365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Friday, December 6, 2013

T-shirt #260 - Stark Industries R&D Department

T-shirt #260 - Stark Industries R&D Department

The other night during my reading time in bed when I started the Warren Ellis/ Mike McKone graphic novel of Avengers: Endless Wartime, I had one of those brain fart moments about which I am a little embarrassed. The book starts with an introduction by Clark Gregg, the actor who plays Agent Phil Coulson in the Iron Man and The Avengers movies and now on the TV show Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Gregg was writing about his introduction to comic books. First, he explained that he had been a mad thing for Science Fiction (SF) reading Bradbury, Asimov, and Dick in the early 1970s. I have an aside about these authors, but I will save it (see below). He said that during this time his brother brought home an issue of Iron Man drawn by Jim Starlin.


I thought to myself "when did Jim Starlin EVER draw Iron Man?"

I could not remember any run of issues with Starlin on the art for Iron Man, a book I read regularly in the 1970s. I had a subscription for a couple of years after I asked my parents for comic book subscriptions as Christmas or birthday presents, alleviating the need to pick up issues at various stores around town, which meant that I was not asking during each car ride to stop at the liquor store that had a comic rack, Louie's Pipe Shop, the Michigan News Agency, or if I could head over to the magazine and book department when we were in Meijer buying groceries.

But Starlin on Iron Man??? I assumed that this "actor," who was trying to pass himself off as a comic geek did not know what the fuck he was talking about, and no one bothered to fact check his little preface. After all, I KNEW Iron Man, and this fraud, whose fraudulent nature was further emphasized by his choice of SF authors, had obviously also tried a lot of drugs in the 1970s.

But I had a handy computer on my night stand, the ever useful Google Nexus 7 tablet. I quickly searched "Jim Starlin Iron Man," and to my shame, I found one of my favourite Iron Man comic book covers (see left). But this was not Starlin's first work on Iron Man. He originated the character of Thanos in Iron Man #55. Starlin drew issues 53, 55, and 56 of Iron Man in 1972 and 1973 and contributed to issue 54 along with one of my favourite artists of all time: Gil Kane. I wrote of my love of Gil Kane among others in my list of favourite 1960s comic book artists in T-shirt #83 the X-Men Logo.

I have been threatening to create a list of favourite 1970s artists, which would surely include Jim Starlin as well as George Pérez. One of these days I am going to do that.

But back to Starlin. Okay, so I am obviously getting old. Or rather, my comics are all packed in boxes, which I have not looked at in many years. I have not SEEN that issue of Iron Man in maybe 20 years or more. I remember issue #100 well as it sat on top of a stack of comics for a long time while I was grounded and not allowed to read comics. I was not allowed to do anything but homework, which is a different story, and one that I may not tell on the blog.

Anyway, regardless, I am ashamed at my faulty memory because like Clark Gregg (who is no fraud and seems like a cool guy), I was also a HUGE Starlin fan.

Just a cool side note, in doing a little research here, I have discovered that Jim Starlin's home town (or possibly current town) is Detroit, Michigan.

I met Jim Starlin when I worked at Marvel Comics' Epic Comics division in 1985 for my college internship. Epic was publishing Starlin's Dreadstar. I was impressed that Starlin's scripts came in on handwritten sheets of yellow legal paper, the same paper that I used for my writing. I thought professional comic scripting would be typed. I managed to get my hands on Dreadstar as well as many other Epic Comics before making my temporary move to New York City. I read all the published issues of Dreadstar, which at that time numbered about 20 or so issues. I would rank this reading experience as one of my top five comic book reading experiences of all time. There's nothing like reading a comic book novel, which at the time, 1984, had not yet really been invented (though Dave Sim was hard at work on one).

Like Clark Gregg, who may be about the same age as I am, I was obsessed with  Starlin's character Adam Warlock, while I was in junior high. Gregg's description of himself is an accurate description of me and my behaviour: "So obsessed, in fact, that when I recently dug up an old middle school notebook, the pages were so dominated by sketches of Adam Warlock that the school work was crammed into a few rumpled sheets in the back. Which is, of course, how one ends up with a career in the arts."

I want to delve into greater depth about Jim Starlin and his Warlock character on my blog, but I am going to have to find the right shirt. Believe it or not, but not only do I not own a Warlock shirt, I cannot find any shirts devoted to Starlin's Warlock character.

Nevertheless, Jim Starlin is one of the heavy hitters of comics past and present, and if you like comics and do not know this, then check out the link below of "Comics You Should Own," and at the very least find DREADSTAR. Yes, it is Star Wars inspired, surely, but it's so much more than a Star Wars knock off.





Starlin is hinting that he has completed a 100 page Marvel project due in 2014 featuring his rendition of Thanos. See the link above.

This is exciting news for several reasons. One is that Starlin invented Thanos. Another is that the big bad villain seen at the end of the Avengers movie is Thanos, though few but the most well read viewers (well read of comics) know this fact.

Also, Marvel just finished a huge crossover event that featured Thanos and left him in much the same state as Starlin did at the end of a major story arc in 1977 for Marvel Comics.

Here's a page from Starlin's Iron Man run.


But I feel I have strayed too far from the cool new T-shirt: Stark Industries Research and Development.

Yes, this is a NEW T-shirt, and so it brings my total new t-shirts since I started this blog to 30 shirts. I had four new shirts arrive in the mail Wednesday, and I have a stack of four other new shirts that have been aching to be photographed and featured, some since this summer. What a blessing to have such a long lead time! And yes, the shirts themselves ache. Have you never been around a shirt eager to be featured on my blog? Well, let me tell you. That's how they are. Practically jumping up and down of their own accord: "Pick me! Pick me!"

I like this shirt very much because it is one of those faux logos, the kind of shirt that employees of Stark Industries Research and Development would wear if Stark Industries Research and Development existed.

SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS: Bradbury, Asimov, and Dick????

Back to Clark Gregg and the subject of Science Fiction writers as promised. Why are these the three most often mentioned SF authors from the 1960s-1970s period? Were they really the most often read authors?

I balk because it seems to me that these three authors get named most often not because they were the most widely read SF authors or the best SF authors but because these are the three that one is supposed to name. They are the "name brand" authors.

Though Heinlein gets mentioned often, why not Arthur C. Clarke? By the time Gregg referenced (1972-73), Clarke's 2001, A Space Odyssey had come out to coincide with the Kubrick film. Or what of Frank Herbert? Dune came out in 1968, and though it was not immediately a best seller, if one wandered into a SF section of a bookstore progressive enough to have one in 1972 or just trolled the fiction racks, one would likely find a copy.

I had heard of Philip K. Dick because he was mentioned prominently in my copy of The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, one of my favorite and most often read and reread books of all time. This encyclopedia listed Dick among the progenitors of a New Wave of Science Fiction with psychologically rich stories by Dick, Alfred Bester, Fritz Leiber, Philip Jose Farmer, and even Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End, all of whom were part of a 1950s bevy of writers that gave rise to the New Wave of the 1960s and 1970s, in which they continued to write, joined by JG Ballard, John Brunner, Ursula LeGuin. Harlan Ellison, Brian Aldiss, Poul Anderson, and Michael Moorcock.

Whew! Long damn sentence.

Though the passage does not mention them, I would add Larry Niven, Samuel R. Delaney, Gordon Dickson, Harry Harrison, Clifford Simak, Norman Spinrad, and Roger Zelazny. There are others I am leaving out. Those are just off the top of my head.

Sue me.

Back in those old days of the 1970s, we learned about SF authors by word of mouth, by tracking authors published in SF magazines, and by looking through the shelves or racks of the book store or library. The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction was a rare and amazing animal and opened up my world of SF to many of the authors I listed simply because I read that book back to front multiple times and and wrote a research paper in high school (which I regurgitated in college) on the subject of Science Fiction. Sure those authors that Gregg named are all good, but Bradbury never won a Hugo (he has since won retroactively for Fahrenheit 451). Dick won in 1975. And Asimov won in 1973, for The Gods Themselves, which is around the time Gregg mentioned when Starlin's Iron Man comics came out. But still, there are plenty of other authors. Good God man!

I remember a guy named Jack that when I first met him worked at one of the three Tom Sawyer's Book Raft stores in Kalamazoo, later managing the one closest to Richland. He bought and renamed the Book Raft when the local owner sold the franchise. It stayed open until Jack got in trouble for not paying back his sales tax, and the store closed shortly before the East Towne Mall shut down around 1990. Jack introduced me to many authors, and though Dick was mentioned on occasion (and I owned a copy of Ubik, which I had not yet read), Jack introduced me to some of my favorite authors who are not on the list above, such as Keith Laumer and Edmund Cooper, whose books my father and I both read, and which I collected with religious fervor. In fact, family trips out of town meant that I could arrange to visit at least one store that specialized in Science Fiction and/or comic books, as such things did not exist in Kalamazoo. I once walked 18 blocks from wherever the Washington DC Metro train dumped to find a specialty SF bookstore while my family saw the Washington Monument and other sites. In London, I rode the tube into the city's West End for comics and SF books while my family saw the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace.


It just makes me crazy when people don't know how many other great books are out there by other great authors without the "name" recognition.

This is a point I intend to circle back to regarding SF writers. I have a whole shirt to dedicate to the subject that I bought at the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle. Stay Tuned.

I was going to review AVENGERS: ENDLESS WARTIME but after my little rant about Science Fiction writers, I think that's quite enough content for now. AVENGERS: ENDLESS WARTIME can wait. Isn't this supposed to be my light content week?


This list does not contain all the comics for the week. When I went to Fanfare Wednesday, a day earlier than usual, I found out that some of the shipment had been delayed. I may have an update this weekend. I am planning to review both Inhumanity and Velvet as those are the two I have read so far. Notice how the back log has shrunk.Catching up!  I will return to a discussion of these comics in a future entry when I also get around to reviewing AVENGERS: ENDLESS WARTIME.

COMICS FOR 1312.04

Inhumanity #001
Velvet #2
Green Arrow #26
Guardians of the Galaxy #009
The Superior Spider-Man #023
Young Avengers #013
Iron Man #019
Daredevil: Dark Knights #007
Fearless Defenders #012
Batman: Detective Comics #26
Green Lantern #26
Secret Avengers  #012
Indestructible Hulk Annual  #001
The Amazing Spider-Man #700.1


Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand  #002
God is Dead #4
Trillium #5

I went a bit nuts with the Iron Man covers as this is my only Iron Man themed shirt as of now, though I may have to change this. Though I grabbed the first issue Gene Colan cover and the excellent Adi Granov art that I already had on file (from the Warren Ellis Extremis run), the assortment of other covers came up as I was searching for Starlin's Iron Man art and deliver an interesting variety of artists, including George Pérez, Starlin, George Tuska, Gil Kane, and the last being very early art of John Romita, Jr.

I did discuss Iron Man previously when I reviewed the Iron Man 3 film in T-shirt #99: Moby. Given that I wrote about Iron Man when I was sharing a shirt for Moby, all bets are off. I can write more about Iron Man at any time. Beware.

There's also this for future reference:


COUNTDOWN TO THE END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 105 shirts remaining

- chris tower - 1312.06 - 18:17