I’ll re-read (and discuss) every comic Roy Thomas wrote at Marvel between 1966 and 1976. Comic Treadmill-style.
I can hear those heads shakin’… “Why on earth would he do that?”
And I can understand that point of view. I mean, Dave Campbell is not wrong about Roy’s early period. There’s really no arguing with these panels:
They’re undoubtedly crazy, in the least aesthetically-pleasing way possible. And yet, there’s a place in my heart for this kind of studied ugliness. No advocate of the simple beauty and full-speed ahead dynamism of the Silver Age, my interest in these books is rooted primarily in the narrative friction generated by the efforts of fans and fan/creators to catch that early Kirby lightning in a bottle and keep it spinning between all of the parties concerned. Obviously, I will never be confused with Arlen Schumer (where is he these days? I liked that book–even if I didn’t agree with it!).
Anyway, Roy’s words (and ideas) were more instrumental than anyone’s in bringing forth the “dynamic stasis” that I’m always talking about (or, that I USED to talk about, a few years ago). In the panels above, he fits 99 words into what the characters admit is a “split-second” (later, in the eighties, he would chronicle about 2 months of World War 2 in 66 issues of All-Star Squadron). Roy is the king of compression, if nothing else. But, of course, he’s a lot of other things too… He’s the ultimate Derridean storyteller, actually, almost preternaturally conscious, from the beginning of his career, of the extent to which we, as subjects, as characters, as writers, are part of a story which has “always already” begun. Plok, in very different terms, has done an admirable job of articulating a parallel take on Roy here.
And if you’re interested in seeing where all of this fits into my own dissertation, I can only point you toward the “cliffhanger” at the end of this essay.
Next Time–X-Men #20 (May 1966)!
good evening friends!