THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL

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THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL a.k.a. Doreen Green, is Marvel Comics’ heroine who possesses all the powers of squirrel and girl, seen here charging into action, with her best friend Tippy Toe at the ready.

Designed by my friend Erica Henderson, current artist of USB, whom I pestered for this  design as soon as she was announced as the artist. (Erica and I have collaborated before.) It was designed to be in-scale with the Batgirl Black & White sculpture I did, and is about 7″ high by 11″ long (Tippy Toe is about the tiniest thing I’ve ever sculpted and I had to bust out the magnifying lamp to work on her). It was sculpted with Sculpey Firm, Apoxie Sculpt, and the finished piece was cast using Smooth On Mold Star 30 and Smooth Cast 305.

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Erica, writer Ryan North, and colorist Rico Renzi are creating some of the most fun, exciting, and fresh superhero comics in years. A collected edition of the first story will be on sale August 19th at your finer comic book shops!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl was created by Will Murray and the legendary Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko.

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SPIDER-MAN (Not the Spider-man You’re Thinking Of)

A while back I was asked to sculpt a beautiful hairless cat named Spider-Man. Although I didn’t get to meet the model in person, his owners sent me some pictures of the handsome boy. I hope I did him justice.

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Every time I sculpt animals I think I should do it more often.

MIGHTY MARVEL MAY #29: KITTY PRYDE (with LOCKHEED)

Although Spider-Man fought crime as a teenager, Kitty Pryde joined the X-Men at the young age of 13-and-a-half, and was already a prodigy and computer whiz when her mutant abilities kicked in. Her power is nothing all that formidable: she can walk through solid objects, but only for as long as she can hold her breath. While a great defensive ability, as superhero powers go, it’s not much help in the way of kicking people’s asses. But that’s not too important, because Kitty’s greatest strengths are her tenacity and her brain.

Created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne (who named her for an old friend of his), Kitty first appeared in X-MEN #129 in 1980, where she was almost recruited by Emma Frost for her rival (evil) Massachusetts Academy before Professor Xavier convinced her to come to his school instead. Under the code-name Sprite, she was the X-Men’s youngest member at the time. She became a little sister to many on the team and she developed a crush on teammate Colossus. Eventually he reciprocated.

Superheroines are often more popular for their physical attributes than their character, posed in ungainly “broke back” positions on covers to sell books to titillated adolescents. Kitty has always been a heroine first, smart, capable, and brave. The fact that she has a pet dragon from outer space doesn’t hurt, either. She grew up on the pages of the X-MEN, and it was  great to grow up alongside her and to have her as a role model.

(Edit: In an effort to beat the dreaded deadline doom last night, I uploaded pics of Lockheed with this temporary, unfinished wings. I’ve now updated the pics.)

I hope you’re down for tomorrow,  the final entry in MIGHTY MARVEL MAY.

MIGHTY MARVEL MAY #27: SPIDER-MAN

 

Poor Peter Parker. Orphaned as a boy and raised by his elderly aunt and uncle, he was a frail science geek who was bullied at school. When a freak accident involving a radioactive spider-bite granted him he proportionate strength, speed, and agility of a spider, he did what anyone would do: he went on television to get rich and famous.

The world had taught Peter the hard lesson that he should always look out for himself first, which is why he failed to stop an escaping robber, something well within his ability to do without much risk to himself. Peter’s beloved Uncle Ben paid the price for Peter’s arrogance when the robber shot and killed Ben that very night. After bringing the crook to justice Peter Parker- now and forever the Amazing Spider-Man- remembered the more important lesson Ben had taught him: with great power comes great responsibility.

That was the story Stan Lee and Steve Ditko told in fourteen pages in AMAZING FANTASY #15 in 1962. The story has changed very little in the retelling over the years, and that core guilt- that Peter could have helped and did not- has driven the character ever since.

Spider-Man was revolutionary for a number of reasons. He was a teenager, but not a sidekick, who called himself a man, as almost any almost-grown boy would do. He had problems, usually very serious ones, that usually came less from his adventures as Spider-Man as from his own poverty, need to care for his elderly Aunt May (the revelation that Peter was Spider-Man would, he feared, give her a fatal heart attack), and his own awkward adolescence. Now able to easily beat high school bully Flash Thompson, Peter needed to restrain himself and continue playing the meek bookworm he no longer was

But far from a dark, melancholy character, Spider-Man was exuberant as he swung over Manhattan and bounced  around his foes, wisecracking and attaching a note “Compliments of your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” to defeated criminals. It was as if being Spider-Man was the only time Peter could be who he really wanted to be without consequence.

Peter failed almost as often as he succeeded. His victories were usually temporary. He chose to be good when being selfish would be so much easier. Ditko’s design for Spider-Man is one of the most iconic in all of comics. His own masked face is his emblem, a face that could hide anyone, that could be any one of us.

Be here for tomorrow’s MIGHTY MARVEL MAY because it’s gonna rock.

MIGHTY MARVEL MAY #22: J. JONAH JAMESON

The worst boss in the world.

J. Jonah Jameson, the self-aggrandizing publisher of NOW Magazine and New York City’s THE DAILY BUGLE, was quick to publicly lambaste the misunderstood hero Spider-Man on the pages of his tabloids. Most of his photos of the elusive wall-crawler were provided by freelance photographer and frequent whipping boy Peter Parker. In an ethical paradox, Peter Parker was secretly Spider-Man: Parker was selling “news” pictures of himself to the miserly Jameson. The fact that James used the pictures to accompany hatchet-pieces about Spider-Man seemed to assuage Parker’s already-heavy burden of guilt somewhat.

Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in SPIDER-MAN #1 in 1963, Jameson took what could have been a one-issue appearance and stretched it out for fifty years and counting. Forever chomping cigars, bellowing “PARKER!” and pounding his fists,  JJJ alternates between buffoonish, moments of occasional menace and even rarer heroism. Mostly a straw-man blowhard, he is sometimes surprisingly human and sympathetic. In one early internal monologue, we learn that Jameson’s hatred of Spider-Man stems from his own feelings of jealousy: Spider-Man is genuinely admired and seeks no reward for his good deeds. Jameson is shamed by Spidey’s selflessness and devil-may-care attitude. Despite all his worldly success, Jameson seems most proud of tarnishing Spider-Man’s reputation.

In recent years, Jameson has actually ascended to the position of mayor of New York City. This has given him a bigger pulpit from which to attack his hated rival, and greater height for him to fall on his face.

Christmas comes a little early in tomorrow’s installment of MIGHTY MARVEL MAY!

MIGHTY MARVEL MAY #21: DAZZLER

Poor Alison Blaire. All she ever wanted to do was be a rock star. Poor Dazzler. She was secretly a mutant who could transform sound into light. Poor Marvel. Too late to cash in on the roller disco craze.

1980 was an amazing year, neither 70s or 80s. It was entirely transitional. Disco was over, but MTV was just an idea. Image was becoming synonymous with sound where popular music was concerned. The movie XANADU is 1980 in cinematic form. The hero Dazzler is 1980 in superhero form.

Introduced in UNCANNY X-MEN #130 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Dazzler was actually created by writer Tom Defalco and artist John Romita, with input by Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter as a promotional tie-in between Casablanca Records and Marvel Comics. Some of the earliest development drawings depict her has a tall black woman with close-cropped hair, once again recalling singer Grace Jones. The Casablanca deal was complicated and at one point there were negotiations for a film starring Bo Derek, hot from the movie “10.” But Bo Derek came as a package deal with husband John Derek and the film died in development.

Never one to throw a viable idea away, the character was introduced in an X-Men story before being launched into her own book. In it, Dazzler was a performer first and only very reluctantly a hero second. The title was never great, but Dazzler, the character, charmed me. Ridiculous as her premise was, no matter how unlikely the occasional appearance of Spider-Man or the X-Men,  Dazzler herself was strangely earnest and compelling. She just wanted to perform for the people. Who could hate that?
Tomorrow another powerful potentate of the printed page in the next installment of MIGHTY MARVEL MAY!

MIGHTY MARVEL MAY #14: MARY JANE WATSON

“Face it, tiger…”

Before she was finally revealed by creators Stan Lee and John Romita in SPIDER-MAN #42, the running joke was that Peter (Spider-Man) Parker didn’t want to be set up with Mrs. Watson’s niece Mary Jane. Steve Ditko had teased readers with glimpses of her here and there, suggesting she was a high-fashion femme fatale. But when Peter opened the door to meet her, it was Romita’s version that greeted him.

Peter was smitten with Gwen Stacy at the time, and MJ was introduced to complicate things with a love triangle. She was immediately irrepressible, the ypart girl to Gwen’s chaste girl-next-door. Peter was destined to be with Gwen, it seemed, but MJ was hard for him- and readers- to resist.  She was fun but troubled. Smart but irresponsible. Lovable but frustrating.

Eventually Gwen was murdered by the Green Goblin. Over a surprisingly long time, Peter and Mary Jane became a couple. A retcon (retroactive continuity addition) had Mary Jane declaring she’d known Peter was secretly Spider-Man all along, had loved him from afar, but couldn’t be with him because of it.  They were eventually married, had numerous rocky years, and their marriage was, after two decades, magically annulled by editorial fiat in a story too dumb to waste any time on. Such is the grind of monthly comic book continuity.

Because she was never designed to be Spider-Man’s girlfriend- at the time that was Gwen- Mary Jane’s life didn’t revolve around his the way numerous other superhero-accessory-girlfriends seem to. She had her own interests, and disappeared from Peter/Spidey’s life for long stretches. Later stories would suggest a more longstanding connection between her and Peter, but they were never able to tamp down the larger-than-life spirit that first told Peter that, upon meeting her, he’d “hit the jackpot.”

That’s all for today, but don’t be blue: more MIGHTY MARVEL MAY tomorrow!