Thursday, March 26, 2015

Guest Post - When a Love Affair Is Over

Doug: Now I don't want to say that this Guest Writer thing is becoming commonplace or mundane, because it isn't. Every single post we've received has been exciting to open and peruse -- like a gift from a good friend. And the readers' responses to our fellows have been wonderful as well. But today... to say that today's post is just a bit out of the ordinary would be an understatement! I remarked several days ago that not a day goes by that I don't learn something either from our readers or about our readers. When I checked the BAB email account on the evening of March 17, I was simply blown away by one of your own.

Boy -- are you all in for a treat today! Without further ado, pfgavigan has the floor!


Martinex1 said...

Holy cow pfgavigan, that is awesome!!!! I cannot tell you how gobsmacked I was when I opened the BAB today.

Much to say on this topic and Thor, but that can wait until I pick my jaw off the floor and read your entry a few more times.

Haha. Brilliant

Edo Bosnar said...

Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet! That is a most excellent post, pfgavigan.

As to the topic at hand, I can't say much about post-Simonson Thor, as I've read none of it (with one minor exception that came out over 2 decades later).
I have read some of the pre-Simonson Thor, however, and there were a number of stories I rather liked, so I don't entirely agree with your assessment. But I will acknowledge that the title had become quite bland in the time before Simonson took over.
So needless to say, I agree entirely with your assessment of Simonson's Thor - it was indeed an outstanding run containing well-conceived stories, great action, intriguing character development and oh-so fantastic art.

Doug said...

Is this not awesome?! pfgavigan (he can tell you his first name if he chooses when he comes by) gave us a little insight to his creative process, so again - maybe he'll have more to tell later today.

We have another strip of his that we're holding for a short time. It's actually an addendum to an Open Forum we reran during January. We'll post it in April.


Redartz said...

Pfgavigan,you have a gem of a post here! Terrific piece of work, artistically and analytically. No time right now for more, but I'll have to join Martinex and return later...

Plus, I have to return my screen zoom to normal (increased it to read all that detail!)

Humanbelly said...

The comforting pre-dawn hush of a solitary breakfast at the kitchen table is suddenly broken as a chair violently shoots back, ricocheting off the wall and narrowly missing the attentive dog. She calculates whether this might somehow result in being fed a second time.

A frantic, lumbering form careens through the house and down the stairs, bathrobe flailing with tragic disregard of household custom (or aesthetics).


In the basement, the upright storage freezer is flung open. An eight-year-old box of unopened Costco Boca Burgers falls out for the hundredth time-- on a hopping bare foot. It goes unnoticed.


Fingers numbed from digging under freezer-burned London broil and decades-old hot dog buns, HB despairingly raises eyes and fists to the cob-webbed underside of the kitchen up above, and howls. . . ,


At the top of the stairs, the dog waits patiently. . .

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edo Bosnar said...

O.k., HB, the suspense is killing me: did that poor dog get fed a second time or not?!

Humanbelly said...

Pfg, man, this was, like, a nesting-doll of a delightful post-! Not only is the troll-doing-Powerpoint format is an utterly engaging hoot, but it's also exactly the kind of topic that we all like to dig into 'round here. And as I was reading along, considering your assessment of Thor in particular and recalling my own similar experience w/ other titles over the years, and rifling through likely responses-- I suddenly find myself swept into the narrative! NOTHING starts a day better than a little blurring of the edges of reality, says I. . . (and I tip a very appreciative hat toward you, sir--!)

The subject at hand:

Yep, my Thor experience is very similar to yours, post-Simonson. But for decades I tended to be a "buy out of habit" comic collector, with many, many titles arriving via subscription. So I could go for months on end not really enjoying a title before I made an effort to NOT get it anymore. Lordy, this just seems insane to me now. I stuck with Thor well past the. . . 400th?. . . issue "Final" battle w/ Loki, and I think well into the DeFalco/Frenz era (kinda lose chronological track). I think the effort to create a "new" Thor-type hero w/ Thunderstrike may have been what finally turned me away.

But it's really tough for a looooooong-time, hard-core reader/collector like I was to let go of any title that you'd been collecting since adolescence. You suffer through a lot just so's you can stay "current" and in hopes that things will turn around.

With DAREDEVIL, the Nocenti/RomitaJr run finally just did me in in the mid/late 200's with issue after issue of inane, metaphysical-ish, dark-but-not-deep, relentlessly-meandering storylines. When Mephisto is ensconced for years as DD's arch-nemesis, you know the book's not on solid ground. Anyone recall Blackheart? Typhoid Mary? Anyone? No?

With the X-Men, I hung on for-EVER (long-time subscriber). I hadn't really enjoyed it for years-- but I think it finally went irreversibly south with the advent of guys like Mr Sinister and Armegeddon and the creation of Archangel. Still, I hung on through that thing where half the team "died" (the Bar Sinister? Something like that?) and went to. . . Australia. And all of the awful mega-events and title-inflation. And finally. . . the introduction of the alternate-dimension Dark Beast made me realize that the book made me feel WORSE after reading it-- and thus began a long, slow weaning process.


Karen said...

I'm on the road again, but I want to chime in and say I was utterly flabbergasted and delighted when I saw pfgavigan's work. Part of my excitement was knowing how much it would be appreciated by the rest of you. And part of it was-we have a comic strip on BAB! How cool is that? Well done sir.

William Preston said...

This was a joy. Thanks for posting it. (I left off reading comics before Simonson's Beta Ray Bill story line, but having looked at it recently, I have to say it didn't interest me as much as I'd hoped. I'm a huge fan of Simonson's art, however.)

J.A. Morris said...

Brilliant post, pfagavigan! And you've inspired me to finally read the Simonson/Thor tbp I've had for a few months.

I know the sad feeling of a comic book series that's no longer fun to read. It's hard to say when I fell out of love with certain titles. In the case of the X-Men, it was one too many mediocre artists. I quit reading the FF during the Englehart/J.Buscema/Sinnott run in the mid-to-late 80s. Fasaud (AKA the Max Headroom of the Arab World) and She-Thing told me it was time to quit the series.

Martinex1 said...

Again, I cannot say how much I like this post. Thanks pfg.

For me, there were numerous titles where I ran into the continuation of collecting conundrum. The most memorable was after years of collecting Avengers, I made it to #200 and found that issue quite odd (even as youngster). Issues 201 and 202 contained nice Perez art but an average Ultron story. After that the series went downhill quickly with a series of single issue stories and Infantino and Colan art. I am not always critical of Infantino, but these seemed really off and the story with the Beast and Wonder Man and some strange yellow creatures and the death of a child really turned me off. Colan is one of my favorites but he was a bad fit at the time for the Avengers. I muddled through for close to two years and the Yellowjacket debacle, and then pulled the plug for a while.

Regarding Thor, I liked Thor intermittently. The early Lee and Kirby stuff was of course among my favorites. Much much later I really liked Keith Pollard's art particularly on the issues with Gabriel the Air Walker and Firelord; those covers were really good. But I would follow for a few issues and drift in and out of the collecting, because as pfg said it was repetitive and kind of dull.

Regarding Simonson, I am sure I am in the minority here in that I appreciate his talent, but I cannot say I really enjoyed his run. Not sure why. But Beta Ray Bill and the Thor Frog never interested me. I had kind of the opposite reaction. For whatever reason I didn't connect with Beta Ray, and the frog seemed silly (along the lines for me as the chubby Superman cover we discussed last week); but I am not sure I gave it a fair chance. I should probably read those again as it has been many many years.

I always thought I was more of a writers' fan of comics, but I found myself losing interest in series because of the art more frequently. I recognize now that there has to be a good combo. I loved Claremont and Cockrum and then Clraremont and Byrne and ultimately Claremont and Smith on X Men. But really stopped sometime around Claremont and Romita Jr. I don't know if the writing was worse or the collaboration was just missing. I have to say I struggled through Cockrum's second run on the title (~mid 140s through 150s); I thought that was a little flat as well. Not a big fan of the X Babies or whatever that was.

On Alpha Flight I lost interest after Byrne's run; and I had trouble transitioning after Byrne left the FF.

But the all time "Stop. You are killing me. I am done," was as HB indicated the Daredevil and Mephisto tale. The thought behind it seemed to be that they were both "devils"; isn't that clever? No, not for me.

Can I just mention, in opposite I was a so so Hulk follower, but really liked Peter David's stories and followed that closely. Not for everybody, but I liked it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that was great. Nice one, pfgavigan.

As a kid I loved Thor in the British reprints, but the US Marvels were often disappointing - it didn't take long to figure out why, once I laid hands on a few issues of Kamandi and OMAC.
Ever since, I've tended to buy comics on that basis, and don't entirely get the obsession with characters.

I doubt not reading Thor much for years beforehand made any difference to my appreciation of the fantastic Simonson run. Any more than being not Marvel will affect my enjoyment of his current work on Ragnarok.


Doug said...

I would say that I fell out of love with almost all comics (despite a few high points but only here and there) from the mid-90s on. Talk about going through the motions. And spending money I'll never recoup!

Specifically with Thor, I've not read the Simonson run -- on record as stating that -- because I personally don't care for Walt's style. That doesn't mean he's a bad storyteller; his style just doesn't suit my tastes. But from around two years into the Lee/Kirby run on through the early 1980s I can read and enjoy just about any of that. Doesn't mean it's all top shelf, but it is in my wheelhouse.


Doug said...

And speaking of Guest Posts, we only have three in the queue. We know Osvaldo's cooking something up for summertime, and others have stated their desire to take the plunge.

No pressure -- just a statement in case you thought we were too full. If you submit, you'll see it within the next few weeks.

So thanks to all who have gone before -- this has really enhanced the BAB experience.


Humanbelly said...

What you put me in mind of, MX1, is that there can be a continuing "relationship" with a book even after the "love affair" has come to an end. Which is a helpful parameter for exploring PFG's topic.
My Love Affair with Spidey realistically came to an end late-ish into the miasma of that 2nd Clone Saga, with Ben Reilly and the introduction of hyper-vile characters like Carnage (Really? Someone/thing that's an even "darker" version of VENOM, for pete's sake??). And shortly around then we had a really well-done, sweet death for Aunt May---- aaaaand she was off-handedly revived a short time later. Mind you, I continued subscribing for another 10 years, and sometimes still enjoyed it quite a bit, but the joyful surrender to it-- the trust-- was gone for good. The relationship was buried and reduced to compost by the quick succession of a)Morlun (?) and mystical Spider-totem secret origin/rebirth nonesense; b) Sins of the Fa-- *gaak*-- I can't even say it. . . I just had lunch. . . ; c) Brand New Day. Mercifully, right after that all the Spidey stable was combined into one title which came out weekly (!), so my subscription drained out very quickly.

Now, I'm the biggest Hulk fan out there, o' course, but that book was criminally mis-handled when Peter David was shown the door. It was rough going for quite awhile-- but the fatal blow was really the entirety of Bruce Jones' run writing the book. I know he has a legion of followers. . . but the story he wanted to tell clearly had nothing at all to do with the Hulk specifically-- he just needed some book somewhere to shove it into. The art was generally fantastic-- and I loathed everything about the story and the storytelling, it was truly a betrayal of the character, IMO. Mind you, Planet Hulk rekindled the relationship, albeit in a wildly different venue-- but that finally resolved in the train-wreck of World War Hulk, which seemed to lead right into Civil War, which ultimately (down the road) ended my relationship with Marvel completely.


david_b said...

Some love affair endings are easy..?

Some endings are not so obvious..

But since I'm in a direct mood today.., ohhhh, where must I start..?

CA&F..? When Englehart (AND Sal Buscema...) left.

ASM...? "Look, Gwen's back.." (circa 1974)

Avengers..? Ok, blame bad mid-70s distribution, first; then Donnie Heck, the Beast, then Milgrom art and general post-200 dismal muckiness to follow.

(But for you romantics out there in BAB land, sometimes an old flame reemerges with the likes of Stern/Buscema...)

Batman Family and '70s Teen Titans..? Why look, it's Mr. Heck again.

NTT..? Perez departing, along earlier with Robin and Kid Flash's departure.

HTD..? "Steve Gerber, where did you go...?"

FF..? Big John B departing, then so long, Medusa. The Silver Kirby reprints were starting to look better and better....

All the Bronze Age Marvel reprints, MTIO, MTU, etc..? The ever-decreasing power of a couple of quarters as my allowance back then.

And YES, AWESOME post today phgavigan, and 'ever raising the bar around here for other guest contributors', aren't we..?

david_b said...

Correction: 1975 was Gwen's reappearance as a clone.., one year off.

Anonymous said...

Cool post PfGavigan! I've read Thor up to about #275, and I know what you mean about the repetition ("What, they're doing Ragnarok AGAIN?"); I've never read Simonson's run, so maybe I should get to it one of these days.

As for comics I fell out of love with, Superman comes to mind; kind of the same deal as with Thor...he's so powerful he's hard to relate to. I liked Supes when I was a kid, but by the early 80s I was just bored by him. I think I kept buying DC Presents (because of the team-ups), but not the main titles. I tend to like certain heroes (Superman, GL, Flash, Iron Man, Thor) better in team books than in their own titles.

Doug, I've been ruminating on something lately for a new post...I thought it might be a little strange, but if PfGavigan can pull off the "troll lecture", I guess my idea isn't so weird after all! I'll try to get it to you this weekend sometime.

Mike Wilson

Doug said...

Mike --

Given our "usual fare" (whatever that means), the guest posts of the past couple of weeks should definitely have shaken our readers out of the comfort zone. So you bring all the weird, offbeat, and slightly irregular you want to bring!


pfgavigan said...


I wanted to take this opportunity to thank those who joined the conversation today. The origin of my post was a desire to thank those involved with this site; Karen, Doug and all those who contribute and comment on these postings. You all make this a very pleasant site to visit, something of a rarity in the field of comicbook appreciation.

If anyone is interested; the original artwork was done in the traditional method of pencil and pen before being scanned into the computer. There it was grey washed in Corel Painters Essential 4 before being matted into the harvested comicbook art and lettered in the GIMP program.

To Mike Wilson; I look forward to reading your post when it reaches this site. Strange can be good. Strange can be a lot of fun. Strange can even be Benedict Cumberbatch, although I would have preferred Hugh Laurie with Rowan Atkinson playing Wong!

To david_b; Found myself in agreement with several of your choices. Regarding Gerber and the Duck, I think you might find this link interesting:

To everyone, thank you for commenting. Your words have helped remind me that while characters and titles may have waxed and waned in our opinion, there was a time when we did take great enjoyment in them.

To Humanbelly, well, what can I say. I found your prose very entertaining and, again, find myself in agreement with several of your points.

Oh, and by the way, my favorite ice pop flavors are Orange, Lime and Your Tears.

Yours to all in appreciation,


Garett said...

Outstanding, pfgavigan!! Love this comic book look at Thor. Nice art! Looking forward to the next one.

I'm a fan of Thor and Walt Simonson, but haven't been able to get into his run on Thor. I have one of the TPBs though, and maybe it'll grab me at some point. It's good to see your take on why it was a good run. I prefer Kirby on Thor, and Simonson on Manhunter.

For me, it's usually when an artist leaves that I leave the book-- like Sienkiewicz on Moon Knight. Sometimes with a strong writer, I'll stay if the artists are all good-- like Steve Gerber on Howard the Duck, with Brunner, J. Buscema and Colan doing art.

The Prowler said...

Just wanted to jump in and say: Good Job!!! Really enjoyed today's post. And many of the past few days as well.

I didn't realize that the joy I experienced having the oldest back for a few weeks and a shift in work would impact so deeply, but it did!!! Then again, I wouldn't trade running around with my daughter for anything (except maybe a bit more sleep!!!)

I don't want to bore my fellow BABers with my story of lost love. Especially in light of the fact that most of you wouldn't know her. She's not from around here, she's Canadian. We met at camp. I don't have a picture of her but she did some modeling for a catalogue, here's a picture of her but her hair was longer when we met.......

(Nobody's touch feels like your touch
Nobody's gets to me that much
Nobody's kiss moves me inside
And I have nowhere left to hide
Tell me what can I do?
I have a vision of you
Tell me what can I do
With this vision of you).

Comicsfan said...


Redartz said...

Again, great job, pfgavigan! Like HB, Spiderman was my eventual cutoff. I had dropped essentially all other titles, but kept up Amazing. Granted, there were lengthy sabbaticals from the book ( particularly the Strazinsky run), and I finally gave it up when the title ended at issue 700. Did enjoy Dan Slott's work, but just couldnt deal with Doc Ock as tbe webslinger...

Dr. Oyola said...

This was friggin' great!

For me, the Simonson tun is the definitive run, BUT the last two series by Jason Aaron have been really great.

Oh, and speaking of Howard the Duck- I am starting a new series on my blog called "If it WAUGHs like a Duck. . ." which will compare the original HtD series by Gerber with the new series by Chip Zdarsky one issue at a time.

Humanbelly said...

A quick word about THOR specifically-- it was kind of the poster-child for a book that could indeed take a turn for the better at some point if you didn't like it at the moment. Really prone to radical changes in direction, tone, and even look-- maybe because it always seemed on the verge of cancellation. It "ended" at one point, and became a Thor-less Journey Into Mystery for awhile,starring a cadre of Asgardians stranded in NYC-- which was a surprisingly engaging book. Then at about the time Planet Hulk came out, the book took us along an. . . alternate?. . . time-line into Asgard's future, w/ Thor as the monarch, and his son more of the protagonist-- and this finally led to Thor's death (as well as ended the book's run for a time). This was a very, VERY good arc in itself that I think nobody ever read at all-- solidly good comics.
"Rekindled Love Affair" is exactly the right phrase for its effect on me.

@ edo: Ha! No, no, NO that wide-behinded dog did NOT get fed again! She has honed her "extra feeding" con-game to a shamefully fine edge. On mornings when we have guests she's been known to manipulate herself three full breakfasts. . . !

Not on my watch!


Anonymous said...

Oh ... my ... God!!!!

Pfgavigan, you just hit a home run with this post ol' buddy! Now that is one cool ogre/troll you drew there. This is the most creative way of expressing a topic here that I've ever seen! And you say you got more on the way? Bring it on baby!

I didn't collect the entire run of Simonson's work on Thor, having collected only a few scattered issues, but I do remember reading that last 300th issue with art by Sal Buscema. I'm with Doug on the topic of Simonson's art; he's never really been my cup of tea artwise but his plotting on Thor is definitely one of the best runs on any comicbook in any era. I did read a few post Simonson issues with the DeFalco/Ron Frenz creative team and it looks like they were trying to recapture the glory days of the Lee/Kirby era.

For me, my love affair with the uncanny X-men ended when John Byrne left the series.

Now if only Edo, HB, Martinex1 and David_b can chime in with their respective avatars too this BAB joint will be hoppin'!

- Mike 'betting Pfgvigan's first name is Porstificus' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Rip Jagger said...

Brilliantly done. I disagree as I found the DeFalco-Frenz run huge fun, but I admire your opinion so beautifully put.

Rip Off

Anonymous said...


david_b said...

Ohhh, Michael, thanks for the vote of confidence, but Pfgavigan and the other recent guest-contributors have definitely took the cake.

I may maintain my enthusiastic-observer status for a spell.

R. Lloyd said...

My disillusionment with comics started with The Secret Wars and went downhill from there. Sure I purchased Dark Knight, The Watchmen and John Byrne's Superman. However after all the Marvel artists defected to DC in the mid-80's I could see my comic buying habits waning because real life was creeping in and I didn't have a lot of money to spend on comics.

R.Lloyd said...

Oh and by the way like Anonymous said...After Byrne left the X Men it was never the same for me....

William said...

I'm a little late to this party, but I just had to chime in and say that was totally AWESOME! pfgavigan, you're man after my heart, as I like to write blogs and such in sequential art form as well. But I don't do it quite as good as you. Hope to see more from you.

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