You’re one click away from cover #1,000, a retrospective celebration which includes a large number of examples in one post, and features Pearsall’s memoir about developing the concept as a kid.
Dondi co-creator and artist Irwin Hasen died March 13 at the age of 96. A comic strip about a war orphan, Dondi was co-written with Gus Edson and ran in more than 100 newspapers from 1955 to 1986. When it was filmed, Hasen had a cameo as a police sketch artist who drew the missing Dondi while the cops were searching for him.
Just before World War II he created the feature Citizen Smith, Son of the Unknown Soldier. While in the Army from 1942 to 1944 he managed the Fort Dix Post newspaper. Since he was stationed in New Jersey, sometimes he could get away to do comics work. In 1944 and 1945,Hasen drew a comic strip adaptation of The Goldbergs radio series for the New York Post.
He also had a long Golden Age career working on Green Lantern, and co-creating Wildcat and Wonder Woman covers. He met Alfred Bester a couple of times when Bester was writing Green Lantern stories.
When the Superman movie was announced in the 1970s he was one of many who campaigned for the Man of Steel’s creators to get pensions from DC, drawing Dondi with a tear in his eye for Siegel and Shuster. And Hasen’s quote was broadcast all over the country: “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a shame!”
His profile in the New York Times in 2011 ends with the reporter viewing the art on his apartment walls:
One illustration depicts a veritable harem of past girlfriends — all tall, buxom and naked. Drawn tiny in the corner is the laughing Mr. Hasen, bringing in a tray of martinis.
“I didn’t want much,” he said. “I just wanted to be loved by everyone.”
[Thanks to James H. Burns for the story.]
By James H. Burns: One of the greatest fantasy universes ever created, the complex and enchanting worlds found within Marvel Comics, are coming to an end. The vast storylines initiated by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Joe Simon, Carl Burgos, Bill Everett, Don Heck, John Romita and Roy Thomas, and myriad other talented writers and artists, is to be imploded —
During a live “Secret Wars Kick-Off” press event at New York City’s Midtown Comics, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso and Senior Vice President of Publishing and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort confirmed that the upcoming eight-issue limited series Secret Wars will represent the end of both the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe.
Saying that the mainstream Marvel Universe and Ultimate Universe would “smash together” during the upcoming Secret Wars crossover event, Alonso and Brevoort went on to elaborate that, by the time Secret Wars #1 hits the stands in May, every world in Marvel’s multiverse will be destroyed, with pieces of each forming Battleworld, the staging ground for the Secret Wars storyline
“Once we hit Secret Wars #1, there is no Marvel Universe, Ultimate Universe, or any other. It’s all Battleworld,” Brevoort said.
Ray Bradbury’s yellow bungalow is beautifully recreated in IDW’s Shadow Show #3, which was published January 7 at about the same time the wreckers started taking down the original. This is the third in a series of five comics paying tribute to Bradbury and his work.
Tour Ray’s home in this preview from the comic.
As Dave MacPhail summarizes in his post about Shadow Show #3 on The Big Glasgow Comic Page:
The first story featured is “Weariness,” written by Harlan Ellison, which gives us a look at the end of the universe as we know it. The next story, “Live Forever!” by Bradbury biographer Sam Weller and Mark Sexton, brings Ray Bradbury himself into the story, as a young reporter unveils the master storyteller’s secrets.
By James H. Burns: I just received the sad news thay my old pal Al Levine has passed.
Many of you knew him, a fixture at North East conventions for DECADES…
Alan was one of the originals, his ads for comics going back to some of the earliest issues of the Comics Buyers Guide.
He also sold pulps, and perhaps most famously, movie material and memorabilia. (Al wound up helping to sell the E. Nelson Bridwell collection, and many other assortments, over the years!)
There was his store in New Jersey, for AGES
And he was someone I, and so many others, could trust.
And he was FUNNY!
And raised a lovely family, including, a beautiful granddaughter. (Amazing to me now, she’s in her twenties… I can remember cradling her on my shoulder at a Gallagher’s paper show!)
More info to follow, but I wanted to get word out, for anyone who might wish to attend tomorrow’s memorial service, at the Jewish Memorial Chapel, 841 Allwood Road, Clifton, NJ 07012, at 12:00 p.m., Noon. Click here for directions.
Much love, to his wife Sham, and all the children, and all his friends.
Update 01/09/2015: Al Levine was born 5/7/1935 and died 1/5/2015.
Veteran comics artist Stan Goldberg died August 31 at the age of 82 reports Mark Evanier. He suffered a stroke two weeks ago.
Goldberg went to work for Marvel when he was 17. He was best known as a Marvel Comics colorist and in the 1960s helped design the original color schemes of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and other major characters.
He also drew thousands of pages for Archie Comics, a relationship that lasted 40 years.
In 2012, the National Cartoonists Society presented him with its prestigious Gold Key Award
[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]
The British Library’s exhibition Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK runs through August 19. (Parental guidance required for visitors under 16 years.)
Comics Unmasked is the UK’s largest ever exhibition of mainstream and underground comics, showcasing works that uncompromisingly address politics, gender, violence, sexuality and altered states. It explores the full anarchic range of the medium with works that challenge categorisation, preconceptions and the status quo, alongside original scripts, preparatory sketches and final artwork that demystify the creative process.
Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta), Grant Morrison (Batman: Arkham Asylum) and Posy Simmonds (Tamara Drewe) are some of the stars of an exhibit that stretches back in time to encompass 19th-century illustrated reports of Jack the Ripper, and medieval manuscripts.
Cheryl Morgan and James Bacon have toured the exhibit and written up their impressions.
Morgan looked for the message in the physical display as well as the literary themes in “The British Library Does #ComicsUnmasked” —
Finally, as we have got onto gender issues, I note in passing that the exhibition space is littered with mannequins dressed as political protesters and wearing V for Vendetta masks. What Alan Moore thinks of that, I shudder to think. On close examination it is obvious that many of the mannequins are female. However, they are small-breasted (especially in comparison with comic-book women) and are all wearing androgynous outfits comprising jeans, t-shirts and hoodies, plus the undeniably male Guy Fawkes masks, and that makes it look like all of the figures are male. I found that rather off-putting.
Morgan also notes there is “a remarkable suffragette poster that I suspect will horrify most modern social justice campaigners.”
Forbidden Planet hosts James Bacon’s text and many photos — “James Reports From the British Library’s Superb Comics Unmasked” includes a photo of that dread poster, by the way. And offers these insights into what the curators are trying to achieve:
Along with Paul Gravett are co-curator John Harris Dunning, Adrian Edwards and Roger Walshe of the British Library. Walshe repeatedly says that he is not apologising for what is on display; this is a strong exhibition that some might find alarming, controversial, but the message here is that comics are not just for kids, and the exhibition is about the message of the media of comics, not any particular genre. Yes, comics are fun, they are a pastime, they are beautiful, they are fantasy, they are powerful, they are a true form of literature, imparting dangerous thoughts and ideas, asking questions of the reader, forcing reflection and consideration, or making laughter.
List me among the last to learn that Bob Kane, credited as sole creator of Batman, was not the originator of many key elements of the comic. A fellow named Bill Finger named major characters, came up with notable villains, and wrote lots of the stories. Fans are clamoring more loudly than ever for DC to give him proper credit. Batman News reports —
During a recent WonderCon Anaheim panel for Batman’s 75th anniversary, an audience member asked panelists for opinions about the fact that writer Bill Finger does not get a creator credit alongside Bob Kane, who is credited as the legendary character’s sole creator even though Finger came up with defining qualities for this character before Kane ever signed his first contract to produce the Dark Knight’s adventures. Finger wrote the first Batman story, his tragic origin, and hundreds upon hundreds of comic book stories for more than a quarter of a century. He named both Bruce Wayne and Gotham City, he created Commissioner Gordon, he developed many other supporting characters, he created or co-created one fantastic villain after another, and yet he died broke and relatively unknown more than 40 years ago….
This fall, the Warner Bros. television series GOTHAM will feature many Bill Finger creations, including the city itself. Will the series that carries the name he gave to Batman’s city credit him in any way?
A commenter filled in newcomers on the comic’s ancient history.
Not a huge evil conspiracy, just a little personal evil one. Bob Kane took credit for Finger’s work. When DC found out about Finger, they hired him directly rather than letting Kane continue to skim off a large chunk of Finger’s earnings.
Kane was 21 when he “created” Batman. He signed a contract with National that was very similar to the one Siegel & Shuster signed for Superman. When the character because a success, Kane went back to the publishers and told them he was only 17 when he signed the contract, making it legally invalid and forcing them to sign a new agreement that was far more lucrative for him, including the provision that he would always be credited as the sole creator of a character to which he contributed almost nothing (virtually every panel of the first Batman story was traced from elsewhere). His claim to having been a minor was false, but he knew they couldn’t prove it, since his birth certificate had “disappeared” from the city’s hall of records sometime prior; one of his relatives did that to make sure he wouldn’t get drafted (it happened a lot after WWI).
One of Bob Kane’s angriest critics also charges him with widespread plagiarism and displays copious examples on this webpage.
By James H. Burns: Howard Smith — New York journalist, filmmaker (including 1977’s Gizmo, displaying a fascination with unlikely inventions), and a radio host – passed away Thursday, May 1. (See “Howard Smith, Trend Spotting Columnist, Dies at 77” by Paul Vitello in the New York Times.)
Friday morning, I wrote the following at the New York Radio Message Board. But it didn’t occur to me until this afternoon that if Smith was visiting a few comic book — and perhaps other — conventions in the late 1970s, he may have been contemplating making a film about the convention scene. Such a documentary might seriously have altered the history of fandom, or at least made more folk aware of conventions and the like, years earlier… Of course, Smith might simply have been checking out a new, possibly fun event he had just heard about, as so many of us once did!
“Many of Smith’s interviews are available as CDs, and some times podcasts, at www.thesmithtapes.com/ (These include conversations with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Mick Jagger, James Taylor…)
“But also of interest:
“Smith could be modest.
“I met him in the late 1970s, at one of Phil Seuling’s comic book shows (variably at the Statler Hilton, the Commodore, the Americana Hotel — but at that point in time, the Taft, over at 50th Street and 7th Avenue).
“For a while, the fantasy convention scene went well beyond an interest in the four color arts, or science fiction, or Star Trek…
“In that pre-internet era, there was no telling whom you might meet walking the dealers room or, at the multi-day events, the hotel corridors.
“It was almost as though the vibes of a different kind of jungle drum had echoed throughout the Tri-State area, and many with an interest in the fantastic (or unusual) appeared to check things out.
“One could turn from a conversation with a leading nuclear physicist, to musician Ruben Blades saying Hello from across a pile of comic books (years before, of course, he ran for president of Panama), bump into an actor one had just seen Off Broadway, and then be surprised by the appearance of a Show World stripper, in her civvies, as she perused a pile of paperbacks.
“I think Smith was a little stunned that I recognized him from a Tomorrow Show guest shot with Tom Snyder, promoting his documentary film, Gizmo (about unusual inventions).
“But then he was perfectly pleasant.
“We spoke a few times, perhaps also by phone, and never, ever did he mention the groundbreaking work he had done as a columnist a decade earlier (as I just learned about in the Times obit).
“Nor did he mention his far more famous movie, which he co-directed, Marjoe, one of the only documentaries then or now, to receive major theatrical distribution (and which also won an Oscar).”
James Bacon’s verdict is that the finest war story about The Great War is a comic. It’s Charley’s War, originally published over three decades ago, and now reprinted by Titan Books as a 10-volume set, with commentary, essays, photos and reference material.
James’ review of Charley’s War, posted at Forbidden Planet, benefits from the perspectives of his recent conversation with writer Pat Mills.
His review is also partly autobiographical — James’ father bought the comic as it came out in the late Seventies and early Eighties and he was deeply influenced.
Even as a boy, a child, one could see the good and the bad. Mills was able to craft a depth to his characters, so one could feel the broader conflict, and see the horrors in individuals, and it was clear they were part of an overall system, driven by class and a pox on the ordinary soldier. The writing captures a broader perspective for the reader, bringing elements that are unknown in my case, or less known to bear, and the treatment of soldiers so horrible, and yet as a boy I could understand that sometimes the enemy is not the coal-scuttle helmeted stormtrooper, who occasionally would be portrayed as just as hapless as some of Charley’s buddies, but the officer class, the system, the cowardice within and how empathy for humanity is something that friends understand but the class system wants to destroy.
[Thanks to James Bacon for the link.]