The Annotated Stephen Bissette : SWAMP THINGS & TABOOS & TYRANTS

During my formative years I discovered this comic SWAMP THING by relative newcomers Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, and John Totleben.

I was a kid, but old enough to realize even then that this was something special. Alan Moore’s words and Bissette and Totleben’s visuals even at the time, and it was a strange time because everything felt in flux and on the brink of changing, even at the time, getting these off the stands, the combination of these three men working together felt like greatness.

And some things are hot in the moment, but some things, some work that is rushed out for the masses, to meet deadlines for a castigated medium, some work screams greatness from the go, and time only makes it more great.

More Hallowed.

From pioneers like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway and Steve Englehart and Chris Claremont and Kraft and Giffen and O’Neil and Neal Adams and Jim Steranko and Bernie Wrightson there was a new generation building on the foundation they laid down.

Creators such as…

Don Lomax (who I had the pleasure to interview) would give us VIETNAM JOURNAL.

Doug Moench, a pioneer in his own right, off of MASTER OF KUNG FU (issues 38 and 39 remains the best two parter ever) would do some of his most heartfelt work in Moon Knight (that first 21 or 22 issues is gold, everything from dealing with the death of John Lennon, to familial abuse)

Frank Miller would give us DARK KNIGHTS and RONINS and YEAR ONES.

William Messner Loebs would create a frontier masterpiece, unfotunately a hidden gem to most, with JOURNEY.

Bruce Jones – With his TWISTED TALES would almost singlehandedly give birth to a new EC inspired golden age of Horror Comics, but making comics that were horrifying to a Reagan era age.

and of course… Alan Moore.

Alan Moore would birth many such works, particularly in the waning decades of the 20th century. SWAMP THING was one of his earliest successes and remains one of his most iconic works. And for me one of his most beautiful works, working with the art team of Bissette snd Totleben, they were visual storytellers that could really add and evolve and enrich the scope of Moore’s script, throwing in their own ideas and visuals.

It is very much the work of three young men riffing on their loves, and remains now 30 years later still very seminal work.

Bissette in the years since has become one of the most respected instructors, teaching at the celebrated Center for Cartoon Studies in vermont.

One thing you may not know about him, and I first discovered listening to an Indie Spinner Rack podcast episode (that great now defunct show) is he is a FANTASTIC speaker. He is such an engaging and erudite and interesting wealth of information on this beloved hobby and artform and the personalities behind it.

And I love podcasts to begin with, so combining this walking encyclopedia of not just comic lore, but film and film journalism, books, the art of creating, of self publishing, of blogging, and for me… that is entertainment.

So ever since I’ve listened to him, whenever I catch him interviewed on a podcast.

So here without further ado is hours of audio greatness with one of the best artists in Comics, and one of its most engaging speakers.

INDIE SPINNER RACK #79 8 May 2007 – My first introduction to Stephen Bissette post SWAMP THING, this put him on my radar as just a fantastic and informative speaker. A great interview/conversation.

Talkcast #102 8 Oct 2011 – Very annoying hosts makes this one almost unlistenable, but fast forward to where Bissette finally gets to speak about fundraising and HP Lovecraft.

LOST IN THE STATIC #99 -25 Nov 2013- Fun informative hosts lead inro a really compelling interview on Bissette, that includes Edgar Allen Poe, Greg Irons, Skull #6, Moore, Veitch, Totleben and the Saga of the Swamp Thing. Indie work on Gore Shriek, Shriek, and the ground breaking Dave Simm funded TABOO. Structure of TABOO inspired by Harlan Ellison’s brilliant DANGEROUS VISIONS and AGAIN DANGEROUS VISIONS. Bruce Jones TWISTED TALES, X-MEN’S Brood Saga. TABOO designed by Bissette to be taken seriously, and push the envelope and make people ‘drop it on the ground’. Kirby Awards. A must listen podcast.

Adam Greenfield’s great podcast MAKING COMICS has had Stephen Bissette as a guest three times, and all three are brilliant, with nice Vincent Price/Poe Intros. Well worth hunting down. Oct 2014,2015, & 2016.

DECONSTRUCTING COMICS #465,#500 – Sept 2015, June 2016

POD SEQUENTIALISM #2 – October 2015

TV GUIDANCE #228 – May 2017

RADIODROME #323 – Mar 2017

UNDER CONSTRUCTION – Come back as I flesh out the content in all the interviews and conversations!

Why I have no interest in Universal’s MUMMY starring Tom Cruise and not surprised by its poor reception!

Here it goes, I grew up loving the old b&w Universal Monster Movies on Saturday TV matinees or midnight creature features.

And I think as an actor, Tom Cruise has been box office gold for going on three decades for a simple reason, he’s a fantasic actor, and he picks great properties.

So fast forward to the MUMMY trailers and I knew I had no interest in seeing this movie. 3 words why? The Caucasian Mummy. I’m sure she is a decent actress (actually I’m not sure, I’m just being polite) but Caucasian Ancient Egyptians just don’t work for me, have never worked for me. Only exception being the cadaverous Boris Karloff in the original THE MUMMY because 1/it is in B&W and 2/It is Boris Karloff.

And as soon as I see that literal white washing of history, whether in this trailer or GODS OF EGYPT, I’m out.

Yet another Universal attempt to Marvelize its universe seems poised for failure. And it is sad because they have great properties, I mean Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula, etc. If they would stop trying to turn them into SuperHeroes and just make fantastic standalone Monster movies, ala Universal in the 30s or Hammer in the 60s, they would get the audiences they are currently failing to get.

These should be Horror movies they are making for the 21st century, not Action movies starring watered downed universal concepts.

I personally think they need to start from scratch and give up the joint universe concept, until they first learn to just make great movies.

Here’s hoping they learn from their mistakes. 🙂

Currently Listening: HOLY by Jamila Woods

Thanks to Kim Selling of Seattle’s THE STRANGER website for putting Chicago Native, Jamila Woods on my radar. In a decade where we have lost so many great voices, it is nice to know new great voices rise to fill the vacuum.

Jamila Woods is one of those voices. You can sample her singles, HOLY and BLK GIRL SOLDIER courtesy of Spotify; and if you like it as much as I do, listen to her whole 2016 album HEAVN (if you can find it).

‘Jamila Woods made one of my favorite albums of 2016, HEAVN.Intricately arranged and weeping with the weight of its own gifts, each track of that album ripped through topics like police brutalty and raising a community as a Black woman with grace and fury and light.’
-Kim Selling, THESTRANGER

Best songs of the last TEN Years!

BEST SONGS OF THE LAST 10 YEARS THAT GOT (WELL DESERVED) ATTENTION FROM THE BIG LABELS

Katy Perry DARK HORSE
John Legend ALL OF ME
The Lumineers HO HEY
Zac Brown Band CHICKEN FRIED
Passenger LET HER GO
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis CAN’T HOLD US
The Script BREAKEVEN
John Mayer WAITING ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE
Gnarls Barkley CRAZY
Ed Sheeran THINKING OUT LOUD
Gym Class Heroes STERO HEARTS
Jason Mraz I’M YOURS
Solomon Burke DON’T GIVE UP ON ME

Currently listening to ODDISEE and RISING TIED by Mike Shinoda’s FORT MINER

In an age of Mp3s and Itunes what this week is worth owning in CD form?

The following… in a world of fatherless children screaming their ignorance into a mic, are this age’s true geniuses of rap:

ODDISEE – not only a prolific Washington DC producer and rapper, but arguably in a world that has overlooked him in favor of those aforementioned terrible infants, ODDISEE having both the delivery,beats, rhymes, and social consciousness is the total package, and one of the world’s best rappers. Get every single album with his name… he’s that good.

But if you need to start with one, start here:
The Good Fight

Mike Shinoda’s FORT MINER – Has wonderful writing, great mostly positive messages and great beats. The only weakness is that many songs lack someone who has a smooth, compelling voice. When they have someone like Common delivering the lines, as in BACK HOME, it shines. But when Mike or his usual suspects take center stage it is good but not great. But that aside, still a must own album:

Rising Tied

Currently Listening to E FOR EVERYONE by Kirby Krackle

If you are only going to get one Kirby Krackle album, my money is on this one… E IS FOR EVERYONE. you get the aforementioned ROLL OVER, HENCHMAN, as well as RING CAPACITY; and in addition you get ON AND ON ( A song about how hard it is to be an undying mutant, and what should be a patently ridiculous premise, is delivered with a bittersweet tone… not unlike pathos. If you liked the LOGAN movie, you’ll like ON AND ON).

Get the CD here:

 

E For Everyone