Just wanted to share a couple of immensely readable comics-related pieces I’ve stumbled upon yesterday and today, both through Dirk over at ¡Journalista!

The first is this gripping and entertaining account, by Joshua Bearman at Wired, of the CIA extraction of a group of Americans who narrowly escaped the 1979 seizure of the American embassy in Tehran. The resourcefulness of the agent in charge, Tony Mendez, is described in vivid detail. As one of the masterminds behind the herostratically famed exploding cigars delivered to Fidel Castro, he seems to have been the kind of ingenious hustler whose ideas may at times be a few cards short of a full deck, but at others just colourful enough to work. In this case, they involved setting up a fake Hollywood studio, reviving a shelved Roger Zelazny treatment, and bringing concept sketches by none other than Jack Kirby along with him to Tehran to fool the border police there. Somehow, I think Jack would have approved.

The other is a document from the days just after Jim Shooter had been fired as Editor-in-Chief at Marvel. Contrary to the Tehran piece, this will probably mostly be interesting to people interested in Marvel history, and like it, the reliability of it as a historical account is hard to assess. A transcript of a telephone conversation betweeen quintessential hack inker Vince Colletta and an anonymous Marvel staffer, it provides a morbidly fascinating inside view on the machinations – corporate and personal – that led to Shooter’s firing and Tom DeFalco’s ascension to his position, as well as Colleta’s own exit from the company, which involved a deeply felt insult letter he wrote to the editors there accusing them of being Judases to Shooter’s Christ (!). Most interestingly, however, the document puts a no-nonsense, pragmatic face on a guy who most people associate with the ruin of so many great pages by Kirby.

Kirby concept drawing taken from the unofficial Lord of Light site.