Friday, August 22, 2014

Pheaturing Michael Mantlo

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake I shake it off, I shake it off. Haha. Hi there, welcome to another entry of the Phile. How's it going? I can't get that bloody Taylor Swift song outta my head. Let's talk about something more serious, like Ferguson. No, not Craig Ferguson. Ferguson city officials say that the officer who was caught on camera threatening to kill protesters while pointing his loaded, semi-automatic rifle at them has been suspended from duty. Probably until he learns not to pull shit when you're so obviously going to get caught. Come on, man. Learn how to harass civilians like a professional! Ferguson police will use hoses next and claim the protestors were having a wet t-shirt contest.  A new study from King’s College London suggests that you might be able to get some insight into just how dim-witted your kid will grow up to be, based upon the crappy, half-considered scrawls that you stuck up on your refrigerator. Parents shouldn't put too much stock in their children's artistic abilities, however. "Drawing ability does not determine intelligence, there are countless factors, both genetic and environmental, which affect intelligence in later life," according to study author Dr. Rosalind Arden. In other words, your kid can be good at drawing and still wind up profoundly dumb.  Research performed by a political scientist at the University of Vermont claims to have found empirical evidence that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of books had a political influence upon its readers. "Reading the books correlated with greater levels of acceptance for out-groups, higher political tolerance, less predisposition to authoritarianism, greater support for equality, and greater opposition to the use of violence and torture," researcher Anthony Gierzynski wrote in The Conversation. I wonder what percentage of American parents didn't let their kids watch Harry Potter because they didn't understand the accents? Speaking of Harry Potter, there's a new Harry Potter book coming out, did you know that? I have the cover of it right here...

Can you read that title? "Harry Potter and the Wingardium Leviosa Spell That's Lasted More Than 4 Hours".  I have no idea what that means.  A recent study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine finds that lesbians are having better sex and more orgasms than their heterosexual counterparts. Seems like an unfair comparison though. Heterosexual women are forced to have sex with men, and, as any straight woman will tell you, those guys really have no idea what they're doing down there. Hollywood actress and notable attractive person Emma Stone will be making her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles in the currently running Broadway revival of "Cabaret". Stone... whom relatively few people seem to view as a below-par actress, is expected to do an acceptable-enough job replacing the respected performer Michelle Williams. I love Emma Stone, she's cute.  Okay, yesterday I told you the story about some guy who had his mugshot taken while wearing a t-shirt featuring his last mugshot. I showed you a picture of what his next mugshot will look like, well, here's what Burt's next-next mugshot might look like...

Unfortunately, that's where we reach the limits of modern technology. There is currently no way to guess at what his next-next-next mugshot might look like. Maybe one day, but sadly not today.  No matter what your opinion is of President George "Mission Accomplished" Bush, whether you voted for him for both terms or swore he would make you move to Canada, there is definitely something special about getting to watch the former leader of the free world take freezing water to the face. After completing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge herself on the "Today" show, presidential spawn Jenna Bush Hager nominated mom and dad to complete the challenge as well. Of course she wanted to raise money and awareness for the cause, but really it was an opportunity to see what mom Laura Bush would look like without the "helmet hair" she's been wearing since 1991. In response, daddy President Bush made a video that at first seems like a rare moment where he and President Obama agree, claiming that "it would be un-presidential" for him to complete the challenge and that he will just make out a check. That's when Laura Bush dumps a bucket of water on his head and declares the check is for her so that she can spare her perfect coif. I'm assuming she means that she will donate the check for ALS, but I wouldn't be surprised if that money ended up in the hands of Texas's hardest hair-spraying stylist. To keep the challenge moving forward, Bush nominated his "good friend" Bill Clinton to complete the challenge next. What a sweetheart. Here's a picture of Bush getting the bucket dumped over his head...

I was wondering where I saw that look before and then it hit me.

Haha. It's the same bloody look!  Speaking of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which I have done by the way, there's a scene in the new Star Wars movie where someone is doing the challenge.

So, I went to the store yesterday and saw an ad for Purell which I thought was kinda weird.

That's very true.  Okay, so on Facebook they have been known to ban certain pictures. Some of them they should ban and pull off, but others it's confusing why. I'm not afraid to show these pictures on the Phile, so that's why I created a feature called...

A mother was been banned from Facebook after she uploaded a photo of her children showing one of them pretending to breastfeed. Lauren Ferrari of Seattle,WA published the controversial photo on the social networking site. It displays her five-year-old daughter and her younger sister.

In a few hours, the photo disappeared and Facebook told her it violated the company's community standards. She is currently banned for a week. US police say it is an example of "poor parenting."

If you spot the Mindphuck email me at Okay, before we move on, yesterday I showed you this picture that a Phile reader sent me...

I had no idea what it meant, but a lot of you readers did. Apparently this happened months ago... a Florida State quarterback and Heisman trophy winner had been at the center of controversy for the better part of his career. First their were rape allegations and then the stealing of crab legs from Publix. Their was camera footage that showed him nonchalantly walking up to the seafood counter at Publix grocery store in Tallahassee … grabbing $32.17 worth of crab legs and crawfish … and walking out of the store without paying for it. I didn't understand why he was carrying a cat, but it's not a cat he's carrying, it's crab legs. Thanks, Phile readers, mystery solved.  Okay, a few years ago I interviewed a gentlemen on the Phile named Lee Abramson who is a musician and has ALS. Well, ALS has been all over the news lately because of this Ice Bucket Challenge. I wondered what Lee thought about this so I invited him onto the Phile to tell us his view. So, please welcome back to the Phile, Lee Abramson.

The awareness by the Ice Bucket Challenge raised so far is superficial. Jimmy Fallon didn't go to the Outpatient Neurology lobby during ALS Clinic day and see the horror show I'm going to see when I go on Wednesday. Drooling, asphyxiating, patients slumped over in wheelchairs, lucid... but unable to speak... crying out loud. And everyone else in the room knowing that it's only a matter of time until they end up the same way. That is unless they go on a ventilator, and, eventually, lose control of every muscle except their eyes. AND that Congress just cut Medicare funding to pay for (pretty cheap) eye gaze computer equivalent that could help patients express themselves to caregivers and the Internet, leaving them with locked-in syndrome. Congress also cut funding for ModelTalker and other voice banking systems, which would allow patients with children to grow up hearing their natural voice, instead of a robot's. Let's make sure that some of this new awareness is directed at lawmakers who are deliberately increasing the level of hopelessness among ALS patients in the name of fiscal discipline.

Wow. There you have it, kids. Thanks, Lee. Alright, the 33rd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Lonnie Burr, an original Mouseketeer will be a guest on the Phile a week from today.

It's 9:54 am, 83°F and Kelly did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

I'd like to think it was because I nominated her, and not Reba McEntire. Haha. It doesn't make a difference who did, she did it. Man, I wish I could get a better screen grab than that.

Okay, today's pheatured guest is the brother of Bill Mantlo who is an American comic-book writer, primarily at Marvel Comics, and who co-created Rocket Raccoon. Please welcome to the Phile... Michael Mantlo.

Me: Hello, Michael, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Michael: I'm fine, and feeling mighty proud these days!

Me: I have to say that your brother Bill co-created one of my favorite Marvel characters ever... Rocket Raccoon. I first learnt about Rocket and heard of him in '85 when I read his four issue mini series. When did you first hear of Rocket?

Michael: Bill tipped me off to his creation back in 1982, just before he appeared in "The Incrdeible Hulk" # 271.

Me: When you first found out about him what did you think?

Michael: I thought it was a pretty cool thing to do!

Me: Rocket's name and aspects of the character come from The Beatles song "Rocket Raccoon". Was Bill a big Beatles fan?

Michael: Bill was a HUGE Beatles fan, and "The Ballad of Rocky Raccoon", being a complete story, lent itself very easily to being adapted to a comic re-telling. Bill turning it into a "space opera" was his own pure genius!

Me: Someone might ask themselves why I am interviewing you and not Bill himself. Tell the readers that don't know what happened to Bill.

Michael: For those unaware, Bill was struck by a car while rollerblading home from work (at that time, he was a Legal Aid attorney working in the Bronx, NY). It was a hit-and-run, and the driver was never apprehended. Bill, who was NOT wearing a helmet at the time, suffered irreparable brain damage when his head struck the windshield of the car, and additionally when his head struck the pavement after being thrown over the car's hood.

Me: So accident in New York City?

Michael: Yes, four blocks from the apartment he was living in at the time.

Me: How did you first find out about the accident?

Michael: Bill's girlfriend called me from the hospital. I lived about ten blocks away from them, in the same area of Upper Manhattan.

Me: You and Bill are from New York, right? Where do you guys live now?

Michael: Correct, we were born in Brooklyn, NY. I currently live in Delaware, while Bill is still in a nursing home in New York.

Me: You also have a sister, am I right?

Michael: No, no, no... the Mantlo's are ALL boys! There are three of us. 

Me: So, are you the oldest? No, Bill is the oldest... I am in the middle... our younger brother is Art Mantlo.

Me: It's very cool that you are taking care of Bill's welfare and financial stuff. You and he must be very close. Were you always close growing up?

Michael: Throughout our pre-teen years, we were extremely close. Once Bill hit his teens (and discovered girls, wink-wink) we drifted a little bit apart.

Me: I love this picture of both of you, you look really close.

Me: Bill started doing art for Marvel Comics before he became a writer. Was he into comics growing up?

Michael: Absolutely. We were weaned on the Sunday funnies newspaper comics by our father, Classics Illustrated by our mom, and Bill discovered "superhero" comics (primarily DC... his first love was The Flash) around the time he was preparing to enter kindergarten.

Me: What about you, Michael? Were you into comics as well?

Michael: I was more into the pictures. We were both avid readers, but I never got into the written aspect of comics when I was a kid. Bill had much more patience... haha.

Me: Did you do any writing as well?

Michael: Yes, but in a far less imaginative vein.

Me: During his time as a writer he also got a law degree, is that right? Why did he do so? Did he want to stop writing comics? You know, he had my dream job. I wanted to be a comic book writer growing up.

Michael: In reality, Bill's dream job was to be a comic ARTIST... that was his first love. He earned scholarships to the High School of Art & Design, and later Cooper Union college based on his artistic talents. He earned his BA in photography, but became frustrated after graduation when not able to find any kind of meaningful work in that field... he was languishing as a studio portrait photographer at at local department store! A friend got his foot in the door at Marvel, working in the paste up/production department, and one day, just like Lana Turner being "found" at Schwab's Drug Store, Marvel editor Tony Isabella burst into the production room flustered that another writer had missed the deadline to submit a story for "Sons of the Tiger", and Bill piped up: "I can write that!" Tony gave him a shot, and as legend has it, Bill wrote the story on his lunch hour, and his writing career was born. Now, progressing quickly, in the early 1980s Bill was running into some battles with his then editor-in-chief, and was subsequently seeing his assignments cut back. He was also very much involved with the handful of Marvel creators that were striving to get control over the rights to their own creations, as Marvel was in the practice of listing EVERYONE (except Stan Lee) as being merely a "work for hire" employee. Bill managed to secure funding through Marvel's scholarship program, and got admitted to Brooklyn Law School. He never wanted to stop writing, and in fact, continued to write throughout his school years, and after, albeit not always for Marvel, and not as frequently.

Me: Okay, let's talk about the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I loved it!!! What did you think? 

Michael: Aside from what I considered the needless 3D gimmick, I though the movie was SPECTACULAR!

Me: Marvel and Disney... who I have worked for for 26 years gave a private viewing for Bill and his family, am I right?

Michael: The private viewing was for Bill. My wife and cousin were there to assist. My wife, Liz, and I were invited to, and attended Marvel's advance screening for employees/family a few days earlier.

Me: I was glad to see his name was in the credits along with Rockets other creator Keith Giffen. Have you heard from Keith?

Michael: No, I haven't had any direct contact with Keith, but I was very pleased to see his & Bill's name on the big screen! The credit for creating a character as rich as Rocket Raccoon was long overdue for both!

Me: What was Bill's reaction to the movie, and his name in the credits?

Michael: He loved the movie, and seeing his name in the credits was the culmination of all of his efforts, and his dreams come true!

Me: Rocket has also been in a number of cartoons and video games recently as well... has Bill seen those, or have you?

Michael: Neither, although I have seen Internet postings & articles about them.

Me: You know if someone would of told me in '85 Rocket would one day be in a live action movie I would never believe it. I bet you guys feel the same way, am I right?

Michael: You are 100% correct! Out of ALL the many characters Bill created, none of us would ever have thought that furry little critter would one day be the BIGGEST STAR IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE!

Me: Bill and yourself have received quite a bit of press lately thanks to the movie Guardians of the Galaxy. I read that Marvel hasn't helped Bill or his family financially, but that's not true, is it?

Michael: That is most definitely NOT true. Marvel has been wonderful, and Bill has been treated very well! We are thrilled to be a such a big part of Marvel/Disney's success, and we are hopeful that this will continue far into the future.

Me: Are you surprised at all the press Bill has been getting lately?

Michael: In a way, yes, but in a different way, no. I'm afraid I'm slightly biased, but I've always thought Bill deserved these kind of accolades!

Me: Michael, tell me about the book "Mantlo: A Life In Comics".

Me: When did this book originally came out?

Michael: Wow.... believe it or not, it's been nearly ten years since David Yurkovich first contacted me with the idea to write a book saluting Bill. We first discussed it in 2005, with David generously offering to write a semi-biographical history of Bill's career at Marvel as a tribute to the man, he said, inspired him to become a writer. It took us nearly two years to get the project completed, and the book was published in 2007. We did a very limited print run... I believe no more than 500 copies, and those books were sort of the beginnings of the Bill Mantlo Support Fund efforts that I've been running to raise funds to help improve Bill's quality of life, and perhaps give hope to the dream of him making whatever further recovery he can from this nightmare injury.

Me: Did you help write it?

Michael: I wrote the introduction.

Me: Do you think David Yurkovich would want to be interviewed for the Phile? Do you still keep in touch with him?

Michael: I don't have any idea how David would feel about being interviewed, but yes, I have stayed in touch with him through the years, and ironically, he has just relocated to the next town over from me here in Delaware!

Me: There's a lot of Rocket merch out now and even new Cloak and Dagger action figures which Bill also created... are you or anybody in the family collecting them?

Michael: I have a huge collection of my own, and am planning eventually to dedicate a room in my house to Bill, and all the amazing things he's done.

Me: Bill needs a Rocket bobble head next to his bed. If Marvel doesn't send him one do you want me to?

Michael: Not necessary... Marvel has given Bill many, many things.

Me: Michael, thanks so much for being on the Phile talking about your brother. On the Phile these last few years I have a tradition where I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. I was gonna skip this, but decided I'll ask you. Here goes... If you could be brilliant in one subject which would you choose?

Michael: Does it have to be a "subject"... hahaha? I would have loved to be talented enough to play Major League Baseball!

Me: Michael, thanks again, give Bill a huge hug from myself and all my readers, and please come back on the Phile again soon. Is there a website you'd like to mention?

Michael: Sure... Greg Pak's Pakbuzz site is up there at the top of my list (as Greg has been such a big supporter of Bill's), the Bill Mantlo Facebook page (set up by Bill's fans), for those Spanish speaking fans out there, there's always Admiradores De Bill Mantlo on Spain's (I think) Facebook, Javier Hernandez' page, Rocket Raccon's page, Marvel Cinematic Universe page, Marvel Cosmic Junkies page ... uhhhh, I'm running out of room here... LOL!

Me: Michael, thanks again for being here, and take care.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Lee Abramson and of course Michael Mantlo. And thanks to Bill Mantlo for co-creating one of my favorite Marvel characters ever... Rocket. The Phile will be back next Thursday with Phile Alum Lee Negin. Then on Friday it's author Lonnie Burr. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker.

No comments: