Podcast of the Day : The Best Doug Moench Interview!

THE BEST DOUG MOENCH INTERVIEW!

I just discovered this COMIC SHENANIGANS interview with Doug Moench.

From April 2017 this interview is FANTASTIC! Doug Moench (pronounced mensh) is a legendary comic writer, but arguably not as legendary as he should be. While names like Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Chris Claremont and John Byrne are known to even peripheral fans of comics, the name Doug Moench  arguably doesn’t get the praise he deserves.

His work in the 70s and 80s brought a sophistication to comics, that tends to get attributed to the year 1986 and the one two punch of Frank Miller’s DARK KNIGHT and Alan Moore’ s WATCHMEN, but those iconic books didn’t get born in a vacuum.  It came in stages through creators, by fits and starts, progressing the medium.  Creators such as…

The phenomenal work of Stan Lee in the 1960s creating stories that talked to the audience, rather than at the audience. His stories, his dialog, was snappy and fun patter which sung for the first time to a college audience, rather than strictly to the kid audience, and really separated Marvel from everyone else.

Stan Lee gets credit, but I think too many people in a rush to praise the artists, and address any slights,  such as Jack Kirby and Ditko and Romita etc (men deserving of praise) , they stumble into a very trumpian conceit of feeling that in order to praise the artists they have to tear down the writer, namely Stan Lee.  And quite frankly that is just insipid. You can praise them both, and should praise them both.

Beacause all that beautiful FF art, if married to insipid dialog/writing you have underwhelming stories. Or if you have stories that don’t hype/excite the audience, all the art is not going to save it. The silver age series SHIELD (pre and even some of the early Steranko) is an example of this.  Interesting Kirby art, but pretty boring , uninteresting writing.

Stan was writing the whole Marvel Universe at the time, and I don’t think war and spy books was his strength, so this series is pretty poorly written/dialoged, and all Kirby’s art couldn’t save it. The same thing could have happened to FF, but for Stan’s love for those characters and stories. The FF stories are great because Stan is at the top of his game as ideaman/writer, and Kirby is at the top of his game as storyteller/artist.  It is the collaboration of words and images that make those early FF stories work.

Stan Lee as ideaman, as writer, as editor, as cheerleader, as salesman, as enthusiastic fount of energy is unequaled. He put Marvel Comics  on his back and he carried it with a smile, onto the road that it is on now. With his passion to identify his creators and sell them to his audience, something no other publisher was doing, he gave birth to a generation of future writers and artists. As well as his more experimental work, allowing the competition (DC) to likewise let their writers off the leash. You get some of the best late 60s /early 70s Kanigher, Giordano, ONeil, Haney stories as a reaction to Marvel’s inroads to the college audience.

So you get a bunch of writers in the wake of Stan, growing the medium.

Among them being Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Steranko, David Kraft, Keith Giffen, ONeil, Claremont, and arguably one of the most innovative of them… Doug Moench.

Doug Moench is known to a younger generation mostly for his later Batman work, however thanks to a new bunch of collections coming out from Marvel; the work that put him on the map (to even other comicbook creators) THE MASTER OF KUNG FU and MOON KNIGHT is finally readily available. Its availability allowing old and new to revisit these groundbreaking works, and put in clearer perspective this pivotal creator.

His MOKF, while of its age was more sophisticated than anything else coming out in comics, and looking back on it, now nearly 4 decades later, those stories are still incredibly entertaining. Particularly the issues with his long time collaborator, Paul Gulacy, are a phenomenal marriage of words and pictures.

Arguably 4 decades later, their ‘CAT’ story from issue #38 of the MASTER OF KUNG FU SERIES (and now available in Volume II of the MASTER OF KUNG FU Omnibus) is one of the greatest single issues of a comic. And fellow collaborators Mike Zeck, and the late great Gene Day also brought wonderful life to the words of Moench.

Likewise his MOON KNIGHT series with Bill Sienkiewicz was month in and month out one of the most sophisticated and daring and heartfelt books being put out; and opened the door for the success of the comic shop, and the rise of the Independent publishers. It gave a generation of writers a broader perspective on what can be done in a comic book. Many talented writers and artists have tried their hands at the character of Moon Knight since Moench’s departure, a few have been good, Warren Ellis and Jeff Lemire come to mind, most have been awful, and none have been the equal of Moench and Sienkiewicz’s run. That is something, when 4 decades of writers, cannot equal or surpass what you did.

Add to that three of the most haunting Batman stories, a trilogy of one shot issues done with Pat Broderick, and phenomenal creator owned work SIX FROM SIRIUS with Paul Gulacy, as well as his work in the Black and White mags,  and you have some of what makes Doug Moench one of the best writers in the history of comics.

Now with my 2 cents out of the way, go listen to the interview from the man himself:

https://comicshenanigans.podbean.com/category/doug-moench/

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Podcasts of the Day!

Discovered two new podcasts today.

They both are not new, have been around a while, but are new to me, and  I am quite enjoying them.

Currently listening to Adam Chapman’s COMIC SHENANIGANS and GROWN ASS MEN by Doug Bost and Adam Bernstein.

 

https://comicshenanigans.podbean.com – His interviews with Bronze age Comic greats, Steve Englehart and Tom Ozechowski are great and informative.

 

 

The duo behind GAM offer three must listen interviews. One with Paul Gulacy, one with Doug Moench, and a third with Jamar Nicholas. Find them and listen to them here:

 

http://grownassmenpod.libsyn.com/rss

 

Great podcasts!

 

Netflix Streaming and Amazon Bluray Movie of the Day : WAY OF THE DRAGON

the-way-of-the-dragon-movie-poster-bruce-lee-chuck-norris


WAY OF THE DRAGON is arguably Bruce Lee’s best film, in that it was the film he had the most control over; wearing hat of writer, director, and star. A circumstance which is not always a good thing, actors not always being the best gauge of their own interests or image. However Bruce Lee from the start was more than an actor, he was the message not merely the messenger, and as such was uniquely suited to define himself for others; and he does that expertly in this film.

The opening of WAY OF THE DRAGON (also sometimes referred to as RETURN OF THE DRAGON, confusing in that this came before ENTER THE DRAGON, not after) is pure Charlie Chaplin, Lee showing his penchant for physical comedy, and his pure charisma. And seeing Bruce Lee against the backdrop of the West that he always found both tantalizing and duplicitous, is a joy.

What surprises, revisiting this film after some absence, is how young he is.

You forget that these icons like Hendricks, and Ali, and Bruce Lee that shaped so much of the American consciousness and whose shadows continue to dominate so much of what we consider best of our cultural zeitgeist and worth aspiring to, at the height of their power… were basically just kids who believed the world could be changed… and changed it.

Is WAY OF THE DRAGON the greatest martial arts movie of all time? Probably not, but it is a great movie, and watching a Bruce Lee untouched by age or death, with his whole life ahead of him, in a sumptuously photographed, and largely fun film, is a little like visiting one last time… with a good friend.

There is something bitter and sweet about it.

And the final fight with Chuck Norris is justifiably classic. And like the film itself it is more in the nuances around the fight, the essential touches Lee brought to it, the philosophy of Chinese Boxing, the stretching, the inter-cutting of the kitten, all deliver something more than the spectacle of violence, but a way through violence… to find some peace on the other side of it.

A film that not just every Martial Arts fan should have in their collection, but a film any fan of cinema should proudly have on their curio shelf, as the work of 1970s art that it is.

And also the Blu-Ray is a must have for the audio commentaries, documentaries and pristine picture.

I like streaming for the chance to be exposed to a wealth of movies, but quality (when it is coming from a middle man such as a streaming or cable service) is always subject to bandwidth and signal concerns of the moment. The Bluray, failing damage, will give you the best picture in all moments… consistently.

So for movies like WAY OF THE DRAGON, that you intend to come back to again and again… Blu-Ray is the way to go.

Here’s the link:

The Bruce Lee Premiere Collection (The Big Boss / Fist of Fury / The Way of the Dragon / Game of Death) [Blu-ray]

Highly Recommended! And if a fan of this film I would direct you to the 1970s comic book series it inspired, Marvel Comic’s MASTER OF KUNG FU. Specifically issues 38 and 39 that form an excellent and not to be missed two part story, that any fan of Bruce Lee should check out.

Links here:

Master of Kung Fu, Edition# 38

Master of Kung Fu (1974, 1st series) #38

Master of Kung Fu (1974, 1st series) #39

And a book covering the career of one of the influential artists of the 70s and Bruce Lee fan, Paul Gulacy:

Spies, Vixens and Masters of Kung Fu PB

If you like this blog, and specifically this post, show your support by using the links above. You get great items, and this blog gets a few pennies. A win all the way around. 🙂 Thanks for looking and till next time… make someone smile today.


If, like me, you’ve been interested on Chuck Norris’ take on Bruce Lee well here’s a Norris quote about meeting Lee in New York in 1965, when Lee was working on the GREEN HORNET series. The quote is courtesy of the site BRUCE LEE DAILY:

“I said that I was really tired and that I should get to the hotel because I had an early flight the next day at nine o’clock. Bruce said he was staying at the same hotel so we decided to go over together. So we were taking a cab to the hotel, and now we are really getting involved in our conversation. We get to the hotel and are going up in the lift to the floor that Bruce’s room is on.

We both step out into the hallway – it was about twelve o’clock by now – the next thing I know I’ve got my jacket off and we are working out in the hallway.

I swear to you that the next time I looked at my watch it was seven o’clock the next morning. I looked at my watch again, I could not believe it, I had a flight in two hours back to Los Angeles and Bruce said that when we got back we should work out together, which we did for three years.

Then Bruce left for Hong Kong to pursue his movie career. I didn’t hear anything from him for about two years, then one day I got a call from Hong Kong; it was Bruce, he said: “I’ve just finished two movies over here, they were really successful”. He said he wanted to do a fight scene that everyone would remember and he said I want you to be my opponent and he was going to call the film Way of the Dragon.”

Read the full article Here!

Best Bronze Age COMIC BOOK COVERS! Spider-Man! Morbius!

Best Bronze Age COMIC BOOK COVERS! Spider-Man! Morbius!

With the new Spider-Man movie on the horizon (which I have no interest in. The cast and the story-line looks uninteresting, no matter how many trailers they try, and yet another Imax 3D post conversion, that looks awful in the trailers) I thought it was a good time to examine one of the better Spider-Man spin-offs, the character known as Morbius, The Living Vampire!

The following are GREAT bronze age covers from the 1970s, with some nifty interiors as well.


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To purchase any of these books (which have not been collected in color, and they need to be) go to the following link:

Buy ADVENTURE INTO FEAR:THE LIVING VAMPIRE comic books here!

Jason Aaron vs. Alan Moore vs DC Comics vs the History of Comics

I think most people are aware of this brouhaha.

But for those late to the game Alan Moore, was interviewed, as is wont to happen, and was asked about DC’s plan to do new stories in the WATCHMEN universe that he and Dave Gibbons created nearly 3 decades ago. Moore’s response was typical Alan Moore, both erudite and acidic and a bit tongue in cheek. Satire and epiphany are strengths not just of Moore’s writing, but his speaking.

Deconstruction is the term you typically hear in regards to Moore. But epiphany is more accurate. SWAMP THING and WATCHMEN and MIRACLE-MAN are often lumped under the lazy man’s term of deconstruction.

They are not.

Moore takes old tropes, and he twists it till you see it, in that rarest of ways, in a brand new light, until you get a moment of… clarity of purpose, not just about the character you’re reading about, but in some crazy way, you get a clarity of purpose about yourself.

Epiphany.

That’s what Moore does at his best, he gives you moments of epiphany.

And that Epiphany is in that interview he does with Adi Tantimedh.

Moore started his career with comedy, true comic strips, I would say he has forgotten more about humor than most people will ever know, except I don’t think he’s forgotten anything. So with this in mind, in the interview he responded to DC’s claim to be putting top-flight talent on these new Watchmen stories. He responded the way pretty much anyone would… with a bit of incredulity. But more than that with a valid question of, “if this talent is so top-flight, why don’t they create their own tales” (paraphrasing there), rather than try and retread Moore and Gibbon’s 25 year old tale.

I have to say, I think that’s a pretty valid question. You can read his post in Rich Johnston’s very nice summation of the issue here!

But when you do read it, you’re going to see it’s pretty typical Moore. And given his problematic history with DC, that they’ve treated him not exactly the greatest, for someone who has pretty much defined that company in the 80s, and his shadow, seemingly continues to define that company; it’s an understandable distrust/dislike he avows.

It’s hard to say, what building blocks if removed causes the house of cards to come tumbling down, but I would say for DC, that building block is named Alan Moore.

Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING, its success created Vertigo, buried the comics code, sanctified the idea of DCs hiring of British Talent, and his WATCHMEN would give birth to this idea of comic books as BOOKS. As Graphic Novels, as something worthy of true literary consideration. So arguably if Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING fails, then the idea of the British invasion fails with it, and you don’t get Neil Gaiman or Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis or Mark Millar or Garth Ennis, and DCs revitalization of the late 80s… is stillborn.

So even by the most jaded eye, what DC owes Alan Moore, cannot be overstated, or easily repaid. And even by the most jaded eye, DC has done a piss-poor job paying it.

So all that backmatter goes into Moore’s comments on DC ‘revisiting’ WATCHMEN.

And like stated Moore’s questioning of putting ‘Top-Tier’ talent on their WATCHMEN cash grab (let’s call it what it is) sounds like him quite rightly questioning what the hell that ‘catch-phrase’ means. Seemingly it’s a veiled attempt to placate users, that see messing with Moore’s opus may be a bit of heresy, by saying “we don’t have the original creators, but we’ll have top-tier talent”. To which, if it was my legendary property, I would have the same question Moore has, namely… “if they are such Top-Tier talent they surely have their own legendary story to work on. Don’t they?”

That’s the gist of Moore’s statement.

At no point does he mention any creator.

Yet Jason Aaron, gets so incensed, he states “Fuck You Alan Moore” and goes on a tirade. His tirade you can find at the link above. It is quite inexplicable. Since as pointed out, without Alan Moore you don’t get a Vertigo, which means you don’t get someone picking up Aaron’s THE OTHER SIDE, which means you probably don’t get Jason Aaron as a comic writer.

“F**k you Alan Moore”? seriously? Something in that article incensed anyone that much? Typically the only thing that gets people riled up that much, about an article their name is not in, is their conscience. They feel for whatever reason… the article is an attack on them. Seemingly they see a truth unspoken, except in their hearts. What truth Jason Aaron saw, what doubt or slight it called to mind, I don’t know. But whatever it was, I didn’t see it in the Moore article I read.


“Alan’s fight with DC Comics led to DC being much nicer to comic creators so as not to have a repeat performance. Their creator ownership/creator participant contract for certain titles, including Scalped, was a direct result of that. Indeed, Vertigo itself as a imprint owes more to Alan than any other creator. Without Alan, there wouldn’t be a Scalped – at least, not published by DC.

Alan generally does these kind of interviews in a very self deprecatory, ironic to[n]e. It’s the way he talks. I gave an example of that at the beginning of the interview, because I know how his words can be taken if read in a different manner. Try watching the video, then reading the piece again in that voice. When Alan is talking about the comics industry having no top flight talent – he’s including himself in that analysis. And I don’t think he’s blaming any creator for his problems, or the problems of a retro-looking industry, he’s blaming the companies.”— from BLEEDING COOL

Jason Aaron would perhaps be better served, by thinking clearly, and perhaps thoroughly, before he speaks, or types. Better yet, perhaps burying the hatchet with Alan Moore and apologizing would not be a bad thing for him to consider.

Being loud and outraged is easy. Being stand-up when you’re wrong is hard.

But it would win Aaron points in many people’s books, and I think even in his own.

I think Aaron, if he judges it quietly and well, must see he went off for no good reason, seeing an enemy where no enemy was. Aaron has proved he can be loud and think he’s right, unfortunately we all can do that (even Alan Moore who has had his own share of tirades); but can he be loud and admit when he’s been wrong?

I like Aaron as a writer. I thought his THE OTHER SIDE was great. I haven’t followed anything past the first trade on SCALPED, but have heard good things about it. And have caught his Marvel work sporadically.

He’s a good writer.

But I think you have to come to the plate with more than good, before you call down the thunder on someone who has done a lot better than good. Has done a lot better than great.

I’ve never particularly been a fan of the British invasion. I think people tend to forget that long before Moore or his ilk, writers like Doug Moench (hugely underrated writer) and Chris Claremont and Kraft and Giffen and Steve Englehart and Steve Gerber and Jim Shooter and Denny Oneil and JM DeMatteis were teaching the medium how to be better.

So I say the following, not being an Anglophile or British Invasion bandwagon rider, not being a particular fan of many British Writers. I say the following, being very glad we have great American writers like Brubaker, and Fraction and Hickman and Christos Gage, and Priest (get back to writing!) and Geof Johns and Greg Rucka and Joss Whedon and Johnathan Hickman and Robert Kirkman and… yes, Jason Aaron…, being very glad of all the aforementioned writers… I say: Alan Moore has been called the best writer in comics for one simple, undeniable reason… he is.

He has the work to back it up. Not everything he does is a home-run. His Avatar work… not a fan. But Moore’s missteps are few and far between, and his successes… will stand the test of time.

So bottom line, you don’t call out Stan Lee, until you’ve done what he’s done. And you don’t call out Alan Moore, until you’ve done, what he’s done.

So for one professional to go off like a crazy fan-boy to another professional, does nothing but put your own professionalism in doubt. If you thought he was slighting you personally, drop the man an email or give him a call, and get a clarification. But make sure you have reason to rant, before calling out an elder statesman of your medium.

It’s just common sense.

Perhaps not so common.

Comic Books REVIEW: STAR WARS LEGACY, SAVAGE TALES, RETURN OF THE SUPER-PIMPS

Oh, what a frigging week.

Working… who invented that.

Hey guys the “Good Guys” post, a followup to my last rant, is still under construction… should have it in a couple installments.

But for now just some brief, non-ranty goodness:

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First, much hate to COMIC BOOK SAVANT, for recommending much great stuff that I’m going to hunt up. Among the titles he put on my radar is:

John Ostrander’s STAR WARS LEGACY — and I’m not a star wars fans, but James of CBS raved about it, plus Ostrander is a good writer

COMIC BOOK SAVANT recommended DYNAMO 5, as a great read and he was right. So going to trust his recommendation on STAR WARS LEGACY.

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Moving on to other books

… Looking to complete my FOURTH WORLD OMNIBUS Collection, as well as my EC ARCHIVES collection. And Harris publications will be releasing (Finally) CREEPY and ERRIE collections (downside being the price is outrageous!). Also Bernie Wrightson’ s FRANKENSTEIN is FINALLY being re-released!!! Woah!

For those of you who don’t know… The original Wrightson FRANKENSTEIN printing goes for a couple hundred when you can find it. So a new printing (due this summer, I believe) is definitely going to be on my buy list.

Wrightson’s MARY SHELLY’S FRANKENSTEIN is one of the greatest artists of the medium, at the height of his abilities, helping to transcend the medium.

Pick it up.

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Also much love to RETURN OF THE SUPER PIMPS. If you are not picking up this book, you really should be. It’s everything I look for in a comic: fun, endearing, positive, engaging. It’s about 70s type heroes with a SHAFT and SUPERFLY vibe, who come out of retirement to deal with a modern age of drive-bys and drugs and crime.

I’ve tried the first two issues and loved them, it’s the kind of book that you would want on the new stand, so inner city kids, and all kids, could find it and pick it up. It’s the kind of book that if there were still newstand distribution… it would be selling 100,000 copies easily.

And it’s not just a kids’ book, take it from a thirty something, it appeals to all ages. A solid B+ ! Strongly Recommended!

I think the writer Richard Hamilton is doing good work, crafting positive characters of color (and better yet a team where all the characters are of color, rather than the standard of the all White team, or White team with one token Black character), something unfortunately you see too little of. So now we just have to get the books into the hands of readers of all colors.

I really believe in this book, to see why… check the following link:

http://www.dialcforcomics.com

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Also some quick reviews:

SCALPED TPB- Covers the first five issues of the series, and is by Jason Aaron of THE OTHER SIDE fame. I loved Aaron’s THE OTHER SIDE, a solid B+. And I heard much praise for this new series by him, but I have to say the first trade… didn’t love it. It was okay, good…. but never went much beyond that. Not really that interested in the story up to this point. Much like DMZ, I found the read… underwhelming. And I still hate the Vertigo paper stock. The art just looks muddy and soaked up in their cheap paper. C.

SAVAGE TALES #5- From DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT is an anthology series sporting a simply gorgeous Arthur Suydam cover. I love wrap-around comics, have ever since Bill Sienkiewicz’s phenomenal wraparound cover on MOON KNIGHT #18 from the first FANTASTIC 1980 series, with him and the amazing Doug Moench.

However a cover is not enough for me to try a book, the preview blurb is… and it mentioned Don Lomax of VIETNAM JOURNAL fame, would do the writing on one of the stories. And that spurred me to give SAVAGE TALES #5 a try.

Verdict?

The interior art was simply atrocious. Very reminiscent of very bad 90s style art, And the stories were just wooden and uninteresting. Best thing about this book, only good thing really, was the cover… however I don’t buy a comic for the cover.

Grade: D-.

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And brief aside… Doug Moench, early 80s… best frigging writer in comics. People completely forget him, when talking about the comics renaissance, or the sophistication of comics.

People tend to think ONLY Alan Moore, and Frank Miller, when discussing creators who helped the medium grow up, and be seen as valid entertainment for adults. But there’s a definite progression, you don’t go from Stan Lee to Alan Moore. There’s a generational progression From Stan Lee in the 60s who created the Marvel blueprint, which was really the first line that really appealed to college kids… and hence the first step as comics as more than just kids stuff… to Roy Thomas who followed and maintained and expanded that blueprint in the 70s.

And primarily Roy Thomas did this by bringing aboard new hungry, amazing writers, from Steve Englehart (the flagship writer of the early 70s, who everyone else took their que from, his work on CAPTAIN AMERICA and AVENGERS being defining work) and Steve Gerber and Gerry Conway (the Pitch Hitter of comics, he came in when other people dropped the ball, and always did a brilliant job), to David Kraft, Keith Giffen, Jim Shooter and Chris Claremont(the flagship writer of the late 70s, early 80s).

So the late 70s, early 80s Chris Claremont was clearly THE writer of the age, making the larger than life grand superhero comics far more emotionally involving, and arguably the first superhero series to appeal to female readers. But Doug Moench, at the same time, relatively unheralded… was making involving, gritty comics, that didn’t involve people who could shoot bolts out of their eyes or read minds. His were espionage tinged tales, MASTER OF KUNG FU, MOON KNIGHT, SIX FROM SIRIUS, and some of his BATMAN work, (the stand-alone issues drawn by Pat Broderick— are frigging phenomenal!) that defined what was best in comics. And his work and Denny O’Neils and Don Lomax and Doug Murphy and Marv Wolfman’s and JM DeMatteis and Larry Hama and Steven Grant and Jim Owsley/Christopher Priest and Peter David work in the early 80s is another growth spurt in terms of quality and sophistication, that sets the stage for the writers of the mid and late 80s. The Frank Millers, and the Alan Moores and the Grant Morrisons. Who, after a slight stagnant period, then led into the Warren Ellises and Brian Bendises and David Macks and Alex Rosses (Ross is far more than an artist, is coplotter and creator on everything he’s done).

And these creators in turn lead into the Christos Gages and Brian K Vaughans and Johnathan Hickmans and Joss Whedons.

So when you say great or significant creators, just be aware of the chain of creators that came before, tilling the soil, without whom you don’t get a WATCHMEN or RONIN or DARK KNIGHT or PUNISHER. So the next time you’re at a con, don’t just search out the hot writer of the moment, but search out some of the creators that influenced him.

Here Endeth the Lesson.

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