Currently Watching : 1976 Interview with Stan Lee interviewing Roy Thomas

Stan Lee and Roy Thomas, and their creations and stewardship of a small publishing house called MARVEL COMICS was very much a touchstone of my youth. So to see the two share this 1976 interview, on what is seemingly a local public access show, is just fantastic. And with current, sad talks of abuse against Stan, it is great to look back and see him in happier days. Also it is amazing how relevant the topics are and how prescient both men were of a future where comics sold outside of the monthly format, and instead in collected and hardcover formats.

A great way to spend about 28 minutes. And here is wishing improved fortune for Stan Lee, and continued great fortune for Roy Thomas.

Advertisements

Stan Lee and the Hollywood Reporter

‘Growing old is no way, to stop being young’

—anon

 

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/features/stan-lee-needs-a-hero-elder-abuse-claims-a-battle-aging-marvel-creator-1101229

Stan Lee Needs a Hero: Elder Abuse Claims and a Battle Over the Aging Marvel Creator

We are all of us the culmination of the people and influences that shaped us.

Those moments brief and bright that taught us either to dream, or not to.

As an introverted kid, writers were always that gateway to that better world for me, what Lincoln called the better Angels of our nature.

There would be Baldwin and Bradbury and Asimov and Poe and Ellison, but the first writer that really lifted the ceiling of this world for me, who really said ‘here be marvels, join us’ was Stan Lee. Not so much as writer, because when I started in this four color hobby, the writers were Giffen and Kraft and and Moench and Claremont; however Stan Lee as Editor, and cheerleader, and Guide, he was very much an Affable, super excited Rod Serling, but rather than introducing you to the bizarre, he was introducing you to the wondrous.

A lot of people in an effort, I’ve said this before, to build up an artist who didn’t perhaps get as much accolades as he could, made a practice of trying to underplay and tear down Stan Lee.

Here’s the thing,  Stan Lee doesn’t get enough praise for what he did. He when NO ONE ELSE was championing the creators of these comics, when the publishers barely wanted you to know who created these books and wanted it to be a faceless assembly line process, Stan Lee was the man who championed, and nicknamed, and personalized these creators for us. In so doing he created a family, and invited all his readers to identify, and be excited by the work. Often the books which were okay or good, were made grand just by the share fervor and excitement that Stan imparted to you, the reader.

 

Growing up in the often unforgiving streets of a major city, it is easy to fall through the cracks, and go the wrong way. Two loving parents helped, a few good friends, crazy siblings, but a lot of what you become, a lot of your value, is defined in the private conversations that define your inner world.

 

That was defined by quite a few influences of film, music, comedy, writing, but if I am honest, one of the bigger influences is the childish four star values of comics, of right and wrong, and True Believers. The Alliterative, fun, bombastic, no-limits language and vivacity of Stan Lee, leapt off the page and helped by fits and starts to make me a kid who dreamed and smiled and knew no limits.

Decades removed from that kid, the man I am, the good in that man, the poetic and hopeful, owes a debt to quite a few people, and Stan Lee is one of those people.

I consider him a hero. Deserving here in his twilight years of all the fame and adoration and joy, earned in a career bringing joy, first to kids through comics, and then spending his later years pursuing getting these modern myths taken seriously and embraced by cinema and the larger world.

He has done that. Not easily and not alone, but with a lion-share of the work as spokesman for comics, on his shoulder, he has done it.

He has fought the long road culminating in Billion Dollar Marvel movies, and new Disney Superhero Themed Amusement parks, he had a dream, long before anyone believed in it, and he through many setbacks, has manifested that dream.

Here in 2018, should be the happiest of his years, a reward of a singular life, and faith confirmed.

So the Hollywood Reporter article comes as a blow.

My God, that you should go through life, and give, and love, and hope, and endure, only in the final hour, to have it all ripped from you, by the greedy, and the venal, to have it all besmirched. And that the horror should come from those who should ease your days, is an injustice too great to bear. That a man who recently lost the love of his live, should now, if the Hollywood Reporter article is correct, have to endure abuse and the loss of his liberty is evil beyond anything even comics has written about.

I don’t know how this can be made right.

Especially if tales of a Stan Lee that has been systematically isolated from any potential defenders, is true,

It is a horrible article.  But too important of an article not too be read:

 

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/features/stan-lee-needs-a-hero-elder-abuse-claims-a-battle-aging-marvel-creator-1101229

 

Stan Lee believed in dreams, not too much removed from the ‘Idea Space’ of Moore or Morrison, a place where good thoughts could make good lives. I’ll ask you, wherever you are reading this, to spare a minute in offering Stan Lee, your best thoughts.

My thought, if thoughts may manifest, would be for the man who believed that ‘with great Power comes Great Responsibility’, and instilled that mantra in generations of kids, is protected by the power of the State of California.  That these allegations of abuse and coercion be looked into, and if found true Stan be immediately removed from the suspect situation, or the negative elements removed, and Stan appointed medical and legal and security protection to assist him in seeing after his needs without duress.

For a man who gave so many of us great victories, and helped us believe in heroes, there must be a way to get him his victory, and maybe for once be the hero to the hero-maker.

 

If you have any thoughts to add, please do.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Marvel Studios is Successful and Marvel Comics is Suffering! The Last word on Diversity!

Marvel Studios under the brilliant leadership of Kevin Feige has become an unparalleled success because of amazing producers, writers, directors, casting agents, and actors, who take material made often for a juvenile audience and made it work for an adult and non-comics audience, while also satisfying comic die-hards like myself.

And as movies from the 1st film (IRON MAN) to the 18th film (BLACK PANTHER) show, the reason for this is Kevin Feige’s willingness to embrace Diversity. Diversity is not just the makeup of America, contrary to the Trumpian and XM hate radio mob  who who would preach dissension. and hate, it is the makeup of the world. And when you stop running and hiding and sticking your head in the sand, trying to wind back the clock to a Jim Crow America, you realize it is also the makeup to success.

Marvel Comics however has floundered for decades now and continues to flounder with diminishing sales. And while the vocal minority of morons and closet Nazis and talk show radio supporters would blame diversity.

The truth, that common sense and reason would tell you is, appealing only to existing readership has led to a diminishing readership, that can barely get a hundred thousand people, to buy even their most popular book. The people who grew up in the news-stand and comicshop and subscription model of comics,, is an aging and diminishing audience. We are picking up new readers, in large part due to the diversity initiatives and book store and libraries, MS MARVEL and MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR being some of Marvel’s biggest books in collected format. Doing HUGE in Libraries. However while we are picking up new readers in book format, the periodical format continues to lose across the board, for all comics Marvel is producing, whether they put a White, Black, Asian or other character in the comics, and I would argue Marvel is making quality comics across the board, what they suffer from is pricing.

They have in an age of growing options for entertainment dollars, with options of tv, streaming, video games, virtual, and regular books and magazines, priced themselves out of the market. $4 retail for a 20 page comic, that typically is filled with ads and does not give you a full story… it is for most of us an insupportable expense.

Even Die-hards like me have to pick and choose, and generally speaking, the choice is to not support Marvel in the monthly format, not at their $4 and up retail price point. I have not bought a Marvel Comics in years, only their recent diversity push, a good thing rather than the curse word Rush Limbaugh morons would make it, when they finally had Black writers and artists on staff, got me to buy their monthly books again.

I’m speaking of BLACK PANTHER and the short lived POWER MAN AND IRON FIST which was a relatively self-contained title, by dream creative team of David Walker and Sanford Greene. But I stopped getting it when Marvel decided to try to screw with the success of that book by making it into three books. Trying to over-milk their audience. With BLACK PANTHER they quickly started additional titles and crossovers that you had to get to get the whole story. Better and cheaper to just get the collected edition. And when Power Man and Ironfist ended, so did my buying Marvel Comics.

So Marvel’s floundering sales, is a relatively steady study in decline, and has notching to do with diversity. That they have not floundered more is due to their talented and diverse creators and characters. If someone on Youtube or a blog or the media is blaming diversity, you are dealing with an idiot and a bigot and a liar. And you should unsubscribe from their channel and or feed, because stupid people are a waste of time.

Diversity is not Marvel Comics problem. Their problem #1 is pricing. $4 they charge per issue, or $3.99 as they like to call it, you have gone past the threshold the market will bear, or that even your die-hard already converted audience. Particularly when in comparison to other publishers who give you more for that same $4. Other publishers give you less obtrusive ads, letters pages, back matter. And some like CHAPTER HOUSE comics and even DC COMICS (prior to Bendis, hopefully Bendis doesn’t support the same price hike that he supported at Marvel) realize that $2.99 retail is the breaking point for comic book adoption and growth.

Marvel Comics is also big enough that they can support a price of $2.99 retail for their comics. That would take care of their major problem. their second problem,relying on Diamond totally for their periodical distribution. Marvel used to offer mail order subscriptions at a nice discount, that’s how I got some of my books, you would use the ad in the magazine and subscribe to get your comics in the mail. I loved this model as a kid. I used it in addition to the comic book stores.  I think it is a great model unfamiliar with dealing with the Diamond pre-order model. And the third and most important thing, if a title is successful as a single, standalone title, don’t break it by being greedy and stupid. See previous comment on POWERMAN AND IRON FIST.

All those three points come down to Marvel Comics being better managed and better run, if not, no amount of crossovers or character changes or fabricate storyline outrage, will correct Marvel Comics dwindling sales.

 

Here endeth the Diversity Discussion.

:).

 

Currently Watching : CW’s BLACK LIGHTNING Season 1 Episodes 1 -5

This is, despite some misfires, a golden age of TV. With just about every broadcast, cable or streaming channel producing quality shows.

CW after spearheading the SuperHero explosion on television, with its ARROW show, leading into a veritable universe of comic related shows, has unfortunately become a victim of its own success. Other channels buoyed by ARROW’s initial ground breaking success have followed suit, and quite frankly have surpassed what is coming out of CW. The action and fight choreography of DAREDEVIL making the once jaw dropping ARROW fight scenes, look gimmicky and sub-par by comparison.

Black Lightning Movie Poster

FLASH while filled with likable characters, gets increasingly less inspired stories each season. SUPER-GIRL after an initial strong first season, follows it up with a weak syrupy second season, that spent too much time on her Sister’s Lesbianism, which I really could not care any less about, and introducing other uninteresting characters. SUPERNATURAL jumped the shark over 5 seasons ago, and hasn’t had an engaging season since (as every season,simply plays out as watered down ou can definitely add BLACK LIGHTNING to the mix.. variations of that, And LEGENDS OF TOMORROW  is just bad on every level. Shows such as LEGION and RUNAWAYS making the CW shows look like the 60s BATMAN or GREATEST AMERICAN HERO show, by comparison.

Only IZOMBIE, currently on hiatus, has been consistently entertaining to date.

Now after five episodes you can add BLACK LIGHTNING to that list. It has the freshness and energy and charisma and captivating stories, that the other CW shows largely lack. With a great lead, excellent costars, vicious enemies, and mysteries abounding. It from top to bottom isn’t just an exciting and addictive and fun show, but also a needed one. If ARROW five years ago was the show we needed then, BLACK LIGHTNING very much, is the show we need now. Five episodes in I’m hooked, I love it. Grade: B+.

 And while the show can b e released and enjoyed anytime, I do appreciate it being released during Black History Month/Year. It touches with a deft hand on issues that still resound.

Best & Favorite of 2017!!!

This is a bit belated but I think you will find a nice overview to 2017 and pointers to 2018 in the ramblings below.

Favorite movies seen in the Theater in 2017:

KONG:SKULL ISLAND

LOGAN

 

I only saw two movies in the theater in 2017, so looking to improve on that in 2018. Nothing in January had me jazzed to pay theater prices for, however I am looking forward to the following in 2018:

click for larger (if applicable) click for larger (if applicable) click for larger (if applicable)

EQUALIZER 2

click for larger (if applicable)

 

FAVORITE TV SHOWS IN 2017:

  • LEGION
  • TAKEN
  • POWER
  • AMERICAN NINJA
  • CHOPPED
  • AMERICAN PICKERS
  • LOVE IT OR LIST IT
  • LETHAL WEAPON
  • THE GRAND TOUR
  • GODLESS
  • RUNAWAYS

FAVORITE STREAMING TV CHANNEL IN 2017

The one two punch of AMAZON PRIME and HULU gets this award. NETFLIX that was riding high in 2016 with LUKE CAGE and other shows, had a disappointing 2017. With a non user friendly interface compared to Amazon Prime and a selection of shows and movies that weren’t as interesting or well curated as either HULU or AMAZON PRIME, I cancelled my membership at the end of 2017. The last straw being the overhyped and ultimately lackluster PUNISHER series, as well as news of the studios pulling their content from Netflix.

In 2018 the TV shows that I am or will be watching are:

CASTLE ROCK

GRAND TOUR

TAKEN (I think the new showrunner made a mistake getting rid of most of the cast from season 1, but hopefully he can course correct and fix it)

STRIKE BACK and ELEMENTARY return after long hiatuses

LONGMEYER went out with a bit of a whimper, so looking forward to YELLOWSTONE

JACK RYAN

LETHAL WEAPON

CHOPPED

IZOMBIE

BLACK LIGHTNING

AMERICANS

And lastly looking forward to Season 2 of what, without question, was the best, most inventive TV show of 2017, Noah Hawley’s LEGION.

And for those keeping score… LUKE CAGE tied with FARGO Season 2 (Also by Noah Hawley) were the best TV shows of 2015, and DAREDEVIL Season 1 was the best TV show of 2014.

 

BEST MUSIC OF 2017

I loved everything binaural in 2017, adding many great CDs to my collection. THE HEAVY and GREGORY PORTER remained in heavy rotation. Gregory Porter being my favorite live performance of 2017. And I added new interests RAG N BONE MAN, Andra day and Brian Ferneyhough. With Spotify to allow me to try before I buy, I’m looking forward in 2018 to discovering more great music, both old and new.

BEST READS OF 2017

I didn’t read as many novels, or listen to as many audio books in 2017 as I did in previous years, so I definitely hope to turn that around in 2018.

I did do substantially better with Art Books, Graphic Novels, Reference Books, and comics in 2017. Some of the standouts:

 

MATT BAKER THE ART OF GLAMOUR

CREEPING DEATH FROM NEPTUNE

THE WOLVERTON BIBLE

ARTIST EDITION BASIL WOLVERTON (This and the other two previous books having to do with Basil Wolverton, I went all in on him in 2017. Still absorbing these three books here in 2018)

JACKIE ORMES

THE SIGNATURE ART OF BRIANSTELFREEZE

SEX AND HORROR THE ART OF ALESSANDRO BIFFIGNANDI

In 2018 writers I intend to go all in on are Percival Everett, Victor Lavalle, Colin Whitehead and Walter Mosley, as well as revisiting work by Ligotti, Lebbon, Ellison, Stephen King, Clive Barker and Bennett.

 

In 2017 Marvel had a great POWER MAN AND IRON FIST series I was reading, the only thing I was buying monthly from Marvel Comics. And Marvel letting greed get in the way of common sense, killed a series everyone was loving, with a creative team everyone was loving, David Walker and Brian Stelfreeze, to instead both dilute audience attention and oversaturate the market with multiple books, almost all of which are ready to be canceled. So going into 2018, with Marvel sticking to their insane $3.99 price point per book, there are no titles I pick up from Marvel Comics.

 

In 2017 DEATHSTROKE by Christopher Priest was the only DC Comic I was getting on a monthly base. It’s arguably the one series that you can just pick up and enjoy without having to read any other title, or care about any other title. Priest has been able to just do… what he does best, create a fantastic read; month in and month out. So it is the only DC book I’m reading in 2018. However, greed rears its ugly heads and the idiots who get paid to make stupid decisions have decided to add DEATHSTROKE to their floundering team book… JLA,  basically gutting the standalone nature of the comic that allows Priest, to do his magic. Basically the same poor decision making that happened last year with POWER MAN AND IRON FIST.

 

I figure the conversation went like this… ‘man everyone is talking about this book, let’s put the characters in multiple other books, and then they will be talking about all those other books too.’ No, you EFFING morons! The reason people are enjoying POWER MAN AND INRON FIST or DEATHSTROKE is because it is well drawn and well written and not part of your insipid crossover infested universe. Your very attempts to duplicate that success, without understanding it, will kill the character in the new book, and kill interest in the character in the original book.

So yeah here’s hoping someone with brains over at DC, vetoes the horrible idea to put DEATHSTROKE in the JLA, because I’m not going to read the JLA, and you’re editorial interference will create a character that no longer works in his solo book. You have therefore killed the golden goose and have nothing to show for it.

 

The good news is when you get sick of the stupid decisions and overpriced ad laden product at DC and MARVEL, you have great content from other publishers to enjoy. Publishers that give you more for your money. Publishers such as IMAGE, AFTERSHOCK, DARK HORSE and many more.

As far as where to buy new comics from, a lot of people will steer you to DCBS. I personally in terms of pure customer service and ease or ordering prefer LONE STAR COMICS. You can order comics in advance from the at http://www.mycomicshop.com at a discount.

 

They are highly recommended, and I use them myself, and this is an unpaid recommendation. Tell them Heroic Times sent you.

 

And wrapping this up, favorite podcasts of 2017:

 

11OCLOCK COMICS

COMIC GEEK SPEAK

WTF with Marc Maron

BLACK TAPES

GEEK SYNDICATE

 

To name a few. Okay that is it for my 2017 Pop Culture overview. Thanks for bearing with it and if you enjoy, spread the word. Enjoy WEEK #6 of 2018!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Best BATMAN BLACK PANTHER WONDER WOMAN Statues Collectibles! Make Great Gifts!

 

http://amzn.to/2o7GWke

http://amzn.to/2pb2pda

http://amzn.to/2nGRE5i

http://amzn.to/2paPFTO

http://amzn.to/2pw1Utt

http://amzn.to/2oZW2wv

http://amzn.to/2oq8qT1

http://amzn.to/2oq4IsL

http://amzn.to/2oZLmhj

http://amzn.to/2oqgqUl