Be gentle with it.
For my up-to-date musings, you should visit Section 244!
Be gentle with it.
For my up-to-date musings, you should visit Section 244!
Five years ago…
It’s my first day at a new job, working within a professional office cubicle instead of a greasy kitchen dishpit. I’m finally taking steps to move into the job path I always intended for myself and…I keep hearing music. It’s soft, faintly heard in the background, but recognizeable as top 40 hit material. Well, there are a lot of other desks in my area, it’s not my place to comment on others enjoying their radio.
It’s my second day at the job and it suddenly hits me - I’m the one playing the radio. The device in question lies to the left side of my desk. No one claims it as their property - the original owner may have left the company years ago, if the condition of the object bears witness. It seems that the on/off switch was broken off somehow so the other employees manipulated it by lowering the volume. Well then, I can enjoy this radio as though it were my own!
It’s been about two months. I’ve learned a lot about data entry, the importance of breaks and my threshold limit for Nickelback. I’m relocated to a new desk in the back corner. Not a proper cubicle, just the only clear space to fit a desk. I’m alone virtually all day. But the radio makes the move with me.
A few more days of Closure’s “Look Out Below” and I realize that I need to stop listening to top 40 music. I scan the dial. Classical music? That’ll do. I leave the dial at CBC Radio 2.
I’ve left the old job behind and it’s been nearly three years at my latest job, the actual career I had always sought. I still have the old radio - no one objected to my removing it from the office - it plays in my kitchen at home. Always CBC Radio 2. At work, internet radio grants me the same station.
But today might well be my last day as a CBC Radio 2 listener. The programming has changed a little since I began, with an insipid jazz program eliminating my interest in the evening shows. Starting next week, virtually all daytime classical music will be removed and replaced with contemporary sounds, primarily Canadian. Oh boy, maybe Nickelback! I’m enjoying the final day of classical music broadcasting; by this time next week, I probably won’t be listening to the radio at all.
Get down to your local comics shop today to pick up a copy of the All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol.4, the latest entry in the current hardcover collection. I talked about it here.
And while you’re in the shop, be sure to get your free copy of Marvel: Your Universe, which features some neato handbook entries by yours truly. I talked about it here.
Over the past two years the Immortal Iron Fist has been one of the most consistently entertaining comic books published. This week sees the release of a one-shot, the Origin of Danny Rand:
It also features an Iron Fist biography written by me.
I saw John Seavey running with this meme and thought I’d throw in a few myself.
…Australian soap opera star Kate Ritchie was born.
Kate is best known as a founding cast member of the series Home and Away, in which she appeared from 1988 until this very year.
Oh yeah…also on this day 30 years ago: my birth.
MARVEL: YOUR UNIVERSE (JUN088064)
Written by MADISON CARTER
Cover by TOM RANEY & SCOTT HANNA & JOHN RAUCH
My name isn’t there, but I’m a contributor to this book. Notice the free part? Now you can own one of my comics without paying money…or waiting for me to bestow a comp on you. Marvel has more details in their press release.
In August of 2006 I journeyed to New York for the first time in my life, invited there by Peter Sanderson to attend the memorial being held for Mark Gruenwald. Two of my fellow writers from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe - Mike and Anthony - accompanied me.
Many people took turns at the microphone, including Mike. Near the end, Gruenwald’s widow Catherine read from a notebook Gruenwald had written more than ten years before his death which concerned his thoughts on the afterlife.
I thought I was already familiar with Gruenwald’s take on matters of spirituality. Two of Gruenwald’s favorite characters - Wendell Vaughn, the heroic Quasar and Dave Landers of DP7 - were both atheist. In spite of our differences in belief, I had at least admired Gruenwald for being open-minded, such as his treatment of exorcism in DP7#5 (which was where Dave’s atheism was revealed - but at the same time as fellow cast member Randy’s Catholicism). There was also an amusing bit in Quasar#22 where Wendell was visited by the ghost of his father, also an atheist; still a staunch non-believer, his father’s ghost refused to accept his own existence and offered his son a rationalization for his manifestation.
Because of this background I was a little surprised by what Gruenwald had written in his notebook: in there, he expressed his belief in a creator. Not necessarily God, not even something he recognized as a deity, but a creator. This, for me, was exciting; the suggestion that Gruenwald was perhaps more agnostic than atheist comforted me and explained to me his open-mindedness.
Mike drove me to my hotel that evening. As we reminisced over the night’s events, Gruenwald’s spirituality came up. Mike, a Christian, was taken aback by what he had learned, being unaware of the atheist themes in Gruenwald’s work. As we pondered the life of a man whom we had both admired, one of us found new fondness for him; the other, less.
Mark Gruenwald had already been a writer/editor for many years by the time I read my first Gruenwald story: 1989’s Captain America#355, the first chapter of the now-reviled “Teencap” story in which Captain America was temporarily transformed into a teenager so that he could infiltrate a youth indoctrination camp. Although this story is often wielded as an indictment against Gruenwald’s abilities it made an impression on my eleven year old psyche, one that kept me close by through to the end of Gruenwald’s tenure on Captain America in 1995.
Over time, I explored more of Gruenwald’s work; DP7 made a profound impact on me; Squadron Supreme was hard-hitting for its time; Quasar had a sense of wonder and intelligence; the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe was a gift, the greatest comic book reference tool I had ever encountered.
But it was in the pages of Marvel Age magazine that I really grew to know the Gru. His regular column “Mark’s Remarks” (born first in the letter pages of titles he edited) exposed the business of comic books to me in a straight-up no-nonsense way. Not only did he expound upon what he expected from a good comic book, he explained the language and techniques of comics in a way an outsider like me could appreciate. He also let in the occasional glimpse of his true self, his sense of humour and devotion to his loved ones. Gruenwald was the one man in the comics industry who I completely respected.
I wasn’t reading comics when he died; the news reached me months afterward in an off-hand manner. I’ve celebrated his legacy on many August 12ths since then, even joining his friends in New York for the 10 year memorial. Still, it bothers me that I never finished a letter I began writing to him when I was fifteen. I think it remains stashed away in a notebook somewhere.
In the 100th issue of Marvel Age, Gruenwald wrote a list of 100 thoughts. I committed many of them to memory within a week and still bring them forth from time to time. They aren’t only about art - they’re about life. Gruenwald’s life is over, but his art will endure for ages to come.
…Mark Gruenwald passed away, well before his time.
For many years now I’ve hosted an online collection of his Mark’s Remarks columns at my geocities site, which you can find here. Interest in Gruenwald seems particularly strong on the internet this year as Tom Brevoort, Blog @ Newsarama and Comics Should be Good have all been linking to my site. Kudos, guys!
I’ll have more to blog about Gruenwald as the day develops. I might even find the time to transcribe some more Mark’s Remarks for the site.