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Of his Ben Grimm graphic novel, BWS says "In the same vein as my 1984 battered-child origin for Bruce Banner/Hulk called THANKSGIVING, this story from the same period addresses the possibility of hidden psychological problems in major Marvel characters. In this case Ben Grimm and his internal experiences in being turned into a monster-like being, while his Fantastic Friends become glamorous heroes. Naturally, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby played upon this theme in the early issues of Fantastic Four (1966's This Man, This Monster being an exceptional example). But Stan and Jack's portrayal of Ben's personal problems were often, if not always, an intentional counterpoint to the mainstay action oriented tales prevalent in the FF comics."

Windsor-Smith says "There is hardly any comic-book type action in my story. Ben Grimm is showing signs of what the psychiatric field terms dissociation (opposite of association: in the hip meaning of having things -- one's self -- together. Dissociation is the opposite: of losing one's sense of self). While Ben Grimm has come to terms with his man/monster public image, his inner self is deeply disturbed. Due to this, and over time, Ben has become susceptible to intense neurosis. Ben's shattered self-regard is depicted in the two-page nightmare montages that open each story. In these scenes we see Ben literally falling apart as he pleads with the members of the FF (and his lady friend Alicia Masters) to show compassion for him. In the first story, as Reed and Sue and Johnny are about to take summer vacations, Ben receives a letter from a Madison Avenue talent agency offering to represent him in the lucrative field of celebrity commercial endorsement. This otherwise anomalous solicitation is the springboard for the entire story. After his fellow Fantastics depart on their vacations, Ben is left alone in the city, dealing with his discontent and his loneliness. After a calamitous water-borne emergency and much misguided rumination, he decides to quit the superhero game and the FF in particular to turn his "inimitable charisma" to show business. Despite the gravity of a plot describing Ben Grimm's psychological unravelling, this story is told as a comedy."

As to the tone of the story, BWS says "It is sometimes amusing while at other times slapstick. Along with a light touch of discreet adult allusions, the prime story remains at all times bitterly funny. But at any rate, the story eventually closes on a positive platform of upbeat emotions when Ben's self-esteem is regenerated."

BWS has always been a stubborn guy who follows his own path, sometimes rubbing people the wrong way but always in the pursuit of what he feels is right. It's a natural pairing, then, for him to once again explore one of the great stubborn superheroes in comics history, Ben Grimm, the Ever-Lovin', Blue-Eyed Thing. He also has always drawn The Thing better than anyone but Jack Kirby, and since he is incapable of writing a story like anyone else, even working with 40-year-old characters, this should be a dazzling, unique project.

-- Christopher Allen, Managing Editor, Comic Book Galaxy


All art Copyright (C) 2006 Barry Windsor-Smith. THE THING is (C) Copyright and (TM) Trademark of Marvel Entertainment, Inc.


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The ADD Blog by Alan David Doane. Trouble with Comics Reviews of comics and graphic novels. Commentary about the artform and industry of comics. Get back to the main page.

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