Friday, May 27, 2011

Hall of Famers

I thought these might be of interest.  Each of the last two years, I was asked to write intros for all-time greats who were being inducted into the Overstreet Hall of Fame.  It was an honor.

Archie Goodwin

Ask the average fan to name the greatest creators in the history of comics and the name Archie Goodwin will not leap to the minds of many, because so much of Archie’s brilliant work was behind the scenes or flew under the mainstream radar. But ask the creators with whom he worked! Ask other all-time great writers, artists, editors and creators! Gather the elders, the best of the best and ask them! His name will be among the first mentioned. Archie Goodwin was an amazing writer with outstanding story sense, penetrating insight, a gift for dialogue, an effortless knack for character, a flair for drama and utter mastery of the art of delivering the payoff. His sheer creativity ranks with the best ever. He was an all-time great editor and teacher. He made everyone he worked with better. On top of that, Archie Goodwin was a fine, wonderful, noble and honorable soul, loved and respected by everyone because he deserved it. This industry may never see his like again. How sad. He is desperately missed.

Chris Claremont

 
Chris Claremont has written many wonderful things. He's passionate about everything he writes. Especially notable, of course, is his work on the X-Men. Chris gets a good deal of credit for the success of the X-Men, but not nearly as much as he deserves. Not only did he do an outstanding job as writer, he built the team that built the team. He recruited artists when needed. He made sure the lettering and coloring were consistent and top drawer. He spent time, effort and money out of his own pocket to insure the quality of the book. He sweated the details. He fought like a Wolverine to defend the integrity of his vision, his work, his words. If there's a Hall of Fame for Caring, Trying and Outworking Everyone, he should be there, too. Babe Ruth didn't create the Yankees and Chris Claremont didn't create the X-Men, but each of them built the house.


Neal Adams




Neal Adams is one of the greatest artists our medium has ever known. He is also the single most influential artist in the history of comic book publishing. An amazing number of artists, including many whose styles are nothing like Neal's, many you'd never guess, started out trying to emulate Neal. He has personally trained a small army of artists. Not only a master of the visual, Neal writes as well, and also does, it seems, whatever else he wishes to with ease and grace. His brilliance extends beyond the printed page. He works with light, motion and sound. He creates three-dimensionally. Any medium is his medium. And, everything he does, he does with rare excellence. He brings insight to any endeavor. Most importantly, he truly creates. New ideas. Original thoughts. Genesis! Beyond that, he has always been a force in the industry -- a righter of wrongs, a bringer of change, a leader. Neal is a genius and a giant who has lifted up us all. 


And here's a tribute to Murphy Anderson I was asked to write a long time ago.  I know that few people have seen this.  

Murphy Anderson

Murphy Anderson is one of those artists like Russ Heath, Alex Toth and Al Willliamson that fans don’t talk about as much as they should, but about whom professionals speak with reverence. 

Hall of fame.  All-time great.  Grandmaster.

I run into Murphy at conventions often.  He’s invariably the best-dressed person there.  It’s a sign of respect for the audience.  The gesture is lost on most of the attendees, I suspect, but I don’t think it matters to Murphy whether they get it or not.  He’s not doing it for attention.  It’s just the way he is.  

Always impeccable.  Uncannily wrinkle free.  Also, have you noticed that he doesn’t age?  A deal with the devil?  Nah.  The devil wouldn’t get near him for fear of being infected with civility.  Maybe it’s his super power—no wrinkles anywhere. 

The only person as nice as Murphy is his lovely wife Helen.   

He’s also a gentleman.  In the wonderful, old-fashioned sense.  How rare in this business.  How rare in this world.

Gracious.  Considerate.  Sincere.

Murphy Anderson.  What an outstanding artist.  What an outstanding man.  I am honored and privileged to know him.


Jim Shooter 

6 comments:

Lee in Limbo said...

Certainly a great start on an excellent list. Three out of four of these guys is an enormous influence on me, as well.

Got any others? So few people can raise awareness of these people's contributions with the authority you can.

In any case, thank you.

Pastrami said...

A "recommended reading" portion would go nicely with this post as well, methinks.

kintoun said...

That's a great comparison between Babe Ruth and Chris Claremont. I've been disillusioned more than once at how vehemently certain comic book artists cling to creator credits which are rather complex. Of course, it's fine to disagree with readers but a few really do prefer silencing a fan than having their resume challenged. That seems very irrational to me. As a result, I think acknowledging who built the house is getting overlooked more and more nowadays.

J.C. Vaughn said...

One of the great honors -- and one of the easiest calls I've ever made -- in my career was inducting Jim into The Overstreet Hall of Fame. Asking him to contribute introductions for the fellow HoF members he listed, well, that was just really, really cool.

blacjack said...

George Tuska 'Nuff Said!

Marc Miyake said...

Dear Jim,

I confess that for most of my life, I had no clue what comics editors did. I thought guys you like you and Archie Goodwin just corrected spelling or something. No. Reading interviews with you over the years have opened my eyes to an aspect of the craft that isn't visible to readers. To truly appreciate what editors do, readers would have to see the before and after of an editor's contributions. Watch the creative process. Something best left behind closed doors. It's the final product that counts for the audience and I appreciate your reminder that editors are creators too.

I didn't know the full extent of Chris Claremont's contributions to the X-Men until reading an interview of yours years ago. It's a shame that he didn't get to write more for DEFIANT - or reunite with Dave Cockrum. I was amazed to see Len Wein and Dave Cockrum together again for the PLASM graphic novel. You had three major X-Men creators on board. Wow ...

I'm surprised you didn't mention the honor of having Neal Adams draw your cover designs.

Why do you think so many wanted to emulate Neal Adams as opposed to other artists? Growing up, I couldn't even imagine remotely approaching his level of skill, so I aimed a lot lower.

Murphy Anderson defined Silver Age DC SF for me. I should pick up the Atomic Knights reprint book sometime.

Most of us fans just see the printed work, but you know its creators. Thank you for sharing that knowledge with us.

PS: How did you first discover Alex Toth?