A comic book narrative
Blood which Flows from the Heart
Touching on Neal Adams' new graphic novel, Blood,
The sudden death of Christopher Reeve, and
What's between Mel Gibson and Mark Millar
It's perhaps not by chance that role-playing games swept the digital gaming industry almost since its inception - catering more to grown adults than to the children who dominated other areas of that medium. Adults like to role-play and can be very good at it. We all do it to some extent, it seems, even if through an act as simple as wearing a jacket and a tie for the work day and quickly removing them when no longer needed. All of the Superheroes we've known are role players also, aren't they? Changing from one identity to the other as circumstance dictates.
27 years ago I set out to play a role - but it wasn't a game for me. Though it appeared then that I was on the onset of a successful career as a comic book artist, working under the guidance of the man I'd come to revere most and rising quickly into prominence within the comic book industry, partnering with Neal Adams on a new character for DC Comics, Ms. Mystic - things weren't really the way they appeared to those around me. Not for me, they weren't. The woman I loved and the child she gave me were very far away from me, suffering at my inability to provide a home and a family environment under the financial inadequacies of a beginning artist in New York. Within the comics industry of the mid 1970's, I was spending more time learning the craft than would allow for the income to support myself, let alone a wife and a child.
Throughout all the social chatter of the Comic Book Creators at Continuity and the comics community, on every excursion into the streets of New York and in every news item and media article I'd heard and seen then, I began awakening to the realization of the difficult state our world was heading into - contrasted by the remembrance of the visions of grandeur I had for it as a child. Only the positive and limitless hope that Neal and my good friends, the comic book creators, were inspiring within me, allowed me to weather the difficult situation of those first two years as a comic book artist. It was also that hope which the comics instilled in me that ultimately gave me the strength to step out from my work routine in search of a way to help make things a little better for us all in the comics, for the world, and yes... even for myself and for the family I'd left behind.
As I set out in search for that something, I looked at the fledgling beleaguered comic book industry and its growing base of aficionados, molding themselves into a vociferous comics fandom. I heard through them the voices of the people of the world crying for the real Superheroes they desperately needed to deliver them from the strife and the wars which were looming over the horizon. I heard the voices and turned to the God of Heaven and Earth for an answer, and the answer came. 'Love each other', it said, from within the depths of my soul, 'and all things will become possible'.
'It's an omen', I said. 'I shall become a prophet'.
The creature began to writhe within the hollow shell that I'd become. My life would never be the same again.
The path would be difficult, I knew. Difficult as it was, however, I also knew then that nothing could be better. Just like it was for the Dark Knight Returned who'd not yet come, nothing I could do with my life could be as right as this. I'd weather it through the fires of hell itself, I said - and the fires did not tarry in coming.
The systematic destruction of Matt Murdock's life in Frank Miller's Born Again was a very close re-enactment of the next several years that followed for me. Hell bent on playing this role, I weathered the loss of my career, the family and friends I'd held dear to me, the friendship of the finest man and mentor a student could have, I weathered it all. All the way to the gutters and streets of New York in pursuit of it. All the way to saying goodbye to everything my life had been and to the country which had given me the vision of paradise we'd all aspired for in the comics. All the way to the cradle of civilization where it all began, the land of my fathers in the Middle East. All the way to becoming trapped in Lebanon during one of the most vicious wars one could bear surviving, the 1982 Israeli excursion into the Land of the Cedars, in pursuit of the PLO, which had brought down the Lebanese government and commandeered an entire country in their struggle to regain the land they felt was taken from them, which Israel was given by the world community several decades before.
The past 7 years of the hell I'd travailed soon gave way to a border crossing into a new garden. Escaping from Beirut in a taxicab, I entered Israel at the Mediterranean Sea coast border town, Rosh-Hanikra, and into the land I'd yearned to walk since my first remembrances as a child. My father's war-torn homeland, Lebanon, had suddenly scrolled away and in its place came a green paradise of the social compassion of the Jewish people in Israel, ancestors to my grandmother, Hania, who'd told me of her mostly unspoken of lost Jewish roots, several years before. I was home now and I'd build my life anew, bury the creature deep within and begin to learn what it was that had brought me through the long journey. I soon married the woman who'd become a light and a beacon to me, and the children began to seek their birth, replacing the sorrow of the loss I'd suffered in a past life I'd never see again. Or so I'd thought then, at least.
The new life I'd carved out in Israel would not continue undisturbed, however. The comics were following and haunting me all the way into my West Bank home and into the new world I'd found there. Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns made its way to my bookshelf and began to pierce the outer layers of my new found life, trying awaken the creature within, who'd come here on a mission - beckoning for the Knight to Return to a world that was giving up on itself. Alan Moore's Watchmen, ripped into my guts, reminding me of the dark clouds gathering over humanity. Neal Adams' Continuity Publishing was thriving with a host on new comic books, including Ms. Mystic, the project I was to partner with him on. I'd resist it all, I said, I'd resist it all and show everyone that the creature had been subdued. I'd return to New York, and be a prophet no more. I'd return and be the mild mannered artist who accepted the fate of circumstance, powerless to do more than simply care for the family who'd become the only reason I could see for the travails of years past.
And so it was, I found myself back at Continuity. Back with Neal and back with many of the good friends I'd left behind a decade before. Yes, it was a different me than the Mike Nasser who'd left America. But it was also a different comic book industry, grown and flourished since the days of old. A different Continuity, thriving and bustling, even under the weight of the economic pressures that seemed to have multiplied greatly since. The rounding of the circle of my life slipped into high gear as the woman I'd left behind nearly two decades before and our daughter, Michelle, then almost 20, contacted me in New York and a new chapter of converging past and present worlds was beginning to unfold. There, I found myself unable to resolve this conflict which pulled at me from two opposing directions of two diametrically opposed lives, and ripped asunder every shred of stability I'd managed to attain in my new world. The frustration and anger were mounting and they soon began to find an outlet towards the man who saw all this and advised me to resolve it all, as he'd resolved it in his life and succeeded in bringing his whole family together, past and present, under the shelter of a Continuity which he'd made for them.
My fate wasn't to be as fortunate then. It just wasn't yet time. There was much more that needed to be done in order to have a world where such good fortune could smile upon me. I had little to smile about then. Much anger and frustration instead - and I let it all loose at the man who'd succeeded in doing what I perhaps felt that I deserved to have also. In the blind rage of a second life teetering with instability, the litigation over Ms. Mystic and and the libel in Crazyman were born.
Oh yes, I was the spark which brought about the creation of Ms. Mystic and certainly had a healthy role in producing the art of the first story Neal had published - and we did shake hands on a partnership in the creation of the character. This is the truth which I told of in the litigation process. This is also the truth which my good friends in the industry understood, remembered and supported during the litigation. The truth which my dear friend, Alan Weiss, stated publicly on the pages of The Comics Journal which broke the story in the industry press at the time.
Everything we said was the truth.
The truth, however can often have two very opposing and different faces. Just like the two sides of the same coin have.
The other side of this truth was exactly what Neal had fought for in his defense. The fact that I'd refused to accept the other side, Neal's side, as having legitimacy in light of the circumstances which brought about the litigation, doesn't take away from the truth he told and the admirable manner in which Neal conducted himself in his defense. It doesn't take away from the fact that everything he said in his defense was also the truth.
First the circumstances: Sure, I was aware of Ms. Mystic since the first Pacific Comics issue I'd seen in Beirut just before I escaped the city and made it over the border into Israel in the fall of 1983. I was slightly hurt by the lack of any credit for me as co-creator, but not hurt enough to raise the sword I did in the lawsuit. When I asked Neal about this, years later when I returned to New York in 1991, while working at the new Continuity, I expected Neal to say something such as: "Well, Mike, you disappeared, I had to produce a project for Pacific that was solely mine and I was the driving force behind what the character had become, so let's leave it at that." Instead, Neal said that I had nothing to do with the creation of the character we intended to be partners on and that I may suffer great difficulties if I'd pursue the issue further.
That's when things began to fall apart between us because I didn't understand what he said in the way he intended. I didn't understand then that Neal was pressing me to confront what had pushed me into the role I'd taken upon myself a decade before. Neal understood that this was at the heart of the problem I was having in trying to bring together the two worlds I needed to, but couldn't. He saw that I was now living in denial of that chapter of my life and he was attempting to help me reconcile it in the best way he knew how, by forcing me into a state of introspection through peeling away the outer layers of denial I'd built up, one of which was my attempt to turn the clock back as if nothing had happened, by reclaiming our partnership on Ms. Mystic. Today, in retrospect, I can only thank him for his perception and the understanding he had of something I was refusing to face then. Even so, I had no intention of pursuing the matter any further when I left Continuity, in frustration over his stand. The aggression began and mounted several months later, only after I saw his reference to me as a terrorist in Crazyman #3.
Secondly, the truth Neal told: Even in light of everything said above, the fact remains that the Ms. Mystic which Neal published was his creation alone. The character we'd originally shook hands on never really made it into the published version. The stress of having lost my family when we embarked on the project and shook hands in partnership in 1976/77, forced me to slowly drop out of the project. Neal went on to create the character we talked about alone. He came up with the name, designed the look, wrote and set the tone for the world she lived in within that first story I penciled. By the fall of 1977, when I began raising the persona of the modern day prophet come to save the world through the comics industry, I no longer had any interest in the project which DC had shelved, or perhaps never even bought.
So, when Neal said that he created Ms. Mystic alone, he was also telling the truth.
The other truth he told was that he didn't intend to harm me with the reference in Crazyman and that it was only the personal difficulties I was having which allowed me to perceive it as such. This is also the truth. Seems to me, in a more comfortable state of mind, we'd both have a good laugh at the use of my name in such a way in a comic book. I might even do something far more outrageous to him and we'd both still have a good laugh, just like the fabulous practical jokes we'd play on each other back in the old Continuity which became the source of repeatedly told stories throughout the comics community of that era. That's one of the tests of true friendships, after all, isn't it? Having a good time together at the wildest absurdities, understanding the release and the good spirit that such a good time can bring, also to others about.
All said, there are few things, if any, that I regret in my life. I've come to regret this chapter, however, but not because of its essence, as I'll explain below. I regret the pain that was caused to Neal and his family and I regret the stain it put on their name. I hope for a day of absolution between us, though I may be undeserving of it. Marilyn, Kristine, Joel, Jason, Zeea, Josh and Cory, were always as family to me. In asking their forgiveness, the remorse remains greater than bearing.
Regret, like the truth, however, can also have two sides.
For those who remember Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - it told of the Biblical tale of Joseph, son of Jacob who was dubbed Israel by an angel and thus the name of the people, and his 11 brothers who were very jealous of the dreams he had as a teenager which portrayed him as king and leader of the known world then, including kingship over his parents. That's what he dreamed and that's what set off the jealousy of his brothers, who witnessed their father giving him a multi-colored coat as a special gift to him alone, even in light of Joseph believing that his own father would one day be under his son Joseph's authority. His brothers became so jealous that, when they found an opportunity to do so, without being found out, tried to kill him but decided instead to throw him into a deep ditch in the desert which he couldn't crawl out of alone. They then went back home and told their father that a wild animal had killed Joseph and proved it by showing him his multi-colored coat stained with the fresh blood of a wild boar, which his father assumed was Joseph's blood. And so, Joseph was now out of their lives forever, or at least so they'd thought.
Joseph didn't die in the ditch, however, and was found by wandering merchants who took him into Egypt and sold him as a slave to one of Pharaoh's chief commanders who had a very vain wife who tried to coerce the handsome lad into a little extra- marital fling - so the narrative says. Joseph, refusing her advances because of his loyalty to his master, fell into a trap she laid and was accused of trying to molest her while her husband wasn't home and was thrown into prison. There, he gained a reputation of being able to interpret dreams and was called into Pharaoh's audience when Pharaoh himself had a series of disturbing dreams, which none of his seers could interpret. Joseph interpreted the dreams in such a way so as to sway Pharaoh into appointing him second in command of all of Egypt in order to save everyone from the approaching famine which Joseph predicted as the interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams.
As the narrative tells, when the famine actually hit the entire region, Jacob, Joseph's father back in the land of Canaan which is Israel today, sent Joseph's brothers into Egypt to buy food as they'd heard that a wise and mighty man had garnered enough for everyone before the famine hit. When his brothers appeared before Joseph to buy food from him, not recognizing him as the brother whom they tried to kill - and Joseph recognizing them - Joseph made the process slightly difficult before revealing himself to them. Upon realizing that it was Joseph, their brother, who they were buying food from, they became scared spitless and thought he'd surely have them all imprisoned or executed. Instead, Joseph comforted them, saying that it's all alright. That all this had happened for a good reason - so they'd all be able to survive the famine. They could now forgive him for his dreams of grandeur and he forgave them for their jealousy - both of which, together, became manifest as the building blocks they'd later need on the road to their collective survival.
Now, I ask everyone reading this, and I ask Neal and Marilyn, Kristine, Joel, Jason, Zeea, Josh and Cory; is there not two sides to the regret both sides of the conflict had over this incident? Is there not two sides to the forgiveness they both showed? Is it not true that regardless of the pain and the hardships they all suffered, that a greater ultimate good was served through all the strife?
Is it not possible that a greater good was served by the conflict and litigation Neal and I and our families suffered, which we may not yet all understand? Could it be that without this experience, we may not have the tools for helping the comics and the world with the formation of The Comic Book Creator's Party and the spirit with which it must rise - an idea inspired by Neal himself since the first day I walked into Continuity and was taken in by him as one of his own sons?
May we not, perhaps, put this episode behind us and commence with the important work we need to do together if we are to try to help ensure our survival on this planet and the survival of all the children we'd leave this world to - and who look to us as a hope for a better tomorrow? Is it not more advantageous to entertain the possibility that time is quickly running out and that we have to act very soon in order to do what needs to be done, before it's too late?
Alright, I've said my piece.
I rest my case.
This, at least, I've learnt to say at the appropriate time, in part thanks to the travail... but mostly due to the litigation.
Perhaps we can now move on to the body of this narrative brandished in the title above - which may be slightly more uplifting.
The Blood which Flows
What do Neal Adams' new graphic novel, Blood, the sudden death of Christopher Reeve, Mel Gibson's Passion and Mark Millar's Chosen have in common?
Let's begin in the desert. The desert is a always a good place to begin anything. It's a good place to clear one's mind of the extraneous distractions not found there. That's what I did more than a year and a half ago in Israel. I went there for six weeks, like the first time, back in 1977. I attempted to exact my stay to 40 days and 40 nights, but missed by a day or two both times. No calendar in the desert. Little matter. Only teaches me not to make such plans in the future. Anyway, seeing what was happening in the world, I had been preparing for it for some time and finally allowed the creature to writhe within me again, until he emerged for the second time in my life, long haired and bushy bearded, with the anger of a mad dog about to descend upon mankind from the place where such things had been known to happen before.
I did however, learn something from the first time. Despite my anger at how we'd all allowed our complacency to corrupt our world, I learnt to be a little more patient in my riper age and I wasn't about to allow this to prematurely take my life away again, or distance me from the good people I love, which was basically everybody I knew. Not at this early stage at least. When a time comes that this is needed, we'll all know, and believe me, I have every intention of dedicating my life to this cause, because that's what I do. Much like Batman, he doesn't ask why. He just does it. For now, however, our world is in great trouble and we must do everything possible to help calm the storm. That's all that matters now and that's been the driving force behind everything I've lived my entire life for... and even before that, if you can understand what I mean. No, it's better not to try to understand what I mean... forget I said it.
So, when I began playing this role again in Israel, Spring 2003, it was a far more effective display than the first time. We learn from our mistakes, don't we? Still, as push came to shove and my family's needs cried for attention, I addressed them. Now, mind you, the last several years had become very dry for me in the wage earning category due to the situation in the region. When things become violent in Israel, and the primarily tourist driven economy becomes wounded, the first professionals that are expendable are the Comic Book Creators. Well, there aren't that many Comic Book Creators in Israel, actually, but this includes the entire visual media communications industry, most everything my career is based on. So, I accepted a position in a profession new to me, arranging fruits and vegetables in the local market, until something else would come along. It was actually good to be in contact with the people. There I began to thrive again. Although I'd hoped, perhaps, for something a little more lucrative so we'd be able to keep our heads above the overdraft. Several months later, nothing was in sight and our situation was beginning to appear gloomy for Elana, who was remarkably supportive considering the fact that her husband had just undergone a transformation which made Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde look like identical twins - not to mention the big, big overdraft.
Suddenly, and without previous warning, the hand of... No! No! No! Stupid! Why must you ruffle these feathers now while you're on a roll? Let's try again... Suddenly the hand of fate was upon... You damn idiot, how many times must I teach you to exercise some tact? One last effort, please, and then I send you home. Take a deep breath now, here goes... Suddenly and by a pure stroke of chance a great global animation network founded under the auspices of a rising American communications conglomerate soared over the Mediterranean circled and hovered above Israel and alighted earthward as an animation studio not far from my West Bank settlement home and contacted me in order to help man the conceptual design department because there were so few other artists there and by mere fortune of chance the operation was headed by a man I'd known, loved and worked with previously on multimedia projects, Yehuda. OK, that's better. Thank you for your patience while I sort out this feathers and tact nonsense.
A month or two later, I found myself in a rut there, spending most of my time in the studio working on projects which didn't satisfy what was driving me in my life then. They were good scripts, mind you, but I can be very critical when I'm on this kind of a mission and I was losing patience with the situation of having no time to advance the cause I'd felt was far more urgent. So, I made a strategic desperate lunge into the void of uncertainty (which is really always the case in this world but we usually choose to believe that some things are certain when they really are not) and handed in my resignation. My intention was to head up to the Sea of Galilee and begin to gather in the flock with the prophet messiah persona and the staff I walked with which was really like a walking cane that I'd brought from the desert, but we'll talk about that later sometime. Anyway, Yehuda was about to land in Israel for the first time since I began working there and I decided to pull out all of the prophecy artwork I'd buried from my former life as the prophet of the comics. I laid everything on him as strong as I could to explain why I'm doing this and perhaps move him into making a movie about it. This would've advanced my cause. I believe it's time to make a movie about it and it'll be a damn good movie, if you ask me, and it will reap great profits greatly, if you ask me. It's alright, you don't have to ask me, I already know.
Well, Yehuda didn't disappoint me at all. The next day after I laid all this on him in our art department meeting in the presence of the entire art department staff of 6 artists, the shock wore down for us both and we had a good heart to heart talk. He suggested I stay a while and use the equipment, within the framework of my work for the studio, to attempt to communicate this over the internet to the comic book industry which we both agreed was a proper receptacle for such a story because the comic books are the seat of the new mythology of the 21st century. That's what he said, really. He said it first and I only repeated it, repeatedly. You know, those damn comics, they always come back every damn time and ruin all my plans which I shouldn't have made in the first place. Well, it sounded rather good actually, so I took him up on it and spent the next several months producing The New Comic book of Life web site which exploded into Comicdom with a loud bang thanks to a fabulous article by Rich Johnston in his Lying in the Gutters column at the Comic Book Resources industry news web site. Now I know some of you are thinking that it was a rather condescending article, but anyone who believes so may not fully understand what good press reportage is and what an excellent article Rich wrote. Well things were beginning to get underway for the first time in my entire life with this story and I dug into the forums and newsgroups finding most everyone who was discussing it, making sudden appearances on the cyber waves of the comics for some exposition and advancing the rise of the... whatever, and all was right in the world again, for a while.
As all this progressed, I was handed the task of directing the art for the conceptual design of yet another film, and Yehuda came by to inform me that Christopher Reeve - who has now finally received his peace for his exemplary courage - had accepted the job of directing it. I know you've been wondering when we'll ever get to this, so this is it. Thank you for your patience, it just wouldn't be the same story without the brief foreword you've been reading since almost forever now. Thank you, again.
This actually set me on fire and I pulled out an illustration I'd produced of a Christopher Reeve like Superman, in 1979, at Continuity, featuring and image of a horse looming over him, drawn 15 years before his accident. Now, I know what you're thinking, or not thinking depending on who you are... "There he goes again saying he prophesied the fall of Christopher Reeve from the horse". Wrrrooooong. I never said that. All I said was that I drew this drawing 15 years before the accident and didn't understand it at the time, but there it is. Christopher was a very important figure in our lives as comics people, everything he did before and after the fall was a very big inspiration to me. He was a very special man and this was just another one of those coincidences, right? Right. It's perhaps best to leave it at that for now. Everyone can come to their own conclusions. That's not what set me on fire. I'll tell you what did.
Yehuda had met with Christopher several times and I began asking him questions; how he was, how he felt, what his life was like now. I wanted to know everything. The gist of everything I heard was this. Difficult as his life was in his condition, Christopher told Yehuda that he liked his life now. He liked having his life and his family back after the fame, glory and chaos that Hollywood had thrown him into, which distanced him from them. He was happy and content with things the way they were for him, so long as he could advance stem cell research and help others. I asked how he perceived that people behaved around him and came to understand that Christopher's condition made him a very lonely man. The kid glove treatment most people show someone in such an unusual state made it very difficult for him to have true friendships and heartfelt times with most everyone in his life, people about him and people who work with him. This can take its toll an anyone. Believe me, I've been through something similar, especially looking like I came out of the jungle and put on a suit like Tarzan in New York. People just don't think of you as a person anymore and there's much less heartfelt contact with most everyone and this can make someone's life very sad and cause them to lose hope, though they may be surrounded by the family they love and who loves them.
To a great degree I understood this to be the case with Christopher. So, I added this art to the web site and wrote an article about it in The City Square page. When I asked Yehuda to let Christopher know about this material, he said he'd rather not because he was afraid it might disturb him. Now, there was nothing really disturbing there. It's only the perplexity, driven by an unintended insensitivity and a sometimes object oriented approach to people which causes those around to treat him with the snug and careful kid glove treatment he was receiving. This is what makes it appear to be that when someone comes along and approaches him as a human being with a heart and a soul, that this would disturb him. The art and the article I wrote sported a rather uplifting message which is what I wanted to help Christopher feel.
Now, why would I was do all this with Christopher? Well, let's think for a moment. That's what I do in this role isn't it? I'm meant to help people aren't I? Well I've spent 27 years doing and studying this and I've come to a very defined conclusion and accomplished some rather remarkable things with it at a very local level, which are not known of. What's important is this. All our illnesses and physical limitations are the result of a state of mind or spirit. The body follows after the mind and the heart. If a man has hope, he'll heal and live - if not, then not. Period. I'm not the first one to say this, or to do it, folks. We've become so mentally dependant on this economically driven medical profession that we've come to believe that only a pill or a scalpel can fix us, and what do we get for it? We get sicker and and the hospitals and doctors make much more money and all hope for raising the strength and healing power from within us becomes buried so deep inside - and then we die. That's what must stop. We must raise the hope again from inside if we want to be healthy and happy. All the doctors in the world can't do this, they do the opposite these days, because like any economically driven profession, they need the customers. Many of them. Not all of them. There are many doctors sensitive to this, but the framework of their profession remains economically driven and it's very difficult for the good guys there.
So I began making plans to return to New York, with Christopher's situation very pertinent to the eventuality that I might work closely, and be given audience with him. 27 years ago I might have just barged into his house to do it by force, but then by having done that, I'd not have the ability to help him. I wanted him to see me, as I looked then, within a comfortable and hopeful environment - and for this I'd need the help of the people who were close to him. I only wished to raise the awareness within him of the bond I saw between us, and inspire within him a new hope which, intentionally or otherwise, his sometimes exploitive and often insensitive environment would not allow to rise - all in the framework of working with him on this film.
Alright, that's the introduction to one issue. I'll move on to the others, for a while.
Now, back at the web site, the first piece I wrote there was the open apology to Neal Adams. To me, this was the most important issue to settle before proceecing any further. I was sending emails, with links, to Neal and telling of everything I'm doing and didn't hear back from him and deservedly so. I didn't expect to, really, I just wanted him to know what was happening at this time. I knew it'll take much time and effort to undo the damage that was done between us. That is the course I was taking, however, and I remained persistent in informing him of anything pertinent here. I paid close attention to his web site looking for some sign that he was considering the thrust of what I was doing. By the spring of 2004 I noticed a two interesting developments brewing there. I saw a shift from the heavy attention he was giving to the science project and much more effort exerted into political op-eds. This was a very good sign to me, even though I believe Neal's work on the science project is of primordial importance and needs to continue. The political pieces, however, showed me that Neal was feeling the same as I concerning the voice which The Creators have in comics fandom and how it could be used most effectively. His opinionated writing was becoming more defined with every piece and I felt that him and I were on the same track with it.
Now, most everybody I mentioned this to said that I was being presumptuous in assuming that my work had anything to do with it. Well, look, I can be pretty dense at times, like that period of 27 years ago when all this began. In the year that followed the first emergence of...well maybe we should use a symbol here because people just don't like the 'm' word, instead lets see, here are some symbols, $%&@, that's better, anyway, it was in that following year that Neal produced The New Heroes Portfolio - on the heals of one of his promising students' and close buddy's going bananas and thinking he's some kind of a new $%&@ prophet whacko... or whatever. To the extent of walking into Paul Levitz' office at DC Comics and informing him with a message written on a memo pad, that we were going to Titan together in a spaceship one day.
Two of the characters in that portfolio were close to my heart... Crazyman and Toy Boy. Now, I'm not saying anything here other than the fact that it came down that way and I might chalk it up to the fact that like all of us Neal receives his inspiration from his environment and there suddenly was a crazy man who was still a boy who thought the whole world was his toy in Neal's world - and... well who knows. Anyway, as the summer of '04 was approaching, there appeared a little marginal announcement on Neal's site, it said that Neal's working on a new graphic novel, that it was a big secret and he wasn't saying anything about it. I was hoping that this would show some inspiration from what I was doing, seeing the pivotal role I believe Neal has in this world because, he's so... well, Neal is just so pivotal. I mean that if the world was to revolve around him, we'd break the chains of gravity before we'd finish our next revolution around the sun... and the world would become a much better place. So the political writings were expanding and there was this new project over the horizon and everything was good in the world at Continuity and that's another introduction and now we'll move on to Mel Gibson and Mark Millar.
Meanwhile, Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ arose into the clouds of Christian self-love and began to spread its hate across the globe. I'm sorry, I don't mean to be so harsh on all you religious folk but you good guys and gals aught to get your act together because you're all heading for a lot of trouble with your blind and insensitive holy pride which is exactly what The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ warned you about not falling into. And you do it all in his name. You've become the greatest evil in modern civilization with your arrogant oppression of this world which God gave you as a gift and gave us all a free choice in, for a good reason. In your holy arrogance you'd purport to take away the choice which God gave to man. That's very evil. Satan himself did not stoop so low. If you'd truly believed in Jesus Christ and listened to what he said instead of flaunting your white robes, stained with pomposity, in everyone's face, and you truly believed that everyone who doesn't say amen to your arrogance was your enemy... well then you'd know to love your enemy as you would yourselves and not oppress them by legislating morality to them through your ill- begotten representatives in congress.
Look at your shame, the shame of the religious front in America. Look at how far you've strayed away from the path which Jesus showed you. Look at how, in your shame, you sell postcards and crosses and other artifacts inside of your churches, when you know that your Lord Jesus Christ gave his life in chasing the money changers out of the temple, all those who turned the house of God into a den of thieves, the same kind of thieves which you've now become, and all in your Lord's name. Look at how, in your shame, you call on the world to join you in making war on and murdering women and children with your bombs, all in the name of Jesus, who rebuked those who raised a sword, even against the occupying Roman soldiers oppressing his own people. Where is the compassion which Jesus taught you to have? Have you become such ravening wolves that you no longer understand that people must be allowed to choose what they want to be? Why do you not understand that it's not given to you to force them into becoming something that they don't choose, through the legislative arms of an oppressive government?
Even God himself didn't do that and wouldn't because God loves everyone so, and not only you and your hypocrisy, as you believe. God loves everybody and wants each one of us to choose to be the World's Finest, and thus earn it - and not undeservedly, and deceiptfully, through being forced to be so by the legislative law of arrogant ravening wolves such as you. You, who only love yourselves and your self-made holiness, you don't know how to really love and listen to God, not yet. you might when your world begins to collapse on you and you'll suffer God's judgment of righteousness which is coming your way. Maybe then, maybe, some of you will awaken and remember where you all came from.
Anyway, back in Israel it was just a news item. Jesus just never became a superstar in Israel because, well, there's much bad blood around his story over there. The Jewish religious folk don't even like to say his name, they just say "that man" when they need to reference him. They actually tried to ban the movie there and pretty much succeeded, allowing it to play in one secluded theatre for a short time and nobody really wanted to see it anyway. The Jews, like the Christians, are also waiting for the messiah, (it's alright I can use the word here because I'm not referencing my role-playing in this instance) anyway, what I've come to understand in this world is that many people are waiting for the messiah, but they really don't want him to come and disturb the comfort they have with their false gods of arrogance, pride, and all unclean things in the heart which makes them cling to the false gods of the false world which they so love. They don't really want him to come, they just want to wait for him. If they did want him to come, they wouldn't behave as they do. The reason they behave as they do is because they're in love with the idea that they're waiting for the messiah who'll come and save them. But that's all. They just want to wait for him and to love themselves in waiting.
Well, one day the $%&@ will come and then they'll all be embarrassed and scared because they didn't really want him, they just wanted to wait for him - and they love themselves waiting for him - more than they love him.
So, about the movie. Definitely a professional production. Clearly a very bad message. As if Jesus was the only man in the world to suffer as he did. He wasn't. Many good people have died far more horrible deaths than Jesus did, and Mel Gibson did not make a movie about them. As in Mel Gibson's other films, all quality productions, of the action, adventure and bloodshed variety, he failed to understand and show the true reason for the human anguish. Mel Gibson failed to transcend his love for the blood and the hunt and failed tell the story of the man Jesus and why Jesus truly suffered. As if it was the torture and the crucifixion which truly hurt Jesus and caused him anguish. They weren't. What caused the anguish that Jesus suffered was seeing the world overrun by the exploitive power of the religious front of his world. Jesus suffered at the inhumanity in the name of God which was being perpetrated against the people around him whom he loved. He suffered so much from this that he chose to take some comfort by giving himself in to the torture and the crucifixion. That's why Jesus truly suffered and not because of what we saw in Mel Gibson's film. Jesus dedicated his life to exposing the hypocrisy of religious people who pray in mass for long hours and make a show of it so they could flaunt their pomposity in the face of a humble and humane secular world, the secular world which suffered at the inhumanities perpetrated in the name of God by religious hypocrites.
That's the story Mel Gibson should have told so that it would slap the dual face of religious hypocrisy, twice. Twice, because religious hypocrites should turn their other dual cheek upon being slapped the first time, and then they should be slapped hard enough a second time on their second dual cheek, in order to cause them to reflect upon their poisonous dual faced spirit.
Mel Gibson brought much hate into the world with his movie and he knew he was doing it and he didn't care. The movie emerged with the echoes of the centuries old accusation that the Jews had killed Jesus, and Mel Gibson allowed the echoes of this accusation to mount and ferment a disdain for the Jews within the emotionally charged religious front in America and across the world - and Mel Gibson didn't care that this was happening and did not lift a finger to truly change these tides.. and we all know why, don't we? Ye$. Ye$ we do.
Well, Mr. Mel Gibson, allow me to remind you of what really killed Jesus the Christ. Not the Jews. The Jews loved Jesus until people like you spilled their poison into the world. It was the Jews who loved Jesus, 50,000 strong in the streets of Jerusalem and believed in him for deliverance. It was the Jews who loved Jesus so much that their love for him brought him back to life from the dead and they went on to tell the world of their love for him and of how he returned to life. That's how much the Jews loved and believed in Jesus, Mr. Mel Gibson.
Unlike you, and your poisonous film, which is what truly killed Jesus. Yes, it was you and your movie that killed Jesus, Mr. Mel gibson. You killed him in your movie and we all saw you doing it. We saw you doing it with every word you wrote in your screenplay, how you killed Jesus. We saw with every instruction you gave to the camera-men, that you wanted to show us how you were killing Jesus. For hours on end you killed him right before our very eyes. Hour after hour, you killed him and we all saw you doing it. You and your religious hypocrisy with which you killed him with in your movie. You are the one that killed Jesus, for us, Mr. Mel Gibson.
You, Mr. Gibson, have not shown true love for God and have not shown that you love his only begotten son, The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, because your love for yourself and your holy arrogant pride never left room in your heart for the love of anything else. Never left room in your heart to have compassion on the people who truly love Jesus. Never left room in your heart to care enough in order to understand how poisonous your movie really was. You Jesus killer.
You and your arrogant, hypocrite Christian front. You're all Jesus killers.
It's alright though, all you hypocrites amongst the Christians, all you Jesus killers, you will be forgiven when you repent, because you don't really know what you've done.
It's alright Mel Gibson, now you also know how it feels.
Listen Mel, If you'd like to make up for the mistakes you made with this movie, you should contact me and I'll explain the story of Jesus to you and show you what it means operatively in the world today and you could make a movie about that and you could make a movie about The Comic Book Creator's Party and make up for the poison which you poisoned our world with.
I don't believe Mel will contact me soon, but if he happens to see this and would like to sort this out and perhaps make the right movie, well, he has Michelle's email address on this site and it'll get to me.
Or Mel Gibson could contact Mark Millar who's shown a far deeper grasp of the story of Jesus through his 3 issue series, Chosen, published by Dark Horse, which saw publication around the same time as the release of Passion of the Christ. I only saw the first issue before I returned to New York in July '04, but it was enough. Mark did a masterful job of showing what a growing boy who believed he's to play the role of the Second Coming of Christ would be like, trying to perform the miracles, building a reputation as being possibly that man and eliciting a growing wonderment about him. It takes a great deal of courage to end the series as Mark did and he gave a premonition of the end already in that first issue, in the last panels when the grown up Jodie is short haired and clean shaven with a blackened face reminding us of images of the Antichrist in the Omen movies. That's the crux of the story as Mark Millar understood it - and it's very important to understand it as such.
Why is this so important? I'll attempt to explain.
I'd like to take you back almost 3,000 years, back by the rivers of Babylon, that's where Daniel lived. The Daniel who wrote the Book of Daniel in the Bible. This is the man who wasn't afraid of the lions in the den and that's why they didn't eat him. Yes, it's true that the lions didn't eat Daniel because he stood up as if he was also a lion and didn't whimper in fear which usually causes a lion to eat the whimperer.
Daniel, like most of the prophets who wrote in the Bible, reached some rather deep spaces within himself, so deep that he realized it was an endless universe inside. He realized that inside of all of us there's an endless well of strength, wisdom and understanding enabling us to comprehend anything we truly wanted to, just like Alan Moore said in his quote which I used on this web site and just like Neal Adams is showing with his science project. Thing is, we just don't all get to pierce the veil of false reality that our world covers us with, the veil which hadn't yet formed when we were five, just like Alan Moore said. That's the reason why most people are so confused about this world. Because they don't really try to understand it. Because they're too busy thinking about themselves all the time and there's no more room left in their mind and heart to understand anything else. Anyway, Daniel lived his life as a Jew in exile but with his wisdom, he became a prominent advisor to the leaders and kings of Babylon. He lived his life there, by the rivers of Babylon, trying to make the world a little better with his stories, just like most Comic Book Creators do. The rivers were like the desert for him, only wetter.
The second half of the book of Daniel tells about visions he had which told of the end of the world and the coming of the messiah, or the $%&@. Same difference to Daniel which is evident in the first line of chapter 12 of the book of Daniel.
The most relevant part of these visions for us is chapter 11, that's where Daniel tells of the rise of a fierce chameleon-like sociopolitical leader, who repeatedly changes identities as circumstance dictates, destined to emerge in the end of days and topple the ruling hierarchies of his time, replacing them with a new group of leaders who sweep the world with a revived spirit of peace and prosperity. The Jewish sages, who never truly understood the mysteries of the book of Daniel - and admitted so repeatedly, even to this very day, attempted to interpret this chapter as telling about the ruling class of their own time, each sage according to his time. For instance, a sage who lived in the time of the Macedonian Empire interpreted this chapter as referring to Alexander the Great. The chapter ends with this leader coming to his end, being killed or executed, and no one raising a finger to help him, as if everybody knows that it's unavoidable. The next and final chapter ends with the revelation of the true messiah, and the beginning of a new world where there's no more death or sorrow or hunger or pain or any other such undesirable things in the world.
Now, Jesus had this book available to him along with the other books of Moses and the prophets, and it apparently became a big inspiration to him and his friends, which all Biblical commentators agree is evident in the book of Revelations. When Jesus began role-playing the messiah, he came to understand that if he was to fulfill his mission of reviving a spirit of goodwill within the Jewish people so as to inspire a change in the world, he would need to contend with the pompous hypocrites, the religious authorities of his time, who would surely seek to kill him for attempting to overthrow the oppressive stranglehold they had on the people through their patronization of the corrupt monarchy of King Herod and the Roman governor Pilate, appointed to keep the peace in Israel at that time.
This little realization eventually fermented the fierceness within Jesus, allowing him to challenge the religious authorities and expose their hypocrisy. The fury he learnt to harness in contending with this matter, eventually led him to the understanding that this fierce sociopolitical leader which Daniel wrote about in chapter 11, must be the same man as the true messiah, who was to be revealed, in chapter 12, after the death of that fierce leader - because Jesus truly believed himself to be the true messiah, and through his limitless faith, he was becoming a fierce sociopolitical leader, who frequented publicans and sinners, meaning politicians. Upon reconciling how it could be that he must be executed or killed and then become revealed as the true messiah, Jesus began telling his disciples that he must be persecuted and killed and then he will rise again from the dead, in order to fulfill the Biblical prophecies.
John, Jesus' friend whom he loved most, who also told the world that they'd all seen Jesus alive again after the crucifixion, as a man in the flesh - just the way Mel Gibson portrayed it in Passion, one of the few saving graces of that movie, that and the table and chair which Jesus invented, that was really good - well, John went on to weave an intricate tale in the book of Revelation, wherein he expanded on the book of Daniel, portraying the emergence of the last messiah to come in the end of days in chapter 12, as that of the Second Coming of Jesus, who'd now become the Christ through surviving the crucifixion. This was John's newfound understanding of these prophecies, because Jesus and John both understood that Jesus is an intermittent messiah and not the last one which Daniel wrote of.
How did they know this? Well, Daniel names the last messiah, and it's not Jesus. He gave the last messiah a name in the first line in chapter 12 of his book. Also they both realized that it'll still take much time until their work would sweep the whole world. So, they borrowed some concepts from Mithraism and Zoroastrian legend about a Son of God and implied that when Jesus returns as the last messiah, he'd finally have the name which Daniel gave, and that in the second or last coming, he'd not be the Son, but the rather the Father. This gave birth to the concept of The Trinity, wherein the Son and the Father are physical shells, as we all are in this world, but bound together by the same spirit, the ghost, as we all are in this world, spanning the 2,000 years between them. All this was woven by John in the Book of Revelations, and inspired by the role which Jesus played in surviving the crucifixion.
This is why most Biblical commentators link the book of Revelation to the book of Daniel and repeatedly point to the similarities in the metaphoric symbolism between them.
The reason all this is relevant to Mark Millar's Chosen is that Christian Biblical commentators, who also didn't truly fully understand the mysteries of either the book of Daniel, or the book of Revelation, and admitted so repeatedly, distinguished between the dual roles of this fierce sociopolitical leader and the messiah he would transform into after his survival of the execution.
And so, thus was born the legend of the Antichrist.
This is the legend understood today by the Christian world as that of the rise of the Son of Satan, a fierce sociopolitical leader who will sweep the world with an age of peace and prosperity and who must then be killed when he fulfills this mission, allowing, immediately afterwards, for the revelation and emergence of the true Christ, the real messiah who will bring an end to death, sorrow, pain and all undesirable things in the world.
Mark Millar appears to have come to the understanding and explored in Chosen, the possibility that these two dual roles are the two sides of one and the same coin.
That the Antichrist and the Christ are indeed one and the same man.
Well done, Mr. Mark Millar. Very well done indeed.
Just one question. How the hell did you figure that out? Unless you also think you're some big $%&@ or something.
You $%&@ you.
One more thing. The reason all this is relevant to the Comic Book Creator's Party is this. If some $%&@ comes around and is able to instill the fear of the Antichrist within the hypocrites amongst the Christians, well... yes they'd all want to kill him. But, if he is the right $%&@ , then it's alright because that's what he wants too, just like Jesus wanted. Thing is, because it's a prophecy for the hypocrites amongst the Christians, well, they can't kill him until he fulfills his mission of bringing an age of peace and prosperity to the world because that's what their prophecies say.
This means that the hypocrites amongst the Christians will all come over to the $%&@'s side so that he could finish his job and fix the world so they can then kill him. Just like when they believe that Jesus will return when Israel is united in their land again, then they go to help and pretend they love the Jews. They're only dong it for themselves, however, and pretending. They really have not yet loved the Jews.
Those damn blood thirsty Jesus killers. Antichrist killers. $%&@ killers. They're just a bunch of scum blood thirsty killers just like Mel Gibson and his Jesus killing religious hypocrite front are. Killers! Killers! Killers!
At least they'll help us fix the world first, eh?
The Flows from the Heart
And so, dear friends, we've now touched on the three aspects of this comic book narrative, all of which had ignited within me a burning need to return to United States and pursue the advancement of the matters spoken of above. All the while, abiding my time and awaiting the opportune opening which would allow me to do so. Before this could come to pass, however, a very pleasant surprise was coming my way to Israel.
The convergence of my two lives and worlds, past and present, which I addressed in the foreword of this piece, was coming to shine its smiling face upon me, at last, for the first time in my life since these two worlds became manifest. Michelle, my daughter from my first life, was about to pay us a visit in Israel and meet the other half of her family whom her father had raised there. Michelle, whose presence in the world was perhaps the greatest inspiration for her father's eccentric role-playing tendencies, was with me for a brief period, still not 1 year old then, when her mother Cindy and I, attempted to hold the family together in New York, during the first year of my career in comics in 1976. It was then that we were invited by Neal and his family to his summer home at the West Hamptons in Long Island for a weekend of sun and relaxation by the sea - and it was then that Neal began to see the dilemma of my personal life and extended a special effort of comfort by showing me what a wonderful daughter I had and how I should be enjoying every moment with her as he was, playing with her and speaking to her as if she could understand everything he said and eliciting the first excited reactions that I'd seen in her. Neal was perhaps the first man to bring that type of joy into Michelle's life and perhaps, the first man who made her laugh.
Michelle had grown up in Detroit under the protective wings of an adopting father but learnt of her biological one at an early age and had heard of his many eccentricities which led him to migrate to Israel and establish a new life there. Having been in contact with her intermittently since 1993, I was pleasantly surprised to learn several years ago that she'd left our hometown and moved to New York in pursuit of a career in music and events productions, while taking an energetic role in sociopolitical activism in the city, searching for a way to help make this world a better place than it is. A familiar story, indeed. I quickly put her in contact with my good friends Alan Weiss and his beloved wife, whose friendship had never waned throughout the years, and they became very good friends also, exposing Michelle to some measure of the comics world her father had left behind.
And so, Michelle came to Israel, a stranger in a strange land at childhood's end, and suffered the estrangement of meeting the family who'd never known her. With a smile and a tear she wiped away all perplexities and soothed a home that was wounded and made it whole.
Michelle then returned to New York much the same way Wonder Woman suddenly disappears from the scene of an adventure when her mission is accomplished.
Just one more word about Michelle. She has been of insurmountable importance to this effort for the rise of The Comic Book Creator's Party and will remain so as the party grows and she continues to nurture it. She gently guided and influenced the look and feel and content of this web site so as to give it the dignity and strength it has. Without her, this whole affair may have been a trite more messy, to say the least. I had written something else here which she thought was too powerful for this narrative. She is the essence of reserved humility and grace, which unlike it's mild mannered outward appearance, holds the power of the entire universe within it.
Our gratitude and love to you, Michelle, from all The Creators whom you'll lift into the stars.
My plans for coming to New York had been well under way before Michelle came and I followed her soon afterwards and accepted a position as a story board artist for the film which Christopher Reeve was directing.
The tragedy of the sudden death of Christopher Reeve has tormented me and still does. It has also transformed me and given me a new hope for our world, through the comics, born of a Superman which Christopher exemplified. After several months of asking to join the production directors in their visits to his home where they presented him the storyboard work we were producing, it became clear that I would not be given an audience with Christopher for the purpose of giving him the artwork spoken of above, as a gift, with which to inspire him with a hope for the emergence of healing power from within himself.
Almost 3 months after my arrival in New York, On the day of my 49th birthday, Friday, October 9, 2004, realizing I'd come to a dead end with the one goal I had in working on the film which Christopher was directing. I came to accept that it wasn't yet time for us to meet face to face. On that day, I resolved to resign from my position, removed the long hair and bushy beard I'd sported, and transformed my appearance from the $%&@ who came to New York, and went to pay a visit to Neal Adams at Continuity. On that day Christopher Reeve began to suffer from increased heart complications and was given his final rest, two days hence, leaving us in the comics, the film industry and the world, a grand remembrance of a man we'd come to love and revere. A man who showed us all what the exemplary courage and resolve of a real Superhero is and left us with many marvelous works seen in everything he touched.
The Comic Book industry salutes you, Christopher Reeve, and vows that your death will not be in vain.
We will tell the world of the proximity of these events which led to the rise of The Comic Book Creator's party. We will tell the world that in giving your life to help mankind, our universe has given us and the world a sign that in your death you breathe new life into the comics and a new hope for The Comic Book Creators in their fledgling stride to leading the world into a better tomorrow.
The visit with Neal was the beginning of a new chapter between us. Though not yet time for a complete reconciliation, we spoke for what seemed like an eternity to me outside of his studio. Neal, long past any anger or hostility, which he may never have had, over the price he paid for the litigation I'd brought against him, asked for nothing for himself in return, rather only that I face the truth of the events which had transpired between us and the spirit with which he had helped me overcome the difficulties.
Before parting, Neal asked about my family. The family I'd left behind in Detroit and the family I have in Israel.
As I told him of Michelle's visit and how both worlds are now becoming one, I saw a lump of pride form in Neal Adams' throat.
As the pride of a mentor whose boy had become a $%&@.
Within a week or so, Neal presented a preview of his new graphic novel, Blood, on his web site. The new project I'd mentioned earlier which was announced there last summer.
The 4 thumbnails and intro can be seen here, at the top of the page. The enlarged images of each of the 4 pages can be seen here 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 .
Harlan Ellison once commented on how Neal's art makes his heart flutter. Seeing the art on these pages made mine want to burst from my chest.
The master at his absolute best.
And the story... oh boy.
Something about how the words are flowing for Neal in this story is full of rhythm and grace and truth.
Something about the opening narrative, about friendships, made my blood flow right from the heart.
Something about this guy coming out from some desert to warn the world about an impending doom, and nobody listened, made me sit to write this entire narrative you've been reading.
Thank you, Neal.
I thank you and your family for the goodness.
This promises to be the best work Neal Adams has ever produced. It's a promise and a beacon to all of us.
One thing I've saved for last before we go.
Alan Weiss. There's so much to say about Alan's friendship. It's relentless, just like his art, just like his ideas and concepts, everything about Alan is relentless. Alan's friendship is the kind that sinks into your guts and doesn't let go. Since the first day the creature emerged, Alan took him by the hand and onto a roller coaster ride from heaven to hell and everything in between and we've been riding that roller coaster ever since. Alan just wouldn't let the $%&@ crawl into a Mylar snug and die as he perhaps might have. He was relentless in reminding him how much there's still left to do. Everyone reading this can thank God there's Alan Weiss in the world.
I thank God for Alan's friendship.
With reverence and gratitude to Frank Miller for his inspiration...
and for the $%&@ creature.
See you in the comics, my friends
With an extra special thanks to Michelle.
Read Michelle Camilleri's
A Call to Roam and Sound the Roar
In The City Square
View this one time instance,
Original Art for Sale
Dedicated to the rise of
The Comic Book Creators Party