This week’s FOOM Friday continues my examination of FOOM #13, which was all about Conan the Barbarian.
So why am I writing about The Coming Of Galactus?
It’s all down to a quote in FOOM #13 from Roy Thomas, discussing how he felt Robert E. Howard’s Conan had already peaked before Howard’s untimely death in 1936. In effect, Roy suggested that after a certain point, there’s little sense in telling more tales about a hero:
ROY: The problem is the same thing that happened to the FANTASTIC FOUR in 1965 or 1966, with the coming of Galactus. Once you’ve fought a God, which is basically what Galactus was, how do you go back to the other stuff? And everything since then to me, or almost everything on that book — even good things that came afterwards like the Inhumans — has been ten years of a rather competent anti-climax. There are some strips that just naturally climax at a certain point and anything you do afterward can still be good and saleable and go on forever —
FOOM: But you’ve said what you have to say.
The nature of comic book publishing ensures that the stories will go on, even if it is all anti-climax … but Roy has a point. Have the Fantastic Four broken any genuinely new ground since the Galactus story, or has it all been reboots, re-imaginings, and “fresh takes” on a glorious but fast-fading past?
Did the Fantatic Four jump the cosmic shark in 1966? What do YOU think? Share your thoughts in the comments, below.
This week’s F.O.O.M. Friday gets right to the point! (Two of them!)
FOOM #14 was all about Conan … and it is full of insightful and even scholarly commentary about what makes this character so great. It’s also an interesting time-capsule of an era when Conan was one of Marvel’s top-selling books.
But we don’t care about that.
We only care about the nipples. Men’s nipples!
I know this is a divisive issue. To judge by the Superbowl, America hates seeing men’s nipples. I don’t know how opinions might differ in the United Kingdom, but David Warner considered men’s nipples a waste of God’s energy in Time Bandits:
Comics have a complex issue with sexuality in general, but in classic mainstream superhero comics, it’s generally come down to women having (barely covered) naughty bits, while men don’t have them at all. Contemporary comics show plenty of skin, of course, so it may be difficult to understand how the original run of Conan the Barbarian by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith broke new ground by showing off shirtless heroes and scantily-clad wenches.
Even more remarkable, Windsor-Smith broke the seal on one of the more puzzling taboos in comics by having the temerity to draw nipples on men!!
yep, there’s some nipples, all right!
Why, you can practically hear the monocles popping out!
Not only did Barry blaze a trail, he even set a precedent!
Roy Thomas, from FOOM #14 (1976):
There were things for example, like having nipples on the male figure, which were not genrally done in comics before Conan and became part of it all. After Barry did them, I insisted that other artists like John Buscema and Gil Kane include them, even though they were reluctant to do so, or kept forgetting them. Sometimes I’d draw them on myself if the artist had forgotten, or have them added to a whole book not because I thought it was terribly important, but it was a consistency that kept the book being all of a piece.
I don’t know about you, but the thought of Roy Thomas drawing nipples on John Buscema or Gil Kane’s pages is obscurely delightful. It’s the professional equivalent of going through your comics as a kid and drawing mustaches (or … other things) on all the characters. It’s a scandal. It’s Nipplegate! And who was the poor intern who got their start in comics adding nipples to barbarian books at Thomas’ command?
But Thomas’ nipple continuity would go largely unnoticed, and it would be several years before comics would get its first genuine high-profile nipples-on-men controversy …
That’s right — nipples on the Bat Suits, courtesy of director Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin! It damn near toppled the Republic back in 1997.
Somehow we survived. (It chased poor Batman out of theaters for the better part of a decade, though!)
See you next week for another F.O.O.M. Friday!
FOOM #13 had a one-page feature spotlighting the work of students attending John Buscema’s School of Comic Book Artists.
What became of this next generation of talent, circa 1976?
Bob Hall went on to work for Marvel and DC Comics, enjoying a long run on Avengers in the 1980s, and turning in some of my favorite issues of Super-Villain Team-Up. He also worked for Valiant Comics in the 1990s.
Larry Mahlstedt went on to become an inker and cover artist for Marvel and DC.
Bob Downs became an inker for Marvel and DC, and I see he did some Ultraverse work, as well.
Mike J. McCann appears to have had no comics career, and he’s not the same as the Michael J. McCann who has enjoyed success as a crime novelist. Along with Charles Nanco and Josh Zissman, Mike appears lost to the mists of time!
Do you know more about Mike, Charles, and Josh (or any of the pros listed here?) Sound off, in comments, below!
See you soon for another FOOM Friday!
FOOM #13 was all about Daredevil!
That Gene Colan cover is the coolest bit about this issue, but there are a few nuggets, if you look for them.
For example, there are several character reference sheets for Daredevil and his supporting cast from the immortal Wally Wood:
There was also this quote from Marv Wolfman, offering insight on what distinguished ol’ Hornhead from his Marvel brethren, circa 1976:
(Daredevil) is — as far as I can tell — Marvel’s only crime-fighter. All the other characters have other shticks that they do: Spider-Man isn’t so much a crime-fighter; he fights super villains. Half-the-time I’m not even quite sure why, or what the super villain has done. For instance, there’s a three-part story running now with Dr. Octopus and Hammerhead, but so far as I can tell, no one’s committed any crime. It’s just that they’re super villains, that a good enough reason to stage the issues. Thor fights the Asgardian characters and everything else. The FF fight space monsters or creatures or earth-shaking menaces. Most of our super-heroes tend not to actually fight crime. They fight other things connected with it.
So, Daredevil, being, in a sense, Marvel’s only crime-fighter, you can do slightly different-type storylines; in fact you almost have to … Secondly, Matt Murdoch is one of the few, I think, intelligent adults in the Marvel universe, who actually has to work for a living. Peter Parker is only a part-time worker because he’s basically a student … Tony Stark is a multi-millionaire. Most of our characters don’t have to work to support themselves. Matt, on the other hand, would be in serious trouble if he weren’t being paid for the legal work he does. So, Matt is of interest.
Marv goes on to comment about how the book originated as a shadow of Spider-Man, but had neither the supporting cast nor the villains of that book. It is an interesting look at a character during a time that no one could recognize as being the end of an era for Daredevil. The last issue listed in this magazine’s then-up-to-date Daredevil index is #134 … three issues after the first appearance of Bullseye, and twenty-four issues before Frank Miller would join the book with issue #158, and finally propel Daredevil to the ranks of Marvel’s A-list books.
See you back here next week for another FOOM Friday!
FOOM #12 contained a little half-page update of Marvel’s various rock & roll accolades. There was an obligatory reference to Marvel’s Spider-Man album (which was probably clogging up a warehouse somewhere), name-checks for Paul McCartney and Paul Simon, and a reference to a Ken Russell film. Far-out!
But most far-out of all was the bizarre bit of news that Angela Bowie wanted to play the Black Widow in a television series!