My first encounter with J. Jonah Jameson, before I was even reading comic books, was in The Amazing Spider-Man comic strip, and then later in the same year as played by Robert F. Simon in The Amazing Spider-Man TV series. When I dove horns first into the world of comics around '79, my Marvel book of collection choice was Star Wars (#21, prominently cover-featuring Darth Vader, was the first Marvel comic I ever bought), but not too long after that expanded into The Avengers and the (as-yet Uncanny) X-Men. (Smack dab in the middle of the Shooter Age was a good time to pick up X-Men: my first ish was #137 and I was barely confused at all.) But as my interest in the Marvel Universe expanded, I began picking up Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man (my first issue was #50) and Amazing Spider-Man (a coverless copy of #200 from the long-gone Economy Book Store in Syracuse, New York). So I met the comics version of J. Jonah Jameson. And from every exposure I'd had to him...I thought he was a jerk. (Hence the classic '80s issue where Kitty Pryde declared "J. Jonah Jameson is a jerk!"
Then, as Frank Miller started to make his mark writing and pencilling Daredevil, I added the Man Without Fear to my pull list, and in issue #177, I came across the scene where J. Jonah Jameson actually acted like a thoughtful, responsible journalist with more nuance than just shouting maniacally about Spider-Man, and I started to like JJJ as a character. When I posted that scene back in May of this year, I accompanied with the Gore Vidal quote "Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half."
It's been a difficult year, personally and socially, for this little stuffed bull and his closest friends, and you've probably noticed lengthy stretches when I don't post, but I've always tried to catch up later so you have these posts every day at the very least. This year I lost some people very close to me, and lost many who were great personal heroes of mine. But one of the great things about superhero comics, and one that I love best about them, is that they go on. Fifty-four years later, when he should be putting up his webbed feet and sitting back to relax, Peter Parker is still swingin', the high school student now become a global industrialist (altho' I'd be surprised if that doesn't continue to change). Jonah has also changed professions and positions within the Marvel Universe (remember Hizzoner Jameson?), but he's still serving the same general purpose: to bedevil Peter, to shout at Spider-Man, and to pursue the truth. (I also especially like his role as a encouraging mentor to Cindy Moon in Silk.)
By the end of the year, when we would despair of the media reporting "fake news" or "Twitteralism," I'd post now and then a Jonah panel accompanied by the message of "See, media? That's how you do it." And in the end, that's become why I love Jonah and why he's more vital than ever. We don't live in a world of evil scientists with mechanical arms or intelligent killer lizards or thugs made outta sand; our nemeses can be both very subtle and very overt, but they still need battling. We don't live in a world of Spider-Men, more's the pity, so I look up to journalists and writers who do their homework and speak truth to power. In 2016 there was even one writer Ta-Nehisi Coates doing both that and creating comic books. We need more creators like him. We need more comics by and about people of color and LGBT persons; we need much more than superhero comics, but they still serve a place.
As does J. Jonah Jameson. I'm hoping in 2017 he continues to be a major Spider-character, and that he continues to be an antagonist, if not a nemesis. We need somebody to rant and rave at those guys in spandex and leather, to kick our asses into gear, to remind us that the four-color world can teach us about the world outside our window. After all, Spider-Man endures may JJJ do as well. Any place Spidey is back in action, we need someone yelling for photos of him.
Thanks, Jonah, for helping us laugh at Spider-Man...again.
Panels from Amazing Spider-Man 1963 series (July 1967) #50 (July 1967), script by Stan Lee; pencils by John Romita, Sr.; inks by Mike Esposito; letters by Sam Rosen
Tomorrow!: Well, it's a new year, isn't it? Keep your pulley tuned to Bully and keep looking to the stars! (Is that a hint? It just might...be! Or not!)