The Copper Age is my Golden Age
My 2013 1000 comic progress
Once upon a time, I remember having a discussion about the earliest days of the Fantastic Four comic, and Reed Richards being a total chauvinist dick to Sue Storm. Here's some examples, if you don't know what I'm referring to.
Now, some folks saddle that on both Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, for the early 60s, and think they both had some less than progressive attitudes about the ladies.
However, I'm remembering that when this discussion came up (thread has long since been deleted, I think it was on YABS ages ago) someone came to Kirby's defense to point out that Kirby would turn in completed FF pages to Stan Lee with everything complete except the contents of the word balloons. Part of the Lee/Kirby partnership falling apart had to do with Stan getting writing credit when the whole script, save for that, was coming from Jack Kirby.
And, as that person claimed, Kirby often took exception to the way Reed talked to Sue. (One of the commenters on the article I linked to mentions it:
So... yeah.Take the fifth pic down, the one with Sue talking about house-cleaning and Reed telling her to do it quietly. You need to remember Stan and Jack were working under the Marvel Method – plot, pencils, script. If you take the context of the panels round about that one, it actually seems a bit out of kilter. I’ve seen the artwork without the speech bubbles too and it makes more sense if you imagine Sue is giving the boys a hard time for sitting on their fat arses. That, I think, is what Kirby was going for. But then Stan came in when he had the finished art and laid the script down and, to me, it looks like he changed what Kirby was going for.
And of course when John Byrne took over he had a great scene where Sue pointed out that she saved the entire team one of the first times they took on Doctor Doom, so Stan and Jack did give her some cool stuff to do.
If Kirby art doesn't do anything for Ms. Boxer, that's fine. Same for any other man or woman. But I don't think Kirby's art says anything about chauvinism, or sexualizing the women he drew. And frankly, I don't know why that's being put in the context of Ms. Boxer's article, either (other than the Silver Surfer's board looking like a phallus, I mean).
Last edited by worstblogever; 05-09-2012 at 03:14 AM.
CBR's Cerebra: Mutant Tracker
X-Poster of the Month: January 2011
- the best there is at what i do -
I don't understand why this thread exists. All she did was post her thoughts and opinions about a famous comic creator. Male and Female bloggers do that everyday. Why is it such a big deal to the op?
It's under full invesgatation !
"I came to the conclusion that the optimist thought everything good except the pessimist, and the pessimist thought everything bad, except himself." -- G.K. Chesterton
The only us vs. them I can see is superhero comic fans vs. non superhero comic fans or marvel fans vs. dc not male vs female.
I’ve been watching the Kirby lovefest from the sidelines — not with envy, but with a kind of fascination. Why I can’t I dive in? Why does my son want to? (I see a superhero comics fan in the making and I am horrified but interested too.) There must be a reason. Hatfield’s chapter “How Kirby Changed the Superhero” speaks to the point. And it also seems to explain my physical revulsion for almost all of the Kirby superheroes except, perhaps, the Silver Surfer, a giant phallus on a surfboard.
I like my superheroes smooth. Many of Kirby’s superheroes (and some of his anti-heroes) are encrusted, scaly, ripply. This encrustation strikes me as related to Christian iconography, which I also know nothing about. (See the attached photo of a work by Arthur Lopez at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, titled El Savador del Mundo.) Every layer is meaningful, not merely ornamental. And the layers seem designed to keep people like me out, people who don’t understand what the encrustation is all about. It is literally repulsive.
In his superhero chapter, Hatfield defines the difference between Kirby’s Marvel characters and the pre-Kirby DC superheroes like Batman (who would be my favorite superhero, if I were forced to pick one, which I am almost daily, by my son). The DC superheroes are smooth, streamlined, modernists in tightfitting pajama costumes. They are not so much clothed as depicted “though a haze of color,” Hatfield writes. The costumes, Hatfield continues, quoting Michael Chabon, are meant to show off “the naked human form, unfettered, perfect, and free.” P. 112
If the clothing has any job other than labeling the superhero, it is an ironic job. Hatfield calls the clothing of DC’s superheroes “inherently ironic,” paraphrasing Terry Castle’s Masquerade & Civilization: “the superhero’s disguise … enabled its hero to invert his usual identity.” P. 113 I like that. Ironic clothing.
The Marvel heroes are not ironic. They are dead earnest, in constant deadly battle with Pure Evil. Cap battles the Nazis, not funny anti-heroes like The Joker. Hatfield writes, “the Marvel style was vigorous, even brutal… Marvel favored energy over smoothness.” P. 119 (By the way, this energy, is something I do admire about Kirby’s drawing. I also like that Kirby krackle — the depiction of energy itself. And I like some of Kirby’s heirs like Gary Panter, who aren’t quite so earnest.)
The most interesting point (at least to me) in Hatfield’s book is that the Marvel superheroes are not only physically layered but semantically layered. They have layers of personal history & mythology, which they carry with them over time. They are encrusted with their own history.
As Hatfield writes, “the Marvel characters remembered — and so did their readers.” And this historical encrustation, which the Marvel-type superhero carries with him, makes for a certain kind of fan.The Marvel readers are “addicted, soap-opera like, to continuing storylines and unresolved problems.” Captain America is a superhero soap opera. This is why I can’t jump into the discussion. This is why I don’t want to. Those super-encrusted layers of narrative clothing are super-nauseating and super-repulsive.
By contrast, the DC characters (as Umberto Eco has noted) are “blessed” with forgetfulness. They exist in what Neil Gaiman has called “a state of grace.” Each new story is a fresh starting point, naked and free. The characters have personality but they are, narratively, blank slates. As with a comic strip like Peanuts, anyone can dive in. Even me.
Linus is my idea of a great super-hero.
Last edited by Mecegirl; 05-09-2012 at 06:59 AM.
The best part about this whole thread is that Boxer isn't even speaking from a feminist perspective. She's speaking from a personal, gut-feeling perspective. As far as I can read her, she's speaking from a nerd-as-nerd or nerd-as-neurotic. Or if you really want to get controversial, a Jew-as-assimilated-goy perspective. See who she lists as her favourite superhero: Batman. She doesn't like the Kirby heroes, because instead of being ironic, they're dead-earnest. Instead of many of them being clothed, they are in pants. When she objects to the "encrustation" of the Kirby figures, when she objects to their layering - semantically and visually - she objecting to Kirby's essential experience as an immigrant Jew. When she says, "Every layer is meaningful, not merely ornamental. And the layers seem designed to keep people like me out, people who don’t understand what the encrustation is all about. It is literally repulsive," she's objecting Kirby's Jewishness - unashamed and obvious.
Later she says, "The most interesting point (at least to me) in Hatfield’s book is that the Marvel superheroes are not only physically layered but semantically layered. They have layers of personal history & mythology, which they carry with them over time. They are encrusted with their own history." And she's including this level of layering in her revulsion.
Let's take a quick look the things that create a physical revulsion in her:
1) physical encrustation
2) egregious difference
3) less than subtle religio-philosophical coloration
4) obvious narration of personal history in artistic choice
She's basically objecting to the art itself and to Kirby and his Jewishness.
Also, she's objecting to continuity. "the DC characters (as Umberto Eco has noted) are “blessed” with forgetfulness. ... Each new story is a fresh starting point, naked and free. The characters have personality but they are, narratively, blank slates. As with a comic strip like Peanuts, anyone can dive in. Even me." This is what she finds repulsive: "that Marvel readers are 'addicted, soap-opera like, to continuing storylines and unresolved problems.' "
And finally, related to her unwitting rejection of the Jewishness of Kirby's art, she says that Linus (van Pelt) is her favourite superhero. Linus - drawn by a Jewish artist**, but presenting as the ultimate WASP what with his Gospel quoting goodness. The super-smart, neurotic, security-blanket wielding nerd. So here's another thing Boxer is objecting to: physicality, violence, earthy physicality. She doesn't like muscular superheroes, she wants pensive intellectual ones. She doesn't want superheroes to have clothes, she wants them to have ironic clothes: If the clothing has any job other than labeling the superhero, it is an ironic job. Hatfield calls the clothing of DC’s superheroes “inherently ironic,”[...] I like that. Ironic clothing.
So, if anything, this thread title ought to be "Hipster Takes on Jack Kirby".
Last edited by thespianphryne; 05-09-2012 at 07:28 AM.