Tuesday, October 9, 2018

MEETING LENNON...AGAIN



It's October 9th, what would have been John Lennon's 78th birthday, and in honor of the occasion I'm happy to once again tell the tale of my two encounters with my rock and roll hero.  I originally posted this story a few years back, in two installments, but I've taken the opportunity to edit them together.  Enjoy!  (And forgive the white text background that appears throughout most of this. I tried to correct this oddity, but couldn't.)  
***
In January of 1975, I was twenty-one years old, attending Brooklyn College (drifting through Brooklyn College is more like it; academics were never my strong suit), playing music, writing songs, dreaming of rock and roll glory—and, simultaneously, an equally-glorious writing career.  I’d been in and out of bands for years, partnered with some terrific players, but among our crowd of Brooklyn musicians, there was no one better than Jon Cobert.  Jonny was an extraordinary piano player—but he was also the kind of intuitive genius who could pick up just about any instrument and make memorable music.  I may not have been sure about my own rock and roll future, but I knew, we all knew, Jonny was headed for great things.  As noted, I was writing songs on my own—had been since I was fourteen or fifteen—but Jonny and I often wrote together, as well.  I crafted the lyrics—a few of them quite sublime, many of them truly atrocious (and, happily, long forgotten)—and Jon, with far more consistency, would provide the superb musical bedrock.  (Three of the songs we wrote together—"April Rainbow," "I Can Fly" and "Don't Wanna Live in Yesterday"—appeared on Jonny’s CD, Here’s Your Canoe, and you can listen to one of them here.)
In those ancient days, Jon was in a band that, at various times, was called Dog Soldier, Community Apple and, the name that seemed to stick, BOMF.  The band was managed by Roy Cicala, who ran one of one of Manhattan’s premier recording studios, Record Planet, East.  Roy was also a skilled engineer—one of the best in the business—who’d worked with John Lennon on Imagine, Some Time in New York City, Mind Games, Walls and Bridges and Rock and Roll.  Not surprising that RPE was Lennon’s studio of choice in New York or that BOMF’s destiny and Lennon’s became temporarily intertwined.  The band added hand claps and vocals to some Walls and Bridges tracks, appeared in now-classic videos for “Slippin’ and Slidin’” and “Stand By Me” (more about that later) and backed Lennon up for his last major television appearance—a very odd affair called “A Salute To Sir Lew Grade”—wearing outer space jumpsuits.  Lennon also provided lyrics for a song that BOMF recorded called “Incantation.”  (The song was never released, but I remember it as a throbbing, voodoo-inspired rocker, with lyrics in the “Come Together” vein.)
That night in January of ‘75—if I’m remembering correctly, it was a Tuesday or Wednesday, I know for sure it was a weeknight—my old friend (and brilliant drummer) Cliff Hochberg and I were bored and, looking for something to do, drove into the City—if you lived in Brooklyn, you never referred to it as Manhattan, it was just the City—to hang out at the Record Plant with Jonny.  (Something we did regularly because...well, wouldn’t you?)  There was nothing of any major (or even minor) import going on that night:  we were just drifting from the band’s rehearsal room to a little songwriting studio that had been set up for Jonny.  At one point, I was sitting alone in the hall when I saw Roy Cicala walk by.  A moment later, Cliff appeared, with an excited expression on his face.  “Do you know who’s here?” he asked.  “Yeah,” I replied, not sure why Roy’s appearance had Cliff so elated, “Mr. C.”  “No,” Cliff said; and then, after a suitably dramatic pause (hey, even if he didn’t pause, he should have), he added: “Mr. L.” 

Cue the thunder and lightning.  Cue the orchestra.  Cue the earth shaking beneath our feet.  John Lennon was in the building.  John Lennon:  the man whose music and wisdom, anger, wit, lunacy and honesty had fascinated and inspired me since the Beatles invaded America when I was ten years old. 

A moment later, Jonny appeared.  “Hey,” he said, casually (he, of course, knew there was nothing casual about it), “you guys wanna meet John?”  By the time he’d finished that sentence, Cliff and I were racing down the hall ahead of him, like two demented roadrunners.


Lennon was in Cicala’s office and that’s where we (along with several of the BOMF boys) were headed.  When we stepped into Roy’s outer office, we heard a distinctive nasal voice—a unique mixture of Liverpool and New York—from inside.  It was a voice I’d been hearing for most of my life, but always on television, on the radio, on the record player.  But now that voice—and the source of that voice—was on the other side of the wall.  I’m sure my cheeks drained of color:  it's a miracle the top of my head didn’t blow right off.  Cliff and I exchanged looks of wonder—he was as much a Beatles fanatic as I was and (almost) as big a Lennon fan—and then we filed into the main office.

Roy was there, along with his then-wife, Lori Burton.  May Pang—John’s girlfriend (this was during the infamous “Lost Weekend,” when John and Yoko were separated)—was, too.  And Lennon was there—right there—looking...well, real.  The only time I’d ever seen him in person was in 1972, at the Madison Square Garden “One to One’ concert—and I was way up in the cheap seats, under the influence of...well, that doesn’t matter.  But this wasn’t some distant figure on a stage or a flickering image on the television.  This was an actual human being—looking somehow more fragile, thinner, and shorter than I’d imagined.   And yet, somehow, larger, too:  every inch the rock legend; wearing a long black coat, a white scarf tossed across his shoulder, a bottle of Kahlua in his hand, all topped—or perhaps bottomed—by cowboy boots with spurs (yes, spurs).  He’d been out to dinner with Pang and afterwards they’d haunted some record stores, where Lennon had purchased a pile of 45s that he’d stacked up on Roy’s turntable.   “Disco,” Lennon said, indicating the new and unfamiliar sounds coming from the speakers.  “Gonna be the next big thing.  It’s all you’re gonna hear for the next ten years.”  None of us had ever heard the word disco, let alone the music, but this was John Lennon, after all, so we took it as gospel (good thing.  Turned out he was right).  There was some more chit-chat and the bottle of Kahlua was passed around (I wasn’t a drinker, so I can’t comment on the quality) and then, soon after, it became clear that Roy, John and their partners wanted to be alone.  The audience with the Pope of Rock was over.  As we all filed out of the office (well, the other guys filed out, I’m pretty sure Cliff and I floated, five feet off the ground), someone inside put on John’s exquisite Walls and Bridges track “Number Nine Dream,” which had just been released as a single.  “No, no,” we heard an agitated Lennon bark, and it was very clear that he meant it, “get it off, get it off.”  (So much for the Great Lennon Ego).

We regrouped back in BOMF’s rehearsal room, Cliff and I sharing our amazement, shock and wonder at what we’d just stumbled into; Jonny delighted by our jaw-dropped stupefaction.  (And  let’s face it, despite the fact that the BOMF boys already knew Lennon, each new encounter was something special for them.)  I don’t think we’d been in the room for more than ten minutes when a figure appeared in the doorway, holding a guitar:  Lennon.  He wanted to play some of this new disco music that had so captured him and wondered if the guys were up for it.  Needless to say they were.  There was only one problem:  Lennon didn’t have a guitar pick.  Cliff quickly offered up his Brooklyn College ID card.  It was a clumsy substitute, but Lennon didn’t seem to mind.

So there I was, on a random weeknight, sitting on the floor of this small rehearsal room in the middle of New York City, while—maybe three or four feet away from me—John Lennon was playing guitar, urging the band on, jamming away.  It was completely surreal.  I mean, what were the odds of this happening?  Cliff and I exchanged occasional looks of astonishment—but not for too long, because we didn’t want to take our eyes off the magician in front of us, perhaps for fear that, if we looked away too long, he’d just disappear in a puff of smoke.  (Five years later, he did.)

BOMF's drummer was having a little trouble getting the distinctive disco beat down—not surprising, since it was a very specific, and, at the time, very new, rhythm—and Cliff, I later found out, had to restrain himself from leaping up, knocking the guy to the floor and taking over.  (And I’m sure Cliffy would have nailed that beat instantly, too.)  I, meanwhile, was watching Lennon’s hands fly across the guitar neck, studying his every move (there was a rhythmic effect he got by muting the strings and using the pick percussively:  I’ve been doing the same trick ever since).

I don’t know how long this off-the-cuff, extraordinarily private concert went on—time, as you may suspect, had taken on a very distorted, other-dimensional quality—it might have been fifteen minutes, it might have been forty-five; but, eventually, Lennon satisfied his disco-craving and was done.  That’s when he turned to me, offering Cliff’s ID badge.  “Here’s your credit card,” he said, assuming I was the guy who’d given it to him.

You might think this was my opportunity to be witty, profound or, at the very least, gushingly fannish.  It was certainly a chance to say something to this man whose life and work had meant so much to me for so long.

Didn’t happen.

In the movie version of Woody Allen’s Broadway play, Play It Again, Sam, there’s a scene where Woody’s character, Allan Felix, is on his first post-divorce blind date.  Felix is a barely-functional, sputtering, jittery nervous wreck, a walking disaster, and, when he’s introduced to his date, the only thing he can do is wave like a moron and emit a guttural caveman grunt:  “Nugh!”  That’s pretty much what I choked out at Lennon—”Nugh!”—as, bug-eyed, I pointed to Cliff, clumsily indicating that it was his “credit card” and not mine.  Lennon returned the ID badge, then quickly vanished back into the land of myth and Kahlua.

And that, in and of itself, would have been as memorable, and embarrassing, an encounter as I could have ever asked for.  But this was just a set-up for the second, even more memorable and far-more embarrassing, encounter that would come, a few months later, on a sunny afternoon in March (
the 18th according to Wikipedia—although they got the name of the recording studio wrong, so who can say for sure?) when I got to spend a day watching Lennon and BOMF film videos for the recently released Rock 'n' Roll tracks “Slippin’ and Slidin’” and “Stand By Me”—both intended for a British television show called The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Looking back, it’s amazing that I was allowed in at all.  Jonny C and I were good friends, of course, but I suspect it helped that we were also songwriting partners:  a number of songs we created together were part of BOMF’s repertoire and, as a result, we were both under contract to the aforementioned Roy Cicala.  (The contract sounds impressive, but it didn’t lead me to rock and roll fame and fortune.  Jonny, on the other hand, has had a long, successful—and well-deserved—musical career.)  In any case, on that sunny March day, I skipped my classes at Brooklyn College (something I was in the habit of doing, anyway), hopped the subway into Manhattan and hustled over to West 44th Street, where the Record Plant was located.

As I recall—and, in retrospect, it’s fairly astonishing—there was no security detail to pass through:  I just walked in, headed straight for the studio and opened the door.   There, leaning over the sound board was John Lennon, who looked up, peered over his glasses and said, in that sharp, utterly distinctive Liverpudlian voice, “Is this the place?”  I scanned the room, looking for Jonny C—who was my ticket in—but he wasn’t there; so, utterly intimidated (just because I’d encountered Lennon before didn’t mean I was any less overwhelmed by his flesh-and-blood presence), I muttered, “Uh...yeah, it is, but I’ll wait outside...”, closed the door and retreated to a nearby couch.  I probably would have sat out there all day if a couple of the BOMF boys hadn’t come by, noticed me and alerted Jon to my presence.

Jonny C promptly appeared and ushered me into the studio—where I was soon sitting comfortably in a chair in the engineer’s booth while, on the other side of the glass, John Lennon and the band ran through take after take of “Slippin’ and Slidin’” and  “Stand By Me” for the film crew.  (BOMF was actually miming to prerecorded tracks from the Rock ‘n’ Roll album.  Lennon, though, was doing a live vocal.)  Anyone who’s followed this blog for more than five minutes understands how profoundly JL—as a Beatle, as a solo artist, as a human on the planet—has inspired me; so I think you can imagine what it was like for me to sit there, for hours, watching him perform, running the band through their paces (miming, as I learned that day, isn’t as easy as you’d think); one of the greatest vocalists in the history of rock and roll singing take after take:  laughing, joking and, well, being John Lennon.

And yet as I watched Lennon work, it seemed as if—despite more than a decade as one of the most famous, admired men on Earth—being on camera, the center of all that attention, made him uncomfortable.  His attitude, his bearing, wasn’t that of the Clever Beatle, the peacenik sage, the political firebrand:  it felt as if he’d retreated into Hamburg John, the young, rock and roll tough guy.  It was a subtle thing and there was certainly none of the aggression or anger that often got him in trouble:  he was, as expected, charismatic and charming.  Still it seemed to me that he was wearing a mask to protect himself and keep the world at bay.  In a few short months he’d retire completely from music to concentrate on being a husband and father (by March of ’75 “Lost Weekend” girlfriend May Pang was gone and Lennon had reunited with Yoko, who was pregnant with Sean) and it’s clear—in retrospect, at least—that he was, in fact, sick of "riding on the merry-go-round" (as he sang in "Watching the Wheels") and was preparing for his retreat.  Soon he’d be shedding all his personas and reconnecting with the person he’d been before the Beatles.  Until then, he’d keep pretending to be some version of Famous John Lennon.

There was a telling moment when, during one break between songs, he muttered—it was more like a discussion with himself than a request to the group—”Anybody got any coke?”  (And, no, he wasn’t talking about Coca Cola.)  A second later he shook his head.  “Nah,” he said, retracting the request, “if I do that, I’ll probably bite Tom Snyder’s head off.”  (He was scheduled to tape an interview for Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow Show that night.  You can watch it here.)  The coke request seemed like an old reflex, the immediate denial of the request reflecting a high level of post-”Lost Weekend” self-awareness—and a signpost to the new, family-centered life that was waiting for him at the Dakota.  (It’s very possible I’m reading into this—after all, I didn’t know the man, who am I to analyze him?—and yet, given my own intuition and the insights Lennon himself provided in interviews he gave after his emergence from his five years of House Husbanding, it feels true.)

After they ran through both songs a number of times, Lennon and the band took a break and the musicians filed back into the engineer’s booth.  Everyone was standing around chatting, the vibe amiable and low-key (well, I was low-key on the outside, but in my head I was doing backflips and screaming “John Lennon!  I’m standing here with John Lennon!  Dear God—how is this even possible?!”).  Jonny C took this opportunity to formally introduce me to Lennon.  “John,” he said, trying hard to sound casual (yet knowing full well what a Momentous Occasion this was for me), “have you met Marc, my lyricist?”

Lennon quickly looked me over and then offered a perfect, deadpan Lennon greeting.  “Hello, Marc my lyricist,” he said, as if "my lyricist" wasn't a description, but my last name.

So there I was, standing  face to face with John Winston Ono Lennon.  He’d just greeted me with a clever quip and I desperately needed something to say in reply.  It was like flash cards were flipping over in my mind, each one stamped with a possible answer:  I could tell him, I thought, studying the cards, how much he means to me; how his Beatles music—from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to “I Am The Walrus”—completely rocked my world and my consciousness; how John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band—aside from being one of the greatest albums in the history of popular music—helped get me through an incredibly difficult period in my life; how brilliant I think Walls and Bridges is.  There were so many things I could have said, but I rejected them all.  I kept returning to the fact that Lennon had greeted me with “Hello, Marc my lyricist”—and I knew I needed to come up with a matching quip, something sharp and witty.  In the name of symmetry, it had to begin with “Hello, John my...”  But “John my” what?  My internal computer frantically scanned the Lennon archives, recalling a story about JL meeting Chuck Berry, during the taping of a Mike Douglas Show; how Lennon—always a teenaged rock and roll fan at heart—greeted Berry by calling him his hero.  (Keep in mind that all of these mental acrobatics actually happened in a matter of, at best, two or three seconds.  Subjectively, it felt like an eternity.)

And then it clicked—and I had my reply.

“Hello, John, my hero,” I said.  As soon as it came out of my mouth I felt like a total fool.  This wasn’t cleverness, this was revealing myself as a transparent Beatles fanboy.  I was certain my idiocy would get me ejected from the building, unceremoniously tossed out onto 44th Street and banned from the Record Plant for life.  To my immense relief, the group laughed—not at me, they actually seemed to find my answer amusing (or perhaps they were just acknowledging the unspoken fact that they all felt the same way)—but Lennon had an odd reaction.  For a  moment—just for a moment—he pulled back, as if he couldn’t believe One Of Them had gotten in:  another wide-eyed, open-mouthed Beatlemaniac trying to make him into the god he didn’t want to be.  He recovered quickly, but I’d noticed—and it underlined the sense I had about how uncomfortable he was wearing the fame he’d been cloaked in since 1964.

Soon after that, Lennon and the band went back to work, finishing up the videos.  The last bit of filming was of the musicians in the booth, gathered around the sound board, listening back to the tracks.  I was hoping no one would realize I was still there and I’d get myself immortalized on film with John Lennon—but Jonny C quickly gave me A Look and I knew I had to retreat.  In the end it didn’t matter:  the film of that day had been forever imprinted on my mind.

A little later, Jonny and I were heading upstairs to the band’s rehearsal room and we found ourselves standing in the elevator with Lennon, who was also heading up.  This would have been the perfect chance to say something, anything, else and perhaps atone for my humiliating “my hero!” outburst—but I couldn’t get a word out.  The elevator stopped, Lennon went his way and we went ours.

My time with John Lennon was over that day, but Jonny’s wasn’t.  Not long after the Rock ‘n’ Roll videos were filmed, Lennon recruited BOMF to appear with him on the Salute to Sir Lew Grade television special.  This time the band didn’t just mime, they actually got to record—and perform—a new version of “Imagine.”  This turned out to be the last public performance of John Lennon’s lifetime.  (If you’re wondering about the two-headed masks BOMF had on, this was apparently Lennon’s way of commenting on Sir Lew’s two-faced business dealings.)


As for me, looking back with the wisdom of hindsight, and the knowledge of the tragic fate that awaited Lennon outside the Dakota in 1980, I’m far less embarrassed by what I said to him at the Record Plant that day—and far more grateful.  He was my hero and I got to tell him that.

That’s not humiliation, that’s grace.

copyright © 2018 J.M. DeMatteis




66 comments:

  1. I meet famous people from time to time and get tongue tied as well. There was this one time I got this famous fella to sign my Moonshadow book. Had trouble completing a sentence. Sounds like a great title for something; My Heroes Make Me Nervous. Have an excellent weekend, sir.

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  2. Wow! You met JON J MUTH?! : )

    You have a great weekend, too, Douglas!

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  3. Dematteis, I know you were worried about Roy Thomas getting credit for all of his accomplishments (despite literally decades of comic readers fawning over his amazing talent, and his editorial accomplishments being written about in books dating back to at least 1990), so you'll be happy tto know, he got a film cameo.

    Yes, in Daredevil season 3, Roy "the boy" Thomas has a non-speaking roll as an inmate.

    Look out Stan, your record is in jeopardy!


    Jack

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    1. That's fantastic. And we'll deserved.

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    2. Certainly a higher honor for a writer than decades of people who read your work standing in line to get your signature, and tell you how much your work meant to them.

      Yes, it was neat little moment, and while I do like his Daredevil stuff, am I the only one who thought a cameo in the ULTRON movie that introduced VISION may have made the slightest bit more sense? Whedon?

      It was neat. Don't know if you have watched any of Daredevil (I personally think this season was the best of any of teh Netflix show), ut if you are interested in seeing it, the scene is in teh episode Blindsided. Pay attention to the background inmates in the prison. It is a blink and you'll miss it type thing.

      But it is really cool when you notice it. Well, it was for me, but I'm a comic reader.

      Jack

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    3. I dipped my toe into DAREDEVIL the first season and it just didn't click for me. That said, I've heard great things about the current season so I just might check it out.

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    4. I had issue with season one, though clearly not as many as everybody else on the board, but this season distances itself from... most of my problems.

      If nothing else, I would say watch through the Roy Thomas episode. It is early on.


      One thing season two fixed for me, was Matt. He was so broody in season one. Matt, yes even in Miller's run, had a sense of humor. HE was a cocky bastard. He was a smartalec.

      Two brought that side out, without going too far.

      But, what ever you like, you like. To each his scone. I think that is the saying.

      Jack

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    5. It wasn''t that I had "issues" with DAREDEVIL, it seemed like a very well-made show; but we're in the world of Peak TV, there's SO MUCH OUT THERE to watch and I've become very careful about what I'm going to invest ten, twelve, twenty hours of my time in. I'm also more than likely to bail on a show if, after four or five episodes, it doesn't click for me (whereas once I might have stuck out an entire streaming season to see where it was all heading).

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    6. Please Dematteis, we all know you didn't watch Daredevil because o the rivalry of the 80s/90s Marvel offices about who was the better street level hero, Spidey or Daredevil.

      As such a longtime SPidey writer, well we all know whose side you were on.

      Yes, you wrote a pretty good Daredevil story in the 90s, but you were thinking about Pete the whole time.

      We've all heard about the practical jokes between the two books, like when Chesterfield rigged Bagley's car to electrocute him. Bagley spent a month in the hospital. Classic CHiechester.

      Defalco still won't talk about why he isn't allowed with in three states of Mazucelli.

      And of course, your resentment over the gentrification of Hell's Kitchen. WE all know J.M. Dematteis never let THAT go.

      We've all seen your graffiti that reads, "I miss my gritty City."

      I will say for season three, if like the idea of good characterization for Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk, there is a good chance you will dig this season.

      It really felt, to me anyway, like a character study of Matt Murdock and Fisk.

      Jack

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    7. Sounds great! I look forward to checking it out!

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    8. Well, hopefully it "clicks" more for you this time, and you enjoy it.

      More importantly, I hope it doesn't trigger flashbacks to that SPider-Man/Daredevil rivalry.

      No one needs to remember the Dematteis/Nocenti side of it. The legion of psychotic squirrels. The union of arsonists. The Doomsday apprentice for God's sake.

      The psychic fallout reached all the way to the Bronx.. some even say it got to Riverdale. Which of course angered the Archie crew.

      The L.E.S. gentrified just to forget.

      Yeah, no one needs to remember those dark days, let alone find themselves reliving it.


      Jack

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    9. How did you know the name of the big crossover that Ann and I planned? "Daredevil & Spider-Man vs. The Legion of Psychotic Squirrels!"

      Jim Shooter killed the story but, man, it would have been great.

      (Before someone starts reporting this as fact: That was a joke.)

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    10. In all fairness to Shooter, once it hit the newsstands,someone would have put two and two together, and eventually residents would realized two of his freelancers "friendly rivalry" was responsible for all that devastation.

      There must have been hundreds of millions of dollars of property damage and psychiatric/medical bills.

      Shooter was, if anything, good at keeping Marvel shining in the P.R. department.

      And the lawsuits.




      Is it wrong that I now want a Daredevil and Spider-Man team-up written by Dematteis and Nocenti? Especially if it took place in that era.

      But who would draw it? Romita Jr. feels too obvious.


      Jack

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    11. Nothing wrong with "obvious" if it's a great choice...and Romita, Jr. is a great choice.

      I'd love to work with Ann on something. Along with being a writer I admire, she's an old friend. But this project will have to remain a fantasy.

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    12. IS it a fantasy for the time being, or a never going to happen fantasy?

      Either way, you and Ms. Nocenti collaborating isn't THAT much of a fantasy:

      http://spiderfan.org/review/comics/spiderman_spectacular_annual/014.html



      As for JRJR, he is a somewhat controvertial in his style, but I like it. So, I'm fine with it.

      Given that he class his style the "deadline style,"it ill be nice to have a book from the big two come out on time.


      If I can just say one more thing about Ms. Nocenti, its hard not to admire a woman who borderline brags in interviews about getting hate mail on her first Daredevil issue.

      That takes a very special type of professional.

      Anyway, if I'm going to get this project to come to life I am going to need one Hell of an I Love Lucy style scheme.







      Jack

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    13. We didn't really collaborate on that story in any true sense. I came up with the basic plot idea which Tom Lyle expanded on and Ann came in to pull it all together. But it sure would be fun to work on a story with her.

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    14. Well... I can't speak for everyone, but I would like to read it. The two of you have somewhat similar subjects you like to explore, but fairly different styles.

      That could be very interesting, and lends some gravity to the importance of having two main characters.

      Next year is Marvel's 80th anniversary, and they already have some things planned. To me the most interesting is that, in January at least, there will be a one-and-done return of classic anthology titles.

      However, I think what I and many readers would like is a return of classic creators for a eon-shot or mini series. Or even a full run if they were interested.


      But anyway, I guess I should file a collaboration under, not happening right now, but maybe, MAYBE in the future?

      I mean you don't want to force it, and you need the right idea, and both parties need to be available and willing.

      Jack

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    15. If Marvel come knocking, I'll be happy to open the door.

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    16. If there is one thing I am sure of about a Dematteis/Nocenti collaboration, it is that it would reach jam-band formed at Woodstock, while discussing Tolkien and the electric Koo-Aide tests, while a shop-keep tells you to cut your hair levels of hippie.

      Jack

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    17. Peace and love, brother. Peace and love. : )

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    18. Since we were talking about 80s runs, how about a little diddy about those complicated times, and how they informed our own...


      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1zMx4Eltbo


      Actually reminds me of a lot of 80s comics.

      Jack

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    19. I'm agreed that a JMD/Nocenti collaboration would be great. A DD-esque character would be perfect IMO--religious vigilante with room to explore the mystical and social dimensions of his experience.

      --David

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    20. Thanks for the vote of confidence, David. And thanks for the song, Jack!

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    21. I realized after I put in the link, that the subject we are writing under is about John Lennon... aka the Beatle the song talks of putting a bullet in.

      It actually kind of makes me think of 80s comics, as I mentioned. But I always felt Nocenti's work (since she is the80s writer we have been discussing) was less cynical than the song.

      Felt more like she was saying, come on society, we can do better. This can't be our best."

      Of course, I never met her, so I could be completely wrong.

      But that Dematteis guy in the 80s, now that was dark nihilistic stuff. Every story was just a contatant slog through misery and contempt for a bleak hopeless world.

      If he is still around he probably looks at our societal problems and says we are better off than he thought we would be.

      I don't know whatever happened to that guy. I assume that his anger just got to much and he disappeared into the wilds of his mind.

      It is dead really. That Dematteis guy had some talent, but there was never any light at the end of his tunnel, or it was bitterly sarcastic.

      LIke when he wrote recently marrid Peter APrker and MJ, that was clearly just a comment on the divorce rate climbing and how it would (he assumed) lead to countless generations of career criminals.

      Jack

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  4. The first season of Daredevil committed, in my opinion a cardinal sin that put me off of that show. I do enjoy the Iron Fist and Luke Cage shows.

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    1. JESSICA JONES has been my favorite of the Marvel-Netflix shows. But I'm more-than willing to give this season of DAREDEVIL a try.

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    2. Doug, you can't leave me hanging, what is the cardinal sin you speak of?

      I'm not trying to judge, we all have are reasons we don't like things.

      I found Jessica Jones an unlikable character. Despite the quality, I have issues with Slaughter House Five for its bad history from even worse sources (no, Vonnegutnot his own experience, the context), and its problematic legacy for what seems to be generations.

      So, obviously I'm fine with taste, I just.... I just can't not know.

      And in in all honesty I had some problems with season one as well, which almost kept me from season two.

      Jack

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    3. The cardinal sin, to me, was that they killed Ben Urich. On a side note; link for J.M. http://www.tcj.com/vassilis-gogtzilas-day-1/ I think you'll enjoy it.

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    4. Yes, I've seen it! Vass did several days of that diary!

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    5. Ben Urich is my second favorite supporting character in all of comics (narrowly beaten out by that redhead Peter Parker keeps hanging out with), and he was played perfectly in season one... I can begrudgingly forgive the lack of smoking.

      But to me, him dying was not the real problem. It was framing Karen Page's scheme, that completely violated journalistic ethics, as a good thing.

      That was the real sore spot for me that season.

      Jack

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    6. Streaming is a format that's still trying to find itself, much like television originally struggled not to be 'radio with visuals.'

      Mainstream tv, like comics, originally operated on the assumption that every episode was someone's first. So you had to make each one compelling in its own right (no slogging through an ep to get to the good stuff) and provide clear characterization. (No walking away from an ep of, say, STAR TREK without understanding that Spock is logical, McCoy is emotional, and Kirk is the diplomatic bridge between the two approaches).

      The streaming approach has filtered into mainstream tv now because of the widespread availability of shows digitally. You miss an ep, no worries? Just go to the network app or download it from iTunes.

      The problem is television's 24 ep format (and even Netflix's 13) tend to stretch a single arc out way too long. Now that every season needs a 'big bad,' there are often contrived and illogical reasons for the conflict to continue. The result is you often get 23 episodes of a hero failing miserably via self-inflicted wounds, and one ep for them to clean up their mess and then create another big one for the next season to pick up.

      The old television format, by contrast, had very practical financial reasons to show the hero achieving victories every episode, even if smaller ones.

      Heroes are built around the idea that we can perfect our bodies, minds and souls to achieve a better world. It doesn't mean heroes should be perfect, but it can be a little fatiguing when they seem to create more harm than good.

      --David

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    7. The episodic drama has gotten a bad rap. There's a lot to be said for telling a story with a beginning, middle and end every episode. Sure, you can carry over character arcs and overarching plot lines, but I like being able to watch a satisfying tale in one sitting.

      The other problem with streaming dramas (said the man who watches way too many of them), and perhaps with modern TV drama in general, is a trend toward taking high concept ideas that would work (as the British often do) as one or two seasons that tell a complete story, and stretching them out season after season. I think shows like MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE and HANDMAID'S TALE (both of which I watch and appreciate; so I'm not knocking the quality of the shows) would benefit from telling their story in a more compact form.

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    8. Agreed.

      IMO, there's more consistently high-quality material out there than there's ever been--which is why, as you've said, it's much harder to choose what to watch.

      With a little format-tweaking over time, things will only get better.

      And let me add my voice to the praise for DAREDEVIL. There are things that bug the comics purist in me, but overall, it's an excellent series. I hear the cast's voice in my head when I read the comics now.

      --David

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    9. Given the recommendations on this page, I will have to check out this season of DD!

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    10. I can't watch the Handmaid's Tale (aside from not having Hulu), I dislike the fact that its fans won't admit that it is science fiction and odes what science fiction has always done. Even the author admits it.

      PKD does not write for series. Despite the fact here are things in the book Man in the High Castle it would be interesting to see expanded, the best you can ever do is a mini series.

      And I think that is an issue. I have not been shy about my love of anthologies, but even beyond that. When everything is epic, then nothing is.

      Even beyond that, what of mini-series? I think Cosmic Puppets could make a greet mini series ads well as The Puppetmasters... but both would be terrible TV shows with multiple seasons.

      Mad Men ran into that problem. Don Draper goes on a season long arc of self discovery, to be a better person. Only to be a bastard again. It is part of why I bowed out before the last season ended.

      MCU has that problem. Iron Man vowed to change his ways, be a better man, quit being Iron Man... Opps, then he is back being a bastard in an Iron suit for three more movies.

      As far as the "there is so much great stuff out there" point... yes and no.

      I have personally found that many of the dramas (at least outside of genre fiction) just seem t follow the Sopranos mold. Yes, even Breaking Bad.

      Of course, I find myself increasingly annoyed buy the asshole protagonist trope that seems to be in everything.

      I can't help but ponder what this reflection means for our society.

      Before it was heroes with feet of clay, then flawed individuals who strived to be better, and now it is people who asses with shred of humanity, who get to keep being terrible because they are the best at something.

      It is perhaps not the best reflection of our society, that we seem to want to have our protagonists either have to out do our bad inclinations, or to be told it is okay.

      Even the MCU, Cap may be hanging in there, but the two break out characters are Iron Man and Star Lord... both of which the creators have said were intended no to be likable.

      It is almost like... not even almost... people confuse complex with just being a dick sometimes"

      I don't know, in fairness I rarely seek such things out, and most of it (but not all) is from recommendations.

      Which brings me to, and I am sorry...

      continued...

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    11. David...

      "Heroes are built around the idea that we can perfect our bodies, minds and souls to achieve a better world. It doesn't mean heroes should be perfect, but it can be a little fatiguing when they seem to create more harm than good."

      I do feel like we are coming from a similar place, but your premise of what a her is is wrong.

      Or at least not as absolute within the American Psyche as you seem to assert.

      To say it is to perfect our bodies or what have you to good is perhaps a bit shortsighted.

      Heroic characters, regardless of society, act more as a focus point for a culture's belief system of what a person should be.

      This is why, especially in American fiction, heroes will lose from time to time. It is because they believe what a person, no matter how good, will be crushed by overwhelming odds.

      They are commenting on a fear.

      It is also why Losing heroes and compromised heroes rise at times.

      Film Noir was a manifestation of WWII anxiety. Not of the war, but of the darkness it seemed to bring out in people. The 70s anti-hero was because baby Boomers faced the failure of ideals, and everyone faced a torn apart country and an unsure future and present.

      No one would say these were even a point that could better a world.

      And, again Sorry...

      TV didn't really struggle to find its voice that much.

      The GOldbergs and Gunsmoke were what they were right off the bat.

      There was already a playbook, radio and movies.

      THe reason why early, early tv had problems is because of hoe expensive they were. So few people had one in the first few years, throwing money at it seemed a fools errand.

      I apologise for typoing that, but i have a hard time letting things like that pass. I admit, it is a character flaw.

      I am also, sadly the type of person that will mention the Nazi propaganda used in Slaughterhouse Five, even though it is well written.

      History and I have an unhealthy relationship, I admit it. It is needy and codependent.
      Again, Apologies.

      Dematteis.

      IF we have you pumped for season three of Daredevil. Let me say this, back in the 80s, there were these Daredevil comics by some people named Frank Miller, Denny O'Neil, and Ann Nocenti.

      You probably never heard of those people, but those comics are great and worth checking out.

      JAck

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    12. "...people confuse complex with just being a dick sometimes." There's truth in that! I've also observed that, just because a TV show is confusing, it doesn't mean it's complex.

      One other thing I feel compelled to point out: Just because you and David don't agree on the definition of a hero, doesn't mean he's "wrong." Just means you have different viewpoints.

      You're two intelligent, insightful guys and I always enjoy what you both have to say.

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    13. Mr. Dematteis, if you will notice, I did correct myself in the next paragraph, saying it was the absolute was wrong.

      That the idea presented of what a hero is accurate, just not the only path.


      Also, on the discussion of one-and-done shows brought ups, that needs to return to comics too.

      I have dropped comics before, because I am on the third issue of a series and it sill hasn't grabbed me.

      Some say I need to wait for the arc o be over, and maybe that is true, however, I shouldn't have to spend six months and these days $29.00, to know if I enjoy it.

      Maybe I have missed out on some good stuff, I am not denying that is possible. Maybe even likely. But I also think there is an importance in dragging a reader into anything as soon as possible.

      There is also the problem of when every thing is big, nothing is.

      Some stories should be six issues, but when every story line before it was, as was the one before that, and before that, and probably afterwards as well it is hard to consider a big story as big when it reads "part 1 of 6" under the title.



      JAck

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    14. I'm a big fan or one-off stories, Jack—both as a writer and a reader. They can often be more powerful, and more memorable, than the Big Epics—going all the way back to Stan and Jack with their classic "This Man, This Monster." Those guys were turning out multi-part epics on a regular basis, but that single issue story is one of my favorite FF tales of all time.

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    15. I actually have a lot to say on this, but don't have teh time right now. It even includes praise for a comic out this week.
      I will say, there are a lot of stories in classic Eerie and Creepy comics that have a powerful story in eight pages, that I vividly remember.

      Conversely, there are six issue stories that I can barely remember what happened in them.

      There are Twilight Zone episodes that give a more full realized world and real compelling characters than two hour movies.

      "This MAn... This Monster" is heralded as Lee and Kirby's best work, and with good reason. Personally I think it was the issue that was most collaborative, and the one that showcased both's talents the most equally (though I see a bit more Lee in it).

      The villain in that is percisly one issue, but we know who he is. We learn so much about Reed and Be's relationship, and who they are.

      There is something to be said about knowing how long a story SHOULD be.

      There was this comic in the 90s, you may not have heard of it, Spectacular Spider-Man #200. Harry Osborn died in it.

      I think it was written by a guy named G.N. Demarcus.

      While it built on some recent stories, it was one issue. One. And it had you caring about every character in it, Pete, MJ, Harry, Liz, they all got there moment. They all got to shine.

      The characters were explored. You had good tension.

      It was one issue.

      Elektra's intro was supposed to be a one and done, and as such her origin was one issue. And from that, let's be real, Frank Miller's career was born.

      Hell, Denny O'Neil has practically made a career out of exploring characters an their behavior in realistic and human ways, in the face of complicated issues. Almost always in just one or two issues.

      I will continue later, but this is something I have more to say on the topic of.


      Jack


      To be contin...

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    16. Spec. #200 remains one of my absolute favorite Spidey stories out of all that I've done, Jack -- so thatnks for the kind words.

      And (no surprise) I totally agree about thirty minute TZs having more depth than some two hour movies. There have been many times over the years I've gone to see a film, or watched some TV show that went on and on and on, and thought, "Man, that would have made for a great Twilight Zone." Get in, tell your story and get out.

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    17. Reading your analysis of heroes, Jack, I don't disagree in the slightest. I think the concept is broad enough that it can sustain a variety of approaches without losing its meaning. As Whitman says, "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself; I am large--I contain multitudes."

      I'd speculate that even a writer with a strong sense of what they believe a hero ought to be will find the characters resisting in spite of their best efforts. The tension between what we are and what we want to be often brings stories and the characters that inhabit them to life.

      As far as perfecting mind, body and soul for the common good goes, I think of Batman as the most obvious prototype for that kind of heroism, but I believe it applies to most superheroes in varying degrees. It doesn't mean they are perfect--far from it--but they persevere in their attempts to be their best possible selves in spite of external and internal opposition.

      I do think, to the extent that it's possible, creative acts should start from a position of idealism rather than fear. Address fears, certainly, but do so from a position of strength so they can be dealt with rather than amplified. But it's one of those things that has to be learned and re-learned constantly.

      --David

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    18. And no need to apologize for offering historical perspective, Jack. I'm hardly an expert in the early days of television, so any and all insights are appreciated.

      --David

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    19. BTW, JMD, quite a bit of your work is on sale at comixology for their DC Halloween sale, including your Phantom Stranger and Justice League Dark runs. Also, I, VAMPIRE and CREATURE COMMANDOS.

      --David

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    20. Are you saying that I'm cheap? : )

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    21. LOL, more like mad as a hatter. I kind of picture you with a bunch of long boxes in a used car parking lot, screaming, "I'm craaaaaazy Jon, and if I drop the prices on my comics any lower, they'll put me in Arkham!" :)

      --David

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    22. Cheap? Having you phone number on a wall can mean all sorts of things Don't jump to conclusions.

      As for the shorter story lines, I think if I looked back, there are so many great comics that are shorter, not surprising since that is how comics were for most of there existence.

      The funny thing is, you8 don't get many two issue stories either. I think for characters like Batman, that is perfect. So much of it is mystery solving, a cliff hanger seems natural at times.

      However, have say six issues and, well... lets just say that evidence and clues better be really memorable.

      Doug Moench made pretty good use of this in the mid-late 90s.

      The fact is, many of my favorite Batman stories are only one or two issues.

      Same with Spidey.

      There is something about it that works... conciseness.

      So many stories that are great, could be ruined if they went on for more than an issue or two. In fact I can think of several that have.

      There are plenty of great stories that I read years ago, but still remember vividly, likely because they were shorter. Nothing broke them up. Nothing was padded.


      It's also easier to ditch bad ideas. Everyone puts out a clunker every now and then, and if every story isn't six issues, you aren't forced to deal with one for half a year.

      Obviously, some stories NEED to be multiple issues, or at least should be.

      Daredevil: Born Again is a perfect example, it is seven issues long. However, Miller had a lot of things he wanted to delve into. Not a panel is wasted.

      Ed Brubaker almost always writes longer stories, but he is from the thriller and mystery school. HE is building atmosphere, suspense, and character. Again, nothing wasted.

      Much of the problem I have realized has come from to things, 1) fewer words 2) fewer and larger panels.

      The use of space is not economic. It is one of those lost lessons I talk about some ties.

      Of course, it is possible that those choices are made TO extend the story.

      And I would just like to add, there are stories I remeber feeling okay to good about, but couldn't tell youi anything about them. Because it was stretched over six months, I was one in three minutes each, and I never felt full.

      That is the thing about an overstretched story. It may have good parts, but you don't usually feel full. One that NEEDS to be longer, you feel like you got what you needed in each chapter.

      As for SPEC. Spider-Man 200, no, you're favorite Spider-man issue you wrote was teh one where the monkey tuens into a fire extinguisher.

      Do you know why I remember such a bizarre scene? It was a one and done.

      David-

      I envy your ability to see optimism as the root of origins in heroism.

      But questions nag at me. Was Superman created because Siegel believed in perfected morality, or because he saw an overwhelming tide of of social ill-will no mortal could withstand?

      While there is certainly a place for idealism in characer creation, to say it is always or even usually best goes againt my natural inclinations as a sci-fi fan.

      Science Fiction is rarely from a place of idealism, and when it is usually is is not very beloved (a few exceptions jump to mind.

      Even Star Trek is cynical in nature. The valiant enterprise i part of a very not great Federation. It is not only full of corrupt or evil militarey personal (almost teh only kind we see), and has a stagnent society, but they are barred from herlping.

      How many times has the Prime Directive been brought up and NOT been to point out why it has to be broken just that "once?"

      Kirk, Bones, and Spock are all fairly flawed people... but none of them seem to want to change much.

      Hell, Spick and Bones are the future version of racist. Constantly talking disparagingly about other species/alien races.

      For a show built around tolerance, Spock seems to very often be unwilling to even see the value in human emotional reactions much of the time.



      Of course, it may all just be my own brand of cynicism clouding my judgement.

      Jack

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    23. For the record, I only dialogued that story about the monkey turning into an a fire extinguisher. Denny O'Neil plotted that one. And if it's okay with Denny, it's okay with me! : )

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  5. "I envy your ability to see optimism as the root of origins in heroism.

    But questions nag at me. Was Superman created because Siegel believed in perfected morality, or because he saw an overwhelming tide of of social ill-will no mortal could withstand?"

    "An overwhelming tide of social ill-will no moral could withstand"--that's a powerful statement! Well put.

    I couldn't speak with any certainty about the ratio of fear to optimism that colored Siegel and Schuster's thoughts when they created Superman. I do think idealism is written into the character's DNA. Superman's first public act, if memory serves, was to save a wrongly accused man from being executed, not to expose his innocence after he had already died.

    "While there is certainly a place for idealism in characer creation, to say it is always or even usually best goes againt my natural inclinations as a sci-fi fan. Science Fiction is rarely from a place of idealism, and when it is usually is is not very beloved (a few exceptions jump to mind."

    Keep in mind I'm not saying every story should end well or preach the inevitability of progress without putting the work in. But even stories that warn of doomsday tend to offer solutions, if only implicitly. A path not taken which might have prevented a terrible fate.


    "Even Star Trek is cynical in nature. The valiant enterprise i part of a very not great Federation. It is not only full of corrupt or evil militarey personal (almost teh only kind we see), and has a stagnent society, but they are barred from herlping.

    How many times has the Prime Directive been brought up and NOT been to point out why it has to be broken just that "once?" "

    I think the Federation is portrayed as a positive force, if flawed. Of course Kirk and his crew represent the highest of Federation ideals and they often come into conflict with other forces to highlight their heroism. Important to note that Kirk generally frames his ideals as Federation values, and any internal opposition as something lesser than its true self. He's even willing to admit that he hasn't fully risen to the standard the Federation represents.

    "Kirk, Bones, and Spock are all fairly flawed people... but none of them seem to want to change much."

    I think they change over time based on their interactions, but it's often expressed in subtle ways. Spock's almost-smile, for instance, when he realizes he didn't kill Kirk.

    Spock's last line in STVI expresses the transformation quite nicely. "If I were human, I would tell them to go to hell. IF I were human."

    "Hell, Spick and Bones are the future version of racist. Constantly talking disparagingly about other species/alien races.

    For a show built around tolerance, Spock seems to very often be unwilling to even see the value in human emotional reactions much of the time."

    Outwardly, perhaps. But inwardly, Spock is clearly taking it all in and learning to appreciate the strengths of human philosophy (without abandoning his own core values).

    But that's just my take!

    --David

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    1. Thanks for your insights, David. I'll leave the bulk of this conversation to you and Jack, but I have to note that we're on the same page where TREK is concerned.

      And all of this has WHAT to do with John Lennon? : )

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    2. Because...the Federation's unofficial anthem was "Imagine"? Okay, I made that up...but it might have been true!

      --David

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    3. I think that very choice of how to start Superman's career show a type of cynicism.

      The base line thing you start with is a falsely accused man. The admired science fiction fan didn't start with an alien invasion. The guy who gave his character the same last name as The Shadow's first didn't pick gangsters.

      A wife beater needs to be stopped by Superman. Not cops, not concerned neighbors, Superman. The guy who can bend steal needs to be called in.

      Siegel paints a very bitter world that needs a savior. And not an inaccurate one for 1930s America

      Good unlike evil cannot exist in a vacuum. There must be some kind of strife.

      The threats Superman started out facing was painfully common. It was a cynical (and accurate) statement, that the world outside is so bad that the most powerful man on Earth needs to tackle it.

      Everyone remembers that Superman was symbolic in facing bigger than life menaces like the Nazis and Atomic war, but the first threat that was so terrible that an unbelievable, being with powers beyond mortal men had to be called in was mankind itself.

      And the story where Superman tears down a slum spo it could be rebuilt was basicaly saying that was teh only way tpeople in the poorest neighborhoods could get a better life.

      Remember, the famous and heartbreaking photo of Florence Owen Thompson was taken only two years earlier.

      Hell, Shuster was from Canada, and the poor were treated horribly there in the Depression.


      As for Kirk...

      Does he portray the federation's beliefs as his own? The equity for beings is the only thing I remember off the you of my head, and that is hardly a sole Federation belief.

      However, that doesn't even matter, a a government's stated beliefs and their actions are not necessarily in sync.

      The Federation are hypocrites with the Prime Directive. Along an almost classist sense.

      There is a claim that the lives of all sentient beings matter, however the Prime directive orders them not to get involved in underdeveloped species.

      Not to help them advance or even survive if need be. The Federation's major rule goes against its own belief structure and allege core values.

      That is why every hero we follow, Kirk, Picard, and Sisko, all openly rebel against it. Against a lot of Federation laws.

      As for Bomes and Spock...

      There is a story where Spock is revealed to completely deject his human half, and hate it because he was ostracized for it.

      Spock never accepted humanities ways, but he was never supposed to. Any time you see a triune of characters there are two diametric opposed characters, and one that draws formn each.

      No Spock never really accept humanities ways as right, only that those who have them he should be tolerant of despite their "flaws."

      It can't happen because it conflicts with the narrative. Kirk, Spock, and Bones are the human mind.

      So, No, S Pock isn't racist... he is however

      continued...

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    4. very xenophboic.


      Back to the federation, as I pointed out, every time we see an official or representative of the government they are corrupt in some way.

      That along with the belief that sentient beings have to earn a right to get aid paint an idea that even a seemingly idealistic society will be broken.

      Personal, I find that far from idealistic.

      Also... Voyager.


      Dematteis...

      What does this have to do with John Lennon? Are you kidding me?

      John Lenon was a borg infested pre-TNG Klingon, sent back in tie to keep man kind from reaching its full potential.

      That is why he could assimilate so many other people's music ad attempt to play them. And why he was violent and underervedly smug.

      Obviously the Borg had to be turned down a bit, and he made to look human.

      The goal was to influence a society to take such extreme uncompromising, (if ill-informed) take on events.

      And of course providing an example of how to claim you are possessions and beyond such things while being incredibly materialistic, and beliefs superficial.

      So that when that generation is in the reigns of power nothing gets done, and every "politically minded" person is stubborn and seemingly unable to cave actual discussions... no matter which side they are on.

      Also take advantage of good works of disgarding outdated, and flawed idea like institutional racism gander inequality, started by the WWII generation. The tear apart every part of the societal point in a two decade orgy. The Kling-borg essentially throwing a bomb into a social structure that required more of a scalpel.

      Then be unable to put it tether again, and society will be so fratures it will gatehr around political partition ideas and pop culture. Corroding the elements of deeper meanings to the idea.

      Then make the group so nostalgic for the area it will largely be unable to admit these flaws exist.

      Then pass the traits of hidden materialism and contempt for societal holding blocks to ATLEAST the next two generations.

      But most importantly glorify ego in the name of something, so no one will ever be able to put things back together again.

      Thus crippling humanities ability to reach its full potential. Much more fun than keepin them from developing warp tech.

      See, there is nothing more Star Trek than John Lennon.

      The real question is, how did this come from me telling you Daredevil season 3 has a Roy Thomas cameo?

      Jack

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    5. It's a little known fact that Roy THomas also played a crewman on Star Trek!

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    6. I think Spock and McCoy's inherent biases, as well as their struggle to overcome them, bring their interactions to life. I know I'm going to sound hyperbolic, but Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley achieved something with their chemistry that's never been equaled in film or television history. NEVER. And I don't think that would have been possible if the show hadn't been as honest with their flaws as it was.

      And a key part of that honesty is the subtlety with which their concessions are played. In my experience, deeply held biases don't collapse in a day but erode over time.

      Just for comparison's sake, the first season of TNG gives a pretty good idea of what happens when you attempt to portray characters devoid of personal biases. They're often flat, unrelatable, and insufferable.

      But even more pointedly, the first season of TNG lacked the self-questioning mechanisms of TOS. Kirk can question whether the Federation is really as far removed from Klingon savagery as they'd like to believe; Picard's crew can't conceive of the Ferengi as anything but a contemptible sub-species.

      These are problems TNG eventually outgrew, and it became a truly excellent show in its own right. But it struggled early on, in large part because it attempted to present humanity as having transcended its flaws, rather than grappling with them as TOS did.

      JMD,

      "It's a little known fact that Roy THomas also played a crewman on Star Trek!"

      So little known that even Roy isn't aware! :)

      --David

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    7. I'm serious, the conflicting nature of Bones and Spock is to represent the human brain.

      But, didn't you prove my point about the Federation?

      Literally a generation removed, the Federation fleet is going its societies claimed beliefs. That they view a sentient species as lesser.

      The system crushed self reflection out of society. Another example of how Star Trek predicted the future. That is depressing.

      In truth, the original Star Trek was Rodenberry (and his writing staff) was writing about HIS generation.

      The WWII was notoriously self-reflective. Opposed to just being in a binary aspect of disagreement o things, it was pondering on societal factors.

      Post-War culture reflects this with Film Noir, the rise of Sci-Fi (which is parabolic by nature), novels like "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit," and teh like.

      Most importantly was the generation used this self reflection to push the Civil Rights Movement through large (but sadly not universal... or as large as may have been moral) societal support (again deadly) in various degrees.

      It is the type of thing that comes from a World War and Great Depression.

      That self-reflection is necessary, and the strict nature of the Federartion prevents it. We see it in TNG.. but not as much. They are more the dutiful believer who want to fine tune.

      Yes, that is right, I am saying that this flaw in the Federation was 100% intended... and a warning.

      It is no secret that Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y are less self-reflective. Willing to question societal ideas they don't like, to second guess history, but of them selves? There are certainly many individuals that do, but it is not as much a part of the cultural landscape. if anything people are more cocksure.

      What would that look like if applied to a government. Maybe like the last 20-30 years of American politics.

      And there have been accusations of the Ferangies being derived from certain cultural stereotypes fro some human groups.

      Does that sound like something the author of Star Trek would endorse, after writing all those "let's come together as a people" scripts?

      TNG is more aggressive hateful against Romulans as well.

      TNG is what Rebellion looks like in a society that has been trying to weed it out. Trying to control its populace.

      Way the PRime Directive? Yes I know the cannon reason, but why really?

      If only we could draw a real world parallel to groups that view some societies as lesser. Perhaps not wanting them to join their government because they make a rash decision that they are inferior because of their culture, or how far they have technologically or sociologically advanced.

      If only. If only.

      Jack





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    8. I think we've moved into territory that belongs on a Star Trek message board! Unless, of course, someone has information about John Lennon's appearance alongside Roy Thomas in that classic Star Trek episode, "City on the Edge of Liverpool."

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  6. To at the vert lest circle back to the single issue idea.

    I think the "event" MArvel should do one of these summers is, bring back classic creators.

    There's more, don;'t get weird.

    Bring them back, creators from 1939 (probably not many of those left) to 2010, then giove them a double sized one shot.

    With that One-Shot they wrote their thesis statement on the series. As if it were the last story they would ever write.

    There is no real bottom as to how many you could do, at as built in fans, and the usual fatigue aspects don't apply.

    Jack

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    1. It's a very cool idea!

      BTW, this is waaaaay off topic, but since there's always a lot of love for Starlin around these parts, I thought I'd pose a fun trivia question:

      What's the first live action appearance of a certain genocidal maniac bent on arbitrarily destroying half the population to save natural resources whose name ends in "os"?

      --David

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    2. Okay...so tell us. It's clearly not what we all think it is!

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    3. Kodos the Executioner's first (and last) appearance was ST:TOS' "The Conscience of the King." Former governor of Earth colony Tarsus IV who massacred half his population because of a food shortage, then posed as a Shakespearean actor after his presumed death.

      I do wonder if Starlin's Thanos was inspired in any way by the character. Certainly possible it's entirely coincidence but the parallels are striking.

      At any rate, it's an underrated episode IMO.

      --David

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    4. Interesting theory. And if, in the next Avengers movie, Thanos slips into a Shakespearean soliloquy, we'll know you're right! : )

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    5. According to Starlin, the idea for Thanos came about when he took a class at a local college, after he got home from Vietnam.

      Eros, Thanos, and Drax stuck in his head, after he took a psychology class and decided to use it.

      I don't know what college, but since he was still in Metro-Detroit it would have likely been Wayne State University, Schoolcraft Community College, Henry Ford Community College, Oakland Community College (likely since he is from Berkley), or maybe, MAYBE, U of M (though unlikely).

      Of course... I can't think of a better why to honor Stan lee than having a cosmic chracter speak in a Skeakspearean tone.

      RIP Stan. The only reason you didn't mean the world to us, is because you meant universes.

      Jack.

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