JimShooter.com

Writer. Creator. Large mammal.

Designing the Spider-Man Balloon for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

I was fired by Marvel in April of 1987. Sometime in May, Marvel’s business affairs veep, Joe Calamari called me to ask for help.

Marvel’s new owners, New World Entertainment (it was New World Pictures when they acquired Marvel, but they’d changed the company name) wanted Marvel to have a balloon and a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Development of the balloon wasn’t going well. He wanted me to consult.

That sounded interesting. And, they were paying me….

I found out that Macy’s handles the construction of all balloons and floats. The sponsors contribute ideas or designs and approve the work. The balloon shop, where the prototypes were sculpted was in Jersey City, as I recall. The balloons were actually constructed in Ohio.

So Joe and I drove out to the balloon shop. On the way, Joe explained the situation. The character chosen for the balloon was Spider-Man. Marvel had provided reference to the Macy’s balloonatics, but Joe didn’t like what they’d come up with. He’d brought John Romita, Sr. in to advise them, but, he said that hadn’t helped. His assessment was that John (and comic book artists in general) were okay when it came to two-dimensional drawings, but just couldn’t deal with 3-D things, like balloons.

Joe Calamari is a very unusual person. He thinks and does some unusual things. I’ll tell you a few stories sometime.

Joe called me because, he said, I was always good with 3-D things, toys and such. All the licensees, for that matter. Okay.

Anyway….

As we were arriving at the balloon studio, Joe said that the Macy’s executives had warned him that the sculptor, though a brilliant artist, was “difficult” sometimes because he had a huge ego.

Artist…difficult…huge ego…gee, who ever heard of such a thing?

The balloon sculpture studio was amazing. There were clay sculptures of many past years’ balloons all around and several new ones in progress for 1987, among them Ronald McDonald, Snoopy on skates…

…and what appeared to be Spider-Baby in the midst of a strenuous bowel movement.

How can I make the image clearer? Picture Richie Rich:

Those proportions.

Position something like this, but more scrunched up, more of a straining-to-poop position:

I was introduced to the sculptor. After complimenting the guy on the other sculptures, I told him, as politely as possible, that Spider-Man wasn’t quite on spec. How so, he asked.

I started with the proportions.

He flatly dismissed what I said. In patronizing fashion, he explained to me, as if I were as young as Spider-Baby appeared to be, that this was a balloon, you see? It has to work as a balloon. Then he launched into technical talk about “massing” gas cells for lift distribution, aerial stability, blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAH….

Then I got it. It wasn’t that John Romita couldn’t tell what was wrong with this abomination—it was this:

John is too polite, and very respectful of other artists. John is absurdly honest, and, as honest people often do, assumes the other guy is honest, too, till proven guilty. John is a good and noble soul, reluctant to be cynical and suspicious. And, I suspect, John was uncomfortable arguing technical issues upon which he was no expert with someone, a respected artist, who was.

So…Joe Calamari called in the Bad Cop! Moi.

I said, “Here’s what you have to do. First of all, the head is too big. Waaay too big….”

I told the guy firmly that the figure had to have adult proportions. Wider shoulders. Narrower waist and hips. Muscular, but not over-built. I showed him reference (which he already had been given). I demonstrated proper hand position. Foot position. And…you know. Probably everyone who reads this blog would give the guy the same instructions.

Throughout this, the sculptor was fuming. I pressed on.

This arm forward, this leg back. He has to look like he’s crawling!”

“WHAT?!” he yelped. “Absolutely not! I’d have to cut the steel framework!”

“Well, then,” I said, “you’ll have to cut the framework,” while thinking, “There’s a steel framework?”

He stridently insisted that what I was describing could not be doneImpossibleIt won’t fly!

I pointed at Ronald McDonald, who looked like Ronald McDonald and was doing a handstand. “If you can do that, you can do this!”

I suspect that John Romita told him more or less the same thing I did, but wasn’t willing to be as fiercely obnoxious as I was. What, I should worry that my reputation might suffer? Hah!

I won.

Later, Joe and I made another trip to the balloon studio to see the model nearly finished. It looked pretty good. Possibly John Romita had done some supervising between my visits, I don’t know. Hard to believe the sculptor went from Spider-Baby to a reasonable Spider-Man in one shot, all by himself, but, whatever, he got there.

The sculptor hadn’t indicated the webs on the costume yet. I told him not to even attempt it. I asked Joe to have John come back and draw the webs on, and he agreed. And, I guess John did the webs, because they ended up looking right.

The Macy’s execs offered me the opportunity to march in the parade as one of the “balloon wranglers” for the Spider-Man balloon. An honor. Doing so, however, would have meant displacing a Macy’s employee, to whom balloon wrangling was a big deal. I declined. I wanted to watch, not participate, anyway.

I attended the balloon inflation festivities on West 77th Street on Thanksgiving Eve. It was an amazing feeling watching Spider-Man take shape.

The next morning, the Spider-Man balloon flew just fine, thank you. As it has ever since.

I also consulted with the creation of the Marvel float that year. Float creation was also managed by Macy’s. I met with their execs in their offices at the Herald Square store. Someone suggested doing a New York City scene with Marvel Super Heroes. I offered a sketch of the float as a cross-section of the city, showing the sewers and lower levels, Doom’s Lab, the street level, Doctor Strange’s house and skyscrapers, with heroes and villains each in their proper milieu. I proposed the building that tipped when the Hulk pushed it over. They used my design, and had “extra” characters walking alongside the float.

I’ll run my sketch when I come across it.

Fun facts:

In those days, it cost a minimum of $300,000 and $400,000 to have either a balloon or a float created and in the parade, but that bought you an appearance in two years in a row.

While being inflated, the balloons are held down by huge nets.

The party that happens every Thanksgiving Eve on the streets on either side of the Museum of Natural History, where the balloons are inflated is awesome.

The floats are built and stored in Jersey and brought to Manhattan in the wee hours through the Lincoln Tunnel.

That was a blast, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I still love seeing that balloon in the parade.

NEXT:  I’m Not Sure – Something Groovy

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112 Comments

  1. demoncat

    interesting that the spider man balloon is the way it is because you helped out making it what it is suppose to be instead of the spider baby one the designer wanted it to be jim. plus also designing the float too including the building falling when the hulk smashes it. plus that Marvel okayed it knowing soon they would be showing you the door jim.

  2. If I'm a pawn, I plan on using that En passant move to take a few other pawns out of play.

  3. Jeremy Rose

    The Occupy Wall Street "movement" is actually "controlled opposition" set up by the global elite using the hegelian dialect.(A (thesis) versus B (anti-thesis) equals C (synthesis).
    I'm amazed at ost people's infantile view of the world.Let me spell it out in terms that comic fans can understand:This world since the begining of time has been a strugle between the Beyonder and Mephisto with the human race as pawns.

  4. Anonymous

    Jim,

    Funny story. I can relate to the mind-set. I live in Oklahoma. Nuff Said

    Neil

  5. Dear Neil,

    True story. I was in Dallas at a convention. The con hotel was also the main hotel for the contingent of Arkansas Razorbacks supporters. Arkansas was in town to play SMU, I think. So there were bunches of people walking around the hotel wearing bright red from head to toe. I'm talking red shoes, socks, pants, shirts ties, jackets, and for the women, red dresses or whatever. All red. And some of these people had those red, plastic, pig-like "razorback" hats on. I got into an elevator full of red-clad people and no one else. I was wearing a (normal) suit and tie, so it's not as if I were dressed like Charlie Brown — but I had my con badge on. A man, somewhat shorter than me (how odd) in red with a razorback hat asked me: "What the hell is a full grown man doing at a comic book convention?" I replied, "What the hell is a full grown man doing wearing a pig hat?" Probably not the brightest thing I ever said, since I was outnumbered a dozen to one — but everybody except the question-asker laughed. Then everybody but him got off on the same floor. He yelled to them: "You're not going to leave me alone here, are you?" I told him relax, full grown men who go to comic book conventions are peaceful. Usually. When his floor came, he scampered out in a hurry.

  6. I don't know exactly what is Frank Miller's current view on Jim Shooter but in an interview I've found on Youtube he calls Jim Shooter "a powerfull ally at the top of the company" when talking about his Daredevil run and Elektra's death. It's from 6.04 to 6.56 in the following link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMkCLwqevG4

    By the way, is this how you remember it Jim? Heh, "…Tell me a story Frank", that's a cool line if you actually said it. Shows good editorial thinking.

  7. Anonymous

    Jim,

    I was in the comic book store I semi-frequent and I mentioned to the owner that I follow your blog. He said he has met you a few times. Anyway, he told me a story you might remember, maybe not. He said you were in an elevator at a hotel and there was a little older guy in the elevator wih you. You were in town for a convention and the other guy was in town for a football bowl game. He saw your con. badge and started giving you a hard time for being a grown man and still reading comic books; all the while wearing a plastic Arkansas Razorback pig on his head. And I guess you towered over him by about 2 feet. I don't know if It's true but Rob's comment about being teased because reading comics is for babies reminded me of that story.

    Neil

  8. I meant to say I "watched" Macy's Thanksgiving Day parades well beyond my youth, not wanted… LOL

  9. A few stray thoughts…

    1) I remember the Spider-Man float (I wanted Macy's Day parades far beyond my youth, and mostly still do). I loved it, and it's neat to hear Jim had a hand in it looking right.

    2) I'm sad to hear Frank isn't warm to Jim much anymore. I value loyalty highly, and no matter who we are, we all have times when we're generally liked and all have times when we're generally "out of favor" if we live long enough and work enough places and say enough things.

    True friends stick by you through thick and thin, and I've always felt disappointed in those creators who just Jim as a punching bag when he helped most of them get their start, gave them breaks, etc, especially after he was "no longer in power" at Marvel. It's too easy to "kick someone when they're down," and far harder to say, "I like so-and-so" when everyone else is hating on them.

    3) As for my contribution to the political off-topicness of this post… I only meant to point out that, one or two blog posts aside, Frank's track record is not that of a conservative.

    Personally, I don't care what he believes. I like his good work whether it has political subtext or not; I dislike his sloppy work whether it has political subtext or not.

    One's opinion of Frank's work should not shift based on which side of the political fence he seems to be straddling at the moment. Good work is good work, and bad work is bad work.

    That said, I wish Frank would have been a more loyal friend to Jim after the loyalty he was shown by Jim.

    But that just makes Frank one of the pack, and has nothing to do with liberal, conservative, or otherwise.

    4) One side-note, just because Stuart Moore ticked me off with his disingenuousness, and I'l just say this one last thing and then shut up no matter what more is posted here:

    I live in an area where Occupy has been active. The Portland chapter was (finally) removed from the parks that they DESTROYED. The bill is close to a quarter-million in damage, and so far Occupy Portland has done nothing to help pay for the expenses and damage THEY caused. It's the 99 percent (Portland taxpayers) who will be footing the bill for their "freedom of expression." So agree or disagree with their incoherent views… I don't care. But the crime, the safety issues, the damage to public property that they've never offered to even HELP pay for… that's on them. Maybe George Soros and MoveOn.org should pay, considering that's who's bankrolling them.

  10. Anonymous

    There were a few yrs the Spidey balloon did not appear. I wonder whose choice that was.

    I used to look forward to seeing it as a kid. Hard to imagine now, but it was one of the few times one of my comic heroes actually got national exposure other than the odd Batman movie.

    It was an exciting thing to see in the days when there were no Spider-Man movies, the Spider-Man tv show was before i was born (or a baby) etc.

    Funny how famous a company Marvel is now, and how many people rushed to see the movies, many I am sure who teased me about reading comics because they were for babies.

    Rob

  11. The CBG had a whole clique of creators associated with it back in 1994 and I've lost patience with all of them after the smear campaign they did to you and DEFIANT in general. I felt the whole twist they put on everything was both malicious and contrived. It was not an attempt to uncover truth. It was more as if they were afraid of DEFIANT becoming the next major contender. Either way, I've had no interest in seeing the publication since 1994. I would feel no sense of loss if they shut it down.

  12. Dear Kev,

    Frank Miller never crashed at my place. I said something about buying a page of art for more than the going price to help him make the rent. God knows what that page is worth now. I donated it to the comics museum in San Francisco.

    In those early days, the whole business and most of us in it were struggling. I helped Frank out. There have been times when people helped me out. My point was that not that Frank was a "welfare case," but that I'd been a friend to him. Along with many of his other friends, I also helped him move from Queens to an apartment in the city. We all helped each other all the time. It was no big deal. But, I thought we were friends. If he disagreed with Marvel's policies or me, fine, but why so nasty? That's what I didn't understand.

  13. I think I'll put that on a t-shirt. 😀

  14. "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." -JFK

  15. ja

    Ole M. Olsen,

    I understand your desire to have the non Shooter-specific comments not clog up this blog so much. I just don't think it's something one can control so much. It's like you're trying to herd a bunch of cats. Good luck with that!

    Also, don't think that no one cares about what you write. Your comments have always been very informative and compelling to read, so please keep going. I enjoy reading what you write.

  16. Edward,

    The Dark Key books have been discontinued, and Shooter has said that he's been out of work since March. I'd like to think he could ring up Joe Quesada, who worked for him at Valiant, and maybe get a Marvel gig till he can put together yet another company of his own, but for one reason or another I'm sure it's a pipe dream.

  17. Anonymous

    Don't read this comment if you are not interested in politics, but this report from Sen. Tom Coburn (who, it should be noted, is a Republican) seems salient to the conversation. It's exactly the kind of thing that's driving the OWS protests: the wealthy feeding at the government trough even as one party (Coburn's, as it happens) demands that their tax burden be relieved.

    –kgaard

  18. re: ""I hate to contribute to the politics here because… "

    So far, Mr. Shooter has been smart enough to not comment about ;o)

    It's his sandbox. If he wants us to GTFO all he has to do is say so.

  19. @ thunderfinn

    "Mr. Jim Shooter start writing comic books again"

    He is. He's writing the old Gold Key characters for Dark Horse right now (Turok, Magnus, Solar, Samson, etc). They've been out for a little over a year now I think, but I never thought to pick one up until I started following this blog a couple of months back. Then I had the same though you did, and realized, "Hey, he is writing comics right now!" and have been off and running ever since.

    It's good stuff. Solid, meaty reads with identifiable beginnings, middles and ends. Take approximately 20 – 30 minutes to read. Tightly plotted. Believable characters. Etc. If you're a fan of the Marvel style in the 80's, then you're unnecessarily depriving yourself of a real treat if you're not reading these Dark Horse titles.

    My LSC just started it's annual canned food drive where one can enjoy substantial discounts on back issues for each item of food brought in. Needless to say I have my eye on a series of Solar and Samson back issues that I'm looking to scoop up here this week . . .

  20. Anonymous

    They got everyone's costume right on the float and The Hulk pushing over the building is great. But I can't take my eyes off Willard Scotts hat!

    Neil

  21. I agree with Ole – I've taken to skimming the comments to avoid the OT stuff, and the pissing contests that inevitably spring up as the blog has gotten more readers.

    Perhaps it is getting close to time for this to become a website with a message board and a blog?

  22. Mr. Jim Shooter start writing comic books again

  23. 2 øre 😀

    Delightful look back at the Macy's Parade. Those '70's Spider-Man movies usually came on Thanksgiving morning, too, so, double treat, at the time.

  24. ja:

    "Actually, you are telling people to stop, even when you are "not attempting to "tell" anyone to stop"."

    It is certainly not my intention (which is why I stated that it wasn't). I mean to express my opinion about it, and at "worst" ASK people nicely (I hope) to CONSIDER stopping. It's not within my power to make anyone stop anyway. 🙂

    And I don't really expect anyone to care what I think. I just thought I'd squeeze my 2 øre in… for what little it's worth.

    "No one is forcing you to read all the posts that include things not pertaining to the actual blog post at hand."

    No. But on this particular blog I would actually rather like to.

    That's me finished! 🙂

  25. ja

    I love it when I type fast, and don't proofread.

    Of course you said that's what the cops were doing, and then I totally missed that.

    Duh.

    My technology (my brain) needs an upgrade.

  26. ja

    JayJay,

    It's not wrong. We all know the cops are going to move the OWS people out of the park. In fact, they just did that tonight. This stuff is cyclical, and will flare up again several times before next year's election. The tide flows in, the tide flows out.

    But it is a rather new thing to have such access to everything through today's technology. We get surprised again and again by how much access we have, where cameras are placed, and how technology is utilized in better and more innovative ways.

    That is cool to marvel at.

  27. Last night about 2 AM I stumbled onto the livestreams of the NYPD raid on Zucotti Park. Been watching 3 different streams all night, listening to the broadcast of the police band and watching the #OWS Twitter stream, photos, etc. This is all so weird. But is it wrong that what strikes me as most interesting is the amazing use of technology? "Can't stop the signal."

  28. ja

    Ole M. Olsen,

    Actually, you are telling people to stop, even when you are "not attempting to "tell" anyone to stop".

    As with every comments section on the internet, as with any gathering of anyone else in this world when they sit down at a table to converse, the conversation ebbs and flows, moves this way and that… it absolutely is appropriate that this happens here. This is a slow-motion conversation where everyone wants to contribute something to the subject at hand, even when that subject is changed.

    No one is forcing you to read all the posts that include things not pertaining to the actual blog post at hand. No conversation stays with only one subject. That would be terribly boring.

    And this blog is certainly not boring.

  29. Here's my take on FM, you might get the reference: Frank Miller is Will Kane

  30. I think Rob's words bear repeating:

    "I hate to contribute to the politics here because I think it robs the site of something important -the discussion of comics through Mr. Shooter's viewpoint and Mr. Shooter's comments in between on the posts.

    I don't want that lost between long debates about various politics you can find anywhere."

    I could write books on some of the subjects brought up here, but I come to http://www.jimshooter.com basically because of an interest in comics and comics related matters generally and Jim Shooter specifically, not because of a wish to read political or religious debates. Lately I feel tempted to concentrate on reading Jim's main posts and just skim through the comments section.

    It's not that I'm not interested in the discussions (or knucklefights, as the case may be) taking place in the US – after all, it tends to affect the rest of the world a lot. It's just that the way many – hardly all – Americans seem to reason about certain matters feels very alien and incomprehensible to me (as a European/Norwegian, maybe, though I don't wish to attempt to speak on behalf of anyone but myself).

    That's all right! Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinions – including Steve Ditko and Frank Miller. 🙂 I just don't think this is the most appropriate forum to discuss it.

    I feel that comics, on the other hand – while essentially/originally an American art form – is much more universal. And I've LOVED comics since my parents read Donald Duck to me when I was very little, through discovering super hero comics when I was 8, until now when I've just crossed the barrier into my 40s. I certainly appreciate comics dealing with serious real world issues too, but even then, reading comics (or books) is in many ways a small escape from a largely depressing world.

    (I have a feeling that whatever side of the riot fence you happen to be on, you will probably agree that the world IS largely depressing these days).

    I'm not attempting to "tell" anyone to stop, just expressing my personal wish that you would consider taking it outside. In here we're all basically friends after all, aren't we?

  31. ja

    gn6196 said: "Sorry but there are a lot of people that agree with Millers opinion. We will see how this OWS thing plays out and what , if any, changes come from it."

    Frank Miller is an idiot to take the worst fringe elements of what's happened at the Occupy locations, and apply them to the whole movement. Disagree with the movement if you wish, but anyone else who also blanketly applies the worst elements to all the Occupiers is also an idiot.

    Shame on Frank Miller for doing that.

    The very talented Ty Templeton sums things up quite well, I think:

    http://tytempletonart.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/special-bonus-frank-miller-bun-toons-extra-yay-yay/

  32. Kev In Atl

    Jim-

    I well remember that exchange of letters in CBG. I believe you mentioned that you had actually let Frank sleep on your couch when he needed a place to stay, and his response was that he was no welfare case. If I am remembering that incorrectly let me know.

    Look, I like a lot of Miller's old work, but for a long time I have thought he was coasting on his name. I really hated 300; I'm sorry I really did. I hated the movie and the comic. And I really hated the Dark Knight sequel. So Frank hasn't done much for me lately. I do know I hate arrogant loudmouths, even if I do like their work sometimes (that's right, John Byrne, I'm talking about you), and Frank has struck me as being just that for a long time now. Maybe that is a mistaken impression but it is the one he conveys to a lot of people.

  33. Dear Jay C,

    At the Diamond Comic Distributors meeting in 1994, Frank gave a speech to the attendees. Much of the speech was creators' rights oriented. In that speech, in front of a host of retailers, comic book people and my fiance, Frank ridiculed me and things I'd said about my efforts to stand up for creators' rights, essentially calling me two-faced by means of some cutesy reference to Duo Damsel.

    When I ran into Frank at the cocktail party later he turned his back on me and moved away. Alan Weiss, who was working for DEFIANT, confronted him about what he'd said, but got no real response.

    Once, in reply to vitriol from Frank and others in CBG, I mentioned, among other things, that I could not understand all the venom, and especially from one of my detractors in particular, whom I had helped out when he was in need. Frank identified himself as the person I meant, and made it into an opportunity to insult me further. I have heard that he badmouthed me in other venues, as well.

    Someone knowledgeable who shall remain nameless said that Frank had become good friends with Roz Kirby who apparently hated me because I was, for a time, in a management position at Marvel. The implication was that to be friends with Roz, you had to hate me. I have no idea if that was the case, or Frank's association with Roz had anything to do with his vitriol, but for whatever it's worth, that's what I was told.

    When Sin City was about to come out, I got an e-mail from Bob Schreck on behalf of Frank, inviting me to the New York premiere. That seemed odd. I wasn't inclined to go at first, fearing an ambush or a death trap, but Schreck persisted, telling me that Frank really wanted me to come.

    Okay.

    When I arrived at the theater, Frank greeted me warmly. "I'm happy you came," he said, words to that effect.

    "Wouldn't miss it," said I.

    He was busy, surrounded by people, so I went and found a seat.

    I went to the party afterward for a short time, but I never had another chance to speak with Frank, who was, as you'd expect, mobbed.

    Later, through an assistant, maybe Schreck again, Frank invited me to another screening. That one I couldn't make.

    So, where does it stand? I don't know.

  34. GePop

    I didn't discover comics so much as I was introduced to them. My Grandmother worked for a magazine distributor, and even before I had learned to read, she was giving me coverless comics…DC, Marvel, Archie, Gold Key, Harvey, Charlton, I got them all. (And Jim, I hope the statute of limitations is passed on that! LOL)

    Growing up, I was lucky that there was a nearby bookstore that carried just about every mainstream comic every month, plus several local drugstores which kept well-stocked spinner racks. And for a short while, the Zayre department store even had a comic book vending machine! I didn't set foot into my first actual comic book store until I was 12 (which was, as you can imagine, a transformative moment for me).

    And while I'm obviously very happy that comic book stores have developed, I lament the demise of the mom 'n pop distribution network. Those spinner racks were the perfect medium for attracting curious new readers; now that they're gone, we've discovered that there's really been nothing since that has cultivated the next generation of readers. So we hail as a hit a book that sells 30,000 copies a month, when 200,000 used to be the norm.

  35. Dear czeskleba,

    Yes, I meant 1994, sorry. Typo. The "8" is too close to the "9" on this damn laptop. JayJay, please correct.

  36. Jim, I assume you mean 1994 for the Diamond Comic Distributors Meeting, not 1984?

  37. re: "The right-wing complaint that they "have no message" is ridiculous"

    They don't have a message – not a clearly defined consistent one.

    re: "If a single OWS protestor had been armed, you'd have had violent crackdowns like you wouldn't believe."

    A few things. First off, who cares if they are armed or not? If it is "right to carry" or "open carry" and they are licensed, there is no good reason not to be. I don't know how many were at Tea Party rallies or if cops harassed them or not – but some areas are notorious for harassing law abiding citizens because they choose to exercise that right.

    As for crack downs – they police are doing a great job at that all over with out the threat of fire arms. And if you are talking places like NYC, you bet your ass they would go ape shit if the protestors were armed. They have some of the most draconian laws in the US.

    But the point I'd like to make is this is waaaaay bigger than left vs right. People all over are frustrated with the way things are going. Congress has the lowest approval rate in history. If Obama were the evil mastermind some people feared he was, he could probably kick all of them out and replace them with the citizens cheering.

  38. Dear Anonymous,

    I remember Cap'n Jim and the tugboat "Nancy B" very well. I loved that show because Cap'n Jim behaved like an adult. As a kid, I wanted adults on TV to behave like adults. Goofy Captain Kangaroo and Mister Rogers (who started out in the 'Burgh, BTW), who talked to stuffed animals made my skin crawl. The ship's mice would slip notes to Cap'n Jim demanding cheese, to which his response was: "Mice can't write notes!" Loved it. And the Popeye cartoons.

  39. GePop

    I have no idea what Frank Miller's current political viewpoint is. More to the point, I personally don't care.

    What I do know is that in an interview he gave in the early 80s, just as his run on DAREDEVIL was really attracting widespread attention, he mentioned that he had voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980. Then again, so had a lot of people who were then…or would later become…Democrats.

    Is his voting record of three decades ago in any way relevant to his political views now? Maybe so, or maybe not. That's for him to declare, if he so desires.

  40. Argh – damn it – Firefox picked a hell of a time to crash… That will teach me to be long winded:

    Disclosure: I am a libertarian with right leaning tendencies. At least for ideals the Republicans supposedly are supposed to champion but rarely do, such as fiscal responsibility and a smaller gov. I am a huge 2nd Amendment supporter, which usually doesn't jive with Democrats, though the "Blue Dog" ones I usually have a lot in common with. At any rate – both sides of the aisle are out of touch and self serving. Other than a few hot issues, there isn't much of a difference between the two.

    I sympathize with the OWS protestors. One of their problems is their lack of central organization. For example, the list of demands here is pretty reasonable: https://occupywallst.org/forum/proposed-list-of-demands-please-help-editadd-so-th/

    But without a central leadership, anyone and everyone upset at something joins the fray. So while you have one person with a reasonable sign calling for banking reform, you will have another with a Communist Party sign, and still another blaming the Zionist who are in control of the banks and government. Guess which one is more likely to make the news?

    This site is left leaning, but their charts and stats I believe are correct – http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph

    This shows you the problems I have with the 1%. While most of us have more or less stayed the same the last 30 years, the 1% have skyrocketed ahead. I don't know what the ideal tax rate is, but I think it should be higher than now, and less than 50%.

    I don't have a problem with the markets or capitalism or banks – but I do have a problem with laws made for the 1% to wiggle through with loopholes. This goes double for corporate tax. I am not saying to increase tax on small business, but when GE makes 12 Billion worldwide, and 5 Billion in the US and doesn't pay taxes on it – well – something ain't right.

    So clearly we need to have tax reform – something MUCH simpler. We need banking reforms, because they managed to fuck us over in more ways than one with their toxic loans etc.

    I have to say I am surprised the OWS movement is as wide spread and as long lasting as it is. Will this lead to actual reform? Time will tell. In the mean time, the cops who are being paid over time need to stop going all "Chuck Norris on Meth" on people for no damned reason. Everyone has a camera, you can't beat hippies like the good ol' days (and I love a good hippie beat down ;o)

  41. Ah… Liberal tolerance is at it's end the moment the other person is on the wrong side of the fence. Any black conservative is an Uncle Tom or Race Traitor, and Log Cabin Republicans are all bat shit insane.

    I liked Millers stuff a lot when I was collecting. DKR is still one of my top stories of all time. I can't see the guy being that "conservative", but who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

    More likely he's one of the 1% and thinks the OWS hipsters should get a job and work like he did (though in fairness, the protestors are more varied than their stereotype shows).

    I will never forgive him for fucking up the Spirit. I mean – it would be one thing if some guy put out a shitty Spirit movie. But Miller actually knew Eisner. WTF??

    Fun fact – My oldest comic when I was collecting was a Spirit comic from I think 41. I have some other gold age comics I have picked up at flea markets etc, that might be older now.

  42. buddy

    I believe the word for FM's political stripe is libertarian, of the rightwing variety. (Ayn Rand was a big influence on at least his Martha Washington novels). This would explain why, on the one hand, he attacks the lefties for their supposed abdication of personal responsibilty and, on the other, has Batman shredding personal-freedom-stealing Cheney and Rumsfeld lookalikes with his batarangs. Charges of 'fascist' surrounding him are likewise confounded by his ideology: in order to preserve the freedom, security and prosperity of the individual 9against criminals, the government or, most recently, Islamist Hordes), an individual may have to take extreme unilateral action.

  43. I'd just like to add that, had I been seven in 1987, that Marvel Universe float would have been the greatest thing ever. I love that they used so many characters on it!

  44. I apologize to JayJay and everyone else for getting off the thread like that. I was thinking in the past for that moment! But I wanted to add; the benefit of having comics at other places besides the direct market is that, for kids who simply have to come along with their folks (does anyone else relate to having to go to boring places like a hardware store or something and hating it when you're 6?), whether it's in line, or stopping so parents can buy cigarettes, you see comic books, your parents, rushed and willing to keep you occupied, are more inclined to buy you that and keep it in your hands. Today I see kids watching video screens while driving, in order to keep them occupied, and it's amazing to me. They could be reading, after all.

  45. … and Jim noted that, as a kid, it made him awkward as a young boy to see Capt. Kangaroo, who was an adult clearly acting bufoonish and pretending to be a kid, but that this Pirate Captain he remembered would host this cartoon show for kids, very straight, and would talk to the kids like they were mature, not speak down to them. And there were these unseen mice who would push notes out, from the mousehole, requesting specific cartoons, and the Captain would be in disbelief like, "but mice can't write..? is this a joke?" And it had a big effect on the Silver Age Mr. Shooter. (Silver Age as in- JS was a little kid!)

  46. I am actually the Anom who posted that link, I'm sorry, I know it appeared really random. I knew about that show from a collector of kinescopes, and it was in the back of my mind, and today I was reading a vintage print interview with Mr. Shooter where he references this show but cannot place it's name or remembers it correctly, but wishes he could. This was in 1980; I was born in 1981. Sorry I didn't get to it sooner, chief!

    The context was that JS was touching on a good story maybe meaning two different things to both a young person and an adult, but that both ages can enjoy it if it's a good story…

  47. In the sixties and early seventies I used to buy comics at the local Lone Star ice house, a convenience store chain in Texas. But it was very unsatisfying. It was hard to get what you were looking for from one month to another. I'm not sure they put the same comics on the stand every time. Once I discovered Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, Car-Toons and Cycle-Toons I was happier. Those were on the "magazine" rack instead of the comics spinner and easier to find regularly. My first experience with the direct market was a guy named Tom Snow who sold new comics and paperbacks in a stall at the flea market in San Antonio. Luckily, the rise of the direct market coincided with my getting my driver's license, so that worked out well. lol.

  48. Life is bizarre. "Anonymous" has linked to Capt. Jim's Popeye Club. The link also references an Atlanta show that my sister made an appearance on when she was little. "Officer Don" was a person my dad had done business with in the past. I've even been to his office to either pick up or drop off a package. "Officer Don" was compiling syndicated radio programming when I last saw him. I'm not sure what the connection is (if any) to the Pittsburg show.

  49. Anonymous

    I never really considered small towns. I grew up in teh suburbs. By the late 80s and early 90s, had to be 6 or 7 comic book stores (of varying quality) within a bike ride distance.

    While i did first get comics from the newstand, the comic store made me a lifer. The comic store gave a discount. the comic store carried EVERYTHING. the comic store would have every issue, not hit or miss. the comic store had trades, books, magaziens etc the candy store never did. the comic store didn't yell at me if i took too long browsing books. the comic store had employees who would talk comics, and the comic store had merchandise.it also got the comics sooner than the newstand. and carried things the newstand didn't.

    so the comic store was far more important to me than the newstand. and i stopped buying from the candy store that was closer. and eventually all the candy stores stopped carrying them

    unfortunately, when the market crashed, many of those comic stores went out of business.

    today, there's one comic store within a bike ride distance. and maybe one or two others within a 20 minute car ride.

    and no newstands that carry comics except occassionally, a 7-11 will have a very random marvel issue or two.
    shame.

    Rob

  50. Same with me, Jay. I remember from the age of 4 until I was about 12, buying my comics at 7-11 down the street. I was born in the 80s, and I can remember which stores I got certain issues at, from Secret Wars II to The Incredible Hulk #324 (where Al Milgrom brought back the grey Hulk!) It was easy, and with family drives and whatnot, parents were more inclined to stop at a 7-11 or drug store than a comic shop.. which made it easier for a kid to haggle for a comic.

  51. Anonymous

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capt._Jim's_Popeye_Club

    Can someone pass this to Mr. Shooter? I'm almost 32 years late, but he was trying to remember this show a while back. it was called "Capt Jim's Popeye Club". He'll know.

  52. Jay C

    I can add also add my voice to the chorus of those who found comics in a newstand scenario. Mine was a gas station, and I was buying all my comics at gas stations for close to a year at gas stations and grocery stores before I even knew comic book stores existed and were in my city.

  53. Jay C

    Mr. Shooter,

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Miller bash you by name in front of an audience of distributor/retailers in 93/94 or so, while you were in the audience?

    If memory serves you had never had any poor dealings with him to that point, and I think your story of him calling you after the Valiant fiasco and the Ditko stuff serves to demonstrate that . . . then what had happened that made Miller flip out on you?

    Did you guys ever talk afterwards to find out what about you and your resume on creator rights etc make him want to knock you in public like that?

  54. Kev from Atl

    Neil-

    I feel sympathy for those kids as well, but I also feel sympathy for the comic industry as a whole. I feel that they cut their own throat by making comics less accessible to a wide audience. I am sure they had their reasons (all financial I am sure), but I feel it may have been a very short-sighted move. I think back on the comics I first discovered at our local drugstore, where I bought most of my comics: the first Miller Daredevil, the first Alan Moore Swamp Thing, the first Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes issue I saw (204, I believe), and so many others. If all those books were direct only it is likely that I would never have discovered them. I am looking forward to Jim's post and discovering the rationale behind this move.

  55. Anonymous

    Kev,

    My childhood was very similar to yours. I was in rural Oklahoma instead of Georgia. The nearest comic book store was in Tulsa 60 miles away. I have often wondered how my childhood would have been different if there had been no comic book rack at Reasor's Discount Foods. Being an only child, comic books were a huge part of my early life. I have actually felt sympathy for that kid in a similar situation as myself but 10 years younger; no comic book rack to look forward to on Wednesday. Wednesday was when the shipment came in. I think something has been lost without that accessibilty in smaller towns. They need escapism there as much as anywhere. Maybe more.

    Neil

  56. Sorry but there are a lot of people that agree with Millers opinion. We will see how this OWS thing plays out and what , if any, changes come from it.

  57. Zirbert- gotcha. I'd heard of Larsen but not Simone. I had a look at the rest of the list but they were all pygmies I'd never heard of, bar Gary Erskine who I believe inked The Filth by Grant Morrison. Or maybe he did pencils too. Who cares? Not me!

  58. Well, back to the Spidey balloon . . .

    Mr. Shooter – Unfortunately I started straying away from comics right before your ouster from Marvel – but I was still "in tune" enough with the Marvel "gestault" that I was absolutely thrilled to see the Spidey balloon debut at the Macy's parade. Somehow, it seems like it's been around for a lot longer than 1987 – but that's probably just due to the iconic nature of the Spider-Man character – it seems like it's been there all along probably because it SHOULD have been there all along.

    Many years later I went back and read the Michilinie/McFarlane run of Spider-Man and had a mixed reaction to it (I was always partial to the Stern/JRjr run and have a tendency to judge all others unfairly against it), but one part that made me chuckle was a scene where the Macy balloons, empowered by demonic forces, come to life and become evil. There was a pretty good sequence in there of Spidey fighting his own balloon. He dispatches it with aplomb, of course, and makes a comment about how it is weird fighting an image of oneself. He ends, however, shrugging it off, opining, "nah, they didn't have the eyes right".

    Kind of funny given the dramatic contrast in styles between the McFarlane Spidey (especially the eyes) and its predecessors of the time. I always took the comment in good fun, but, I don't know, perhaps they were taking a shot at your involvement in designing the balloon? Probably not – it seems like you and Michilinie always had a good relationship.

    I also continue to be impressed with your ability to handle yourself with grace and dignity in the wake of much undignified behavior from your colleagues and other industry insiders. It took more than a little grace, I'm sure, to come back and help Marvel out with their little balloon problem at that juncture.

    And thanks for the blog Mr. Shooter. It's funny, informative, and takes me back to a long-lost but much beloved era of Marvel. If I had my druthers, I still have you at the Marvel EIC desk to this day.

  59. Dear Kev,

    That's too big a subject to discuss here. I'll do a post on distribution and the shift away from the newsstand soon. Your experiences are very much the crux of the matter.

  60. Dear Anonymous,

    I'll say only this: Frank Miller is a very, very smart man. He's a complex person. Aren't we all? He's entitled to his opinion and entitled to express it. I believe it is fair to say that Frank tends toward high-impact presentation when he expresses something.

  61. Just to clarify – I meant that Larsen and Simone were the *only* two on that page whose names mean anything to me. I'm sure I've read work by several of the others, but it apparently wasn't good or bad enough for me to remember their name afterward. They presumably went into that vast middle category labeled "meh."

    I hope that no one now refuses to read Secret Six (the back issues are still out there) because of political disagreements with Simone. It would be their loss.

    There's a moral to that last paragraph for the Miller (and Ditko) bashers.

  62. DJ

    Savage Dragon is cool 🙂

  63. Anonymous

    Gail Simone is a writer. Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, etc.

    She was a blogger about comics who actually got her start by starting a website “Women in Referigerators”

    Then GL Kyle Raynor’s gf was found stuffed in a refrigerator, dead and dismembered

    Ms. Simone considered it a sexist thing that heroes girlfriends would be killed in various horrible ways and started that site. She also said if you kill, rape, etc. all the characters girls like, girls won’t read comics.

    This caught on with the comic press.

    And then somehow that led to her job with DC writing comics. Currently writing Batgirl iirc.

    Rob

    (Larsen and Simone are the only ones I've heard of too. Larsen was also Image publisher for a time).

  64. I second Rob on the politics. Jeez. Come on, people.

    The original question about Miller is reasonable, in that it doesn't ask for comment on what Miller thinks but rather- will this harm his career?

    But the whole Tea Party vs. OWS…

    No.

    Zirbert: Erik Larsen is one of the not all that talented Image artists from the early 90s, he did something called Savage Dragon that I've never read.

    Gail Simone, no idea either.

  65. The only explanation for someone believing that no one has talked of income inequality before OWS is that someone not paying attention.

    When the media carped about tax cuts for the rich in 2001 they weren't talking about fish.

    You know when minimum wage laws began? Conversations about minimum wage are all about income inequality and class warfare and the uppers deciding what the so-called lowers earn or take.

    And while I normally excuse a political movement for the actions of their outliers, in sone cases outliers should not exist. These outliers surrounded my friends in a violent fashion. I have no sympathy towards them.

  66. Anonymous

    I agree with Rob. And I was the first one to comment on the FM situation on this blog. It's a rare situation. We are watching this happen in real time. By virtue of following this blog I would guess we all are in the "club". We know a lot more about FM than most people. We also know Jim knows him personally. But Jim has a lot more on the line with his comments than we do. I'm guilty, I would like to know some inside info. But let's not take Mr. Shooter where he doesn't want to go.

    Neil

  67. The main difference between Frank Miller expressing his opinion and the comics creators who are upset by his dissent expressing theirs is that I've heard of Frank Miller. I've been a comics geek for a long time, and there are two names on that Bleeding Cool page (Gail Simone and Erik Larsen) that mean anything to me.

    Stuart Moore wrote, "There were plenty of ethnic and racial slurs on signs at the Tea Party." In the immortal words of Wikipedia, (citation needed).

  68. Anonymous

    I hate to contribute to the politics here because I think it robs the site of something important -the discussion of comics through Mr. Shooter's viewpoint and Mr. Shooter's comments in between on the posts.

    I don't want that lost between long debates about various politics you can find anywhere.

    I always loved that Spider-Man Macy's balloon.

    Rob

  69. Hey come on Jim – don't hold back.
    You knew Miller from when he started – what do you say?

  70. OWS is "mostly peaceful"? Have you seen the videos? They're blackshirts waiting to happen.

    There's a "rap sheet" of OWS-related crimes that's in the hundreds. If the tea parties had had one-tenth this much violence and destruction to report… no, one-HUNDREDTH as much, it would have gotten wall-to-wall coverage in the media until they'd managed to discredit anyone who ever even thought about reading The Federalist Papers.

  71. Dear Blok 4 Prez,

    I suggested characters I thought should be used. I believe they used all I suggested and others besides.

  72. Anonymous

    I was never a huge Miller fan. I only really like his Daredevil.

    Rob

  73. "I love Frank Miller! I think comics needs more nutjob maniacs. As long as I don't have to deal with them personally. "

    This made me lol. I agree completely.

  74. Anonymous

    I dont think the rapes are connected to the movement, except that the people seem awfully naive, so a woman is raped in PHilly OWS rally last night in a tent because the normal common sense things go out the window and your sleeping amongst thousands of strangers without thinking "hey this could be dangerous."

    But frankly, I dont have anything in common with these people except we are both part of the "99%". I dont agree with them. I certainly didn't have the time, the finances, or the lack of employment to spend my 20s and early 30s (where I am now) in some tent for two months in park while others footed the bills. I had responsibilities and would never have thought anything i didn't have was the fault of someone else who did have it. But my own fault.

    Rob

  75. Oh, there are people funding it now that it's a going concern. But it didn't start that way.

    Rob: I wasn't speaking just about the NYC protest, but nationwide. Not sure what the laws are like in Oakland, but there's a definite double standard about the two types of protestors carrying guns.

    And to bring this back on topic, sort of: I love Frank Miller! I think comics needs more nutjob maniacs. As long as I don't have to deal with them personally.

  76. Oh the <> part didn't show up, my bad. I was quoting Stuart Moore's post: "OWS is also a genuine grass-roots movement, unlike the billionaire-funded Tea Party. But that's another discussion, and another set of right-wing lies that would have to be knocked down. "

  77. <>

    I don't disagree, but I wonder if we'll eventually find out this was as "organic" as the Arab Spring. There have been some compelling speculations about the real movers and shakers of OWS. My personal (paranoid) opinion is that this is a beta test for something else, but what that "something else" is, I don't know.

    re: the anti-Semitic signs. I've seen the picture you describe. I don't think Obama wearing a Star of David on his tie necessarily says anything negative about the Jewish people; I see that as a comment on the influence AIPAC has on policy. Maybe – hell, maybe it's just some anti-Semitic guy, who knows. I try to keep in mind with these things that it is a well-worn tactic for these protests to be infiltrated and smeared by govt. spooks trying to smear movements with racist, anti-semitic rhetoric, etc. People who are there to deliberately incite/ foment the negative.

    Although it is sometimes difficult to separate the real wackjobs from the intentional-wackjobs.

  78. Anonymous

    Its mostly peaceful but there has been some severe violence perpetrated protestor to protestor. Rapes. Assaults. a protestor who tried to stab a reporter. Lot of mentally ill homeless and ex-cons hanging around for the free food. So much so they had to regulate it and give less out.

    The movement also has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars btw. It's not simply grass roots. Not when Michael Moore is providing wi-fi.

    Open guns where the tea parties were demonstrating were legal, Stuart. You can't carry a gun like that in NYC. If there was arally by the tea party carrying weapons, they'd have been arrested.

    I've been down to OWS. It's a little silly. a little crazy. There is a lot of unremarked upon anti-Jewish signs and stuff. a giant poster of all the presidents and politicans laughing. Obama's tie is plastered with the star of david. Stuff like that.

    So far, OWS has had very little effect politically. The tea party had immediate influence-politicians responded, and they were able to impact GOP primaries.

    Will OWS? IDK.

    I do know its as white as the tea party, but that's less remarked upon as well lol

    and as i said, there's a whole sectionof the park that the protestors wont even go to. It's too dangerous.

    Rob

  79. The vast majority of reports from the Occupy movement show peaceful demonstrations. The right-wing complaint that they "have no message" is ridiculous. OWS has already fundamentally changed the political dialogue in this country: Two months ago no one was talking about income inequity, and now everyone is.

    There were plenty of ethnic and racial slurs on signs at the Tea Party. There were also plenty of guns, which the police didn't seem to mind. If a single OWS protestor had been armed, you'd have had violent crackdowns like you wouldn't believe.

    And the mass media did nothing but ridicule OWS for the first month, until it became obvious that the movement had popular support. Fox News still decries them as hippies and bongo-drum players — but ALL the mass media did that at first. The tea party had immediate respect, until they proved themselves a freak show.

    OWS is also a genuine grass-roots movement, unlike the billionaire-funded Tea Party. But that's another discussion, and another set of right-wing lies that would have to be knocked down.

  80. It's pretty disgusting that the idea comes up so nonchalantly that someone might get blackballed because they expressed an opinion. If any offense is to be taken, it ought to be at THAT possibility. Someone losing their job because of their political or moral views is fundamentally un-American. The left considered such an action a mortal sin during the McCarthy era when it targetted them, but just ask Hank Williams, Jr. if they've backed him after he was fired from Monday Night Football.

    Far from a radical viewpoint, asking protestors who complain they can't find work to join the military is a very helpful solution. It's been a great start to many people's careers. The attitude of many of these people is that they won't take jobs they feel are "beneath them." That's just another sign that some in this generation have a massive and wholly unjustifed sense of entitlement. That's why the main crux of their movement appears to be trying to force other people to pay for their education, their housing, their food, their transportation, their health care, etc.

    That being said, I'm not sure how big this movement is. The mainstream media has covered it about 50 times as much as they did the Tea Party rallies in their first weeks, but the facts seem to indicate this is a much smaller and less demographically diverse movement. The protestors also have an extremely incoherent message and no practical plan to engage the political system to actually get anything they want done. The most coherent among them have said they are anarchists and want the "system" to be overthrown entirely.

    Aside from their message, there is the long series of reports coming out of their "camps" of rape and other perverse acts, drug dealing, drug abuse, drunkenness, theft, vandalism, public defecation and urination, the rapid spread of sickness and disease, anti-Semitic rants against "Jewish bankers," "punking" TV news broadcasts with profanity on the air, now even murder, and generally just making a public nuisance of themselves. Many, many such incidents have been documented, mostly in alternative or lower profile media. If any one such incident had occurred at a Tea Party rally, it would have been front page news and top of the network newscasts for days, but the unfair and unbalanced mainstream outlets tend to ignore them in this case.

    This is the most immature crowd of "activists" the nation has seen in a long time. Being set straight by someone speaking in direct and "Frank" language is a necessary good start to trying to knock some sense into these people. If not that, maybe it will at least convince them to move back to their parents' basements and out of sight of the public.

    The bottom line when it comes to Frank Miller is that he's a certified creative genius and the most successful comics creator of the last 30 years. He's proven that with one groundbreaking creative, critical and commercial success after another across multiple characters and companies. Two of his personal comics creations were adapted into big box office hits without backing from either of the Big Two. His original artwork has broken the records for highest prices paid (almost half a million for a Dark Knight Returns page). No one has to agree with him but he's earned the right to be respected and taken seriously.

  81. Frank Miller is awesome, even when he's not awesome, which is often. He's out there, on his own, doing his own stuff. You can see that in his artwork, which has become stylistically extreme in a kind of John Malkovich-enters-his-own-head quality these days.

    I'm not even sure these days that the first Dark Knight is as good as it seemed. But Miller doesn't care about appearing fashionable, and in that he's a rarity.

    Like other giants of the 80s i.e.- Dave Sim & Alan Moore – he has long since departed for his own planet and that's fine by me.

    It says it all that a post by a comics guy should get picked up by the WaPO and become the Internet nonsense du jour. Would anybody at the paper have noticed if Bendis had abused OWS? Robert Kirkman? Dan DiDio? Even Grant Morrison?

    Scott McLeod makes a sarky comment at the end of the WaPo piece. But Miller is so far beyond Scott McLeod on the talent scale, even when he's going wrong, I wondered- why bother? It's like getting an 80s one hit electropop wonder to comment on Brian Eno's politics- silly.

  82. Anonymous,

    Read Frank's post about Neal Adams and you'll find that he didn't grasp composition early on. I quit being a fan of his work when he did Ronin, so that dates back awhile. Everything I see from him seems misogynistic. Women are either whores, prostitutes, or lesbians. I never see any positive portrayals of women in anything he does. Don't even get me talking about how much I can't stand seeing Ninja's in comics. Between Ninja's and zombies, I don't think it's possible to beat a dead horse more than has been done already. Sheesh. I was trying to stay on topic for a change. Ummmm…Everyone have a Happy Thanksgiving next week.

  83. Kev from Atl

    Jim-

    Love the blog-I'm addicted to it. One thing I have never fully grasped, and one I hope you can shed some light on, is the reasoning behind the shift from so-called "newsstand" sales to direct market sales. Just a little from my own personal perspective-I graduated from high school in 1984 so I was buying comics in the midst of this shift. I lived in a small southern town and I had to get to Atlanta, nearly 60 miles away, to visit a comics store. I made the trip as often as I could, because I loved Grimjack, American Flagg, and a lot of other direct-only titles, but I remember thinking even then that most kids either would not or could not get to a town that had a comics store. I also remember thinking, if kids could not stumble across comics at their local drugstore or newsstand, as I did, where would the next generation of comic book fans come from? I think that speculation has proven somewhat prophetic and is one of the contributing factors to the steep decline in comic book sales, but that is only my opinion. Could you comment on the shift from newsstand to direct-market sales and how that contributed, if it did, to the current sad state of the market?

  84. Anonymous

    Just a follow up re: Larsen

    He essentially responded with his own political point-that what the protestors want is the rich to pay their fair share in taxes. You could debate the point but it wasn't "miller is a hacjk"

    A month ago he had this to say about HOLY TERROR

    "I came in with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. The art varies from brilliant to passable to lazy–and while parts of the story were heavy handed there was still stuff to like in it.

    There were same pages that were pure dynamite. There were a couple that were nearly impossible to decipher. In some cases I didn't know what I was looking at.

    It's not my favorite Miller book by any means but there was enough there to like for me to feel it was worth buying.

    What Frank Miller grasped early on is that composition is key.You can noodle the crap out of a drawing but if it's not a good shot it fails. That's why I'll take Frank Miller over a hundred other guys. He gets what makes an image exciting. The shot is what matters. I don't know where Frank gets it. I recall seeing a new drawing for a DKR collection–Batman crouched on a telephone wire–fucking brilliant. Why hadn't anybody thought of that shot before? So simple, so powerful, so effective and it took Miller to deliver the goods. There are a lot of guys that draw better than Frank-who render everything and put a lot more into it–and Frank kicks their asses every time.

    I'm excited every time Frank Miller puts pen to paper."

    http://www.imwan.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=73672&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&start=242

    Rob

  85. Rob, I completely agree. Well said.

  86. Anonymous

    Larsen didn't call him a hack. He was praising HOLY TERROR in fact just recently.

    I just find it interesting when comic creators use the comics for left wing opinions (including Marvel's entire crossover event CIVIL WAR), that's ok, but when it's rightwing, suddenly they are crazy 😉

    Miller's response echoes the response I've heard many people give about the protestors. It's not crazy. It's within the range of normal opinion even if it's not your opinion.

    the reference to rapists, is the rapes and sexual assaults that have occurred at the protests. We've heard how scary and evil the tea partiers were-who had virtually no violence occur at their protests and rallies-but the left wing protests have had some actual violence. They had to set up 'safe spots' for women to sleep and what not.

    of course it's hyperbole. You have a lot of people for a long time. Bad things happen. The protests have attracted a lot of whackos as well as the normal protestors. There's an area of the park in NY that the normal protestors won't even go because it's considered dangerous because the people who hang out there are dangerous.

    Rob

  87. Anonymous

    Jimmy,

    Full disclosure, I do lean right on certain issues. I also lean left on a few. I always say I'm a Dennis Miller conservative. I also have not followed FM's career in depth. I think the last thing I read was The Dark Knight Returns which I remenber having a quite blatant left lean. The issue I have : you can incorprate the Communist Manifesto as a sub text and everything is great…BRILIANT! But show any views that may be perceived conservative…HACK! Same body of work but all of a sudden we don't hear about DKR or the DD run. All we hear about is The Spirit movie. We have been discussing Steve Ditko and I think this also happened to him to some extent. And Dennis Miller. Jim has commented on FM quite a few times, always positive. Jim knows FM. We don't. Is the unsaid standard "you can have a career as long as your views agree with ours"? Jim knows what it is like to be black balled. I don't know if he is willing to comment, because I'm sure he doesn't need the heat. But I'm sure he could shed some light.

  88. I was such a comics geek, and Spidey fan in particular, at the time that I was actually excited that Spider-Man had been made into a balloon, and while I usually didn't bother with the Macy's parade, I did that year.

  89. JayWicky

    @Neil : I don't know if anybody called Miller a "hack", which would be a description of his work, not his public persona, but if some people did, Erik Larsen is not one of them. If anything, Larsen constantly praises Miller's work, even on books that met with heavy criticism. He's made it clear on his Twitter account that he separates the work from the person, and still enjoys Miller's art.

    For a list of reactions from various professionals to Miller's diatribe, check bleedingcool.com

  90. Anonymous

    Dear Jim:

    i don't know if it is just you that doesn't hold a grudge against the campanies that have fired you or if it is common grounds in the U.S. Here in Mexico when a working relation ends usually both parties are so tired of each other and so much has been said and done that it is very hard to think in further collaborations.

    In any case is cool that you have been able to have some influence in some decisions after you areout. It seems like an acknowledgment from the companies towards a person with enough common sense and huge creativity. Things that do not seem very common when talking sbout suits.

    -Freyes2011

  91. Kev in Atl

    Regardless of whether or not Frank Miller is liberal or conservative (and I come down firmly on the "he's a raging right-wing nutjob" side) he has been a hack for years. IMHO, the last thing he did worth reading was the first Sin City series. 300, The Dark Knight sequel, and others are terrible. And let's not forget that he's a terrible director. I just find his blog post ridiculously scattershot and misguided. What the hell does OWS have to do with the so-called "war on terror", which of course has been a spectacular failure and led to many more American deaths than the attack that precipitated it? And I will listen to his advice that the OWS protesters should join the army when I hear the details of his own military experience. Oh, I'm sorry, he did not serve. Like Cheney and so many other chicken(shit)hawk conservatives.

  92. Chip,

    Marvel was completely evil by then, so it makes sense that Spider-Man would do that.

  93. I was a Macy's employee and balloon handler for Spider-Man back in 1996 or 1997 (I think…I have the paperwork somewhere) and it happened to be one of the windiest days EVER for the parade. Let me tell you, the cross-winds when you came out from the protection of the buildings were pretty wicked. There was a spot where Spider-Man nearly wiped out a whole bleacher-full of people. My entire body was sore for a few days after that experience! If I can find the paperwork for it I'll post some scans.

  94. Justin Fairfax

    I found Frank Miller's DAREDEVIL to be totally liberal on social issues. It could be, like another Miller (SNL's Dennis Miller), he turned a bit to the right in the area of COMBATING TERRORISM after 9/11…a totally believable response. Dennis Miller was also ostracized from his community for expressing so-called conservative viewpoints. For my money, any individual in these United States has a right to their opinion. I think Frank is human, and deserves a pass on this…but if you're offended, it is also your right to not buy anymore Miller books.

  95. Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables at dealaboo. Thanksgiving Day is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have. On Thanksgiving Day merchants offer crazy deals at almost unbelievably low prices.

  96. I've never been a big Miller fan and I don't follow his views or his career. But the fact that he wrote liberal, anti-Reagan stories in the 80s does not preclude him being a conservative now. Perhaps he's the comic book Dennis Miller.

    Certainly the piece on his blog is something that could have come straight out of the mouth of Archie Bunker… "get a job", "join the army", "your protests are giving aid and comfort to America's enemies." All he's missing is "get a haircut." If that's not conservative (in the worst sense of the word) then what is?

  97. One Final Frank thought:

    So what is Frank Miller, if he's not a conservative? (Hey, one anti-Occupy blog post does not a conservative make.)

    I'll tell you what I see, given his history and body of work, as well as his recent posts.

    1) He's a New Yorker, first and foremost, which is why he's angry about 9-11, even now, 10 years later. One can hate the terrorists behind 9-11 AND be a liberal.

    2) Miller's a one-time radical/protester himself, and is aging and doesn't see this generation of protesters (the Occupy movement) as being of his generation's caliber or commitment. That doesn't make him a conservative, either. It makes him the sort of guy who comes out of his house to yell at kids to "stay outta my yard." 😉

  98. Blok 4 Prez

    Is that the White Witch on the float in the top video? And there's a woman in black who I assume is Black Widow?

    Mr. Shooter, did you pick all the characters? Seems some of them match the cast from "Secret Wars" and "Secret Wars II" (not White Witch or Robocop but the Enchantress and Magneto, for example.) Although I don't think I saw any of the Fantastic Four.

    Fun to see the old floats in any case. And yes, the party the night before as the floats get filled up is a wonderful NYC tradition.

  99. Awww, something I have never seen and that we do not have in France. This show and the ballon parade seems awesome!
    This reminded me of this perfect Power Pack story (Power Pack 19), "who's coming to dinner", drawn by Brent Anderson, with all those guest stars and Katie wanting to show the Mighty Mouse Baloon to her sick mother from the widow of her room's hospital. A great story, a real masterpiece, really touching.

  100. Frank Miller, conservative? Are you kidding?

    The guy wrote an issue of Daredevil in the early 80s that was anti-gun propaganda, hated Reagan more than Alan Moore did (if that's even possible), and generally fertilizes all over anything patriotic, painting it as evil to like your own country of origin.

    Frank's many things. Conservative? Not one of them.

  101. GePop

    I hadn't realized that walking the balloon tethers in the parade was done by actual Macy's employees. Let's hope there's never any labor/management issues that cause a bunch of walkers to suffer from butterfingers. 😉

    And you managed to track down who portrayed Mary Jane in the ballpark wedding ceremony. Any chance Jim that you can hook us up with the Enchantress? LOL

  102. Jim E

    Hey, Neil

    I for one am glad that frank miller is coming out of the closet on his blog and saying what he is. I've tried arguing for years that his far right wing take on characters doesn't feel like story telling, it feels like propaganda. And his fetishism for fascism as well as his inability to write a comic where women aren't raped makes me uncomfortable.

    The fact that he's out right and calling the occupy kids 'rapists' (o.k?) Speaks to whats going on in his head, he also said 'Holy terror' is propaganda which was music to my ears because that's an argument I've been trying to make about his comics for years.

    As far as being a hack, his comics are tediously formulaic. He may have mastered the functional mechanics of 'storytelling' but look at the content of the comics themselves. His formula is adding hyper violence, sex and a far right wing bend to existing characters or genres. Its just nihilistic pap, some big tits, swastika worship and rape all heavily inked to look grim and gritty and dark. Ooh, aah. I never fell for it.

    On the daredevil DVD there is an interview with him where he grossly brags about how the scene with bullseye skewering Elektra is supposed to symbolize rape and he thought it was to obvious and the censors would never let it through. His excitement and fervor describing how awesome it was to get away with violently raping a female character turned me right off. That guy has some really deep rooted issues that are evident all over the comics he writes.

    I hope he doesn't shut up or apologize and continues blogging. I doubt it'll effect whether or not he gets a job but I like that fans or anybody who is curious about him can hear straight from the horses mouth what a creep he is in no uncertain terms.

    jimmy

  103. Anonymous

    "…and what appeared to be Spider-Baby in the midst of a strenuous bowel movement.

    How can I make the image clearer? Picture Richie Rich…"

    Why does that make me think of Spider-Ham?

  104. kevo

    And was that Robo-cop in one of the scenes

    Marvel Action Universe debuted on TV in 1988 and included Robocop.

  105. Mike P

    Anonymous: It looks a heck of a lot like Robocop. Marvel had a ROM costume, but it was bigger and boxier than the one in the video. ROM's ongoing book ended the year before that, in '86.

    Here's the ROM suit:
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_WkobCWUQkoI/RtJhcRiy7TI/AAAAAAAAA8s/ArQRWs3dMJY/s320/Picture%2B6.png

    Five-year-old me was there for the '89 parade. My parents drove us all the way from Ohio to see the parade – they even bought me one of my first comics to read on the trip down. I wound up sitting in the bus for most of the parade, keeping out of the cold. My mom made sure to get me off the bus when the Marvel float went by, though.

  106. Here's some higher quality video from last years parade of the float.

    It really does look Amazing!

  107. Do we get to know why Wolverine is playing tug of war with the Enchantress in that second video?

  108. Anonymous

    Off topic. How do you think this blog post of Frank Miller's will impact his career? Already other creators (Erik Larsen is the only one I've heard of) are posting he is a hack. Yesterday he is a genius today he is a pariah. I guess we will see if political views can ruin you. Ironic that we have been discussing Ditko the last few days. Jim, do you think Frank's phone will stop ringing?

    Neil

  109. Dear Jim,

    I didn't know that the balloon and float, like the Night of Doom stage show, postdated your departure from Marvel. I wonder if the licensing people mentioned your Macy's work when they recommended you as a writer for the stage show — the only one I'd like to see. (I read — and loved — the script.)

    I couldn't believe that Calamari said John Romita, Sr. wasn't good at 3D. How could one draw as realistically as JRSR without understanding 3D? Since you just brought up Calamari, maybe you could tell some tales about him tomorrow.

    Speaking of 3D and toys, given your designs for the float and the sets for Night of Doom, it would have been cool if you had designed a playset for Marvel action figures. New York City is practically a Marvel character and your design would insure that the toy would be on spec instead of the result of speculations by a disinterested party. I hope you find your float sketch.

    The first draft of the Spider-Baby, er, Man design must have been obviously bad given that Calamari objected to it. If it was possible to sculpt Ronald McDonald as an adult figure, why not Spider-Man? Was it because the sculptor assumed that Spider-Man was a cartoon character for children and therefore required Richie Rich proportions? (I've got nothing against Richie. I was a Harvey fan before I became a Marvel fan.)

    The baby photo made me think of a hypothetical Silver Age DC Spider-Baby with a Spider-Dog. DC released Just Imagine … featuring Stan Lee's versions of DC characters. Just imagine … Mort Weisinger's versions of Marvel characters! Spider-Man's Girlfriend Mary Jane?

    According to Marvel, the balloon you designed was used until 1998 and the 2009 balloon retains "the classic pose of the previous giant."

  110. Anonymous

    How weird is it that they used the "Back the Future" music for the Marvel float? And was that Robo-cop in one of the scenes or ROM?

  111. I still remember seeing the parade float and the Spidey balloon for the first time way back in '87 on TV. I used to have it on a VHS tape somewhere, but no longer.

    That had to be unusual, being a paid consultant for the company that just ousted you months prior. Very interesting reading this story, and seeing how far and wide your expertise is seen and felt, even all these years later.

    ~G.

  112. While nowhere on par with the Macy's parade, my dad did build a float for Atlanta's 4th of July parade that won first prize…. possibly the same year. The only thing left of it is a mock-up preliminary model of it sitting in my mom's book case. I can imagine what that feels like seeing the fruits of your labor come to life.

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