Saturday, December 31, 2016

Today in Comics History, December 31, 1999, New Year's Eve: Doctor Who fans are still trying to figure out how River Song's diary worked

from Jenny Sparks: The Secret History of the Authority #5 (WildStorm, March 2001), script by Mark Millar, pencils by John McCrea, inks by James Hodgkins, colors by Ian Hannin, letters by Bill O'Neil

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 366: We still all want pictures of Spider-Man

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! Or not!)

Friday, December 30, 2016

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 365: Spider-Man is not a work of art, but he's hanging on a wall

Hey Jonah, how would you sum up this year's "366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson"?

Panel from Fear Itself: Spider-Man #1 (July 2011), script by Chris Yost, pencils and inks by Mike McKone, colors by Jeromy Cox, letters by Joe Caramagna

BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA! It's funny because it's true!

But actually, only one issue later in Fear Itself (the crossover event no one really ever wanted, right?), there's a scene that I really love, one of my favorites, one that so sharply shows how the prickly relationship between JJJ and Spidey has evolved, and the grudging respect that the newspaperman really does have deep down (waaaaaay deep deep down) for what Spider-Man is and can do. Because when the going gets tough, Jonah lights a fire under Spidey's finely toned butt.

Panels from Fear Itself: Spider-Man #2 (August 2011), script by Chris Yost, pencils and inks by Mike McKone, colors by Jeromy Cox, letters by Joe Caramagna

If you think about a lot, even though he's lost a lot of father figures (his dad, Ben Parker, George Stacy), her'll always have one in J. Jonah Jameson. A grumpy, yelly, manipulative father figures who doles out an allowance in drips and drizzles, yeah, but some of Spider-Man's most valuable lessons about life have been learned from his most irascible supporting character. Here's to you, Jonah, and forever may you kick butt into gear.

Tomorrow: The End.

Today in Comics History, December 30, 1919: Debut of the popular TV series Grant Morrison's Memetic Fifth-Dimensional Cloudcuckooland Hospital

from Jenny Sparks: The Secret History of the Authority #5 (WildStorm, March 2001), script by Mark Millar, pencils by John McCrea, inks by James Hodgkins, colors by Ian Hannin, letters by Bill O'Neil

Thursday, December 29, 2016

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 364: 101 Uses for a Spider-Man Poster

Panels from Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) #41 (October 1966); script by Stan Lee; pencils and ink alterations by John Romita, Sr.; inks by Mike Esposito; letters by Artie Simek

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Today in Comics History, December 28: On the Third Day of Christmas, Gwen Stacy Gave to Me, A Spider-Man in Paree

from Amazing Spider-Man #143 (Marvel, April 1975), script by Gerry Conway, pencils by Ross Andru, inks by Frank Giacoia and Dave Hunt, colors by Jan Cohen, letters by Artie Simek

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 363: It'll behoove ya to care for Jonah's uvula

Splash page from Marvel Team-Up (1997 series) #2 (October 1997), script by Tom Peyer, breakdowns by Pat Olliffe, finishes by Al Milgrom, colors by Tom Smith, letters by Bill Oakley

Well, that's not the last time, but December 31 is coming soon, so as those band of happy moptops once sang, it's getting very near the end.

Today in Comics History, December 28, 1919: The Penguin is ordered at gunpoint to attend Jenny Sparks' wedding

from Jenny Sparks: The Secret History of the Authority #5 (WildStorm, March 2001), script by Mark Millar, pencils by John McCrea, inks by James Hodgkins, colors by Ian Hannin, letters by Bill O'Neil

Today in Comics History, December 27, 1987: A: It Blow'd up Real Good, Newsworld!

from Psi-Force #18 (Marvel/New Universe, April 1988)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

What is it they sent us? Hope.

Panels from Princess Leia #5 (September 2015), script by Mark Waid, pencils by Terry Dodson, inks by Rachel Dodson, colors by Jordie Bellaire, letters by Joe Caramagna

Carrie Fisher

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 362: The Fuppets Take Manhattan

It's those lazy crazy hazy days between Christmas and New Year's when we don't have to go back to school yet but we've already broken all our holiday toys* (not me, I'm really careful with 'em, altho I've eaten all my stocking candy), and if you're anything like me, you're bored and want a project to occupy your hooves. Well, I've dug my way into Bully's Comics Vault and come up with an issue of Crazy, the House of Idea's second-tier parody magazine for when you couldn't find MAD at the newsstand. Mind you, even if Crazy isn't as acclaimed as its Distinguished Competition, they did have a decent bullpen of writers and artists. This ish contains stuff written or drawn by Marv Wolfman, Bobby London, Mike Ploog, Bob Foster, Marie Severin, John Buscema, and even Jack Kirby's Fin Fang Foom reprinted with new humorous dialogue by Christopher Priest aka Jim Owsley!

Crazy also occasionally featured do-it-yourself shoebox puppet theaters and finger puppets called Fuppets, for clever portmanteau purposes as well as please-don't-sue-us copyright reasons. And it co-stars J. Jonah Jameson, who I know you've been dying to put your fingers up inside of! Dig out your own copy of Crazy #73 (I know you've got one somewhere), get out your paste and scissors (or have an adult get out paste and scissors for you) so you can make the whole shebang! (I'm only reposting a few pages from it, but you get the general DIY idea.)

Panels from "The Fabulous Fuppets Starring in the Spider-Man Television Theatre" in Crazy Magazine #73 (April 1981), script by Steve Skeates, puppet art by John Romita, Sr., props and scenery art by Ron Zalme

The feature provides it all: finger puppets Fuppets™...

...props...yes, that is an iron lung to put Aunt May into!

...several switchable backdrops for real shoebox action!...

...scripts, with dialogue punched up by David Mamet...

But best of all, here's the two-page how-to-do-it comic segment that gives us the groundbreaking Marvel Team-Up of J. Jonah Jameson and the Incredible Hulk! JONAH WILL SMASH!

So don't just sit there and read comic books on your Christmas vacation: take JJJ's advice and go out and make stuff! Alternate Christmas vacation activity: just sit there and read comic books.

Monday, December 26, 2016

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 361: The Day Jonah Was Killed by a Giant Snowball

Panels from "Piece of Cake" in Marvel Holiday Special 2007 one-shot (February 2008), script by Andrew Farago and Shaenon Garrity, pencils by Lou Kang, inks by Craig Yeung, colors by Chris Sotomayor, letters by Dave Sharpe

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Today in Comics History, December 25, Christmas: Pizza is dissed

from "Ms. Grinch" in Gwenpool [Holiday] Special #1 one-shot (February 2016), script by Margaret Stohl, pencils and inks by Juan Gedeon, colors by Tamra Bonvillain, letters by Travis Lanham

Wait, where in Jersey City does the Khan Family live that there aren't Chinese restaurants open on Christmas?

Today in Comics History, December 25, 1975, Christmas: After three long years, Rudolph and Grover are finally released from their hellish prison

from Limited Collectors' Edition #C-20 [Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer] (Christmas 1972), script and pencils by Sheldon Mayer, inks by Tenny Henson

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 360: There's No Place Like Jonah's for the Holidays

Previously on Spider-Man's Tangled Web: On Christmas Eve, Peter Parker (secretly the Amazing Spid...oh, you know that part)...has rescued a passel of Japanese schoolkids, but then, having to rush out into the night, as he does (whatever a spider can), he leaves the kids behind with Betty Brant in the Daily Bugle office. Meanwhile, a big-ass Christmas snowstorm is a-blowin' into New York City. S'alright? S'alright. And now...

Panels from Spider-Man's Tangled Web #21 (February 2003), script and inks by Darwyn Cooke, pencils by Jay Bone, colors by Matt Hollingsworth, letters by Paul Tutrone

Jonah + Kids = trouble, right here in New York City, which begins with "N" and that rhymes with "bullpen" and that stands for...well, it rhymes with "newspapermen," but I'm not certain how to finish the song from there. Needless to say, there's both trouble and cuteness ahoy! Crouble? No, tuteness.

The Bumper Book of Humor Writing that I got today under the Christmas tree (thanks Santa!) tells me that one of the first rules of laughs is opposites are funny! So, pair a rusty, grizzly, grumpy old Jonah with cute adorable tiny tots and what do you get? That's comedy, my friends! Also: Pissed-Off Betty Brant™, which is one of the all-time greatest action figure variants.

Jonah tells the kids a story. Guess who's the hero in this one?! It's our old pal and star of many Marvel Comic books, the Amazing Spider-Slayer!. Except I imagine even JJJ censored the name of that particular character in his tale. I'm guessing we're looking at the Adventures of J. Jonah Jameson, The Sensational Spider-Hugger!

Meanwhile, Spider-Man and the Inhuman named Medusa (the hero who could never be an important part of a sensible Marvel Universe) are battling it out in the Toy Department at Macy's, no doubt wrecking Santaland and frightening Crumpet the Elf into a much more sedate essay-writing career. JJJ gets the kids into their cute li'l coats 'n' mittens to take 'em to Macy's to watch Spidey getting his butt beat (by a girl with sentient hair, at that!). It's events like that which drove the crowds to Macy's and ran Gimbel's out of business. You're a business menace, Peter Parker!

Tonight's very pecial Christmas Eve Guest Stars, singing "All I Want For Christmas Is Groo...t": the Fantastic Four Three! Well, it's entirely possible Sue Storm is already there but invisible, though I doubt that: J. Bone and Darwyn Cooke would not pass up a chance to draw the curviest of the FF! (If you don't count H.E.R.B.I.E.)

Turns out Macy's Santa is really the Puppet Master and making Medusa and Spidey yadda yadda yadda, and it's a Christmas Fulla Crying Tots, just like the ones we used to know!

Then, in an action-packed summary-stuffed double-page spread, they all head over to Jonah and Marla's apartment for a Christmas party, and Jonah gives Peter the very finest Christmas bonus of all the ones we've seen so far: he's bused in Aunt May and Mary Jane all the way from Queens. It wasn't an express bus and they had to wait for twenty minutes to catch a transfer in Roosevelt Island, but they're here.

(Click picture to Christmas dinner second-helping-size)

And a very happy holiday was had by all at the Christmas party by everyone except Betty Brant, who was rescued by...let's say...Willie Lumpkin.

Happy holidays to all! (And we miss you, Darwyn!)

Today in Comics History, December 25, Christmas: Merry Christmas from Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (and Stuffed Bull)

from Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) #166 (Marvel, March 1977); script by Len Wein, pencils by Ross Andru, inks by Mike Esposito, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Joe Rosen
(Click picture to Objections-to-"Baby, It's Cold Outside"-size)

Today in Comics History, December 25, Christmas: Homer is continuously once again still not yet ready to go camping

from "The Winter of Our Discount Tent" in The Simpsons Winter Wingding #10 (Bongo, November 2015), script by Ian Boothby, pencils by Phil Ortiz, inks by Mike DeCarlo, colors by Alan Hellard, letters by Karen Bates