T-shirt #119: Doctor Strange
I love Doctor Strange. I should start today's entry with that confession. I would be hard pressed to select a favourite Marvel superhero, but if I was forced to do so, the good doctor would definitely make the top five. (Do you sense a list coming? Yes, you should.)
Doctor Strange has one of the coolest CAPES in all of superhero comics.
PREPARE for a HEFTY posting.
Today's blog entry had been in the works for several weeks, like an elaborate magic spell. I do not think it is fully crystallized yet but I have grown weary of re-numbering and delaying writing it, so here is what I have so far.
Right now, I am working about a week ahead with the blog. This may not be as fascinating to you as it is to me, but I do like to analyze process continually and in depth.
I have found that sketching the entries and planning ahead helps with composition, though this only works well when I am actually working ahead, drafting at least a day in advance, and spending time thinking about the composition of each entry.
As I shared, this entry has been in the works for weeks. Originally, it was to be T-shirt #89, and as I listed the topics between then and T-shirt #100, I kept moving my draft of this entry as my process evolved. One such evolution came about when I realized that I did not need to compose one, long, contiguous essay for each blog entry (in fact, some people are now muttering "please,don't" under their breath), and that I could work with labeled sections in short (or what I think of as short) inter-related topics. Though today's work hardly constitutes short by any definition.
And, yes, I have a Doctor Strange toy.
How could I not?
DOCTOR STRANGE RESEARCH
Meanwhile, I often research in bed at night using my Nexus-7 tablet. I look up various sites on the Internet, usually starting with the Wikipedia site.
I found some strange and wonderful things on the Internet devoted to Doctor Strange.
The DOCTOR STRANGE WIKIPEDIA site is pretty decent, though hardly fantastic.
I found many HUGE Doctor Strange fans. Like Ptor, who runs a blog dedicated to Dr. Strange:
MARVEL DIRECTORY: DOCTOR STRANGE
MARVEL WIKI: DOCTOR STRANGE
BROKEN FAN SITE: DOCTOR STRANGE
COVER BROWSER: DOCTOR STRANGE
Doctor Strange Tumblr
Many of my favorite 1970s Doctor Strange comics were written by Steve Englehart, who discusses them here.
STEVE ENGLEHART on DOCTOR STRANGE
And, of course, there is talk of a Doctor Strange movie (tentatively for 2016) with many posts one can find via Google for Joseph Gordon Leavitt as the front runner to play the good doctor.
DR. STRANGE MOVIE?
Of all the research, one of the craziest sites (and by crazy I mean wonderfully crazy) is
THE LESSER BOOK OF THE VISHANTI: all contents
THE LESSER BOOK OF THE VISHANTI: The religion
and related materials at
Crazy and wonderful stuff. First of all, the Vishanti book is compiled by Cat Yronwode. I recognized that name when I started reading but I could not place it. Luckily, all these questions are answered on the Internet. Cat Yronwode is one of the leaders/founders of Eclipse Comics, which I wrote about back around the time I first conceived of writing about Doctor Strange in T-shirt #89: Lone Wolf & Cub. I mentioned Mai the Psychic Girl in that blog entry, and how this comic and Cat Yronwode connected to another blog entry I had already started, which is this one, Doctor Strange. It all comes full circle, eh?
Eclipse Comics published all sorts of great stuff back in the 1980s, such as Miracleman (Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman), The Rocketeer (Dave Stevens), and Zot! (Scott McCloud) among many other great and wonderful things.
Apparently, Catherine "Cat" Yronwode is one of the biggest Doctor Strange fans on the planet. She also happens to be a practitioner of folk magic.
Cat's LESSER BOOK OF THE VISHANTI was a project she originally completed in the early 1970s as she was an active participant in various Zines and APAs (Amateur Press Associations). A decade later, I belonged to one devoted to the Teen Titans as I described in T-shirt #62: Nightwing. I wish I had been active in fandom when Cat created this book. It's astounding and super cool.
In 1979, Yronwode printed 177 copies of THE LESSER BOOK OF THE VISHANTI and sent copies to everyone she knew in fandom and in the comics industry. The publication became highly respected, and many creators who tackled Doctor Strange thereafter sought copies for its meticulous research and as a compendium of Doctor Strange lore, spells, and facts.
The contents page shows dozens of links and related articles and appendices.
One core of the work which has many cores is found in the second link I posted in which Yronwode compounds a "Vishanti Cosmology" from what readers have learned of the Vishanti through Doctor Strange comics. It is a 15 page essay with an enormous glossary following. This is the kind of crazy and wonderful thing that makes me love comics even more than I already do. And I think Cat Yronwode is amazingly cool.
If you like comics even a little, but more so, if you like fantasy (as in fiction or role playing games) or magic (as in real spells that actually work in our world), then you might want to do some exploring on your own of the links for Vishanti book and Lucky Mojo. The materials and links and content are all a bit overwhelming, but there is amazing stuff to be uncovered, such as "A proposed Revision of the Theory of Fractional Dimensions" and the "Sacred Sex Home Page."
A MOST INTERESTING SECTION FROM THE COSMOLOGY ARTICLE: "This brief survey of the Vishantist faith would be incomplete without one final note: on the letters page of STRANGE TALES 129 a reader wrote to ask whether the deities mentioned in hte stories were "the gods of some long-dead religion" or whether Stan Lee "made them up as [he] went along". Lee offered "a late-model no-prize" to the person who could come up with the best answer to this question...The Vishantist faith, as documented above, embraces a world-view which can best be labeled "intersubjective." If one were to ask Baron Mordo or Dr. Strange whether their deities had been "made up" or were remnants of an ancient cult, they would probably laugh and turn away. To even ask would be to reveal oneself as a cowan, an outsider. Actually, to the subjectivist-magician, the question, as phrased, is utterly meaningless. It matters not at all whether the deities were or were not at one time "made up" because they are now in Dormammu's words, "a shared belief" and, as such, they have become the goddesses and gods of a cult as ancient and as "real" as its collective adherents believe it to be...The existence of "other dimensions" cannot be disproved by any known objective science, at least not at this time, and the nature of "other dimensions" is open to any interpretation one chooses to make. One theory of "other dimensions", the so-called "Omniversal Theory", postulates that "all 'fiction' is 'real' -- somewhere" and that there are "alternative universes" where "comic books" are "reality." Omniversally speaking, the Vishantist pantheon was neither "made up", nor is it the remnant of "some long-dead religion." Vishantist deities are exactly what they purport to be -- the living goddesses and gods of an active Occult Order on another continuum, the "alternative universe" we call Earth-Marvel. 'Nuff said, Hoggoth-lovers -- and may your Amulet never tickle!" (Yronwode, 1978-2010).
MAGIC NOT MAGIC THE GATHERING
Given that I have written about my affection for and current playing of Dungeons and Dragons on this blog before, it should come as no surprise that I also played Magic the Gathering, the customizable "trading card" game. Though I think re-sale is a more accurate term as I have not seen so much trading where this game is concerned. I am not going to write about also playing Magic the Gathering, at least not today. In the mid-1990s, I was quite obsessed with the game. I made decks. I planned strategies. It all ruined a relationship (which was best in the long run).
So, at this point, I do not own a Magic the Gathering shirt, but you never know. If you have not figured this out, I like T-shirts.
Now, why am I mentioning MTG? Well, Dr. Strange is one of the most magic-oriented of superheroes, and magic makes me think of Magic The Gathering as well as the magic spells in D&D, the latter I borrowed many of the greater spellcaster/creators, such as Oshtur, Hoggoth, and the Vishanti for magic in the game. I mean, really, the "Crimson Bands of Cyttorak" and the "Flames of Faltine" are just too cool not to swipe and use in D&D.
I performed magic semi-professionally as a young boy (ages 13-19). I went by the stage name El Christo. As a freshman in high school, I was cast as the Wizard in Gull Lake High School's production of Once Upon a Mattress, and I had to devise a costume. My aunt sewed the costume for me, and the cape was based on Doctor Strange's cape. You can see the cape in the two photos here (above and left). Obviously, these are not photos from my magic performing days. I have no scans of those handy. However, I may add some at a future date in an update here or in a future blog entry.
These photos also reveal a future T-shirt for Captain Marvel or Shazam as he is known by many for the name he utters to activate the hero within. I will feature this shirt separately another time and probably include the rest of the photos from this party at the home of my friend Darrough West.
My goal in dressing up in these photos was to attend a superhero-themed party in which I was attempting to dress like Doctor Strange; however, I did not have the actual shirt with the symbol Strange wears, so this was the best I could do.
As for performing magic, I do not perform anymore, though I am still interested. I am considering going to the magic get together in Colon for the first time since I was 17 or 18 years old. I do not have any T-shirts featuring magic as an entertainment and performance art form, like theatre. But that may change...
DOCTOR STRANGE - PSYCHEDELIA
Of all the heroes of the 1960s and early 1970s, Doctor Strange is probably the best example of one that embodies the psychedelic culture of the times.
I do not usually dump so much quoted material (and quotes within quotes for which I provided the Wiki reference list), but all of this is written so clearly that I can hardly improve on it. AND if I have kept your attention this far, dear reader, then I am honored to serve, much like Wong is honored to serve Doctor Strange despite the racist-laden stereotypes of the original depiction.
"Comics historian Mike Benton wrote, "The Dr. Strange stories of the 1960s constructed a cohesive cosmology that would have thrilled any self-respecting theosophist. College students, minds freshly opened by psychedelic experiences and Eastern mysticism, read Ditko and Lee's Dr. Strange stories with the belief of a recent Hare Krishna convert. Meaning was everywhere, and readers analyzed the Dr. Strange stories for their relationship to Egyptian myths, Sumarian gods, and Jungian archetypes".
"People who read 'Doctor Strange' thought people at Marvel must be heads [i.e., drug users]," recalled then-associate editor and former Doctor Strange writer Roy Thomas in 1971, "because they had had similar experiences high on mushrooms. But ... I don't use hallucinogens, nor do I think any artists do."
As co-plotter and later sole plotter, (in the "Marvel Method"), Ditko would take Strange into ever-more-abstract realms. In an epic 17-issue story arc in Strange Tales #130-146 (July 1965 - July 1966), Ditko introduced the cosmic character Eternity, who personified the universe and was depicted as a silhouette whose outlines are filled with the cosmos. As historian Bradford W. Wright describes,
Steve Ditko contributed some of his most surrealistic work to the comic book and gave it a disorienting, hallucinogenic quality. Dr. Strange's adventures take place in bizarre worlds and twisting dimensions that resembled Salvador Dalí paintings. ...Inspired by the pulp-fiction magicians of Stan Lee's childhood as well as by contemporary Beat culture. Dr. Strange remarkably predicted the youth counterculture's fascination with Eastern mysticism and psychedelia. Never among Marvel's more popular or accessible characters, Dr. Strange still found a niche among an audience seeking a challenging alternative to more conventional superhero fare.
From the beginning, Doctor Strange used magical artifacts to augment his power, such as the Cloak of Levitation, the Eye of Agamotto, the Book of the Vishanti, and the Orb of Agamotto. From the first story, Strange's residence, the Sanctum Sanctorum, was a part of the character's mythos" (DOCTOR STRANGE WIKIPEDIA, 2013).
- Benton, Mike (1991). Superhero Comics of the Silver Age: The Illustrated History. Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Company. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-87833-746-0.
- Green, Robin (September 16, 1971). "Face Front! Clap Your Hands, You're on the Winning Team!". Rolling Stone(via fan site Green Skin's Grab-Bag) (91): page 31 of print version. Archived from the original on September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011 deadurl= no.
- "Strange Tales #134". Grand Comics Database. "Indexer notes: Part 5 of 17. First mention of Eternity. Strange would finally find it in Strange Tales #138 (Nov. 1965)."
- Wright, Bradford W. (2001). Comic Book Nation: Transformation of a Youth Culture. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 213. ISBN 0-8018-7450-5.
- The blue "novice" version first appeared in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963), with the red "master" version first appearing in Strange Tales #127 (Dec. 1964).
- Lee, Stan (w), Ditko, Steve (p), Ditko, Steve (i). "The Origin of Dr. Strange" Strange Tales 115 (December 1963)
- Lee, Stan (w), Ditko, Steve (p), Ditko, Steve (i). "Return to the Nightmare World!" Strange Tales 116 (January 1964)
- Lee, Stan (w), Ditko, Steve (p), Ditko, Steve (i). "The Possessed!" Strange Tales 118 (March 1964)
JUNG? Did someone say JUNG? Look for more Jungian rhetoric hereabouts soon since I already have some posts in the works. I am a huge Jungian, and I take every chance I can get to pander and promote, advocate and proffer the ideas of Carl Jung.
Surreal landscapes have always been a favourite of mine, and Steve Ditko's work in this arena is unparalleled in comics. Many great artists followed creating their own excellence with Doctor Strange, such as one of my all-time favorites: Gene Colan.
And yet, I could not include Steve Ditko, as much as I love his work, in the top five favourite 1960s comic artists, which I detailed in T-shirt #83. After Kirby, Kane, Adams, Colan, and Romita, I would surely place Ditko sixth.
THE POCKET BOOK CIRCA 1979
I like collected editions. Back in the 1970s, there were few collected editions of comic books. Origins of Marvel Comics and the series of books that followed were among the very few.
As you know, and if you don't know it, then you are learning now, I am an extremely sentimental soul. So not only is this Pocket Book of Doctor Strange dear to me, but so is the inscription written by my mother. It was a tradition in our family to inscribe books given as gifts, as this one was for my birthday in 1979. I debated sharing such a personal thing as this inscription written by my mother. But since my mother has lost the ability to write at all, examples of her careful and beautiful cursive handwriting are very dear to me.
REMEMBER WHAT I SAID ABOUT CAPES?
Cape are cool. It's a rule. Doctor Strange's cape is the special Cloak of Levitation given to him by the Ancient One in Strange Tales 126-127. It is a magical artifact that floats of its own accord.
How cool is that?
MARVEL TOP TWENTY NON-FLAGSHIP SUPERHEROES - MEN
Yes, here it is, the list you have been waiting for. It was difficult to make this list. I had to confine myself to male Marvel heroes who either did not have their own books or who had/have solo books but are not considered the pillars of the Franchise (like Spider-Man and Captain America). Doctor Strange heads the list.
- Doctor Strange
- The Silver Surfer
- The Black Panther
- The Vision
- Adam Warlock
- The Black Knight
- Son of Satan
- Iron Fist
- Black Bolt
- Ghost Rider
- 3D Man
- Machine Man
- Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu
- Captain Marvel
WEEKLY COMIC BOOK STACK
I am not reading quickly enough, so I am not getting through the weekly stack each week, which means comics that I usually read before the next one comes out are falling into the back log. The solution to this problem is two-fold: Read more comics before bed each night; schedule a comic-reading marathon.
Often I have comic marathons on Sundays when Liesel is at work and I can lie on the couch with the puppy and watch sports. Football is great for this. Last Sunday, when I would have done this, I chose to play D&D (Pathfinder actually but it's D&D). So, I fell farther behind in the comic reading avocation.
ALSO, my current book, Homeland by Cory Doctorow, is getting good, so I am reading that or I am reading for this blog, which limits the number of comics I read per night. There's only so much time in each day.
|All New X-Men #14|
Still, if you wish to dial back to the first installment in T-shirt #92, you will see some shifting. Ultimate Spider-Man claims top spot because though it may not be the best of all these comics, it is one of my most enjoyable reads. The last two titles before the back log list are up in the main list simply because within the last month I cleared some back log, and so I have none of those titles back-logged. Originally, I placed JLA in the second spot, but after some consideration, I just like Fantastic Four better. Fraction and Bagley are doing great things with that book, and I have just always loved the book's family dynamic. All New X-Men probably takes third due solely to the cover seen here. Jean Grey in the thrall of Mastermind gets me because of the history of the story plus I like Bendis, and think he's in a Golden Age as a comic writer, and Stuart Immonen has always been a favourite artist. I am quite enjoying Thor and Nova, and they get high ratings as do the others. Avengers is good, but the art puts me off; I prefer Deodato, who draws New Avengers. Buying Red Sonja was one part nostalgia for the 1970s, one part support for a company who wrestled a trademark away from Marvel, and one part because I really like Gail Simone as a writer.
COMICS FOR 1307.17 (JULY 17 2013)
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #25
Fantastic Four #010
All New X-Men #014
Justice League of America #6
Thor - God of Thunder # 010
Iron Man #013
Red Sonja #1 (From Dynamite Comics)
Wonder Woman #22
BACK LOG FROM THIS WEEK - 1307.17
Legion of Superheroes #22
Batman and Catwoman #22
Birds of Prey #22
- And I fell off the X-Force wagon. I bought issues #1-2 and quite liked them and then forgot I was reading the book. So I grabbed issues #3, and 5-8, but Fanfare was missing issue #4. We are working to rectify this oversight.
- chris tower - 1307.18 - 8:50
PS: There is chatter about a Doctor Strange movie, as I wrote. This is "proposed art" for it.