I don’t have much difficulty declaring October the greatest month in the calendar. That said, every year when it ends, there comes a cold morning in early November when I wake up to the sight of frost-tipped dead leaves floating on the smoke-tinged air, and accept that Halloween has ended, and Barbarian Month has come. It is time to put on early English Prog Rock and protometal, take some chilly walks through the woods and fields, and read Conan comics. These are the days of High adventure.
I thought I might introduce a new feature, highlighting book and comic book cover art that makes a lasting impression on me. Welcome to Hogging the Covers.
For our inaugural entry, I present The Flash (vol. 2) #131. Coverdated October 31st (Halloween, nice) 1997, this issue was written by Grant Morrison with Mark Millar, interior art by Paul Ryan (the artist, not the muppet-like stooge) and cover art by Steve Lightle, and not, as I thought for years, Joe Quesada. I didn’t know any of that when I got this issue. I got it along with two other comics, (a Spiderman featuring Morbius, and I don’ know what the other was) for my Birthday from my friend John. It was my first Flash comic, and the cover blew my mind as a kid. Seeing the Flash in wheelchair and leg cast was a nightmare revelation in that it never occurred to me before how much the character relied on his legs. He runs fast, that’s his whole thing! How did this happen? What is he gonna do? It’s a classic question mark cover, a throwback to the Flash’s long history of question mark covers. Years later I reread this story in a collection, when I discovered I was a Grant Morrison fan longer than I’d even realized. And, the story was actually still really good.
The fastest man alive is in a wheelchair. Yep. Gotta read that one.
Children! It is October! And inspite of a long absence I write to you know on my ghoulish cellphone from the Widow’s and my country house north of Salem. There are dead leaves in the dirty ground, and pumpkins as far as the eye can see. It’s a perfect season for reading, so let’s see what’s in the stash today, shall we? Continue reading
Harry Dean Stanton was one of the greatest American character actors of all time, and I was in fact once arrested for writing that on Elisha Cook Jr.’s head stone, so you know I mean it. Whenever he popped up in a movie or TV show you felt like you’d won some cosmic scavenger hunt. He had an Art Carney-like gift for light physical comedy, and the slightest movement in the eyes, or twitch of the nostril, could speak volumes. That man could act with every cell of his body and the older I get, the more I wonder if he was even trying. G’night Uncle Harry.
“In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.”
If Jack Kirby was going to lift from another book, it could be no less than a sacred text.
The hand writing on the source wall in New Gods #1 will forever stand out in my mind when I think of him, I’m not sure why. I first saw it in black and white when I was about eleven years old, and already a fan, but something about that old testament imagery flipped a switch in my brain that has never gone off. To this very day, the Fourth World Cycle Kirby wrote, his interlocking books including New Gods, Mister Miracle, The Forever People, and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, remains one of the few books that blew my mind growing up, and remains actually as good as I remember it.
There is quite simply, no one else like Kirby. He was a mutant. On Monday he would have been 100, but he was too good for this dimension. I’d write a more complete tribute to the man, and if you’d like one, I wrote one for his 99th. but for The Kirby Centennial, I’d rather let his work speak for itself.