Describing Stan Lee as "the original genius behind Marvel Comics and most of the superheroes you've ever loved or watched on the big screen" probably isn't doing the 91-year-old comic book veteran any favors as he tries, seemingly, to rehabilitate his reputation for glory-hogging in a wide-ranging conversation to be published in this Friday's new issue of Playboy. Indeed, the (in)famously self-promoting Lee uses the interview to deliberately undermine the public perception -- one he worked hard to create, as recently as last year with his reality show Fangasm -- that he's a tremendously wealthy comic book mogul primarily responsible for the success of some of Marvel Comics' most iconic -- and profitable -- superhero characters.
Most comics readers are pretty familiar with Jack Kirby and Joe Simon from their work in superhero comics -- they were, after all, the team that created Captain America and gave Marvel its first and most enduring hit character -- but in the period between the Golden Age and Kirby's work building the Marvel Universe with Stan Lee, they dabbled in all sorts of different genres. Working as a team, Simon and Kirby not only created the first romance comics, but they also tried their hand at classic comic book horror -- and if you've never read any of that stuff, today is your lucky day.
While the 1950s Simon and Kirby stories are often overlooked, Titan Books is putting the spotlight back on them in a series of beautiful hardcovers under the banner of The Simon and Kirby Library. To mark release of the volume focused on their horror stories, they've offered CA the chance to bring you eight pages of sheer terror (or at least rad artwork of Kirby drawing creepy skeletons) in a complete story with the slightly unfortunate title "Dead Man's Lode!"
In the interest of adding to "the long list of things that weren’t gonna photoshop themselves," Director of Publicity for Oni Press John Schork recently took to his personal Tumblr account to gift humankind with one of the most breathtaking mashups of our time. Jack Kirby + Taco Bell = Jack Kirby's Fourth Meal.
Put as succinctly as possible, the Forever People are a bunch of space hippies with individual powers and gimmicks, but when they're in trouble they can combine to form the Infinity Man, who is a gestalt organism. First introduced in 1971, they are part of Jack Kirby's expansive Fourth World tapestry of "New Gods" characters and comics, and the focus of a new collaboration between storyteller Keith Giffen and co-writer Dan DiDio, creators of the New 52's last major Kirby revival, the short-lived OMAC.
Q: Why do you think the X-Men didn't find their audience until two decades after they were created? -- @godofthunder851
A: I've got a minor quibble with your timing in this question -- it was more like 12 or 15 years, really -- but you've got an interesting point there. I think most comics readers are well aware of that piece of trivia about how the X-Men were about to get the axe before Giant Size X-Men #1 breathed new life into the franchise and set them on the path of becoming what was probably the single most popular and influential franchise of the '80s and '90s, and that's not really how things usually work. In comics, you tend to either come out of the gate to massive, enduring popularity (like Batman or Spider-Man), come out strong and then fade away for whatever reason (like, sadly, Shazam!), or just sort of flounder in the midcard. It's rare that something sticks around on the edge of being canceled for a solid decade before it finds its footing, and nobody bounced back harder than Marvel's Merry Mutants.
But really, what you're asking here is two separate questions: Why didn't the X-Men take off in 1963, and why did they in 1975? So let's look at the history and see if we can't figure it out.
One of Jack Kirby's most celebrated (if short-lived) post-DC creations is once again getting an all-star treatment from its latest publishing home at Dynamite Entertainment. Coming this July is a new Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers series from writer Joe Casey and an army of artists including Farel Dalrymple, Ulises Farinas, Michel Fiffe, Nathan Fox, Jim Mahfood, Benajmin Marr, Jim Rugg and Connor Willumsen.
Q: What is Stan Lee's actual legacy? -- @TheMikeLawrence
A: I don't think there could be a more complicated subject to tackle in a single column than this one, because as an industry and as an art form, I think we all have a lot of complicated feelings about Stan Lee. Depending on who you ask, when you ask them and what he's been up to lately, he's a conniving credit-stealer, a shameless self-promotion machine, a "driven little man who dreams of having it all!!!" and got it by coasting on the hard work of others, or he's a charismatic innovator who got put into that spotlight because he's a natural showman, a smiling ambassador of the medium and everybody's friendly comics grandpa. And it's further complicated because you can't really talk about him without talking about collaborators like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, either.
That's what makes him hard to talk about, even if you've spent nearly your entire life being aware of him. There's just so much to get through that's filtered through so many angles, and as a result, I genuinely think that he's simultaneously the most overrated and underrated creator of all time.
Q: Is writing comics with a lack of subtlety a good or bad thing? Or does it all depend on how it's handled? --@therealdealkern
A: This is a really tough question, because unlike a lot of things I write about, I don't have a definitive answer one way or the other, even though it's something I notice all the time. Looking back, it seems tricky to figure out why I love some things and hate others for what seems to be the exact same reason. I mean, I've got a reputation as someone who loves over-the-top stories and comics that have a complete lack of anything that even approaches nuance, full of blunt statements, raw emotions and names that couldn't be more on the nose if they were a pair of reading glasses.
And yet, at the same time, there are stories I hate precisely because they have that same lack of subtlety, or because they're eye-rollingly obvious. There's got to be a difference somewhere, right?
We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, as well as the special qualities of comic book storytelling, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great pinups, fan art and other illustrations on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, and some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it’s awesome.
Two of my greatest loves in life are Christmas and comics, and so it's always a treat for me when the two cross over in that most wonderful of things: the holiday special. Even when those things are bad, they're still kind of good, because it's Christmas, and you're feeling charitable. But sometimes the introduction of Christmas-themed elements are not what you expect. Here are ten appearances by Christmas folk that might confound you, and that's even without mentioning that time Aquaman saved the baby Jesus from pirates by mind-controlling a giant squid.