Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mail call...

I received a new letter from Dave Sim today. I had snail-mailed Dave my "Who Really Created Spider-Man?" article. I’m posting Dave’s letter so to share his response and his thoughts on Steve Ditko. I censored the letter to protect the innocent.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Joey B!

Above photo: (left to right) Scan, Joey B, and Martin having a good time with fellow P.I.C. members in Manhattan.

Hey, it’s Joey B’s birthday today. Happy Birthday, Joey B!

Ya wanna keep up to date with the life of Joey B? Then ya should visit his blog, Old Metal Lunchbox, for the latest goings-on and happenings of Joey B.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ARCHIE & FRIENDS #128 now on sale!

ARCHIE & FRIENDS #128 is on sale today! And inked by me. This issue is the third in a four-part series titled "The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton." So, race to your local comic book shop before they are all gone.

Above: Artwork from ARCHIE & FRIENDS #128 by (penciler) Fernando Ruiz and (inker) myself.

Above: A face only a mother could love. Artwork from ARCHIE & FRIENDS #128 by (penciler) Fernando Ruiz and (inker) myself.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Preview ARCHIE & FRIENDS #128...

Above: Preview page from ARCHIE & FRIENDS #128 by (penciler) Fernando Ruiz and (inker) me.

The ARCHIE & FRIENDS blog has posted several preview pages from ARCHIE & FRIENDS #128. This issue was inked by yours truly, and is the third of a four-part saga titled "The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton." ARCHIE & FRIENDS #128 should be arriving to comic book stores on February 11th, 2009.



Yesterday, I attended the 2009 New York Comic Con at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. I met with friends, colleagues, and editorial bosses. And I ended up having some new sketches added to my sketchbook. As usual, the con was the spectacularly huge, and crowded, event that wore my feet out.

Above photo: The New York Comic Con… crowed, as always.

I first saw my Archie Comics editor, Michael Pellerito, roaming the convention floor. We headed over to the Archie Comics booth where I said hello to my other boss, Archie Comics Editor-in-Chief, Victor Gorelick.

I headed over to the Kids Love Comics table to chat with my pal John Gallagher (of BUZZBOY fame) and Rich Faber. John gave me a signed copy of BUZZBOY: SIDEKICKS RULE! #3. Man, I really dig Buzzboy.

I said "Hello" to John Morrow at the TwoMorrows table. TwoMorrows publishes BACK ISSUE magazine… if ya don’t already know. There was another fella at the table scanning original Jack Kirby artwork. He yelled out to me: "Is Kornstein coming to the convention?" The fella was referring to my friend Michael Kornstein. I was taken a little bit off-guard because I didn’t recognize who this crazy person was… until I realized that it was Randy Hoppe. Randy works for the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center. I haven’t met up with Randy in years. So, it was nice to see him again.

Above photo: Artist Alley.

Over in Artist Alley, I talked with DONDI cartoonist, Irwin Hasen. Irwin was once an instructor of mine during my college days at the School of Visual Arts. I talk with Irwin at every con, but he still doesn’t remember me as a student… well, that WAS a long time ago.

My hero, Joe Staton, gave me two copies of E-MAN: CURSE OF THE IDOL… which I absolutely enjoyed! I love anything that includes E-Man. Joe is truly "The Nicest Guy in Comics."

I saw Colleen Doran who was starting to feel icky from the stinky New York smogfest that passes for air. Hopefully, Colleen will be feeling better soon.

Above: A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sketch by Peter Laird.

I met Peter Laird for the first time. I had once interviewed Peter (and fellow TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES creator, Kevin Eastman) for BACK ISSUE magazine. I still love those early TMNT comics! Thankfully, Mirage Studios is working on bringing those comics back into print. Yay!

Finally, in Artist Alley, I talked with fellow Archie Comics artist, Dan Parent. It’s always great to see Dan.

I am a huge fan of Terry Moore’s STRANGERS IN PARADISE. So, I was very pleased to have met Terry for the very first time. Terry and I discussed tools of the trade as I looked through some of his original artwork from SIP and ECHO. Terry does such an excellent job with his inking.

Neal Adams told me that he has put his graphic novel, BLOOD, on hold to work on a series of BATMAN graphic novels… scripted by Frank Miller. I might have to pick those up. Although, I would prefer to see more of Neal’s creator-owned work like BLOOD. But, Neal said that fans would rather see him draw Batman.

Above photo: See… chicks do attend comic book conventions.

After a few hours of roaming around, I had seen all that had to be seen at the 2009 New York Comic Con. I, then, made quick haste to exit the convention before the floodgates were opened to the civilian masses.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Who Really Created Spider-Man?"

A while back, my pal D.J. Coffman and I had a friendly discussion about who actually created Spider-Man. I found this topic very interesting, and started doing some research which eventually ended up becoming the following article…

Many comic book fans have heard of the story of where, one day in 1962, Stan Lee saw a fly crawling on a wall which inspired Stan with the idea of a teenage super-hero possessed with spider-like super powers. Thus, Stan had his Spider-Man character. Stan Lee first gave the Spider-Man idea to Jack Kirby to illustrate. Kirby designed his own Spider-Man, and even drew several story pages featuring his version of the character.

According to an interview from STAN LEE’S MUTANTS, MONSTERS & MARVELS (2002) dvd, Stan Lee didn’t think that Jack Kirby’s vision of Spider-Man was what he had in mind. Lee thought Kirby’s version of Spider-Man looked too bold, muscular, and heroic: "’Nah, that’s not what I want, Jack.' I said, ‘Look, forget it. I’ll give it to someone else.’ So Jack said, ‘fine.’ It was nothing. We didn’t think that Spider-Man meant anything. And Jack had a million other things to do. So I said, ‘I’ll get somebody else.’ [Jack] said, ‘Sure.’ I thought Steve Ditko would be perfect for it. He drew people that looked like the kind of people you’d meet in the street, you know? So I gave it to Steve. And, oh man, was I ever right in picking Steve. He did a beautiful job."

In his book, KIRBY: KING OF COMICS (2008), Mark Evanier suggested that Marvel Comics may have had other reasons to give Spider-Man to Steve Ditko. Evanier proposed that Marvel may have felt that Jack Kirby’s Spider-Man seemed too similar to Kirby and Joe Simon’s previous creation, the Fly: "What would explain it all is if someone at [Marvel Comics' founder Martin] Goodman’s was worried that what Kirby was doing was coming out too much like the Fly."

Either way, Stan Lee went to Steve Ditko with Spider-Man. Ditko designed the Spider-Man character as we know him today. With Stan as editor and writer, Ditko became the artist and co-plotter on Spider-Man’s first appearance in AMAZING FANTASY #15 (1962), and then onto the following AMAZING SPIDER-MAN comic book series. Accordingly to "Steve Ditko- A Portrait of the Master" from COMIC FAN #2 (1965), Ditko explains things like this: "Stan Lee thought the name up. I did costume, web gimmick on wrist and spider signal."

In an open letter from 1999, Stan Lee wrote: "I have always considered Steve Ditko to be Spider-Man's co-creator. Steve's illustrated version of Peter Parker/Spider-Man and his coterie of supporting characters was more compelling and dramatic than I had dared hoped it would be. Also, it goes without saying that Steve's costume design was an actual masterpiece of imagination. Thanks to Steve Ditko, Spidey's costume has become one of the world's most recognizable visual icons."

In Jonathan Ross’ documentary, IN SEARCH OF STEVE DITKO (2007), Stan Lee appears (for the most part) to continue to acknowledge that Steve Ditko is the co-creator of Spider-Man: "Steve [Ditko] definitely felt that he was the co-creator of Spider-Man. And that was really, after he had said it, and I saw that it meant a lot to him, that was fine with me." However, deep down, it appears that Stan might have some reservations: "I really think that the guy who dreams the thing up created it. You dream it up and give it to anybody to draw it." Still, it’s nice to see that Stan Lee was willing to give credit where credit was due, even if he might, deep down, disagree: "I’m happy to say I consider Steve to be the co-creator [of Spider-Man]."

Now, there are some people who have disputed the fact that it was Stan Lee who actually created Spider-Man. Jack Kirby had once stated that it was he that had pitched his and Joe Simon’s the Silver Spider/Spiderman idea to Stan Lee. If true, this would mean that it was Jack Kirby, not Stan Lee, who first invented Spider-Man for Marvel Comics. WILL EISNER’S SHOP TALK (2001) reprints an interview taken in July of 1982 where Kirby claimed that he co-created Spider-Man, not Stan Lee. Kirby stated: "Spider-Man was discussed between Joe [Simon] and myself. Spider-Man was not a product of Marvel."

What does Mark Evanier think of Jack Kirby’s claim? Here’s what Evanier had to say to me: "I don't think we know, or have any way of ever knowing, if Jack suggested the idea of a Spiderman to Stan before Stan had the idea on his own."

I had asked Lisa Kirby (daughter of Jack and Roslyn Kirby) about her father’s connection to the creation of Spider-Man. Lisa told me: "Neither one of my parents ever mentioned that my father created him, in fact I have heard my mother correcting people if they alluded to that fact."

Where did Joe Simon’s Silver Spider/Spiderman character come from? According to Simon’s THE COMIC BOOK MAKERS (2003), Joe Simon had created his own Spiderman in 1953. He worked with Jack Oleck, his brother-in-law, on the script. Oleck suggested on calling the character "the Silver Spider" instead of "Spiderman." Simon then asked C.C. Beck (of Captain Marvel fame) to pencil the first few pages of THE SILVER SPIDER before pitching the idea to Harvey Comics. By the time Joe Simon went to Jack Kirby with the concept, he had decided to call the character "the Fly" instead of "the Silver Spider." Simon told Kirby: "C.C. Beck is out of the business. We’re doing this over. Same script, only we’re calling him the Fly instead of Silver Spider." Joe Simon and Jack Kirby reworked the character to become the Fly as a property for Archie Comic Publications.

It is also noteworthy to point out that Joe Simon had asked Jack Kirby about his WILL EISNER’S SHOP TALK comment. In THE COMIC BOOK MAKERS, Simon asked Kirby why he would make a claim that Joe was "Spider-Man’s father", and according to Simon, Kirby told him: "I had no work… I had a family to support, rent to pay… what else could I do?"

It appears that Jack Kirby was indeed in possession of the SPIDERMAN logo that Joe Simon created. Again, from THE COMIC BOOK MAKERS, Joe Simon states that "[Stan] Lee called Kirby in and asked him if he had any comic characters lying around that hadn’t been used. As I learned years later, Jack brought in the SPIDERMAN logo that I had loaned him before we changed the name to the Silver Spider."

Mark Evanier confirmed to me of the existence of a SPIDERMAN logo: "Jack definitely did have the SPIDERMAN logo that Joe Simon had designed. He showed it to me when I first met him."

So, who really created Spider-Man? Was it Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, or Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, or the combination of these men? So far in my research, my personal opinion remains that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created the Spider-Man that we are familiar with today. It’s safe to say that Joe Simon did indeed create his own Spiderman in the early 1950’s. However, there doesn’t seem to be any substantial proof to support the idea that Jack Kirby later took Joe Simon’s Spiderman to Stan Lee. I could be wrong, though. With that said, I like to think that, ultimately, Spider-Man came into existence, and prospered, through the efforts, of not just one or two, but many comic book creators.

I’m sure there’s a lot more history about the creation of Spider-Man that I haven’t been able to delve into yet. The topic is so broad and heavy that I doubt that any one article can come up with all of the elements surrounding the origin of Spider-Man.

Finally, it's important for us to fondly remember all of comics’ writers and artists. We should not forget all of their contributions to an industry that we so much enjoy. I just wish that these creators were rewarded properly for all of their hard work and creativity. But, that's a whole different discussion.

Above: Artwork from the classic story "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man" from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #248 (1983) written by Roger Stern, penciled Ron Frenz, and inked by Terry Austin.

Text © 2009 Albert Gordon Nickerson Jr..

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

P.I.C. pics...

While surfing the InterWeb, I came across some (new to me) P.I.C. photos from the Sloane House days…

Above photo: (left to right) Miguel, Heather, and myself. School Year: 1986-1987.

Above photo: Joey B. School Year: 1986-1987.

Above photo: Miguel watching the telly in his dorm room. This photo was used as photo reference for a painting by Joey B. School Year: 1986-1987.

Above photo: Julie and Steve (?). School Year: 1986-1987.

Above photo: Miguel and Sean. School Year: 1986-1987.

Above photo: Joey B and a gal-friend whose name escapes me. School Year: 1986-1987.

Above photo: Solly Sol and P.I.C. at Scan’s Corner. (left to right) Solly Sol, Mr. Cullum, Korn, Miguel, Pro, and Scan. School Year: 1986-1987.