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May 14, 2009

Comments

Pat Curley

That does seem like the interview from hell. However, nobody should be terribly surprised that Raboy was not thrilled to be working on Flash Gordon. The goal was not to be working on some successful comic strip; it was to be the creator of some successful comic strip.

Raboy's art was amazing; sounds like his life was pretty pedestrian.

Ramon Villalobos

Woah, that's really interesting. Mac Raboy is easily my favorite artist from that time period and I had no idea this interview existed so uh... thanks? Haha. Some of those answers were insanely cryptic.

I can only imagine what the parts you didn't post here sounded like, "So uh... did your father like cheese?"

"No he hated it."

"What abou--"

"HATED. IT."

CM Nite

I'm a fan of both Alter-Ego and Roy Thomas but if I had one complaint about the magazine it would be that there are too many interviews, especially ones in as you say, the interviewer appears more knowledgeable than the interviewee. If that's the case, why not just write an informative article?

Wes C

Wow, a very meaty and informative post Mark!

I must shamefully confess to not having seen hardly any of Raboy's art, despite having heard such good things about him for years.

It's always interesting to me to that so many of comics greatest artist hold there work in such low regard.

It's not always the case, I know, but it seems like I've read many accounts that are similar to Raboy's attitude towards his work.

I recently re-read an old Comic's Journal interview with Joe Kubert. One of the passages that sticks out the most was when Gary Groth was utterly shocked to hear that Kubert had no particular affection for Sgt. Rock or any of the countless war stories he did. He referred to them as basically "just another job" The only thing that really got him excited was working on Tor, his own creation.

He wasn't dismissive or scornful of his other work. He was rightfully proud and did his best at whatever work he was doing, but he not attached to it in any deeply personal way.

In some ways I miss the journeyman attitude that seems to has gone away. These people produced amazing work that many artist today can't even come close to. I think the sense of detachment really served them well.

It's also interesting to observe how entitled fans feel towards creators. It's kind of refreshing to occasionally get the "no I'm sorry that's personal family history, that's not really any of your business" or "he may have drawn beautifully, but he was a jerk as a father" kind of comments.

I agree with CM Nite, some of those interviews would make better articles.

Ok, I'll stop rambling now.

Mark Engblom

"I'm a fan of both Alter-Ego and Roy Thomas but if I had one complaint about the magazine it would be that there are too many interviews, especially ones in as you say, the interviewer appears more knowledgeable than the interviewee."

Yeah, I agree that some subjects would be better served with an informative article, rather than an interview.

God bless the folks at TwoMorrows, but they tend to publish just about any scrap, any morsel, any MOLECULE of information they can turn up on any given subject, so even if an interview doesn't yield much information or insight, it nonetheless still adds to the overall "knowledge base"...much like an article in an academic journal would.

I believe the TwoMorrows folks are historians first and entertainers second, and it's this exhaustive "archeological" approach that is probably my biggest gripe with their publications. Most of the time, they're an enjoyable read....but sometimes they get bogged down in "navel gazing" minutia. Some things are obscure for a reason.

Think of them as being the polar opposite of the defunct "Wizard" magazine, which was high on flash and entertainment value, but embarrassingly shallow when it came to historical information. Now...if we could only get a publication that was somewhere in the middle....

CM Nite

"Now...if we could only get a publication that was somewhere in the middle...."

Comic Book Marketplace under the editorship of Gary Carter.

zubzwank

Is Wizard defunct? No great loss if it is.
Is TwoMorrows publicly traded? I wish it was, so I could buy stock in it and make myself rich.
I read so many of their publications and enjoy them. A few comments:
* the company is virtually preserving the detailed history of American (and some other nations') comic books;
* the quality of their "companion" books varies widely;
* The originators will all soon be gone, so I am glad they are getting interviewed while they (or people who knew them)are still with us;
* Roy's (and some others') enthusiasm for somewhat obscure golden-age creators and their stories is a bit of a chuckle sometimes.
* I wish they'd focus a bit more on silver age than they do;
* Many earlier comic book creators were bitter and/or self-determined "failures" for various reasons including money/rights issues to working in a field then considered childish by many.
* Mac Raboy made beautiful art, but he suffered from a "still life" problem, similar to that of another, later great, Wally Wood.
* the interviewer might have done a little preview chat with the subject to get a feel for his views. He might have avoided some awkwardness. It sounds like Mac Raboy's feelings about his career may not have resonated so well with his family life.

Chris Tolworthy

I'm a fan of the "historian first, fanboy second" approach. We're all fanboys now, there is no shortage of blogs and websites talking about stuff. but hard information is gold dust. Especially hard information that changes our views. Wonderful stuff. I hope you publish more like this, Mark.

Merc

Really interesting post, Mark. I feel sad Raboy took so little pleasure in his fine work- be cause he gave me such pleasure as a kid, reading reprints. Some of his pictures of Cap Jr. , and the Shazam family were very beautiful and evocative to me as a kid.

They inspired Elvis! A known fan , he treasured Cap Jr growing up.
Some say his later stage costumes were inspired by that character.
I'm sure Raboy's work was part of that fascination on Elvis's part.

Thanks for a great post, here's to Raboy's fine work.

Ralph C.

There was a time in comic book history where it was, um, considered low-brow being a comic book artist. Comics, back in the beginning, were for children and less intelligent adults. There are those artists who looked at it as a job, a low-paying one at that, and did it until they could get into the more lucrative area of commercial art/illustration. I am not surprised, because I have quite a few issues of "Alter Ego" and have read many of the interviews with the older artists and writers, that Raboy had this kind of attitude, though his is probably an extreme case, or he was just being more honest than others that were interviewed. What I liked about the interviews were the descriptions of the atmosphere of the "bullpens" at the time, the way they were paid, things of that nature. Some were more forthcoming and/or had a better memory than others. I am glad "Alter Ego" exists to document any memories they can. The history of comic books is interesting-- in both it's highlights and lowlights.

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