This is the one-hundred and ninetieth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and eighty-nine.
COMIC LEGEND: J. Michael Straczynski did not intend to have Doctor Doom cry in Amazing Spider-Man #36.
It’s interesting to write about this particular issue of Amazing Spider-Man when another issue of Amazing Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #583 and its Barack Obama back-up story) is driving readers to their local stores this week to get an issue of Spider-Man relating to real life events.
Amazing Spider-Man #36, written by J. Michael Straczynski and drawn by John Romita Jr. (with Scott Hanna on inks) was a tribute to New York City in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001 that destroyed the World Trade Center.
The issue had a polarizing effect on readers – some thought it was a heartfelt tribute while others felt that it trivialized the events of 9/11 by bringing superheroes into the story.
Perhaps the most controversial page of the comic (okay, no “perhaps” about it) was the page featuring a group of super-villains watching the rescue workers, looking quite somber (click to enlarge).
At the end of the page, we get a close-up of Doctor Doom, and he is crying (also click to enlarge).
For various reasons, people took particular issue with that scene.
In any event, a number of years later, Straczynski discussed the issue and revealed that it was NOT his decision to have Doom crying, but rather that it was artist John Romita Jr. who took the direction of making Doom (and the other villains) “somber” and decided to depict Doom crying.
Romita had, in the past, already noted that Straczynski HAD mostly left the choice of which villains to feature on the page up to him (except that Doctor Doom was specified by Straczynski as having to be there).
When asked about Straczynski’s comments in an interview afterward (in an interview by Tom Field collected in George Khoury and Eric Nolen-Weatherington’s awesome Modern Masters volume featuring John Romita Jr. – click here to purchase a copy! It’s an excellent read), Romita does not differ with Straczynski’s recollection, as Romita notes that he really did not see it as DOOM crying, he was viewing it as all of us crying, as visualized by seeing even a super villain like Doom driven to tears.
Here is Romita speaking about it a few years earlier:
Call it symbolism or a metaphor…..any cliche will suffice, but my take was that all of us, good or bad, were shook up. ALL OF US!!So if this, issue #36, is beating anyone over the head with the symbolic hammer…so be it!If it was heavy-handed…fine! I was a part of it and I’m proud! It touched me and still does. It made a point and still does. It’s being spoken about …and still is! Taken literally, all comics are ridiculous. All of us suspend reality for a few hours everyday…. For enjoyment comics are wonderful. To get this point across to those who don’t watch Dan Rather, it was effective. To be put under a microscope the way it has is ludicrous.
It was not Doc Doom and other villains at ground zero, just like it was not a young child crying for his fallen father. It was a representation…a symbol…a metaphor for real feelings and thoughts. It was, excuse the sugar-coating, JMS’ and my heart and soul on those pages. I didn’t ever cringe at the thought of those characters being in that spot. To me, it made sense. This kind of cowardly, unspeakable horror effects all of us…ALL OF US! I don’t want to say…”Lighten Up”! I want everyone to concentrate on what happened on 9/11. Don’t forget…Don’t EVER forget!
I hope I don’t trip getting down off this damn soap box!
So there ya go, if you really want to complain about that scene, don’t complain about JMS (and after such a heartfelt phrasing by Romita, it seems harsh to complain about his decision, either, really)!
Thanks to J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita Jr. for the information, thanks to Tom Field, George Khoury and Eric Nolen-Weatherington for the Romita info, thanks to Marvel Spotlight for the JMS info and thanks to J.R. Fettinger at Crawlspace for the other Romita quote (Romita posted that himself on a Spider-Man message board).
COMIC LEGEND: The story behind the name on the Bristol board that Marvel artists use.
STATUS: Eschewing True/False here
Recently, an anonymous inker (he wanted to go by Geddy Lee, so I guess you can go with that, if you’d like) asked about something that was driving him nuts:
As an inker for Marvel, DC, etc., I noticed that on the Bristol board Marvel provides, there’s a name on the blue lined portion of the board, ‘Dan Carr’… Who is this guy?
Dan Carr is not the most well-known name at Marvel, but he is not just an important guy over there, he’s also a longstanding member of the staff at Marvel Comics.
Tom Brevoort had a post a couple of years ago showing a drawing Kyle Baker did for Marvel Age in 1992 showing the Marvel staff at the time (click to enlarge images)…
According to Brevoort back in 07 (when he did that blog entry), of those staffers, only Brevoort, Carr and Ralph Macchio are still on staff today. Although apparently Jerry Kalinowski is also still on staff from that picture.
Today, Carr is the Executive Director of Publishing Technology.
Want to know what the Executive Director of Publishing Technology does?
Anthony Dial amusingly explains:
The stuff that gets published in Marvel’s comic books is nothing compared to the action that goes on in the office every day!
Dan Carr is the Executive Director of Publishing Technology here at Marvel Comics and he’s also the only thing protecting us and our equipment from the gremlins and their king, Zogylmog!
If Zogylmog and his evil hordes got their way, servers would be crashing left and right, files would be vanishing from hard drives and books would not get to the printers on time. Dan Carr says, “Not on my watch!”
Dan has had a longstanding struggle with the gremlins and their king. I heard that they destroyed three of his cars, got his son kicked out of college, wiped out his life savings at the bank, and ruined his first marriage. But all the little green menaces did was awaken a sleeping giant as Dan takes it to them every day, making the world of technology safe for the masses in this action-packed first issue!
Dial has a very cute cute drawing up of Dan Carr at Deviant Art to go along with that description. Here, I will just embed the drawing:
However, while being the Executive Director of Publishing Technology is, in and of itself, a good explanation for why Dan Carr’s name is on the Bristol board Marvel uses (by the by, anyone have a good scan of a Bristol board with his name ON it? I’d love to feature it here), Tom gave me an even simpler explanation when I asked him about it last week:
[H]e’s in charge of ordering the paper.
Thanks to “Geddy Lee” for the question and thanks to Anthony Dial for the drawing. Also thanks to Cory Levine for giving Jerry Kalinowski his props, as well!
COMIC LEGEND: Paul Tobin went by the pseudonym Root Nibot.
If you thought that the resolution to the previous one was simple, get ready for one of the simplest comic book legends ever!
Reader Kyle wrote in to ask:
Is the Root Nibot who wrote Banana Sunday really Paul Tobin?
Here’s Paul at his now basically defunct Root Tobin live journal page:
My first love is writing, and I have a comic book series coming out from Oni Press, a romantic comedy high school adventure monkey-inclusive blow-up named Banana Sunday, on which I’m collaborating with artist Colleen Coover, who should win a fair amount of Eisner’s and Harvey’s for her efforts.
Beyond comics, I’m working on a spree of novels, including a young adult series that involves some of the characters from the Banana Sunday comic, although in an entirely different continuity. Both “Banana Sunday” projects, the novels and the comics, are written under my “Root Nibot” name…but I have other novels in the works under my real name of Paul Tobin.
So there ya go! Don’t get much easier than that!
Thanks for the question, Kyle!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week!