Date: 2011-07-31 04:43 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
I remember a letter column where a kid thanked him for having the word "heinous" in a story because it made him curious to look it up, and then by chance it was on a test & he got it right. Mantlo seemed very happy to hear that.

A strange little factlet: for indie comics creators of a certain age(around mine, which is 42), this and MICRONAUTS quite often turn out to have been their favorite comics. Perhaps it's because someone who, say, didn't read superhero comics might have had the toys and came to it through that. I was one of these. If I'm honest, at the time Mantlo's comics were the ones I most loved.

In a weird way, poor Bill Mantlo was the bridge between mainstream and indie comics.

It was a weird couple of books in that they were licensed properties, toys--among the first of what became a normal and regular form of cross-marketing but relatively new at the time--that nevertheless were approached as highly idiosyncratic and almost personal products. More, they didn't seem designed for kids, or at least LITTLE kids. They were very dark, and detailed, and their stories were more complex than something like this usually was. It was some of the freakiest shit in mainstream till Alan Moore, in some ways setting up the audience he'd later have. Remember, when Marvel did the first direct-only mainstream comics, this was one of the three books they initially went with. (Another was Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz' MOON KNIGHT, I think, at the point his ink splatter style started coming to the fore)

And Bill was basically telling kids fables about GENOCIDE. (especially in MICRONAUTS) They even managed to make something horrifying and almost mature out of an X-Men crossover, for god's sake--remember the Hybrid story? STILL spooky as hell. And this is before we get to the other wraiths, the ones with the tongues that bore through your skull and suck out your brains for the info to change into you. Very THING. I hope you post some of those. Whatever happened to Akin & Garvey? Now that was a master class in the use of stark shadow, and added a whole new dimension to Sal.

But I also actually like Sal Buscema around this time--in some ways, though of course I understand that John might have been the better draftsman, but there's something rawer and more energetic in Sal, here and in his Hulk stories near this. It's like John was the better illustrator, Sal the better cartoonist. It's fast, loose, intense, and tense.

A while back, I wrote this about Mantlo, MICRONAUTS and ROM. You may like or not.

Pop Parables for Kids: Bill Mantlo
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