[moore] Alan Moore On ‘From Hell’ – Interviewed In 2002 … Future biographers of Moore, please take note of this quote: ‘I do get some funny phone calls. Nicolas Cage phoned me up a few times because he likes my stuff. He seems nice enough, but he phoned me once to ask for advice on his love life. It must be a lonely existence being a film star…’
[comics] Garth Ennis and Kevin O’Neill on Reviving the Infamous Kids Rule OK! for Battle Action Special … Wonderful interview, with lots of British 70s comics history from O’Neill. ‘I was often asked to change little small things in my artwork for ludicrous reasons later on. But the fallout from Action, which the Garth story is built around, was massive at the time because you cannot underestimate the power of the tabloid newspapers when they turned on comics. I believe Action was torn up on a BBC show called Nationwide with Frank Bough, who was disgraced years later for various misdemeanors, but he tore up a copy of Action on-screen as worthless trash. That was the atmosphere. I don’t think 2000 AD could have been canceled before it was launched because too much time and money had been spent developing it, but by God, it probably came close. And nobody knew what was happening.’
[art] My brother the superhero: how the death of comic book legend Steve Dillon inspired a creative awakening … A powerful piece on how Glyn Dillon reacted to the death of his brother Steve. ‘Steve’s death changed his younger brother’s life in all sorts of ways. When it happened, Glyn was working at Pinewood Studios as a costume designer on the latest Star Wars movie. It was work he loved but it also involved long, stressful hours and it had been nagging away at him that what he really wanted to do with his life, ever since he was a teenager, was paint. This family tragedy gave him the push to pursue his dreams. “At first I thought about doing a comic [about Steve’s death], but the feelings felt too big for that medium,” he says. “I needed to do something different, more physical, standing up, climbing a ladder.”’
[comics] Arena: The Comic Strip Hero… … A look back in 1981 at the success of Superman with interviews from the creators Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster and other comics artists such as Will Eisner and Art Spiegelman.
[comics] We Apologize For Publishing Darkseid’s Anti-Life Equation … All is one in Darkseid! ‘Naturally, the staff and ownership of Hard Drive don’t encourage anyone to die for Darkseid; we encourage conversation. As the current and eternal ruler of the dread planet-fortress Apokalips, Darkseid is a public figure of note. While we pointedly disagree with cosmic genocide, we considered his perspective on the fabrege egg we call life newsworthy. Now it’s clear that no conversation can take place after cutting out your own tongue. We’ve removed Darkseid’s editorial, at great human cost. Our Opinion editor caught a glimpse of the equation as he deleted the page, snuffing the flame of his mortal soul and replacing it with loyalty to Darkseid.’
[comics] Incredible photos of S.F.’s legendary first comic book store have surfaced — 50 years after we lost them … ‘The photos show a tiny store where every square inch from floor to the high ceiling is covered with comic book racks and comics displayed in plastic wrap. Arlington stands like a bird on a perch, looking over his customers on the low rung of one of several ladders. A mix of sullen-looking men and wide-eyed children browse horror comics, Tales of the Green Beret and some of the earliest Marvel X-Men issues.’
[comics] Creating the Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland Apex Edition: A How-to Guide for the Rash and Enthusiastic … David Roach on the difficult search for Brian Bolland’s 2000AD work for an artist’s edition book. ‘At first the page count was uncertain, as we weren’t sure how many pages it would be possible to find, but ideally it was going to be 96, rising to 144 or higher if possible, though at times that felt like a far-off dream. But what that meant was that we were aiming to include as much as 1/3 of his entire British output, which was quite a sobering thought. One complication in tracking down Brian’s pages was the haphazard way in which these early pages were disseminated among collectors. IPC, 2000 AD’s first publisher, had a blanket policy of not returning artwork, something which only changed in the ‘80s in the face of mounting pressure from its artists. In the intervening years, however, numerous pages were stolen from offices and storage warehouses, often turning up for sale in London comic shops, much to the artist’s frustration. As 2000 AD’s most popular artist, Brian’s art was particularly prized and most persistently stolen, and, to this day, certain strips, including his first Judge Death serial, have never surfaced again.’
[comics] Zorro in Arkham: Reflecting on a Legendary Batman Saga With Writer Grant Morrison, Part 1 … ‘Dan asked me to write Batman…. He likely saw more potential in Damian than I did, and he was right. I’d figured out that Batman as a concept was impervious to pretty much any assault. Camp Batman worked, serious Batman worked, Lego Batman worked. Dad Batman? That would work too. There had been a few ‘son of’ stories over the decades, some written by Alfred the butler as literary amuse bouches, imaginary tales of the next generation. I had the title Batman & Son in my head, like a family business, like Steptoe & Son or, for US readers, Sanford & Son. I gambled that having a deadly aristocratic ninja brat for a kid would only make Batman cooler and add some extra complexity to his mythos…’
[comics] The Lawsuit that Reshaped Sonic the Hedgehog Comics … I’ve always known that Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog comics were long-running and complex, but I’ve never heard about the legal case that led to a complete reset of the series. ‘Things started looking grim in late 2012, when Archie suddenly fired its entire legal team. The company had been unable to produce Penders’ work-for-hire contract, which would have given control of his creations to Sega. Penders claimed the contract had never existed. A heavily circulated Tumblr post outlining the case (which has been corroborated as a reliable source by Penders) explains that while Archie did provide a photocopy of a contract allegedly signed by Penders in 1996, Penders claimed that the document was a forgery. That it was neither an original copy nor a contract from the beginning of the writer’s tenure at Archie meant that its validity was questionable. Making things worse, Archie couldn’t produce an original copy of any previous contributor’s contract, meaning that any writer or artist who had worked on the Archie Sonic line could potentially follow in Penders’s footsteps and reclaim their work.’
You can try to glean life lessons from Stan’s arc, but I feel like they’re all relatively obvious: thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet, and so on. The harder thing to process is the twofold ambiguity of his life.
There’s the factual ambiguity of who created the Marvel pantheon, which is a dilemma that will probably never be resolved. And then there’s the moral ambiguity of asking whether he was a “good” man or not, which is a similarly unanswerable question, albeit for different reasons. The human mind wants to reject ambiguity; we want to say some things are incontrovertible facts and that the people we like or hate are objectively good or bad. But the reality of existence is uncertainty: constant, chaotic, and infuriating. You can either lie to yourself for certainty—and, to be sure, we all have to do that for certain aspects of life—or you can be honest and confront the answerlessness of the world.
[comics] “We Get To Do Whatever We Want!”: An Interview with Sean Phillips … Covering Phillips long career. On Vertigo Comics: ‘Looking back I can see Vertigo was something special and changed comics for the better, but I couldn’t see that at the time. When I’m drawing a comic I’m focused on one panel at a time and it’s difficult to see the bigger picture.’
[comics] ‘I read all 27,000 Marvel comics and had a great time. Here’s what I learnt’ … Douglas Wolk’s tour guide to Marvel Comics. ‘The reading stage went on for longer than I thought it would. It turns out my brain can only handle so much gaudily coloured, hyper-violent soap opera in a single day. The high point may have been wrestling with the thoughtful, exquisitely drawn, yet problematic 1974-1983 title Master of Kung Fu, which introduced the character of Shang-Chi, who recently made it to the big screen. A taut, introspective espionage thriller whose antagonist is Fu Manchu, the series became, over time, both more impressive and – for its racist portrayals – more wince-inducing.’
[comics] Blocky Mania: The Perfection of Artist Mick McMahon … A nice overview and gallery of the art of Mick McMahon. ‘Few other artists have illustrated Judge Dredd, Tank Girl, Batman (in issues of the fondly-remembered Legends of the Dark Knight anthology series; McMahon has said that he drew it for the money, and he thinks it shows in the finished pages), and Sonic the Hedgehog, but McMahon’s run on the latter character is as important for a generation of readers as his Dredd was for their parents. He also got into design work for video games and toys, and started introducing digital tools into his process. McMahon never stopped moving forward, no matter what.’
[comics] Neil Gaiman on Desert Island Discs … On Books: ‘My dad, always my dad… would literally pat me down because I had been known to hide books under my jumper and he would lock them in the car. And it never really worked, because wherever we were, I could normally find something to read. It just wouldn’t have been what I wanted to read, but suddenly… I’d be off in the corner reading The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten or something, because it was the book that I found.’
[comics] Like Colonel Sanders: The Stan Lee Era … A deep dive into the life of Stan Lee via two recent biographies. ‘Lee’s final years were a strange mixture of global fame and outlandish hustling. He enjoyed filming his Hitchcock-like cameos for the MCU movies, but got only token fees for them and avoided sitting through the premieres: ‘Stan hated superhero films,’ his business manager told Riesman. A parade of unreliable associates – including a memorabilia mogul who claimed to be Michael Jackson’s best friend – tried to persuade him they’d found a way to turn his celebrity into cash.’
[comics] Jack Kirby Runs Into the MCU Buzzsaw … A look at how the The Marvel Cinematic Universe (and it’s fans) deals with the Eternals and it’s creator Jack Kirby. ‘There’s something deeply depressing about the whole spectacle that has nothing to do with art. Jack Kirby spent his life fighting corporate behemoths and championing the rights of creators, as individuals, a war he didn’t win until after his death. But time and again, the fans have made it abundantly clear they care more about corporations than creators.’
[comics] A rare interview with Robert Crumb on America, PC culture and Trump … ‘It was Aline who hung, at the entrance to their home, a Donald Trump voodoo doll, complete with pins. “She’s really obsessed with Trump,” he says. “I’m no friend of Trump. I think he’s a bad man, but he’s a symptom of things that have been happening in the States for decades, it’s the decline of the Roman Empire. She suggested we make a comic about Trump together. I said, Okay, I can get into that, and then I spent an entire day just drawing Trump’s hair. I studied his hair with a magnifying glass. When you see a man with hair like that, alarms should go off.”’
[comics] Why Bruce Wayne Should Never Give Any Money To Charity … ‘Amongst Batman’s wider enemies are therapists, teachers, postal workers, and ventriloquists. If you support the arts: you’re probably funding an origin story. If you support public services: origin story. There’s no industry which won’t pivot into a villain production line. One time a policeman got shot and was reborn as an immortal Avenging Wrath of the Murdered Dead. Every single person in Gotham City is one bad day away from turning into a criminal, and Bruce Wayne’s best bet is to hoard all his money and make sure that nobody else gets their hands on it.’
[comics] “Are You Glad You Did It?”: An Interview with Douglas Wolk …An interview with Douglas Wolk on his quest to read every Marvel comic and the book he wrote about it. ‘There were also a few unexpected “wow” moments. [J.M.] DeMatteis and Liam Sharp did a Man-Thing series in 1998 that’s never been reprinted and it’s freaking gorgeous. How did I not know about this? And honestly, going back and reading Master of Kung Fu. There were a few weekends I spent reading that series and thinking, “This is so gooood. This is so problematic. This is so good.”’
[comics] Ditko Con 2021 … The Comics Journal visits a fan convention celebrating Steve Ditko. ‘Javier Hernandez recommended everyone read Ditko’s later works and also ran into memorable fans at his table, including a couple from the local Rusyn Byzantine Catholic group. He reported that they felt Steve Ditko likely based his illustrated Spider-Man and Doctor Strange hands after one of the Saints in the Byzantine Catholic religion. After some research, it became apparent to me that the paintings of St. Nicholas’ right hand follow this same very distinct pattern.’
[comics] 2000 AD Covers Uncovered – A legend returns: it’s Mick McMahon on Prog 2250 … Some comics process – how Mick McMahon creates a Judge Dredd cover for 2000AD. ‘The brief is Dredd in action, so pretty open-ended. My first move is to draw some Dredds and hope that one of them feels ‘right’. As I sketch on these first sheets I gradually start leaning towards the idea of a big Dredd filling the cover with a white background.’
[moore] How Alan Moore ripped James Bond to shreds … A deep dive into Alan Moore’s loathing for James Bond. ‘I admire how completely Moore vivisects the iconography of 007. The Craig films tend to get discussed as darker or more humane variations on the James Bond theme, but he’s still a guy who saves the world, leaving a trail of weird foreigners and attractive corpses behind him. I’ve noticed a general growing tendency in film criticism to give every reboot several benefits of doubt, with a baked-in assumption that any three-decade-later legacy sequel or recast reboot is obviously expressing something thoughtful about a franchise’s troubled legacy. With Jimmy, Moore seems to say: Cut the crap. This stuff is rotten, and making it look young and cool again won’t make it any less rotten.’
MOORE: Swamp Thing is probably more of a template for the Vertigo books than Watchmen was, but with Swamp Thing, you’ve got all these stories which are really horrible, really grim and really depressing… but then you’ll have these little stories like the Swamp Sex Issue, a love poem more or less.
ROSS: Yeah, some of them were quite light.
MOORE: In a way it’s crueler, if you give people a love poem they’ll numb out and switch off… it keeps the horror fresh if you…
ROSS: …give a little taste of sorbet in between the death and desolation.
[comics] Comics Laureate Recommended Reading List … Great list of recommended comics from Stephen L. Holland. ‘To reach new people accessibility is all, so this isn’t a guide to the cleverest comics ever created (although they are all exceptionally clever); it’s a selection of the very finest and most beguiling which have proved to be perfect introductions to those curious about comics during my 25+ years as curator of Page 45, so often kick-starting a lifetime’s newfound adoration and exploration of our beloved medium.’
[moore] The Craft: An Interview with Alan Moore by Daniel Whiston … Long interview on writing, comics, magic and much more from 2008. ‘There does come this point when characters start talking to you. They’ll start telling you what they want to do, you’ll know what they would say and what they wouldn’t say. I mean when I started writing Watchmen , I’d got no idea that Rorschach was gonna be dead by the end of it, it was just by about issue three I started to know the character and I thought: “he’s got a death wish”… he’s so self-destructive, he’s clearly… he wants out. There’s no way that he’s gonna live through this, he wouldn’t be able to live with any sort of moral compromises, so he’ll have to die. But it was the character himself who told me that, after two or three issues. I’d got no idea when I started it.’
[clowes] Ghost World at 20: ‘In an era of teen comedies and American Pie, this was an antidote’ … Looking back at Terry Zwigoff’s movie of the comic. ‘Those contrasting viewpoints underline Ghost World’s complexity; everyone takes something different from it. For Douglas, it is principally about nonconformity. “In the end, even Seymour conforms,” she says. “When Enid goes in and he’s wearing the blue jeans that his new girlfriend purchased for him, it is this abandoning of everything they’ve made fun of.” Others see it as a film about boredom, or about being unwilling or unable to grow up, while some respond to the characters’ nostalgia for a time they haven’t lived through. Zwigoff had intended partly to critique consumerism: “I wanted to set the story against a background of the sweeping, bland, contrived monoculture of which mindless consumerism is, of course, a part.”’
[comics] Ed Brubaker has “mixed feelings” about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier … ‘For the most part all Steve Epting and I have gotten for creating the Winter Soldier and his storyline is a “thanks” here or there, and over the years that’s become harder and harder to live with. I’ve even seen higher-ups on the publishing side try to take credit for my work a few times, which was pretty galling…’
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[comics] Marvel Comics, Jack Kirby, and the NYHT magazine profile that broke them up. … A fascinating look at a key moment in Marvel’s history. ‘While chatting with Freedland that day, Lee also tore into Marvel writer/artist Steve Ditko, the co-creator of Spider-Man, with his signature passive aggression. “I don’t plot Spider-Man anymore,” Lee told the reporter. “Steve Ditko, the artist, has been doing the stories. I guess I’ll leave him alone until sales start to slip. Since Spidey got so popular, Ditko thinks he’s the genius of the world. We were arguing so much over plotlines I told him to start making up his own stories.” These digs wound up in the profile, too.’
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February 2, 2021
[comics] The Old Gods Died… Michael Chabon discusses Jack Kirby with Abraham Riesman. ‘Darkseid is pure evil. He has no virtues. The world seemed like a dark place to Jack Kirby because of how he grew up, in poverty and fighting a lot and having to be a scrapper, and then serving in World War II. By all accounts, the little I’ve read, it seems like he was … I mean, I can’t make a diagnosis. It would not surprise me if he had some post-traumatic stress consequences, given the little I know about what he saw and did, serving under Patton in World War II. He had this really dark, almost nihilistic vision, and it gets increasingly so as he worked through the ’70s. I think I absorbed some of that.’
[moore] Brian Bolland’s Final Word on the Killing Joke (Maybe) … ‘Finally in London the finished script arrived. I was somewhat disappointed. As an artist you want to draw iconic moments. Pay homage in some way to the character of old. Where was Dick Sprang’s giant typewriter? I was worried by the three bug-eyed dwarves. I thought It perhaps offensive to persons of limited height. I thought setting part of the story in a funfair was a bit obvious. And – I was upset by the harm that came to Barbara and concerned by the implied nudity. As the artist I’ve never considered it my place to tell a writer what to write, especially a writer (and friend) who I admired as much as Alan. As an artist, if a scene has to be violent, I will make it so. Also I would never have chosen to suggest an origin story of the Joker. There were moments in the story, though, that I thought might be iconic and sections that were well up to Alan’s best.’
[comics] Séamas O’Reilly’s Bumper Comics Of The Year 2020 Extravaganza … Round up of 2020’s comics – a standout is Immortal Hulk from Al Ewing and Joe Bennett… ‘Immortal Hulk’s premise, if you’re not aware, is simple. It takes that old complaint levelled on superheroes — they can’t die so what’s the point? — and turns it into something existential — I cannot die, what is the point?!?. It posits that a bullet to Bruce Banner’s brain, or any fatal blow, will kill him, but not the Hulk, who will rise again, forever undying, rendering both he and Banner, effectively, immortal. Thereafter, it follows this thought to its conclusion, not merely as a schlocky power fantasy, but a horror of possession and personality disorders that takes proper delight in body horror. Hulk is mainstream superheroism’s werewolf, Hyde, Gremlin type — he has transmogrification baked into the text. But Immortal Hulk takes a pride, nay, a perverse ecstasy in the grisly, bloody, sinewy splatter of gore and guts that this transformation would entail. The stories themselves unfold mostly in a Monster Of The Week format, with several overarching strands of a greater story looped over the top. It’s one of the chewiest, grisliest titles on the stands and if you haven’t dug in yet, I simply don’t know what else to tell you.’
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December 25, 2020
[xmas] ‘That’s not a star. That’s an aeroplane’ — Maxwell the Magic Cat, December 1981.