this is it, true believer

True believe it or not, I actually have the Mighty Marvel Value Stamp Book, Series B. I can't remember where or how I got the thing, but I remember why. I thought it would be cool to go in and draw my version of all these #%$@# superheroes, of course. Every page was clean as a whistle, no stamps!

That was 15 years ago and this stupid thing is still laying around in my book closet! I figure if I mention it here I'll be forced to draw in it and fill it up, or face the shame of publicly announcing this and then NOT drawing in it and filling it up. I know it's drastic, and I know I really ought to finish blogopera first before I attack a new windmill, but what are you gonna do? Fire me? There's a reason I titled my Big Opus Coffee Table Retrospective That I'll Never Actually Put Together "Focus Challenged" ya know!

Starting next week I'm going to post a #%$@# Marvel Superhero every week until this damn book is full. Maybe two on some weeks. But maybe NONE the 2 weeks I'm gone to Prague.

After that I'll do some more blogopera. I swear! Maybe.


slatts said...

#%$@# (2x)

"After that I'll do some more blogopera. I swear! Maybe."

Doin' a lotta swearin' here...may get censored by your own filters....

Jed said...

I love how Stan Lee hyperbole could even make crap like this sound awesome.

It's finally worth the wait!

I mean, I thought that first stamp book was pretty "off the hook" but good god this one's so shiney it hurts my eyes!

You know, no matter how many bad things I hear about that guy and how he screwed over Marvel's creative talent, every time I see him on teevee he always seems like my coolest and favoritist uncle. It's really hard not to like him, even if he is a gloryhound--that's part of his charm. Every interview I've ever heard him do, it always sounds like it's just you and him in a room talking, and we've become instant friends.

I used to wonder if this was just because I grew up with him as a kid when he used to narrate my favorite cartoon, but my wife seems to agree. He also seems genuinely gracious and grateful that all these people dig him, and he's just self-efacing enough not to come off like an arrogant asshole when he says he invented everything he can plausably lay claim to.

It almost makes you want to say, "aww, just humor the guy, let him have his fun". The only problem is that Steve Ditko is still alive and I don't think he's seeing much from those Spider-Man movies that Stan Lee "created". While Stan gets a Million a year for being Marvel's spokesperson, Ditko's barely squeeking by on Social Security, and as a totally and completely crazy Libertarian this probably makes Ditko totally and completely crazy. Aparently Ditko liked the movie, though, while I thought it was total garbage.

eeTeeD said...

the problem i have with givin' ditko a slice of the spiderman pie is this...
spiderman was created by joe simon. he peddled it around back in the 50's but no takers. finally archie comics was looking for a superhero, so simon reworked it a bit and renamed the hero "the fly". simon and kirby made a few issues of the fly before achie handed it over to other artists.
years later kirby is working at marvel, and lee asks him for an idea for a superhero. kirby swipes simons idea for spiderman. he reworks it a bit, but he definately swiped it from simon.
so kirby does some art for lee, but lee doesn't like kirby's art, and gives the project to ditko.
so how do we slice up this pie? does simon get a slice? does kirby get a slice? and how do we decided how big the slices should be?

Jed said...

Eeteed, you're bother'in me again.

Allow me to geek out.

I've heard all this before--Simon likes to harp on this, but he hasn't a foot to stand on.

Simon and Kirby did their insect superhero, The Fly, BEFORE Spider-man, and it didn't resemble Spider-man in any way. Simon's original proposal was for a character called "silver spider" which had some pretty basic stuff in common with Spider-man, but nothing really proprietary. Simon also came up with the name "Spider-man" and Kirby did a logo for it, but no character and no comic book resulted.

On a very basic legal level, you actually have to MAKE a copyrighted piece of material to claim ownership of it. You have to MAKE the art. If everybody got paid every time they wrote down an idea that resembles an idea that someone else claims as their intellectual property, well, a lot of people would have to get paid. Also, have you read the Fly? If Simon and Kirby had done their version of Spider-Man, I don't think we'd be talking about Spider-Man right now.

Now I'm not sure who decided to make a character called "Spider-Man" at Marvel--maybe it was Kirby half recalling Simon's Silver Spider proposal, but the character Spider-Man as we know it, and what's interesting about that character and what's compelling about the stories that were written about that character were all about what Lee and Ditko came up with.

The idea to do an angst ridden teenage superhero was Lee's. The wisecracking dialogue, and the whole fun, hyperbolic editorial tone was Lee's.

Most of the rest of the fun stuff was all Ditko--one of the best and most memorably designed costumes in comics, those wonky humanly impossible poses, the swinging from building to building, the majority of the plots for the first 50 issues, the whole rogues gallery of bad guys which they still continue to return to to this day--they haven't really come up with too many awesome bad guys since Ditko's, like the Green Goblin, Vulture, the Lizard, Mysterio, Electro, and Doctor Octopus--all Ditko's. John Romita came up with the Rhino and the King Pin, but that's about it.

Now Simon should stick with what he can fairly lay claim to. He and Kirby came up with Captain America, and he's owed some bucks. That was their creation. He came up with a lot of other characters that nobody gives two shits about, like Prez, the Teenage President, and Bee-Man, and Spy-Man. Trust me, if Simon went through with his Spider-Man comic book, it would have been just as memorable as Bee-Man.

eeTeeD said...

first, kirby didn't do the spiderman logo, i'm pretty sure it was simon's brother-in-law who did that.
second, you say that simon's spiderman/silver spider didn't resemble spiderman in any way.. there are ihings you have to take into account. simon's character changed and developed in two important ways 1) he was submitting the idea to publishers, and they told him what they liked and didn't like. he made changes accordingly. 2) somewhere along the character's creation c.c. beck came into the mix.
when c.c. beck lost his job at fawcette, one of the things he did was do pencils for simon on the silver spider script. when simon landed beck for the project the script took on more of a captain marvel feel. thus little orphan boy tommy troy finds a magic ring that turns him into rough and burly silver spider.
who knows? maybe if simon had ditko on the project instead of beck, the project might have taken a form closer to the spiderman we all know.

you also point out that "...On a very basic legal level, you actually have to MAKE a copyrighted piece of material to claim ownership of it..." 1) simon made both a script and art 2) to my knowledge, ditko has never claimed copyright on spiderman. so we're not talking about legalities. we're talking about moralities. this is a moral issue.

a moral issue.

so i am asking, was it moral of kirby, in a fit of desparation, to steal simon's character?

for me. for me personally... i can't help but look at the bottom of this upside down pyramid. i see the big giantic spiderman empire balanced on the theft of a man's work.

you point out that ditko and lee's spiderman was most likely better than anything simon would have come up with.
pixar could most likely come up with a far better animated version of the henbanes than i could come up with. if i talked to them about my ideas before i actually created any work, and if they had taken those ideas and created their own (better) animated version of my ideas...

...would you be okay with that?

Mark Martin said...

HEY! Quiet down, you two! I'm trying to think here!

You're talking about a #%$@# Marvel Superhero for Pete's sake. What about Dick York, a real human being who poured his heart and soul and chin into the character of Darren Stevens, only to be usurped by that little prissy-chinned Dick Sargent. Dick York died in the trunk of a '68 Ford Falcon with a hypo of corn starch in his arm, corn starch sold to him as heroin by Dick Cheney, puppetmaster of DesiLu Studios, owned by Haliburton! Cheney even stooped so low as to dress like Elizabeth Montgomery to gain the trust of the senile drug-addicted nearsighted glasses-less York and sell him the corn starch, which was laced with his own toxic dandruff from hell!

And WHY? York was not even trying to get the money he was rightfully owed for his brilliant creation! He only wanted to watch re-runs in the DesiLu studio screening room!

Spider "man" is just a sick fantasy. If you want to argue about MEN and JUSTICE, take off your 4-color newsprint blinders and join those of us who CARE about REAL LIFE!

eeTeeD said...

usurped? wasn't york forced to leave the show due to debilitating back pain for a horse riding accident suffered during the filming of a western?

Mark Martin said...


Cheney's lies, eeTeeD. This is all old news. Stop listening to FAUX "news" and Rash Limbo. Try NPR and BBC. Expose yourself to some REAL news.

Jed said...

Mark, I know that Spider-Man and Marvel comics are big monolithic corporate entiities and blah blah blah, but I totally dig those first 50 issues of Spider-Man, and Ditko's always been a reason why I've been into comics, even though he can't write worth a shit and his anatomy is goofy, and he draws people's heads like their faces have been magic markered onto balloons. I know you pretty much hate all that shit, but I dig it. I don't know how you feel about Bewitched, but I couldn't give two shits. I legitimately have a love for those comics.

And screw intellectual property law--there is no Simon comic book. It doesn't exist. As far as I know, the only thing Simon has ever been able to materialize as examples of his getting screwed is that Spider-Man logo, and a few paragraphs of a proposal.

Ok, what's Spider-Man exactly? The basic idea is pretty friggin basic. I mean, there was already Bat-Man, so Spider-Man seems like a natural. I don't see the idea of a superhero named Spider-Man who has spider powers in and of itself as a really amazingly original idea, and again, it's not really what made that character interesting. Before Cat-Woman, there was Cat-Man by another company, who resembled Bat-Man. Before Superman there was Philip Wylie's Sci Fi novel, Gladiator, about a guy born with super strength (remember the original Superman couldn't fly). Oh, and then there was the pulp character The Spider, who had more in common with The Shadow, but he was still a kind of "Spider-Man" wasn't he? Basically, who cares.

You know, Kirby has a notorious shitty memory. If Kirby brought up the idea to Lee, it's not likely it was a deliberate swipe. Kirby's certainly got plenty of ideas of his own, and I doubt he handed over Simon's proposal outright. But again, who cares?

And I didn't say that Spider-man didn't resemble Simon's character in any way--I said it didn't resemble Spider-man in a proprietary way. Or more importantly, a substantive way. Spider-Man was a character driven story--not Simon's strong suit. I'm not saying the character had incredible depth, but it was a different approach to superhero comics. Before then it was slap on a theme, a costume, and some superpowers. This has always been Simon's approach to storytelling. We're talking the most superficial aspects of the character. That is not Spider-Man.

And don't give Pixar so much credit. Good god, look what they did to William Steig's Shrek.

Now the bottom line, as far as I'm concerned, is 50 awesome comics by Lee and Ditko. Stan Lee doesn't own Spider-Man either in a legal sense, and Ditko also pretty much came up with the idea for Doctor Strange, but Lee is getting the serious paycheck.

So legally, or otherwise, Joe Simon just doesn't seem to me to have much claim to the character.

There's a couple things in play here Eeteed, as far as this argument is concerned;

This harks back to the Popeye argument--who's the creative mind behind Thimble Theatre and all that. I say, the argument is settled, in the sense that, after Segar died, the strip was nowhere near as good.

But you don't really like Thimble Theatre all that much.

You must not have much of a fondness for Lee and Ditko's Spider-Man, or you wouldn't be making this argument either, because if you had a love for those first 50 or so comics, the idea that Simon had anything to do with what made those comics great wouldn't make any sense to you.

So why wrestle with me about this stuff you fundamentally don't even care about?

The reason you press my buttons is because I LIKE this stuff. In fact I genuinely have a LOVE for this stuff. You just seem to be arguing for the sake of argument. What has Joe Simon done for YOU lately?

As punishment, I hope someday you are forced to read every superhero comic Joe Simon made for DC and Harvey Comics in the 60s. Enjoy Bee-Man. Enjoy Pirana (sic--yes, he didn't even spell it right). Enjoy Tiger-Boy. Marvel at Brother Power, the Freak, and Prez.

Oh, and even Joe Simon's Spider-Man has a frigg'in hyphen!

Jed said...

"so i am asking, was it moral of kirby, in a fit of desparation, to steal simon's character?"

And not even Joe Simon would agree to this one. Geez. "a fit of desperation"? This just further says to me that you just don't like this stuff. The idea of Kirby being in a "fit of desperation" to come up with an original idea is completely bonkers. And out of a fit of desperation--he looks to Joe Simon and his wealth of brilliant ideas?

Rant rant, rave rave....

Since you have such faith in this guy, I'd get on the ground floor of his licensing campaign.

Why not buy a piece of the inexplicably named Teen-Man? Jigsaw, Man of A Thousand Parts?

Ok, I take it back, this guy is pretty brilliant.

eeTeeD said...

two things in the set-the-record-straight-department...
first, dreamworks did SHREK, not pixar.
second, ditko did the first 38 issues of spiderman. plus his first appearence and one two giant size specials. it was not 50 issues
in the fyi-department, i've read and own most of, if not all, of the simon comcs you wished to "force" me to read.

now then... you say that you have a deep love for the lee/ditko spiderman, and i think you are letting your emotions get the better of you here.
you are missing the point. the point is not who is the BETTER artist/writer/creator. the point is...

it does not matter if all of fandom prefers ditko's work over simon's. it does not EVEN matter if it is a universal truth that ditko's work is superior to simon's. what matters is that simon IS the creator of spiderman, AND THERE WOULD NOT BE A MARVEL SPIDERMAN IF NOT FOR SIMON.

simon creates a character named spiderman.
lee asks kirby to come up with an idea for a superhero.
kirby uses simon's spiderman idea.
lee takes the spiderman idea and gives it to ditko.

these are the FACTS. unless you are the god of fates, and can show us that ditko was destined to work on a character named spiderman for marvel no matter what happened, then knock off your overly emotional nonsense.

if ditko morally deserves a slice of the pie, then so does simon. and what about the man who lettered the first spiderman, shouldn't he get a slice? how about the colorist? and the production artist who put it all together? larry lieber was helping lee in those days, doing a lot of writing and editing... how 'bout a slice for him?

that's my point. it's not just lee and ditko (or ditko, as comic fans love to believe that kirby and ditko did EVERYTHING at the birth of marvel's silver age, and that lee did nothing at all, and that all the other artists whom they love less never existed). so how many slices does the pie get cut into, and how big should the slices be?

oh yeah... for the record...
simon has the logo
simon has the script
simon has the c.c. beck art
simon has letters from publishers he submitted to

but simon DIDN'T create spiderman because YOU don't LIKE his work as much as you like ditko's.

yup. there's some logical rational thinking.

it really kinda SOUNDS like you have these negative feelings about simon because you wish ditko had 100% created the character.

i am quite certain you won't agree with me on any of this, and i'm going to drop it here. so just get in your last word or words and say whatever nasty nonsense you want to say to me and about me, and i'll suffer your proverbial slings and arrows in silence.

Jed said...

I love you.

Jed said...


Jed said...

Anyway, I just like the comicbooks. I'm sorry I miscounted. It's been a while. I'll do better next time.

Pixar, Shmixar. Shrek still sucked. So do most of those godawful CGI movies.

And yeah, I guess Don Heck and Dick Ayers never really did it for me. The range of quality of 60s Marvel artists went from awesome to godawful. Do I HAVE to like those people?

And lets be honest, most of the stuff that really lasted came from Lee, Ditko, and Kirby. I like George Tuska, but those Iron Man issues are pretty forgettable. Same with Gene Colan and Daredevil--not even his best work, really.

I thought I said I liked Lee's writing? I said "Lee and Ditko's" Spider-Man, so that beef is with somebody besides me. I totally dig Lee, and all you need to do is check out the utterly humorless writing of Ditko and Kirby AFTER Lee to get a hint of what he contributed to those books.

If we're talking moral imperatives rather than legalities--that's a pretty murky and subjective area. I think Ditko has a solid claim to the character because he and Lee made those particular comics, and told those particular stories, and that's the Spider-Man we know.

I've always been irked about Simon's claim that he "created Spider-Man" because it rings false--he had little if anything to do with the Spider-Man I know. His claim to the character seems based on criteria that has little to do with what made those stories good stories. And if it's not about good stories, then fuck it, what's the point?

I made a fairly casual comment, that Lee gets a big paycheck from Marvel, and Ditko doesn't. If you want to break that into itty bitty pieces, and say the color seperator and the printer deserve a nickel, be my guest, and I guess I deserve to own stock in every shitty job I've ever held. What are you, some kind of commie?

Hey, even the people that made that movie put Lee AND Ditko's name on it. I remember seeing a Mad magazine at the time, that showed Ditko spinning in his grave, because they thought he was dead! But he's not Dead. Simon was a good business man, had an ad agency, I think he's doing all right. I don't think Ditko's doing nearly as well. If you want a moral imperative, how about that one?

And hey Eeteed, I don't even know you're real name! How am I supposed to say nasty things about you when the only thing I know is you have some cranky opinions about some stuff that I disagree with? If you want me to say nasty things about you you could at least pony up with a little more personal information.

By the way, I have a lot of those Simon comics too, and by far my favorite is Jigsaw, the superhero with the creepy elastic rainbow tendons. Simon rocks in his own way, but not in a Spider-Man way.

eeTeeD said...

i love don heck's work. well, specifically, his early work on the marvel superheroes.
those early antman stories he did were top notch, and his early iron man.
the problem, as stan goldberg tells it, was that marvel needed a workhorse, and don heck accepted that role. they also told him to draw like kirby, which of course he could never do. then they gave him inkers, and none of them could figure out how to ink his work.
his work really suffered because of all that, and its a shame. his early superhero work, and his pre-superhero work was really nice stuff.
and i loved wally wood's daredevil, and anything george tuska (though i hated tuska's goofy pop art wacky angled panels).
i also love ditko's spiderman, but mostly his early work on the series. issue #6 is my personal favorite.
and i love kirby's early work on the avengers, and ditko/kirby's work on the first hulk series.
the one thing i did NOT like was kirby's early work on the fantastic four. i found it to be simplistic, cartoony, sloppy, and rushed.
the later marvel silver age, where they got into the pop art thing, and all the stories got big and over the top. that stuff never interested me.

Jed said...

Hey! I agree with you about Kirby's early Fantastic Four work! Also I don't think he had a tollerable inker on the book until Joe Sinnott. Not necessarily Kirby's best inker, but inks on the earlier stuff are downright amateurish--I think Chic Stone did some of that inking under a pseudonym (or was Chic Stone a pseudonym, I forget) and admitted he would rush some of it out in a day--and Sinnott was tight clean and consistant.

That whole "Pop Art" thing just makes me shake my head. I don't see their putting the words "Pop Art" on the covers of their books, actually effecting their content, and I guess that whole business was meant to capitalize on the whole Pop Art movement, but popular art isn't pop art, and I just don't think they got it. I think that was just another way to try to gain wider acceptance with an older crowd, but if anything it was an afterthought. Lee and Kirby and the others were just doing the same things they always had. As for funky panel shapes--that started way back in the 40s--if some later artists adopted the technique, I don't think it had anything to do with Pop Art. If anybody was legitimately inspired by Pop Art it was Steranko, whom I can't stand.

And if you mean the Galactus/Silver Surfer era--that's got to be Fantastic Four's strongest and most imaginative period.

As far as Spider-Man--I just thought it got better and better throughout Ditko's run. I don't know what issue it is (I appologize for my gross innacuracy in this regard, as you've generously pointed out), but there's a classically well regarded sequence later in the run included in a recent Smithsonian collection, that has a few pages of Spider-Man just trying to get out from under a girder or something. That was totally amazing.

And I also like some of Romita's run. Romita was a good draftsman and storyteller, and added a lot to the soap opera of the character.

There are also a few memorable Hulk issues by Ditko--also some of his collaborations with Kirby, he did a lot of really strong work in general for Marvel. Ditko's Dr Strange was probably one of the most original things Marvel ever did, and Lee was just along for the ride on that one.

Wood's Daredevil was nicely drawn, but I don't think any of his superhero stuff matches his EC work. Also, with a few exceptions, none of those stories were too terribly memorable. When Roy Thomas started writing it, it lost some of the tone that Wood had given the book, so I think you've got something there.

And those Ant-Man stories--I'm sorry--just bit. If you contrast Kirby's Ant-Man with Hecks, Heck's work is just a sad bit of business. Heck was competent, but not terribly compelling in general, besides, I don't think they've ever known what to do with that character. I haven't seen Heck's non-superhero work, so I wouldn't be able to compare, and if the quality of his work was effected by his output, that doesn't change the fact that it was just competent stuff.

Now we're back to craft vs content. You may like Tuska, but geez, those iron man stories from that era--none of them were particularly good. With both Iron Man and Daredevil it wasn't much more than goofy supervillian of the week stuff. Frank Miller had a nice run on Daredevil later, but Iron Man--I can't think of a decent period in it's run. I think both characters are imaginative as concepts, but they were just treading water in the 60s.

DC did the goofy supervillian of the week stuff best, because they were willing to take it to bizarre Jimmy Olson's Pal Superman extremes. Marvel was best at multi-issue suspense, and Lee's editorial voice made it all so much more fun--sometimes even more fun than it actually was.

And I noticed you didn't have too many kind words for Dick Ayers. Yikes.

I now officially annouce that this is no longer Jabberous the Mark Martin blog, but Jabberous the Marvel Comics Fanboy Fan Fun Page. I know how much you dig the Marvel comics, Mark, so I'm sure you'll appreciate this new development.

Mark Landman said...

Uh, I wanted to stay outta this, it's like watching family members fight about politics, but Don Heck's work "top-notch"? Jack Kirby's early F.F. "sloppy"?

My head is spinning, must sit down before my 40 year long vendetta against Don Heck consumes me!

Sorry eeTeed, you lost me on this on. Simon's claim is about as valid as D.C.'s lawsuit against Fawcett, which in my view isn't terribly much...

Jed said...

To clarify about early FF: I wouldn't say "sloppy" so much as crappy inking and not as good as the mid period stuff ie Galactus.

Kirby's first few issues of Hulk vs his first few issues of FF--I'd say the Hulk stuff kicks the FF stuff in the ass, but my long view of the FF is that it was some of the best work of his career--again, especially that mid period.

Apropos of his Pop Art comments: Eeteed has shown some confusion about modernism in the past. He once referred to some of my more conservative comics work as "avante garde" which I know he meant as a compliment, but again, I shake my head.

I keep getting confused about which guy is Don Heck. There was the guy who did a lot of mediocre Ant- Man who could draw, and the guy who did some of the worst Hulk in history who couldn't. Or are those actually the same guy? It doesn't seem like they could be.

HEy, but you gotta give Eeteed some credit for getting on the unpopular side of an argument. Though for a guy who claims to champion the cause of logic, I'm not sure how he can praise Don Heck for his drawing chops, and slam E.C. Segar for his lack of them. At one time this made some strange kind of sense, because he had presented his idea of good drawing and good craft as tight as fuck Little Audrey renderings, but I can't reconcile that with getting behind Don Heck's hack work as "top-notch".

But good god, I can't see how anyone can say Joe Simon created Spider-Man with a straight face. Even if you go along with half of what he claims, there's got to be some argument for the Devil being in the details.

And what's wrong with drawing a line and saying, ok, these guys are most responsible for the creation of these characters, more so than anyone else who could lay claim to them, this corporation has made some big bucks from these characters, and maybe these guys are owed?

Hey, if we're talking Iron-Man, I'd say Heck and Lieber just might be owed a piece. Somebody's probably going to make a lot of money from that movie, and if I were sitting in the theatre and I were Don Heck or Stan Lee's brother, I might be a little bitter.

eeTeeD said...

1) as i recall, marvel started calling their comics "pop art" in an effort to cash in on the roy Liechtenstein craze.
2)Mark L., when is the last time you went and looked at the first 4 issues of the fantastic four? those are the early issues i am referring to. go take a look at them, but take an UNBIASED look. forget all the talk that kirby is god, and everything he did was flawless.
3)compare those early f f issues to kirby's work in the 50's, which fans ignore, but i think was his strongest period. fighting american, bullseye, boy explorers, and his work on the young romance series. this was kirby at his best. those first 4 issues of fantastic four pale in comparison to this work. in comparison they are simplistic, rushed, and sloppy in appearance.
4)little fanboys are taught to hate don heck's work, and its too bad, because he was an incredibly talented artist. i never understood how heck wound up in comics. his style would have been better suited for department store work. y'all are too young too remember this, but back in the day large department stores had their own staff of artists to create line art for newspaper ads, and for in store ads. the newspaper ads for clothing sales used to be drawn instead of photographed, because photos didn't read well in the newspapers. artists made very good livings as department store artists, and i think heck's work would have thrived in that environment.
here's a link, but do NOT follow it unless you are able to look at this work in an intelligent mature unbiased manner....
look how beautifully targo is drawn in the second
panel. look at the masterful use of spot blacks. look at the dramatic use of angles throughout the page. look at how the inking compliments the pencils.
as i said in an earlier post. this period in his art ended shortly into the marvel super-hero period. heck accepted large work loads, attempted to emulate kirby, and was given inkers who did not understand how to ink his work.
but look at that beautiful page. that man was a master.

Jed said...

Oops. Herb Trimpe! That is the guy who sucks balls who did the Hulk. Now it occurs to me. Not Heck. Trimpe. God that guy simply could not draw.

And you got me here, Eeteed. Very nice. Maybe not "masterful", but nice. This is a beatifully done page, some gorgeous spot blacks. I might have to give Heck another look.

My poor memory has gotten the better of me. My initlial impression was always that the Kirby Ant-Man was the best. I don't know who plotted these stories, Heck, or Lee, but they weren't the most compelling reads, that I remember. A good draftsman does not a good storyteller make, but maybe with the right writer, Heck might've had something going on.

And department store art? That sounds like a pretty thankless job. I think I'd get tired of drawing furniture after a while. And no matter how good he might have been at it, It seems like a waste of any good illustrators talents. It's just pure craft. Pure rendering. After my 100th lamp, I think I'd want to shoot myself in the head.

And you know this "little fanboys are taught" stuff does not work towards the betterment of your argument. If I happen to agree with whatever your claiming is fanboy conventional wisdom, I mean, way to rub my nose in it. You're not exactly going to win me over that way.

And though I don't necessarily think it was his BEST period, I do like a lot of that Boys Ranch stuff, and to give Simon some credit, his hatch style inking did a lot to the betterment of that stuff. Simon was really the perfect inker on that stuff---sort of like Elder on Severin.

And I agree that Kirby's heart didn't seem entirely in it, in the beginning, with Fantastic Four, but when when he hit stride, especially when he was given more free reign to plot his own stories, his work really shined on that book and was his best work for Marvel of the 60s.

Kirby had so many great periods it's hard to just nail down one. I do think his Challengers of the Unknown stuff was better than those early FF issues, and that was just a few years earlier. But then, he had a better inker--I think the right inker makes a HUGE difference--again, see those early Hulks. I'm not sure who inked them, but they were much stronger than the FF stuff.

eeTeeD said...

that's DOCTOR herb trimpe. when trimpe's day in comics ended, he went back to school, earned his doctorate, and became a college art professor.
and don't be too quick to attribute that "hatch style inking" to simon. joe simon tells tale that kirby was actually a top notch inker, and a lot of that style inking you see on kirby's 50's work was done by kirby himself. he seems to have done a lot of his own inking on the romance stuff.
also, don't be so quick to knock the job of department store artist. i had a distant relative who did that, and he made great money, and was very happy. REMEMBER, mostly what these artists were doing was drawing pictures of pretty women in fashion poses wearing trendy clothes or undergarments. they would also do murals and such for store displays. it was fun creative an challenging work.

Jed said...

Even when I agree with you, you just have to one up me, don't you? Ok DOCTOR Herb Trimpe.

I felt half sorry for Trimpe as he was slowly getting squeezed out of Marvel in the 80s--but MAN did he suck. I really doubt the doctorate made him a better artist. Marie Severin was another one that went the way of the Jim Lees and the whoevers--and she COULD draw, and a lot better than Jim Lee, so I do feel sorry for her.

It's a shame that Kirby couldn't ink more of his own work. Seeing before and after's of Kirby's early 70s work for DC inked by Royer and Bruce Berry is just a tragedy. His pencils were so tight and resolved, they seemed like a pretty clear roadmap for how not to screw up the finishes, but this might have been his own downfall. His pencils were both really spontaneous and tight at the same time, so it seems like most inkers decided to just tighten up on them even further, squeezing the life out of them. I think someone like Paul Pope would be a good Kirby inker--he needs a fluid. breezy brush strokey touch.

I will speak for myself--If I had to draw nothing but women in fashion poses and pantyhose all day, I as in ME would shoot myself in the head. Even if I did get paid really well to do it--I just don't have that kind of, I don't know, discipline or something. And if that's supposed to be titilating--why not just become a pornographer? Not to knock the profession of pornographer, I'm just saying: I don't get the appeal of drawing an endless parade of women in bras and pantyhose. And I can't see how that's "creative" work. It's being a technician. If you're into that, great, but all it's about it rendering the bejeezus out of stuff. If I'm going to do something mindless, I'd rather just do typesetting. Doing something like that would turn something I love into a souless chore.

But then and now, there weren't and arent too many jobs for artists, so I suppose you take what work you can, but if I were Heck, I'd stick with comics.

So what DID Heck do before the Marvel superhero stuff? You keep talking his earlier work up, but what was it?

Mark Landman said...

"Mark L., when is the last time you went and looked at the first 4 issues of the fantastic four? those are the early issues i am referring to. go take a look at them, but take an UNBIASED look. forget all the talk that kirby is god, and everything he did was flawless."

Hi Eteed- I would agree these aren't the best of Kirby's work, not as good as earlier OR later things...

"3) compare those early f f issues to kirby's work in the 50's, which fans ignore, but i think was his strongest period. fighting american, bullseye, boy explorers, and his work on the young romance series. this was kirby at his best. those first 4 issues of fantastic four pale in comparison to this work. in comparison they are simplistic, rushed, and sloppy in appearance."

Fighting American was indeed a high point, a shame the reprint book was so hideous... Still, I'll take Kirby's worst over Heck's best any day. You said it yourself, he's better suited for department store work. There, he might have shined, instead of being the disappointing filler for far too many Iron Man and Giant Man comics with Kirby covers...

"4) little fanboys are taught to hate don heck's work"

No one taught me this one, I learned on my own 40 years ago! And BTW I'm almost a strapping 5'9"!!!

"here's a link, but do NOT follow it unless you are able to look at this work in an intelligent mature unbiased manner...."

That IS a nice Heck piece, I'd agree the inks nicely compliment the pencils, and the spotting of blacks is appealing too, but it's still not that exciting a page. It WOULD make a fine ad for Macy's circa 1953 though...

And as far as being saddled with varying qualities of inkers, everyone had to deal with that. Bottom line, Heck's pencils are the only ones I've ever seen that Wally Wood couldn't make look good. That says a lot...

eeTeeD said...

heck was well known as a horror artist in the 50's, but he did all the genres... sci-fi, westerns, romance, war.

eeTeeD said...

eeTeeD said...

i agree that heck/wood didn't work.
their teaming was an illustration of what happens when an artist (heck) who has a very loose, impressionistic/expressionistic style gets teamed up with an artist (wood) who has a very tight, literal style.
the two styles just don't mesh.

Jed said...

Agg. Again with the missuse of the art terms. Impressionistic/expressionistic style? I think his stuff had a strong sense of design, but an overall loose quality to the line and dependance on sillouette does not an impressionist make. There might be some impressionistic ellements in his work, but there was too much rendering and not enough suggestion to really rate him as much of an impressionist.

The sillouette thing--that came from the fauve movement. All that fashiony stuff has more to do with Matisse than the impressionists.

As far as impressionism goes in comics, see: Alex Toth, Frank Robbins, Noel Sickles, David Mazuchelli, Joe Kubert and Milton Caniff.

And Heck's style was probably the polar opposite of expressionism. Check out the real article--like the German expressionists of the turn of the century and tell me how Heck rates as an expressionist. His stuff is just too staid and conventional. Now Kirby was an expressionist. There were little shades of Max Beckman in Kirby's bold expressive figures.

Jose Munoz is another great example of a contemporary expressionistic cartoonist. Ralph Steadman. Mattotti has shades of both expressionism and fauvism in his work.

I'll agree that Wood probably wasn't suited to Heck's pencils because Wood was all about modelling and feathering, while Heck seemed to be about outlines and sillouettes, and trying to put all that delicate modelling on a figure that's meant to read as a sillouette can really dirty it up.

You also mentioned that you thought they were cashing in on the popularity of Lichtenstein with the "Pop Art" business and you're totally correct, but you also referred to Tuska's "pop art" angled panels which makes no sense at all to me--as if somehow the "pop art" on the cover was reflected in any way in the contents of the books.

eeTeeD said...

i think this is kirby at his best. i especially like issue #3.

Jed said...

Yes, these are some nice covers.

Ok, my last (well not really) but one more beef here:

You describe the quality of a cartoonists work often in terms of good drawing or just good pictures when it should be about GOOD COMICS. Drawing well just isn't enough to rate, when we're talking comics. You've got to be able to tell a story.

eeTeeD said...

you should clarify your point a bit.
i mean, there are plenty of artists out there who don't have a story to tell, so they get teamed up with writers who have a story to tell but can't draw... and wonderful comcs result.

if you mean that a comic book artist has to be able to draw well, keep characters and things "on model", be able to lay out a page so that things flow properly....... well, yeah. of course. that's all part of being a comic book artist.

but comic books are a visually driven media. i mean, if they weren't, this would be the blog page of mark martin, pulp illustrator. but visually driven comics won, and pulps lost. so i guess i feel it natural to be drawn more to the art than to the story aspects of cartooning.

heck, i never heard of someone collecting matt baker's work because he was such a great storyteller.
and i never thought arnold drake had much to say in the doom patrol, but i collect them to drool over bruno premiani's beautiful art.
the stories in harvey comics got pretty awful by the mid sixties, but i keep collecting them to look at the wonderful art of kremer, taras, etc.

when a comic book has top notch art AND story to offer, it's heaven, but i'm the type who can put up with great art and a so/so story (and would never bother with a comic that has a great story, but awful art).

but that's just me.

Jed said...

Cartoonists who are good storytellers often do so DESPITE poor or mediocre writing. Bernie Krigstein case in point. He didn't write any of his own storys, but he was a good storyteller. Storytelling is not synonymous with writing.

I wasn't familiar with Matt Baker, but yeah, I'm really not that interested in him after seeing what he does. He does cheesecake. There's not much storytelling going on, and for me, the best cartoonists are also good storytellers. It's more than staying on model and composing a good page--it's making the story take precedent.

Illustrators who were contemporaries of these classic old cartoonists kick them in the ass as far as just straight rendering is concerned, or composing an image, or pretty much all of the ellements that go into making a good picture. Draftsmanship alone just doesn't cut it in comics. It's how well you tell a story--even if doesn't happen to be a good story--even a bad story told well can be good comics. Since most of the writing in comics is shit anyway, often what I'm interested in is how the artist chose to tell it, how the artist chose to make it interesting. And yes, it's great when both the writing and the art is excellent, but I'm not into comics just to look at the pretty pictures.

Jed said...

Why is it that, even when I agree with you, or agree with you in part, you don't seem to want to concede to anything I have to say whatsoever? I mean, if we have no points where we intersect here, this whole argument thing is start'in to seem like what a person might call downright sisyphean. All this Eeteed against the world stuff might make sense if this weren't the case--but hell, cut me some slack here.

eeTeeD said...

i wasn't trying to argue. i honestly did want you to clarify your point, and threw in my opions on the subject while i was at it.

i wasn't saying you were right or wrong. i just wanted clarification on where you were coming from.

Jed said...

I didn't mean this particular instance, but in general. I pretty much agreed with you about those first few issues of FF. I even conceded to your Don Heck example, but I've yet to hear from you, "geez Jed, you have a point there." I mean, where's the love?

I offer you a hug. A great big warm hug.