Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ben Grimm

The older I get, the more I revert to my childhood. Old comics, hikes, backpacking trips, monster movies, and plastic model kits.
This is one I've been hunting for a while. It's not old...but I dithered about getting one when they were in production and in every hobby shop. Now they're out of production and I've been having fits getting my hands on one. Finally, I was able to buy one for $7.00 on Ebay.

It's for ages 5 and up. That includes me. It's a snap-together kit, so I'm going to put it together this weekend.

Ben Grimm is one of the more fascinating characters that Jack Kirby created. He was, in many ways, a romantic version of Jack himself. I recall seeing an illustration that Kirby did of Ben Grimm dressed in a tallit prayer shawl. It did not surprise me, as I'd always thought of Ben Grimm as being a Jew. Why? I can't say, exactly. Maybe it's just because I knew the character was near and dear to Kirby's heart and that Kirby was a Jew. It just seemed to fit.

Another thing about him is that I never referred to him as "the Thing", which was his superhero moniker. To me, he was more human than that, and so even when I was a kid I called him Ben Grimm. He was somehow more real to me
than just your regular comic book character.

Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko created the Marvel Universe. Anyone else who says it was other than that is a liar or a fool.


MarkGelbart said...

Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko may have created the Marvel Universe, but Stan Lee was their boss.

I always suspected the character J. Jonah Jameson was based on Stan Lee. I don't know whether it was Stan Lee or Steve Ditko who put Stan Lee himself in the comic books. Maybe Ditko was taking digs at his boss.

When I was a kid I didn't realize this but the recurring theme of Spiderman where J. Jonah Jameson was writing editorials against him and calling him a menace was just a metaphor for the anti-comic book hysteria of the conformist 1950's.

HemlockMan said...

J. Jonah Jameson was definitely Stan Lee. Especially in the later issues as written and illustrated by Ditko. What's telling is that Jameson is a jackass when written by Ditko. Also telling (as I recounted in an earlier edition of my blog) is that Jameson is notable for NOT being in the last issue of Spider-Man that was written and illustrated by Ditko. Looking back on it, that issue is very sad.

There is much undercurrent, innuendo, and symbolism in Ditko's Spider-Man comics. Keep in mind that Ditko was and is an iconographer supreme. He's a crazy, right wing neo-Fascist, but that doesn't preclude him from being otherwise brilliant.

MarkGelbart said...

Wasn't JJ Jameson always portrayed as a jackass?

HemlockMan said...

Not necessarily a jackass, but a ripoff and a schemer. The main trope was that he made tons of money for his paper through the efforts of the brilliant but poorly paid photographer Peter Parker. And of course Lee made his publisher (Marvel) very rich indeed from the poorly paid efforts of Steve Ditko.

Stan Lee never knew that Jameson was his analog, because Ditko (the creator of Jameson) never told him so.

One thing that Lee did do was name the supporting cast and the alter egos. Lee had a thang for alliteration. Thus you had names like Peter Parker, Susan Storm, Reed Richards, Bruce Banner, etc. He thought it made the names easier for the fans to recall. He was a bombastic son of a bitch, for sure.

While Lee never created anything, he was a decent editor and added hip dialog to the comics. And he was the best pitch man the comics industry has ever seen.

But he never created jack crack shit in the barrel. Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby created everything, and, as Ben Grimm might say:

"We wuz robbed!"