Monday, May 29, 2006

Today in superhero news...

1. Learned of Alex Toth's recent death from both Johnny Bacardi and Warren Ellis. Toth's site contains all sorts of goodies, the most intriguing of which I've found so far are the galleries devoted to working notes for Space Ghost back before his talk show days (you even get to see what his head looks like under his mask!) and detailed reflections on some of his classic works, including this annotated guide to his most famous Batman story, "Death Flies the Haunted Sky."

Between Space Ghost and the Super-Friends, Toth's TV work in the late 60s and early 70s picked up where the Adam West series left off, as far as bringing out the pervert in me, so I owe him an awful lot. He was a master of idealized masculinity--barrel chests, massive arms, blank facial expressions--and his imagery provided me with much pleasure, let's say, during my troubled adolescence. I've always wondered what he thought about the Adult Swim revamps of his creations; perhaps the answer is contained among the vast samples of his writing and interviews archived on the site.

2. From Boing Boing, a link to this contest sponsored by calling for images photoshopping superheroes into classic works of art. like so:

Way too many amusing and/or striking (and sometimes sexy) candidates to name: you get Superman (and, elsewhere, Batman) Descending a Staircase, the Flash posing for Caravaggio (now, he's the one who belongs in a Duchamp parody!), Green Lantern going rococo, and so much more.

3. From Wired (by way of Boing Boing again), an article co-written by Neil Gaiman on the myth of Superman. Here's a taste:

"Other heroes are really only pretending: Peter Parker plays Spider-Man; Bruce Wayne plays Batman. For Superman, it’s mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent that’s the disguise – the thing he aspires to, the thing he can never be. He really is that hero, and he’ll never be one of us. But we love him for trying. We love him for wanting to protect us from everything, including his own transcendence. He plays the bumbling, lovelorn Kent so that we regular folks can feel, just for a moment, super."

(As it turns out, that's a pretty decent explanation for why I don't find Supes as interesting as those other two. He's too perfect, and his impersonation of a mere mortal is annoying.)

What I do find interesting is a certain tome Gaiman mentions: Alvin Schwartz's An Unlikely Prophet: A Metaphysical Memoir by the Legendary Writer of Superman and Batman, which Gaiman calls "one of the great Odd Books of our time." From the back cover:

"Superman, as it turns out, is also a tulpa, a being created by thought that takes on a life of its own and, in Mr. Schwartz’s words, is an archetype expressing the sense of nonlocality that is always present in the back of our minds--the capacity to be everywhere instantly. Superman is one of the specific forms that embodies our reality when we’re at our highest point, when we’re truly impermeable, indestructible, totally concentrated, and living entirely in the now, a condition each of us actually attains from time to time."

I'm sold.

No comments: