Welcome to Phoenix Comicon 2016. Thank you. Lets drop the heat! So at this panel we are going to be discussing Thor and the debut of Ragnarok next year. More specifically what we think the comic book history means for this movie. My name is Phil Mateer. I’m here mostly, for a couple of reasons. I’ve been reading comics, including Thor comics since for now about 52 years. Because I am 60. Now I’m pausing because you are all supposed to say “No! You can’t possibly be” One of the first comics I remember reading was Journey into Mystery comic with Thor. That was back when they only did the 10 page 12 page story with Thor in it. The rest was like an anthology or mystery story. So I’ve read quite a few Thor comics since they came out. So that’s one reason. Another reason is because I’ve worked in one of the comic book stores in the valley. All about Comics for 26 years. I am also a teacher. I teach at Glendale community college. So I am used to talking 45 minutes at a time. So this should be fine. Natalie Portman says: Open your eyes Chris Hemsworth says: Oh No. This is Earth. Isn’t it? One of the things I wanted to do today is talk a little bit about the comics history and maybe give some suggestions in you are interested in the character. It’s been around 50 years plus. Well lets see 62… Slightly longer than I’ve been around. And so there are a lot of good runs and some mediocre. Although I think there is a cliche that the golden age of comics is 12. Whatever you read when you are 12 years old, you love. You know when you are just investigating it. So I am sure there are runs when I was 30 and I was like this is no good. Where somebody who is 12 really likes it. So if you are one of those people don’t feel like I am neglecting one. You can ask about almost about any other. Probably the easiest way to do it is chronologically and talk about some of the best runs. Then we can talk about what might be coming up in the Thor Ragnarok movie. Thor Ragnarök, Ragnarök in Thors mythology is the twilight of the Gods. It’s the end of the Gods. So you might imagine that’s been covered quite a bit in Thor Comics, although its like the death of Superman. It always gets better. You are never going to kill somebody completely. If you have just seen Batman Superman, & you are like ‘Oh no! Superman is dead’. He is going to get better. Probably. He is worth $850 million at DC Comics. I don’t think they will actually kill him. But Thor is sort of the same way. Original Thor is classic silver age early 60s Marvel comics. He comes part of that first early wave where Stan Lee & Jack Kirby are co-creating almost everything. There is a lot of debate about whether Jack Kirby did most of it or did Stan Lee do most of it. There are people who like Kirby because they like the art. People who like Stan Lee because of the writing. My feeling is that it has always been Lennon and Mccartney. There were both really good creators and they did something special together. They both did good work after that to obviously. Thor tends to probably be a little bit more Jack Kirby because it has aspects to it that are really Jack Kirby-ish. Jack Kirby was always fascinated with Gods with cosmic story lines. Stan Lee did that some, I think for Stan Lee you tend to see more stuff like Spiderman. Where it’s more lower level. But Kirby after he left Marvel he went to DC Comics & did the new God storyline & created Dark See, Dark Side & everything else. And so thats so close to Thor that when you look at the Thor comics you get some of that. I actually own a page of original art from an early Thor. Journey into Mystery. It’s drawn by Jack Kirby. It’s the only Kirby page I have because I am not rich and I got it 15 years ago when I discovered Ebay and thought I want that! It’s interesting because on the margins of the original art, it is Jack Kirby, on the margins for each panel he writes to Stan Lee and he is describing what’s going on. So he is saying here is what is going on this panel and this guy does this and this guy is surprised. So you can see that Kirby is doing a lot of the plotting and the art and Stan Lee would come in and do the dialogue. I’m sure they had story conferences but by that point in their careers they had both been around since the 40s. So I am sure Lee said we will have him fight this guy for this many pages & then do this whatever else come up with. So it’s fascinating to see that creative side. Stan Lee has talked a little bit about the origins of the character where he had already done some other types and he got this idea to do the Gods. He didn’t want to do the Greek or Roman Gods because people were really familiar with them. But he thought the Norse Gods not so much. He’s never explained why in the Thor comics why they all talk Shakespearian English. Vikings … Shakespearian English…? It’s always been a tradition. Theres a lot of thous and thus and everything. This nice thing about Thor is if you read a lot of the comics you get to Shakespeare. I’m an English teacher so we can talk about that. It’s easier to read Shakespeare. You go, oh that’s the past tense to that and all the rest of it. It works well on the comics. I was 10 12 years old reading Thor comics and they were great. Never occurred to me that why are they talking like somebody from the 1600s almost as if they speak from England. That’s something the movies didn’t do. They have that kind of formal language but I’m sure they couldn’t figure out a way to make it work. Was Shakespeare actually a God? An Asgardian? An Asgardian God? What happened? Those early ones, the really early ones that are only 8 or 10 pages are kind of establishing the character a little bit. Stan Lee is not writing a lot of those, his brother Larry Lieber is. But the character becomes popular enough that at one point it started taking over the book. And they start to do longer stories. That’s really the point where Stan Lee and Jack Kirby started to take off. From about Thor and the 120s through Thor about the 160s the 170s that’s considered the classic Thor. Those are hard to buy just because they are expensive. But Marvel has quite a few collections of them. Probably the best one if you can find them is the series called the Essential Thor. A lot of you are probably familiar with those. They are in black and white but they are cheap. Each one collects 20 30 issues of the comic. The nice thing is Jack Kirby is one of those artists that work perfectly good in black & white. You don’t need the color. His art pops off the page and looks 3d no matter what happens. So if you are interested in those early ones that’s one of the ways to do it. They tend to alternate those comics in some ways like the movie and I think in a way that Thor has ever since. Between Thor on Earth which is kind of like a fish out of water thing. Asgardian God on Earth fighting a mugger or something. And then Thor in Asgard or in out of space or something else fighting Gods. And I think they both work. I like both of those as a palette cleanser. If it’s all Gods fighting Gods, there is no human element to it. If its all Thor fighting muggers it doesn’t seem fair. It’s like superman fighting him. Boom. That’s the end of it. They solved that quite a bit in the early comics by Thor having fights with his father. Odin is the God and you can almost see either Stan Lee or Kirby I am not sure which working through father issues in that. Because a lot of those stories are Odin acting like a jerk. Anthony Hopins (Odin): You are unworthy of these realms, you’re unworthy of your title, you’re unworthy… I now take from you your power In the name of my father and his father before, I, Odin Allfather, cast you out! He is like ‘I am Odin. I am the all powerful God. You must do what I say’. And ofcourse any 8 year old kid dealing with parents knows exactly how that is. They are much bigger. They do supply all the money & the food, the shelter & everything else. You can’t run away when you are 8. It’s not a good idea when you are 12 or 16 either. A lot of those comics are that happening. Thor will defy his father. His father will take away his power or cut it in half or do other things like that. And eventually they would reconcile. Even as a kid my problem with a lot of those was Odin is supposed to be omniscient, all powerful. He is not God but he is a God and yet he seems clueless. He never seems to know what Loki is up to. There is never like a reveal in the end that goes ‘Oh! I knew this all along. I was just teaching you a lesson’. I think one or two writers currently have done that. I don’t know how many of you are reading the current Thor Comics. Sure enough Odin is acting like a jerk. Everybody is mad at him. He is like ‘Oh I have all the power. I’m the God. So tough’. Again I think kids are attracted to that. Just because of that psychological stuff. Many of the writers that came after Stan Lee and Jack Kirby have dealt with that to. After the Lee Kirby stuff the artist most associated with Thor is John Buscema. He drew them longer than Jack Kirby. From the early 70s through to the 80s and even a little bit after that, on some things like mini series. There were a succession of writers. Stan Lee by the early 70s wasn’t writing many comics any more because he was taking over as editor and chief, doing a lot of other stuff and ending up becoming Stan Lee the celebrity. And I think he finally gets tired of writing. So other writers com in. Roy Thomas does a run on it. A writer called Gary Conway does a lot. A lot of those are ok but they don’t last very long. Thomas was probably the one who did the longest run on Thor. From the mid 200s up to the early 300s or so. He does it. The real glue there is the Buscema Art. Buscema also drew Conan the Barbarian quite a bit. And he never really liked super heroes that much but he liked the vikings, the Norse, kind of Thors stuff and he liked the barbarian stuff from Conan. There is a little bit of crossover in that. They are both really big guys. They rather throw something at a problem than think it through. They fight other guys who use swords. Who are often giants. There is often magic or the supernatural involved, so you can kind of see how that ties together. So those are a little bit cheaper although again those are probably best of the collections. Ones that you can probably find here at the convention that won’t cost you a lot maybe the dollar bins tend to be the ones from the 80s from the 90s from the 0s. The last 30 or 40 years or so. In the early 80s after a long series of runs on Thor, where it’s not doing very well and people arent as excited… probably the second best run after Lee Kirby is a guy named Walt Simonson. Who comes in the early 80s and is both writer and artist on a number of issues on Thor. Starts with issue 337. If you are keeping track here. He immediately has an art style that is a little more detailed a little more… not impressionistic… little less realistic than somebody like Buscema who is very photo realistic in a super hero Kirby comic book way. He focuses almost entirely on Asgard and the Gods. First thing he does is have an alien who is like a horse in human form show up and he’s noble and heroic. He ends up getting a hammer like Thors. And he becomes the character Beta Ray Bill. And they kind of take off from there. And Sif falls in love with him. That’s Thor’s girlfriend. Jane Foster. We’ll get into that later. Comics are like soap operas. 50 years of this accumulation. It’s like explaining the young & the restless to somebody who may not have seen that before. Anyway, I’ve seen speculation maybe in the third or fourth Thor movie is, assuming there is such a thing, that they might go for some of the Simonson’s stuff. It’s certainly some of the most loved and most collected. If you look for graphic novels or book collections of Thor, that’s in there quite a bit. The first two or three 337, 338 are fairly expensive now. As you get into that run, a lot of those are available. especially if they are in fine condition for like $2. $3. Here again you might find them in the dollar bin. So look especially if you are looking around on the floor, where the dealers are, Thor from about 330s up to about the 380s. That’s all Walt Simonson’s work. It’s all good. He’s on there for about 5 years. He’s got a number of stories that if you google Thor best stories which I was doing a couple days ago, and I said its ok for the panel like 75% are Walt Simonson’s run. Back then, stories were generally not worth more than 2 issues or 3 issues. They didn’t do the 6 issue chunk books they do now. So if you get 3 or 4 issues in a row you’ll probably get caught into it or caught up into it. You’ll want to get all the rest. Which is part of the fun. After that Thor goes into a number of things in the 80s number of crossovers and things. Probably the next thing of note is getting up close to around the turn of the century. so 21st century comics. Again if you have read Thor quite a bit I am probably skipping some stuff and you can always ask about that later. They do as part of the Avengers bit where the Scarlett – I don’t know how many of you guys read comics a lot – The Avengers disassemble for a bit. We’ve got to cancel a lot of those comics and start them up again and so on for the first time, second time instead of the eighth or ninth. They did a Thor disassemble where there is a Ragnarok involved in that. And thats the second issue of Thor. They may have re-numbered it, started it over from about 80 to 85 and then that was a series for a couple of years. The neat thing about that is, its a Ragnarok end of the Gods thing. They done it a couple of times before. Thomas done one and I think Kirby & Lee had done one. But this one stuck. At the end of it’s the end. They talk about how its generally a cycle and everything. All the characters are trying to figure out well should we have a cycle on a rebirth again? Or should we let everybody rest? Its really meta because you are almost getting that about the character himself. If we let the character rest for a while… will people like it when Thor gets back? Or should we just let it go? Or should we start it again? That gives a feeling to it that is very autumn like. Things are ending, things are finishing up, so it makes a good ending to the story. Now again, a couple years later, they started up the comic again. J. Michael Straczynski who has got a lot of writing for books, created Bablon 5 and a bunch of stuff was the writer on that. And that picks up from the end of it. All the Gods are reincarnated on Earth. But they don’t know they are Gods. They are among earth people. So Thor gets back, but he has to do this long quest to try and find every body else. Figure out where they are, & so that leads to a bunch of things that happen. That’s a good one to start with again those are easy to find. Those are generally cover price. $1 over or under. If they are not in very good shape you will probably find it for 50 cents or $1. It starts again with Thor. Volume 3. Olivier Coipel is the name of the artist. The first 12 issues or so, are all kind of one big story. You can get 2 books and collect them. Or you can look for the comics. That’s probably worth checking out. J. Michael Straczynski leads very soon after that but one of the things that happens that Loki who has always been a straight bad guy, just evil evil bad guy, He is reincarnated as a child and he is not bad anymore. If Hitler if you went back in time and killed Hitler as a one year old, would you do it? Well he’s not Hitler yet. He is just a 1 year old. He is innocent. And the book gets into a lot of that. And so Loki becomes as a kid & then as an adolescent a sympathetic character. A character who is trying to do well even though history pulls him the other way. It’s a fascinating look at that character. A lot of that came out in between the first Thor movie and the second Thor Movie. And I think you can see a little bit especially in the second Thor movie where Loki is a little … he is not . ya ha ha … that kind of stuff… He is more … he is fulfilling his function. He’s a God of mischief but not necessarily a God of evil. And so that brother relationship they end up doing with the writers. I think that works pretty well. To a guy named Kieron Gillen takes over about that point and another guy names Matt Fraction is in there to. These are recent ones. These are Thor in the last 5 to 10 years. They are decent in the way they carry that also. Now over the last year or two there has been a completely different direction in the character because the character Thor, the son of Odin has lost the hammer. They did a whole contrived bit where he’s not worthy anymore, no body knows why, blah blah blah. He doesn’t have the hammer anymore. Somebody else picked it up. The somebody who picked it up was a woman. And so there was a mystery for a long time about who has it, who is the character. They finally revealed it. So for about 2 years there has been a woman whose been Thor. On paper that doesn’t sound like it would work. But the guy who has been writing Thor for the last 3 years maybe, a guy called Jason Aaron is writing this also. And so its good because it doesn’t get rid of the history of the character completely. The Thor character, son of Odin is still there but you also have this other character who also has a very long history with the comic. She’s the one now who is worthy. So it’s fascinating to look at that. I doubt they will do anything about that in the movies unless they do a Thor 15 or something. Because people are more interested in the rest of it. It’s been really well done in terms of the art and the story. Audience Question: Did you read scalp? Jason Aaron did do the Vertigo mini series Scalp. He is known for that. He’s done a lot of stuff in the last 5 years or so. He is one of those writers if you like something and you look at it and you go ‘Oh Aaron I didn’t know that’ and all of the sudden you realize there’s 4 or 5 good things out there that he is doing. And Thor the one before the one where a woman is Thor, the volume before that which is about 2 or 3 years ago, he did a long 18 issue story about a God killer and it had 3 versions of Thor because they were time traveling. Thor back in the viking era, as a young God Thor now, & Thor as a really old guy like Odin from a far future. And that sounds like a gimmick but it worked really well. The artist was Esad Ribić. He does a really good shadowy barbarian dawn of man sort of thing. Worked really well with that character. Now what does this all have to do with the movie? That’s a good question. All we really know about the new movie is Ragnarok. So they are going to do a Twilight of the Gods. Now is it actually going to be the end of the Gods? Well.. No again. Thor is always going to come back. But the idea of how they are going to work it is interesting. Do any of you know very much? Some of you probably more up on the movie stuff than I am. What have you heard so far about the Thor Ragnarok movie? Audience: There are rumors that Planet Hulk will be involved. Phil: Oh! The Thor movie. That makes sense, because that gets the hulk out of space and so there is a way to have that all connected up well together. Host: And actually going back to your discussion about the female Thor, Tessa Thompson is playing the valkyrie in Thor Ragnarok. Phil: Valkyrie is a different. Valkyrie for a while, there was speculation that she would be Thor because valkyries are the warrior maids of the Gods. She has been a character in the comics for quite a while. She was almost never in Thor but she was in a bunch of other ones. I’m showing my geekiness. She was in the Defenders and this is where she first appears in the Avengers. You don’t want to know that. Well you might but you’re not taking notes. There will not be a test. Host: Another thing I was curious about there is also a character in Thor called Ragnarok the cyborg. Phil: Yeah, he’s the clone of Thor. I haven’t thought about whether they will be doing that. When I hear Ragnarok I just think classical Thor. End of the Gods. When Marvel did Civil War in the first one, the one that is not sort of related to the Captain America Movie that was completely different to. He comes out of that. That’s during the time period when Thor is gone. He hasn’t been resurrected yet or anything. And so they end up cloning him from a flake of skin or something. Host: His hair. Philip: Yeah so, he’s a really tragic character because he is not really Thor. He is sort of Frankenstein-ish. He is not quite well made. He doesn’t have a real hammer. But he is also very powerful to. So you get that kind of bizarre Frankenstein kind of thing where he is half duplicate of the character. Host: I was kind of hoping if they can make Loki step in as Odin in disguise. Phil: Yeah. Because that is the kind of thing he would do. The latest thing they done with Loki is that they decided he is the God of stories. Instead of the God of mischief. Because what is a lie except a story. And its a way to open it up a little bit and say well he can create his own stories. and do almost anything. I don’t know if the new Thor comic is going to cover that or not. You are always going to be disappointed if somebody is on dimensional bad guy again it would kind of be difficult to do that. Anyone else have heard anything about the Thor movie? Audience: Heller. Phillip: Oh. Well she is the Goddess of death and that would make sense. She has a great costume to. Yes. Because he is the son of the storm giant It’s not Frigga is it? My Norse Mythology knowledge on that part is a little light. You know one of the things about Norse Mythology is that the writers of Thor in the last 50 years have taken bits and pieces of Lee was pretty well read. But he was making super hero comics. So you get later writers who are really trying to get the mythology in there. Roy Thomas who started as a teacher had a whole bit where he had a Thor who kind of came in who had red hair like he is supposed to be in. and a bunch of other things like that. It’s one of those Ragnarok things where it turned out he was trying to manipulate things that had Ragnarok that didnt have the actual characters. Then it would be ok. But then 5 or 10 years later they wanted to do it again like having Dr Who show up in a Fantastic 4 comic. After a couple of years. Every writer wants to do one of those. And I’m sure they will get around to that. Sooner or later. How many of you have read any Thor comics? Any favorites? Are you reading it right now? Or is it older stuff? Yes that’s the Aaron Ribic one. That’s in two books isn’t it? Audience: The first collection leaves you on a cliff hanger. Phil: Yes. I think there was like 12 issues then they said ‘Oh there is another 6’. I’d love to read that in the trade. Because I was reading that on a month to month. Sort of like looking at my watch every once in a while. It’s like ok, when are we actually going to do something else? But I bet it looks great altogether. The art and story is both really good. What about the current Thor? Jane Foster is the one who is Thor. That’s his old girlfriend. Is anybody reading that? If you are not reading it. Check it out. We have a lot of people coming into the store. The comic book store and they are like ‘well a woman Thor that is to p.c for me.’ But its a GOOD story! In anything a good story works. Right? Almost any of these changes to the character. The reason they are doing it is to tell a good story. We all agree again, there is a default story that we will probably go back to that but it doesn’t mean you cant tell a good story. The current one with Jane Foster is good because she has cancer. and she is undergoing stuff like chemo-therapy. So she is very frail but when she picks up the hammer, she gets all this power. The problem is when she picks up the power, when she picks up the hammer, it tries to heal her but all it does it gets rid of all the chemo-therapy stuff so it makes it worse. But because she is heroic she keeps being faced with picking up the hammer and set herself back in her health because you need a Thor. And the guy who is the son of Odin is impossible. He can’t be doing that right now. She is the only one who does. But then that kind of debility that you associate with somebody like Thor. That is super heroic stuff. So I’m a big fan of it just because it’s unusual and it’s been working out well to. What other Thor comics have you read? We need to talk a little bit about Host: I want to go back to the planet hulk to Phil: Oh Yes. Host: And what you think that means for the Thor Ragnarok movie? If you have any speculations on that? Audience:I think it would shake things up a lot with him coming up Phil: You have to get everybody out of space. I was in a Dr Strange Panel earlier today and we were getting into a discussion about the infinity gems because there’s 2 out there right? So when are they going to show up? Is Dr Strange, orb / Eye of Agamotto one of them or is one of them going to show up some where? You think of Thor not so much just because we have already seen one of them. That vault was like the collectors room where you have to get the video and freeze frame it because what else is in there? What is that? They put all those Easter eggs. Host: They say Thor is looking for something in this movie to stop Ragnarok. Phillip: Oh and so he has to look for it. Audience: And they sort of open that up with a weird dream sequence scene that didn’t quite make sense. Phillip: Yeah and you have to go back and think of stuff that could be planting seeds for the next movie. Audience: And then I will be like, ‘Oh this is what they meant’ Phillip: I’ve been impressed by the two movies that have been so well done. My wife likes both of them. She’s a civilian. Natalie Portman: What is he doing? Chris Hemsworth (Thor) : Brother whatever I have done to wrong you, whatever I have done to lead you to do this. I am truly sorry. But these people are innocent. Taking their lives will gain you nothing. Right. She doesn’t read comics. Anything like that. Well it’s been 38 years. So it’s not a problem. If she likes a movie like that, because I drag her to them. If she comes out and says ‘That was good’. It’s going to do over 100 Million. Because the first Iron man she came out and said ‘That was really good’. Because I had to practically drag her. Because that was the first Iron man movie – who knew if they were going to be any good? For a lot of them. And that was my first inkling ‘Oh, maybe this is going to work’. And she likes both of the Thor movies. Chris Hemsworth (Thor): It’s over. Natalie Portman: No, it’s not over. Chris Hemsworth: I mean. You are safe. Chris Hemsworth (Thor): It’s over. Natalie Portman: No. Phillip: Because she likes the guy who plays Thor. Host: Another thing for Hulk is that could bring into the story is bringing in the grand master. Jeff Goldblum. He would be awesome as the grand master. Phil: I didn’t even hear that. Jeff Goldblum is going to play the grandmaster. Wow. Host: Cate Blanchett’s role is Hela. It should be interesting. Phillip: I know so much more about the comics than the movies. So I know the movies but I am … you missed the part about the history. Host: So the grand master, the collector are brothers. That ties into the infinity gems because the guardians, the elders of the universe – I almost said the guardians of the universe, it’s hard to keep them straight. The elders are tied in to all that stuff. Host: The grand master is addicted to gambling. So they think that might bring hulk into the gaming arena. Phillip: How many of you have read the Marvel contest, the champions. The original ones. There is one out now called contest of the champions. But that was sort of getting these people together so you can fight. It’s basically just who would win? Hulk or Thor. Who would win different characters. It’s like the DC Vs Marvel one from a couple years back. Of course everyone wants to see Captain America fight Batman. Everybody wants to see Hulk and Superman fight. You can only get that if you get the two companies together. The grandmaster is a good way to get at least all the Marvel characters held together to. It does explain why at the store, the last couple of months everybody has been asking for planet hulk. Because when you hear rumors that happens frequently. When you work in a comic book store now, you have to have either a phone. I always have a tablet there because its set up on Ebay completed auctions where it actually sold. Because if somebody comes in and ask for an issue I always have to look and go ‘Was that character mentioned in passing Arrow last week?’ And now everybody wants it because the appearance of a character. And so a lot of time its like ‘ok what are they selling for now?’. Our price guide that comes out once a year is no longer good. Before we did that I am sure we were very popular speculators. Host: I heard Skurge is also going to be in the Thor Ragnarok movie. Phillip: Well Skurge was not in the first one huh? They had the elf. That one went way up then way back down. So that’s a cautionary tale. The first issue that had the dark elf in it went way before the movie and for a little bit after the movie now its dropped because people are like ok I don’t care about it any more. He was in the movie but so what? Skurge is an interesting character. You would know about him I think because he is the boyfriend of the enchantress. Audience: I have also seen in enchantress comics, the value goes up and down depending on rumors. Phillip: And one of the Walt Simonson’s a couple of Walt Simonson’s comics really focus on Skurge. There is one that has him in hell holding a bridge. Everybody is escaping hell. He ends up fighting the hoards of hell. So instead of being the bad guy with the axe, he is the good guy with the axe. And that is one of the best single issues out of the Thor run. You don’t need to know anything before or after. You just kind of need that one. I’d look it up but you all have smart phones. It’s not like I’m the only one with one of those. Google Thor Skurge Simonson. You will probably see which one it is. And again you will probably get it for $5 if you just wanted that one comic. Host: Based on that I’m just curious which side is he going to align himself with? Whether he is going to play both sides Phillip: If I was the writer, well which I am not, it wouldn’t work. It’s always better to have the ark of the characters to have them start out as a bad guy and then have them become more noble. Something like that. Then of course you can go the other way. Sometimes Loki is good, some times he is not. But then it turns out he was only fooling but then he is actually bad but he is really good. The current comics are doing a really good job of that. You don’t know whose side he is on. He could be a double agent. He could be a quadruple agent. If he can get a little power he could play both sides and stir things up because he is the God of stories and mischief. Just stirs the pot. What else? What other stuff about Thor and the movie, Thor and the comics? Since I thought there would be more than me on the panel, I had some preparation and so you ask me stuff I might be able to answer it. It’s always interesting to look back at some of the comics. One of the nice things working for a comic book store for that long you get to read every comic that comes out. You don’t actually have to buy them. Yes! Audience: I’m just getting into it now. I don’t know a whole lot. How long is the Odin sword? Phillip: That’s in the Lee Kirby ones. There’s a plot in one of the Lee Kirby that goes through a couple of Lee Kirby ones. I think it’s two issues maybe three. Where are they going to draw the sword or not. It’s one of those things where because Odin is omnipotent. You got to get rid of him once in a while. So they came up with this idea that he has got to go to sleep for a couple of weeks, a couple of months. And Odin Sleeps. And during one of those, there is this whole plot about are they going to pull the sword out? I think that was called Mangog where the villain is called Mangog and he is an entire worlds worth of people in one bad guy. And he is trying to pull the sword out. Because if he pulls the sword out all the way out. It’s Ragnarok. So come to think of it, that might be one of the plots to the movie. That kind of sets you up, why would you create a sword if you drew it out and it would end everything. That seems a little not very smart in terms of creating the universe or anything. But of course its hard to tell if they are going to do it in the Thor Ragnarok movie. My only hope is, they done it in the first two movies. They haven’t tried to pack to much in. I think a problem with super hero movies especially in the third one, I am thinking of Spider man 3, I am thinking of Batman 3, maybe even Superman 3 from the seventies, all of the sudden they decide we need 5 different villains. And we have got to pack a bunch of story in it. Then its just confusing. Just do one per movie. Do one easy story. Do one story with a beginning middle and end. Don’t do the whole thing… and in the current one to. In the last one they had the joker in it. Well Suicide squad is coming out when? And he will be back. Although I see very few jokers today. I see 8 million Harley Quinns. Many of them with great big hammers and I keep ducking. One with a huge one. I don’t know if anybody have seen that person. But it was 4 times bigger than the person carrying it. They must have helium in it. And a couple where you can tell they got their boyfriend to be joker. Put on some white paint and they do it. And they are reluctantly coming along. But I think Harley Quinn seems to have the big buzz. Certainly in the comics that has been true for 5 years at least. Especially the last five years. The amount, this is getting off Thor, is talking about how movies work and all that. The amount of money that goes to first appearances of that character have compared to what they were even 5 years ago, well when they came out. Is enormous. I don’t know how many of you know this but Batman adventures number 12 is kind of a first comic book appearance. of the character in the regular cartoony part of the universe. But that was a comic at one point the store had maybe 175 copies of back in the 90s. We used to give them away for halloween. Because I always give away comics for halloween. So I stamp the store name on them at my house. There is always stacks like Archie and those kind of comics for little kids Disney and Archie and then Spiderman then Batman for older kids. I’ve been doing that for like 22 years. I had people who were 6 who are now all grown up bringing their kid which is good because I got them to read comics. It’s like a drug dealer. Have this one for free and then go on from there. But those Batman Adventures 12 for for almost $1000. And I keep thinking I should go around knocking on all the doors of my neighborhood. 15 years ago your kid, got this comic … does he still have it? Because I sort of would like to have it back. I’ll pay a buck for it. Even ripped up its worth a lot. You can never tell. Thor because its such an early Marvel comic the earlier appearances have always been super expensive. Once Skurge. I am willing to bet the Thor Ragnarok stuff will start to go up to. I don’t like speculating because I’ve always read comics because I love them right? It’s just an addiction. On the other hand I think the people who own the stores are like speculators because they buy comics. Although I will say you are ok so long you read the comics you buy. If you buy a comic that you never read it, you are only speculating … oh you are not a bad person, you are not a comic fan. You are a speculator fan and you would probably just be as happy with sports cards. Well I’ve date myself by saying beanie babies right? Who wants beanie babies any more? How many of you have had beanies babies at an attic where one point they were hugely hot and now they are like… It’s like the death of Superman comic. Which back at 92 I was working at the comic book store. There was a line literally going around the block to buy that. I’m sure everybody thought this thing is enough to put my kid through college. And its $20 now. Its $20-$25 which is 10 times what it was to start with so that is not a bad return on investment. But it’s not going to put your kid through college. Host: So what year did Thor first appear? Phillip: 62? I’d have to look it up. I’m going completely from memory. It was around 62 because before he predates Spiderman. Spiderman is early 63. I see half of you just got out your phone. I didn’t want to do that up here. Yes somebody tell us! Somebody tell us. Anybody found it yet? And somebody who has been a teacher for a long time that’s why its easy for me to do this now. Because when I am teaching people are going to have their phones any way so I go, why don’t you look that one up. You know don’t wait for me to tell. The only bad thing is that I can’t lie anymore as a teacher and make stuff up because half the class will take out their phone and know the truth. 62! I was right! Yeah. Audience: August 62 Number 83 Mystery. Phillip: Yeah 83. I believe that was either an 8 or 10 page story because a lot of those early Marvel comics they were monster stories. They were anthology collections, strange tales where Dr Strange first appeared, Journey into Mystery, Tales to a Scottish, Tales to suspense, Where Ironman first appeared. They were just collections of monsters work and Marvel Lee told the story a number of times. But Marvel comics were kind of on the edge of going bankrupt when they started all this stuff because they thought why not? Might as well try. And it started to work. That’s how Thor ended up taking over. Yep but you are paying those big bucks for Journey into Mystery 83 and it has 8 pages of Thor in it. But it’s the first 8 pages ever. That is why it’s worth so much. Host: You mentioned Dr Strange do you think he will show up in Thor Ragnarok the movie? Phillip: Well he has got his own movie. Of course in the Dr Strange movie is coming out very soon. The Dr Strange panel was packed but it was not so much because of Dr Strange. It’s because it was at 1.30 and the exhibit hall was not open yet. At first I though, ‘oh everyone is here to hear me talk about Dr Strange.’. There were 3 other people. But no – what else are you going to do. It’s also the door, like you know the one right next to this. It was the first door when you came in so I’m sure everyone went ‘Oh Dr. Strange. Sure why not’. But Dr. Strange can do anything and go anywhere. So he is a great plot device. You can use him to mix everything together. Sort of like the infinity gems. Audience: Dr Strange has a Netflix cartoon special. They also have a Hulk cartoon special on Netflix. Phillip: Somebody was saying on the other panel that there were another earlier Dr. Strange cartoon to. Somebody said Netflix and somebody else said no it’s this other network. And I wasn’t familiar with that one that I hadn’t seen. Audience: What’s interesting in the Planet Hulk one, they actually had Beta Ray Bill in it which I think in the actual comic it is Thor right? Phillip: He gets a hammer like Thor and he has the Thor bit where he strikes the hammer on the ground and he gets the powers, he gets the cape and Audience: In the Planet Hulk, he was Thor right? Phillip: I think you’re right. One of the panelist was talking about the Dr. Strange cartoon and saying there was actually a better one a little bit earlier but Strange was only a supporting character in that in one of the cartoons. But sometimes he is best as that. He shows up and he is kind of spooky and mysterious and he gets things rolling. Thor is a lot more of a blunt instrument. But that’s why you read Thor right? I don’t think it’s any accident that I’ve noticed a lot of people who like Thor, do like Conan. It’s the same kind of sorcery. Deal. Conan worships the kind of guy who would be Thor. Mean his God is almost the same thing. Conan is practically a Norse character anyway. He is from the Frozen Nord. So he is a lot like a Viking. So I guess thats why theres a lot of that together. But Thor is all about the color and the spectacle and it’s a completely different world and these huge larger than life characters. That’s why you guys like it right? I guess it’s because I grew up on them … I still like the part when he threw his hammer to get the bank robber. And the bank robber is like ‘Geez. This isn’t fair’. Again then you have to take away some of the stuff. Do any of you know anything about the Dom like Thor? We didn’t get to talk about that earlier. The original idea about Thor is that he wasn’t a God. He finds a walking staff in a cave. This again is in the first Thor. It has 8 pages that tell the whole story. Today it would be a 6 issue series graphic novel and he kind of taps it on the ground because a race of aliens were invading which again you know. Busy day. Find Thors hammer. Aliens invade. And he turns into Thor. And it wasn’t until years later that I don’t think i was Lee, I think another writer ended up coming along and saying ‘He was actually Thor all along, it was Odin his father who was trying to give him humility’. So he made him into this mortal character and he was fated to find it. Otherwise he really is a Captain Marvel character. He is completely mortal but he taps the magic hammer like Captain Marvel says the magic word. Then he gets the God like power. The nice thing about that is more plots because you can have all these plots where he doesn’t have the hammer. The way they worked it. There is a call back to this in the newer issues to. If the hammer is not in his hand for more than 60 seconds, he reverts back to mortal. Host: There’s a rumor in Thor Ragnarok movie, that Heller gets the hammer. Phillip: That makes him a better character in terms of telling stories because there is more that you can do. Host: and boots him off to battle hulk on this planet where the grand master is. Phillip: And so they are doing a contest championship where they are all fighting one another. But he doesn’t have his hammer. That was an interesting hulk story because you wouldn’t hulk doing a barbarian story would work and it worked really well. Everybody really liked it. And the guy who wrote it is a guy who is writing the current hulk where the hulk is a teenage Asian kid. Who has been in the hulk comics for a long time. But Bruce Banner blah blah discharge of gamma radiation and not around blah blah blah so somebody took over and doing the character. But then that works to because a lot of people could be the hulk. You get that gamma radiation and stuff. Frankenstein. Actually Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is the bit where you get angry and you can’t control it. And then you hulk out. Which is again, popular with 8 to 10 year olds. Let alone 6 year olds. They would all like to hulk out. Well they do. Right? I don’t know how many of you guys are parents. My kids are now in their twenties. Now I am looking at grandkids. When you are 4 or 5 especially there is that whole tantrum throwing. Every kid would love that. The hulk is a great example of that. Host: So when did Hulk first appear? Phillip: Hulk Predates Thor. Hulk number 1 is also 62 I think. Fantastic 4 was 61. Hulk and Thor 62. Avengers and Spiderman was 63. And he was grey and it didn’t sell. They cancelled it. Because the sales weren’t very good. And then he ends up in the Avengers for just a couple of issues because he doesn’t play well with others. But then he ends up in Tales to Astonish and eventually gets his own book again which was really good. How many of you guys have seen the TV show? Not that many huh? Because you have to be a certain to have seen it. That shows you how flexible the character is. That’s one of the earlier ideas of the character to that he’s not fighting big things he comes to the town he is a loner because he doesn’t want to hurt any body. You have an episode a week. At some point – [growl]. And then he is loose. Freedom. Audience: Thor was in an episode of hulk. Phillip: Oh that’s right. In this really cheesy costume. Super cheesy with the hammer and little stuff. Yes. There is something about art and comics where so many times the costume looks great on paper when Jack Kirby draws it, try coming up with – well a lot of you are costume buffs I am sure. If you are a cosplayer you know that. That thing with the 4 circles that Thor has and the way the cape works and everything that is really hard to pull off. I suppose it’s not as hard as plain old spandex where that never looks good. You need the whole mask and everything. Because you have the big snout because he’s a horse character. That would really work. That was a memory from my childhood. That suddenly kicked in. I remember being disappointed. ‘Oh. Thor’s going to be on! ooooh’. It’s like the Dr. Strange pilot. That they did. Like some of those other pilots to. Did anyone ever see the spiderman pilot? Because technology hadn’t caught up to it yet. Look at Thor now, they can do entire worlds. Chris Hemsworth: Very well you do not have my word! Phillip: They can do it so easily that it’s really simple. What else do you want to know about Thor? We have got 10 minutes. Unless you are going to another panel. Unless you came in here because you are really waiting for the next panel which people sometimes do. Well the Dr Strange panel because it was a 1.30 they were turning people away. I think the veterans were here super early because they got here 12.30 and they didn’t have anything else to do except sitting down. Host: So what do you know about the Valkyrie ? Phillip: Well the Valkyrie is a character in the comics. In Norse mythology the valkyries are the warrior maidens so when a warrior dies on the battle field they come and get them and take them to valhalla. So that is like heaven for the warriors. They sit around drinking beer and getting drunk and doing whatever they do all day. In the comics – this is a very early 70s story. It’s a womens lib thing where Roy Thomas does this in an issue of the Avengers where he creates a character She is a woman who I have forgotten if she was a woman who was beaten or disrespected, from back then, and she gets the spirit of the valkyrie. She becomes a warrior. And then they go through a number of jumps over the years trying to explain what is going on. Eventually it ends up, it’s one of those Odin things again where ‘oh yeah, you was always this, the spirit of the valkyrie. We put into this person and oh now its just regular’. So the valkyrie in the comics now is more just the regular. She hangs out. Although she is in hell. There was a whole bit with them in hell and they became another thing and they became something after that. Host: Does she have her warriors with her? Phillip: Yes. She’s like a leader of all the warrior maidens. That all goes back to the reign saga. That’s the one that got the valkyrie and all that stuff in it. If you are interested in her as a character, the 70s comics The Defenders has her in it in almost from the beginning and thats the one where she really shows up a lot. There’s probably a 5-10 year period where she is almost in every issue. And that’s a version of the character. Most people are probably familiar with. That’s a neglected comic. I’m trying to think whether Thor shows up in that one. He is mostly in the Avengers. And not that much. They keep getting rid of them because he is to powerful. It’s a superman bit again. If you have Thor. What problem is a problem? Maybe magic but then he has a magic hammer. He is to big. So you have to come up with … He is off planet…he is dealing with that. He is a powered down version. Right. Audience: It works pretty well in the Ultimate Avengers Phillip: Oh! The Odin bit in Avengers, I forgotten about that. Thank you because that is a really good version. And the ultimate universe version of Thor from the comic the ultimates. From Spiderman and the rest of that. In the version of the Avengers its called the ultimates 1 and 2 that has got a very cool version of Thor in it. He is the guy who thinks he is Thor. You don’t know for quite a bit from it whether he is actually Thor or not. He is powerful but he keeps talking about Gods and everything thinks he should be in a mental institute. Because if you were running around saying ‘Oh yeah my father is Odin, the father of the Gods and I am here on Earth to do this’ well you better show it. And he can’t. Well I wont spoil that. Obviously it gets better. If it involves illusion and everything. Guess who is involved in it who happens to be related to Thor. But it’s a really good couple of series and it’s a different take on the character. I almost never see the cartoons. I am always on the comics then people talk about the cartoons and I’m like it’s that version of the comics. They have a complete shared universe in the cartoons now. And super girl now to. She is on the CW. I have slowly been getting my way through… I’ve got through the first series of Flash on Netflix . The Ultimates one is a decent version of the character. That’s a great thing about the ultimates universe. Start over. What would you do if you didn’t have all that history? What’s a good version to have the character to be? Then it turns out he is not. Having him as that kind of human character who happens to have some kind of powers maybe just a mutant or something. That’s the thing about Thor and the hammer. That is his kryptonite. In the original version of the character, if he lets go of the hammer he turns back into the human guy and that gives you the plot things. In the current Jane Foster version that is true. She was in the Avengers where there was a force field or something and couldn’t get the hammer back. She turns into this very frail woman who she probably be in a hospital bed somewhere. So even more than Don Blake. Although Don Blake in the original had a bad leg. He needed a cane. So the walking stick he got ended up being the Thor thing that he would hammer down. So it’s interesting when all that comes back. Writers never. Nothing is ever gone for good though. It’s always recycled. Because the writer who read all that stuff as a kid, that writer will grow up and he or she will then get it into the comic. They become a comic book writer or a movie writer. I think one of the reasons why movies are so good now is almost all those people writing those movies read those comics as kids. We dont want to get into a DC Marvel fight. As a kid I was exactly the right age to be the Marvel silver age. I didn’t get all the super early ones, but I started reading comics 65 66 and that is totally Marvel. Superman had been written at that point for like 8 year olds. And Marvel was being written for 15 year olds. What is funny is that Superman comics from the 70s, the owner of All about books and comics was a huge letter writer when he was a kid. And so he would be flipping through some superman comics and he would go to the back of the letters page and there he is, talking about how cool superman is. It’s always good when someone has been a fan for that long. I remember writing one letter to a comic and it didn’t get published or anything. But you are right that a lot of people who end up in comics you see those names. In those early books all the time. Because they were always into the character. I got into a job that was steadier pay. Not comic book store guy but a teacher guy. But it has always been great because teachers are off in the summer. So I can work in the comic book store. Host: I have one more question. Do you think Banner will play part in this movie? Phillip: He is going to show up. They have to get everything ready for the Avengers movie so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him show up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see anybody. All those guys are under contract for 18 movies right? So that’s how they all show up. Disney gets them all to sign that contract. Yes, we have you for the next 12 years. Go do small indie stuff, because that will help your soul. You are also going to be in this great super hero movies and be at conventions like this. Anything else you want to ask? I hope that was good? Audience: It was actually fantastic. I’ve been to a lot of panels. This is really great. Its slow and it was nice. Great job. [Applause]. Phillip: Thank you. Teaching for a long time really helps because there is no stage fright once you have been teaching community college people. There is 50 years worth of stories and there are some really good ones. It’s just a mater of finding them. Audience: I’m going to check them out because of you. Phillip: Simonson well Lee Kirby but you don’t have a thousand bucks so, get the essentials then Simonson. And the last 5 years are a really good set to. Thank you. Host: Thank you every body. Thanks for coming. Phillip: I am glad I came.