To harmonise myself with the sublime 'Ditko Dimension', I have been digitally remixing some of his original 60's pages, trying to get a feel for them from another 'fresh' visual angle... And in doing so, realizing just what a total genius he is.
And if anyone hasn't purchased the new Blake Bell Fantagraphics Ditko book - I strongly recommend it.
The photographic images in this presentation are not by me, but I was using them as reference for the TOTEM CGI animated TV series I had proposed. I may even turn TOTEM into a comic series... I think it could be quite a bit different to the usual stuff out there.
******** SPOILER ALERT *********
I thought it was pretty good. Much more substantial a film than IRON MAN, or any of the Marvel efforts so far, including the SPIDERMAN movies.
But it was too long. I got a bit bored here and there. Bales' Batman is a bit dull, frankly. I didn't get any emotional feeling from him when the girl dies at the end, for example. Robert Downey Jr was better 'hero' in IRON MAN - more of a focus for his own movie.
I would have cut out those "Batman packs it in, empties the Batcave" sequences and the oily accountant who rumbles that 'Bruce Wayne is Batman' too. They didn't work and weren't vital at all. Obviously I didn't buy Jim Gordon is dead either... His death was so blatantly underplayed that they tipped the plot twist too overtly.
Heath Ledger really was great, lolling tongue and all! But those cut-aways when the Joker is driving the big truck felt like the usual movie padding... But I LOVED the Joker giving different explanations of how he got his scarred grin to each victim, making a mockery (!) of the 'abuse' excuse so beloved of our over-therapised culture.
The fight scenes were very average... I'm not sure that Nolan is very good at fight action really.
In the end, the most exciting thing for me was the anarchic chaos of the Joker. The film was actually 'saying something' about society... The two ferry boats idea was good too: Maybe people are smarter, more reasonably humane on their own, without psychpathic and corrupted 'leaders' generating conflict and wars etc. (Hey you, Listen to me, I gotta plan: Let's nuke Iran!)
And the role of a 'hero' was soundly looked at too - and with a fair amount of genuine insight.
That's my two penneth worth, Nora!
By the way, has anybody seen WALL-E? Great first third, then it nosedives badly... "The Citizen Kane of animation?" I thinkest not, true believer!
Also, worst movie I've seen of the year must be PERSEPOLIS... The most boring bollocks I've ever had the misfortune to sit through.. I lasted about 25 minutes and had to bail out! A complete waste of my time and money. How some critics gave this tedious animated bilge five whole stars is beyond me...
Matt Fraction: "Strange Days" by Peter Milligan, Brendan McCarthy, and Brett Ewins. Three issues like three atom bombs. Post-RAW, pre-Acid House, and ten thousand years ahead of anything else ever. Certainly the
I've already read most of it in one sitting. It's got lots of wonderful Kirby artwork, and good description of his life and times. It's interesting to me that his work just kept getting better. I had always thought his peak was the silver age Marvel stuff, but the
later DC and after, is just as good. It feels very modern, even the crazy 'hipster' dialogue! At the time though, in the 70's, I remember Kirby was considered old hat... But he really was doing some of his most creative material in that period. I mean, just check out that OMAC mini series! Talk about "out there"! Obviously, the stuff for Pacific Comics, when he was getting too old, is a bit dodgy... But, as Barry Windsor-Smith noted, Kirby really was the 'Picasso of comics'. He stayed strong and vital almost right to the end.
The book reminds you of how good Stan Lee was too. All the original Marvel characters created in the early 60's were definitely a product of the two of them. Jack's creative imagination in the later DC New Gods stuff was just as strong, but Stan's way with character dialogue was magic and Jack could never reach that level on his own. It would be interesting to speculate on the possibilities of the New Gods if they had been by Lee/Kirby at Marvel!
Some of my favourite Kirby stuff is that really bizarre late run on the Black Panther (King Solomon's frog etc) and Captain America and the Falcon (the Perfect Man stuff) for Marvel... and let's not forget the "monster" material from the late 50's, pre-Fantastic Four.
The only thing that casts a depressing cloud over his wonderful career is the incredibly shoddy way he was treated by the comics' companies themselves. What a bunch of total shysters! It is truly disgusting... Just as Jack Kirby is remembered with genuine love and affection, the crummy little accountants and lawyers who screwed him over are, rightfully, totally forgotten.
But leaving all that aside, the incredible power of the artist and his singular vision is inspiring. His creative legacy is monumental.
Long Live The king: JACK KIRBY!
PS By the way, there's a big new STEVE DITKO book coming out in a few months from Fantagraphics. I shall be first in the line for that one!
Anthony's death really took me by surprise earlier today. I worked with him on a bunch of his film and TV projects some years ago, largely before his career took off with 'The English Patient'.
He had written these beautiful scripts for Jim Henson's TV series 'The Storyteller', which I boarded and did the conceptual designs for. While I was working on the TV series, he asked me to help him with visualizing a new feature he had written: It was a smart comedy called 'Seven deadly Sins' where the sins, Lust, Greed, Envy etc are little creatures attempting to corrupt a man who is too wholesome for his own good. It never got off the ground, but our paths crossed again when he came to LA. I was over there finishing up the 'Coneheads' movie with director Steve Barron.
Anthony had recently arrived in Hollywood, so we both decided to go down to the local DMV together as we both had to pick up a driver's ID... He wanted to tell me about another film he had planned, a follow-up to 'Truly Madly' called 'Mr Wonderful' for MGM, to see if I'd like to work on it with him.
Whenever we chatted together, the conversation would often swerve off into quite surreal realms... a verbal tennis game with each of us trying to top the other. Something to pass the time. At one point I suggested to him that he should capitalize on the success of his British TV series 'Morse' and create a new detective based on the singer in the rock group ELO, who would, in this case be blind, as some sort of physical impediment was the rule in these types of TV shows...
I declared that the series was to be called "Blind Jeff Lynne" and would feature the actual Jeff Lynne with a white cane and an impenetrable "brummie" accent, maybe even subtitles. Anthony stared at me ashen-faced and gravely told me that Jeff was a close friend of his and was actually losing his sight and going blind. Anthony was a bit shaken up and weirded-out that our conversation had strayed into such an unfortunate coincidence. I was quite shocked and apologized. I really had no idea... We sat together in silence for a long while and were eventually called to pick up our licenses...
As we left the building Anthony roared with laughter, his whole Jeff Lynne story a well-acted sham. So, alright, he got me on that one.
But every time I bumped into him in the years that followed, he would always sing a lick from an ELO song and rib me about falling for his ruse. As many others have remarked, Anthony was a very funny, good-natured man.
Later, I worked on another movie with him that he'd written called 'Prince Charming' for Working Title Films in London. We spent a few weeks locked away up in the Lake District, visualizing the script. We had some great, interesting conversations about all sorts of ideas, from occult magick to cutting edge physics... and inevitably, Jeff Lynne.
God Bless you Anthony. It was a lot of fun!
I'm sorry to hear that Dave Stevens has died. He was a very nice guy and was personally very helpful to me when I first went to California, many years ago.
I was about 23 years old, trying to make a living in London as a comic book artist and subsisting on scraps from 2000AD. I really liked Dave's Rocketeer strip published by Pacific Comics. It made me think about getting a new comic going, with Pete Milligan and Brett Ewins and maybe in the USA. The British scene was too small. I wanted to break out of the 2000AD waiting line and make a splash somehow!
The Rocketeer came out just as the 80's revolution in comics was starting to build and was a big inspiration for me. It was different and it was good.
I called Dave cold when I got to LA. He was friendly and invited me over to his studio. I decided to walk to his place from my cheap motel in Hollywood, along Beverly Boulevard, which looked not too far on my tourist map... I had no idea that streets in LA can go on for days... And nobody walks! I got totally lost and even though I was about 2 hours late, he was really kind and funny - and he was the first comic book artist I met who actually knew people, like Steranko, Wrightson and Eisner.
He was also a very good looking, handsome guy and there were plenty of glamorous women hanging around (usually those Betty Page "rockabilly" look-a-like gals). This, I thought, was what the life a comic artist should be, instead of getting vomited on by sweaty drunkards back in England!
Dave was kind enough to give a good reference to a Pacific Comics' editor up on my behalf and eventually, Strange Days was born. Dave was a big fan of Paradax! but really hated Freakwave and later, SKIN and didn't mind telling me, either. He tended to go for 50's and 60's comic book art, and loathed anything too chaotic. We shared an enjoyment of Carmine Infantino's DC work and Royer-inked Kirby. He introduced me to the work of bondage artist Eric Stanton, which explained to me the elusive 'kink' feel in Ditko's Dr. Strange.
I bumped into Dave now and then over the years, whenever I attended the San Diego Comic Con. He once turned up in London and called me up to meet him at the Raymond Revue Bar in sinful, rainy Soho, of all places. He had accompanied some gorgeous lady over to London, who was dancing at the Bar on a touring floorshow. That was the last time I saw him in person.
Dave was one of the first people to get a creator-owned character onto the silver screen ( but sadly The Rocketeer movie was less than a triumph, being somewhat corny). But he was philosophical about how it all turned out though.
I thought he really was a "star" comic book artist, that rare breed with cool looks, a great attitude and talent to burn!
Dave Stevens, thank you!
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