While fan conventions always brings out the most imaginative of nerdish costumes, it is rare that I’m truly surprised. However, this little girl from last weekend’s Motor City Comic Con, in full Stan Lee drag, is the living end. The… living… end. (She’s even doing her little Spider-Man web-slinger move!)
Stan’s “Mini-Me” is 7-year-old badass Isabella Cracchiolo whose father Vincent recently covered the convention for Bleeding Cool.
Can the Krimson Kommisar, MIG-4, Mastodon, Ajys and Homeland defeat the power of the evil Chief? It is a crime against the State not to buy the comic and find out. And crimes against the State are taken VERY seriously.
Written by Igor Sloano and Comrade Barr, with Art by Domski Regan and Comrade Barr, The Freedom Collective is produced by Rough Cut Comics, and has already received high praise from The Jack Kirby Collector, Grant Morrison and Alex Ross. It is a must-have for all Comrades of Great Comic Art.
And while one may be tempted to criticize Lee’s artistic interpretations of jazz standards, you do have to admire his spryness. He’s still incredibly involved in the community (this video was taken at Comikazi, a comic, sci-fi, and fantasy convention), and he’s never stopped working.
When Stan Lee visited New York in January 1983, the editorial staff was at the peak of its yuk-yuk, hand-buzzer giddiness. They’d been shooting photos of each other in superhero costumes for some of the covers—several staff members appeared on the cover of the last issue of SPIDER-WOMAN—and now they were putting together a comic that consisted wholly of photos of intra-office hijinks. They wanted to include Stan the Man. Lee, the original ringmaster, jumped at the chance to pose for a nude centerfold. Marvel staffers photographed Lee with an oversize comic book covering his private parts; soon after, they received a call from his assistant in L.A. “Stan is wild,” said the assistant. “He should not have been naked for your centerfold. Please. Don’t.” (A Hulk costume was later superimposed over Lee’s body in postproduction.)
Stan Lee was obviously no Burt Reynolds, but he had nice gams 30 years ago, eh?
They’ve been gassing the PR machine pretty hard lately around the impending opening this fall of the $25 million-dollar budgeted Broadway musical, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. Directed by the brilliant Julie Taymor and featuring a score from U2, it’ll either be a great night of theater or else the most-embarrassing piece of shit ever. When it comes to a musical sung by a superhero and supervillains, I doubt there is much of a chance for middle ground!
But did you know that there already was a Spider-Man musical? Yup. In 1975, a Spidey rock opera, Rock Reflections of a Super-Hero was released. One day when I was 9-years old my dad brought it home for me. It had a cool album cover which was a painting of Spidey/Peter Parker by John Romita and narration by—who else—Stan Lee. It’s gloriously awful, basically the Peter Parker story set to song (“Square Boy” is about his nerdy high school years. “Gwendolyn” is of course about the death of his girlfriend Gwen Stacy).
The best/worst song is the Doctor Octopus song. In it he threatens to turn the Black Panther and Thor into go-go dancers. If the whole things were a Doctor Octopus album, it would have been way better. It begins in the second half of the clip below:
And dig the back cover: The Hulk on drums, Silver Surfer on synth, Luke Cage on bass, Thor on trumpet, the Fantastic Four on backing vocals (Ben Grimm has a certain Mama Cass-like quality to his voice, don’t you think?) and Captain America on… tambourine?
Dangerous Minds pal Charles Johnson has posted another tasty classic comics cover over at Little Green Footballs. Wait until Glen Beck gets ahold of this, PROOF that Marvel Comics promotes racism or reverse racism or Communism… or something:
Since the New Black Panther Party has been the race-baiting rage lately, here’s a related cover image from the Lizard Collection: issue #52 of Fantastic Four, a classic released in July 1966, an arguably more innocent and open time. This book featured the first appearance of African superhero Black Panther, who would go on to become one of the Avengers. It’s Jack Kirby and Stan Lee at the top of their talents, drawing on 60s memes and cultural icons to create a new, distinct, and very influential form of pop art.
This lawsuit from the heirs of the great comic artist Jack Kirby has been a looong time coming. The legal ramifications of this case are immense, considering the billion dollar value of these corporate trademarks. Comic artists often signed away rights to their creations during the “Golden Age” of the industry, putting their signatures on contracts measurably worse than the ones signed by blues musicians.
When the Walt Disney Company agreed in August to pay $4 billion to acquire Marvel Entertainment, the comic book publisher and movie studio, it snared a company with a library that includes some of the world’s best-known superheroes, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk and the Fantastic Four.
The heirs of Jack Kirby, the legendary artist who co-created numerous Marvel mainstays, were also intrigued by the deal. Mr. Kirby’s children had long harbored resentments about Marvel, believing they had been denied a share of the lush profits rolling out of the company’s superheroes franchises.
They spent years preparing for a lawsuit by enlisting a Los Angeles copyright lawyer, Marc Toberoff, to represent them. When the Marvel deal was struck, Mr. Toberoff — who helped win a court ruling last year returning a share of Superman profits to heirs of one of that character’s creators — sprang into action.
Pow! Wham! Another high-profile copyright fight broke out in Hollywood, and this one could be the broadest the industry has yet seen.
The name Steve Ditko probably means very little to you if you aren’t a comics fan, but if you are, then the name is well known to you: Steve Ditko is the co-creator of Spider-Man, the original artist who envisioned the character along with Stan Lee. The worldwide smash of Sam Raimi’s Spiderman franchise saw many Ditko-drawn Spider-Man classics republished and a concurrent growing fascination with the reclusive artist, who is still working in New York, at age 82.
Aside from Spider-Man, Ditko was also the co-creator, again with Lee, of the cosmic Dr. Strange, who was my favorite comic book hero as a child (as I am sure will surprise few of you reading this…). The comic panels of Dr. Strange were some of the most vividly psychedelic ever seen in comics, and they contrasted sharply with his rendering of Peter Parker’s drab world, which was almost Soviet in comparison.
In the mid-60s, Ditko began to chafe at Stan Lee’s dictatorial editorship of Spider-Man and eventually got Lee to agree to let him plot Spider-Man—unheard of at Marvel—while control freak Lee would write the actual dialogue suggested from Ditko’s stories. The arrangement did not last long. Spider-Man as originally written was very much a conflicted character as we all know, but the character also had a lot of anti-establishment appeal—he was a smartass—and this is one of the many reasons the character took off in the heady era of the ‘60s. At the time that Ditko’s grasp on Spider-Man tightened, so did his interest grow in the Objectivist philosophy of Russian-born novelist, Ayn Rand. When Rand’s humorless black and white moralizing started creeping into the Spider-Man stories, Lee balked and soon the two men were not speaking to each other. Eventually Ditko left, leaving behind a character that would go on to become a billion dollar enterprise with Sam Raimi’s films. He would never draw Spider-Man again and has essentially erased himself as much as possible from the character’s history.
It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that Ditko sees himself as a real-life “Howard Roark,” Rand’s fictional architect in The Fountainhead, a man who refuses to compromise his vision. Rand’s influence was even more obvious in his right wing vigilante character Mr A, who would throw someone off a building for disagreeing with him. His work became didactic, shrill, hectoring and far-right his influence waned. Mr. A was like Bill O’Reilly as a superhero. What teenager wants to be yelled at by a moralistic superhero? In the opinion of many, his work degenerated into fascistic rhetoric and lunacy from the late 60s onwards.
There have been almost no interviews, ever, with Steve Ditko. While really not a hermit or a recluse, he’s an intensely private person and refuses all interviews, although there are stories of him speaking to a fan ballsy enough to ring his doorbell, but always standing in the doorway, never inviting them in to his studio. In his recent BBC documentary In Search of Steve Ditko, otaku British talkshow host Jonathan Ross tracked Ditko down in New York City and called the artist on the telephone. Ditko politely refused his request for an on camera interview. But when Ross (and Neil Gaiman) showed up on his doorstep, he did in fact entertain them, although not on camera.
I may be a little late to the game on this one, but I recently got a copy of Blake Bell’s Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, a coffeetable book published by Fantagraphics last year and it is a wonderful and fascinating look at Ditko’s life and work. Kudos to Bell for putting together such a volume which was clearly a labor of love and unique erudition. I can’t imagine how much shit he had to go through to be able to put together such a book. I’m sure Steve Ditko was no help!
Below, part one of Jonathan Ross’s wonderful BBC documentary Searching for Steve Ditko:
Here’s a creepy “save the date” invite for an event created by Elixir Designs:
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