Even if you’re not a comic book fan, you’ve likely heard of Stan Lee. He’s been the mouthpiece of Marvel Comics since you were in little pants. No pants, even. He had a hand in creating the most well known characters in comic book history like The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and X-Men, among others.
Stan has been criticized for sopping up the credit (and the cash) but the older he gets the more readily he admits to relying on artists and writers to flesh out the look and feel of his characters. Artists like Jack Kirby, who in a perfect world would be as well known as the Beatles. At the risk of being too allegorical; that would make Steve Ditko the Rolling Stones of comic book artists.
Every self respecting comic book fan knows about Steve, but your run of the mill types have no idea who he was or what he brought to the drafting board. He designed Spider-Man, tantamount to designing Mickey Mouse. There’s few characters as easily recognizable. Yet he didn’t receive a dime for any of the Spider-Man films. Thanks, Obama.
I didn’t exist in the sixties so I missed out on Ditko’s early Spider-Man work until I read Origins of Marvel Comics when I was maybe 12. By then the franchise was twenty years old and I was more accustomed to Johns Romita, Byrne, and Romita. Jr.. Ditko’s style seemed too old-timey for me. It would be some years before I fell hard for that old-school style and devoured all the reprints. I mean… Dr. Octopus? Elektro, Green Goblin, Sandman, The Lizard?! Mysterio? Come on!
That same Origins publication included the Ditko creation Dr. Strange. I hear that was something of a shock to the system at the time. Very surreal and metaphysical, and more internalized than the spacey worlds created by masters like Kirby.
Late sixties drug culture took an instant liking to it. They sat around getting stoned and reading Dr. Strange like folks would do years later listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. The drug culture was certain they found a kindred spirit in Ditko, even though the man never used drugs and was more a student of Ayn Rand. His character Mr. A was a direct influence on Alan Moore’s Watchmen hero Rorschach.
Ditko packed up his pens and left Marvel. Some say he had enough of Stan Lee’s liberal politics seeping into the editing. Like most things, it’s probably more complicated and we’ll likely never know. Ditko ain’t telling. He’s not a fan of limelight in general and interviews in specific. Now, goddammit, get off his lawn.
Rest Easy Eric Curran a.k.a M.C Krispy E
Almost every year for the past 6 years and on the same day, I’ve posted the same pic of me in the hospital during my temporary and untimely demise in 2015. A few weeks after I was back to “normal”, I asked Eric “Why’d you take the pics?” And he said, “I knew you would want to write about it if you lived.” Eric was right. Eric was often right and Eric always had my best interest at heart. I am going to miss my friend.
You ever meet someone and become friends immediately?! Well this was not the case with Eric. Before he was my manager at Morgan Stanley, I would often see this 6’4″, giant white guy walk up to the only black woman at work, say something then walk away without any hint of human emotion. Naturally I thought he was a jerk until I asked her “Yo, is that dude bothering you?” She laughed and proceeded to tell me he was a great person, which I ultimately got to experience first hand. Little did I know this Italian from Staten Island was more Brooklyn than most Brooklynites.
Eric was not with the shits!! If there were ever someone who lived their life in direct, honest and no uncertain terms, that would be Eric. He would ask me questions at work like “Why are the other consultants making more money than you?” I knew the answer to that question and so did he. Eric then proceeded to increase my salary by 15K. After arguing with all our managers that “You need to hire Alfred!”, they eventually did 1 year prior to the 2015 incident. In the hospital, one of my friends asked me, “What if you didn’t have health insurance when this happened?” I would be in debt for the rest of my life is the obvious answer. I still am in debt for the rest of my life but at least, it is to those who made sure I had a more enjoyable life and for that, I will gladly repay.
My mom loved to tell me the story of how she met Eric. After they told her I was going to be in the ICU for some time, she told the doctor “Well I’m not going anywhere.” She then hears a voice from that back of the room that says “Well I’m not going anywhere either!” That was Eric and in true form, he was at that hospital every single day until I was discharged.
Eric passed away in December 2021 of stage 4 cancer. After feeling faint on his way to my bbq, he went to get checked out and was diagnosed. During the past 5 years, Eric lost his mom, twin brother and dad. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must have felt like but I’m glad that pain he was feeling is no more.
From being my manager to my business partner, writer, book editor, artistic director, and most importantly, my friend, I am going to miss you MC Krispy E a.k.a “Enrique Pollazo!” And although you told me Enrique means Henry in Spanish and not Eric, it was too late!
Sidebar. The day I was discharged, while everyone was deciding what was best for me, no one had remembered that I would need clothes in order to leave the hospital. Eric shows up (unasked) with all the clothes I had on the day I coded, laundered and ready to go. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve friends like this but i need to keep doing it! Sidebar complete.
Rest in Peace Eric. “Be Good.”
Writing Your First Book / Should I Self Publish?
I had the distinct pleasure of participating in a panel discussion on writing your first book, presented by the Harlem chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Alongside Jim St. Germain, Author – A Stone of Hope: A Memoir and Dr. Keneshia Nicole Grant, Author – The Great Migration and the Democratic Party: Black Voters and the Realignment of American Politics in the 20th Century. We opined on pain points, benefits and strategies regarding our inaugural voyages into authorship. Feel free to watch for your self and I hope this provides some insight to all those looking to make the same voyage. Enjoy!
What the NFT is a BEEPLE?
On March 11 this year, the digital artist Beeple sold a collage of digital images from his “Everydays” series for nearly 70 million dollars as an NFT, or non-fungible token. And if that sentence confuses you, you’re not alone.
A non-fungible token is a unit of data on a digital ledger called a blockchain, where each NFT can represent a unique digital item, and thus they are not interchangeable. NFTs can represent digital files such as art, audio, video, and other forms of creative work. While the digital files themselves are infinitely reproducible, the NFTs representing them are tracked on their underlying blockchains and provide buyers with proof of ownership.” – Wikipedia
Still confused? Let the artist himself explain it, and learn how he went from NFT newbie to making the third most expensive artwork by a living artist in three months. Not to suggest Beeple is an overnight success. The “Everydays” series alone involved creating a piece of art every day since May 1, 2007 – and he hasn’t missed a day.
Check out some of Beeple’s amazing and controversial work below.