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Steve Ditko – The Fountainhead Behind the Fountain-Pen

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oc1Even 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 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!

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DocOctASM12That 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.

The new Dr. Strange movie may not make Steve Ditko a household name, but maybe seeing him in the credits will spawn some sort of cultural reinvestment in the fountainhead behind the fountain-pen.

Ditko Panel

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Writing Your First Book / Should I Self Publish?

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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!

Alfred Obiesie is a writer with over 12 years of online content contribution (Onetrackmine.com, Cartermag.com, Essence.com) and author (You Made It a Hot Line; The most influential lines in hip hop.) The book chronicles hip hop lines from the genre’s most notable artists spanning almost 40 years. It is illustrated by Grammy award winning Illustrator Shah Wonders and has garnered praise from multiple media outlets (Sirius XM, Vibe, Brooklyn Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, etc...)

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What the NFT is a BEEPLE?

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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.

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Comic Fans: Geek out with Cartoonist KAYFABE

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Cartoonist Kayfabe is a YouTube channel hosted by comic-book makers Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg.

Comics have come a long way since they were just for kids – and anyway, those kids have grown up and rightfully embrace it as  an artform. Cartoonish Kayfabe expertly walk you through the finer points of comic creation and appreciation, referencing some high quality images along the way.  If you’re a comic geek, you will dig it – especially if you’re into 90’s era and independent comics.

Recording as Electronic Device, Brooklyn artist and writer Eric Curran releases his debut record "Two Dull Boys" in 2021.

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