5 Questions, The New Batch — Served Up By Matt Rossi

(Soundtrack: Little Red Car Wreck Motor Like A Mother)

1 – give us anywhere at least five of the most influential works of art on you, personally, and how they influenced you.

okay! (I won’t talk about Blithedale again, don’t worry!)

one — It’s A Wonderful Life, and Frank Capra’s oeuvre (especially the Stanwyck movies!) in general…

two — Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, especially It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas… Yes, my first exposure to the strip was through TV, not through the newspaper, and, like everyone else, I can’t wait to, some day, sit down and gleefully atone for this by reading the whole 50 years in a row! Thank you in advance Fantagraphics!

three — Charles Dickens’ massive corpus, especially A Christmas Carol, Pickwick Papers, Bleak House and The Mystery of Edwin Drood

four — Grant Morrison and Chas Truog’s (+ friends…) Animal Man, and

five — Perry Miller’s scholarly corpus, beginning with The New England Mind

All of these things (along with Emerson, Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, early Cerebus, the Ramones, Hawthorne, Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man, Benet’s fantastic tales, George Stevens’ Alice Adams, LaCava’s Stage Door, Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels and Christmas in Juy, Scorsese’s After Hours, etc. ad infinitum!) helped me to see that a genial/kindly/bemused demeanor and a critical stance toward the world as it is can go hand in hand, and that these two things, when fused together by sheer passion, can produce brilliant narrative!

2 – Since I’ve been musing about it over on the Curmudgeons, are you more or less likely to purchase a work of art (be it a comic book, a novel or a what have you) if you know it will economically reward someone who holds views you find repugnant, even if the art in question does not reflect those views? Why or why not?

I can’t ever think of a time when I’ve given much thought to a creator’s personal likeability/moral worth when deciding whether to buy their work! (Cerebus is an interesting borderline case, I suppose… things get complicated when you’re obsessed with comics lettercols and the lettercols go rancid thanks to a creator’s personality shift from “loveable asshole” to just plain jackanapes!)

3 – Since you brought up Fourier… was Lope de Aguirre a believer in El Dorado or not?

Matt, I just don’t know!

4 – Ever read Dhalgren? If so, what did you think of it?

I haven’t. I really haven’t read any science fiction, aside from a few H.G. Wells books in my teens… (I preferred his History of the World) We’re doing some Heinlein in the 9/11 seminar I’m taking this semester–perhaps this will lead to further exploration… We’ll see!

5 – Okay, because I know you like the Gwen Stacy saga… did you ever read that weird story that hinted that the Gwen Stacy clone wasn’t, but was in fact some poor woman Miles Warren kidnapped and used a retrovirus on?

Matt, you have no idea what kind of a can of worms you’ve opened with this one! I do indeed know the story to which you refer–the Spectacular Spider-Man “Evolutionary War” Tie-in Annual! You can’t imagine how excited I was by this cover! (The issue hit the stands only a couple of months after I had finished assembling a complete run of seventies Amazing Spider-Man, and, already, I had begun to obsess upon the Clone Saga):

No she’s not Peter! Don’t worry anymore, baby…

And fuck the “Young Gods” too, whoever they are!

Imagine my horror when I learned that Gerry Conway himself had returned to dismantle the most perfect anti-nostalgia plot device ever unleashed upon a narrative form/genre that is particularly susceptible to that vice in its most nauseating form! I was angry Matt! Not because they had “messed with the continuity”, or anything like that, but because they had elected to resolve a contradiction that should never have been resolved! Needless to say, I’ll have a lot more to say about this as soon as I get the opportunity to sit down here and rant about Spider-Man: Blue!

Thanks Matt!

Good Night Friends!



  1. While I don’t promise that you would necessarily like it or think it a success, I do think you would be very interested in Dhalgren. It really only barely qualifies as science fiction; it is very much a “social novel” about human relationships and searching for individual identity, with a complex structure underlying it.

    That was the worst “Reader’s Digest” encapsulation ever, I realize, but it’s a hard book to pin down! I found it engrossing, and I urge you to read it whenever you have time.

    –Chris Keels

  2. Dhalgren is one of those novels I can read and read again and get something new out of it every time. I highly recommend it: even if you hate it, it’ll strike sparks in your head. (I hated it for a while. Gradually I came to love it, but it was slow going.)

    — Matt

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