Have you ever had someone ask you that? If you read comic books, then the chances are pretty good the answer is yes, especially in recent years. The characters change, and only the names remain the same. With the new DC Comics relaunch it really hits home.
Through the decades that I’ve been reading and writing comic books I’ve seen most all of them change. Sometimes their change snuck up on me and other times it was gradual – like gaining weight or losing your hair. It first hit me when one day I realized that I was older than the characters that I had been reading for so long.
Characters like Robin the Boy Wonder were the first for me to pass up. That wasn’t too hard to take because I always felt older than Dick Grayson, the original Robin. Next were characters like Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Johnny Storm/Human Torch. I have to admit, it was kind of strange to realize that I had been out of college and well into the adult working world while Peter and Johnny were just hitting their twenties.
It was a bigger shock when I passed up Clark Kent/Superman, Bruce Wayne/Batman, Tony Stark/Iron Man and Matt Murdock/Daredevil. Those guys were in their 30s! What was next, being older than Ben Grimm/The Thing and Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic? Reed Richards had to be old, he had those white side walls in his hair. (That’s how they used to show that a comic book hero was older, just ask Nick Fury.)
Yup! It happened. Who’s left that’s older than me, Aunt May? (Is she still alive?) When that old biddy is younger than me I’m really going to hurting. I’ll never be as old as the Sub-Mariner or Thor, but then those guys are semi-immortal and always look young. Where’s the fairness? I wanna know.
When I first started reading Spider-Man he was drawn by Steve Ditko. The men still wore fedoras, the women wore skirts that came below their knees and Peter Parker wore a bow-tie and a sweater-vest! Over at DC Comics, Clark Kent wore the original horn rimmed glasses and Lois Lane was sporting little pill-box hats. Gee, I thought they were old.
Even my fellow comic book writers and artists are now younger than me for the most part. When I first started writing comics, my editors were always older than me as were most of the other writers. After a few more years it seemed that myself, and most of the other creators were all the same age. We were the majority and we thought that would last forever. We were wrong. So many of the creators and editors today are under 35 years old.
Please don’t misunderstand, I like having loads of experience. I enjoy being called a cagey veteran, it appeals to me, but it still sticks in my crawl that I’m now older than most of the comic book characters that I’ve known for so very long. Maybe that they key phrase, “Known for so very long.” It looks a lot scarier seeing it in print. What’s even scarier than that is admiring the way artist Adam Hughes draws Power Girl and feeling like a dirty old man instead of a hormone driven teenager. (Or worse, admiring a cartoon-drawn woman, I guess that’s just plain creepy.)
I guess I could calculate and figure that Superman has been around since 1938 and Batman has been lurking around since 1939, but that still doesn’t change the fact they always remain thirtyomething while I just waved goodbye to the half-century mark. Again, where’s the fairness? Well, life ain’t fair. It just wears you down and then leaves you like an ex-wife with all your money. Comic book characters do the same. The most you can hope for is that your kids or your grandkids will outlive these ageless avengers. I don’t really mean that. In reality I hope that the characters live on forever to entertain my descendants for many more centuries to come. That sounds like a pretty good thing to pass on to the long line of Smiths to come. (Trust me, Smiths will always outnumber the rest of you.)
So unless I can act like John Locke from the TV show Lost, find an island with a big time traveling wheel to turn things back, looks like I’m stuck with knowing time waits for no one…except for our heroes in the comic books.
Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Busted Knuckles Manly Movie of the Week:Sudden Death
Filmed in the Philippines.
Starring Robert Conrad, Don Stroud, Felton Perry, John Ashley, and Nancy Conrad.
Hollywood tough guy Robert Conrad stars as Duke Smith – that was enough reason for me to love this movie – who along with his wise crackin’, high kickin’ best friend, Wyatt Spain (Felton Perry) get called on to shut down some dirty dealing corporate types that have enlisted the corrupt help of some Philippine thugs and Duke’s one time pal, now turned psycho assassin, (the Great Don Stroud)
This movie is without a doubt the ULTIMATE manly movie of the 70’s, bar none. It was direct to video before there was direct to video. It’s also got the most testosterone trailer ever produced. It was if Stan Lee was on steroids and wrote the promo for this knuckle busting, crude cussing, leisure suit wearing, kung fu doing, machine gunning mayhem of a movie.
It captures all the grit of the ’70s and shows you why Robert Conrad wasn’t too snooty to help out his real-life acting buddy, John Ashley (He was in all the early ’60s surf movies) and star in this low budget Philippines fist thrower. Sudden Death is where you move your highbrow low and spit in the eye of political correctness. The suits wouldn’t let them make a movie this manly today, Heck, they wouldn’t back in 1977, that’s why they made it in the Philippines!
This film is nearly impossible to find on VHS and has never been released on DVD. I saw it first in 1977 at the Ceredo Drive-In in all its mammoth manliness on a screen big enough to crush King Kong. I saw it the way it was supposed to be seen. I found it on VHS a few years ago and handle the tape like the treasure it is. I paid $5.00 for it on eBay. You need to search this out and see it for yourself, until then, watching the trailer on YouTube will have to do. (Please note for the faint of heart, the trailer has brief nudity and cussing.)
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: Men Magazine
Date: the 1950s, when men were still men and could still camp out together and fight giant animals without guilt.
The cover says it all: “I battled a giant otter.”
Come on, you mean you haven’t? Feel the shame.
Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Raquel Welch
Words not needed.
It’s that time of year, the time when I pack up and leave the Flying Fist Ranch, throw gear into the truck, and head north to Columbus, Ohio for the annual Mid-Ohio Comic Con.
Mid-Ohio Con is one of my favorite conventions and I’ve tried to attend most every one of them in the last 25 years. Through those years, I’ve been treated like the Cowboy Warrior King that I am by the original con host, Roger Price, and then by James and Bill Henry when they took over the show from Roger. This year marks the first year that Wizard World has put on the show, so I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of offerings my old friend Stephen Shamus will ante up for my arrival. (A parade with elephants, cheerleaders and a key to the city will suffice)
What I’m really hoping for is that all of you “Knuckleheads” will show up, enjoy the show and tell me lies that will inflate my already swollen ego. Perhaps you’ll buy my comics and other manly items that I bring, I’d enjoy that, after all, and my enjoyment is what it’s all about, right??
I do hope that all of you will try and attend if you can, I’d love to see you and regale you with my latest lies of my feats of testosterone filled endeavors.
Mid-Ohio Con is October 22nd and 23rd in Columbus, Ohio at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. http://store.wizardworld.com/beausmith.html
See you there.
The Flying Fist Ranch