Thursday, September 20, 2007

Brendan McCarthy on Jonathan Ross on Steve Ditko.

When IN SEARCH OF STEVE DITKO was about to be broadcast on Sunday night, my first thought was, hey Mark, y'know who you should ask to review it? Self-confessed Ditko super-fan and British comics leg end Brendan McCarthy. So I did. And here it is:

Hallo Mark,

Well, I eventually saw the Ditko documentary, which I
enjoyed. It's quite bizarre that the UK's main chat
show host should be a closet Ditko fanatic!

Given that we shouldn't expect anything on Steve Ditko
at all, I think Mr Ross did a great job. Even the
uninvited visit to Mr Ditko's office in New York from
our resident British "cheeky-chappie" (with that other
black-clad goth writer who tagged along) was great, in
that Steve Ditko still had absolutely no interest in
being interviewed.

My only slight irritation was with Alan Moore (and the goth
dude once more) getting away with calling Ditko "mad".
This from a guy who (by his own
admission) is a practising "magician" (not sadly,
from the school of Tommy Cooper) and who apparently
really and truly summons up demonic serpent entities
at will! Or at least with the help of "The Hoary Hosts
of Hoggoth!"

Now, I've nothing against Alan messing about with
all that 'magickal malarkey', but just
because Ditko has a (valid) political philosophy that
was at odds with 60's liberalism (another valid
position), he is dismissed as another right wing kook.
I haven't seen any other major comic book creator lay
out through their work, their own political position
like Ditko has. Far from being "mad", I think Ditko's
only crime is to have been judged "un-Hip".
Stan Lee was also a high point of the show, and
although I disagree with his position on the credits,
that doesn't make him "mad" either!
But, nothing can diminish the pre-psychedelic
magnificence of the "wondrous worlds of Dr Strange"
and the beautiful ballet of Spider-Man in web-slinging

Well done, Mr Ross!

Brendan McCarthy


RAB said...

Brendan is so very right. I might be known to call Ditko mad on occasion myself, but Ditko made many sacrifices over the years to live up to his personal ideals, and walked away from money and acclaim and material comforts rather than compromise. One might justifiably fault him for being overly rigid...but at some point it becomes a matter of semantics: when we agree with the philosophy, we tend to use words like "integrity" and "commitment" and "unswerving idealism" instead. I'll remember Mr. McCarthy's wise words the next time I feel an urge to call Ditko any names.

Mark said...

Yeah. The documentary IS very entertaining, it is great to see Ditko getting so much attention in the mainstream media (and see Stan Lee being asked the questions the comics media often skip over). But it was built largely on a false premise that Ditko is a mad, reclusive figure who needed "searching out", like comic's own version of Syd Barrett: Ditko isn't really that reclusive, and was never mad. Brendan is far too nice to actually come out and say it, but Alan Moore using the word "mad" to describe Ditko just may be the wildest bit of pot-calling-the-kettle-black I've seen in a long while.

Chris Weston said...

Yeah... Ditko writes uncompromising, right-wing, vigilante heroes and gets labelled a fruitcake...
Frank Miller writes uncompromising, right-wing, vigilante heroes and gets lauded with critical acclaim, vast sales and million-dollar movie contracts!

I've already expressed doubts about Miller being an appropriate choice to handle The Spirit... however, Mr. A would be the ideal character for his particular world-view and talents!

Miller for Mr. A!

Mark said...