Today, John Hilgart of 4CP is here with a review of Blake Bell and Dr. Michael Vassallo’s Secret History of Marvel Comics, which looks both fascinating and strange. Here’s an excerpt:
Fate introduced a wildcard: Certain comic book creations became national and global myth- and cash-machines, something no one could have anticipated, least of all Martin Goodman. Captain America was just a wartime knock-off of The Shield (the original patriotic comic book superhero), with Goodman bowing to legal pressure from his former co-worker (now competitor) to change Cap’s shield to a different shape. The Human Torch and The Submariner were both accidental Goodman purchases, when he requisitioned content from a third party vendor, due to the popularity of comic books (See Marvel Comics #1).
Yes, Jack Kirby and others turned out to be the Toulouse Lautrecs of their day, undervalued and underpaid. They got shafted by their own youthful engagement with the work-for-hire arrangement, and by the undervaluing of comic books for several decades. There’s no denying that many comic book creators’ grandchildren should now be rich.
But if you accept this book’s thesis that Martin Goodman didn’t give a crap about content, yet was a hoarder and re-purposer of any intellectual property that he possessed – anything that might sell a few thousand more bundles of paper next month – then this is largely a story of two worlds colliding at a very human level. A man built a widget factory that accidentally produced some Stradivarius violins. He didn’t really understand violins, but he understood that they were his, and that they had value.
—Interviews & Profiles. ABC talks to Mad magazine’s Al Jaffee. Tom Chesek talks to Drew Friedman. The Vermont Digger talks to New Yorker cartoonist Ed Koren. Alex Dueben talks to Isabel Greenberg. Paul Gravett talks to Hungarian cartoonist András Baranyai. Ideas Tap talks to Dave McKean about the covers he created for Sandman (via).
Here’s Kim Deitch interviewed by Caitlin McGurk at CAKE (via):
—Reviews & Commentary. Matt Madden ponders the comics seen in François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451. Vanessa Davis talks about Maus. Ada Palmer writes about manga’s place in the weird horror tradition. J. Caleb Mozzocco reviews James Stokoe’s Godzilla: The Half-Century War.
—Funnies. Alan Gardner has posted rare images of some of Bill Watterson’s high school cartoons. 13th Dimension looks at John Lennon as a cartoonist.
—Process. Jessica Abel has written posts discussing how she uses InDesign and Scrivener to help her make comics.