It’s 1966-okay?

It’s 1966–Okay?

So maybe it’s time I got systematic around here.

The plan:
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!


  1. Hi Dave!

    This comment covers a number of posts, going back to your first recent post, on Electro. I’ve read most of Conway’s run on Amazing in Essential format, but haven’t seen him in anything else (barring Law & Order, yuck). I’ve read some earlier Daredevil under Stan Lee, but will have to track down more… I just have to decide whether to go the Essential (b&w) route or the GIT DVD (reader-unfriendly, computer-bound; but letcol-including) route.

    I like how you ground your posts in scans, and especially how you don’t just pick the poster pose (like Arlen Schumer) but give us some more grounded, conventional panels—showing us these are comic books, not gallery pieces, a confusion that hasn’t served me well recently as I’ve hunted down Neil Adams’s Deadman and Tezuka’s Phoenix after seeing seeing their best panels in Schumer’s book and an art gallery respectively. (I don’t know what Schumer’s doing other than advertising illustrations, but I know he’s still out there, as he recently sent me a friendly email comment on my review of his book.)

    Re: Black Widow’s moral migration—surely Medusa predates this, moving (almost without comment) from supervillain to Inhuman in the mid-’60s?

    Your reference to “counsel of perfection” has given me the Biblical key to your Animal Man essay‘s title, “Councils of Perfection”, but I’m still not sure I understand. It’s easy to see Buddy’s counsels, as it is with Peter Parker’s, though I don’t get the pun, but what about Matt? This is probably my unfamiliarity showing (I’ve read some Lee, Nocenti, Miller, Bendis) but perfection seems only on his mind in his guise as a lawyer (though I agree that his freedom just leads to more frustration).

    I’m also curious about what aggressive unitarian punch you’re worried Miller would like his characters to throw?

    higs, Dave

    (Now I’m going back to your “Clobberin’ Time” essay, your Mulholland Drive posts, and Chimera Lucida to try and figure out what “you” are saying between them…)

  2. Oh my goodness, Dave. I go out of town for a week and a half, and come back to find these fantastic surprises waiting for me. The politics of “Canadian-ness”…Poor Mad Roy…looping back to unfinished arguments in the way of a magic trick…wow. And maybe a little Mike Murdock too? I hope so…and I’m just about to get down to reading, but thought I’d mention that (as it happens) I encountered your thoughts on “dynamic stasis” just a little while after starting those FF posts, and eventually that became a fairly big part of the stuff I attempted to talk over and around and through during my time with Blogger, so…yes, rather like a kind of magic to see you take a run at The Boy, at least to me it is. Makes me want to try something substantial of the same sort with Len Wein, author of my first true Marvel mindfreak!

    And, Dave G.: that’s interesting, how the Black Widow’s moral migration was given up for us readers’ uses, while Medusa’s was not. It’s a dropped stitch that I’m surprised Englehart (for one) didn’t pick up — so much of the Inhumans’ introduction doesn’t make sense, these days! Medusa’s fear of Gorgon…the shock-effect of Triton’s appearance…I’ve toyed with this just a little, but I think there’s something else that might be said about it: Jonathan Burns floated the idea on my blog recently that Kirby’s storytelling was based on “absolute image”, in other words his style was completely unapologetic, flight-of-fancy-wise, and therefore incapable of real domestication by later authors. I’m a little uncomfortable putting words in Jonathan’s mouth, but based on some other remarks he’s made I think he might agree that the problem of catching Kirby’s lightning in a bottle was that most everything he wrote and drew was like a sort of summation of his concept: each panel like a cover, perhaps (and maybe that’s what makes that big-ass FF#1 art-reprint so interesting?), hard to proceed anywhere else from but where he intended to go…which was probably nowhere, really, except he just had this crazy picture in his head. Oh, just a thought, sorry Dave F., I’m eating up lots of space here. Anyway, Mr. Golding…thanks for mentioning that Supervillain Logic post of mine, it gives me the chance to say that it was just one big long hopefully-humourous paraphrase of something (I think) Dave Cockrum quoted John Romita on, about character design.

    Very much looking forward to this reading — and hey, Jim Roeg’s even got another post up, I see! It’s like Christmas or something.


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