Steve Ditko: Requiescat In Pace

 

 

In my misspent youth I collected comics.  (As a sign of advancing maturity I got rid of them when I was 13.  If I had saved such treasures as my beloved Spider-Man #2 I could have a tidy sum now!).  Perhaps my favorite comic book was the initial run of Spider-Man drawn by artist Steve Ditko.  Spider-Man became a crime fighter due to his beloved Uncle Ben, his foster father, being slain by a burglar that Spider-Man could have apprehended but did not due to his having been too self-absorbed to help a cop chasing the burglar.  I always thought Spider-Man had a powerful motivation as his lack of action, his sin of omission, led to the death of Uncle Ben, and as I was taught early by the nuns, a sin always requires reparation, and Spider-Man’s reparation was to fight crime, a theme that was constantly remarked upon in the comic.

I identified with Spider-Man.  Spider-Man was a bookish teenager lacking social skills suddenly vested with great powers.  He was also broke and his travails over money had a ring of familiarity to me.  My favorite Spider-Man story of the Ditko era was a trilogy in which he was suffering from the flu and had to stop the bad guys and somehow get the serum necessary to save the life of his Aunt May who was seriously ill.  It sounds silly in that bare bones summary of the plot, but the story arc emphasized some good lessons for a growing boy:  courage against the odds, fighting for those you love and that superpowers do not make the hero since Spider-Man lost much of his as a result of the flu, and was even more heroic as a result.

Steve Ditko, the legendary artist who drew Spider-Man, has passed away at age 90.  In a field dominated by Leftists, Ditko was a follower of Ayn Rand.  He had a very distinctive style, go here to see samples of his work.  His stark drawings were a reflection of how Ditko looked at the world.  Good and Evil were realities to him, and not merely differing shades of gray.  In 2004 Ditko wrote about another of his comic book heroes, Mr. A:

“Mr. A stands for a rational, objective philosophy of positive, pro-life premises and values. That is symbolized by his white and black card. A is A, no graying, no contradictions: Reality is an absolute, man is a rational being, reason (logic) is man’s only means to knowledge, man’s life is the standard of value, the good is that which supports a rational life, man must act on objective, rational virtues of integrity, independence, honesty, etc. The moral man is the man who leads a productive life, at his best in thought and action. …. Mr. A’s values are the highest values, the best values, for a man to live by if he wants the best life has to offer.”

A rather reclusive figure, as far as is known Ditko never married and had no children.  He politely declined requests for formal interviews, although anyone who wanted to could stop by his Manhattan studio and talk to him if he had the time.  Somewhat of a restless figure, not always easy to work with,  he was employed by many comic book companies during his career.  Ditko went his own way during his life, rarely willing to temper his art to suit his employers.  May he enjoy in the next life the peace and joy that his characters strove for.

 

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Published in: on July 10, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Requiescat in Pace: Billy Graham

illy Graham died last week at age 99.  My sainted mother, uber Catholic that she was, used to watch his crusades on TV in the Sixties.  In his prime, Graham was on a par with Ronald Reagan as a spell-binding orator, but more than that  he was a voice crying out for Christ in a dark world.  I  I will miss him and may he now be enjoying the Beatific Vision.

 

Published in: on February 25, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Requiescat in Pace: Billy Graham  
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Mort Walker: Requiescat in Pace

 

Mort Walker has passed away at 94.  The creator of the comic strip Beetle Bailey, for 68 years he poked gentle fun at the absurdities of the US Army.  Walker served as an Army officer during World War II.  Post war he became a cartoonist and drew about what he knew about:  the Army and the comic possibilities of any massive hierarchical organization.  Throughout almost seven decades Walker followed the same formula.  His soldiers never went to war, they stayed at camp Swampy in perpetual peace time, the issues of the day were ignored, no politics were to intrude on the strip, the same set of characters, with very few additions and subtractions, served perpetual timeless enlistments, the officers were almost always clueless and the men often lazy and shiftless.   Stated that way it might be hard to see how the strip endured, but it did, and proved especially popular with kids and veterans.

Ironically, this non-controversial strip for its first ten years was banned from the pages of Stars and Stripes by the Army, humorless military bureaucrats disguised as officers taking umbrage with the strip’s depiction of officers as fools and the men as shirkers, completely missing the deep love that Walker had for the Army he kidded.

 

At ease Mr. Walker, your tour of duty is over.

 

Published in: on January 29, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Mort Walker: Requiescat in Pace  
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Requiescat In Pace: Robert Hardy

As the war raged on I studied English at Oxford University, but my education was interrupted by my joining the RAF to train as a pilot. It was there that I got to meet Richard Burton – a navigator in the RAF – who would become so great a friend.

In 1949 I embarked on a career as an actor, and I was with Richard when I met Churchill for a second time in the early 1950s. We were appearing in Hamlet together at the Old Vic, with Richard as the Prince of Denmark. We knew Winston, who at this time was once again Prime Minister, was in the audience – he was unmissable sitting in the front row. 

After the performance we were in Richard’s dressing room when the mighty man burst in, cigar in hand, and, addressing Richard as if he was still in character, said, ‘Your Highness, I am in great need – do have you a lavatory?’

When he came out he complemented Richard on his ‘very forthright Hamlet’ before adding, ‘I’m astonished that such a man should wait so long to avenge his father!’ Needless to say, Richard and I dined out on that for weeks to come.

Robert Hardy

Sad news.  British actor Robert Hardy has died at 91.  Far too young for such a delightful man and talented actor.  At Oxford he studied English under CS Lewis and JRR Tokien, and he ever cherished that opportunity that fate handed him.  He became one of the foremost authorities on the English longbow.  (I have a book in my library that he wrote on the history of the longbow.)  He spoke and wrote in a most pellucid English, no doubt a tribute to his instruction from Lewis and Tolkien.  He of course is remembered for his acting.  To the younger generation he is Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic in the Harry Potter films.  Some may recall him as irascible, but good-hearted, veterinary Siegfried Farnon in the television series All Creatures Great and Small.  To me he will always be the definitive film Winston Churchill, a role that he played nine times. His longest portrayal was in the eight part miniseries The Wilderness Years, broadcast in the eighties, which may be found on You Tube.  Hail and farewell Mr. Hardy, may you have a joyous reunion with your two favorite professors in the world to come.

Published in: on August 6, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Requiescat In Pace: Robert Hardy  
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Powers Boothe: Requiescat In Pace

 

Perhaps the greatest American character actor of his time, Powers Boothe passed away in his sleep at age 68 on Pentecost this year.  An anomaly in Hollywood, he was married to his one and only wife since 1969 and he was a Republican.  He could play anything:  from insane villains like Jim Jones to heroes like Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Tanner in Red Dawn (1984).  Like most great actors and actresses he made it look easy.  The son of a Texas sharecropper, Boothe had a down to earth quality he brought to most roles he was playing.  I will miss him.

 

Published in: on May 22, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Powers Boothe: Requiescat In Pace  
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Requiescat in Pace: Loyce Edward Deen

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you go home, tell them of us and say
For their tomorrow, we gave our today.
Inscription on the Memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Division at Kohima

Hattip to Ace of Spades.  As we go about our daily lives it is good to remember that we stand on the shoulders of giants.  One of those giants is a 23 year old sailor who died 73 years ago:

Loyce Edward Deen, an Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class, USNR, was a gunner on a TBM Avenger. On November 5, 1944, Deen’s squadron participated in a raid on Manila, where his plane was hit multiple times by anti-aircraft fire while attacking a Japanese cruiser. Deen was killed.The Avenger’s pilot, Lt. Robert Cosgrove, managed to return to his carrier, the USS Essex. Both Deen and the plane had been shot up so badly that it was decided to leave him in the plane.

It is the only time in U.S. Navy history (and probably U.S. military history) that an aviator was buried in his aircraft after being killed in action.

(more…)

Published in: on March 24, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Requiescat in Pace: Loyce Edward Deen  
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Debbie Reynolds: Requiescat In Pace

 

Legendary actress Debbie Reynolds has died of a stroke one day after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher.  It is said that she wished to be with her daughter, and I can deeply empathize with that sorrowful sentiment of a parent longing for a dead child.  May the mercy of God enfold them both.

Published in: on December 30, 2016 at 3:30 am  Comments Off on Debbie Reynolds: Requiescat In Pace  
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Neil Armstrong: Requiescat in Pace

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.

Statement of the Armstrong Family

 

 

 

The first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, died today at 82.  He served as a naval fighter pilot in Korea, flying 78 combat missions.  A test pilot after the war, his feats in that field were legendary, combining strong engineering ability, cold courage and preternatural flight skills.  He was accepted into the astronaut program in 1962.  On July 16, 1969, in the middle of the night in Central Illinois, he set foot on the moon.  My father and I, like most of the country, were riveted to the television screen as we watched a turning point in the history of humanity.  He intended to say, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” It came out: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  Godspeed Mr. Armstrong on the journey you have just embarked upon. (more…)

Published in: on August 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm  Comments (6)  
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John Keegan: Requiescat in Pace

“Now tell us what ’twas all about,

“Young Peterkin, he cries;

And little Wilhelmine looks up

With wonder-waiting eyes;

“Now tell us all about the war,

And what they fought each other for.”

“It was the English,” Kaspar cried,

“Who put the French to rout;

But what they fought each other for

I could not well make out;

But everybody said,” quoth he,

“That ’twas a famous victory.”

Robert Southey, The Battle of Blenheim

One of my favorite military historians died on August 3, John Keegan.  A Brit, Keegan wrote with skill about the history of war, and never forgot the human element, as he demonstrated in his magisterial The Face of  Battle, which looked at conflict through the ages from the point of view of the common soldiers at the sharp end of the spear.

He firmly believed that different nations viewed military history from different perspectives depending upon how they had fared in their recent wars:

 

It is really only in the English-speaking countries, whose land campaigns, with the exception of those of the American Civil War, have all been waged outside the national territory, that military history has been able to acquire the status of a humane study with a wide, general readership among informed minds. The reasons for that are obvious; our defeats have never threatened our national survival, our wars in consequence have never deeply divided our countries (Vietnam may — but probably will not — prove a lasting exception) and we have never therefore demanded scapegoats or Titans. In that vein, it is significant that the only cult general in the English-speaking world — Robert E Lee — was the paladin of its only component community ever to suffer military catastrophe, the Confederacy.

 

For the privileged majority of our world, land warfare during the last hundred and fifty years — the period which coincides with the emergence of modern historical scholarship — has been in the last resort a spectator activity. Hence our demand for, and pleasure in, well-written and intelligent commentary. Hence too our limited conception of military-historical controversy… It does not comprehend questions about whether or not, by better military judgment, we might still govern ourselves from our national capital — as it does for the Germans; whether or not we might have avoided four years of foreign occupation — as it does for the French; whether or not we might have saved the lives of 20 millions of our fellow countrymen — as it does for the Russians. Had we to face questions like that, were military history not for us a success story, our military historiography would doubtless bear all the marks of circumscription, over-technicality, bombast, personal vilification, narrow xenophobia and inelegant style which, separately or in combination, disfigure — to our eyes — the work of French, German and Russian writers. (more…)

Published in: on August 10, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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