I was surprised by how quickly and thoroughly I understood your leaf analogy. I thought it made perfect sense. I thought, why is this guy going to go the extra effort to point out scripture, but again well worth it because you really got to the core of the matter. That being money is a thing that’s a part of life and something that must be dealt with as simply as taking out the garbage. I’ve never had any trouble understanding this concept.
When I was kid we used to mow lawns every summer with my parents. It’s how we made our living. I didn’t get an hourly wage, but a per law fee. So I might earn 20 dollars a day. That kind of cash added up pretty fast when I was a teenager. BUT I wasn’t allowed to waste the money. I had to spend it on big items. I think my first big summer I bought a Tv, a sega genesis, and a vcr within a two week span. Comics were on a two-per-month basis and action figures were a big no-no. In order to get them we had to find innovative ways to convince my dad to allow us to purchase them. One time in particular I bet my dad I could go a week without eating. I went 5 days and simply missed food. I wasn’t starving, I just missed eating. I had plenty of calories due to massive soda intake. But after 5 days my dad said yes to the action figure. He later told me that he didn’t think I’d make it to the end of the first day.
So I guess I was just getting that age where my Dad and I were going to fight no matter what. I thought as a good manager it was my job to point out when something could be done better. Sometimes this turned into fights. He of course controlled the money and how my brother and I got paid. I wasn’t particularly wanting to work to earn money. I just wanted to sit at home and draw. But I did work for my Dad because that’s what our family needed. I needed to do my part and be a good son so that our family could survive.
I started thinking about what motivates me and it’s almost always not money. I like having money, I like spending it, but it doesn’t control me like others. You know, why don’t you work really hard at getting a job so you can earn more money. That doesn’t motivate me. But… go get a job because it’ll make Larissa happy. Yeah that motivates me. So I started thinking, why aren’t I motivated by money. I know it’s temporal. I know it’s useful. I know that the love of money doesn’t get you to heaven. But I think the real reason is these fights my Dad and I would have. He would use my pay as leverage in ending a fight. Sometimes he would just flat out say, I’m docking your pay 100 dollars.
That was a weeks worth of work in the hot Oklahoma summers. And it hurt that he would sink as low as taking something that was rightfully mine and keep it just to win an argument. Eventually to cope with it, I learned to stop caring.
I don’t want to paint my Dad in a negative light. He was a great dad and he did everything he could and within his means to raise us in a good Christian home. He made sacrifices and didn’t always do things the easy way. Later in life I’ve come to terms with him and now we get a long great. I learned an important lesson. Sometimes adults are not adults. That doesn’t mean you can’t love them and be the best person you can be to them. “Honor your Father and Mother… the first commandment with a promise.”
The Challenge for Straw Man was always how do I take the conventions of the Super-hero comic and apply them to non-superhero realities. When I was kid I fantasized about making my own batsuit, rigging a go cart, and driving around my small little town as a superhero. You start thinking how is this realistically even possible, what would I have to do to make this happen? Some kids dress up as Batman but I wanted to BE Batman. Big difference. When I was kid I believed in absolute, right and wrong and I wasn’t afraid to tell you. I used to go up to perfect strangers and tell them to stop smoking because it was bad for you. I used to tell on my classmates for breaking the rules. Not because I hated them, but because you need to follow the rules. It’s the only right thing to do.
I think at his core, Straw Man is really looking for validation. He wants to be treated with respect for what he does, even if it isn’t the best or the most attractive thing. I think we share that in common.
As adults we learn to value the opinion of others over are own judgements. By the time I was 25 I was upselling cigarettes at a gas station, and I was pretty good at it too.
My original core idea for Straw Man was that he believed he was a superhero with all his heart. He was willing to risk everything for that belief, even in the face of being ridiculed or attacked or to loose friends. He wasn’t able to prove his abilities and they’d only “work” in random situations. I thought that putting that idea up next to the reality of ‘how is this even possible” seemed like a really interesting premise. I don’t know if it was that clear at the time but over a while I’ve really seen that theme crop up. It was hard coming up with “super-villians” because of the real-world problem. First you have to have motivation, second you have to have a character who’s willing to wear spandex, and he has to be matched skill wise with Straw Man. I couldn’t have a guy running around with guns shooting at Straw Man. He’d obviously die– or he’d be putting his invincibility to the test.
When you believe you’re a superhero then you start creating your own mythos. You can see where Straw Man is trying to figure it out. At first I found it to be a bit of headache. How does his internal logic work, what are the powers he thinks he has? After a while I realized it didn’t matter. If he’s insane he doesn’t have to be consistent. He can borrow from any mythology he wants and adapt it to his needs. So for instance he might have a “straw” sense because he was bitten by a radioactive straw or in the next issue he could be an infant child sent to earth from an exploding planet. It didn’t matter. The gag was important.
Straw Man was supposed to be a detective. He was actually supposed to go out and investigate crimes and stuff. But he really hasn’t of yet. In fact he kinda makes a lousy detective. That was probably my biggest reason for “firing” him in the story. I had to make it that life would happen to him and not him to it.
Speaking of the Roach, I think I owe a debt of gratitude for The Sin Warrior. I was reading about your trip to Niagara Falls with Neal Adams and I was thinking about that elongated exaggerated style that Neal is able to pull off. There’s a page in issue 7 where’s it’s just the Sin Warriors face and I remember thinking at the time. I’m Doing NEAL ADAMS. But I don’t think it turned out as good as what you or Neal could do. But his character was definitely inspired by the Roach. I was thinking about how pliable he was and how he could switch allegiances at the drop of a hat. I think that’s what makes the issue a lot of fun for me.
Here’s a quick diversion. After reading the Neal Adams expanding earth theory I was intrigued but I didn’t think much of it. We used to get this late night gimmicky show on our radio station that talked about the paranormal and strange. And low and behold one night it was Neal Adams. I didn’t listen to all of it but it did tickle my funny bone. I can see WHY it would be on that show but I certainly didn’t think Neal BELONGED on the show. I hope you see what I mean.
Let’s call it the “Cerebus” way of doing comics. Where it’s more realistic and grounded in a kind of reality that you won’t find in “Superhero” comics. Even though Straw Man is supposed to be a super-hero book it keeps taking this Cerebus path. I’m not actively saying to myself how can I make this more like Cerebus. I’ve avoided things like the “squiggly” boarders that you had on the book for a while, just because of that reason. The interior cover page, as much as I don’t want people to get the Cerebus influence, still looks exactly like notes from the president. I do it because it works and I like having it. Most books just waste that space and I love having additional content in my books. I think having the book set in reality makes the book move in a certain direction that’s unavoidable.
When I was really into writing music in my early 20’s I tried everything I could to write good non-traditional music. I remembered being 16 and thinking if I can write music from a naive point of view without knowing anything about music theory I should be able to come up with something new and out of this world. But the longer I played music the more I found that I was drawn to writing more intimate pop songs. I wanted to be otherworldly and weird and I transitioned into folk pop. You can’t be who you want to be no matter what. But you can always be what you want to be when you set your mind to it. That sounds like a contradiction, but what I mean by that is that you can do something similar to what you what you want to be but to be successful at it you’ll have to become something else- that directly comes from you.
NOW I’LL ASK YOU ONE:
Knowing your stance on creators rights I’m curious about what you think about the recent ruling of Marvel’s ownership of Jack Kirby properties. This is a quote from Steve Bissette’s website: “Having first worked as a freelancer at Marvel in 1977, on the heels of the 1976 Copyright Act, I saw (and signed, limiting my work at Marvel by choice thereafter) the first contracts ever put in front of
freelancers: a blanket “work for hire” contract covering ALL one’s work for Marvel.
We were told, by Marvel editors and ass’t editors (and, publicly, by Neal Adams), at the time, there hadn’t been any contracts previously, and as I learned was typical at the time (by comparing notes with fellow freelancers), I was forced to signed under duress.
In my case (the story “Into the Shop,” in Marvel Preview # ), I had been assigned a job, sans contract, that I completed in four weeks, on time, and was then presented with the contract and told I would not be paid, the story would not be published, unless I signed. The signature had to be delivered at that moment, in person, in that office (editor Rick Marschall’s office), or I simply would not be paid. Since the collective rent for our house where Rick Veitch, Tom Yeates, John Totleben, and I lived in was entirely dependent upon my coming home with that paycheck, I signed.
It was a blanket “work-for-hire” covering all Marvel works, past, present, and future, one would ever do.
We know, for a fact, one of the Kirby contracts (the one he was forced to sign to implement the return of his original art) was signed under duress—why that wasn’t emphasized or asked in the depositions, we’ll never know.”
Generally, yes I think the Kirby estate should be paid a lot more in royalties. From a legal standpoint I don’t think that’s the case. From a moral standpoint it certainly is. But this argument that Steve
is making… this one point… seems to pull at the core of this case. Did Marvel coerce Jack to work under conditions he did not deem fair? Of course they did.
I told someone my opinion like this: If you’re working in mine shaft, you don’t own the gold you discover. Simple as that. What you do instead is go get your own mine, work hard, and make yourself money. I don’t think Jack ever believed in his own abilities enough to take his ideas and develop them on his own with a different publisher. I know he tried on several occasions, but where those his best ideas or were those the left over ones.
There’s no denying Jack’s influence on Marvel comics. But boy could Stan sell those ideas. So what makes it more valuable?
Please let me know what you think. Probably not the best question to ask at this time but knowing how little time we have left I wanted to ask.