the mythos of Marvel Comics.  He did it with cocky cover copy and the warmth of the Bullpen Bulletins pages, the hilarious footnotes and scripts that managed to be absurdly pseudo-Shakespearean and yet utterly down to earth at the same time.  Most important were the absolutely relatable (especially to a boy on the verge of adolescence) characters, constructed of equal parts angst and humor.   As others have said, with Stan at the door of the Marvel Universe, you really felt as if you were being welcomed into a unique club that was tailored just for you by the coolest uncle anyone ever had.  Add in the quirky individuality of Ditko and the cosmic genius of Kirby (if anyone in the history of comics can be called a genius, Jack’s the guy) and you had something new and vibrant that comics had never seen before.   (Here’s how much I loved those 60’s Marvel Comics:  In the ninth grade I had pneumonia, ordered by our doctor not to leave the house for three weeks.  One Sunday night, about two weeks into my sentence, I couldn’t take it any more:  my parents had gone out for dinner, so I threw on my winter coat—did I mention it was dead of winter?—and, risking my fragile lungs, raced the four blocks to the candy store and grabbed the latest issue of Fantastic Four.) 

I remained Marvel-exclusive until 1970 when Jack Kirby returned to DC:  hey, if Superman & Company were good enough for the King, they were certainly good enough for me.  Kirby’s brilliant New Gods, Forever People and Mister Miracle convinced me I’d made the right decision.  That same year I had my first encounter with the subversive genius of R. Crumb (“Meatball,” anyone?) and my idea of what a comic book could, and couldn’t, be was forever demolished.  Loyalty to any one company, or any one form of graphic storytelling, suddenly seemed ridiculous.  





As I grew older, as I fell prey to exploding hormones and the lunacy of teenage life, becoming immersed in rock and roll, “serious” literature, the spiritual search (and other, less savory, pursuits), I never let go of comic books.  Most of my contemporaries grew out of their obsession, but I didn't.  Why would I turn away from a cosmic portal that expanded my mind, deepened my soul and, most important, made me happy.   


You can’t put a cover price on that.

© copyright 2014 J.M. DeMatteis

43 comments:

  1. Great, great essay! I should read this book. Your words echo a lot of how I felt
    when I was a small person. When I was a little kid in the seventies, Marvel still had that forbidden, underground appeal, maybe just because my mom didn't like them (my dad did). I wasn't allowed to buy them until I was ten ('77), and then I went for everything. I blame Steve Gerber for the mess my life has been, but I still love the guy and wish he was still with us.
    And yes, I too discovered R. Crumb later and bought some Zap reprints. Rick
    Griffin's otherworldly strips are my favorite.

    It's really nice to read this essay as I get back into this field again. Thank you.

    Mike Freed

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    1. Very glad you enjoyed it, Mike and equally glad we share a love of Gerber and Crumb.

      If you get a chance to check out the book, I think you'll enjoy it. Great fun.

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  2. Incisive piece, if that's emblematic of the direction the book is going, I shall have to read it too! My comics reading (the start date of which I cannot remember either) began in the seventies, so the dominance of Marvel was already a forgone conclusion for me. Thanks for the good words for Stan Lee, the fanatical Kirby-ites (as I call 'em) believe they're building up Kirby by tearing down Lee but they're really just distorting history.

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    1. I bow to no man in my admiration for Kirby, Jeffen -- as I note in the piece, I think he was an absolute genius -- but Stan and Jack had a partnership, much like Lennon and McCartney, always challenging each other to do better, go farther. They brought out the best in one another.

      Jack, of course, was a freelancer, he didn't have the company promoting him, protecting him, the way that Stan did...and so, I think, people feel very protective of Kirby and want to see his massive contributions to Marvel more broadly acknowledged (and, over time, I think that's come to pass). But that doesn't make Stan's work any less important. Lee and Kirby together were a creative force unlike any we'd seen before. Together, they enriched our popular culture and our lives. I honor them both.

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  3. I was gonna make the Lennon-McCartney comparison (as I figured you'd be sympathetic with that) but wanted to keep my comment from getting longer than your entry in the book! There are partisans who've argued for one or the other over the years but most people recognize that the genius of the Beatles is best seen as a collaboration even if there's room for quibbling.
    I wasn't doubting your love of Kirby, just appreciating your balanced tone as reflected in your final words above: "I honor them both". When I read the commentary of the extreme Kirby partisans they seem to be able to only acknowledge one half of the Lee-Kirby team. I do sympathize with overall goals of those whom I call Kirby-ites (the man was mistreated by Marvel, the broader media has given Lee too much credit etc.) and I'm glad they've burnished his legacy and gained some remuneration for his estate but I feel the anti-Stan Lee vitriol they employ to this end undermines our understanding and appreciation of that "creative force".

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    1. Beautifully said, Jeffen, and I agree with you completely!

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  4. High praise, sir, high praise.

    P.S. I know there are mixed reactions to your old run on Marvel Team-Up (you yourself downplay it here: http://www.jmdematteis.com/2010/10/unsolved-mysteries-spider-man-edition.html) while CBR's estimation is quite positive (http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2009/09/11/the-16-best-team-up-book-runs-6-4/) but upon re-reading it last year I was struck the sheer humanity of those stories. I was skimming through the entire MTU series reallyfast but then I had to slow right down when I caught on to what you were doing. Granted, not every issue works perfectly but it felt like you were building a more plausible, more flesh and blood superhero universe (more an extension of Stan Lee's style then a precursor to Moore or Miller) and it's something a lot of writers could learn from.
    Anyway, sorry to keep carrying on but I was moved by some of those stories (it's what made me do some background digging and buy Brooklyn Dreams) and wanted to personally thank you for them.

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    1. My biggest problem with the MTU stories was that it took me a good six months of stumbling before I really found the direction I wanted for the book. That said, you're right: Looking back, I can see my Younger Self really striving to give those stories humanity, to make them more than "just another team-up." So deep thanks for your kind words. I'm glad those tales still resonate after so many years.

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  5. It's especially fun for me to read this post as so many of the comics that had such a profound impact on my young mind were written by you. So, for this chance to say "I can relate" to the author of my relating is especially gratifying.

    What a great read here, thanks for pointing me in its direction.

    Sometimes, not as often as in my younger days but sometimes, I can still get that absolutely wondrous feeling from spreading out comics like a four-color-carpet (fantastic image) and looking at them all. Like standing before multiple Guardians of Forever. (Well, except they're rectangular.)

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Bryan. And very grateful that my work helped open the door to Comic Book World for you.

      It's so important to hang on to that wondrous feeling you're talking about: If we lose it, if we become so "sophisticated" that we outgrow it, we may as well shove the comics in a box and never read them again.

      That said, it seems to be the stories that we read when we were wide-eyed kids that crack that magical vision open for us. I know that if I grab some Lee-Kirby comics out of my office closet, it won't take long for me to be twelve years old again, to feel exactly as I did the first time I read them.

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  6. I remember my mother buying me comics as a kid. I was so blown away by it. She just purchased it for me at the drug store. Okay, looking back, it probably wasn't that big a deal and was tantamount to a candy bar, and was probably the the cheapest thing she was buying that day, but to my first grade mind it was huge. I couldn't believe it. And when it happened again it was great. There was no collecting ion those days, just whatever looked good, what looked like a great story. ONe trip it was Spider-man, the next the Fantastic Four, then Batman. There was no rhym or reason. And that first issue I must have read a million times if I read it once.

    Also: I think that there is something in the American psyche that craves character in our music. I remember when Susan Boyle was getting traction I thought that it was good and she was very talented, but it didn't work for me. Others I knew had similar vies, some I would even consider music snobs and aficionados... neither of which can I even hope to claim to be.

    Think about it though, folk, bluegrass, Rock, country Jazz, Blues and Rap all have very distinct styles. Folk music because it is usually conveying a story or theme. Blues is all about emotion and jazz the state of mind. Now enter the back half of the 20th century Guys like Elvis, Buddy Holly, and of course Chuck Berry rise up. All of whom you could easily pick out of a crowd. Motown and soul are much the same. Even imports like the Beatles, Yardbirds, and Rolling Stones are full of rich character. Johnny Cash endured through Generations and no one's voice is more iconic or at least recognizable. Punk and Metal rise up creating a music filled with raw emotion. Alternative rock eventually rises up. At the time of all of this Rap and Hop hop come to life. These genres all push one basic fact to the forefront, which has been building since the 50s... musical talent is not enough any more. Sure in the 60s, 50s, and 70s a one hit wonder might make the cut if they were talented, the lack of character in their music just kept them from advancing. In the late 70s-90s this was not enough anymore. You had to have character if you were going to even have a chance. You could not just have the talent. Even the genres that skewed away from the previous mentioned tried to amp up their character, this was aided by music videos.

    Even musicians I don't like, ones you couldn't pay me to listen to I can admit to having character unless they were COMPLETELY manufactured by corporate America, and even then a spin is given.

    just a though though... maybe not

    Jack

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    1. Interesting thought about personality and music, Jack. I think it applies across the board to popular music. If you go back to the first half of the 20th Century, to singers like Al Jolson and Bing Crosby (who were the Elvis and Beatles of their days), they were considered masters of their art but they were also big personalities. It seems to be the combination of both that brings that initial popularity. That said, over time, those people pass away and the music remains and has to stand on its own. THAT said, you can say the music itself is imbued with the singer's personality...which brings us back to your original point.

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    2. I'm either going to agree or disagree.

      If you are talking about it being across the board for music, I agree. I focused on what I focused on because that is what was what I was most familiar with, especially in a chronological sense. Someone who studied music once said to me that Johnny Cash is the worst singer ever if you look at it from an academic sense, but if you use your ears he is one of the best. This is probably similar the likes of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. It is also why Johnny Cash transcends to much. People who hate his usual genres still like Johnny Cash, because it is so accessible. The character comes through. Blue is really where this tradition started to really become important. Sure the folk, bluegrass and what have you songs from the 19th century have character to them, but Blues had the advantage of the era of recording really making it able for a man to shine through with character instead of the song.

      Frank Sinatra, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, The Ramones, the Beatles, Kurt Cobain, Buddy Holly, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, Leslie Gore, and Ozzy Osborne all have two things in common. First they are all viewed as having had a lasting effect on music (let's not get into deserving or not). Second everyone and their brother has impressions of them, usually done in loving tribute while singing along with their music. Hell, it's hard not to adopt their voices! You have to be really embittered to honestly say that anyone of those people don't have a unique voice that has both personality and a way of conveying emotion well. I would like to hear Dematteis views on those performers and their relationship to this topic, as well as other. And yes I know that the Beatles, Stones, and Ozzy were all from England, but they were playing an American genre and the goal was to make it in America.

      I disagree if you are saying it is across the board as far as countries go. I will fully admit to not being perfectly versed in music from around the world but I do have a passing knowledge. It does seem that as you step away from American created styles, like Rock, Rap, Blues, or Jazz, the praise it more about technical ability or style, even in their pop music. There is a lot of music is really good in other countries... really good, but lack much of the character that American music seems to bleed.

      Also, still no mention of JMD on the Motor City Comic Con website.

      Also, was there ever a project you write where you thought you were horribly matched for, but turned out really liking what you did.

      What about another writer you really liked, but was put on a project they were all wrong for, but they ended up blowing you away. I can see why you might not want to answer this one... ever if it would be complimentary. I can also understand why you would want to.

      Jack

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    3. I think we're pretty much in agreement on the music thing, Jack.

      A project that I thought I was "horribly matched" on? Believe it or not, JLI. It took me about six or eight issues to relax and realize that it was one of the best gigs ever. In fact, I quite once and then changed my mind!

      Re: other writers. Nothing comes to mind, but I'll think about it.

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  7. Dematteis, GOOD NEWS!

    You are finally on the Motor City Comic Con's lists of guests. And the news gets better, even if you don't show up you'll make a jerk out of the website, whicjh in turn has made a jerk out of me multiple times, so I won't be two sad.

    Now I can have you and bill sienkiewicz sign the same book on the same day. Bonus points if you can guess what it is.

    Here is a link to how they are billing you: http://www.motorcitycomiccon.com/comiccon-events/j-m-dematteis/?portfolioID=548

    you are actually first on the list... which is weird because it is alphabetical and there people with last names that start with A,B,and C who are attending.

    Jack

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    1. Excellent! Me and William Shatner, together again, and I get top billing! : )
      Really looking forward to it!

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    2. Actually, when you first go to the site it's Bill that they are really pushing, so your still behind him until you click on guests.

      Check this out:

      http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2011/11/20/the-greatest-j-m-dematteis-stories-ever-told/

      Jack

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    3. Well, wait till I arrive in my Star Trek uniform...then we'll see who's the real star of the convention! : )

      I've seen that "Greatest" list—but not most of the comments. Thanks for passing that along. Jack!

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    4. There were comments?

      Don't come in a trek Uniform, come as T.J. Hooker, or Denny Crane, or the guy from the TZ episode "knick of time."

      I keep thinking at the show you and Gerry Conway will have a conversation about the superiority of Mary Jane over Gwen Stacy as a character, and then Mark Waid will over hear it, and a tear will roll down his face, but he'll say nothing.

      Jack

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    5. Maybe I'll go REALLY obscure and come as Shatner's character from THE BARBARY COAST (look that one up on IMDB!).

      I've never met Conway but have long admired him. Perhaps we'll get to do a panel together...

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    6. Well, I just gave you the perfect opening line, "thanks for killing Gwen." I'm going to say it to him, she was a dull character.

      I always had a theory that Gwen was beloved for a simple reason, if you were the right age, she was sort of your girlfriend, you know that age where you a starting to like girls... but not quite old enough to date. She was sweet, and just dull enough that you could place anything you wanted onto her.

      It is strange though, you never met him, yet he had such an impact on your life. You wrote in depth about the Peter-MJ marriage, and he is the one that started pushing them together.He created the Spider-clone, and you defined his Lost Years. He Moved the JLA to Detroit, and you ended it and then set it in a whole new direction because of it.

      by the by, how are panels set up? I have always wondered what they do to get them and how they are decided. I always assumed they were put together when the guest said that they would attend... but apparently not.

      Jack

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    7. I usually get contacted a few months before a convention re: panels. Haven't heard anything official from MCCC about any panels yet.

      Interesting about the Conway plot threads that I followed up on. Never really thought about it.

      As for Gwen: I've always preferred Mary Jane, but maybe if I had been writing in a Spider-verse where Gwen was alive, I would have preferred her. They've certainly handled her well in the new movies. But, really, you can't go wrong with Emma Stone.

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    8. And don't forget about the most important connection to Conway, in 1984 he said to the editor of the Epic line, "Someone really should right a comic called Moonshadow. Maybe some kind of Hippie space thing. Dah-well gotta go. see you later."

      I don't think you would have had the fondness for Gwen. Conway really laid the groundwork to make her interesting. First having her comfort Pete after Gwen died, and then building the character. Eventually revealing that she was more like Peter than anyone guessed. Revealing that like Spider-man her fun loving persona was largely an act. She got more depth then Gwen ever did. Gwen rarely moved out of just being Peter's girlfriend. Expect in the beginning when she was kind of a bitch (its true she went out with harry and Flash, because Peter was too busy worrying over his dying aunt. IN the end Gwen was changed to be likable, but she went too far down that road and she was made bland

      I just same Amazing Spider-man a few months ago, and it bugged. It wasn't bad, I just was frustrated that if they combined it with the Raimi films it would have been near perfect. I felt Raimi got Peter right, and the new films got Spider-man right. Both good though. To be fair though, the borrowed an awful lot from Gwen Stacy in writing MJ for the first Spider-man trilogy.

      Jack

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    9. wait, do they ask you if you have any ideas for panels, or do they tell you what your options are, or do they dictate what you'll do?

      Jack

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    10. They ask on occasion, but, more often than not, I'm told what panels I'll be participating in.

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    11. What I liked best about AMAZING SPIDER-MAN was the two lead actors: I think they really embodied Peter and Gwen. My favorite Spidey movie, though, remains the 2nd Raimi.

      The more you talk about it, the more I hope I get on a panel with Conway. Could be a lot of fun.

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    12. And I just hope that panel is about the superiority of MJ over Gwen.

      As for Spider-man films, I don't know why it is so hard to have Peter Be a dork(McGuire but not Garfield) and a wiseass as Spidey (Garfield but not McGuire). It seems like movies in general by in large have trouble with the dual identity thing. Yeah there are exceptions, but there are also a lot of lacking.

      My favorite Spider-man is still the one from the 90s cartoon. Very underrated. When will that be on DVD?

      Jack

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    13. That 90's cartoon was produced by a vey talented, and very nice, guy named John Semper...and my old pal Stan Berkowitz (who went on to work on many of the classic WB/DCU cartoons) was also part of the staff.
      Quality work.

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    14. Agreed. It also hit the exact right note with Peter (Parker). I think that it viewed unfairly because it was on at the same time as Batman the Animated Series. While I do think Batman:TAS was overall more stylistic and pushed things further and took more risks, the quality of one does not detract from the quality of the other. To me Kevin Conroy is Batman but Christopher Daniel Barnes is Spider-Man.

      I would buy those DVDs in a heartbeat, but as far as I know they are only available in region 2.

      Jack

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    15. There are some episodes available on YouTube. Here's the first one:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNpWOQGnqe8

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    16. They were also on Netflix two years or so ago. And I appreciate the link and was glad to see it on Netflix, I would still love those DVDs, especially if they added commentary and special features. Though I guess I'll just have to make due.

      interesting(ish) fact. That episode has one of my favorite lines of anything ever:

      "Debra Whitman, the little sister I never had... or wanted."

      Jack

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    17. Another line i love was from a comic when the Silver Surfer says, "I should have let Galactus eat them."

      bonus points if you can name the writere and comic!

      Jack

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    18. It was some guy named J.M. Dematteis in the last panel of a Defenders mini series around 2005 with Keith Giffen and Kevin McGuire.


      Jack

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    19. HA? Why Ha?

      Underrated series by the way, if you get the chance you should pick it up. The Surfer's lines and interaction with surfer's alone are worth the price of admission.


      Jack

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    20. Where does that story rank in in the halls of Dematteis-Giffen-McGuire legend anyway?

      And how is that scene not on a T-shirt?

      Jack

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    21. Somewhere below the original JL run, FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE and METAL MEN (which is a book we could have done forever. It may have been more suited to us than even JLI).

      If you're looking for just GIffen-DeMatteis, then HERO SQUARED trumps everything, even JLI.

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    22. Not that I didn't enjoy DEFENDERS: We had a blast. Just that I prefer the others...

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    23. Despite me missing a few issues Hero Squared is probably my favorite as well.

      Now here is a true story, the very first Defenders story I ever read was Defenders 101, written by the same guy who did the dialogue for that mini. It was in a dollar bin in one of those crappy comic shows that happen in Knights of Columbus halls (I have seriously gotten great comics at such shows cheap.) I remember really enjoying it... especially the Surfer scenes. I love the Defenders (more than the Avengers less than F.F.) and that book was the beginning of it

      As for the mini, I agree it is maybe in the lower groups, but I still love it. I also think it is a bit unfair, the Defenders already had its lighter side days in the back half of Gerber's run. The JL had never been professionally spoofed. Not to mention the comparisons to that same JL series.

      So, not as good, but I still wouldn't sell it. Not that bad of a rating right?

      Jack

      p.s. I think I already mentioned this here a while ago, but I am missing tons of those JLI comics, so that when I have a bad day I can still but a new one and cheer myself up. True. How is that for a blurb?

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    24. I loved working on the 80's DEFENDERS. I still had so much to learn but I poured my heart into that run. It was, in many ways, a rehearsal for the more personal projects that would follow. I was experimenting, pushing, tentatively, at the boundaries of what a comic book could be. I have fond memories of that issue you mention, as well. It was a chance to do something very quiet, philosophical and character-driven at a time when that didn't happen very often.

      And I'l take that blurb!

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