Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Too Old?

During his talk last weekend, Steve Englehart antioned several times how difficult it is for him to get work as a comic writer. I have heard Marv Wolfman and Len Wein say the same thing. To modern editors, these guys are over the hill - too old to work.

Englehart's response is that his Batman comic exceeded expectations by 250%.

It's not a pleasant thing for me to hear that these guys are too old. They were the new guys who started at Marvel around 1970. They are just a couple of years older than I am. My own profession of computer programming has been laying off workers over 50 so this attitude is widespread, but I'm writing about comics here.

Let's go back a few decades to when Marvel was born. By current reasoning, it must have been young turks who created the classic characters.

Stan Lee was born in December, 1922 so he was nearly 40 when he created the Fantastic Four. His co-creator, Jack Kirby, was born in 1917 so he would have been close to 45. Spider-Man co-creator, Steve Ditko, was a youthful 35.

Jump forward a decade and you find these men at the top of their game. Lee was writing the Silver Surfer, his favorite creation. Kirby had just gone over to DC and created his 4th world series. Ditko never managed to match Spider-Man's impact but he still was writing as well as drawing his own books.

How sad if these men had been forced out of the industry when they were at their creative peak.

In the 1980s Ditko complained that "everyone wants Ditko but no one wants Ditko." He meant that everyone wanted a "Ditko-like" artist but they considered Ditko himself over the hill.

Englehart, Woldman, and Wein all sold a lot of comics in the 1970s and 1980s. Wein especially created several popular characters such as Wolverene, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Swamp Thing. There is no reason to think that they lost that talent.

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