Saturday, June 13, 2015

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 13

Panels from Batman (2011 series) #37 (February 2015), script by Scott Snyder, pencils by Greg Capullo, inks by Danny Miki, colors by FCO Plascencia, letters by Dezi Sienty and Taylor Esposito

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 164: Men Are from Corellia, Women Are From Alderaan

Panels from Star Wars (1977 Marvel series) #101 (November 1985), script by Jo Duffy, pencils by Cynthia Martin, inks by Art Nichols, colors by Glynis Oliver, letters by Rick Parker

Friday, June 12, 2015

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 12

Panels from JLA: Age of Wonder #1 (July 2003), script by Adisakdi Tantimedh, breakdowns by P. Craig Russell, finishes by Galen Showman, colors by Dave McCaig, letters by Bob Lappan

Today in Comics History, June 12, 2005: Driver's license expires today; owner expires sooner by moving to Gotham City

from "The Hunt, Part 2" in Detective Comics #774 (November 2002), script by John Francis Moore, pencils by Rick Hoberg, inks by Stefano Gaudiano, colors by Carla Yanchishyn, color seperations by Heroic Age, letters by John Workman

Where the Heck? (Credit Where Credit Is Due)

So, I'm really pleased...more pleased than punch, tickled beyond pink...that at last Marvel has begun properly crediting (some of) its character's creators. And long past time too. I do understand the tricky legal precedent of Marvel's putting this in published writing on work-for-hire characters, which is probably why we're not seeing it on characters created after the sixties. (This lucrative movie mania may have something to do with it as well.) I'm not privy to whether Marvel is compensating creators who did work prior to the royalty programs (I'm going to guess, sadly, no). I don't know whether creators are getting proper royalties on trade paperback or digital comics sales — publishing platforms that were pretty much inconceivable at the time of paychecks stamped with a "legally binding" work for hire shorthand (endorse the check to get your money and you've signed the contract). (Again, gonna guess maybe no.) I'm hoping these credits are just the beginning of more proper recognition for and compensation to Marvel's creators. (Anyway, it sure beats the days when all you got was "Stan Lee Presents…") Here's some recently published credits from Marvel mags:

Take note of that last one, which is (properly) credited on every book entitled "X-Men," from Uncanny to Amazing to Adjectiveless, even though the books don't, in most cases, star any of the characters from that very first issue of X-Men back in 1963. (Except for the increasingly inaccurately titled All-New X-Men.) So, too, you get proper credits for the first creation of the characters even if they're not exactly the ones created back in the Silver Age. F'r 'bother example, I'm pretty sure Joe 'n' Jack, and Stan 'n' Larry 'n' Jack , never foresaw a cool flying black Captain America, a kick-ass female Thor, or a soon-to-star in his own major motion picture ex-con Ant-Man. And it sets a particular precedent: Joe Simon and Jack Kirby are the creators of Captain America, even tho' Stan Lee and Gene Colan created Sam Wilson, the new Captain America.

Pay special attention to those last couple: they set up a precedent I'll be talking about later.

Now, I happen to think that this following created by credit oughta be in reverse, seeing as Kirby drew the Silver Surfer into Fantastic Four with Stan Lee having no idea at the time who or what he was. But it fits the template: scripted goes first. Eh, close enough.

There's a small handful of more recent characters who get creator credit, but it seems to be mostly those creators who have (justly) raised their voices about it.

Still, no in-magazine creator credit for characters headlining modern-day series like Black Widow (created by Stan Lee, Don Rico, and Don Heck), The Punisher (created by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru), or Rocket Raccoon (created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen), for instance. I hope they are soon. Like I said, it's a darn sight better than "Stan Lee Presents..." and a good improvement on Marvel's hesitant and halting attempts only about five years ago to be cloyingly clever about it without spelling out anything that might sound legal, as in these credits-page "salutes" to Stan and Jack in Fantastic Four circa #571-575:

The "cutesy" (and yeah, I put that in quotes, Marvel!) credits are generally joking or punning nods to the story titles, a process which, on a story called "Solve Everything," gives us FF #570's most tone-deaf clueless credit of them all:

OH FOR PETE'S SAKE MARVEL WHO THE HECK THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA probably the same guy at DC who okayed "Triumph of the Will" as an appropriate Green Lantern story title

Anyway, my point...and I do have that we get these credits on this week's Secret Wars: Armor Wars book:


I bow to very few in my sheer love of and admiration for Jack Kirby, but...while he did pencil the iconic cover of the first appearance of ol' Shellhead (hey! how come nobody calls him that anymore? Get on that, Marvel)...

Cover of Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963), pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Don Heck

But take a big Silver Age Gander (worst duck-based superhero ever) at the credits page for Mister I. Man's origin:


Much in the way Larry, brother of Stan but with added "ber," got credit (see above!) for co-creating Thor and Ant-Man (writing scripts for Stan's plots), so too should he get credit here. And definitely it's a big mistake to leave Don Heck off the list. So, Marvel, I humbly suggest you have these credits wrong and I hope to see them corrected by Armor Wars #2 to "Iron Man created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby."

Mind you, I'm a little sensitive on the subject of Don Heck. As far as I'm concerned, Don's Silver Age Marvel stuff is pretty powerful. For example: despite the iconic portrayals of the Prince of Power by Jack Kirby and Bob Layton, for my money Don Heck portrayed the definitive Hercules:

Pin-up from Avengers King-Size Special [Annual] (1967 series) #1 (September 1967), script by Roy Thomas, pencils by Don Heck, inks by George Roussos, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Artie Simek

Part of the reason I get my back up when Heck's work is passed over or disparaged is the infamous interview with Harlan Ellison (a man whose writing I can respect but never his personality) by Gary Groth (a man I've worked with personally and like and respect, but whose tolerance for superhero comics is thin) in the pages of The Comics Journal, in which they run Heck through the wringer, calling him "the worst artist in the field." And then Ellison goes on to slam Dick Ayers, who he has mistakenly credited with the Nova work of Sal Buscema. Geez.

Portion of Harlan Ellison interview by Gary Groth from The Comics Journal #52 (January 1980)

"Five thousand Don Hecks are not worth one Neal Adams." Cold. Bitchy. And for my money, the beginning of my respect for Don Heck and my complete loss of interest in the opinions of Harlan Ellison. (Gary, you didn't help matters here.)

Ahem. Anyway. Don Heck. Know him, love him, credit him.

Iron Man created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber,
Don Heck, and Jack Kirby

Today in Comics History, June 12, 1991: Multi-Man has the last laugh by stealing horoscopes from beyond the grave

from Challengers of the Unknown (1991 series) #8 (DC, October 1991), script by Jeph Loeb, pencils and inks by Tim Sale, colors by Lovern Kindzierski, letters by Bob Pinaha

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 163: What else should I be / All apologies

Panels from "Apology Accepted" in Only What You Take with You (2009); script by Tyler Chin-Tanner; pencils, inks, and colors by Fabio Redivo

Thursday, June 11, 2015

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 11

Panels from JLA: Shogun of Steel (one-shot) (2002), script by Ben Raab, pencils and inks by Justiniano, colors by Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh, letters by Bill Oakley

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 162: This is where Indy learned that move

Panels from Star Wars (1998 Dark Horse series) #41 (April 2002), script by John Ostrander, pencils by Davide Fabbri, inks by Christian Dalla Vecchia, colors by Dave McCaig, letters by Steve Dutro

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 10

from Detective Comics Annual (1988 series) #1 (DC, 1988), script by Denny O'Neil, pencils by Klaus Janson, inks by Tony Dezuniga, colors by Adrienne Roy, letters by Todd Klein

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 161: Back in my day, all this part of Coruscant was open fields

Panels from Star Wars: Dark Empire #1 (December 1991); script by Tom Veitch; pencils, inks, and colors by Cam Kennedy; letters by Todd Klein

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 9

Panels from Earth 2 Annual #2 (March 2014), script by Tom Taylor, pencils by Robson Rocha, inks by Scott Hanna, colors by Pete Pantazis, letters by Dezi Sienty

What If™…? Larry King was Captain America? What then, huh?

Good morning America and all free countries of the world… I had Wheaties for breakfast this morning, and boy, they still pack a punch… You really owe it to yourself to see Arsenic and Old Lace on Broadway before you die... Jack Benny does more with five seconds of silence than all these new-fangled comedians do with ten minutes of cussing… I found one of those Coke bottles with my name on it! Now maybe Hawkeye will stop taking my Cokes… The best meat loaf ever made in New York City is by: #1 - My mom. #2 - Edwin Jarvis. #3 - The Carnegie Deli... A lot of people know I punched Hitler but not a lot of people know I once punched Lana Turner… I think Obama is doing a darn fine job… If you can order yourself up a song on the World Wide Internet, why is it so hard to find sheet music these days?... If you're wondering what to get me for my birthday, here's a hint: that Bob Hope/Bing Crosby boxed video film set… What should I do with all these old comic books?… I'd like to get into Star Trek but I just can't get past that Russian guy… The new Nick Fury would make his papa proud… Frank Sinatra once threatened to punch me when we both appeared on the Fred Allen radio show. That man did not like you touching his suit… When is Ellery Queen going to write another mystery whodunit book?... That sneezing panda film makes me laugh every time… Boy, parking is sure tough in Manhattan these days… Is there anything better than a Five Guys hamburger? Skip the fries, though, they take twice as long if you order fries… If I could tell you what really happened to Glenn Miller, you'd scream… I've always had a fondness for the name "Peggy"... Mister Benjamin J. Grimm has made clobbering a fine art… Why don't they carry LOOK magazine on the stands anymore?... Don't you hate it when two earths are colliding and you can only save one of them?... You know who's a real heroine? Margaret Bourke-White, that's who… That guy who plays me in the movies is pretty handsome... I heard Arnim Zola went on a diet and they had to install a plasma screen in him afterwards... In my day crooked cops would steal apples from fruit stands. Now they shoot kids. I'm not certain that's progress… I don't understand the internet. If I wanted to give everyone my personal information, I would have just called up Hedda Hopper… Why does the Hulk get a Red Hulk and a Blue Hulk but I only get the Red Skull?... Look up "wacky" in the dictionary and you'll find a picture of Spike Jones... What's up with all the cussing and nakedness on the television? It's just not necessary… Wait, you have to go WHERE to see the Dodgers play now?… That Squirrel Girl girl is a fine argument for women's rights… Mrs. Miniver is still the best war movie ever made… Until tomorrow, my friends, take care of each other and GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Captain America writes this daily syndicated column for the Daily Bugle and over 100 other newspapers across the US. Catch his nightly show on the Stark News Network or on Sirius FM daily.

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 160: Aunt May: distracting Jedi since the year 3100 BBY

Panels from Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith: Spiral #4 (November 2012), script by John Jackson Miller, pencils by Andrea Mutti, inks by Pierluigi Baldassini, colors by Michael Atiyeh, letters by Michael Heisler

Monday, June 08, 2015

Today in Comics History, June 8: Calendar Cat stares deeply into your very soul

from "The Dogcatcher, Part III" in Detective Comics #787 (DC, December 2003), script by Rick Spears, pencils and inks by Rob G, colors by Guy Major, letters by Janice Chiang

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 8

Cover of Secret Origins (2014 series) #2 (July 2014), painted by Lee Bermejo

A Grand Day Out: All Is Full of Björk

Hooray! I am at the Björk "Mid-Career Retrospective" exhibit here at the Museum of Modern Arts (we savvy New Yorkers call it "MoMa") in beautiful midtown Manhattan. I've been waiting to go to this exhibit all spring, and at last I'm here! Sadly, you cannot go. Because it closed yesterday. But I'm willing to share my photos with you! I hope that's a fair compromise in the face of an otherwise-Björkless lament by you.

Björk-tinued after the jump!

Today in Comics History, June 8: Defective glowing computer irradiates Cheryl Blossom, turns her into rage-filled red She-Hulk

from "He-Mail" in Cheryl Blossom #24 (Archie, August 1999), script and pencils by Holly Golightly, inks by John Costanza, colors by Barry Grossman, letters by Bill Yoshida

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 159: Pimp My Colossal Wasp

Two-page spread from Tales of the Jedi #4 (January 1994); script by Tom Veitch, pencils and inks by David Roach, colors by Pamela Rambo, letters by Willie Schubert
(Click picture to Colossal-Wasp-size)

Sunday, June 07, 2015

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 7

Panels from Smallville: Season 11 digital comic #2 (August 2012), script by Bryan Q. Miller, pencils by Chris Cross, inks by Marc Deering, colors by Carrie Strachan, letters by Saida Temofonte

Today in Comics History, June 7, 1657: Archaeological expedition uncovers original Broom Hilda

from "The Spell" in Tales Calculated to Drive You Bats #7 (Archie, November 1962), script by Frank Doyle, pencils by Dan DeCarlo, inks by Rudy Lapick, letters by Bill Yoshida

Today in Comics History, June 7, 1936: Joel Robinson's janitor grandfather contemplates his getting shot into space to watch cheesy black-and-white movies

from Original Sin Annual #1 (Marvel, December 2014), script by Jason Latour, pencils and inks by Enis Cisic, colors by Chris Chuckry, letters by Chris Eliopoulos and Clayton Cowles

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 158: Every little thing he says is tragic

Panels from "A Wookie Scorned" in Star Wars Tales #10 (December 2001), script by Jason Hall, pencils and inks by Christina Chen, colors by Dan Jackson, letters by Steve Dutro

Today in Comics History, June 7, 1931: Marvel's original Golden Age Devil Dinosaur was a little less consumer-friendly

from Original Sin Annual #1 (Marvel, December 2014), script by Jason Latour, pencils and inks by Enis Cisic, colors by Chris Chuckry, letters by Chris Eliopoulos and Clayton Cowles