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So, about Jack Chick. On one hand, he seemed to be an always-present part of the weirdo comics landscape …his little religious funnybook pamphlets were just some strange thing we’d come across once in a while, in a variety of circumstances. I’d get them with Halloween candy as a kid. I’d see ’em at the local church neighbors attended. A neighbor of another friend “witnessing” to me (at me?) would press one into my hands. Some years back, my old high school friend and former coworker Rob would actively collect them, and a couple of his spares he’d pass along to me.
Nobody I knew took them very seriously. Well, maybe that one friend’s neighbor. But they were all amusing in some dark fashion…little morality tales of horror and death, all footnoted with Bible verses, where “bad” people were punished for doing shitty things to their fellow humans, and for not accepting the tenets of Chick’s particular interpretation of Christianity. That one booklet about the dangers of role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons is a highlight, much parodied and mocked over the years.
Some of the images still stick with me…the “lake of fire” that I’m pretty sure was used and reused in many of Chick’s comics. The construction worker trapped in hell, wondering if he’d get to see his friends again, and being told he’d be alone forever. The dead fella being forced to watch all the sins he committed in life, aghast that he’d have to watch himself tell the filthiest joke. “No, not that joke, not here!” Usually the comics were crudely arranged and drawn, but there was that occasional moment of frisson achieved, sometimes more by accident than by design, but still there.
On the other hand, beyond the amusement value, mixed in with the sporadic positive religious message, were messages that were anti-gay, anti-science, anti-Catholic, anti-anything Jack Chick personally didn’t care for. That undermines the pop-culture jocularity a bit. True, these were in the usual ham-fisted style and thus hard to treat seriously at face value (though I know some folks did), but it still revealed the ugly undercurrent of ignorance. Even saying that would make me one of those sinners in these comics, shouting and sweating and exclaiming my bad points of view, while the even-tempered hero calmly explains why I’m wrong and surely going to hell.
Still, I felt that I should note Jack Chick’s passing. Something…unique, shall we say, has gone from the comics world, what could be described as an odd sort of “outsider” art aside from the fact that Chick’s tracts are probably some of the most widely-read pieces of the comics artform ever.
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In other news: pal Tim, who wrote this lengthy essay
that you should read if you haven’t already, has published his follow-up
which I think you should read as well. Tim’s gettin’ back into the old blogging game somethin’ fierce, and if you’d like to help him out, he’s got one of those Patreons
that you can throw some simoleons at if you’ve got a couple to spare.
I’ll be contributing myself in the next couple of weeks, as soon as I get through a month with the quarterly sales tax payment, car stuff, plus other big expenses, and by total coincidence here’s a link to my own Patreon.
As I’m sure you’ve heard, Steve Dillon, artist of Punisher and Hellblazer, as well as the co-creator of Preacher, passed away over the weekend at the much-too-young age of 54. I’m sure I’d come across his work before this, but it was his run on Hellblazer (with writer Garth Ennis) that I really began to notice and appreciate his work. As I said on my post about his passing on the store site (where I scanned and posted a Preacher sequence that I particularly like), he had a very clean, uncomplicated style that managed to convey huge amounts of detail and wide ranges of emotion. In a way, his style reminds me a bit of Jaime Hernandez’s, particularly in his later work (as opposed to that slightly rougher-edged, but still wonderfully expressive, artwork on view in those panels above).
He was a wonderful artist, and judging by some of the tributes I’ve seen on Twitter, he seemed to be a pretty darn good guy as well. I mean, look at this swell Scarecrow he drew for a little kid.
My most sincere condolences to his family, friends and fans. So long, Steve.
image from Hellblazer #63 (March 1993)
One of my fellow Troublemakers over at Trouble with Comics, Tim Durkee, passed away this week. Alan David Doane has posted a remembrance over at the site that I hope you’ll take the time to read.
Tim’s last contribution to TwC was this convention report, which went up only days before his passing. Of course, you should check out his other posts on the site as well.
I didn’t really know Tim beyond what he wrote for the site, but clearly he loved comics, loved the community, and loved writing about both (even if either/or didn’t quite live up to his standards!). I’m glad he had the opportunity to share his thoughts on this industry, and sorry that he had to leave so soon. My condolences to his family and friends.
So long, Tim.
Gaspar Saladino was the letterer’s letterer, providing logos and text for many a comic book for several decades, for Marvel and DC, and designed logos for all the 1970s Atlas books (such as this great one for Grim Ghost), and many, many more.
And of course he created the logo for a comic book series of particular importance to me:
And also did the lettering within, designing the distinct balloons for both Swamp Thing’s thoughts and his rare vocalization:
He was a great talent, and an essential part of the look-and-feel of those early Swamp Thing comics. He’ll be missed.
Mark Evanier has an obituary (he mentions that there’s some question to Saladino’s actual birth year, hence the question mark in this post’s title), and Todd Klein has an overview of some of Saladino’s early DC work (parts 1 2 3).
So long, Gaspar.
As I’m sure you may have heard, Jack Davis, “MAD‘s Maddest Artist,” passed away this week at the age of 91. Now, I loved MAD, and I loved the work of Jack Davis both there and in the other EC Comics (this is probably my favorite horror cover of his). If you remember, a few years back a rumor briefly went around that Mr. Davis had passed away, and I had a tribute post ready to go. I held off posting ’til I had confirmation, and of course it turned out he was fine. But, not one to let a little bit of work go to waste, I posted it anyway, because why not celebrate a great talent while he’s still with us? We should do that more often.
So, here’s that post, with plenty of links to samples of his work. Like all of the man’s art isn’t permanently embedded in our collective consciousness anyway.
Another comics artist passed away this week: Richard Thompson, creator of the strip Cul de Sac. Unfortunately, his strip ran at a time when I wasn’t really paying attention to the comic strip world, beyond archival reprints of other older strips. I’d seen his work, of course, and always made the mental note of “I’ve got to dig into his material,” but never got around to it. What I’ve seen of it, though, has always impressed, and it’s clear from the outpouring of grief at his loss just how much love and respect he had earned. In a way, I’m sort of lucky…I still get to discover how wonderful his talent was, and that excitement of being exposed to a new great work is still before me. This time, I will seek it out, and not just put it on the back burner.
Also passed away this week is one of the stars of the Babylon 5 television series, Jerry Doyle, who played Garibaldi. He was the down-to-earth, sardonic voice that grounded all the alien warfare and ancient prophecies and other sci-fi shenanigans…sort of a gruff “everyguy” that you couldn’t help but like, even as the character went through some dark places. The creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski, wrote this funny and touching tribute.
As much as I want to write “enough already, 2016,” I’m going to point you to pal Andrew who has some smart words on what Achewood so accurately calls “the only game in town.”
from All New Collectors’ Edition #C-56 (1978) – by Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano and Terry Austin
When I went to my one (and so far only) Wizard World convention a few years ago, the only panel I sat in on was the DC Comics one. Dan DiDio was there, and James Robinson…and Darwyn Cooke. A couple of observations I noted from that original post:
“When Didio noted that they’re trying to create a ‘cohesive continuity,’ Cooke openly laughed at him. ‘These panels are a gas,’ says he.”
And there was some fun had at Cooke’s expense, regarding his affinity for older material. When current DCU plans were being discussed, Cooke piped in saying he had no idea what anyone was talking about. ‘We send you a box [of comp books],’ DiDio said — ‘Do you even open it?'”
Anyway, I thought he was pretty funny on that panel. His New Frontier is legendary, of course, and the Parker adaptations were finding him a brand new audience. And regardless of what you thought of the “Before Watchmen” project as a whole, you can’t deny that Cooke’s Minutemen series sure looked fantastic.
My condolences to Cooke’s family, friends, and fans. So long, Darwyn.
image from Solo #9 (2005)
My grandmother, Beulah Sterling, passed away Sunday afternoon in her own home at the age of 96. She had a good, long and active life, always surrounded by lots of family and friends. When Grandpa retired early, he and Grandma spent the next couple of decades traveling all over the world, and making even more friends in every country they visited. Grandma always made sure to send me postcards from whatever far-flung destination they visited. When they visited Scotland in the late ’70s, they brought back for me a Loch Ness Monster souvenir book, which I’ve still got around. Yes, Mr. Skeptical-about-Stuff is still hanging onto an old booklet about Nessie.
She still lived in the same Oxnard house that was basically built for her and Grandpa back in the 1940s. She was even still driving herself around up until a couple of years ago, when hearing and eyesight issues made her give that up. Even up until just within the last few months, she was still up and around doing things and going places…her housekeeper Susan even drove her out to my new store shortly after it opened so she could check it out. Every time I saw her after that, she always made sure to mention how happy she was that I had my own store, and how glad she was she was able to see it. Even in the last few weeks of her life, bedridden and fading, she would smile as she told me how much she liked visiting my shop.
She was always kind and friendly and supportive, and always kept up on everything the family was doing. Visits with her would bring me the latest updates on the latest goings-on of relations, near and distant. Occasionally I would bring her some of the classic strip reprints to look at, such as the Fantagraphics Mickey Mouse volumes, and she would be amazed that such things existed. She’d say that she never imagined there’d be such nice books collecting together the strips she used to read in the old newspapers.
When I saw her last, just this past Saturday morning, even though she was unable to sit up or talk, she still gave me a big smile, letting me know that she knew I was there and that she was glad to see me.
One time, she told me that planned on being around ’til she was a hundred and ten, so we wouldn’t be rid of her anytime soon. Well, she didn’t quite make that goal, but you know, 96 ain’t too shabby, I think.
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As you might imagine, this has put me a bit off current postings for the site. I’ll be back later in the week for business as usual, but in the meantime, spare a thought for your loved ones, either departed or still with us.
I know there’s no shortage
of more impressive and better remembered films the man was responsible for, but, by God, Wes Craven brought Swamp Thing to the screen
. Sure, the film may have its issues, and may have taken the occasional liberty with the source material, but it works anyway and I still am quite fond of it. And Roger Ebert liked it too
, so there.
So long, Wes.
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