The hot topic in the comic book business last week was the “death” of Marvel superhero icon, Captain America. During a slow news day, the national media took the story and ran it all day. As always, they acted surprised that a publisher would “kill” off such a high profile character, and as usual, they were surprised that kids don’t read comics and that they are no longer 12 cents.
The message boards were aflame with comments and theories of this move by Marvel Comics. Some were bent out of shape and others called it a low level marketing stunt. Either way you toss the shield, it was news.
I thought it would be interesting if I posted up the thoughts of a high profile comic book creator/artist and let them share their thoughts with you in a public forum. The creator is Graham Nolan.
Graham has drawn almost every character in the world of comic book publishing. He’s worked for and been a part of the inner workings of almost every comic book publisher from Marvel and DC Comics to being the artist on iconic newspaper strip characters Rex Morgan and The Phantom. Graham is the artist that came up with the look for one of Batman’s biggest villains-Bane. It was Graham that drew the famous “Bane Broke Batman’s Back” saga that garnered much of the same national publicity that the current Death Of Captain America has. So he knows the turf well.
Art By Graham Nolan
Art By Graham Nolan
Because of his experience in all these events and fields I thought he would be the perfect person to share his views on the topic of Captain America. So at this point I’ll hand the Busted Knuckles Barroom floor over to Graham Nolan:
THE RISE OF THE SOUPER-HERO
By Graham Nolan
Let me say it for the record? I’m a meat and potatoes man?I DON’T LIKE SOUP! It’s a thin, watered down version of real man food (how’s that, Beau?) with nothing to sink your teeth into! Just like the modern day super-hero. The super-heroes of old are nothing of the sort and are watered down versions of their former once glorious selves.
One of the greatest story arcs ever done in comics, IMHO, is the MANGOG saga which appeared in MIGHTY THOR 154-157. A virtual, how-to, on pacing a great dramatic action story. I won’t go into the story for those who haven’t read it, but there is a great scene in which Thor, trying to find Loki runs into a bunch of hippies. They start to bust on Thor because he’s such a “square”, and they don’t care about his needs because they “tuned in, and dropped out”. Thor, being the noble character he is, sympathizes with their free spirt and innocence (ie: ignorance) and gently reprimands them for being misguided. “‘Tis not by dropping out-but by plunging into the maelstrom of life—that thou shall find thy wisdom”! He goes on to tell them there are battles to be won and causes to espouse, and that they can “drop out” when death is at their door but as long as life endures they must live to the fullest?”Else, thou be unworthy of the title—MAN!“
Can you imagine this scene in ANY mainstream comic today?
The editorial edict these days seems to be to integrate these beloved characters into the real world and have them behave and act like we would in these troubled and uncertain times. Oh, really? We are talking about characters that wear their underwear on the outside! I don’t know too many people in the “real world” that do this (with the exception of Beau Smith and Chuck Dixon, of course). These are supposed to be fantasy characters that embody the classic heroic ideal. Sure, times are scary right now, but think back to when the Marvel Age started. We had missiles pointed at us in Cuba, a cold war about to go hot with the very real possibility of nuclear annihilation. A President, a presidential candidate, and a civil rights leader murdered, riots in the streets, the rise of drugs and the counter-culture and a war raging in south-east Asia! Talk about uncertain times, and yet, as comics readers during those decades of the 60’s and 70’s we always had our fantasy heroes to look up to and take us away FROM the real world and perhaps, even get some frustrations out as we lived vicariously through them. Tony Stark fought commie spies, Spider-Man dealt with campus up-risings, all current topics of the day, to be sure, yet readers always knew who the hero was and that they would do the right thing, even if deep down inside, we knew we wouldn’t or couldn’t.
Art By John Romita
Super-heroes are supposed to inspire us past our own fears and limitations and remind us that sometimes we have to take the high road and not do what is easy, but do what is right. Through super-heroes we should see ourselves?only better, not mirror images.
What we have now in current comics is ourselves. We live in a media controlled, me first world of self-absorption and this is now reflected in our heroes who are talking and behaving like frat boys instead of inspiring us though their words and actions.
Yesterday, I learned that Marvel has “killed” one of my personal favorites, Captain America. Maybe this is a business decision based on the chance that the copyright will revert back to Joe Simon. I somehow doubt it and see it as a failed sales stunt and more of a political statement.
Cap was designed and created in 1941to fight our enemies during a world at war. He has always been the embodiment of freedom and liberty and (even more than Superman) “the American Way”, but some how, the enemy has become modern America, the government of the people, so in essence the enemy is now us! We are again a nation at war, besieged by enemies. Personally, I would like to see Cap kicking some enemy butt instead of our own. And if sales figures from the last few years are any indication, so would the rest of America! Charlton cancelled their entire line of comics with sales that were twice what most Marvel and DC titles are currently selling at. So it ain’t working, folks!
Art By Graham Nolan
The ignoble death of Cap hit me, metaphorically, as further evidence of the death of the once great super-hero. Instead of going out in a blaze of glory, fighting the hoards of HYDRA, he goes out with a whimper, hand-cuffed like a criminal and shot by a sniper like any ordinary man. A man’s death can be as inspiring as his life?looks like the writers missed the boat on this one as well.
Let’s hope there will someday be a return to Men of Steel, Caped Crusaders and Sentinals of Liberty instead of the watered down “soup” versions we have now. God knows we need them.
Now, somebody get me a nice rib-eye and a Guinness to wash it down!
Thanks, Graham. We all appreciate your time and efforts on this and I recommend to all of you that you check out Graham’s work in your daily newspaper and his vast amount of comic book work. As you can see by some of the samples I’ve posted, Graham is a master craftsman.
If you have any comments that you’d like to discuss on this topic and Graham’s remarks just?post up your words on the Busted Knuckles Forum or email Graham directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. No need in telling him I sent ya. He’s gonna know that already.
Robots That Aren’t In Disguise
As most of you know, The Transformers are hitting it big this year with the very popular series that IDW Publishing is doing as well as the soon to be released HUGE budget Transformers movie. You’d think that you’d have more than enough big robots smashing things.
The very talented folks at AIT/Planet Lar have released a fantastic gear busting book called GRW: Giant Robot Warriors. It is cover to cover mind blowing, eye popping art and story. There’s a new world war and it’s being fought by The United States Department of Giant Robot Warriors.-an under-funded, overburdened, team that has to jump into action when a tiny mid-eastern country suddenly develops Giant Robot Technology.
This is a political satire that may or may not fall on your side of the political party, but either way it’s fun, funny and jammed with words and pictures that will entertain. It’s set in an alternate reality that makes fun of everyone from the media, the military , the left, the right and all those in-between. Nobody gets out without a few stitches and an oil change.
Giant Robot Warriors is written by Stuart Moore (Firestorm) and drawn by Ryan Kelly (Lucifer). They have the time of their life with this lock and loaded, city stomping, bomb blowing story of a world war gone crazy. This graphic novel has a very cool dust jacket and is in soft-cover format. It’s in black and white and carries a cover price of $12.95. You can find out more about it at http://www.ait-planetlar.com.
As always, you tell em’ Beaubot sent ya.
A Manly Modern Master
I’ve spoken of the wonderful work that TwoMorrows Publishing put out many times here in Busted Knuckles. Well, I’m back to talk about more of it.
TwoMorrows has done some incredible volumes of Modern Masters where they focus entire books on the works of the legends of comic books. In a new volume just released, TwoMorrows puts the spotlight on one of the most gifted artists in pop culture, Charles Vess.
Modern Masters Volume 11: Charles Vess is a beautiful and interesting book of over 120 pages. It’s filled with tons of black and white as well as 8 color pages of art. roughs, layouts and other behind the scenes works of Vess and a few photos of Charles too. That always helps when you’re looking for him at a convention or if he owes you money.
Vess is a master story teller and this volume proves it over and over. Vess has conquered the realms of super hero, fantasy , and fine art. His work really has no bounds. This book is filled with a HUGE interview with Vess that any comic book creator or aspiring creator will want to read.
Modern Masters: Charles Vess Volume 11 has a cover price of $14.95. You can buy it from any fine comic book store or through TwoMorrows Publishing at http://www.twomorrows.com.
Tell em’ I sent you and I told you to get there in a hurry.
Busted Knuckles Babe Of The Week
– actress / host / funny girl
I don’t know how many of you have had the chance to watch ATTACK OF THE SHOW on G4 Television, but if you haven’t, then you need to. Olivia Munn is the co-host on the show with Kevin Pereira. It’s a fun show and always a good way to kill some time. The main reason to watch is of course, Olivia Munn. She is talented and very funny. She’s also very attractive and that always catches my manly eye. She was born in Oklahoma and raise in Japan and now is back here in America making things all better.
On YouTube and her own Myspace page, Olivia has a TOO FUNNY short film where she’s Wonder Woman. It’s a smart, witty, laugh-out-loud short that’ll entertain any comic reader or non-reader. It’s just plain funny. Check it out at http://www.myspace.com/omunn.
If you see her, I don’t care if you tell her that Beau sent ya, Just tell her to call me and wear that Wonder Woman outfit.
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover Of The Week
Startling Comics #37
1945 Better Publications
Art By Alex Schomburg
Kill! Kill! Punish and Destroy! That’s what Pyroman used to say when he would be in the middle of teaching global bad guys a lesson. Pyroman was one of the Golden Age superheroes that hung out with his buddies The Black Terror, The Fighting Yank as well as Captain Future. They all used to go around and beat up anybody that even thought about committing a crime. They were the original “punch first and ask questions later” kinda heroes.
Pyroman was a real dangerous fella. He had the power of electricity and wasn’t shy about using it to make bad guys “southern-fried”. He was big on saving hot babes and he sure didn’t like the Japanese or any other members of the Axis Of Evil. He wasn’t politically correct by today’s standards. There was a war to fight and he figured he’d do his best to win it.
Like I said, he didn’t like the Japanese…or anyone else for that matter.
This cover as many of the Better / Standard / Nedor covers , was drawn by the famous Alex Schomburg. One of the first to sign his covers and get credit.
Another week has rolled by and we’re already in mid-March. We’ve been enjoying some sun and spring like weather here at the ranch. Not too bad. I hope you’ve shoveled all your snow or have gotten a break from the rain in your area. If you’re on one of the beach coasts then you don’t count because you have good weather all the time. I feel no pain for those of you in San Diego.
Don’t forget that this week (the 14th) the Cobb Magazine will be in the stores for sale. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it and I hope your retail outlet carries it. Remember, if this sells then Eduardo and I get to do another one. I wanna get Cobb down in Texas. There’s a story on the border that needs to be told, amigos.
Keep the input a coming. I’m always here to read it.
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507
Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!