The Kinkiness of Russ Manning & Other Notes


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Friday, March 26, 2010


Who Wears Short Shorts? Robot Fighters, That's Who.

More notebooks, mostly relating to The Comics Journal:

Panter as Talker, Manning’s Kinkiness. Gary Panter was in Toronto last night speaking at our local art’s college and of course I went to hear him. Among his many other talents, Panter is, along with Lynda Barry and Art Spiegelman, one of the greatest talkers in the comics world, indeed one of the world’s great talkers period. He’s lived a great, rich life and has a storehouse of stories but more importantly he can, like Barry, talk about creativity with a directness and honesty that forces you to rethink all your fundamental assumptions. And, like Spiegelman, Panter knows more about the history of art than the entire faculty of your typical Ivy League university. During the talk, Panter mentioned that as a kid he was attracted to Magnus, Robot Fighter in large part because of the kinky short shorts (or was it a proto-mini-skirt) Russ Manning had the hero wear.

This reminded me of the great Arn Saba interview with Manning which ran in the Comics Journal #203. During the interview Manning asks Saba if he’s read the Tarzan novels. Saba says no and the following exchange occurs:

Manning: It is a superb novel. And in it, Jane is about to be raped by the big ape and that’s just the theme he used all the way through it.

Saba: I was aware of that from reading the comic versions of it, yours included. Yeah, I think it’s a fantastic thing, that imagery, because in this primeval jungle you can take primeval sexuality and symbolize it through all these various creatures: the women with the hairy brassieres and all these things … [laughs] I’m embarrassed to say I notice these things and react to them.

Manning: Well, I hope my readers do.

Saba: The fact that all the women in Opar have these strange, long, pendulous, fur things hanging down between their legs – they’re very penis-like things! [laughs] That’s what they look like to me, anyway.

Manning: Just cloth.

Saba: Cloth, but they’re so long and sinuous. [laughter]

Manning: I don’t know if that came out in just a design sense or instinctual or what. They probably look right, so I drew it that way.

 

Fiore Culling. This paragraph by R. Fiore is too good to let languish in the muck and mire of the Comics Journal message board. He’s writing about Crumb’s stature in comparison to other cartoonists: “The misconception is in thinking that Crumb is reachable as a rival. You can be on a pretty high plane, as Speigelman is, and still not be on the same plane as Crumb. Not many are. Kirby had that kind of oceanic talent, but not the mind. Barks never truly transcends the commercial, and Eisner is a shopkeeper in comparison. Kurtzman is on that level, but he had help. The cartoonists who are at or above Crumb’s level are canonical newspaper strip guys — Schulz, Herriman, Segar, Kelly.” I’m not sure I would put Kelly on the list; a great cartoonist of course, but for me Pogo doesn’t cut as deeply as Krazy Kat or Peanuts. And I would refine the argument by saying that Maus is greater than any one story or book by Crumb, just as Van Gogh’s The Starry Night is greater than any one painting by Picasso but Crumb and Picasso remain towering figures with dauntingly large body of great work. The entire Crumb corpus is much larger and more various than any rival’s.

Little acorns, big trees. What was Alice Sebold up to before she wrote her best-selling novel The Lovely Bones? Why she was collaborating with J.D. King on a comic that ran in the very first issue of Drawn and Quarterly, the house journal of the global powerhouse known as D&Q. Sebold of course has multiple connections to comics through her husband Glen David Gold, also a novelist as well as occasional comics critic. I’ve enjoyed Gold’s essays on comics  – an opinion not shared by all. The word on the street is that his new novel Sunnyside has some comics references.

Words worth remembering. “My only interest in Superman, marginal at that, stems from his continuing presence as a symbol of banality and infantilism in the history of American comic books.” Gary Groth, Amazing Heroes #136, February 29, 1988, p. 93

Great Moments in Comics Criticism. In the Comics Journal #77, there is a letter from R.C. Harvey that lavishes great praise on Frank Miller’s Daredevil while dismissing the few pages of Spiegelman’s Maus that Harvey had seen. “Incidentally, I haven’t read Maus, so I can speak of it with no authority whatsoever. But from your discussion of it and the sample pages of it I’ve seen, its drama seems to derive entirely from its contents. No attempt is made to exploit the medium, the form, apart from the curious ploy of casting mice in all the parts. Inspired as this device may be as a way of creating distance between a  much-explored subject and the reader, it seems to serve no other purpose except to create distance. The drawings I’ve seen contribute almost no expression to the characters (contrary to your assertions); they are expressionless and monotonous. That’s doubtless purposeful: the feeling of detachment that results creates a tension between the subject and its mode of narration. True, this is a way of having form and content work together, but the impact of the story – at least in your assessment of it – arises wholly from content, not form…You [Gary Groth] crucify Miller for his lack of content; but you ignore Spiegelman’s pedestrian form to applaud his content.” (p. 37)

More Groth. From Groth’s response to the above letter from Harvey: “A brief digression: Jack Kirby practically created the super-hero idiom, which is to say that Kirby almost single-handedly created the comics idiom as it’s known and understood in America. But, Kirby was an anti-intellectual artist; that is, he had the unique, and by no means unimportant talent of translating human experience into something monumental, compelling, grandiose – and utterly moronic. It is a paradox that Kirby, one of America’s most original and vital comic book talents, is the progenitor of this ongoing moronism that has adulterated American comic books from the beginning. Furthermore, comic books evolved out of a corrupt, stupid and poisonous background dominated by hacks, whose major aesthetic consideration was to follow the past of least resistance and whose major influences outside of comics were literally a compendium of the worst aspects of junk culture, the inevitable result of which was coarse, vulgar, primitive work.” The Comics Journal #77, p.42. I would love to see GG expand this paragraph into a full-dress essay. I think Groth’s conflicted relationship to Kirby gets to the tension heart of the Grothian aesthetic, a love of the comics past but also an awareness of the limits of this heritage.

Tweets that warm my heart. “The more I look into Canada’s cartooning past, the more I really feel what the Doug Wright Awards are trying to do,” Kate Beaton wrote on Feb. 27. “There’s so much hidden. And the more grateful I am for having been recognized by them! Thanks, guys.” John Martz on March 5: “Jeet Heer is a national treasure.” Who couldn’t agree with these sentiments?

You hurl a mean spit-ball, Mr. Dorkin. I’ve made a note never to annoy Evan Dorkin, the put-down king of comics, expert card and cut-up. One example: “I know Yoe has a reprint line out, unfortunately I don’t go for his books, he has an editorial approach I can only describe as schmucky, it’s like that doofy haircut of his drips something into all his projects to make them borderline creepy and most definitely corny, like his website, with the Wonder Woman bondage crap and the cheesecake and the ‘naughty’ pictures and dopey writing style. Rubs me the wrong way, as does his writing on comics in general, I just don’t think he writes very well and his observations are shallow and fannish in a way I don’t appreciate. I don’t think I’ve bought one Yoe reprint project yet, not even the Ditko one, which I was interested in, but instead of an art book as titled, it’s a reprint of stories, and not as well-done or readable, to me, as the Fantagraphics volume. Bloated design and not an ‘art book’ as far as I think of them.” Of course when the writing is this vigorous it’s hard not to enjoy it. I’m sure even Craig Yoe had a nice little chuckle at these jests.

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29 Responses to “The Kinkiness of Russ Manning & Other Notes”
  1. That Panter talk was pretty inspiring! I hope it was recorded by someone – there were some parts to it that I’d like to hear again. I thought the choice quote of the night was “Being married to an artist is like being married to a gambler. You’re betting on horses, except you’re the horse, and you’re getting old.”

    Jeet – I saw you in the audience and would have introduced myself, but I had to meet a friend to do some printing on the top floor of the building after the talk. I look forward to meeting you at TCAF, though!

  2. Patrick Ford says:

    I also see Crumb as a giant. Maus is a fine book, but it really doesn’t compare to anything Crumb’s ever done in my view. It’s certainly more ambitious in theme and scale than what comes so naturaly to Crumb, but it’s as much the source matwerial as the work itself which gives Maus it’s stature. There isn’t anything about it which Speigleman brought to the project which just stops me in my tracks the way all of Crumb’s work does.
    My own pantheon would include Crumb, Herriman, and Kirby.
    I’ve never seen Kirby as lacking in intellectual chops (very much the opposite), and if anything he had a more difficult task than Crumb or Herriman, due the millstone around his neck (mainstream kids comics) to bring the very real things he puts of himself in his work to the fore. Kirby’s work can be likened to E.B. White, or Roald Dahl in that while it is targeted at a younger reader due to it’s idiom, the work contains more genuine thought, and feeling than the vast majority of things targeted to an adult.
    It’s interesting that the snide remarks of 70’s silver age comic book geeks have so infected the discourse whenever Kirby’s work is discussed that even people who I’d think would see the very obvious difference between Kirby’s writing (most people do see the very obvious difference, but many of them see that difference as Kirby’s writing being dreadful), and the writing of any other mainstream comic book writer. Only John Stanley is in Kirby’s league, even Barks is a step behind along with Eisner, and Kelly.

  3. Jacob Covey says:

    These are awesome notes, as always, Mr. Heer. Love the Picasso/Crumb comparison.

  4. wedge says:

    Kirby and Crumb are the twin poles of comic book art – whole industries and cultures have built up around them (I’d even argue punk and its offshoots wouldn’t be what it was without ‘Zap’). Groth is wrong – Kirby drew and wrote for 11 year-olds, and was one of the best who ever did.

    You should check out Harvey Pekar’s late 80s attack on Spiegelman and ‘Maus’ (and the CJ row that ensued with R. Fiore). Have to say that Spiegelman has always left me cold. I found ‘Maus’ narcissistic to the point of feeling vaguely offended (I’m with Pekar when it comes to the ‘race as species’ device), and almost ‘blackmailed’ by it’s subject matter (and ‘In the Shadow of No Towers’ would be universally panned if someone without Spiegelman’s ‘rep’ did it).

    Great critic, great editor – but (with Eisner) probably the most overrated cartoonist of the 20th century!

  5. inkstuds says:

    The Kirby/Crumb comparison is an interesting dialectical lens in understanding the modern split in comics. I am really fascinated by how far “mainstream” and “alt-comix” are split apart. They are kind of like roots in two different directions that comics went in at some point, and the split has been very broad.

  6. wedge says:

    Well they both have deep roots in pre-war newspaper comics – where the split between ‘adventure’ and ‘humour’ seems to inform the split between ‘alt’ and ‘mainstream’ (even though some of they key ‘alt’ cartoonists have huge influences from the more ‘adventure’ illustration, like Hernandez, Panter, Burns and Clowes). But Crumb’s towering influence seems to bind notions of ‘alt’ to humour and the ‘cartoony’.

    Funny thing is that both Kirby and Crumb have a big element of mysticism in their themes – something that connects Crumb’s Genesis to Grant Morrison’s Superman.

  7. patrick ford says:

    There are tremendous similarities between Crumb and Kirby.
    Both their work is rooted in, and springs from the well-spring of exuberance which is comics greatest strength. (Opper, Herriman, Segar, Dirks)
    Every form of expression has things which it does better than other mediums.
    The name comics stuck, because going back to Daumier, Hogarth or before it is an art best suited to exaggeration. That is it’s strength, that is it’s advantage.
    Just as film can’t possibly present a superhero without eliciting unintentional hilarity, comics are not best served by formal attempts at realism.
    When Crumb presents a character called Angle-Food McSpade, or Flakey Foont, Mr.Natural, or The Ruff-Tuff-Cream-Puff, he is working the same ground as Kirby did when presenting, Granny Goodness, Scott Free, Darkseid, or Devil Dinosaur.
    Both artists use wildly exaggerated language, and art, to make tell stories with a sharp point.
    Both men have a idiosyncratic personal world view which is deeply felt.
    Neither man parrots the “official stories” of either of the two sanctioned “sides.”
    Both men internalize everything, and might find something which affects their work anywhere.
    Crumb recently said: “I’m as likely to find as much he equal aesthetic value in a dime store trinket as in fine art.”

  8. Glen Gold says:

    >I’ve enjoyed Gold’s essays on comics – an opinion not shared by all.

    Wait a minute! I thought I was universally beloved. Oh, hold on…that’s chocolate chip cookies. My bad.

  9. patrick ford says:

    I guess I should start reading things before I post them.
    Crumb: “I’m as likely to find as much aesthetic value in a dime store trinket as in fine art.”

    BTW, count me as mystified by the reaction of R.C. Harvey towards Frank Miller.
    If Spiegelman is the Steven Spielberg of comic books.
    Frank Miller is kind of the Tarintino of comic books isn’t he?

  10. wedge says:

    More like their Mickey Spillane – re-reading some of his Batman stuff, I’m reminded of ‘T.J. Hooker’.

  11. Without Miller tho’, we’d barely have an “industry” left. Say what you will about him but he’s more or less responsible for the comics boom of ’86. Without that boom who knows what would have happened to the “industry”.

  12. Dan Nadel says:

    I don’t buy the Crumb – Kirby comparison at all, but then I kind of think the “this artist is best here, but the other is best there” kind of arguments are fun drinking games but not terribly productive. And the Van Gogh – Picasso thing is straight up weird. I know it was casual, but you’re comparing artists across a paradigm shift, just like Kirby and Crumb.

    Kirby’s work is far more rich than anyone has really gotten at. Late period works like The Losers are searing, highly emotional and articulate comics. He may have always talked about “making sales” but it’s patently false to ascribe all his work to an 11-year old audience. Anyone that actually reads the stuff can see that he seemed to be “writing” for himself — there’s no clear audience whatsoever.

    Crumb is equally rich, but in an entirely different way.

    As for Miller: Frank is right, of course, about the industry aspect, but it’s not just that: His 80s work took the best of Steranko, Ditko and Kirby, brought into contemporary urban life and infused it with genuine pathos and politics. It’s also genuinely strange and mysterious.

    As for Evan’s comments on Yoe: Cheers.

  13. Jeet Heer says:

    @Frank Santoro. Yeah, it’s true that Miller’s The Dark Knight (along with Watchmen) did not just save the industry but transformed it, for better or worse. It’s hard to imagine what superhero or crime comics would be like without Miller.
    @Dan Nadel and Patrick Ford. I dunno, I kinda like the the Crumb/Kirby comparison. Of course they worked in totally different milieus but it’s still interesting to think of them as having some similarities. But while Miller’s work was “genuinely strange and mysterious” I’m not sure he took the “best of…Ditko and Kirby” (I’ll give Steranko). Ditko and Kirby seem like much better, deeper artists than Miller; and Kirby in particular has a range that Miller can’t touch. But I don’t need to tell you that.

  14. wedge says:

    I think the major difference with Kirby and Miller is that Kirby certainly got deeper and more mysterious with age, whereas Miller has turned into a parody of himself – with the sadism, right-wing crankiness and the other uglier aspects that appeared ‘edgy’ to an 11 year old are now somewhat embarrassing. Funny enough, Miller’s done much better in Hollywood than Kirby ever did!

    I’d argue that the ‘British Invasion’ had a bigger ‘rescue’ effect on mainstream comics than Miller (his Daredevil has a lot of 80s cop show or vigilante sequel schtick – not something you could say about Moore, Gaiman or Morrison).

  15. wedge says:

    Forgot to add that mainstream comics now seem ‘sold’ as a writer’s medium, since Moore and Gaiman.

  16. patrick ford says:

    Frank, Would we have an industry today if it weren’t for superhero movies? Aside from “event” issues it looks to me like the typical mainstream book is now selling well under a hundred-thousand copies per issue.
    Don’t you think the late 80’s boom was more about comics being seen as a pseudo commodity not much different from baseball cards?
    There was a lot of hoop-la aside from Miller, you had the Image guys (that was the 80’s wasn’t it?). I would guess TMNT sold more comics, than Miller.
    I remember going in the local shop back then, and standing in line (a line, can you imagine) with a copies of Love and Rockets, Captain Victory, and Raw while in front of and behind me were people about my age (at that time 25-30) with stacks of comics a foot and a half high, many of which were multiple copies.
    I was intrigued enough to sample what Miller was doing. Didn’t like it then, and still can’t understand it’s appeal.
    My take on Miller was (and is), his work wasn’t consistent in it’s form like a great cartoonist would present (say Segar, Crumb, Kurtzman).
    A great cartoonist works out a style which he stays consistent within. There is a logic in the cartooned style which the artist fully understands, and can use to solve any drawing problem. To my eye Miller looks like he’s flying by the seat of his pants, his stuff doesn’t have a feel of formalized exaggeration, but instead looks distorted in different ways from panel to panel.
    If you look at a polished cartoonist like Charles Schulz you can see he fully understands the cartoon style he has created, the forms are consistent. They are realistic, in that they stay true to their proportions.
    Miller’s writing is personally expressive, I think he has something to say, and gets that out on the page. On that level Miller is successful, he could almost be seen as an S.Clay Wilson, or Rory Hayes. The problem for me is I find Miller’s views to be one-dimensional, uninteresting, and repulsive, there is none of the leavening humor, found in Wilson, no contrasts. I never get the sense that Miller is winking at the reader letting us know, “don’t take this too seriously it’s all lines on paper.”
    One thing Miller does have going for him is a considerable talent for the mechanics of graphic storytelling. His layouts tell his stories clearly.

  17. patrick ford says:

    Dan, I’m not trying to say Crumb is comparable to Kirby in terms of their work.
    My point is they both use wildly exaggerated drawings and language to express what they have to say.
    Cartooning is the best tool in the cartoonists bag, and exaggeration can be used to express very serious ideas as seen in the Kurtzman war comics where it’s Kurtzman’s cartooned figures and faces which have a greater connection to emotional reality, than the studied renderings of Russ Heath in Blazing Combat.
    Filling in all the “blanks” when cartooning by attempting photo-realism leaves the work on the page. A kind of barrier is created between the reader and the art. Kurtzman leaves something for the reader to inhabit, there are spaces to interpret. There is a connection, because there is something left for the reader to do.
    Crumb is credited with that exaggeration as his intent, while some fans are convinced that Kirby’s language and expressionistic art are some kind of short coming as if Kirby were aiming for formal realism in his art and writing. The view of some seems to be that Kirby was trying to draw like Stan Drake, but it came out like Kirby because that was the best he could do, and his dialogue which has the same “square fingered” approach as his art style, would have been better served if it were more “realistic.”
    The idea that any mainstream comic book dialogue is realistic (Stan Lee or 70’s Green Lantern is realistic?) is kind of befuddling to me, although I don’t doubt that there were writers who saw there own work that way.

  18. patrick ford says:

    As an example of what Kirby very obviously intended take a look at his “Mad Bomb” saga in Captain America, and contrast that with the current poisoned political climate in this country.
    It is absolutely obvious to me (reading a bunch of interviews with Kirby would probably make it clear to anyone) that Kirby had a serious message he dressed up in the trappings of a superhero comic book.
    It isn’t the “Mad Bomb” or a can of “Ni**ger Hearts” that is the thing to laugh those are “stand-ins” for more basic observations on human nature, a topic Crumb and Kirby are near obsessed with.

  19. wedge says:

    Denny O’Neil, Engleheart and Stan Lee were terrific dialogue writers, but by no means ‘real’. Check out Speedy’s reasoning for becoming a junkie – as unrealistic as the Surfer’s motivation for betraying Galactus. There seemed to be a curious connection between changing ‘house styles’ at the end of the 60s and the appearance of ‘relevance’. I’m old enough to remember ‘Kirby vs. Neal Adams’ debates where the fanboys would usually favour Adams – but who is it we read about, write about, and pay top dollar for their books? Even the amazing Mazzucchelli had the good fortune to keep Daredevil and Batman out of costume for most of their stories.

    I’ve never got the need for ‘realism’ in mainstream comics (except it’s novelty value for kids who start out with joyfully unrealistic comics like Kirby or silver age Superman, and then look for something to match grubby, frustrated adolescence). Comics are inherently fantastical and/or expressionistic – even Ware, Hernandez and Clowes and know this, whatever the ‘truth’ of their characters or subject matter. When alt comics cling too much to the ‘real’ (in dialogue, drawing, setting) they seem kind of… well, pointless in a way. I feel like I’m reading frustrated playwrites in the wrong medium.

  20. wedge says:

    Patrick –

    Good point about Kirby’s politics and the poisonous climate that supposedly made him ‘irrelevant’. It’s the difference between a guy who created the first black superhero with his heart in the right place, and a certain industry darling who can barely conceive of a black character who isn’t a hooker, pimp, drug dealer, chauffeur (!), child abuser (!!), cannibal (!!!) or shirtless simian for Daredevil to ‘homorously’ torture.

    It’s the difference between a visionary and a cynic.

    Worth a look:

    http://www.english.ufl.edu/imagetext/archives/v5_1/finigan/

  21. Matt Seneca says:

    I found it interesting to wonder about other cartoonists who belong with the guys mentioned in the Fiore paragraph. (I actually think of Frank Miller as a part of that group — his work gets a raw deal because he’s an embarrassment to himself, but taken as a whole it’s got an amount brilliance matched only by a very few others.)

    But how about Steve Ditko as a mainstream equivalent for Crumb? The comparison isn’t perfect, but I’d argue that there’s definitely more “mind” on display in the average Ditko comic than the average Kirby. And I find Ditko’s disciplined willingness to take bizarre ideas (like, for example, the vigilante action hero) as far as he could pretty similar to Crumb’s.

    That said, I’ll admit Crumb’s got a facet that Ditko doesn’t… while Ditko’s Objectivist comics work pretty well as an “autobiography of the mind”, Crumb’s directly autobiographical stuff goes places and pushes buttons (both aesthetically and narratively) that Ditko never did. But then again I don’t really see Crumb as ever having done purely escapist comics like Ditko’s. The comparison isn’t perfect, just something I thought was interesting…

  22. wedge says:

    That’s a pretty good comparison – consider Ditko’s refusal of money for the Spiderman movie with Crumb’s rejection of top dollar ‘Playboy’ work when it was offered. Ditko really believed in his work – no matter how childish or wacky it could be. Their love for the form clearly exceeds the wish to make big bucks (I can only think of Alan Moore when it comes to similar lack of compromise – like his refusal to work for Marvel or accept royalties for the cruddy adaptations of his work).

  23. Pat:
    “Frank, Would we have an industry today if it weren’t for superhero movies? Aside from “event” issues it looks to me like the typical mainstream book is now selling well under a hundred-thousand copies per issue.

    -The reason there are superhero movies is because of Dark Knight Returns. Think about it.

    Don’t you think the late 80’s boom was more about comics being seen as a pseudo commodity not much different from baseball cards?

    -Not in the beginning, in ’86-87 it was about the comics, Dark Knight and Watchmen and the independents.

    There was a lot of hoop-la aside from Miller, you had the Image guys (that was the 80’s wasn’t it?).

    -No that was ’91.

    I would guess TMNT sold more comics, than Miller.

    -Yah, but TMNT was a Ronin parody. So you could say that Miller was responsible for the rise of self published black and white indy comics that led to speculator market.

    -So, my point is that before you just dismiss Miller because you think it’s all pap, realize how central the work was to the industry renaissance of mid-late 80’s.

  24. wedge says:

    Most superhero movies were ‘in development’ for decades in some cases. It took CGI technology, a 90s/00s uber-geek generation of film makers, along with big mergers and takeovers, to give us the cinematic super-glut we now have.

    DKR may have been a sensation, but the sustaining of the market also had a lot to do with manga in the west, TV/movie/game/pulp lit types (Joss Wheedon, Kevin Smith etc.) ‘synergising’ comics (and their careers) with other mediums, the aforementioned ‘Brit invasion’ attracting non-fanboy readers – and the mainstream respect for big name 2nd/3rd gen alt cartoonists.

    All these factors helped to introduce a readership previously ignored – women. I doubt ’tis’n’torture’ Miller has as much of a female following as Neil Gaiman or any number of Fantagraphics cash cows.

  25. inkstuds says:

    Careful with saying that “Even the amazing Mazzucchelli had the good fortune to keep Daredevil and Batman out of costume for most of their stories.” those stories were written by Miller and before that, Mazzucchelli was drawing full superhero Daredevil. In the recent conversation between Dash Shaw and Mazzucchelli, he is very clear to state that Year One was great because of Miller’s script.

    As easy at is for folks to toss aside recent Miller product, he still busted through in the 80’s like NWA on straight out of compton. He changed the game, for better or worse, mainstream comic’s were not the same after him.

  26. wedge says:

    The point about Mazzuchelli was that his ‘realistic’ style (the body language, the settings etc) in Year One and Daredevil Born Again suited non-costumed characters more than when the ‘money shot’ superheroics got going. I’ve found Alex Toth’s superhero stuff a little jarring too – despite him being one of the all-time greats.

    For some reason, I prefer Miller’s stuff when drawn by someone else (Hard Boiled and the above, basically). His own drawing seems to bring out his worst indulgences (as for his movies – ECCH).

    Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ changed the game for modern pop music (for the worse, I’d argue) – but that doesn’t prevent every album he made after that being pandering, toe-curling pap.

  27. patrick ford says:

    Frank, It’s somewhat difficult for me to talk about the 80’s mainstream because my recollections are at a distance from it.
    In the 80’s I was going to the comics shop with a very short list.
    One of the reasons I gave Miller, Dave Sim, and Allan Moore a look was part curiosity, and partly because as long as I was going out of my way once a week to visit a comics shop (and it was out of the way) I felt I might as well come away with something to justify my effort in getting there.
    My area of interest in the 80’s was undergrounds, and newspaper strips, neither of which I purchased from a comics shop.
    The newspaper strips I was buying from a collector named Robert K. Jones (author of “The Shudder Pulps), and the undergrounds I was purchasing mail order on a frequent basis from Last Gasp.
    In addition to Weirdo (which was my favorite comic book of that time), I combed the Last Gasp catalogue for old comics by Crumb, Deitch, Wilson, Justin Green, and others.
    I don’t dismiss Miller’s popularity, I read a bunch of Daredevil, Ronin, and the Batman thing he did, but that was enough for me. I can’t say I ever looked forward to a comic book by Miller, and eventually I started asking myself, “Why am I, simply out of habit, buying and reading something I find boring?
    Bottom line is I don’t find a single thing of interest in Miller’s work, but it is apparent (I think) that Miller is the most influential figure in modern mainstream comic books.

  28. Cool. We all agree. A little, anyhow.

    I was thinking at the movies tonight that it’s sort of impossible to compare Gary Panter to his comics forefathers because of this “paradigm” shift that Dan mentions upthread.

    We should make recording a of Gary talking about hanging out with Kirby back in the mid-70’s. It’s a good story. If I remember correctly, Jack thought Gary was a little old to be starting a career in comics. (I think Gary was like 25 at the time).

  29. […] Jeet has some great notes as usual, plus some Canadiana, and a hidden report on the OCAD Gary Panter […]