The iFanboy Letter Column – 03/26/2010

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means freedom as the work week has ended and the weekend can begin. For others, Friday means it’s time to get some precious, precious sleep.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming — contact@ifanboy.com


Just listened to you talking about [the] Eaglesham bulk, and that made me think, wow, “I sort of wish I looked like I was drawn by Dale Eaglesham.” Which artist would you like to look like you were drawn by?

Neal S.

Green Arrow Black Canary #13I think that we got this question a long time ago, and I think we answered it on the video show. I think it was the episode entitled “Pool,” but I don’t feel like checking so we’ll just assume it was.

Actually, now that I think about it, I believe that last time the question was: If you could have your life drawn by anybody, who would you choose, and that’s a slightly different question than the one we’ve got here.

So which artist would I like to look like I was drawn by? Certainly not Ed McGuinness. I love his stuff, but I’d like to be able to fit through doorways and put my arms down against my sides and stuff. I’ve already been drawn by Mike Norton in the pages of Green Arrow/Black Canary and I would be glad to look like that because it looked like he shaved about 20 lbs off my frame. Thanks, Mike!

So I would accept Mike Norton and I would also accept Jamie McKelvie or Darwyn Cooke because I would look a lot cooler than I do now.

Conor Kilpatrick

 


 

I was wondering if any you could recommend any nonfiction books that have been published about the comics industry. I’m not talking about comics/graphic novels; I’m interested in regular nonfiction, behind-the-scenes books about what the comic industry’s history in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, etc., and/or any interesting biographies about the giants of the industry like Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Kane, et al. Thanks for keeping me entertained!

John from California

As it turns out, I’ve read a few, and I love them. My favorite so far is Tales to Astonish by Ronin Ro, which focuses on Jack Kirby’s career, but also tells the tale of the early days of comics in the 30’s and forward. You meet all sorts of the big names associated with comics, and learn a lot about how Marvel and DC worked. It’s also fairly tragic, because Kirby never really got what he deserved, and that was largely his own fault. I talked about it once. If you like that, check out Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier, which is more art than story, but that’s sort of the point.

I’ve also read The Comic Book Makers, by Joe Simon and Jim Simon. Joe was Kirby’s partner for a while, and this book is set up a little more like a series of magazine articles than a straight novel but the stories of those days are just so interesting, so even when the writing is a little basic, it’s still good stuff.

I’ve got Tom Spurgeon’s Stan Lee and The Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book on deck, and I’m looking forward to that one as well. You can also read about how comics changed in the ’50s with The Ten-Cent Plague. Frankly, I’d love to hear about some more books like this, but I think most of the notable figures in comic history aren’t really big enough fodder for most publishers to deal with.

Josh Flanagan

 


 

I know the old saying about not be able to go back home again is more often than not right in comics (Mark Waid on The Flash, Claremont on X-Men) and seems to only work out if you’re Geoff Johns. However, I was curious what writer you’d like to see return to a former book. Morrison back on JLA? Ennis on Hellblazer? Brubaker on Batman?

Brian Z. from Lynnwood, Washington

I’ve always been a firm believer in the “You can’t go home again” line of thought when it comes to creative endeavors. Comics can be a lot like music in that regard that I think that creators put a ton of work and effort into a creative endeavor and do something really amazing, but when you try to go back to the well, it always seems a little…short of the greatness that once was. As in your examples, that’s definitely the case when it came to Mark Waid returning to The Flash (although I don’t think that’s entirely his fault, DC Editorial is a bit to blame there, but then again, Waid did write those damn kids). The only challenge to this is indeed Chris Claremont who has proved it wrong with X-Men Forever, showing you can go home and be awesome, but only if you’re insane.

That said, what other creators would I like to see go back to the well? The first one that immediately came back is one that’s has been top of mind recently after listening to our most recent Booksplode and reading the recent Starman Omniboo, and then especially after reading the Blackest Night Starman issue. I think that if James Robinson were to return to Starman, it would indeed be fantastic. Maybe we’ll get a taste of that in the rumored Shade series he may do, but if for whatever reason he could get Jack Knight to move from San Francisco back to Opal City, it would be most excellent. Another one that comes immediately to mind is Kurt Busiek and The Avengers. For whatever reason, I think that if you give Busiek The Avengers, something good will come of it, every time, and that would be a book I’d like to read.

Another creator and title that came to mind randomly when thinking about this was Warren Ellis and Excalibur, which caught even me by surprise because at the time, I don’t think I appreciated those issues as much as I should have. After a few years of Excalibur spinning it’s wheels in the 1990s, when Ellis took over the book it instantly became something interesting again, and given my past history and love for those characters, I would think that an Ellis penned go at the title again would be fun. That said, I don’t think it would ever happen, so I’ll just hope that somehow either Paul Cornell or Kieron Gillen get to take a stab at it.

Finally, to step away from the super hero world, I would absolutely adore it if Sam Kieth were to return to his creator owned title, The Maxx. I loved that book so much, and to get more of it would be so much fun. That said, another part of me wishes it never happens because I know that it would fall short of the previous greatness that we experienced with that book, and I wouldn’t want to take away from that in my personal perception of the character. And that’s why going home again is a tough thing to do. Not everyone can pull it off with the elegance and grace that Louise Simonson recently showed on X-Factor Forever, but it’s definitely one of those things, that for whatever reason, people will keep trying to do. Sometimes the results can be surprisingly good, but most often you just end up wishing it didn’t happen, like the Star Wars Prequels.

Ron Richards

Comments

  1. Though this would be a much faster turnaround than examples I think Geoff Johns returning to JSA would be awesome, if only because it has been so absolutely terrible since he left.

  2. I take it Ron isn’t enjoying the Starman Omnibus, with the "Omniboooo"

  3. @muddi900: No, it’s a joke about the many joking ways we pluralize Omnibus.

  4. "you can go home and be awesome, but only if you’re insane."

    classic. well said, ron!

  5. 1. Steve Lieber or Terry Moore. 

    2. Nothing new here, but Gerard Jones’ "Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book" is hard to beat.  Also, Will Eisner did a thinly fictionalized history of his early days in comics in graphic novel form, though I’m blanking on the title.  Come to think of it, there must be some prose autobiographies and memoirs from that era floating around.  Does anybody know of good ones?  I’d think that checking the bibliographies on the Jones and Ro books would be a good place to start.

  6. not a book per se, but Brian Cronin’s Comic Book Legends Revealed column on CBR is gold every week.  he put out a book that features some of the same stories, I think, Was Superman A Spy?.  very interesting behind-the-scenes stuff there.

  7. If Liefeld drew you, you’d be as hobbled as James Caan in Misery.

  8. @conor: What issue of GA/BC are you in? That’s pretty cool!

  9. @Brian Z—I’d give my left arm for just a  3 issue story arc written & drawn by Walt Simonson!(that Surtur Saga in the mid 80’s was some great stuff!!!)

  10. @RapidEyeMovement: Green Arrow/Black Canary #13

  11. @conor: Cheers! Already looking through it…

  12. I love to be look like I was drawn by Cliff Chaing. Or if not him Terry Dodson, I feel like everyone in his world would have a six pack.

  13. "I love to be look like I was drawn by Cliff Chaing" — I don’t even know how that came out of my brain.

    I would love to look like I was drawn by Cliff Chiang is what I meant.

  14. I would love to be drawn by Mike Grell, I think. Or Ethan Van Sciver. Frank Quitely, too! Hrmm. Decisions, decisions.

    I know you specifically said not Comics/GNs, but I’d be remiss in not mentioning the extremely well researched and executed COMIC BOOK COMICS by Fred Van Lente & Ryan Dunlavey. It’s a very good overview of some of comics early history presented in a fun, but strictly non-fiction, way. (Equally as good and well researched is their ACTION PHILOSOPHERS). To give you a sense of how good it is, I used 3 of the extant issues as sources for my Master’s Thesis. Caroline and BirdsEyeView mentioned the other two books I would suggest as well. 

    Returning creative teams? Mike Grell on Green Arrow. Gerard Jones & MD Bright on Green Lantern. Brubaker, Fraction and Aja on Iron Fist. Stan Lee on Silver Surfer, if only so we finally know what was supposed to happen after SS #18. 

    @OhCaroline I got to listen to Jones give a presentation on his book and participate in a Comics/Manga group discussion a few years ago at a Media Ecology conference. Great stuff and a great book.

  15. Damn, my letter is full of typos. 

  16. STILL bashing on the Star Wars prequels?!  They weren’t even that bad, damn.  People just expected to damn much!!

  17. I have a pseudo-suggestion for a book about the comics industry. All of the non-fiction books suggested above are great, but you might also want to check out the novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Michael Chabon. It’s a work of fiction, but it has the Golden Age of comics as a back drop for the story and it has a lot of information about what the industry was like at that time. 

  18. I think that cover to "Excalibur" there is the reason Marvel went bankrupt.  I’ve noticed on some other comic sites that whenever they talk about semi-recent X-men stories, the accompanying art is always from the late ’90s "XTREME!" period. It’s actually quite painful to look at.  The logo, tagline, and title take up the majority of the real estate there.  I also like how the tagline is daring me to see if I have the cajones to read that XTREME! book.

  19. Dammit! Clicked on the submit button for no good reason.

    In response to the third letter, I would love to see Peter David return to Incredible Hulk.  I remember a comment on the podcast once that said most people read the Hulk just to see mindless fighting.  If you ever read PD’s run, you’ll know that wasn’t the case.  In fact, the only reason I read Hulk now is because I have some vain delusion that it might be as good as it was when PD was writing it.  I guess that’ll never happen. 

  20. Huh! I always thought Conor was Kenny from Ultimate Spiderman. Unless that’s a young Bendis. 😉

  21. For books about the comic industry, try Roy Thomas’s Alter Ego: the best of the legendary fanzine–which features great interviews and insights on the golden and silver age.  Also oddly compelling is the memoir of journeyman inkier Mike Esposito, "Partners For Life".  Esposito inked everyone (at both DC and Marvel) from WWII through to the 90s and seems to remember them all.  I found Julius Shchwartz’s memoirs and Joe Kubert’s bio to be disappointing.  

  22. @Kodaiji To be fair to that Excalibur cover, the "Welcome to the X-Men [Character Name]… Hope you survive the experience" is an old trope for X-Men covers, originating, I believe with Uncanny X-Men #139.

  23. @Kodaiji That Excalibur cover isn’t daring YOU to see if you survive the experience, it’s likely talking to X-Man*. The line was used for a few X-Men family issues in which folk joined the team; if memory serves, it began with Kitty:

    http://www.comics.org/issue/34863/cover/4/?style=default

    continued with Rogue:

    http://www.comics.org/issue/37614/cover/4/?style=default

    And so on.

    *In this case, the line could also be read as a challenge to the team, rather than stoopid old X-Man.

     

  24. I agree Gerard Jones,"Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book is a must read. 

    So is Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front by Todd DePastino. A funny and at sometimes heartbreaking story about America’s greatest editorial cartoonist. 

  25. I’d pay anything to see John Byrne take another run at Fantastic Four.

  26. I guarantee you that would be terrible.

  27. I would want to look like an Alex Ross design. Cause I could be on the laptop and I’d still look badass and posing at the same time.

    Grant Morrison back on JLA would probably still work. I mean he still is the same writer as he was back then. Maybe a bit more experimental but still, he could probably write ‘Rock of Ages’ no matter what decade it is. Warren Ellis on Thunderbolts would make it a good title again. He doesn’t need to have Osborn, Bullseye, or Venom to make it interesting. He could make anyone look blithering insane and make it enjoyable. 

  28. Have to agree Gerard Jones’s Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book is great.  I was always surprised I have not heard the ifanboys talk about this one before.

     Another good book is not about the history of comics, but more criticism of comics, if you are into that, is Reading Comics.  It focuses more on idependent books and comics as art so if you are just into comics for the escapism its probably not for you.  If you read for escapism, but also are interested in comics as art then it is a great book and will turn you on to a lot of stuff.  He is not a complete snob and will recognize a great superhero book when he sees it.  There are chapters in there on Alan Moore and Grant Morrison among others.  

  29. I second the point about Kavalier and Clay. Awesome piece of literature and an interesting insight into the golden age. Reading it you get a real feel for the potential of comics at the time and how impactful they could and can be. 

     

    If I was gonna be drawn by anyone it would have to be Leinil Yu, Michael Ryan, or Adam Hughes. Purely because every woman I ever met would be super hot. I would also be amazingly buff (which I currently am not).