Thursday, March 7, 2013

Out to Lunch

Doug:  Last month we spent quite a bit of time discussing Sean Howe's very fine Marvel Comics:  The Untold Story.  Since it's been a little while, let's revisit the idea of all of those creators and their various trials and tribulations.  Today's question is really quite simple, but maybe you might want to put a little thought into your comment before writing --

Doug:  Let's say you have the opportunity to go out with any comic book creator of your choice: any company, any era -- shoot, make it a tandem if you want.  If you've always idolized the Ross Andru/Mike Esposito or maybe the Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson teams, then take both creators out for a bite!

Doug:  So you've got this lunch date, and there are a bazillion thoughts burning in your head about this creator's career.  Try to come up with a list of two or three questions you'd like to ask them, and share it with the rest of us.  First, who would you love to have this sit-down with?  And second, what are you going to ask?


Matt Celis said...

I'd be afraid they'd turn out to be jerks and ruin my reading of their work, so probably no one.

Okay, by all accounts Jack Kirby was a cordial, respectful, appreciative man who went out of his way to be nice to his fans, so Jack it is. I would just love to hear him ramble about any of his wild cosmic ideas!

Anonymous said...

I guess we should take Stan off the table (PI) right? I mean, with the opportunity to ask anyone anything, it would almost have to be Stan.

Failing that, I’d like to talk to Roy Thomas. I’d love to see his perspective. He must surely be the ultimate fan boy who played in the majors. His knowledge of all things gold & silver was legendarily encyclopaedic, but instead of just churning out bland imitation of what he’s always loved, he innovated and in my opinion took comic book storytelling to a far greater level than Stan ever did, paving the way for the likes of Claremont, Conway, & Englehart (if not the likes of Gerber & Starlin).

I’d like to ask him which team of artists he thought best brought his stuff to life. Knowing him (as I don’t) I’d expect the answer to be horses for courses e.g. Colan/Palmer on Doc Strange, Adams/Palmer on Xmen, Buscema on Avengers, maybe.

Incidentally, if you ever do a get chance to take one of these guys to dinner, bear in mind that RT got his job not by applying for a job, but writing fan mail to Stan and asking him out for a drink. Those were the days!


Matt Celis said...

I wouldn't ask Stan just because (1) it's already been asked a million times and (2) his memory is notoriously bad anyway.

Edo Bosnar said...

Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes. There's tons of stuff I'd love to talk about with them both, esp. Gerber, but mainly I'd want to know what they would have done with Omega the Unknown if the series hadn't been cancelled.

david_b said...

I'd love to have drinks with Steve Englehart (to discuss CA&F and Avengers), Roy Thomas regarding editing, Steve Gerber to discuss Howard (esp ish 16) and Defenders, and Gerry Conway. Boy THAT would be a huge bar tab. Just to tell me about the Bullpen, circa 1973.

Then Jim Starlin will walk in and I'll stare at his fingers as to how he drew Mar-Vell so well.

Obviously ol' Jim Steranko would barge in, all glitzy Hollywood-like, and I'd ask him about his early criminal record, then about his psychedelic-design happenings with Nick Fury back in the day.

Doug said...

I think a lunch date with Big John Buscema would at once be intimidating and fascinating. He was allegedly a gruff man, and I'm sure fanboy flattery would be quickly brushed aside. However, I've also read that he constantly doodled -- on scrap paper, napkins, anything. If you've ever seen any of his original art for sale on eBay, dealers will often also show the backs of the boards, as there are wonderful sketches showcased there of all places!

I think sitting down with Alex Ross would be cool, too, as we're about the same age and so would have had many of the same pop culture experiences.


William said...

I'd pick Bruce Timm. Even though he's more associated with animation than comic books, he has done quite a bit of comic book work, including my favorite printed Batman comic "Mad Love". He's worked for both DC and Marvel, so I think he qualifies. I personally think Timm is pretty much an artistic and creative genius, and he seems to share my vision of what qualifies as the definitive version of Batman (and most other DC characters as well). He'd probably do a great job on any Marvel properties too. In fact his work on Avengers 1.5 is in my Top 10 of favorite Avengers issues ever.

Anyway, I'd probably mostly want to talk about his experiences during the heyday of BMTAS. That would be a lot of fun.

Then I ask him if I could have a job working on his next project. :)

Doug said...

Topical to today's discussion, TwoMorrows is about to release a new magazine called Comic Book Creator that many of us who hang out here should find interesting. There's an extensive preview at the link below:


Hoosier X said...

I would take Bob Haney to the Mongolian BBQ and ask him about his long run on The Brave and the Bold.

1) Bob, did you know you were ignoring Earth-1, Earth-2 continuity so much of the time? Did editors or fans ever point out your blatant continuity problems, and how did you respond? Did you just shrug and say "That's comics!"

2) Your version of Batman was quite different from Batman as portrayed in his own comic or in Detective. Was this conscious? Or was it accidental, or maybe even necessary, to cope with the unlikely random or arbitrary nature of a team-up book?

3) Many fans of your writing have used the term "The Haneyverse." Was this ever a concept that you thought about, even if you never used the term?

4) Was it fun, or was it a chore to have to come up with all that crazy stuff in The Brave and the Bold?

5) What was it like when the art was finished to see your ideas so beautifully interpreted by Jim Aparo.

Garett said...

Some great ideas already! Kirby would be great. He came up with the concept and first story of The Demon on a dinner out, between the time they ordered and the time the meal arrived! Mark Evanier was at that dinner and tells the story in the Demon omnibus intro.

John Buscema too--sounds like the guy couldn't stop drawing! Alex Ross, I would talk to him about the movie Flash Gordon, as he loves it, has done an interview praising it, painted art for the dvd, and even when the 2 two films came out, preferred Flash Gordon to Star Wars.

Frazetta is another guy--he goes for coffee with buddies in the documentary Painting with Fire, and you can tell he's a black coffee kinda guy--no frothy Starbucks drink! Seems like he'd enjoy telling stories of growing up, his art experiences, playing baseball...probably tall tales, but then you can tell from his art he's good at tall tales.

Mike Grell--I met him this year at a convention. Very enjoyable talking to him about his experiences in the comic industry, and his creation Jon Sable. He's had his triumphs and frustrations, so I'm sure he'd have more stories to tell over coffee--friendly guy.

Finally--Vince Colletta! I heard he used to walk around with a beautiful woman on each arm, so I'm sure he could spare one for me! I'll even buy the coffee. : )

Hey William, I'm not a Timm fan, but I do think Mad Love is fantastic.

Mike said...

My Lunch with ... Frank Miller.

Mr Miller, you wrote my favorite interpretation of Batman in "Batman: Year One", and you also wrote the absolute worse interpretation of Batman with "Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder". Was owning both markers your goal, and did you enjoy wasting that opportunity of working with Jim Lee?

You know, for the most part comic creators seem to have been getting grittier and more violent ever since "The Dark Knight Returns" -- particularily the Batman titles, reaching even into the latest movies. Are you proud that everyone seemingly wants to be you, disappointed that they seem creatively stuck, or ticked off that everyone rips you off?

How'd you like your great work on Daredevil getting hacked to pieces by Hollywood and Ben Affleck?

Finally, will you ever again have any interest in doing a mainstream superhero title for a year or two with typical plot development, in color, and the women are fully clothed?

(-- ugh, I shoulda invited Neal Adams. --)

Check please.

Doug said...

After some of our discussions about Big John doing breakdowns into the 1980's, Tom Palmer would be an interesting guy to talk to. His comments on his career over Buscema and Gene Colan would be enlightening.

Hoosier X, indeed a conversation with Bob Haney would have been great!

Marie Severin would be a cool lunch date, as she worked in the Marvel offices. I'd bet she could tell some stories!


david_b said...

Bruce Timm would an awesome choice..

I'd thank him for actually making comics FUN to read again...!!

A column on Mad Love would be super, such an wildly entertaining story.

david_b said...

Matt, I forgot to mention. In my Bullpen roundtable at the bar, after every guest remembers a cool concept, I'd remark with mock-surprise..:

"But Stan Lee said HE thought that up..?!?"

("We'd be there all night...")

humanbelly said...

For a realistically enjoyable, interactive lunch where the conversation flows easily, it really is going to require the other party be someone who has a reputation for being open and communicative. . . someone with a generosity of spirit. Having seen Stan speak at a couple of conventions, I suspect that there wouldn't be much new to be gleaned from him that he hasn't talked about already-- although he certainly seems capable of filling the time w/ conversation. I'm liking Jack Kirby and Marie Severin a LOT, as they had a longstanding reputations for kindness to well-meaning strangers, and being enjoyable folks to hang around with. I'd also submit John Romita and Mark Gruenwald. John Buscema? Nah-- just too gruff, and seemed to have made a point of NOT remembering his own work in the superhero field. Englehart, Gerber, Conway-- those guys? Maybe, but. . . they were so young during their hey-day, and I honestly can't relate at all to their drug & alcohol fueled creative mania.

You know who I'd go with? Sal Buscema. He's been in the industry since the tail-end of the Silver Age up to the present day, and has drawn EVERYONE (and WORKED with everyone!) at one point or another. But more than that, he used to be very active in a well-known community theater in this area, and folks that I've met who've worked on those productions have almost absurdly glowing praise for what a kind, fun, generous guy he is. And most of these folks just had a kind of vague awareness that he "drew the Hulk comic strip, or something".

I would love to ask a guy as prolific as he is about specific favorite characters and story arcs-- although it's likely that questions like that can be kind of hard for a perpetually-busy artist to answer.

I would ask him about what inkers he prefers over his pencils, AND whose pencils he prefers to ink.

What does he think of the darker, harder tone the last 10 years have brought to the industry?

Boy, and he had several fairly long-time collaborations with a number of A-list writers over the years-- it would be great to hear him expand on that.

Mind you, I'm sure this is ALL available from existing interviews-- but it would be so cool to just have him chat on about it over successive platters of ribs and nachos at Red, Hot & Blue, right?


Edo Bosnar said...

Doug, re: Marie Severin. Ha! As I was reading the new comments, she came to mind, and not only for the reason you mentioned; I'd actually be more interested in talking about her days at EC in the 1950s and then Marvel in the 1960s, as one of the few women creators in the field.
As for someone who could tell some great stories about Marvel in the 1960s, with lots of inside dirt, I'd love to have a lunch date with Flo Steinberg. Again, it would also be interesting to get a first-hand account of her work on the underground/alternative comics scene in the 1970s.

Inkstained Wretch said...

Most of the choices here are pretty good, but these are creators who are generally pretty open about their work. I am guessing you could find all sorts of interviews involving them that illuminate their work.

I'd like to pick the one person who hasn't done that and thus remains a real enigma: Steve Ditko. His stories and insights are mostly unknown -- which is precisely why I'd like to hear them.

Bruce said...

Inkstained Wretch, you beat me to the punch!

For me, my ultimate comics lunch conversation would have to be with Steve Ditko. He's so mysterious and reclusive - there hasn't been a photo taken of the man since the early '60s.

The first question I'd ask would be "Why did you never draw Spider-Man again after leaving the book?" Beyond that, I'd listen to anything he wanted to say, since he's said so little.

(And if you are a Ditko fan, I'll recommend a fanzine called Ditkomania. It's dedicated to exploring Ditko's work, and Editor Rob Imes does a great job with it. Full disclosure: I've contributed a couple of articles, but I've was a subscriber before that.)

humanbelly said...

I dunno, I.W.-- you do hear talk about Ditko not being a particularly sociable fellow at all. EXTREMELY private and not forth-coming. If he's as deeply committed to Ayn Rand & her philosophies as he sounds, it's very likely that THAT would be the subject he'd want to expound upon. . . and then you'd want to be gettin' the check from the waiter, toot-sweet-! (Apparently George Harrison had a similar tendency. Folks would want to talk to him about the Beatles and Music and the 60's & 70's--- and he was usually only interested in talking at GREAT LENGTH about religion. Even his closest friends admitted that no one could bend an ear like George could-)


Bruce said...

humanbelly, I think you are right that Ditko would be a tough person to talk with for the reasons you mentioned. But I'd still love to try - he contributed so much to this industry.

david_b said...

I'd love to talk to Mr. Ditko more about his Doctor Strange ideas....

To me, Strange was a far better achievement than his Spiderman; yes he was the first artist (and he had an abrupt departure for reasons unknown), but you'd seriously think he'd tell us why he left now..?

Romita defined the character far more than Ditko, but despite Colan and Brunner's work, I still find
Ditko's Strange the best ever.

Fred W. Hill said...

Regarding "defining" Spider-Man, I think it'd be fair to say that Ditko chronicled Spidey's journey from adolescence to young adulthood, from high school to his first few months in college, while Romita got to handle the young adult Spidey.
As for who I'd most like to hang out with for a chat, that'd have to be Steve Gerber as I think he'd be the most interesting and fun to talk with on a variety of topics, but I'd also expect him to be one of the most honest and not put on a public mask and relate the same old stories over and over again, which is what I feel Stan Lee in particular has been doing for decades.

Matt Celis said...

Does it make any difference why Ditko quit Spider-Man? I never really understood why anyone would care what his reasons were.

We got a new Blue Beetle, revised Captain Atom, The Question, and the Creeper out of it anyway!

Matt Celis said...

Problem is, he'd likely politely decline your invitation. He's on record that his work speaks for itself.

Matt Celis said...

Paul S Newman might be interesting. I'd ask about he origins of Man of the Atom and Turok, and how he managed to write more comic book stories than anyone in history? The work rate was incredible and one wonders if it got stale or if he was just a font of ideas.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'd love to jaw with both the Stan Lee/Kirby and Lee/Ditko teams - I'd pester them with questions about early Marvel - "Mr Ditko, what was your inspiration for coming up with that particular costume for Spider-Man?". They probably would be sick of me asking all those questions! As for why Ditko left Spidey, it's probably been so long that he can't remember exactly, or else doesn't care anymore. Knowing Ditko, he'd simply give you a cryptic answer like "I just felt I wanted to do something else".

I'd also want to ask Siegel and Shuster what were their creative ideas and inspirations for Superman. That would have been an interesting conversation! Same goes for Kane with Batman.

- Mike 'just buy a pitcher of beer for John Buscema' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Rip Jagger said...

I'd have loved to meet and chat with longtime Charlton scribe Joe Gill.

I'd ask him what he really thought of all those thousands of scripts he generated and what his creative process was besides knowing it had to be done that afternoon.

And I'd like to learn from this legitimate tough guy what it was like to work with Mickey Spillane and for the Santangelo family who ran Charlton. Were they really "mobbed up" as has long been the speculation.

I bet Joe would know.

Rip Off

Karen said...

Since I've done some sporadic writing for Back Issue magazine, I've had the opportunity to interview a number of comics pros, although mostly this has been done via email (they seem to prefer it that way). I've only been able to talk to Jim Starlin and Gerry Conway, and both were very nice. Starlin was my first interview ever, and I'm afraid I was pretty terrible, but he was gracious with his time and patient with me. Conway was a blast both times I interviewed him: open, funny, self-deprecating even, and with a lot to say about today's comics industry.

I think that if I could sit down with anyone though, I'd like to talk with the late Dave Cockrum. I'd like to ask him what book he most enjoyed working on in his career, and what title he wished he'd had a chance to draw regularly. Also, how he approached costume design, as I think he was possibly the very best at it. Of course, I'd also like to talk about his work on Legion and X-Men. From all accounts, Dave was a great guy and I think it would be a nice lunch date.

William said...

David B, on the subject of Bruce Timm, it appears that great minds do think alike. :)

Also, as many others here, I thought of Ditko at first as being someone I'd like to talk to, but quickly changed my mind. I love his body of work, but I doubt I'd enjoy his company very much. From everything I've read about him, he's extremely anti-social, and has such incredibly unbending hardline political beliefs that instead of talking about comics, we'd probably just end up in an argument or something.

Inkstained Wretch said...

Hey fellow comic geeks,

For the record, I've heard the stories about Ditko being difficult, but who knows how he would react in a private, off-the-record setting? I'd definitely be willing to try and humor an old eccentric's digressions.

I'm a newspaper reporter in day job, so I'm used to talking to people who don't necessarily want to speak me.

And, yeah, he would probably decline it anyway, but the question was if I "have the opportunity"...

Redartz said...

William and David b- may I join your group lunch with Bruce Timm?

Of course my ultimate lunch companion would be the late Sheldon Mayer. From the memorable Black Orchid in Adventure Comics to his wonderful Sugar and Spike (not to mention his involvement in DC history going back to the beginning) , a conversation with "Shelly" would be rich.

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