May We All Never Forget Where We Came From

My father, Carmine Gorga, turns 75 years old today.

First of all: That's amazing.

My father has somehow survived three-quarters of a century (mostly in the horrifying Twentieth Century no less): through the tail end of the Great Depression, World War II, the proliferation of nuclear weaponry, and the M.A.D.ness of the Cold War. After all that I have no doubt that the 9/11 terrorist attacks seemed rather tame. 'Someone else may or may not be trying to kill me and my family? Well, at least it's not the Nazi troops AND the American army AND Mussolini's government at the same time like it was when I was eight-years-old.'

He came to America, paid the bills, found love with an American girl and built a life with her, got married, had a kid, raised his foolish son somehow, and successfully centered his life around a noble cause: economic justice for all.

You know who else turned 75 this year? DC Comics. The company was formed in 1934, but the first comic they published "New Fun" #1 came out in 1935, the same year my dad was born.

Wow, right?

There was yet no Superman. When my dad was born, the superhero genre didn't exist. Comic-books barely existed. Comics were really only in the newspaper (both in America and in Italy) and in other sequential art forms they've always existed as: church ceilings, for example.

The Sistine Chapel ceiling looks pretty sequential to me.

My father's people had comics when most didn't because of things like Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling and the multiple-walled story-frescos of Giotto. As Paul Levitz is fond of saying: "Comic-book writers and artists are doing the same thing that story-tellers did drawing pictures on the caves at Lascaux, we're using story to create context for life."

The sequential story art commissioned by powerful people for the internal walls of Catholic churches are essentially huge, complicated comic-strips, make no mistake.

[Images from Wikipedia's "Sistine Chapel ceiling" entry.]

Both Josh and I have been shocked at the low-number of people who turn out to show appreciation to the older comics creators and have said so publicly on this blog and elsewhere. Inspired men who worked in bad conditions for little pay and worked their backs and hands and eyes and brains and don't get the respect they deserve.

People like Superman's creators: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Jack Kirby. Harvey Kurtzman. Bill Everett. Wally Wood. Al Williamson, Dick Giordano, Mike Esposito, and Harvey Pekar (all four gone this year). People both passed but, especially, those still with us.

People like Joe Simon. Co-creator of Spider-Man: Steve Ditko. John Romita, Sr. Marie Severin. Her brother, John Severin. Murphy Anderson. Gene Colan. Jack Davis. Joe Kubert. Mort Walker. Jim Steranko. Al Feldstein. Trina Robbins. Roy Thomas. Jean 'Moebius' Giraud. Al Jaffee. Kazuo Koike. Ramona Fradon. Albert Uderzo. The creator of the Joker, Alfred, and half of what makes Batman a great character: Jerry Robinson. Russ Heath. Jules Feiffer. And Carmine Infantino.

All those comics creators are just at, or over, three-quarters of a century old and still alive and capable of taking your admiration and appreciation. The Eisner Award Hall of Fame is great, but you should not pass-up a chance to speak with these people, shake their hand, tell them that something they made meant something to you. And the corporations still making money off the fruits of the genius of these ladies and gentlemen could do a little better by them, and their legacies as well.

My point is simple: Respect your elders. They have memories you never will. And hopefully, they've put them to good use.

Happy birthday, Dad.

I love you and I'm lucky to have you in my life.

~ @JonGorga

5 comments:

  1. Happy birthday to your dad, Jon. And this is a great, great post. Appreciation of the history is a wonderful thing.

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  2. Hello, Son (Sa-Sa), Life today can be truly amazing (as in Spiderman?....) Think that we can share our feelings so publicly and so across the boundaries of time and space. You have thought me a thing or two throughout your life -- not the least of it is an appreciation for sequential art. You have made me exercise my memory as you will never believe it. You have enriched my life. I have always been very proud of you. Thanks, YOUR FATHER (Da-Da).

    PS -- Please, don't forget to thank Duy for me.

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  3. I love living in the future!

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  4. And thank you Duy both for wishing my Dad a happy birthday and the kind words about the post!

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  5. Happy Birthday Carmine!

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