GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE -- BUT TO WHO?
The debate over who created Marvel's heroes, Stan Lee or Jack Kirby, rages on in today's New York Times.
"It's amazing that he walks away with all the credit and all the money for some of the creation of these characters," said Robert Katz, a nephew of Jack Kirby, the illustrator who worked with Mr. Lee on the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the X-Men and others. "The artists who did the lion's share of the creation have walked away with absolutely nothing." Mr. Kirby died in 1994.
"I only wish that Jack Kirby had Stan Lee's lawyer," Mr. Katz added.
In an article appearing in today's New York Times, Ayelet Waldman, wife of Michael Chabon, and other mothers discusses the thrills of blogging about parenthood.
But the question is, at who's expense? How will the bloggee feel, say, 16 years from now, when her prom date Googles her entire existence?
"Fundamentally children resent being placed at the heart of their parents' expression, and yet I still do it," said Ayelet Waldman, whose blog, Bad Mother (bad-mother.blogspot.com), describes life at home with her four young children and her husband, Michael Chabon, the novelist. Ms. Waldman, a novelist herself, has blogged about her baby Abie's recessive chin and gimpy hip and the thrill of the children's going back to school after winter break.
"A blog like this is narcissism in its most obscene flowering," she said. "But it's necessary. As a parent your days are consumed by other people's needs. This is payback for driving back and forth to gymnastics all week long."
Oh my GOD. I have got to get back to work. I have books to write, for Christ's sake.
(In a related story: why had I never heard of Technorati before?! This is going to be my new favorite toy).
"STEPHEN KING IS GOD"
Ayelet Waldman posted an awesome account of her experiences with Stephen King that I'm reprinting in its entirety for all to enjoy:
And I got to meet him. Not only to meet him, but I got to appreciate what an amazingly generous guy he is. A while ago I read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about how this lame ass "university" (actually a diploma mill/real estate scam) in the city had expelled a student for writing a violent short story. Not only did they expel him, but they fired his instructor on the grounds that she had assigned a reading by some unknown writer -- that unknown writer was, according to the Dean of the English faculty, "George Foster Wallace." Um. George?
Anyway, a lot of people got up in arms about this. Daniel Handler ended up leading a huge protest, which resulted in him being tossed out of the school building. Michael wrote an Op Ed piece for the New York Times (I know, but he's a brilliant writer type, not a fiery protestor lay-your-body-down type.) Stephen King sent a message to the protestors.
It turns out that all over the country in response to Columbine kids are being prosecuted ... yes PROSECUTED ... for writing fiction. Now, I understand the fear. I understand the horror of the shoot out. What I don't get is the response. My response to Columbine is to wonder what is wrong with a culture that so ostracizes and alienates a child that he ends up so crazy. What is wrong with the mentality of a high school where kids are made to feel so bitterly freakish and outlawed? Instead, we fixate on the kid writing the fiction. Instead of worrying about what's going on in his head, instead of feeling his pain and wondering at its source, we arrest him. Instead of stopping the bullying, we target the bullied.
Michael had a brilliant response to this. He decided to teach a class at 826 Valencia in horror and dark fantasy writing...for teenagers. He told Stephen King about it, and this incredibly famous man, this man with a million things to do, a million commitments, a million demands on his time, said, "Dude, you teach that class, and I'll be there."
On the last day of class, he was there. As a surprise guest. You should have seen the kids' faces. They were out of their minds. When he told them that he was an amateur, just like them, they scribbled in their notebooks. When he asked them what they wrote, what their techniques were, you could see their self-confidence expand before your eyes. It was amazing.
I've met some incredibly generous people in my life, but honestly, he's something special. This guy flew across the country (obviously at his own expense -- 826 doesn't have a pot to piss in) just to inspire a dozen kids. Now that's a mensch.
I missed this during my last update, but apparently The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon's first novel, may get a reprinting soon with a new foreward by Chabon. In his recent website update, Chabon writes, "And I think I'm going to write a foreword to a new reissue of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. I think."
CHABON SPILLS CASTING RUMORS
In his most recent website update, Michael Chabon let loose the most recent set of casting rumors for the film adaptation of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
"About a month ago there was a very brief buzzing, as of a fruit fly, around the film version of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," he writes. "It was a casting-buzz. It went like this: Tobey Maguire as Sam Clay. Jamie Bell as Joe Kavalier. Natalie Portman as Rosa Saks. It buzzed very seriously for about eleven minutes. Then it went away. My reaction (since you asked): Natalie Portman: perfect. Tobey Maguire: interesting choice, like to see it. Jamie Bell: isn't he, like, 15?"
If signed, this would be the third film featuring both Chabon and Maguire credits. Maguire previously stared in the adaptation of Wonder Boys and Spider-Man 2, which Chabon helped write.
Chabon also gave a quick update on his next novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union. "February 1, 2005 will mark the start of my third year at work on this novel. Sigh. Luckily I'm still taking pleasure in it. Except for the times when I'm not."
What else, you ask? Well, Chabon also spilled the beans on how his newest movie project is going, as well as meeting a certain martial arts legend. "I went to Hong Kong and Beijing in the service of my rewrite, for Disney, of the script for a film with the working title of Snow and the Seven, or "Kung Fu Snow White" as we call it around my house," he writes. "We are all passionate Yuen Wo-Ping fans around here, in particular of his Iron Monkey and the wildly lovable Snake In Eagle's Shadow, and I am excited, pleased, and flattered to be associated in any way with the Master, who is attached to direct. The trip was amazing. I had tea, in his trailer, with Jackie Chan, just by chance. He was wearing a suit of Chinese armor. Apparently he is the nicest man in the universe."
And of course there's that comic series Chabon has some sort of tie to. "The fifth issue of The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, a quarterly anthology published by Dark Horse Comics, is due soon. Volume 2 of the trade edition, comprising issues 3 and 4 of the quarterly title, with a marvelous cover by Matt Kindt, is now on sale at your local. I just saw the first eleven pages of Eduardo Barreto's pencils for my restoration/reconstruction of a massive 65-page script, written by Danny Sonnenschein in the early 1970s, when Sunshine Comics briefly revived, in B&W, magazine format, the classic Kavalier & Clay character Mr. Machine Gun. He is outdoing himself; it's great stuff."
To read the rest of his updates, click here.
ESCAPIST #6 SOLICITATION
Dark Horse released the solicitation for April 13's Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #6. Small note: It appears Michael Chabon's 65-page Mr. Machine Gun story won't see print until issue #7.
Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #6
Writer: Will Eisner, Chris Offutt, Steven Grant, Howard Chaykin, Jason, Dan Best, Eddie Campbell
In these pages, the Spirit meets the Escapist! That's right-legendary comics godfather Will Eisner returns to his world-famous creation for a meeting that neither WWII-era hero will soon forget. This is the first new Spirit story both written and drawn by Eisner to see print in decades!
Also in this issue is the comics writing debut of Lannan and Whiting award winner Chris Offutt! Thomas Yeates (Conan) lushly illustrates this celebrated author's tale of the Escapist in Vietnam. Dan Best and Eddie Campbell (From Hell) present a fully-painted story of the Empire City 1939 World's Fair, and Howard Chaykin (American Flagg!) returns to concoct "Liberators," a fact-based tale of art looted by the Nazis, set in 1945 Paris! Norwegian indy cartoonist JASON contributes an Escapist spoof, and Steven Grant and Norm Breyfogle proffer the first Weird Date story of the anthology! One of the myriad classic titles created by Kavalier & Clay, Weird Date featured mixes of classic Alex Toth romance comics and outrageous Jack Cole crime comics of the sort that put Dr. Freddie Wertham's undies in a twist!
Pub. Date: April 13, 2005
The issue can be pre-ordered at Things From Another Universe for $8.05 plus shipping and handling.
SARGENT WRITING SPIDEY 3
Alvin Sargent, who wrote the final draft of Spider-Man 3 script, has been signed by Sony to write Spider-Man 3, Variety reports, with an option for the fourth movie. Sargent, who won Oscars for Ordinary People and Julia, has already begun writing the third Spidey flick.
Sargent has had a hand in both of the previous Spider-Man films. He did an uncredited rewrite of the first film according to Variety, and received the sole screenplay credit for the sequel.
Previously, director Sam Raimi had stated he was seeking "really good writers like Alvin Sargent, and maybe Michael Chabon if I can get him - yeah the best in the business." The Variety article made no mention of Chabon, and when asked in October, Chabon said "at this point neither I nor they have any such plans."
Chabon received a screen story credit for Spider-Man 2 after doing the initial rewrite.
Principal photography for the third film is scheduled to begin January 2006, with a slated release of 2007.
My site misreported an earlier story that suggested Ayelet Waldman, Michael Chabon's wife, was considering ending her writing career. According to Chabon, Waldman is only "preparing to terminate" her Juliet Applebaum mystery novel series.
"She has a great follow up to "Daughter's Keeper" coming out next year from Doubleday, called "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits," Chabon wrote in an e-mail. "And she plans to keep writing novels for as long as she can."
My apologies to Ms. Waldman for misinterpreting her blog post. I have modified the previous story accordingly to fix the error.
Michael Chabon commented for The Amazing Website of Kavalier & Clay about Will Eisner's Spirit/Escapist story, expected to hit stands with April's The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #6.
"It's a lovely, witty story, very spryly drawn," Chabon wrote in an e-mail. "It was the last thing he drew, and as I understand it, he put off having his open heart surgery until he could finish it."
"Before he died, I thought it was deeply touching," he continued. "Now it seems a little more like a miracle--or at least a blessing."
EISNER ESCAPIST STORY PREVIEW
Also, Alex Saviuk, who helped Eisner pencil the story, replied to an e-mail I sent him yesterday about the story.
"I looked on the calendar this morning and realized that this Monday morning a week ago WILL was still in the hospital waiting to go home on Tuesday," he wrote. He added that the Spirit drawing featured with yesterday's news-bit will be auctioned on eBay this Thursday night on a 10-day listing with al proceeds going directly to the American Cancer Society.
Saviuk also hopes to work on future Escapist stories. "I am also hoping that with the publication of this new work, I might possibly get the opportunity to do an ESCAPIST story on my own," he said. "[I] know that WILL (with his customary generosity) wanted to introduce me to [Dark Horse] by having me work on this story with him."
The Oregonian reports that Will Eisner, who died Monday after heart surgery complications, had just completed a story for April's Escapist #6! According to the paper, Eisner's classic character, the Spirit, and Michael Chabon's the Escapist crossover to "wrestle with society's need for superheroes and simple solutions in a complex age."
In a piece for IcV2.com, artist Alex Saviuk (The X-Files, Web of Spider-Man) gave further details about both the story and the experience of working with Eisner:
Being a former student in the mid-70's at The School of Visual Arts, I felt honored and proud that from all the students Will had over the years, he chose to call me and ask if I would be able to assist him on a Spirit/Escapist story he was commissioned to do for Dark Horse. In his usual generous way, he felt that besides helping him, this would be a nice vehicle for introducing me to the editors at Dark Horse. Will would supply me with roughs on 8.5 x 11 bond paper and I would "translate" his drawings to 11x17" art board -- doing reasonably tight pencils so that he could then finish the art while making whatever necessary changes to his vision as he saw fit before inking and supplying a wash that was just stunning.
The results were breathtaking -- and he sent me copies of the final work and a wonderful letter thanking me for helping him and saving him time and asking me if I would be available for future projects -- he enjoyed our collaboration and would look forward to working with me again. I have the copies of the roughs, copies of my pencils and copies of the finishes -- all of them collective treasures that I will save forever.
Obviously, now, those future collaborations will never come to pass -- but I have the most wonderful memories to cherish of having been able to help draw perhaps the final The Spirit story for Will Eisner, even though the final work is obviously his -- but some of me is there as well.
WALDMAN PONDERS END OF MOMMY-TRACK MYSTERY SERIES
Ayelet Waldman, wife of Michael Chabon, indicated in a blog entry Tuesday that she may have only one or two books left in her Mommy-Track mystery series.
Waldman is currently working on her seventh novel, The Cradlerobbers. But although her books have sold "okay," Waldman says, she is "really really far" from getting a hit and "this book could spell the end of my mystery-novelist career."
"They say it takes seven books to hit, and if you don't by then, you're not going to," Waldman writes. "I've got a contract for one more after Cradlerobbers, and then Penguin will stop taking my phonecalls."
Waldman, who worked as a public defender before making a career change, doesn't seem to regret it. "Ah well. Whatever," she concludes. "It was good while it lasted."
The Cradlerobbers is scheduled for an August 2005 release, according to Amazon. Waldman is currently working on a rewrite.
To read the entire blog entry, click here.
CHABON SPEAKS ABOUT EISNER
The Associated Press spoke with Michael Chabon about Will Eisner, who died Monday:
"He was unquestionably the first person who ever took comic books seriously as an art form," Chabon said. He said Eisner spoke publicly about the artistic value of comic books as early as 1940.
"Even the guys who were making the comic books and those were the most talented thought what they were doing was worthless garbage," Chabon said.
WILL EISNER 1917-2005
From the Chicago Tribune:
A talented artist and writer, Mr. Eisner was best known for "The Spirit," which followed the exploits of a masked detective on worldwide adventures. In 1978, Mr. Eisner published "A Contract With God," the first comic to appear in novel form. He continued until his death to be a prolific creator and educator. For his contributions to the comic-book medium, the industry named its annual accolades The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards in 1987.
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