Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 4/5/21: What ever happened to the World of Tomorrow?

Comic News

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§ Nice Art: Zoe Thorogood’s THE IMPENDING BLINDNESS OF BILLIE SCOTT was one of the best reviewed debut graphic novels of 2020, and in a tweet she shared some concept work for an upcoming project.

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§ Nice Photos: Marvel editor Tom Brevoort is running selections from his collection of photos of cartoonists on his website, many are often seen, but some were new to me. There are lots of photos of Stan Lee, because, let’s face it, he was photogenic and much photographed, but I like this one of Jack Kirby from a Toys for Tots campaign in 1969. Looking at these photos from mostly the 60s and 70s I’m struck by same two things as always: 1) how skinny everyone was before fast food, better food distribution and HFCS; 2) how much everyone is smoking. And this time I was struck by a third thing: 3) everyone is wearing a turtleneck.

§ Speaking of Stan Lee, James Romberger delivered a forceful takedown of the Abraham Riesman biography and Stan at The Comics Journal: “…Into Some Loathsome Pit!” 

But Steranko also told me that he left Marvel at the apex of his tenure precisely because after he asked Lee not to alter his exactingly orchestrated short horror masterpiece, “The Lurking Fear at Shadow House,” Lee changed it anyway–hard. He messed with captions, added silly lines of dialogue and retitled it “At the Stroke of Midnight”–and he rejected the unique cover Steranko designed, opting instead for competent but derivative John Romita art. Nothing that Lee did needed doing, especially not at the risk of losing a major talent; and I doubt that his alterations contributed to the Alley Award the story won. His actions were only about establishing who is boss. Steranko had threatened that he would leave if this was done, and did. “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Jim told me. Steranko could leave, because he always had other options. Kirby, Ditko and Wallace Wood likewise eventually all left in disgust. But Gene, Dick Ayers, Herb Trimpe and more didn’t see themselves as having other options, and so they stuck with it for many years as work for hire freelancers at Marvel. All ended up suffering greatly from the lack of job assurance, benefits and recompense. Gene at the end of his life was afflicted with glaucoma and cancer with no health insurance. The halfhearted benefit comic Marvel did as a gesture to him just deflected responsibility to the fans.

§ And speaking of TCJ.Com, I missed that they’ve added Dr, Rachel Miller as co-managing editor. 

Rachel R. Miller earned her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow and served as the Assistant Editor of Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society. Her writing on comics and pop culture has been published in Public Books, Bitch Planet, Pretty Deadly, American Book Review, as well as many scholarly collections on comics and comics history. Last year, she co-curated the exhibit Ladies First: A Century of Women’s Innovations in Comics and Cartoon Art for the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, which documents one hundred years of women’s work in comics and cartoon art. Her first book, An Introduction to American Comics, co-authored with Dr. Andrew Kunka, is forthcoming from Routledge.

§ And to bring it full circle, this photos of the great cartoonist Wally Wood was recently tweeted, and the replies are worth reading, if sad.

§ WWAC spotlighted some notable trans creators for #TransDayofVisibility, including Jay Edidin, Rebecca Sugar, and Kylie Wu, but they should be noted every day of the year….especially with trans rights under attack in 28 states. 

§ At Neotext, Jude Jones looks at Milestone Media’s “Icon” and the Politics of Presentability. Page above by Dwayne McDuffie, Mark D. Bright and Mike Gustovich. 

To understand the Milestone Comics character Icon and how he got a fan in Clarence Thomas of all people, you’ve got to understand the history of the comic character and of the comic’s creation. An alien, separated from his race, adopted by kind people, learned to use his power in the (literal) field. He could fly. Run fast. Lift heavy things. Project energy. Project power. He was power. He would learn the law. He would work hard and fight the good fight. He would fall in love. But though he was immortal, love would not be eternal. His love would die, and with it, his empathy.

§ At Comics XF, in addition to their excellent comics coverage, they have just begun The Complete Guide to Fast Food Fish Sandwiches: Part 1,  – I will be anxiously awaiting future installments since the existence of a good fish sandwich is central to my well being.

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§ Meanwhile, ScreenRant wonders Why So Many Comic Book Villains Wear Green and Purple by Joshua Isaak and it’s actually a very good piece that goes into the primitive coloring system of early comics, color theory and comics history.

Then there’s the importance of primary and secondary colors. When added together, the three primary colors—red, yellow, and blue—create pure white light. If one were to mix two primary colors together, the result would be one of the three secondary colors: orange, purple and green. Generally speaking, superheroes utilize at least one primary color in their costume and/or design. Some can have all three, such as SupermanCaptain MarvelWonder Woman, and Wolverine. If heroes charge into battle wearing bright primary colors, what better way to set the villain apart than by coloring them with the secondary colors? Even a new reader who isn’t familiar with any established characters would be able to quickly tell the heroes and villains apart through visual language alone.

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Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

§ Hollywood news and notes: the box office is back, baby! And it’s all thanks to those beautiful behemoths, Godzilla and Kong, who raised an exciting  $48M in US theater.

The big-budget pic exceeded all expectations and is by far the biggest showing since the COVID-19 crisis commenced. Its performance is a huge jolt of confidence for nervous Hollywood studios and theater owners, who worry as to when moviegoing will recover in earnest and whether it is safe to begin releasing high-profile films as the summer box office season approaches. “I think a big movie like this working should tell everyone if we are rational in how we release a title, there is an appetite for people to have a shared experience in theaters,” says Joshua Grode, CEO of Legendary. He said the decision to release the film wasn’t for the “faint of heart,” but that it was the “right movie for the moment.” Adds Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros: “This is really significant. It is igniting a recovery.”

Admittedly, if these two big boppers (and maybe a certain mecha-something-something) couldn’t get people into a socially distanced theater, what could? F9 and Black Widow getting pushed back didn’t hurt either. Debuting day and date on streaming on HBO Max did not negatively impact the box office, and WB claims it had more views than any other movie they’ve launched. So all in all, filmmaking is not dead yet.

§ Aaron Couch wrote a really good piece in THR about studios finally addressing toxic fandoms and ongoing campaigns of racists harassment:

Those comments represented a break from the norm of studios publicly ignoring unsavory elements within fan bases even as they seek to find new ways to monetize those audiences. In years past, Sony watched trolls attack its 2016, female-led Ghostbusters reboot, Marvel Studios saw Captain Marvel’s Rotten Tomatoes scores sandbagged, and Lucasfilm was silent as Star Wars stars John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran endured racist abuse. But Hollywood majors are now learning that they can’t always remain silent about what happens on social media. Disney’s Lucasfilm has been at the forefront of this conversation. In January, cosplayer and host Krystina Arielle faced racist attacks and threats after the studio named her host of The High Republic Show, a bimonthly show on StarWars.com and YouTube giving an inside look at a galaxy far, far away. Ahead of the show’s debut, previous tweets from Arielle denouncing systemic racism — essentially, calling upon white people to own their role in it — were resurfaced. She received numerous threats via social media. Rather than remain silent, Lucasfilm swiftly backed Arielle, stating on Twitter on Jan. 22, “Our Star Wars community is one of hope and inclusivity. We support @KrystinaArielle.” The hashtag #IStandWithKrystina sprung up to support Arielle.

Needless to say, this is long overdue. I’d also direct you to our own Ruth Johnson’s look at the outcry against toxic fandom. And both refer to John Rogers‘ 2004 blog post about “fandamentalists,” another term for gatekeeping, toxicity and clinging to a view of a golden age that never existed, behavior that goes back before Twitter, if you can believe it.

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Credit: Paramount

§ Finally, here is a long overdue piece that scratches an itch I’ve had for years: Whatever happened to Kerry and Kevin Conran the directors of the way, way ahead of its time SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW?  The 2004 film used greenscreen environments as no film had before (and it starred Angelina Jolie, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, to boot.). It’s an incredible tale of talent that goes from this:

Shortly after completing their first movie, in 2004, Kerry and Kevin Conran received an invitation from George Lucas. The Star Wars mastermind would be hosting a summit at Skywalker Ranch, his production facility-cum-small town in San Francisco, gathering some of the most forward-thinking people in the movie business to discuss the future of film. James Cameron was there, as were Robert Zemeckis and Brad Bird. The brothers were newcomers, but that day they were treated as peers; each of their fellow directors told the Conrans how impressed they were with what they’d accomplished. Their work, they were told, was way ahead of its time. Then why don’t you know their names? The fact is, every effects-driven movie you watch this summer – ie, all of them – will owe them some kind of debt. It could even be argued that the Conrans laid the groundwork for pretty much all the big event unveiled at this year’s Comic-Con. But time and Hollywood have forgotten the Conrans. Their part in the creation of the modern blockbuster has been all but forgotten.

To this:

Talking about what happened after the movie’s release, Kevin begins to sound weary, and wary. He rarely speaks about his experiences making the film, and his brother, still stung, no longer discusses it at all. Despite several requests, made via Kevin, including an offer to conduct the interview by email, Kerry declined to participate in this feature.

Kevin Conran is the first to admit that he made mistakes – chief among them being shy and not relentlessly self-promoting himself. Sky Captain was a breakthrough in movie making, but the Conrans have never made another movie, which tells you a lot about how Hollywood works…and doesn’t.

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