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An open letter to Bill Maher

Posted by on Feb 3, 2019 in JC's Jocularity | 0 comments

Dear Bill,

Your recent editorial regarding comic books and comic book fans once again shows a misunderstanding you have with this art form. I am not using that term lightly, I do consider comic books an art form in the same vein I consider great literature, great paintings, great sculpture, great cinema, and great theatre all art forms. Of course, it’s clear that you do not share this opinion, which is fine. You are welcome to your opinion, but I would like to respond to some of your specific points.

First, you didn’t say this, but your producers put down a tag on the image of Stan Lee that said, “Goodbye, Mr. Strips.” While a funny play on “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” the joke does indicate that Stan Lee was predominantly a comic strip writer, and although he did write the Spider-Man newspaper comic strip for many years, unlike comic strip creators like Charles Shultz or Gary Trudeau, Stan Lee worked beyond the traditional 4-panel structure of the newspaper strip and worked in long-form story-telling as well. Just like telling a joke is different from a stand-up routine, and a stand-up routine is different from hosting a talk show. Yes, there are elements of the first all of them, but there’s a lot more that goes into the longer forms. It’s like eulogizing you by saying: “Bill Maher can no longer knock-knock.”

When a fan pointed out that they had learned about social injustice and racial tolerance from reading comic books, you then ordered them to read James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, or Michael Eric Dyson. Great choices, can we also include in that list their contemporaries: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Eve Ewing, and John Lewis? All of whom are currently writing comic books, with Coates and Ewing writing about social injustice and racial tolerance at Marvel Comics.

You said comic book movies aren’t great cinema, and although your joke about glowy things was funny (and accurate), you’re probably not aware that acclaimed films like “Road to Perdition,” “Blue is the Warmest Color,” “Whiteout,” David Cronenberg’s “A History of Violence,” and Stephen Frears’ “Tamara Drewe” were all originally comic books. But maybe you can only relate comic book movies to superheroes, so never mind that “Black Panther” has been nominated for a best picture Oscar. I guess since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t nominate “Religulous,” they must not know great cinema in your eyes.

You said that the Stan Lee’s estate was wrong when they said such literary giants like Dickens, Melville, and Shakespeare were not considered great literature in their time, and then went on to compare Shakespeare to comic books. As someone who had a double-major in History and English at Cornell, you shouldn’t need to be reminded that during Shakespeare’s time, theatre was considered the lowest form of entertainment, and despite his few command performances for Queen Elizabeth and King James, Shakespeare wasn’t considered to be in the same literary circles as his contemporaries like Sir Francis Bacon until well after his death. I can say similar things about Dickens and Melville, but since you quoted Shakespeare, I figured it was enough to say: “to thine own self be true.”

Finally, your main argument seems to be “If you like the same things you liked at ten, you need to grow up.” I liked watching NFL football when I was ten. Does that mean I can’t appreciate the game as an adult? I enjoyed reading Treasure Island when I was ten. Does that mean the book doesn’t have something to offer me as an adult?

Perhaps you could consider that despite their fantastical nature, comic books can offer nuances a person didn’t catch in their childhood. You could also consider that comic books, like any commercial entertainment medium, has to change, grow with its audience, and offer more options for growing sophistication, or be left behind. It’s not all about tights and capes, but were it not for pioneers like Stan Lee, who tried to give his characters real-life problems; Robert Crumb, who showed us comic books could be both subversive and informative regarding our culture; or Harvey Pekar who used the medium to tell his own, ordinary life story; that’s possibly all it would have been.

Of course, there are many things that I used to like when I was ten, twenty, thirty or even forty that I don’t like now, because they are permanently trapped in their time and place, and cannot grow with me. Old television shows that were great for their time, but when I re-watch them, I can see that they have a clear bias against certain groups; Movies that were entertaining for the minute, don’t hold up to my older, more experienced tastes; and comedians who haven’t changed their act in 30 years.

In fact, you pointed out the Millennial meme of #Adulting and blamed it on people who won’t stop liking things from their childhood. So I guess the hashtag for the meme about an old man who doesn’t think anything changes, should be #Stagnating.


JC Carter

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Captain America works for Hydra? Is that all you got?

Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Hey Fanboy!, JC's Jocularity | 1 comment

Meanwhile at DC, we got a one-shot… DC Universe Rebirth. $2.99 for 80 pages of HOLY SHIT (Cap was $4.99 for a standard 32-page comic). So what’s so damned special about Rebirth? Well, I’ll tell you…


Flashpoint is explained (putting the season finale for The Flash into perspective). Also, the New 52 is explained, or at least what happened. Whose hand is that? Oh, just you wait…


Johnny Thunder (as a very old man) is looking for the Justice Society.


The Legion of Superheroes are back.


The Atom found the Microverse? Copyright infringement lawsuits are pending, I imagine…


Ted Kord is back and slowly turning himself into the Blue Beetle, while trying to help Jaime Reyes remove the scarab (that turns Jaime into the current Blue Beetle). Oh, and Doctor Fate shows up and drops this little nugget:


And Ted’s just as delighted about that information as we all are.


The Aqualad made popular on the cartoon series, “Young Justice” is back. And evidently gay and has a religious mom.


Wonder Woman has a twin brother named Jason, and Darkseid is reborn and out to find him.


Aquaman proposed to Mera.


Wally West, the original Kid Flash, and later the Flash, is back!

Oh, but I hear you, you really like Keiynan Lonsdale on the Flash TV series and wonder if having a red-headed white kid might be too confusing for fans of the TV show… That’s cool, DC’s got your back:


It’s a little silly, and obviously pandering, but I’ll give it to them.




AAAAAAND that explains whose hand that was…


So, Captain America said “Hail Hyrda” on the last page of his comic book, while DC fixed all the stuff they broke with their half-assed New 52 concept. Sure. “Hail Hydra.” What else you got?

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Is this a new Silver Age?

Posted by on Nov 7, 2014 in Hey Fanboy!, JC's Jocularity, Movies! | 0 comments

Over the past few weeks we’ve had major announcements from both Warner Brothers regarding their DC properties and Marvel Studios regarding phase 3. And as I and my fellow geeks speculate futher on what these movies may hold for us, I found myself thinking about where we’ve come from and how what’s happening in the cinema has similarities to what happened during the famous Silver Age of comics.

DC started it back in the 50s, when they reimagined The Flash and Green Lantern for the atomic age. They showed us heroes relevant to the era, and gave them pseudo-scientific backgrounds. Warner did that with Batman, rescuing the property from what Schumacher did with Batman and Robin, and gave us a cinematic Batman that belonged in the art house just as much as it did in the Cineplex. Nolan made it real, eschewing hyperbole for a strong, character driven script.

But just like in the comic book silver age, then came Marvel with Iron Man, and a promise of even more to come, a bigger, connected universe.

So now DC/Warner tried to catch up. But their biggest name character, rather than getting a reimagining, stayed clumsily tied to his Golden Age persona. In both cases (comic book silver age and this new movie silver age) I’m talking about Superman. We could have had a Man of Steel 10 years ago, instead Bryan Singer threw it back to the Golden Age of Richard Donner with Superman Returns.

There were further attempts to catch up to Marvel’s tidal wave of success, but much like DC comics, Warner had forgotten that they were the ones who started it all, by green lighting Christopher Nolan to helm the Batman trilogy… Let it be character driven… And in forgetting this, they make the mistake of rejecting Joss Whedon.

Meanwhile, Marvel Studios moved forward with their art house slate of directors, like Favreu, Leterrier, and Brannagh, and then they pull in Whedon. Just like the 60s, everyone wants to work at Marvel.

So if we look upon the Donner Superman and Burton Batman, and television series from the 70s and 80s, like Wonder Woman and The Flash as the Golden Age of superhero entertainment, I think the new line, starting awkwardly with X-Men and Spider-Man in the movies and Smallville on TV, a new generation was introduced to the genre, but with Batman Begins and Iron Man the bar was raised, and now we have 5 years worth of movies slated and promises of more TV shows to come. Will we see an abbreviated Silver Age of movies before we get a “Crisis” level event at Warner and have all the creative talent leave Marvel for the shiny new production company, only to come back after a year or so? I guess only time will tell if history will fulfill this odd repeat. All I can say is, it’s a great time to be a comic book geek.

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Edge of the Spider-Verse – Review

Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 in Hey Fanboy!, JC's Jocularity | 0 comments

Spider-Gwen-1-Cover-Robbi-Rodriguez-2387bSo we lost a good portion of the audio for issue #140, where I took some time to talk about Marvel’s Edge of the Spider-Verse weekly comic. This is a series I almost didn’t pick up, despite my friendly-neighborhood comic-book retailer dropping it in Hold 322. But the first issue was Spider-Man Noir, which was a limited series a while back. I enjoyed that LS, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I could always cancel…

Instead, I’ve gotten 4 issues of solid gold stories. Enough that I want this to be a regular series, once the big Spider-Event is finished. Good news there, to some degree… it was announced at NYCC that Spider-Gwen (EoSV #2) will get an ongoing series by Jason Latour and Robbi Roderiguez. And while it’s good to get the Spider-Gwen, I think Marvel needs to bring back an old series… The Web of Spider-Man, but rather than focusing on 616’s Peter Parker, it could be used as a “what if” where maybe Spider-Britain (who appears in ASM #7) could be observing the “web that only the Spider avatars can navigate,” seeing awesome stories throughout whatever remains of the Mighty Marvel Multiverse.

So what makes me want this? Well, let’s dive into the Spider-Verse…

eosv-noirEoSV #1 – David Hine returns to pen a tale of his epic Spider-Man Noir. Noir is not your “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” he’s fairly dark, and brutal in his personal war on crime during the great depression. Great story, and a great return for the character, who winds up on Superior’s Spider-Team.


eosv-gwenEoSV #2 – Spider-Gwen! This one is awesome! and a great gift to both fans of Gwen Stacy and those who love alternate histories. Peter becomes the Lizard? Capt. Stacy starts hunting Spider-Woman? Gwen is the drummer in a band called “The Mary Janes”? This story is awesome, and I’m glad Latour and Roderiguez get to continue it.

One fun part of this, turns out the band “Married with Sea Monsters” are friends with Robbi Roderiguez, and he inspired them to record “Face it Tiger,” a song they’re trying to get right in the story…

eosv-aikmenEoSV #3 – If you’re a fan of anime, you’ll love this one. Aaron Aikman is the Spider-Man, who uses a combination of radioactive spider-powers and mecha technology to battle the forces of evil. What I liked about this one is that they didn’t get a manga artist. I liked the “American style” of the artwork, letting the story speak for itself, without throwing it in our face that this is an anime/manga.

eosv-horrorEoSV #4 – THIS. This is the one that will hook you. A horror story of Spider-Man. I had to take a walk after reading this just to shake it off… it’s just the right amount of creepy. And you’re kinda happy when Morlun shows up at the end.

So there you have it, true believers! You’re just 4 in, and with the exception of #2, you’ll likely find all of these issues on the shelves at your local comic book retailer. AND, as Bob 616 will remind you, all are available from Marvel Unlimited and Comixology. So pick ’em up, and let me know what you think in the comments!

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We’ve Millar’d it … Issue 106, but not really

Posted by on Jan 7, 2014 in Bob's Bloviating, Hey Fanboy!, JC's Jocularity, Movies!, The World's Greatest Comic Book Podcast™ Hold 322!, This Week, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The episode is done – sounded great, uploaded to the internet … and disappeared.

I can’t fix the problem until tonight, after work, so … I blame the communists.

So, until this afternoon, enjoy this tasty ear snack …

Wow …. this takes me back!


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