Monday, July 23, 2007
I haven't posted in a while for two reasons. One, I've had some health issues and didn't really feel like posting. Two, my last post was made in anger and I had tried to prevent that from happening so I figured I'd take a break.
My feelings about the comics industry are like watching a friend strung out on drugs or in a bad relationship... it's frustrating and there's nothing you can really do until they hit rock bottom and ask for help. So, while comics should be hitting rock bottom very soon (I can almost hear the "THUD" now) I'm going to try not to vent my frustration in this forum. Now, I said try... sometimes I can't help myself and sometimes these people need to be called out. We'll take it one day at a time.
Back at the end of the Mark Gruenwald run of Captain America (I've been rereading my Cap comics lately), there was a storyline about the supersoldier serum, which allowed Steve Rogers to become Cap, breaking down in his bloodstream and causing him to become more and more debilitated. As I've dealt with my health problems, it was rather ironic that I was reading about Cap's own health issues again. It was not Gruenwald's best work and it was particularly troubling when Cap eventually was so physically weak he resorted to wearing "Cap Armor" designed by Tony Stark. That was awful. But the storyline did have merit (as most of Gruenwalds work did). To see Captain America, the living embodiment of human potential, come to grips with the fact that he couldn't function at his normal level, couldn't do all the things he was accustomed to doing, was an important life lesson for all readers. Of course, at the time, I didn't see the parallels to real life. But it's an undeniable fact that as you get older you become more and more aware of your own limitations and have to adjust accordingly. It's also a fact that it's kind of a trial and error thing. After a few muscle pulls or failures to reach the green in one, you begin to get the picture. If you don't... well, nobody wants to fall down and not be able to get up.
As you get older, you also learn about life. You look back on your myriad experiences and it becomes much clearer what you SHOULD have done and how stupid you were for making the decisions you did. I always thought a happy life was a life without regrets. As long as I followed my heart and took chances, I figured I wouldn't have any regrets. That's a young man's way of thinking right there. Regrets are as inevitable as death and taxes.
Back in my "A Destiny Interrupted" post I mentioned a girl named Margaret that I was dating when Melanie was killed and my world fell apart. This is a girl that was my first true love (possibly my ONLY true love) and my biggest regret is the way I handled almost our entire relationship. When we started dating, I was 19 and she was
18 and, due to our ages and inexperience with serious relationships, we made a mess of it. Don't get me wrong. There wasn't much we could have done differently given the circumstances. But with hindsight, I realize how important she was and how special the love we shared is.
I always find it ironic that the best thing that ever happened to me came during the worst time in my life. I guess that's life's little joke. I'll let you know when I think it's funny.
Margaret was dating one of my best friends, Mike, when I first met her. (In my teens, that's how I met most women for some reason) Mike had a longtime girlfriend who was away at college and they had an agreement to see other people during the school year. I knew that when she returned home for summer they would get back together and Margaret wouldn't be with him anymore. I knew I shouldn't be attracted to her but I was still so smitten from the first time I met her that it was losing battle from the beginning. She felt the same way. It was powerful. After it became obvious that I couldn't just ignore it anymore, I went to my buddy and told him how I felt and we talked about the situation. It caused some friction between us but Mike knew I'd been hurting about the betrayal of Melanie cheating on me with my brother and after a short time, we were okay. Plus, I think it was obvious that I was head over heels.
That's the way Margaret always describes it: Head over heels. It is about as apt a description as you can get. Things in my life were chaotic and stressful but every time I saw Margaret smile and saw her eyes light up, everything else just melted away. The air between us seemed to crackle with energy and it was apparent to anyone
who saw us that we were very much in love. Truth be told, this love should've lasted all our lives.
But teenagers are very odd creatures and we created problems where there weren't any. Things that seemed very important at the time weren't really things that should have gotten in the way. But get in the way they did. Time and time again.
At one point, Margaret broke up with me (neither of us can remember why) and things got strange. It seemed like we kept dancing the same dance but neither one of us knew the steps. If we would've just gotten out of our own way, we would've been very happy for a very long time. But we broke up and got back together and took two steps forward and one step back. By the time Margaret ended it for good, my life had already disintegrated into a shambles and I was incapable of realizing the huge loss I had just suffered.
Over the years and the countless dead end relationships, that realization became all too clear. Margaret was, and remains, a very special person in my life. She is an amazing woman. I don't know if she realizes how amazing she is.
I know now that it's important to have something in your life that inspires you, that makes you smile even when you don't want to smile. Whether it's your garden or your car or your comic collection or a very special person. Without that kind of energy in your life, you can lose your way and become something you were never meant to be. I'm glad to have had that energy and that someone in my life, even if it was only for a short time.
Margaret has always made me feel like I can do anything. She brought a joy to me
without even trying. She brightened my life. I'm glad she is my true love.
I hope that when she thinks of me she feels the same.
Head over heels.
Monday, May 28, 2007
I don't like Dan Didio. So there you have it.
I'm biased. My opinions will be skewed that way. I just thought every one should know.
Of course, having met these two guys and having worked under one of them should not enter into it for the purposes of this post. I don't like what they stand for and I don't like what they are doing to the industry I've always loved. I not only think they are incapable of pulling the industry out of the morass it is currently in, I doubt they even have the capacity to realize there is a problem. In truth, THEY perpetuate it on a monthly basis.
Recently, I was reading an old comic (the only comics I read these days) and I came across something on an old "Bullpen Bulletins" page. It was a response Jim Shooter had written to the question "What do you do as Editor-in-Chief?" I'm going to type it here word for word.
When I was a bit younger, one day it occurred to me that Marvel Comics could be even better than they were, if only the people who made them would hire a bright, knowledgeable fan -- like me-- to read over the stuff they were doing before it went out, catch some of the little gaffes, check the continuity, give creative advice from the fan point of view, and in general, guard the integrity of the Marvel Universe.
Well, they DID hire such a person --me, in fact -- back in 1978. Since then, I've learned how hard it is to do all of the above --even when you're vested with the absolute, staggering authority and wonderfully nifty title of Editor in Chief.
It still amazes me sometimes, being Editor in Chief -- being pretty much "in charge" of all the comics and magazines Marvel publishes and all of the editors and other people who work on them.
But, I haven't forgotten what the title really should be -- something like Executive Fan Representative or maybe Designated Fan. And, I haven't lost sight of what I'd hoped to accomplish way back when, before I got this job.
Like I said, as it turns out, it isn't easy.
But, I'm still trying. And I'm getting better at it, I think. I hope you'll agree, after reading about what each of our Marvel Editors has coming up and I hope you'll agree even more after you've seen it all unfold in the comics issue by issue.
If you don't... or even if you do, let me know. You know my address, and you know I read every single letter. Hey, if I'm going to be the DF here, I've got to keep in touch, right?
Now I'm not here to debate Shooter's legacy or anything. That's for a different post. I just can't imagine Quesada or Didio ever thinking along those lines, let alone actually saying or writing it. Anyone who's paying attention can see that Quesada cares more about meeting supposed "famous writers" and getting them to write comics than worrying about the books themselves. He's so happy to hobnob with the Babylon 5 creator or the guy who wrote Commando or some guy who wrote a couple of novels. And Didio is just trying to be Quesada, which might be the saddest of all endeavors. I can't imagine ANYONE (including Quesada himself) actually wanting to be Quesada. What has either one of them done to make comics better? Is signing Mark Millar or Gary Frank to an exclusive contract that innovative? Is the Ultimate line reinventing comics or simply retelling them? How many times can we see a new Doom Patrol comic come out and get cancelled? Where are the new ideas? Where? I mean, sooner or later Vertigo will have milked the Sandman franchise completely dry (if that didn't happen 4 yrs ago). Civil War? Identity Crisis? 52? Am I supposed to be impressed by this shit??!? Say what you will for Shooter but not only did most of titles at Marvel have their definitive runs during his tenure but Marvel also was putting out the toy line comics, Marvel Magazines, the Epic line, The New Universe and he put out a multitude of miniseries' for the first time.
Didio and Quesada do nothing except what's already been done...only their innovation is that they use the "hot, new talent." Quesada is to blame for unleashing Kevin Smith on comics and I defy you to show me anything that load has written that will stand the test of time. The lasting legacy of Quesada/Smith is that now there are no real deadlines and the "talent" can finish the book whenever the hell they feel like it. Have to wait months for the next Smith comic? Who cares? He's such a genius we should just be thankful that he's deigned to slum in the comics genre. After all, he's a very busy man making truly shitty movies that don't make any money. Why should he have to meet a deadline?!? Millar/Hitch on Ultimates? Let em do it at their own pace! Who gives a shit? Not Quesada! Hey, here's a good idea... let's relaunch the Challengers of the Unknown yet again! Didio will say yes! Come up with a new idea? Fuck you! Not at Marvel... Not at DC. Not when we can relaunch the Legion for the 12th time with yet another "great, new creative team!" Now, we can tell that Mordru/Fatal Five/Ferro Lad story again! Let's have Bendis turn Peter Parker into a complete asshole in Ultimate Spider-Man and retell the first 10 issues of Amazing Spider-man but take 40 issues to do it.
Here are 5 anecdotes telling you what editors really think about the comics they work on and the fans who read them. And these aren't here say or second hand accounts, I was actually there when these happened.
I brought up an issue of Catwoman to the editor and he asked me what I thought. Now, this is one of the few editors who would even ask... most don't want to hear any opinions on the books, especially not from someone they considered a peon like me. I said "Wasn't all that good if you ask me." He looked at me and said, "Yeah, I wish it was better but what can you do." In my head, I screamed, "You're the fucking editor! If you can't make it better, who can?!?!?" He just didn't care at that point.
Upon hearing that Superboy would be joining the Legion I was very exciting because I'd always loved the old Superboy/Legion stuff so I went to the editor of the Legion and told him that I thought it was very cool that Superboy would be in the Legion. He said, "Oh, I wasn't even thinking about that. I just figured if we slapped the big red "S" on it we could sell more copies."
The previous Legion editor was just as bad. He would constantly complain that readers/fans always told him that they didn't like Lightning Lad being called Livewire and ShadowGirl being called Umbra and so on. He said, "When will these people realize that we don't care what they want! We're not changing the names and we're not bringing back Hal Jordan!" (Until it can be used to sell a few more comics)
In fact, the friggin publisher once said that he really didn't understand the comics being put out these days but it really didn't matter since he's not the target audience. But then again, this is the guy who thought the biggest problem facing comics was his employees getting credit at the local comic store for their comps.
The editor of The Dark Knight Strikes Again (who is a really nice guy btw) once said that when he first saw the pages for that book, they brought tears to his eyes. lol of course, they did... they were HIDEOUS.
But it's a vicious circle... there are so few actually qualified editors working in comics today. Anyone who has the balls to actually say what they think will be weeded out because you can't have them upsetting the "talent." If you only knew the actual qualifications of some of these people, you'd scream. The main focus for all of these people is very simple: Keep their jobs. In this regard, they are alot like politicians. No matter how idealistic they are when they are starting out, once they get there, they forget about everything else but staying there. And if your motivation is to just keep your job, you're only going to work just hard enough to not get fired. (a wise man in the movie Office Space once said that) That's not a recipe for great comic books. Of course, hiring the same 15 people over and over again doesn't really work either. Now, they can put all the spin they want on it and say comics are enjoying a resurgence right now and sales are improving but, come on. All the evidence I need to look at is that everyone I know who used to read comics doesn't anymore. Even the most hardcore fans finally had enough. And that's sad... very, very sad. But at least Didio can have lunch with Brad Meltzer and he can use his buddies names in his new "bestseller." And thank God Quesada can talk to Stracyzinski whenever he wants because in the annals of great comic book writers he's number two on the list.... right behind EVERYBODY ELSE.
Let me end this with a question I'd really like answered. When was the last time anyone in comics created a new character? What was the last new idea? What was the last innovation?
When are the people in charge going to wake the fuck up?
Monday, May 21, 2007
This was a wake up call to comics... the now legendary Denny O'Neill/Neal Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics of the late sixties. I couldn't help but think about these books and about all racism, sexism and homophobia when Jerry Falwell passed away. As the leader of the "Moral Majority," Falwell used his pulpit to bully, harass and condemn anyone who didn't fit his very narrow viewpoint. Unlike poor old Hal Jordan (who's biggest sin was naivete and ignorance), Falwell was a bigot of the highest order, using his religion as his weapon and his shield. Falwell hid behind his "faith" as he espoused all manner of negativity and hate. His favorite targets were homosexuals and anyone who believed in Roe Vs Wade. As with most zealots and bigots, Falwell grew more and more intolerant as he got older. He also grew much bolder as his "power" grew until he finally went too far when he blamed 9/11 on homosexuals, abortionists and the ACLU. He actually was forced to apologize for that. With a viewpoint like that, I can't say I'll miss him. Today there is one less hatemonger in the world.
I have to say that I've always loved the character of the Falcon. I thought he was very cool when he had the hunting glove and the claw-line. I loved it when he got the wings. Always one of my favs. In fact, if I had to name my top ten favorite comic book characters both the Falcon and Luke Cage, Power man would be in there. I never really considered them to be "black" characters... I just knew they were cool. Of course I'm talking about the yellow shirt Power man, not the ridiculous stereotyped bald headed, wifebeater wearing nonsense in the "New" Avengers. (what a fucking joke) I think that's the mark of a great character. Someone that you like not because they are a certain color and someone you like not DESPITE their color. Back in the day, The Falcon was just cool. Not because he was black and not because he was Cap's partner... he was just one of the best characters in comics. And Luke Cage was so innovative when he first appeared. Behind all the blacksploitation and "Sweet Christmas's" he was a very original concept: a hero for hire. A superhero for the poor. I love that concept and I'm sorry it's been corrupted into the bullshit that they've put out lately.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Where is the action? Where are the images that make you want to pick up the book, let alone make you want to read it? First, they did away with all cover text... nobody ever said anything on a comic cover unless it was a "wink, wink, nudge nudge" jokey cover. Eventually the trend in comics was to have their covers look like movie posters. What a stupid idea. No one goes to see a movie because of the fucking movie poster. No one walks by a theatre and sees the poster and says "Wow, look at that picture of Nic Cage and Jessica Biel! I want to see Next!" Comics are NOT movies and they never will be no matter how much the publishers wish they were. And they don't have to be... Comics are a legitimate and amazing artform that doesn't have to wish it was something else and doesn't have to be ashamed of what it is.
Yeah, covers today are lame and unoriginal. And, again, you have to look to the do nothing editors for that. Let's give em a hand!
They do a nice job, don't they?
Sunday, May 6, 2007
For example: What if Peter Parker had never been bitten by a radioactive spider? Well, if things played out the same his uncle STILL gets murdered but he doesn't learn the lesson that with great power comes great responsibility. Spider-Man never catches the burglar and Peter is just a geek who lost his surrogate father. Does he become a biochemist now that he can focus on his studies? Does Aunt May lose her house because Peter can't help out with the money he made taking pics of Spidey? Does he help mankind with his brain instead of his superpowers? He'd never date Betty Brant because he'd never work at the Bugle. Would he date Gwen, who would never die falling from the Brooklyn Bridge?
What "might have been" is a tricky thing.
But sometimes, you can't help but wonder.
A funny thing happened on my way to being one of the greatest comic book creators of all time. My brother killed my first love and I ended up wasting a lot of years wallowing in a drunken stupor, hoping my self destructive behavior might do me a favor and put me out of my misery. You see, I never doubted what I was supposed to do with my life. I was meant to create comics. That was all I ever wanted to do. While I wasn't what you would call a comic geek, I lived for creating comics. I still played sports and had lots of friends and dated and did all the things a regular teenager did. But I did manage to find the time to create 145 heroes complete with rogues galleries (313 villains) and supporting casts (wives, parents, friends, coworkers, etc). I had basically developed my own version of the Marvel Universe, since that was the one I knew inside and out. None of my characters were aliens. None of them were rich millionaires. In fact, I even plotted out the first 100 issues of my "Avengers" superteam's comic complete with marriages, deaths and even a total disbanding and a new team taking their place.
I spent two yrs of high school in what they called Art Careers and I was accepted into Pratt Institute after that. I did very well in all my classes and I believed myself to be talented but I never liked my own artwork. In my entire life, I've only drawn or created about 6 pieces of artwork that I was satisfied with... not a great percentage. Still, I figured I'd get to a level I could live with eventually. I looked forward to that day.
Then life started to happen. I had to leave college in the middle of my second yr to take care of my grandmother who was very sick. She died about 3 weeks after I left school and since I couldn't go back until next semester, I started to work with my father. He paid me a large amount of money to just show up. I enjoyed the money and all the fun I had with it. As a 19/20 year old with just about all the money I could ever need, life became pretty easy. Every night was a party. I chose what I call "the dark side." I chose not to go back to school right away. I chose the easy way out.
And then all hell broke loose as I showed in previous posts.
After Melanie's death, I couldn't draw. I couldn't create. I had no patience for anything. All I wanted to do was drink and slut around. You see when my world began to unravel I was dating someone very special. Her name was Margaret and she was a wonderful girl. We had a great relationship and I really thought we would be together forever. (More on her later) When I began my quick decline into debauchery, she broke up with me. She said she couldn't bear to watch me destroy myself. So not only did I drink to alter an otherwise unpleasant reality, I slutted around looking for anyone to show me I was worthy of love. A very bad combination and I have 5 years of fuzzy memories, one night stands and self loathing to prove that. At age 25, I woke up one morning, after another night of drinking, horribly late for work. I decided to quit instead of calling out sick.
I hated my job.
I hated my apartment.
I hated the women I was dating.
I hated my life. Pure and simple.
I decided to change it. After a couple of months searching for a new direction, I decided that something drastic needed to be done. I joined the Army. I was in service for 3+ years and during that time I started drawing again. I started creating characters again. I decided to go to the Joe Kubert School so I could get my career in comics going. After the Army, I went to the Kubert School and it was in my 3 yrs there that I learned that I no longer wanted to draw. I was a great storyteller. My layouts were crystal clear and I was an excellent writer, but I STILL couldn't stand my own art. I decided to focus on my writing and my inking.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I hadn't wasted all those years. If I'd stayed in school or even went back the semester after my grandmother died. Would I have gotten work in the 80's/90's? Would I have gotten my characters published? I truly think I wouldn't have been ready back then and without all I've been through I wouldn't be nearly as capable as I am now.
But, still there I was, 11 years later and a newly graduated Kubert student, embarking on the journey into the only career I ever wanted. My childhood dream was about to come true. I was going to work in comics.
Be careful what you wish for.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Of course, there was a much bigger and more obvious reason for my repeated attempts at "heroism" with women. The one time I turned my back on a "damsel in distress", she died. She died because I didn't do enough to help her... because I was too hurt and angry to see what was coming. It took me a long time to come to grips with my overwhelming guilt and realize the preceding statement is not true. I'm not the world's keeper and I wasn't Melanie's either. But you can't help but think what might have been if I'd never met her. Would she be happy now? Would she be alive? You can drive yourself crazy with thoughts like these... believe me, I know.
It was a 5 minute car ride from my apartment to the one shared by my brother and Melanie. It seemed to take forever. I was rushing there with two of my best friends, one of which was also close to Melanie. I just kept saying it's not possible... he has to be wrong. She can't be dead. As soon as we turned the corner, I knew I was the one who was completely and horribly wrong. There were police cars everywhere and a crowd outside the house. We couldn't get down the street so I got out and ran to the house where their apartment was. As the police tried to prevent me from getting through, I could see my brother, my uncle, my stepdad, Melanie's father and her two brothers. They told the police to let me through and when I got there my brother hugged me. I felt sick. My head was spinning and my stomach lurched with the knowledge that it was true... she was dead.
The theory was that she was shot by the dealers my brother bought his coke from. Since he'd lost his job, he had fallen behind and owed them thousands of dollars. Apparently, my brother had been out all nite, having stayed at my father's second wives house after getting too high to drive home. The dealers must have come to collect and when Melanie didn't have the money for them, they killed her. Even as I heard this, I knew it was bullshit. The rest of the night is a blur. As are most of the next few weeks.
The cops weren't stupid either and their number one suspect was my brother. I do remember two things very vividly. I was called in for questioning when the detectives learned of the "love triangle" aspect of the whole situation. They wanted to talk to me to see if I was capable of doing this even though they knew I was on the ski trip and had 20 witnesses to that fact. I talked to them for about 2 hours. Toward the end of the interview, they asked me if I had any thoughts as to who did it and I said, "If I were you, I'd be investigating my brother." They asked me what I thought should happen to him if he did it. I said he should be put away and throw away the key. That was the end of the questioning.
That week they arrested my brother and took him to the police station. They got him right after he had snorted the remaining coke in his possession. From what I was told, he was all over the place and after about 20 hours of questioning, he confessed. He had bought an 8-ball and taken out one of the guns he kept around the house (trying to prove what a big man he was) and he had planned on killing himself. He snorted a ton of cocaine and his nose started to bleed. He passed out on the couch with the drugs and the gun laying on the coffee table. Melanie came home and found him like that. She slapped him awake and a huge argument ensued. I can only imagine what was said. From personal experience, I know how vicious and brutal Melanie could be when she was mad. After about a half hour, she had enough of it and went downstairs to do the laundry. He followed her down and shot her in the head... three times. He then left the house, disposed of the gun and spent the night at my father's house. They never would have had enough to convict him if he hadn't confessed and told them where to find the gun. I'm glad he was so stupid.
While he was in custody, my mother was desperately trying to get him out as any mother would. She was in shock and practically on the verge of a nervous breakdown. (This situation was just beginning to tear my family apart. By the end of it, nothing would be even remotely the same.) Lawyers cost money and the combination of a lifetime of middle class and no will left by my father had my mother searching for a way to pay for them. My brother said he's stashed money in his apartment and we should go in and get it. My mother and stepdad were just desperate enough to try. I went in with my step dad to search for the money. This was a huge mistake. After checking most of the apartment, my stepdad searched the bedroom and I went down to the basement to look there.
It was there I saw a sight that still haunts me to this day and makes it very difficult to continue writing right now. I saw the chalk out line of Melanie's body and the huge blood stain on the floor near the head. It chilled me to the core. As I stood there I was besieged with emotions too powerful to deny. Anger. Grief. Guilt. Pain. Images of this girl were everywhere. Her smile. Her eyes. The way she looked at me when we were together. It was overwhelming to say the least. The world started to spin and I couldn't do anything about it... I wasn't able to move. My stepdad finally had to pull me out of that room and out of that apartment. I truly wish I'd never gone in there.
And because of it, I don't remember much about that time of my life. I refuse to, I guess. I'm pretty sure that's why I only remember the bad stuff when it comes to me and Melanie. The good stuff is too hard to deal with. I don't remember it but I'm told I passed out at her casket during her wake. I don't remember that nite at all anymore. All I remember is an empty feeling as my life spiralled out of control and my complete inability to stop it. Melanie was buried and everyone in my life treated me like I was a house of cards about to collapse. I drank alot over the next 5 yrs and I wasted alot of time trying to run from the memory of what happened. How cliche. To be brutally honest, it almost broke me... it was close. Very, very close.
My mother spent over 45,000 for my brother's defense and he got the maximum sentence. 25 yrs to life. Good riddance. My mother was never the same. My sister was only 12 when these events happened and it affected her as much as anyone. Maybe more. From what I can tell from second hand accounts, my brother is still a jerk. I don't consider him to be a part of my world anymore. He's as dead to me as my first real girlfriend is.
And not to sound selfish, but something that's always bothered me is the fact that I CAN'T even remember my first love. I can't reminisce or think back on the joy of it. I have no hope of ever bumping into her on the street and going for a drink to "catch up." Every subtle nuance of that relationship is gone... the make out sessions, the first time we had sex, the movies, the days of fun. All gone. Just as she is.
All my memories are of the fights, the animosity, the bad stuff. And I wish I could change things, but I can't. But I haven't made myself crazy with "what might have been." I've lived my life and I've done okay for myself. Very soon now, I will do better.
At least Peter Parker got to see the murderer of his first love pay for his crime.
"So do the proud men die: Crucified not on a cross of gold, but on a stake of humble tin."
If only. If only.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Sunday, April 29, 2007
It went a little deeper for me. I've had a Parker-esque level of bad luck in my life and the fictional life of Peter and my reality have coincided at a few turns. That should become pretty obvious in posts to come.
I never had a father figure in my life. My parents got divorced when I was 8 yrs old and I never had a coach or teacher or anyone to fill the void of my father. Now, don't get me wrong. My father didn't abandon me and my family. He stayed around until he died when I was 20. It's just that he was a TERRIBLE father. A worse husband. My father was the kind of guy you loved to hang out with, always quick with a story or joke and he was generous of spirit and with his wallet. He always paid for things and bought lunches for his workers. In my opinion, he did this as a way of validating himself. And, again, don't get me wrong... he wasn't an evil man. He was just fucked up. He had a bad childhood and was forced to work at a young age, thereby missing the fun of his teenage yrs and blah, blah, blah, blah. I don't think that forgives him being a jerk most of my life. He thought if he bought me stuff that I would be okay with it. He was always trying to buy something for me or my brother or my sister so we would think he loved us. I never accepted any of his gifts when I was in my early teens. Later on, I took the big stuff because I needed a car and my mother couldn't afford to get me one.
My dad was a text book example of a narcissistic, immature man who did things because he thought he should, not because he wanted to. He was always trying to prove something to someone... who knows, maybe himself.
I've never been able to remember much about my own childhood. Everything before age 7 is pretty much gone. I don't know if it is from hitting my head numerous times as a teen or if it's because things just aren't worth remembering. I do remember being told that my parents were getting divorced and feeling an overwhelming sense of relief. My parents didn't belong together and, unfortunately, I was the only one of the kids who knew that my father was cheating on my mom. Now, at 8, I didn't really understand what that meant but I knew it made my mother cry alot and that was enough to make me think that for the first time that my dad was a jerk. It's also the overriding reason why I've NEVER cheated on anyone in my life. NEVER.
My father cheated. He cheated alot. He cheated on my mother when she was pregnant with my sister. And, apparently, he was okay with cheating. He even helped my brother cheat with my girlfriend on me when I was 17. He would let him come over to his house so they wouldn't get caught. Isn't that a great dad? Letting one son fuck over the other? My dad was just one betrayal in a long line of betrayals in my life by people who were supposed to love me and look after me. It taught me early that you can't really depend on anyone except yourself in life. Sooner or later, when it comes right down to it and it's a choice between you and them, people will always do what's best for them before they do what's best for you.
So this is my teen years. A dad who tried to buy my love and helped my brother screw me over with the first girlfriend I slept with. It makes me wonder what things might have been like if I had someone like Uncle Ben or Ward Cleaver or, hell, even Danny Tanner from Full House as a father figure. Or any father figure for that matter.
I worked with my father in his shop for a year or so before he died. My father had married the woman he last cheated on my mother with and now, 8 yrs later, he was cheating on her with a white trash secretary from the auto parts store next store. It was something right out of Jerry Springer (even though Springer hadn't been created yet). He got her pregnant and he was under alot of stress. You could tell he was feeling the heat and that it was wearing on him. He also knew that I had lost ALL respect for him due to this last bit of infidelity. We were sitting in the office at the end of one day and I was ignoring him as usual. It was just the two of us. It was at this moment that my father said the only thing that could ever be construed as fatherly advice. He said to me "Creep" (that was my father's little nickname for me) "I know you don't think much of me but when you get older you'll see that the world isn't always black and white. There are alot of shades of grey in life and you just have to try to live in a shade that let's you sleep at night." Not exactly "with great power comes great responsibility" but it stuck with me.
My father DID teach me something. He taught me how to be a great father. He gave me the perfect blueprint on what NOT to do as a father and it's served me well in life.
The sad part is that I don't miss him. How could I? I never really knew him. 20 yrs of my life and I have no idea what made him tick. What I miss is having a father figure in my life. Someone to show me what's important in life, to have that lifesavers moment with. That's one of the things that comics couldn't help me with. There weren't alot of great dads in comics. Odin? banished his son to Midgard to learn humility. Reed Richards? Spent too much time adventuring and leaving his son with a scary witch. Bruce Wayne? Took his ward out to fight crime and wasn't exactly a fountain of emotional stability. Uncle Ben was only around for half an issue. I guess the best one was Pa Kent and I just never really cared about Superman enough to get to know him.
So what's a father figure worth? One helluva lot when you don't have one.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Captain America is dead. A character who few would argue was the heart, soul and moral compass of the Marvel Universe was dispatched by a sniper's bullet. This is easily one of the most ridiculous and utterly pointless deaths in Marvel's history. I don't want to hear about the culmination of storylines or any other such nonsense. Captain America should not die handcuffed at the hands of a sniper. If any character deserved to go out in a heroic and meaningful manner, it was Cap. This is another example of a company (one that used to put out comics with heart) using a gimmick death to make headlines and sell more books because they can't come up with any other reason for people to buy their comics. This smells as bad as the Death of Superman and was just as big a slap in the face.
Why kill Captain America?
"Killing Captain America was really a more compelling story for our readers," said Dan Buckley, publisher at Marvel Entertainment. "It was more interesting than to see Cap in jail, reflecting. Besides exploring the question of who killed Captain America, we will be focusing on who was Steve Rogers the character, since not much is really known about him.
"We know about Captain America, the hero, the icon, but we don't know much about Steve. We will be exploring what Steve Rogers meant to those close to him and on a macro level, what Captain America's death means to the Marvel Universe. We'll be exploring what Captain America the icon means and whether the legacy should be carried on," Buckley said.
Buckley also said there are no plans to resurrect Captain America — for the time being.
"Steve Rogers is dead," he said. "As [Marvel Entertainment editor in chief] Joe [Quesada] says, 'A death should mean something. A resurrection should mean something.'"
The clueless words of two very clueless men. Not much is known about Steve Rogers?!?!? Has Buckley ever read a Captain America comic? Did he ever read the Gerry Conway run? The DeMatteis run? The Stern/Byrne issues? Anything by Gruenwald? Is he an idiot? All valid questions, if you ask me. To anyone who was a fan of Cap, Steve Rogers is a very known commodity.
Killing off a character is more interesting than telling stories about him in jail?!?! That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. This is the biggest problem with comics today. The editors don't edit and the people in charge don't know dick about comics. Editors today don't tell writers when their stories suck because they want to keep the "names" on the book. Since when is Ed Brubaker a name? Why is he allowed and even encouraged to kill off a character that should be used as Superman is used at DC: as the hero everyone looks to for the right thing to do?
Now I know Brubaker is just writing stories he thinks are good and interesting so it's the editors job to stop him when he doesn't write something good or when he writes something that is contrary to the best interests of both a character and the company. But they don't... ever. All the "talent" today rarely get told NOT to do something. The editors are nothing more than traffic cops, taking scripts and pages from the creators and giving them to the colorists, letterers and production people and then to the printer. They don't do anything which is why it's funny when an editor changing company's makes headlines... so now he kisses ass at Marvel instead of DC? big fucking deal.
In an interview with Reuters, Marvel publisher Dan Buckley basically said it was Captain America's secret identity, not Captain America, who was the goner."This is the end of Steve Rogers, the meat-and-potatoes guy from 1941," Buckley told the wire service. "But Captain America is a costume, and there are other people who could take it over."
Captain America is a costume. Captain America is a costume. He said that. Let that sink in. He told Reuters that, not Wizard or Newsarama. He told people who don't usually write stories on comics that the death of a character that has been around since March 1941 was no big deal since the costume is what's important, not the man who wore it all those years. This is the friggin publisher of Marvel Comics!
This is the man who controls the greatest characters ever created in fiction. None of which were created by anyone who currently writes or draws them or edits or "publishes" them. The shortsightedness and total lack of comprehension as to what these characters are capable of and what they should be about is mind numbing. Absolutely mind numbing.
Goodbye, Steve Rogers. With the current state of Marvel, you're much better off.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
I read my first comic at age 10. It was a DC Presents featuring the Atom. It was like turning on a light switch in my head. When I got home from school that afternoon, I asked my mom if she'd ever heard of comics. To my never ending delight, she was a old time comic fan. She had read the early Marvel comics including the Hulk, Spider-Man, Thor and Captain America. She told me if I wanted her to she would take me to the newsstand to buy some with my allowance.
The first comic I bought with my own money and read over and over was Amazing Spider-Man 148. I'll never forget it. The cover had Spidey chained and being thrown off the Brooklyn Bridge by the Jackal and Tarantula. It was amazing, no pun intended. I was hooked.
Over the next few years, I bought every comic put out by Marvel and DC and some by the now defunct First Comics. Eventually I narrowed my focus and weened out the comics I didn't really like. To be truthful, I was a Marvel guy. While I liked alot of DC comics (Justice League, Warlord, GL/GA, Batman Family, Teen Titans among others) I just understood and related to Marvel Comics alot more.
In fact, I credit Marvel comics and its writers for raising me to be the man I am today. I am neither ashamed nor embarrassed by that fact. Spider-Man gave me my sense of responsibility and, along with Bugs Bunny, my sense of humor. Cap gave me my love of country and patriotism. Thor, and Supes too, showed my a sense of nobility. I also learned lessons from Luke Cage, Iron Man, Hawkeye, the X-men, Iron Fist and a host of others. Back when I started reading comic books, there actually were lessons to be learned. There were morals to the stories. They taught you things. And not just life lessons, they taught me how a good story was written, how a narrative was developed, how a subplot was introduced and brought to it's fruition. Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas, Stan Lee, Cary Bates, Jim Shooter, David Michelinie, Len Wein, Steve Englehart, Marv Wolfman, J.M. DeMatteis and others. These were my instructors. I learned alot from them.
These days comics seem more interested in smart ass dialogue and showing who's the biggest "badass". The current writers think they are bigger than the characters. They all want to put their "stamp" on the character which is such total bullshit. These characters have been around for 40/50/60 years but they aren't as important as the guys writing them?!?! Puh-leeze. I read alot of the interview with these so called geniuses and it seems like, although they supposedly grew up loving comics, they can't wait to shit all over the stories and continuity that came before them. In fact, continuity seems like a four letter word these days. The current creators treat the reader like they are too stupid to understand what's happened before that issue.
But, then again, when I started to read comics, things actually happened. There was action. Heroes and villains fought each other. Seems like comics can go months with nothing but a conversation happening... these days the characters TALK more about doing something than actually doing it. And what is the preoccupation with bars. Characters routinely find themselves in bars just talking about stuff. I guess that's where all these new writers spend most of their time, so the old adage "write what you know" comes to the forefront.
I read online that in the 60's/70's comics were written for kids. In the 80's/90's, they were written for teens. Now I'm told they are written for adults. What a brilliant concept! Write comics for adults and don't try to develop younger readers so when you're audience grows old and dies, your entire industry crumbles! What a plan.
Oh yeah, I should probably tell you all: I don't read comics anymore. They are a part of my past. I couldn't continue to read the characters I loved bastardized and twisted into something they were never meant to be.
I didn't out grow comics... apparently, THEY outgrew me.
n. A book of comics strips or cartoons, often relating a sustained narrative.
- A person with exceptional talents or powers: a math prodigy.
- An act or event so extraordinary or rare as to inspire wonder.
- A portentous sign or event; an omen.
My story is not complicated and it's not simple... it's just life. My life, my opinions, my dreams, my disappointments and, most of all, my perseverance and inevitable triumph.
Stick around and you'll be entertained.
More to come. Soon.