Funnybook Babylon

November 22, 2009

FBBP #120 – Love & Shame

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 12:55 pm

This episode, we discuss changes over at the Comics Journal and what that means for the blogosphere, plus answer your questions about love, shame, professional wrestling and enabling habits!

If you have questions or topics you’d like to see addressed in future podcasts, write us at editors AT funnybookbabylon DOT com, or take advantage of our new phone service:

(347)-AUNT-MAY

That’s right, New York’s own May Parker has taken time out of her busy schedule of working at a soup kitchen and fretting about her nephew Peter to collect questions for us. Treat her well, she’s a great ol’ gal!

March 11, 2008

Respect the Architects

Stan Lee

Styling and Profiling

How do you sum up the career of a man who revolutionized an industry? Should you emphasize his triumphs? When I first started reading comics, I experienced the rite of passage that any new superhero fan has to endure: the nostalgia of older readers. One of the primary paradoxes of superhero comics is that readers have to purposely ignore the long history of the title (and the characters) that produce huge gaps in narrative logic, and simultaneously learn more about the past in order to understand plot points and references. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee were far past their prime by the time I started reading. But I was constantly inundated with the competing origin myths of the Marvel Universe. At that point, the consensus was that Lee had single handedly birthed the Marvel Universe, with some assistance from interchangeable artists. In some interviews, it even seemed as though Lee endorsed this view. My father (and his childhood friends) had a very different view. In their version of events, the artists (Kirby, Ditko, Romita, Buscema) were the real visionaries, and Lee was the businessman who robbed them of their dream. This counternarrative dovetailed perfectly with their political beliefs. It was simply a story of corporate interests steamrolling creativity. The ‘man’ crushed the dreamers. The latter vision turned out to be the one that was far more popular, and was evoked in a countless number of stories about the early days of the medium, as brilliantly discussed in Michael Chabon’s The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

But now that we’ve all recognized the true genius of Kirby, et. al., it’s troubling to note that the pendulum has swung in the opposite extreme. In the latest Comics Journal (available for free for one week only!), Tom Crippen uses one of Lee’s most recent books, The Last Fantastic Four Story, and Jeff McLaughlin’s collection of Lee interviews, Stan Lee: Conversations, to discuss his legacy. In the event that anyone doesn’t have the time to peruse the article, the short version is this: “At Marvel, Ditko and Kirby covered imagination and heroics; Stan covered pop-culture gimmicks, catch phrases – all the zeitgeist jabber- and he made it his business to keep the everyman angle coming through.” Essentially, his legacy is that of an ad-man, a guy who writes pithy phrases on packs of Bazooka Joe gum.
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