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HARLAN ELLISON ON COMICS 
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looking through a pile of American fanzines the other night and re-read a fascinating interview with Harlan. He is pretty outspoken. The interview goes on for many pages much like a Playboy interview and I have picked out some of the comic related stuff - there are a few swear words.

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Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:50 am
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The entire interview is reprinted in the book: 'The Comics Journal Library: The Writers' published a few years ago by Fantagraphics. It was the interview that prompted this lawsuit:

http://news.ansible.co.uk/c_platt.html

I think his words on "in a world of nothing but triviality" in your fifth sample are quite prescient.


Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:04 am
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Yes. The lawsuit prompted by Ellison's throwaway (and largely complimentary) remarks about writer Mike Fleisher had seismic effects throughout the American comics industry and may even have contributed to the end of Jim Shooter's autocratic reign at Marvel - not to mention a vicious feud between Ellison and Groth themselves. There was a fascinating 'Lawsuit Issue' of the Comics Journal that covered the whole thing.

Incidentally, Ellison's opinions always make good copy, and it's hard not to get carried along in his wake...but that doesn't prevent him from talking the most awful rubbish sometimes. Why on earth should a woman in her 20s or 30s 'know better' than a little old lady 'in varicose veins and support hose' for example...? :shock:

- Phil Rushton


Last edited by philcom55 on Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:46 am
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FWIW, He's right about Don Heck.

And I know that I would rather have an issue ship a month late and have incredible artwork, than have something rushed and nearly incomprehensible - though it seems no matter what I think, neither X-Men nor Spider-Man will ever go into sets of mini-series rather than an ongoing run...

How late did those last issues of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ship? Three months? Four? When they eventually came out, they were glorious. Most superhero titles hit the shelves once a month, come what may, and... Well. The contents speak to their nature.


Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:16 pm
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Bigwords wrote:
FWIW, He's right about Don Heck.


I agree.

Oops! - I misremembered what they actually did say about him! :oops:

...I don't agree! (and from what I recall there was an industry-wide backlash against this casual judgement that subsequently forced Groth and Ellison to recant). Heck was one of those reliable workhorses like Mike Sekowsky who had the misfortune to fall under the shadow of more popular artists - but at times his work could be quite outstanding, especially in his early years (and imho, even on a bad day, he was a hundred times better than Charlton's dreaded Nicholas & Alascia! :shock: ).

- Phil Rushton


Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:43 pm
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It didn't help that Don Heck had to follow Jack Kirby on the Avengers. I was just wondering, though, why a fanzine for comics fans needed to print all those F words. And I also wondered why I, someone who uses the F word and worse on a daily basis, should be bothered by it. Is there anyone in Britain who doesn't swear?

I have some issues of 1984 on ebay now - never realised they held in such low regard.


Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:53 pm
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stevezodiac wrote:
Is there anyone in Britain who doesn't swear?


I don't. It's not that I dispprove - I just can't ever do it with the right note of conviction! :)

stevezodiac wrote:
I have some issues of 1984 on ebay now - never realised they held in such low regard.


Some of the artwork was good but Bill Dubay's scripts could be pretty atrocious (and they rarely had anything to do with the pictures - as in that loathsome series where the 'hilariously' dim-witted Idi Amin was supposedly reincarnated in the body of stripper. Or something...! :? )

- Phil Rushton


Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:11 pm
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I used to agree about Don Heck but I collect JLA/JSA crossovers. When he was supposedly at the end of his career, his DC work was leaps and bounds above his 'prime' for Marvel.

Bit surprised about Nova. I remember Sal Buscema as a terrific artist at that time. And Gene Colan is one of the greatest artists comics has had. He became unpopular because he wouldn't follow scripts. Something that Ellison might have liked for the artistry...then again, he is a writer.

I never got that Tolkien/Moorcock thing. I was a big fan of both. Never saw them as opposite ends of the spectrum. Seems a bit like Batman's creator (and that's another debate) having a problem with Superman.

Gerry Conway I think did have a lot of talent. Look at his Marvel stuff. But it was too easy. He could crank out half-decent scripts so easily that he pushed himself on quantity, not quality. Roy Thomas was probably my favourite writer. He faded pretty fast but I can't criticise him for it. He ended up in his own playpen with his favourite heroes fro childhood, creating new stories for them. Maybe not (actually, definitely not) his best work but he must have really enjoyed himself.

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Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:20 pm
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I seem to remember that Heck went through a period when his work was seriously impaired by a debilitating illness of some kind. Also, it probably didn't help that his surname was only one letter away from 'Hack'!

- Phil R.


Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:27 pm
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philcom55 wrote:
(and imho, even on a bad day, he was a hundred times better than Charlton's dreaded Nicholas & Alascia! :shock: )


I won't repeat here what I have said about Vince's work elsewhere... :D It is rather obvious to point out that I don't hold a lot of superhero work up as being the best ever created for the medium. Then again, I have said in the past that Ditko is overrated, so...

starscape wrote:
Seems a bit like Batman's creator (and that's another debate) having a problem with Superman.


If you are talking about Bob Kane, then the word creator should be in quotes. If he wasn't tracing the artwork of others, he was farming his pages out to people. That's a whole other muddy mess, which would probably eat up more time getting to the bottom of than anything else in comics history. Bill Finger, on the other hand, was a formidable writer who got undeservedly ignored in later years.


Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:35 pm
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Bigwords wrote:
Bill Finger, on the other hand, was a formidable writer who got undeservedly ignored in later years.


Yes. Stories of his final days can be as dispiriting as Frank Hampson's long, sad decline. Considering that they rarely create anything for themselves fat-cat comic publishers (and Bob Kane, who was lucky enough to have a business-savvy mother) have a lot to answer for as they get rich on other people's ideas! :(

- Phil Rushton


Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:48 pm
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Still in shock about the criticism of Colan. Just stick his name into Google images. The man was head and shoulders above almost every superhero artist. He was grim'n'gritty when brightly-coloured circus costumes were the order of the day. His Daredevil and horror comics have never been bettered.

For superheroes, I'd put Gene up there with John Buscema, Neal Adams and Jim Steranko (Kirby was a fairly average artist technically IMO but with an imagination and sense of action that's never been bettered).

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Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:00 am
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starscape wrote:
Still in shock about the criticism of Colan. Just stick his name into Google images. The man was head and shoulders above almost every superhero artist. He was grim'n'gritty when brightly-coloured circus costumes were the order of the day. His Daredevil and horror comics have never been bettered.

For superheroes, I'd put Gene up there with John Buscema, Neal Adams and Jim Steranko (Kirby was a fairly average artist technically IMO but with an imagination and sense of action that's never been bettered).


Despite the fact that I am well aware of the "Silver Age comics are technically better than Golden Age ones" feeling - fostered mainly by the American fan press of the seventies and eighties - the heavy focus on Adams and Steranko as somehow being masters of comic art simply isn't there for me. Will Eisner was doing the same things they were doing with perspective and visual innovation (and often much, much better), while their figure-work is nowhere near the clean, beautiful lines of Mac Raboy. And that is sticking firmly within the loose boundaries of superheroes.

For Kirby... IDK. There are images where he seems assured and almost as if he is taking delight in the act of creation (such as when he is doing immense SF with photographic elements, or when he plays with the scale of images, but mostly there are many, many pages which feel as if he is dashing off whatever he can just to get to the next page and the next dollar. If you have seen his work in the 80s (space diarrhea... ugh) then you will know what I mean.


Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:13 am
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