Tuesday, June 05, 2012
In other news, some of my books are now available on epub (that's "Nook" , mostly, I think) format on the Lulu website, and the ones which aren't will be shortly. There's also a dead tree version of the Star Wars book.
Jack Kirby was quite good; Paul McCartney was the second best Beatle; we're English, we'd be disappointed if it didn't rain on a Bank Holiday.
Monday, June 04, 2012
Rob, dear heart, no-one is saying that "any criticism" of Stan Lee is to be deemed "Stan Lee bashing". You appeared to be arguing that Stan Lee made no contribution whatsoever to Marvel Comics; that Stan Lee never wrote a single word of good dialogue in his whole life. Some people, including some of Jack's biggest admirers, consider these claims to excessive. Other people consider them to be batshit insane.
This really is a pretty pathetic rhetorical device.
"I think that Mr Politician sleeps with goats and drinks the blood of teddy bears"
"Those, Sir, are outrageous claims, and if you do not withdraw them, I shall sue you for libel and or slander."
What did Stan Lee create before and after he worked with Jack?
After Stan Lee worked with Jack (and Steve) he produced about 60 issues of Spider-Man, the whole run of Silver Surfer, maybe 30 issues of Captain America. Someone can do the sums, but I would imagine that, in total, Stan's Marvel output with other artists is greater (in pages) than his output with Kirby. In my opinion the Romita-Lee Spider-Man and the Buscema-Lee Silver Surfer are inferior to the Ditko-Lee and Kirby-Lee versions. But they are the received versions of the character; the one everyone knows. Despite his credit, there was very little of Ditko's character (apart, obviously, from the costume design) in the three Spider-Man movies.
If the point here is that he didn't create or originate any characters except in collaboration with Kirby or Ditko, then I would tend to agree with you. The one exception is She-Hulk. (Although significant supporting characters and villains are introduced when he is working with other artists: Mephisto, Kingpin, Rhino, Mary-Jane Watson.) But every informed agrees that Stan Lee was not the sole creator of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor or Doctor Strange. (Many of these characters seem to be the result of a synergy between a number of creative individuals: I don't think anyone has ever claimed that Larry Leiber created Thor, but Larry Leiber clearly didn't have nothing to do with the creation of Thor, either.) It's the claim that his copy-writing made no contribution to the artistic success of those comics which makes us accuse you of Stan bashing.
After leaving the Beatles, Ringo Starr had two US number one singles, a top 10 UK album, a career as an actor and children's TV host, and is reckoned to be the 56th richest individual in the UK. He played the drums on John Lennon / Plastic Ono band, which is odd if Lennon considered him to be such a poor drummer.
I suppose it's like any religious argument. You start with a difference of opinion and end with a turf-war. You start out saying "It's not fair for Stan Lee to claim that he's sole creator of characters that Kirby had a hand in as well"; then you say "A big hand, a bigger hand than Lee, in fact"; and then "Actually, Kirby was sole creator, all Stan did was add the captions" and finally "And Stan's captions were either irrelevant, or actually bad." Then you just start calling each other names. Someone has to take a step back and say "Hang on -- we're both attacking parodies of the other guys position. Let's calm down and try to work out what we actually agree about, and then we'll be better able to see where we actually differ."
|Amazing Spider-Man 10 Lee and Ditko (Marvel Comics)|
|Fantastic Four 94, Lee and Kirby (Marvel Comics)|
You have named after his grandfather?
Lee can be corny and over-write, and as his career progressed he became all-too-fond of giving characters agonised soliloquies, which could go on for pages at a time. But he is rarely boring and always keeps you reading. Ben Grimm's personality comes from the words Stan Lee gives him to say. The idea that the Fantastic Four would be a better comic (or the same comic) if you took Ben out of it and replaced him with a big strong orange guy who said "Bah. You puny humans do not understand me" is simply silly.
|Eternals 2, Jack Kirby (Marvel Comics)|
What these lines lack, compared with what Stan Lee would have brought to the table is, I think, illumination, embellishment, decoration. If Kirby is asked to draw a space ship, he doesn't just draw a phallic shaped missile with fins and a port hole, even though that would do the job perfectly well. He draws a two page spread, an abstract piece of "Kirby-tech" drawn for the sheer love of drawing it. Similarly, if Stan Lee is required to show Ben Grimm on the phone to his girlfriend, he can’t limit himself to “I’ll phone Alicia. Wait, she isn’t in.” It grows into “Since you two don’t exactly need a chaperon, I’m cutting out fer a while. Wait’ll Alicia hears that her lumpy lover boy’s back in town…” Because he loves the sound of Ben Grimm's voice, and so do we. So Lee would probably not have been content to say that the alien was landing on a pylon or that he was surrounded by strange energy: he’d have come up with some goofy names for the pylon and the energy, because he liked goofy words and so did we. Lee, just because he is embellishing someone else's story, weaves his own narratives around the pictures. Kirby, just because it’s his own story, simply provides a running commentary to help you on your way. We're listening to a single voice; melody without harmony.
And everyone agrees that it had terrible dialogue.
|New Gods 4 Jack Kirby (Marvel Comics)|
Which is probably one of the single most memorable pages in the entire history of comic books. Would Stan Lee have given Darksied more elaborate lyrics to sing? Probably. Would it have improved the overall effect of the scene? It is hard to see how.
Hardly anyone thinks that Ernie Wise was a comic genius. But do we really have to dedicate whole websites to pretending that he really sucked as a straight man?
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Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and Black Panther are copyright Marvel Comics. The New Gods is copyright DC comics. All quotes and illustrations are use for the purpose of criticism under the principle of fair dealing and fair use, and remain the property of the copywriter holder.
Please do not feed the troll.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Monday, May 14, 2012
Monday, May 07, 2012
5- 7 May
Now, that's what I call fusion.
(1) Chris Wood