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“The Midtown Comics Podcast has teamed up the husband and wife team of comic book writer Fred Van Lente and playwright Crystal Skillman to present their play, King Kirby. King Kirby was performed for a live audience this summer, but now it’s presented to you in audio format for the first time for free!”
Hits several (but not all) keynotes in Jack’s long and illustrious career as well as several (but again, far from all) of the most prominent abuses shoveled on him directly and indirectly by the comics industry. Based on my first hand experience with them, gives an adequate but not altogether thorough idea of what Jack and Roz were like, and what Stan Lee is like; I wouldn’t say this is a grievous fault since it’s hard to sum up the wonderful complexity of any human being in just an hour’s time, much less four people (Joe Simon is the 4th major role in the piece; I have no first hand knowledge of him).
The actors cast in the roles (Steven Rattazi and Amy Lee Pearsall) remind me of Jack and Roz as opposed to sounding like Jack and Roz, but they’re fine performers and their interpretations of Jack and Roz’ personalities are nice tributes to their memories (Nat Cassidy as Stan Lee comes much closer, but that’s because there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to sound bytes by Stan).
The complexities of the various business deals and legal conflicts that marked both Jack’s personal career and the comics industry as a whole are streamlined but at least presented with enough detail to make the issues understandable to audiences unfamiliar with them.
In short: I really, really enjoyed this and recommend it highly to everyone.
Thanx to Midtown Comics for staging and recording this live reading of comic book writer Fred Van Lente and playwright Crystal Skillman’s play: When in Manhattan go visit Midtown Comics — it’s a helluva great store!
And a special thanx to Tom Spurgeon’s
The Comics Reporter for the tip off.
And yeah, I know some people are going to say the Spider-Man depicted here is Steve Ditko’s design; nonetheless, Jack took the first swing at designing the character and passed the job on to Ditko because he was so busy with other books.
If you aren’t reading Tatsuya Ishinda’s Sinfest web comic, you should. Here’s a recent continuity not featuring any of his main characters, but nonetheless very moving and important.
Writing isn’t work at all… And when people tell me how painful it is to write I don t understand it because it’s just like rolling down the mountain you know. It’s freeing. It’s enjoyable. It’s a gift and you get paid for what you want to do.
I write because it comes out — and then to get paid for it afterwards? I told somebody, at some time, that writing is like going to bed with a beautiful woman and afterwards she gets up, goes to her purse and gives me a handful of money. I’ll take it.
Heinrich Kley (1863 – 1945 or 1952; your guess is as good as anybody’s) was a German artist / cartoonist for such avant-garde magazines as Jugend and Simplicissimus. Now virtually forgotten by the public, he’s best remembered for being
ripped off by the inspiration for Disney’s “Dance Of The Hours” in Fantastia.
I have no idea what
you’re talking about…
So I was reading a discussion on art (specifically what differentiates “good” art from “bad” art) and it occurred to me that while usually comparing one artist to another is typically at best comparing apples to artichokes, there was one comparison where we could at least get granny smiths compared to jonagolds.
Norman Rockwell (1894 – 1978) and Edward Hopper (1882 – 1967) are near perfect compare & contrast subjects. Both lived at the same time, both staked out small life America as their prime subject matter.
Make no bones about it, Norman Rockwell was a phenomenally talented painter, and easily one of the best illustrators ever. A good eye for detail and composition, an even keener eye for anatomy, characterization, and facial expression. Look at his paintings and a whole story unfolds before you. Clever, witty, a consummate illustrator of the American scene.
Note that word:
As much as I enjoy Rockwell’s work, as appreciative as I am of his talent and ability, Rockwell only brought so much to the party. He expected — nay, required his audience to already be familiar with his subjects before his put brush to canvas.
There was nothing new he had to offer, nothing original besides his personal style which, while good (arguably the best in his field) was not demonstratively different from literally scores of other artists working for the same markets.
Yes, there is something unique to Rockwell’s work, and you can almost always spot a Rockwell painting…but there are a whole lotta guys who were doing pretty much what Rockwell was doing and they were all pretty much interchangeable.
This is not to diminish the talent or the ability or the skill sets of Rockwell’s direct competitors, but the difference among them was pretty slight, typically one of degrees, never of magnitude.
case in point: Amos Sewell
Cross to the other side of the street to see what Edward Hopper was doing with the same subject matter and –
HOLY @#%& — LOOK AT THAT LIGHT!!!
NOBODY EVER SAW LIGHT THAT WAY BEFORE!!!
Whatever Rockwell saw in a scene, Hopper saw something…else. He saw something that was truly unique, something that no other artist had ever put on canvas before.
Something we had all seen but had never realized we had seen, and so when we saw it through his eyes it was a shock to the system, a startling realizing that yes…it was like that…it did look that way!
Hopper didn’t rely on us to bring our own past knowledge to the experience; Hopper brought something we didn’t even know existed.
And that would have been remarkable by itself, but Hopper took it several steps further.
He used light as no one ever used it before, taking the quality of his light — be it a melancholy setting sun or an office like by a single stark bulb or a nether zone of shadow between the dreamscape of the cinema and the tawdry lurid lights of the lobby — and putting it to work to literally shade and illuminate his characters.
It’s pretty easy to figure out the story in any Rockwell painting, and with the exception of the occasional rained out baseball game we know it’s going to be a happy ending.
Not so with Hopper. There are dark, unseen melancholies we can’t recognize not because we are unfamiliar with them but because we are too familiar with them, locking them up and blocking them off deep in our hearts, pretending they do not exist.
Hopper brings them forth, and we are forced to admit we have no pat, happy answers to banish them, that they will stay with us now, circling around the edges of our consciousness, a sad but constant reminder that we are not the masters of our fates / the captains of our souls that we want to be.
 As distinguished from hack work. Hack work exists all along the spectrum.
 Don’t believe me, go look at the “slick” magazine covers of the 1940s – 60s: Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Liberty, plus dozens of regional and special interest magazines. If Rockwell had been abducted by aliens in 1940 the genre would never have missed him and would have continued on pretty much as it did, only with more work for the other guys.
Russ Heath goes to town
(from Creepy #92)