To my surprise, I recently received a rather thoughtful letter from Stephen R. Bissette praising my Video Watchdog article “Charles Darwin and the Suppressed Science of Dr. Mirakle.” He has asked for permission to reprint the entire article in a book called PALEO POP: S.R. BISSETTE'S TYRANT® MEDIA GUIDE, VOL. 1, which he intends on publishing sometime next year. The book will be a collection of essays about what Bissette calls “prehistoric media.”
In case you don’t know about Bissette’s career (and if not, you definitely should), he was the artist of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, the co-creator of the subtly subversive retro comic book 1963, the editor of the groundbreaking anthology Taboo, and the writer/artist of Tyrant, an ambitious graphic-novel-in-progress documenting the life of a Tyrannosaurus Rex from birth to death.
Synchronicities abound in my life, and this incident is no exception. Twenty-four hours before I received Bissette’s letter, my wife was glancing through Video Watchdog #166 (the issue that contains my article). She was commenting favorably on the overall quality of the layout and photo reproductions. I said, “Here, let me show you where I first saw Tim Lucas’ name.” (Lucas, of course, is the editor of Video Watchdog.) From my bookshelf I pulled out all ten volumes of Taboo, something I hadn’t done in many, many years. (Lucas’ multi-part story “Throat Sprockets” was serialized throughout Taboo's run.) “These books spun my brain around when I was sixteen years old,” I told my wife, handing her the first couple of volumes. I then started telling her about Bissette at great length—a subject that had never come up between us before. Only a few days prior to that, I stumbled across Tyrant #1-4 at a local bookstore and brought them home. Then, only a day later, Bissette’s letter dropped out of the sky and landed in my inbox. Weirdness!
By the way, at the moment Bissette is running a series of very perceptive articles analyzing Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s respective relationships with Marvel Entertainment (or “Godcorp,” as Steve Gerber once called the corporation in his and Jack Kirby’s satirical Destroyer Duck series). They are the best and most insightful articles I’ve ever read on the subject. The articles rise above being mere gossipy speculation about the ins and out of a fifty-year-old collaboration between two comic book creators and become instead, on a macroscopic scale, an analysis of the destructively symbiotic relationship between artists and the corporations that often control their destinies. I urge you to check out Bissette’s website: http://srbissette.com/