Posts Tagged ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’

Special Thanks to Herb Trimpe – RIP

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Herb Trimpe

This has been a bitter-sweet week in the comics world.

Few could have ever imagined that we would be in an period where we are overwhelmed by live-action comic book characters in so many forms of media. This past week for  me was overload time and I was enjoying every second of it.

Almost.

In the space of a few days I saw an incredible extended trailer of Avengers: Age of Ultron film due out in a couple of weeks along with a fantastic new trailer for the film Ant-Man due to be released this summer. On TV new episodes of Gotham, the Flash, Arrow and Agents of  S.H.I.E.L.D. hogged up my DVR and thirteen new episodes of the brilliant adaptation of Daredevil begged to be binged on Netflix. Even Jimmy Kimmel peppered late-nite television with visits from the cast of the Avengers pitting them against on another in an epic Family Feud battle that awarded the winners a custom Avengers bicycle-built-for-three.

Then came the sad news that put all the euphoria into perspective. Comic book artist/legend Herb Trimpe passed away, unexpectedly, at the age of 75.

None of this magic that we are currently experiencing as we watch our favorite comic book heroes come alive on the screen, wether it is the 3-D Imax at the multiplex, our TV, computer, or any assortment of mobile devices, if it were not for the labors of modest comic creators like Herb Trimpe who year in and year out brought us the adventures of our favorite characters for decades. His death is a loss to us all.

A lot has ben said about comic book creators getting credit for their creations. In a recent blog I asked  “Who cares that comic creators get credit?” Creators names are now popping up on the screen with names like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby always in the forefront but lately there is a growing list that is showing up in the after credits often titled “Special Thanks” dedicated to the comic book writers and artists who, though they may not have created the initial concept or design of a character, were instrumental in developing  continued and crucial mythos that has maintained our interest in the character over the years.

The Daredevil series is a prime example. The opening credits pay tribute to the creators of the character, Stan Lee and Bill Everett, but the “Special Thanks” at the end of each episode extends to Brian Michael Bendis, Gene Colan, Klaus Janson, Alex Maleev, David Mazzucchelli, Roger McKenzie, Frank Miller, John Romita Jr., John Romita Sr. and Joe Orlando without whom the long tradition of Daredevil would not be so rich. Still, fans were quick to notice that the late Wallace “Wally” Wood had been neglected for his role in designing the iconic red costume that first appeared in DD #7 (1965) and has been the character’s trademark since, proving it is still important to remember these fine creators. All of them.

Herb Trimpe is one of these journeyed creators whose name you may not see in the opening credits but deserves a “special thanks” for his work, especially his influential run on the Hulk throughout the 1970’s. His name should appear on any film with the character including this summer’s impending Avengers blockbuster. Though Lee and Kirby deserve the credit for Hulk’s creation, when I watch Mark Ruffalo’s CGI captured performance, it is Herb Trimpe’s version of the character that comes to life.

Focusing on just his rendition of the Hulk would be a disservice to a comic pro that gave us 45 years of wonderful, memorable material. For all of his creative work and for being the gentle soul and family man that so many who knew him have described him as, Herb Trimpe deserves a “Special Thanks” from anyone that calls themselves a fan of comics.

Rest In peace, kind sir. You will be missed and always remembered.

Gerry Giovinco

Who Cares that Comic Creators Get Credit?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

As comic characters continue to roll out of the pages of comic books and into other forms of media, especially television and film, we are discovering a greater interest in who created what. This piqued curiosity is surely the bi-product of heated battles that were fought on behalf of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as well as the recent settlement regarding the characters created or co-created by Jack Kirby for Marvel.

It is a sad fact of comic book history that creators have most often been taken advantage of by the publishing houses that retain the rights to characters that they created. Many had long careers but were only rewarded by meager, hard earned page rates. They saw no royalties or benefits and in the early years little, if any, credit for their work. Most never even saw the return of their original art. Too many have passed on or continue to live in obscurity, without healthcare and certainly no compensation from their creations which have spawned a multi-billion dollar industry.

To be fair, some progress has been made, and in recent years attentive creators and their families have been able to establish some undisclosed agreements that have satisfied both sides. These accounts, however,  are few and far between.

The foremost concern for many creators is not money but rather an acknowledgment of their creative contribution in the form of credit on the screen. This has been demonstrated most recently by a Facebook post from the daughter of the late illustrator, Al Plastino, the co-creator of Supergirl a character that will soon be the focus of a new television series.

She writes:

“Facebook friends, we need you help.

Please help us get Al the credit he is due and all the creators who have died recently and will not see their characters come to life on television or in the movies. They never received any pensions, or health insurance, nothing at all. How disappointing that DC has waited until these gentlemen have passed away to begin producing programs like Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, Legion of Super Heroes,.Not looking for royalties. Just an acknowledgement of all the work these men put into building the DC brand. All the guys who have drawn or created characters when they were at the height of their popularity. Many nights I saw my father working in his studio to meet deadlines from the editor. At one point, Dad was handling 5 different strips for DC and United Media. Go to the DC website or their facebook page and let the syndicate know. You can do so much more for Al than any lawyer could. You helped Al get the Superman/Kennedy art into the Kennedy library where it was supposed to have been for the last 50 years and for that I am eternally grateful.

go to http://www.dcentertainment.com/#contact

MaryAnn Plastino Charles”

Why is a fleeting credit so important to creators or their families? Why should we care?  Few of us even notice, or stick around for the credits to roll at the end of a film. Those of us that do, understand that the greatest reward to a creator is to be recognized for his or her contribution to our culture. A simple acknowledgement goes a long way.

Think of the closing scenes of the Wizard of Oz when Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion get their awards. A diploma, a testimonial and a medallion were all it took to make the respective characters each feel fulfilled. The tokens were material acknowledgement of who they were and what they accomplished. This is the value of credit to a comic creator especially one that has created a character that has become iconic. It is the fulfillment of their destiny as a comic book creator, to experience immortality vicariously through their creation.

But our society has become desensitized to these simple but important details. Too many of us want to cut to the chase and just consume. There is a sense of entitlement that is too quick to dismiss the value of the effort those involved in creating our entertainment. This is ironic because now, more than ever before, all that information is easily at our fingertips.

A quick Wikipedia search will tell you all you need to know about who created nearly any character with links to biographies of the respective creators.

Supergirl, She was created by writer Otto Binder and designed by artist Al Plastino in 1959.”

The modern Flash, “starred Barry Allen as the Flash and the series assumed the numbering of the original Flash Comics with issue #105 (March 1959) written by John Broome and drawn by Carmine Infantino

Green Arrow, Created by Morton Weisinger and designed by George Papp, he first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 in November 1941.”

The Legion of Super-Heroes, “The team first appears in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), and was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino.”

With all of this information so readily available why is it so difficult to ask that they be credited on the screen? Some could argue that so many creators have influenced the current stories being told that the effort becomes daunting. This, however, becomes more of a reason to signal out appropriate credits.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for example, does a nice job of crediting Jack Kirby and Stan Lee for the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. but what about characters like Deathlock created by Rich Buckler and Doug Moench, Quake created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Gabriele Dell’Otto or Mockingbird first written by Gerry Conway and pencilled by Barry Smith? This is just a short list of the many characters that have appeared or are expected to appear in this ongoing series that has proven pivotal to the development of the MCU.

It is important for the world to know that the genre of superheroes did not just come from the fertile minds of a few. The genre is the result of the exceptional talents of a huge number of individuals whose work has been woven into a fabric of an expansive and growing mythology that has become entrenched in our popular culture.

For those of us that care, it is our responsibility to ensure that these creators and their efforts are not forgotten. It is the fans, collectors, historians, teachers and practitioners of the medium who will ultimately maintain the database of information that preserves the integrity of the history of what these comic book creators have accomplished. Hopefully our enthusiasm will be infectious enough that others will take notice and a greater appreciation of those unsung heroes will flourish.

Share if you care.

Gerry Giovinco

‘Marvel Studios: Assembling A Universe’ – A Kit With Instructions

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Tonight ABC television airs a special, ‘Marvel Studios: Assembling A Universe’ that is being promoted as an exclusive look inside the world of Marvel Studios.

Marvel’s website succinctly describes the world premiere primetime event:

“Marvel Studios has pioneered and broken box-office records around the world, creating a cinematic universe unlike any other in pop culture history through its blockbuster films. Beginning with “Iron Man” in 2008 and continuing today through “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on ABC and the theatrical release of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” this April, the Marvel Cinematic Universe presents audiences with some of the most groundbreaking and dynamic storytelling that brings an unprecedented vision to the world of entertainment.

In this exclusive primetime documentary special, audiences will be taken further into the Marvel Cinematic Universe than ever before, offering viewers a front row seat to the inception of Marvel Studios, the record-breaking films, the cultural phenomenon, and further expansion of the universe by Marvel Television.

Marvel’s first television special documents the exciting story behind Marvel Studios and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, featuring exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes footage from all of the Marvel films, the Marvel One-Shots and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Viewers will walk a clear path through this amazing and nuanced universe, featuring sneak peeks at the future of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on ABC, new footage from Marvel Studios’ upcoming theatrical releases, “Captain America: The Winter Solider” and “Guardians of The Galaxy,” and a sneak peek at the upcoming Marvel’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.'”

Curiously, they never mention the words “comics” or “comic books” once in their own promotion of this marketing extravaganza.

Seriously?

Fortunately early clips from the documentary shown on other sites quote Marvel Comics’ Editor-In-Chief, Axel Alonso saying,

“What Marvel Studios has done is very similar to what Marvel Comics did back in the day. They’ve built individual stories to stand on their own two feet, then they found a way to take those stories and weave them into a larger narrative.”

Thank you… I think.

Marvel Studios needs to pinch themselves, wake up and come to the stark (pun intended) realization that they are not creating anything. They are ADAPTING!

They are assembling this cinematic universe of theirs from a kit whose instructions were clearly established over a 73 year history by a ton of creative individuals whose professional careers were dedicated to making comic books!

Forget IRON MAN in 2008, let’s start with CAPTAIN AMERICA in 1941 and see where the Marvel Universe would be without their First Avenger that was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

That’s right, the same Jack Kirby whose name pops up when you also mention the creation of, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. all of which  he collaborated on with some guy named Stan Lee throughout the 1960’s.

Stan Lee? Yeah, he was Editor-in-Cheif back in the day” and was probably the guy most responsible for finding a way to weave those stories into a “larger narrative” since he was sitting behind the big desk at the time, directing traffic and providing the final scripting on all of those comics.

Let’s not even get started on the Guardians of the Galaxy whose long list of creator contributors include the names of folks like Arnold Drake, Gene Colan, Steve Englehart, Steve Gan,  Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen just to name a few.

By the way, there is one Guardian that has been lurking around the Marvel Universe since 1960. Yup! Groot made his first appearance in TALES TO ASTONISH #13 and is credited to – guess who? Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby along with a fella named Dick Ayers who also contributed to the creation of Iron Man.

Don’t be surprised if that alien shown in the T.A.H.I.T.I. episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. turns out to be Groot regenerating in that giant test tube. He is, after all, an alien plant species that was once held captive by S.H.I.E.L.D., became member of Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos and was later selected by the Kree to join the Guardians of the Galaxy to battle Ultron and the Phalanx where he sacrificed his life only to be brought back from the dead by Rocket Raccoon who managed to regrow him  by planting  one of his branches.

Nah!  That shit only happens in comic books.

Marvel Studios is working with a gold mine of material even after licensing out huge properties like Spider-man, X-Men and The Fantastic Four. Thanks to work-for-hire conditions in the comics industry the bulk of that material was produced for a  mere page rate and most of those creators that originally built that universe will never see a thin dime in royalties delivered to them or their heirs, especially not those of the late Jack Kirby whose creative genius is associated with most of this current crop of film and television that the Marvel Universe is built on.

Maybe, like Groot, there is hope that a seed, a branch or a twig could be planted and justice could grow from a bad deal that has been declared dead.

Remember, that without those comic books, none of these films and television shows will have ever existed and neither will have all the industry that is built around licensing and merchandising them, creating tons jobs that help support our economy.

What entertainment would we be enjoying this summer without Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and the rest of those comic book creators?

Without them there is no Marvel Universe to assemble.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Credits – Salt on the Wound?

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Last Wednesday the world watched as Marvel Entertainment premiered the first episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , their highly anticipated foray into the wild world of prime time television. Despite all the hype, gadgetry, special effects and the reintroduction of Agent Coulson the thing that surprised me the most was a line in the opening credits that skipped by quickly. It simply read, “Based on the Marvel Comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.”

I’m not so sure I was as surprised at the inclusion of the credit or my immediate negative reaction to it because as happy as I was to see both men credited, all I could think about was how the Kirby family must feel seeing Jack’s name brandished on yet another blockbuster that they will see no royalties from.

Unlike films, this television series which I suspect will be around for a while will be a weekly reminder of how their father’s creative genius was largely responsible for the success of Marvel Comics and the empire that it has become without ever receiving reasonable or fair compensation for his contribution other than a measly page rate.

Marvel movies based on Kirby creations

The Kirby family continues to fight the good fight, struggling to seek copyright revision of characters that their father co-created. Their legal battles have been a very public roller coaster ride that may take the issue of creator’s rights within the work for hire relationship eventually to the Supreme Court. A victory there would change the standard of living for generations of comic book creators and their heirs.

Is the inclusion of Jack Kirby’s name intended to be salt on the wounds of the Kirby family who recently took a big it in the Court of Second Appeals in New York?

Is it intended to motivate them to settle their dispute as Stan Lee had, to the tune of ten million dollars in 2005 followed by  a small rash of other creators who have made more recent settlements?

Has the Jack Kirby name become another valuable marketing brand that Marvel seeks to exploit just as they do with Stan Lee (but with Stan’s consent of course!).

Or is it just a pale display of goodwill intended to appease the fans who flooded the internet with rage and petitions when it was anticipated that Kirby might not be credited on the Avengers film?

Regardless of the motivation, I hope the credit remains and finds its way on every film, television show and piece of merchandise that would not exist without the contribution of Jack Kirby.

The public is slowly becoming aware of how pervasively his creativity effects the entirety of our poplar culture. As that awareness continues to grow it inevitably will will shed a spotlight  that can no longer be ignored on the injustices exercised by Marvel and now Disney.

Who wants to be known for having screwed over possibly the most influential single artist of the twentieth century? Certainly not the biggest media conglomerate  in the world.

Gerry Giovinco




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