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As you may know, Al Capp was probably the most famous cartoonist in his day. He had articles written up about him in many major magazines, from Life to Playboy to TV Guide. A few years back, I reproduced one of the Life articles that Capp himself wrote. Today, I thought I'd run a few other pieces, including the one in which he appeared on the cover of Time, perhaps his most famous magazine cameo.

First, Newsweek from November 1947...
Next, Time from November 1950...
Then we have the March/April 1954 issue of Se, the Swedish version of Look...

And finally, The Freelancer #3 from, I think, 1957...
Note that in that time, there's almost no criticism or change in how he was viewed. It really wasn't until the mid-to-late 1960s where he wasn't perpetually lauded by the public. But before that, as shown in these pieces, he was a dearly beloved figured.
Do you know why Congress perpetually has an approval rating only nominally better than the Bubonic Plague? Basically, it boils down to them regularly showing that they don't care about the American people. Their repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act are a prime example. Everything about the most recent attempt in the Graham-Cassidy bill strips away funding and protections for huge swaths of the population and, oh by the way, gives some nice tax cuts to the upper 1%. (Call your representatives and let them know you do not approve of this bill!) With actions like this, Congress is telling the American people that only the phenomenally rich are worth their time. It's little wonder Congress's approval rating is at a measly 16%.

See, people generally don't like to being told that they don't matter. Go figure, right?

But that's exactly what happens in so many cases of harassment.

About a month ago, I saw someone start talking about the "Diversity and Comics" account on Twitter. I think it was Jennifer de Guzman‏. She pointed out that he was harassing women online. I don't recall if she explicitly had a call to action to report his account or just to block him, but I did a quick scan of his feed, saw he was indeed being a dismissive asshole, and reported/blocked accordingly. I've come to adopt a policy on social media that, if I hear someone is being harassed -- even if it's someone I don't know -- I'll track down and report the harasser's account. Harassment and bullying is just a really shitty thing to do in any circumstance, and no one (except the harassers themselves) deserves that. So, no, I don't want to share digital space with anyone who thinks that's okay, even if we're not travelling in the same circles.

As I recall, reporting "Diversity and Comics" was challenging because he generally skirts within the confines of the official Twitter policy. From what I've seen at least, he's not out there expressly calling people names and attacking them directly. But he does seem to goad others into doing exactly that, and he's then dismissive of the victim. "Dismissive" is of course an adjective that means "saying that you don't matter."

Here's the thing about harassment that I think a lot of people don't really get: no one wants to be a victim. No one even wants to appear as though they might be a victim. Which means that, if someone says they're being harassed, there's almost a 100% chance that they are. People don't make that kind of shit up.

But in a society where we believe someone is innocent until proven guilty, we wind up giving deference to the harasser because the victim hasn't conclusively proven they were harassed. It becomes a game of she said/he said and, barring evidence, the guilty party is frequently found not guilty. (This holds true in our social contracts as well as legal ones, by the way. The court of public opinion will favor a harasser as not guilty, even if things never get to an actual court.)

So when I see someone like de Guzman (that is to say, a person) say "Diversity and Comics" is harassing people, I'm inclined to believe her and I only look for actual evidence because that's what I'll need to report the account.

(And, by the way, you don't need to tell the victim you're reporting their harasser's account. Doing so suggests you're more interested in being rewarded than actually helping. You don't get a cookie for doing what you should be doing anyway. Just report/block the harasser and move on.)

We are just starting to get comics to a place where women and minority voices are starting to get heard. (There are some phenomenal minority-created comics that just won a bunch of Ignatz Awards by the way! I'd highly recommend picking up Ben Passmore's Your Black Friend if you haven't already!) Don't let assholes like "Diversity and Comics" drag us back to the bland bullshit we were limited to before because everybody else was told they didn't matter. If you see him or one of his ilk causing problems on any social media platform, be sure to report them and let them know that kind of bigoted disregard for people not like them is not welcome in our neck of the woods!
No, this isn't a post about how much Ditko, Kirby, Lee, Beck, or whomever contributed to the character Spider-Man. I'm looking tonight at the first person to portray the character live.

There have been numerous actors who've donned the spider-suit since 1963 when he first debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15. Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire are the most recent and most obvious. Older fans might recall the TV movies starring Nicholas Hammond, or that Danny Seagren portrayed the character a few years earlier on The Electric Company. Seagren noted in a recent interview that he also portrayed the character for appearances at shopping malls and the like around that time. (I seem to recall seeing a Spider-Man at one our local malls back then; I have no idea if it was Seagren or not, though.)

But there was someone who played the role as an "official" Spider-Man before all that by about a decade, and that someone was none other than Roy Thomas!

I recall reading a few years back that Thomas had a Spider-Man costume and posed for publicity photos from time to time. Most notably in the 1969 Fantastic Four Annual. When I went to do a quick search to confirm things for this post, though, I came across an even more surprising discovery: the costume still exists! In fact, until March of this year, it was still in Thomas' possession!

It turns out that Thomas brought the costume out for comic historian John Cimino, and he's gotten it cleaned up a bit for better display. What's more, Thomas relayed the full history of how the costume came to be created...
Sometime in the last months of 1965, or in early 1966, in the Marvel offices, production manager Sol Brodsky showed me several folded-up costumes which, he said, had been sewn for Marvel by a "professional seamstress" -- or some phrase to that effect. They were costumes for Spider-Man, Fantastic Four (a uniform that could be worn by either sex), and two others, which I believe were the Wasp and Medusa. He told me the costumes had been made for the company specifically so that they could be worn in a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade... that would've had to be the 1965 one. Sol told me that the "actors" hired to wear the costumes had gotten paid in advance and hadn't marched in the parade; I believe he said or implied that they'd gotten drunk and never showed up. He told me I could have the costumes if I wanted them, as they were just cluttering up the office.
Thomas goes on to cite the various times he'd worn the costume, both to Halloween parties and for publicity photos. Check out the full post by Cimino with an extensive introduction from Thomas here. It's a fascinating look at the earliest days of Marvel's attempts at marketing.

The one thing I would quibble with Cimino's comments, though. He suggests that the seamstress deliberately chose to make the leggings a different color than the torso because there were color inconsistencies in the printed books back then. Personally, I think this ascribes too much consideration on the part of the seamstress, and ignores what strikes me as a more practical reasoning: she probably simply bought a pair of leggings and couldn't get the colors to match perfectly. Occam's razor, you know?

I personally didn't hear anything about this back in March, and the Google searching I've done for this post suggests it flew under the radar of all the 'regular' comic news outlets, so my guess is this is still new information for most comic fans. Theoretically, Cimino will be putting the costume on the auction block at some point in the not-too-distant future, but I don't see any more recent information on that.

So not only did Thomas become the first "official" Spider-Man, but the very costume he wore is still around and seems to be in pretty good condition!
There are two parts to being a professional comics creator. The first part, as implied by the "creator" aspect, is to actually create comics. Seems obvious enough, right? The second part, as implied by the "professional" aspect, is to make money from comics. After all, that's really what distinguishes an amateur from a professional -- an amateur, by definition, does not get paid for their work. So to be a professional comics creator, you need to figure out how to create comics AND get paid for them.

Most creators, I think, focus on the creation side of things. In many respects, this makes sense. You have to learn how to create something before you can get paid for it, after all. Furthermore, a lot of creators create because they love to do it; so it makes sense that they'd want to spend time practicing and learning how to do it better. There's also an argument to be made that if you do something well enough, the money side of things sort of takes care of itself. (That's false more often than true, but it's a nice thought if you don't want to deal with the money side.)

But the "professional" side needs to happen too. Whether that's figuring out how to market and sell your own independent book, or how to read a contract from Marvel or DC, or just filing your taxes, it's a significant aspect to making comics professionally.

I have a Bachelor's degree in graphic design and a Master's degree in business. I've been working in marketing for most of the past quarter century. So ostensibly I know a bit of what I'm talking about.

And yet I'll be damned if I do!

There are comics out there that I think are fantastic, and the creator is doing all the "right" things in marketing/promoting their work, and it just doesn't seem to spark anyone's interest. There are others that I don't think are very good and don't seem to be marketed well, but people seem to just keep throwing money at them! And of course, there's all sorts of variations in between.

Which suggests to me that either comics run by different "rules" than anything else that's ever been marketed, or I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. Given that I've never been able to make any money off my comics work, I tend to think the latter.

So, my best advice to aspiring comic professionals is to not listen to what I have to say and instead find someone who's doing what you think is a good job. Then don't just try to copy them, but ask them what they're doing and why.
Here are this week's links to what I've had published recently...

Kleefeld on Comics: On Business: Room for All

Kleefeld on Comics: On History: Jack Kirby, A Personal Journey Review

Patreon: MTV Geek Classic: Kleefeld on Webcomics #30: Another Start

Kleefeld on Comics: Weekly Comics Links

Kleefeld on Comics: On -isms: Just Ask

Patreon: MTV Geek Classic: Kleefeld on Webcomics #31: Dawn of the Digital Era

Kleefeld on Comics: On Strips: The Royal Gazette

I was in Bermuda recently for a family wedding and, at one point picked up the Saturday edition of The Royal Gazette, the island's only daily newspaper. Naturally, I turned right to the comics and I wound up being surprised and puzzled by what I found there.

When I came to the page labeled "Colour Comics and Games", I saw the following strips: Dennis the Menace, Pardon My Planet, Hocus-Focus, Family Circus, Bizarro, Garfield, Curtis, Zits, Tundra, Mutts, Blondie, Beetle Bailey, and Mother Goose & Grimm. The page isn't particularly unusual or different from most newspaper comics sections, with perhaps Tundra being a slight outlier since it's syndicated by its artist Chad Carpenter and not through a corporate syndicate.

The next two pages were where my surprise started. First of all, that it had more than one page dedicated to comics! Second, aside from featuring a number of puzzles (including two different crosswords!) there was a week's worth of Slylock Fox and a Phantom Sunday strip from about two weeks prior. The newspaper doesn't publish on Sundays, so I presume they wind up treating the Saturday paper as a kind of expanded weekend edition. I know Slylock Fox is available in color, so I'm not sure why it's run in black and white; perhaps something to do with the licensing deal that allows them to run a full week's worth at once? But stranger, if you can see by the photo, The Phantom is also run in black and white, even though it appears they had the color version available. It's not just line art they're running. Further, it looks like they dropped the black plate and ran only the cyan, magenta, and yellow ones... but just using black ink. I can't figure out why/how that might come about, either accidentally or intentionally.

But there's yet another page and half of comics! (With the remaining half page devoted to horoscopes and a third crossword puzzle!) The comics here are: Popeye, Pickles, Between Friends, Slylock Fox, Hagar the Horrible, Baby Blues, Snuffy Smith, Tiger, 6 Chix, Carpe Diem, The Lockhorns, Hazel, Candorville, Calvin & Hobbs [sic], Dilbert, Curtis, Doonesbury, Mother Goose & Grimm, For Better or For Worse, Mutts, and Peanuts. As you might note, I had already mentioned several of those titles. The ones on this page are from different days -- most of these were from the date of the paper, while the previous ones were from three weeks prior! And more strangely, the titles that appeared in color a few pages earlier were run in black and white here; whereas Slylock Fox, which was in black in white on the preceding pages, was in color here.

By my count, only four of all those comics were ones originally intended to run on the day of the paper, one was a rerun from about two and a half years earlier (I believe Darren Bell was off that week and ran older strips), four were reruns from a decade or more earlier, and the rest all came from between two and three weeks before. As far as I can tell, there's no rhyme or reason to why some are new strips and some are old, or why some are in color and some are not. Some of the new ones are in color, some of the new ones aren't. The color strips are from different syndicates and the black and white ones are from some of those same syndicates. The old ones are mostly dated August 21, but there are also ones from August 22, 23, 24, 26, and 27. (Nothing from the 25th!)

For the record, I'm not upset by any of this; I'm actually pleased to see they were able to devote so much space to comics! But I am confused as to how they landed on this particular selection of comics. Anyone have any ideas on... well, any of this?