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Monday, July 23, 2012

Always Wear Sunscreen, and Other Wonderful Advice

I always wear sunscreen. Every day. Rain. Shine. You name it. 

Some people kid me for it, but I don't care. I attribute my lack of sun to not only my pasty white skin, but my lack of freckles as well, and some rather essential health benefits. 

So, I shall NOT be moved from my daily routine. (Especially around the eyes. It's very important around the eyes.)

I'm stubborn that way.

As my former classmates from high school in Texas are preparing to gather in a weeks time to celebrate the past, and from whence we came, my mind goes back to a commencement address I read some time ago.

I filed it away in my brain for future reference, apparently, and it came up on que.

And not only because it agrees with me about sunscreen...    

It serves an astute reminder of how little we know when we are young. How the past takes on a certain patina in our minds. How wise we are only when looking back, and are able to contemplate the full map of our existence from the advantage of hindsight... perhaps sometimes tinged with a little remorse, or a little regret. (Although I think it's much better to have the former than the later.) But certainly with a heavy dose of nostalgia.

I personally always feel that every person, every place, every opportunity, has all added up to who I am. And I like that. I pay tribute to it. Parts of a whole. The "Frankenstein" (but in a good way) of "I AM..."  And while I still crash around and break things from time to time, I like to think that I am getting better at using my brain...

I have always been willing to use my heart.

So, I temper my nostalgia with a bit of truth...but I do love the remembering.

Like the quilts my Grandmother would make, each piece of material representing to her some time in her life, some person, some place...the blue gingham, not a simple pattern, but her mother standing in the kitchen at the sink, with light filtering through the Poppies on the windowsill...

The years pass no matter if one wants them to or not, and that's what this essay addresses. It's how one chooses to use them I suppose.

The following commencement address was spread across the internet as having been written by Kurt Vonnegut. It apparently was not. (You can read the full story here: http://www.wesselenyi.com/Vonnegutstory.htm)

The original pen by some accounts belonged to one Mary Schmich of the Chicago Herald Tribune, who wrote it for her column on what she'd say IF ever asked to give an address. 

She attributes her insight to being high on coffee.

(Something else to which I can relate.)

Honestly: I don't really care if Vonnegut didn't write it. Although that certainly made many people read and contemplate the simple words. 

I think it's dead on. And good advice to consider on any rainy afternoon. 

Just as valid for starting today--no matter what day you are experiencing, what stage you are in on your own personal map, or your age. Life is a lovely and strange thing afterall, full of turning pages, and opportunities, and odd yet sometimes wonderful developments. I like to think we do get a little more intelligent about what matters as we move along...

As for me,  I agree most heartily with the dancing... and the singing...

And, if you are doing it outside... remember... sunscreen!



"Ladies and gentlemen:
Wear sunscreen.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.
Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.
Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.
Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.
Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen."
Author: Mary Schmich (USA)
First published: July 1, 1997
Copyright: Herald Tribune


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Got a Conventon in 2013? We've got Artists!

Hi Everyone--

Greetings from Eva Ink Artist Group.

Well, it's mid 2012, so that means I am starting to flesh out the convention list for 2013.

There may be a few more artists and writers added to the list at a future date. And I'll send out a separate press release on them. Right now, I am able to book the following creators for 2013 dates.  

(Not every artist is available for every show, due to work schedules and such, but please inquire as soon as you know your dates. If there are shows on conflicting dates, we'll address that as well, we like to support you all!) 

So, here goes, in alphabetical order:


Dennis Calero:

Dennis Calero is the award winning and internationally recognized artist of X-Men: Noir and Legion of Superheroes. He has also leant his talents to CCG Properties such as Magic andLegend of the Five Rings, as well as Dungeons & Dragons. His work includes X-Men Noir : Mark of Cain, X-Factor, 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, Cowboys and Aliens, Dark Tower, Fallen Angel, Hawkgirl, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes, Magic The Gathering, Countdown to Final Crisis, Wolverine: First Class and JSA Classified. During his tenure on X-Factor the title was nominated for the Harvey Award for Best New Series (2006). Calero has also provided illustrations sporadically for role-playing games, beginning in 1996 for White Wolf. He has done interior artwork forDungeons & Dragons books for the Forgotten Realms setting, such as Silver Marches,Faiths and Pantheons, and Races of Faer?n. Calero also co-founded Atomic Paintbrush, one of the first computer-coloring companies working in the comic-book field.

Currently you can find recent work on covers for Witchblade and The Lone Ranger, as well as upcoming work for The Shadow and Zenescope.


Michael Golden:

Co-creator of the X-men’s Rogue character, Spartan X and Bucky O’Hare, his groundbreaking work on “The ‘Nam,” “Micronauts,” “G.I. Joe Yearbook,” and “Dr. Strange, “ is world renowned, while being counted as one of the best cover designers and storytellers in the business.

Golden’s work can be seen on covers ranging from "Spawn" to “Nightwing”, to “Iron Man”, to “Heroes for Hire”, to “Exiles,” to  “Spiderman,” to “Hulk,” as well as numerous other titles, for about every company out there.

Recent books covering the colorful life and amazing art of Michael Golden include a Manga version of the “Bucky O’Hare” series, as well as the top selling art retrospective “Excess: The Art of Michael Golden,” which sold out and has gone into a second printing, as well as his recent sold out sketchbook “Heroes and Villains,” and the new sketchbooks, “MORE Heroes and Villains”  and "Michael Golden: Alchemy."

Michael has served as an Editor at DC Comics as well as Senior Art Director at Marvel Comics, and has worked on scores of movie production projects, some currently in development.

Joe Jusko:

Joe Jusko is undoubtedly one of the best known Fantasy, Pin-Up and Comic Artists in the world today. His career has spanned over 30 years, starting with the sale of his very first cover for Heavy Metal Magazine in 1977 at the age of 17. Since graduating that year from NYC’s High School of Art & Design, Joe has worked for almost every major comic book publisher, producing hundreds of images for both covers and interiors. His work has appeared on paperback book covers, calendars, posters, t-shirts, toy packaging and innumerable trading cards, most memorably the multi award winning 1992 Marvel Masterpieces Trading Cards. The popularity of that set has been credited with initiating the painted trading card boom of the 1990’s, and led to his groundbreaking 1995 Art of Edgar Rice Burroughs trading cards. Those 125 paintings have made him the most prolific Burroughs artist ever, producing art based on almost every major book by the famed author.

Ric Meyers:

Ric Meyers: Although declared the “Martial Art Movie Master” by Crash Cinema and “America’s leading Asian action expert” by the Boston Globe, Ric Meyers is a true media maven, having been “Special Media Consultant” for Sony, DreamWorks, Columbia, Tristar, Emperor Movie Group, and Celestial Pictures, as well as ABC, CBS, A&E, Discovery, Bravo, Nickelodeon, and Starz Encore networks. He wrote the first Incredible Hulk novel for Pocket Books, as well as Dirty Harry and Ninja Master novels for Warner Books, two science fiction novels for Questar, three horror novels for Dell Books, and the last Dungeons and Dragons novel for TSR prior to their Wizards of the West Coast buy-out, among others.

Ric regularly moderates the Martial Arts movie panel at SDCC, and is available to arrange various types of programming and panels at your convention.

Rodney Ramos:

Rodney Ramos has been a professional comic book artist for over 15 years. He has penciled and inked work for Marvel , DC Comics, Marvel UK, Valiant , Acclaim and various other companies. He has worked on such titles as Batman. Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, 52 , Countdown ,X-Men, Spider-Man , Iron Man and the critically acclaimed Transmetropolitan.

He is currently inking high profile projects for Legendary Comics.

Mark Texeira:

Fine art painter and comic illustrator, Mark Texeira has long been associated with a conflagration of characters ranging from Ghost Rider to Black Panther to Wolverine to Sabretooth to Moonknight to Punisher to....it goes on and on... His body of work over the last 30 years has been astounding.

His work has been explored and highlighted on the DVD of the “Ghost Rider” movie, the look of which he influenced. Mark was also tapped to do the movie tie-in for “Wolverine Origins,” which also seemed to be a natural!

Current work includes "Space: Punisher" which is starting this July, as a four part mini series, fully painted in that signature Texeira style.

Matt Triano:

Matt Triano has written and drawn comics for collections and anthologies by publishers such as Moonstone, DC and Atomic Press. He is also known for his storyboard work, motion comic work, and artwork for various ad agency projects developing custom comics for high profile clients. His art can currently be seen in works for Robin Hood Charities in New York, Moonstone (Captain Action), Zenescope (Grimm's Myths and Legends), The Discovery Channel and Marvel Trading cards (Marvel Characters), as well as a Batman story for the "DC Halloween Special."

Currently he is penciling Call of Wonderland as well as an upcoming project for Dynamite Entertainment spanning 12 issues.

Renee Witterstaetter:

Writer, editor and publisher Renee Witterstaetter is the author of "Nick Cardy: The Aritst at War," "Excess: The Art of Michael Golden," "Tex: The Art or Mark Texeira," "Nick Cardy: Wit-Lash," the children's book "Kerry and the Scary Things," and "Dying for Action: The Life and Films of Jackie Chan," among many others.

Renee began the comic phase of her career working on such titles as Superman at DC Comics and Silver Surfer, Conan The Barbarian and Conan Saga at Marvel, then going on to spearhead the reintroduction of She-Hulk at Marvel as well. She then moved to Topps Comics where she was the editor on "X-Files," "Jurassic Park," "Xena" and "Hercules" and is the co-creator of "Spartan X" which will be made into a trade paperback this year. She has also worked in film production on such movies as "Rush Hour 2," "Red Dragon," and many more.

In addition, she is  colorist on hundreds of comics from "The Avengers" to "Spider-man" to "Captain America" among many, many more.


As mentioned, more talent may be added later, but if you are interested in booking any of the above folks for your shows, let me know, and I will get back to you about who is available for what.

For our stores and conventions in Europe, looking forward to hearing from you as well, as we start to plan a Spring Tour for Eva Ink Artist Group.

You can e-mail me at:  Evaink@aol.com for more information.

Best Regards,
Renee Witterstaetter

Monday, July 9, 2012

Michael Golden: Alchemy at SDCC, Booth 2101

San Diego-- Michael Golden provides a little gold at the SDCC this year with the debut of his new sketchbook, "Michael Golden: Alchemy."

He will have only 150 SDCC signed and number copies of the book available at the show--Booth 2101-- Big City Comics.  Get these special editions while supplies last.

Michael will be at Booth 2101 throughout the weekend signing comics, and offering prints and other items, including a limited edition print for Big City Comics as well as variant cover.

Contact Renee at: evaink@aol.com for further details.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dennis Calero Signing Times for SDCC 2012

San Diego-- When not at his table in Artist Alley, at FF05, artist Dennis Calero will be making several special autograhing appearances for key clients throughout the week at the San Diego Comic Con!

Calero is the award winning and internationally recognized artist of "X-Men: Noir" and "Legion of Superheroes." He has also leant his talents to CCG Properties such as Magic and Legend of the Five Rings, as well as Dungeons & Dragons. His work includes "X-Men Noir : Mark of Cain," "X-Factor," "28 Days Later: The Aftermath," "Cowboys and Aliens," "Dark Tower," "Fallen Angel," "Hawkgirl," "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Supergirl" and the "Legion of Superheroes," Magic The Gathering, Countdown to Final Crisis, "Wolverine: First Class "and "JSA Classified." During his tenure on "X-Factor" the title was nominated for the Harvey Award for Best New Series. Recent works include “Captain Victory,” “Witchblade,” and “Lone Ranger,” for Dynamite, Marvel Trading Cards, and a few new things to be announced very soon, including new works for Zenescope.. Calero also co-founded Atomic Paintbrush, one of the first computer-coloring companies working in the comic-book field.

Be sure to look for Dennis at the following locations listed below.

For information on bookings, commissions and assignments, contact Renee Witterstaetter at Eva Ink Artist Group: evaink@aol.com

And to follow Dennis on Facebook, join his fan page at:  


SDCC Signing Schedule for Dennis Calero:


Thursday 12-30 -130

Friday 4-5

Sat 1130-1230

*Top Cow:

Sunday noon to 1

Thursday 11-12


Thursday, 7/12
Zene Booth (2301) - 4-5pm

Friday, 7/13
HC BBQ Trailer- 2:30 - 3:30pm

Saturday, 7/14
HC BBQ Trailer - 2-3pm

(Check back. More times may be added with more clients as time permits.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Michael Golden-- Booth 2101 at SDCC-- Big City Comics Variant and Exclusive Convention Art Print Offered!

San Diego--Artist Michael Golden will be appearing all days of the San Diego Comic Con at Booth 2101 by special arrangement with Big City Comics via Eva Ink Artist Group.

Golden's work is featured on a limited edition print just for the convention, and with a press run of only 500 copies, it's going to go fast.

The signed print will be available at Booth 2101 for $10. The Variant Comic is available signed for $20. Or get both in a fantastic show package deal for only $25.

Big City Comics is easy to find. Just look for the 12 foot video columns and Michael Golden's name across the tablecloth.

Michael will also be at Booth 2101 all days of the show sketching and signing comics, as well as offering his own prints and new sketchbook, "Michael Golden: Alchemy." Which is limited to 200 copies at the convention.

Preview night for the SDCC starts July 11th, with the biggest comics/gaming/movie/younameit show in the country continuing through July 15th.

For more information, contact evaink@aol.com

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Greatest Spider-Man Stories from #5-1-- via CBR

Hi Ya'll --Working at Marvel when my dear friend, Jim Salicrup was editor for the web slinger, and being called upon more than once to do some coloring for that office, I have a fondness for Spidey, and am perhaps a pit partial to the character.

In fact, the issue where Spider-man meets Mary Jane, is probably one of the first comics I ever read... if I don't count those Jerry Lewis comics... I'm  not sure which I found in my brother's room first, and claimed for my own... But Spider-man always stuck in my head.

And of course, I'm not the only one.

This week CBR released a reader-voted-on list of some of the most influential Spider-Man stories as determined by their readership, and some of my favorites are certainly here.

See what you think.

For the full story,  and links to other Spider-Man stories that readers voted for, you can go here:




Greatest Spider-Man Stories
By: Brian Cronin

In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Spider-Man, we’re doing four straight months of polls having to do with Spider-Man, culminating with the release of the Amazing Spider-Man film in July. We’ve done Spider-Man covers, Spider-Man characters, Spider-Man creators and now, finally, Spider-Man stories!
You all voted, now here are the results of what you chose as the 50 Greatest Spider-Man Stories! We conclude with #5-1! Click here for a master list of all the stories revealed so far!
5. “Spider-Man!” Amazing Fantasy #15
Here it is, the king of all superhero origin stories! What Steve Ditko and Stan Lee achieve in these eleven pages is just remarkable. They create a fully-realized superhero, with back story and everything, plus a shocking, heartfelt reason for the hero to be…well, a hero. And it was all in just one single story.
From the origin of the webshooters…
To the greatest lesson in responsibility comic books have ever had (and yes, I like to use the reprinted version with the Spidey eyes the way they are now and not with the dots for eyes)….
Absolute brilliance from two comic book legends who were somehow about to match the level of this story for thirty-nine more glorious issues.
Lorin Heller has this to say about the story:
To date, I think this is simply the best thing that Marvel has ever produced, and I’m guessing they’re never going to top it. A nerd, a loser, a geek, Peter Parker was going through all the things that much of the comic-reading population was going through…with one exception. Most of us geeks never get bitten by a radioactive spider. The “hero that could be you” concept jumped into full bloom. But even more than that, the genius of this story is the lesson it teaches through tragedy. Peter works on so many levels: identification, humor… but the thing which will always make him the most fascinating for me, is that here we have the first protagonist who ended up becoming a hero not just because he intrinsically knew it was the right thing to do, but because he SCREWED UP MAJORLY AND IT COST HIM! I love redemption stories, and this is simply one of the ultimates. For all the good things Peter does, he will never, ever be able to truly forgive himself for what his mistake caused. It is a lovely character, and one I never get tired of reading.
Luke Werner had this to say:
Now, virtually everyone knows this by memory, so we tend to take it for granted. But consider this — whereas the origins of icons like Superman and Batman and Captain America have constantly been tweaked, twisted, retconned and rebooted, Spider-Man’s origins have remained essentially unchanged. This is a testament to just how good and complete Lee and Ditko got it from the get-go. Even when there have been stories that attempt to tweak Spidey’s origin – Amazing Spider-Man #200, for instance – they have failed to reinvent the core of his origin and have been, at the very least, divisive for fans.
But that is only half of it. Let’s imagine that the one and only appearance of “Spider-Man” was this one little odd tale, not as an origin, not as a springboard for more adventures, but as a complete story, in itself.
Even in that circumstance, it is a superior story. The journey of the mocked and timid underdog, handed ownership of extraordinary gifts without having earned them, uses his awesome might for self-interest rather than righteous good, then experiences dire consequences because of his behavior. It is a Good Samaritan tale, twisted and brutalized.
But, even more intriguing, it richly deconstructs the hero/villain paradigm. It is the villain that refuses to abandon the sense of entitlement that his power has “earned” him. It is the hero that understands that his power entitles him to nothing. It is the hero that comes to the realization that “with great power there must also come — great responsibility.” That message has much deeper and more profound impact when it is learned organically through adversity and failure, than through steadfast righteous principle from the outset…
…and all of that in only eleven pages.
And finally, my buddy Chris Nowlin had this to say about the story:
My favorite Spider-Man story is my favorite superhero story is my favorite comic is my favorite story. That said, I don’t know what to say about it, at least not without rambling endlessly. I like the timeless art of Ditko, but more than the execution, I like the story. A man makes a mistake and learns a lesson, and I think the lesson is a good one. Just like the story.
4. “The Death of Jean DeWolff,” Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110
One of the most fascinating aspects of The Death of Jean DeWolff is how it sort of type cast Peter David early on as the “serious guy,” which, obviously, he CAN do quite well, but it is far from being a defining aspect of his writing style. He is vast, people! He contains multitudes!
Anyhow, this storyline tells the story of a minor Spider-Man supporting character, Captain Jean DeWolff, who was always friendly to Spider-Man, being murdered by a mysterious serial killer known as the Sin-Eater. After her death, Spidey gets the double gut-punch of learning that she was totally into him…
What’s funny is that the mystery of the Sin-Eater’s identity is not something that is really meant to be solved. It is there just to ratchet up the drama until Spider-Man’s first girlfriend, Betty Brant, is almost murdered by the Sin-Eater. When Spidey gets there to save her…well, Spider-Man (and guest-star Daredevil) have differing ideas on how to proceed with the killer…
Few writers challenge ideas like this as strongly as Peter David does in this story. Plus, this is one of the best Spider-Man/Daredevil team-ups of all-time. Rich Buckler does the art with a variety of inkers (Brett Breeding, probably most prominently). Very good stuff.
3. “The Death of Gwen Stacy,” Amazing Spider-Man #121-122
In the “Death of Gwen Stacy,” Norman Osborn finally snaps for good and, as the Green Goblin, kidnaps Peter Parker’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy and then throws her off of a bridge…
Gerry Conway, Gil Kane and John Romita practically DARE you not to come back for the next issue. They don’t think you can do it! And they’re right, as the following issue is a powerful lesson in Spider-Man’s humanity and his capacity for mercy.
Of course, an underrated aspect of the story (which is amusing, since a reader then wrote in to me extensively on this topic, so I guess it is not THAT underrated) is the way that Conway uses this story to set up the romance he wanted between Peter and Mary Jane, as seen in the classic epilogue to the story (which is the first half of a bookend Conway uses during his run).
Luke Werner had this to say about the story:
Much has been discussed about the importance and impact of “The Death of Gwen Stacy” throughout the years — how it was instrumental in ending the Silver Age of comics; how the hero fails to rescue the damsel in distress; how Gwen is captured and killed because of Spider-Man’s actions, not in spite of them; how the character of Gwen Stacy had become stale, and her death was an inevitable moment in Spider-Man’s ongoing narrative; how she, therefore, doesn’t deserve the “sacred cow” status she has been given.
The list of themes that can extracted from this story are nearly infinite, and it will continue to resonate and inspire discussion, analysis, and disagreement as the years go on.
All that aside, here is why we should cherish these two issues and why they deserve to be considered one of, if not the greatest of, Spidey’s greatest stories:
In #122, Spider-Man, intent on revenge, finds Green Goblin hiding out in one of Norman Osborn’s warehouses. The battle is renewed, and Spider-Man outmatches Goblin from the start. When Spider-Man finally gets up close and personal, he nearly beats Goblin to death. But… but, suddenly, he stops. He stops and whispers “Good lord… what in the name of heaven am I doing?” Now, put yourself in Spider-Man’s costume for that moment. Would you have stopped? If you were in those circumstances, could you have? I don’t know if I could have. I really don’t.
This is why Spider-Man is a hero. Not because he can defeat a powerful villain like the Green Goblin, but because he can stop himself from sinking to the Goblin’s level… even in circumstances that we may see him as having an unquestionably free pass to do so.
Reader Eve K. had this to say:
Now, when it comes to the Gerry Conway scripted “The Night Gwen Stacy Died/The Green Goblin’s Last Stand”, most fans are bound to talk about the impact the deaths of Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn had on superhero comic books in general. Unsurprisingly so, as it is indeed, a tale ballsy for its time. It was unheard of to kill off the titular superhero’s love interest and the arch-nemesis in a single story. I would, however, like to talk about a less discussed aspect of the tale which appeals to me the most. Which is saying a lot as the entire story is well crafted and perfectly executed. I am talking about the “Epilogue” scene between Peter and Mary Jane in ASM #122. It is but one page but oh, what a page it is. The range of emotion captured through the artwork of Gil Kane and strong inking of John Romita Sr. is moving, to say the least. But what touches me the most is how the moment between MJ and Peter plays the element of much needed hope in an otherwise downer of a story. The inclusion of this one page really subverts the entire tone of the arc, which could otherwise be viewed as rather sexist. It is here, on this masterful and undiluted page, where Mary Jane Watson develops into one of my favorite Marvel characters.
And that is the precise reason why I sincerely feel “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” is not any run-of-the-mill “Women in Refrigerators” tale. Though many WiR stories have been produced thanks to writers trying to replicate the impact the story had on the superhero comic culture, and failing miserably because they lacked Conway’s knack for sophisticated drama telling. One of the reasons I find this story superior to even the finest of WiR stories like Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” is because it actively sets out to serve as a tool for the development of a male and female character’s emotional arc. Here, Gwen’s tragedy serves to strengthen Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship, as opposed to Barbara Gordon’s tragedy used as an exploitative tool to explore the Batman and Joker’s relationship. Sure, the story chronicles the ever building tension between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin finally coming to a head, but it was meant to close the chapter on Norman’s story. What Conway intended “Death of Gwen Stacy” to initiate was the tale of Peter + MJ, which has now evolved into a full fledged saga.
Speaking of evolution, “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” is almost as coming of age a tale as “Amazing Fantasy #15″. Not only does Gwen’s death force Peter and Mary Jane to grow up and prime them for a mature relationship, but it also expands the significance of not one, but two female characters. Let’s face it, Gwen Stacy was a pretty irrelevant character when it came to the bigger comic landscape. Her shocking death however, changed all of that! Suddenly, she became iconic. As for Mary Jane, I am sure her creator Stan Lee himself never calculated her potential to be so immense. A character who started out as a playful distraction blossoming into one of the every best supporting characters in superhero comics? Especially a character who was a non-superpowered young girl? Unheard of in the early 70s! And yet, Gerry Conway realized just how much promise MJ Watson- a fresh off the Second Wave take on women’s representation in a predominantly male targeted medium, had. He sensed she was too good and unique a personality to be marginalized and made his decision to give her a much more substantial and important role in the Spidey mythos. Starting with “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”.
Thematically, it has been tragedies which have helped shape Peter Parker into the man he becomes. Uncle Ben’s death grounds him and gives him the determination to put his powers to their best use ever. And Gwen’s death gives him a better and fuller understanding of a relationship, and helps him have his first mature relationship yet, with Mary Jane. It was a great loss which gave birth to the career of my favorite webslinging superhero, and it was a great loss which gave birth to my favorite love story in not only comics, but also in all of fiction. The wonderful and hope filled love story of Peter and MJ, borne out of the fateful night Gwen Stacy died.
2. “The Master Planner Saga,” Amazing Spider-Man #30-33
What is fascinating to me about this Stan Lee/Steve Ditko classic three-parter is that the finale (the “Final Chapter,” as it were) is so legendary that the first part is somewhat overlooked, which is only, you know, THE INTRODUCTION OF GWEN STACY AND HARRY OSBORN!
Think about that – the intro of two major characters and it is not even a blip when you think of this story, THAT is how powerful the sequence in #33 is, where Spider-Man is trapped under a bunch of rubble in an underwater base that is taking on water, trapped just feet away from an isotope that can save Peter’s Aunt May’s life (a life that is in danger because of a blood transfusion she received from Peter). Talk about drama!
And then, Ditko just goes all nuts on us and gives us a defining series of pages that tons of artists have homaged ever since…
Chris Nowlin had this to say about it:
Given the lesson about responsibility learned in his first appearance, the natural question which follows– which to me is the core of the Spider-Man series– is one of how to balance conflicting responsibilities. Peter has decided to feel responsible for not only his own problems, but everybody else’s as well. What do you do when the weight of responsibility threatens to crush you? Nothing brings this point home more than this story, a perfect ending for the story begun in Amazing Fantasy. Peter is starting college, has a chance to make new friends (such as Harry and Gwen). But his aunt is sick. His responsibilities as a student, his social responsibilities to his nearly-friends, his financial responsibilities, his responsibilities to his aunt… this is enough to overwhelm him even before you consider Dr. Octopus. And then the metaphorical ceiling which seems to be crushing down becomes a literal
ceiling, as a subway station comes crashing down on his head.
1. “Kraven’s Last Hunt,” Amazing Spider-Man #293-294, Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132 and Web of Spider-Man #31-32
For a story that was originally going to star Batman and the Joker (see this Comic Book Legends Revealed installment for more information), this sure did turn out to be a great Spider-Man story, huh?
First off, the very NOTION of one writer (John Marc DeMatteis) and one art team (Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod) taking over all three Spider-Man titles for two months to tell a six-part epic was, in and of itself, pretty revolutionary.
But DeMatteis’ idea of taking a fairly typical (by that point in time) Spider-Man villain, such as Kraven the Hunter, and then having him take his fight with Spider-Man to a whole new level (a level Spidey is clearly not prepared for) was a shocking idea…
Kraven then dresses as Spider-Man and “bests” him at that, too (well, in Kraven’s mind, as well). Meanwhile, Spider-Man is buried alive. His love for Mary Jane, though, pulls him through, in a brilliant sequence…
That’s already a ton of awesomeness, and we haven’t even gotten to the confrontation between Kraven and Spider-Man that follows!
A breathtaking piece of work that inspired countless imitations by other writers over the years. And, according to you folks, the greatest Spider-Man story ever told.