SEMI-REGULAR MUSINGS FROM THE SEMI-REGULAR MIND OF WRITER J.M. DeMATTEIS
You misunderstand, I'm not saying Stan Lee wasn't revolutionary. I am just saying the DNA of Marvel comics was already conducive to the Marvel revolution.Think about it. The original Human Torch started out being hated and feared for being misunderstood like the X-Men... and Spider-man... and the hulk... and Silver Surfer... and the Fantastic Four sometimes.Then there was the Sub-mariner. From the word go he was a complicated character. He was noble and brave, but he was also anti-social and arrogant. Also racist.Yeah people forget the interesting race issues. Oh, he was not racist against any notable minority groups at the time, he hated humanity as a whole. Despite being half (at least) human himself.Kind of a thoughtful meditation on racism. Make us all the hated group, so the reader can understand how terrible it is to be hated for belonging to a group. It was even directly tied to his ignorance, with him becoming more comfortable and accepting as time went forward.speaking of which, I think he was the first character to fight the Nazis. His friend Betty Dean explained why they were the worst of humanity as early as issue 4... i Feb. 1940. Which of course means it would have come out in December. Two years before America entered the war.I actually wonder if Stan may have been inspired by Everett. He clearly liked the guy, always finding work for him, despite his... issues... that hurt deadlines. Even allowed Everett to wrote Subby one last time before he died. I mean, it is worth noting that Stan brought Namor back in issue #4 of F.F., and then made him a pretty regular character. Also, he was every bit as complex as he was in the 30s and 40s.Come to think of it, he also told wild stories and was a larger than life character in his own right. At least allegedly. Look, Stan took the ideas and blueprints and ran with it. There is no one above Stan in my book. But, is it possible the Marvel Revolution and the Stan Lee persona started as a bit of hero worship for Bill Everett.From Michigan, I... am put.Jack
It was Everett's birthday last week (?) and folks were posting a lot of his artwork. I think people forget what an extraordinary artist he was. And his inking: superb! I remember really enjoying his short run writing and drawing Subby in the 70s. A very important figure in the history of comics.
It is interesting how not out of place he was writing when he returned. Many golden age writers who returned had trouble fitting with the changes,Everett had some... but not as much as he should.There is a biography of him called, "Fire & Water," but he has fallen partially through the cracks. I think it was because he died so early, and in the earliest days of fandom, there weren't enough chances to get his thoughts.Of course, you can't forget the way he drew underwater. It wasn't just blue and some bubbles. It looked like water currents were passing around the characters.As for his inking, well I am remembered as something I once heard After a movie described the act as 'just tracing.' "Inking is one of the the easiest thing to do in comics... unless you want it done well."IF Stan and the 60s bullpen were the Rolling Stones, changing music and setting a new norm to be drawn on for decades, then Everett was Robert Johnson.Hey, that is something you can do, Dematteis You started i comics around 1980, right? The creators before you showed up... what are their Rock musician counterparts?Jack
That's a fun question, Jack. Kirby and Lee are surely Lennon and McCartney. Is Ditko Bob Dylan? Are the young guys who came in in the 70s analogues to 70s acts like Cat Stevens, James Taylor, etc. And what about the late 70s punk explosion? I'll have to ponder this one!Bill Everett as Robert Johnson? I love it!
Well, I disagree about Lee and Kirby being Lennon and McCartey, but whatever.Ditko was too buttoned down to be Dylan. Too closed off.Roy Thomas might be a better fit for Dylan, given his love of mixing new and old. Folk and Rock. No wait... Denny O'Neil is Dylan is Denny O'Neil. The love of the common an. The socially relevant writing. I consider all the Marvel bullpen to be one "band."How about this...Is Steve Gerber David Bowie? Given the weird concepts. Pink Flloyd maybe?Jim Starlin is clearly MC5, mixing the psychedelic with the angry young man tendency. Blow your mind while showing you the darkness, and you love every minute.Englehart... might be Led Zeppelin. Good solid work through out the decade, and able to get a little weird while still remaining mainstream.I don't know why... but Len Wein says James Taylor to me. Marv Wolfman... Maybe Paul Simon? Sort of the soft spoken counter culture.Chris Claremont is clearly Heart. Maybe the Who.take it away Dematteis!Jack
Or is the Velvet Underground better for Gerber?Jack
Gerber = David Bowie works for me!And, yes, Len had the gentleness and insight of a James Taylor.I see Ditko as Dylan because he was a truly groundbreaking artist, doing things no one had done before. Eccentric. Individual. Mercurial. I love Roy, but I see him more as Donovan than Dylan.Lots to think about! Fun topic! (And a nice distraction from current events!)
Maybe Ditko is Clapton. An innovator who takes principled stands to maintain his work be done as he sees fit.I even think that his guitar work goes well with Ditko's Dr. Strange art, and his bluesy-er stuff with Peter Parker.But, perhaps you still think it is Dylan for Ditko. Then whom would be Denny O'Neil?I'm glad I got Wein right, like I said, I didn't quite know why I thought James Taylor. Apparently the back of by brain is working better than the front.DO the rest of my picks stack up? Who is next... I didn't hit every body in the 70s.Jack
Maybe Denny O'Neil is...Neil Young? Too obvious?
I am not sure on what a Southern Man's view is on having him around anyhow.Maybe Bill Withers. Yardbirds? Moody Blues? Stooges? Kinks maybe? ALso, is it possible Roy Thomas is... dare I say it...the Beach Boys? And that is coming from someone who likes Roy Thomas, but not really the Beach Boys.Jack
For no logical reason I find the idea of Roy Thomas as the Beach Boys delightful.
I know it is a little after the designated time period, but Frank Miller... The Ramones?Who is Eanglehart? Is Michael Fleischer Black Sabbath? DOoug Moench?Jack
Miller as the Ramones works for me. Or maybe the Sex Pistols?Englehart always had a great balance of the commercial and the personal/cosmic. Cat Stevens?Fleischer as Black Sabbath? Okay. Or maybe Lou Reed?Dough Moench? I've got to think about that one.
I feel like Pink Floyd is a great fit for Englehart. I could see THE WALL as a soundtrack for his Dr. Strange run. Partake of those at the same time and you might travel the cosmos in astral form...Getting even more specific, you couldn't find a better anthem for Englehart's Cap run than "Wish You Were." Lyrics like "did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts" and "did you exchange a walk on part in the war for the lead role in a cage"--the more I think about it, the more I wish that song were used in an MCU Cap film in some capacity! --David
Look, I know Frank has done some controversial things in recent years, but he does have talent. Little hard to be the Sex Pistols. There whole thing was that they didn't play well.. in their own words.53rd and 3rd feels very Miller to me.You are right about Engehart's balance. But Yusuf Islam is a little easy going for Englehart. At least his music... as far as I know.A part of me wants to say Jefferson Airplane, but I think that is just his Dr. Strange. Moench has to be somebody mainstream, but people overlook just how good it can be. A little dark, but not overwhelmingly. Lou Reed feels almost Gerber like to me, though I am not sure more than Bowie.For me the Reed v. Sabbath question is which way do you want to go? I think Sabbath music's matches a but better, but Lou Reed's personality clicks more with FLeisher's writing than Ozzy's.It feels like a space rock band should be on the list, given the subject of comics. Some wroter...especially in the 70s has to click with that sub-genreJack
I like that, David! Thanks!
This could go on forever, Jack. You could probably write a book on the subject, or at least an article. I think people would really enjoy it. (I know this has lightened my day!)
Good catch, David. Especially since the Pink Floyd album Saucer of Secrets was from a Doctor Strange comics, truth.Which begs the question... is Ann Nocenti Patti Smith?Jack
Yes, she is!
I'm not very familiar with Everett's work. I've seen panels here and there but never read any book he worked on (that I'm aware of). I'll have to change that! --David
Worth checking out, David.Hope you and yours are doing well!
At the moment everyone is healthy and doing well, thankfully! A little restless from social distancing but otherwise okay. Hope all is well with you and yours also!--David
Considering the current state of the world, David, we're doing very well. And very grateful for it!
Well, I'm probably not very good at this kind of thing, but I'll take a shot. Ditko is clearly Carly Simon, because just as she never gave in to the temptation to publicly announce the subject of "You're So Vain," he wanted to let his work speak for itself and never revealed his true intentions for the Green Goblin. Or the reason for his break with Marvel. O'Neill/Adams are Simon and Garfunkel. I get a real "Sounds of Silence" vibe from their collaboration. Hey, I said I wasn't very good at this!--David
Actually, Paul Simon is a good analogue for Denny O'Neil, David. I approve! Ditko as Carly Simon? Not so much! :)
To be honest, I'd have been a bit worried if you HAD approved of that one!--David
And I love the Lennon/McCartney comparison for Lee/Kirby. It works on nearly every level. As a team, they were pretty much the equivalent of the Beatles in terms of their impact on their industry. Nothing was ever the same after they collaborated. After they parted ways, Kirby, like Lennon, became something of an artist's artist. Maybe more appreciated by practitioners of the craft, at least initially, than fans. It wasn't until the next generation of writers and artists came around that it was clear just how much of an impact something like THE FOURTH WORLD had.Stan, like McCartney, had more of a mainstream connection with fans. (Of course, calling Lee or McCartney 'mainstream' doesn't fully capture how much their innovation was responsible for what we now think of AS mainstream.) But that's just the nature of language--words often fail us. Sort of like memories become something different (if no less truthful) when expressed. I think I read something about that once in a fantastical tale known as BROOKLYN DREAMS...--David
That's exactly my thinking on Stan and Jack/Paul and John, David. Each team synthesized the influences of preceding decades in their respective fields and then created something brand new out of those influences. Each was the bedrock on which a 1960s revolution was built. Each had a bitter break-up. And each had varying success in their solo years, with Stan/Paul being perceived as more commercial and Jack/John being perceived as more artistic. (Please note that I use the word "perceived" because the distinctions were really far subtler than that.)I've heard about BROOKLYN DREAMS, but I've never read it. Is it any good? : )
Well, there's no superhero fistfights, if that's the kind of thing you're looking for. But yeah, it's not bad, if you're okay with an autobiographer embellishing some details here and there. In all seriousness, ever thought of doing a follow up? Like maybe an eight-pager recounting the time you met John Lennon, or got assigned to watch cartoons by Stan Lee, or encountered some nut online who compared Steve Ditko to Carly Simon? Well, okay, not the last one...no one would believe it! --David
I have pondered it, David. And I've done a couple of short stories with my buddy Mike Cavallaro -- one for OCCUPY COMICS and one for WHERE WE LIVE (both benefit books) that felt like unofficial sequels to BD. Especially the latter, which used childhood memories to talk about gun violence.It might be fun to do a series of short stories that tie loosely together. Something worth pondering!
Never read the first one but the short from WHERE WE LIVE was wonderful. I hadn't thought of it as an unofficial sequel to BD because of the change in artist, but now that you mention it, that fits the bill perfectly. And Cavallaro was the perfect choice. Everything you collaborate on with him is gold. --David
Thanks! I love working with Mike. We were actually going to do a short story version of my Lennon encounter for an anthology a couple of years back, but the plan fell through. One of these days, I hope...!