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deejayway

About me

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12/10/16
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Hometown:
Gangstadam (Amsterdam)
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What I've Been Up To

Do you dare enter where angels fear to thread?

Under my blog (below) you can find 'It Takes Tao to Tango'; an interview I did with Doug Moench of Master of Kung Fu fame.   

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Oh What Foils these Mortals Be (below) is the title of  my blog, containing a marvelous myriad of comic reviews and scans, as well as assorted political rants and philosophical meanderings (not for the faint of heart).
Friends can add their comments (Veg Zone inmates need not apply).   
If your interested in certain series or creators, all the reviews are tagged for your convenience.

It takes tao to tango

IT TAKES TAO TO TANGO 

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Part 1, in which Doug Moench talks about starting on Master of Kung-Fu, his favourite characters and his collaborators

Who were your favourite comic creators growing up and who influenced your writing style most of all?

My very first favorite comics creator, far and away, would have been Carl Barks. Not that I was aware of his name, knew he existed as a person, or even understood the concept of a "comics creator" per se. I was far too young to think in those terms and simply loved the hell out of UNCLE SCROOGE, learning only much later how that love was inspired and who did it. After that, although my sense of the chronology is sketchy at this point, was probably Herge, thanks to two (and I believe only two) very early American editions of the TIN TIN titles. I pored over those two books again and again. Then my Auntie Anne from Scotland would always give me the latest issue of TOMAHAWK for some reason, so I loved those even though I couldn't figure out why the horses were blue. I remember being confused by TARZAN, wondering why I liked the short backup "Brothers of the Spear" feature more than the main Tarzan stories, so I guess Russ Manning was a favorite. Somewhere in here I lived in Scotland for a half-year or so, when BEANO ruled. One feature called "The Iron Fish" especially captured my imagination, although I can't remember who did it. When I returned to Chicago there was nothing but the Superman and Batman titles for a while, and then Julie Schwartz and his crew really hooked me with FLASH, GREEN LANTERN, JLA, and Joe Kubert on HAWKMAN as the ultimate treat. Then I actually swore off comics for a short period before spotting an oddity on the racks while having a coke and fries in the corner store. Peeking up was a logo which seemed to connote humor in its design while spelling out two words suggesting something other than humor in content, something perhaps sci-fi. And, after pulling FANTASTIC FOUR #1 for a peek, I became addicted all over again and addicted more than ever. Add Lee, Kirby, Ditko, and the rest of the swarm. Early on in this new Marvel Age I began haunting used magazine and book stores where I managed to snag motherlodes of ECs and a huge stack of coverless pamphlets which had been Sunday newspaper supplements in the forties. From the ECs we can add virtually everyone mingled into that great Bill Gaines yin-yang between Al Williamson and Graham Ingels. As for those coverless pamphlets, I almost passed them up since they were overpriced at twenty-five cents apiece, but I really liked the title -- THE SPIRIT -- so I bit the bullet and discovered probably my all-time favorite Will Eisner. (Even though, depending on my mood, Carl Barks can still get the nod on any given day.) 

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The Spirit by Will Eisner                                                          

 
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Mind blowing Jim Steranko, Shield #7

My last huge favorite before "turning pro" myself, or while "growing up," as you put it (and thereby omitting later figures like Alan Moore) was Steranko. Blew my hippie mind, just as Eisner had blown my pre-hippie mind and Barks rocked my childhood psyche.
Outside of comics, I was obsessed with the usual children's classics like ALICE IN WONDERLAND, TREASURE ISLAND, ROBIN HOOD, and WIND IN THE WILLOWS. A bit later came Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and the WEIRD TALES stable. Then, for a long time, science fiction, fantasy, and horror galore.


Were you interested in the kung-fu phenomenon when it first appeared and how did you feel about what you had inherited from Steve Englehart?

I wasn’t interested in kung-fu at all but like just about everyone else in the Mighty Marvel Bullpen, I was impressed by what Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin (along with Roy Thomas) had concocted. Both Englehart and Starlin were clearly trying to push the "innovative storytelling" envelope, something on which I was very keen and had been trying to do at Warren. I think we can safely say that Steve and Jim also loved Eisner and Steranko.

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The very first appearance of Shang Chi in Marvel Special Edition #15 by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin


When you started out on the mag, did you envision staying on it for more than a decade?

No way. I was just living moment to moment with no planning whatsoever. Words simply gushed out of me and I rarely said no to any offer or asked to quit any gig. I was pretty much writing non-stop sixteen hours a day six days a week and three to five hours on my day off. It was brutal only in hindsight. At the time, I wasn't aware of any other option.

When did you start to feel Shang was getting his own voice and becoming your character?

Can't remember which came first, but it was probably either the Annual with Sandy (based on a real girl and my first puppy love) or somewhere around the first issue of the Velcro story.


Who were your favourites of MoKF’s large cast of characters?

Well, aside from Shang-Chi, probably Leiko Wu and Brynocki. 

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Shang Chi (#30) by Paul Gulacy

 
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The lovely Leiko Wu (#47) by Paul Gulacy

I remember liking that bagpiper character toward the end, although I believe he only appeared once and I don't recall his name [Jock McBridie in #120], just that he was a "stubborn Scotsman" like me. Or like half of me.

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"Stubborn Scotsman"Jock McBridie (#120) by Gene Day

And oops, how could I forget Marlene [Juliette] and Shen Kuei? Reston and Larner weren't bad either. I guess I liked the ones that seemed to possess some kind of "timeless soul."

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Marelene Dietrich lookalike Juliette (#38) and her lover Shen Kuei (#39) by Paul Gulacy

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Reston and Larner, "timeless souls" (#47) by Paul Gulacy


You came up with some really crazy villains. Who were your favourites?

I honestly don't remember many of them. (Shocking True Fact: I was so busy back then, with so little free time, that I've never read most issues of what I've written, including MOKF.) So I guess my favorites would be the only ones I remember: Razor-Fist, Brynocki, Mordillo, Shockwave, Skull-Crusher. Wasn't there some sort of sympathetic Lenny-type yeti-mutant? [Doug is probably referring to 'Shaggy',  a character he created for Planet of the Apes.] And as far as villains go, Fu Manchu wasn't bad except he was, and not that I created him.

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Clockwork Brynocki and his mad human master Mordillo (#34) by Paul Gulacy 
 
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The tragic and insane (weren't they all?) Shockwave (#75) by Mike Zeck

Why were so many of them (multiple) amputees?

I'll take your word that they were and offer my guess as to why. I loved superheroes and supervillains as a reader, but I never really enjoyed writing them all that much. I prefer extraordinary self-made characters without the cop-out "cheat" of powers. Batman over Superman, James Bond over Robocop. And yet, even when writing characters like Moon Knight or Shang-Chi, I'm always aware that they are costumed -- if not powered -- heroes requiring villains who also need a compelling visual hook or gimmick, if not an actual costume. A grotesquely tattooed face or sword-blades in place of arms. Something cool and flashy or bizarre and scary. I guess I like the look and trappings of "super" characters; I just don't care for the actual powers themselves.

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Multiple ambutee Razorfist (#29) by Paul Gulacy. He was one of triplets

Did you know you were eventually going to kill Larner when you introduced him?

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One of the greatest deaths in comics (#49) by Paul Gulacy

I actually told Paul Gulacy something like: We're gonna create a new character specifically to be killed off in an act of supreme sacrifice, but only after we've developed him to the max and only when the readers most care about him, when his death will be the most shocking, convey the most impact, and be the most profoundly felt. And I remember feeling that we pulled it off in spades. The timing and manner of death had to be just right, with Larner sacrificing himself by grabbing the two live wires and literally using his body/life to successfully complete the mission. 

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Larner's ulitmate sacrifice (#49) by Paul Gulacy

Also, of all the words written in MOKF, there's only a single line which has stayed with me to this day: "Never have I seen a pawn more nobly fallen." [MoKF #49] The fact that the line is cemented so firmly in my memory -- when I've forgotten all the other lines -- must mean I'm proud of it. Maybe I shouldn't be, but I am. 

 
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The finale of #49 by Paul Gulacy. Words by Doug Moench


Besides dramatic effect, were there any other reasons for Ward Sarsfield’s brutal death at the hands of Zaran in #78?
Sarsfield was the real name of Sax Rohmer, the creator of Fu Manchu.
Was his death some (unconscious) statement about Rohmer?


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Sarsfield's brutal murder in #79 by Mike Zeck

Unlike Larner, I don't recall Ward Sarsfield being created specifically to die. I used the name strictly as an in-joke homage. Even if I knew -- or vaguely sensed -- that the character might die, I certainly didn't intend to make any statement about Rohmer. On the other hand, if the statement was unconscious, then I wouldn't know, would I? Let's just say I felt no antipathy toward the man. And indeed, there was no reason to feel much of anything, since I knew little about him at the time.

Who were your favourite artists on MoKF?

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Paul Gulacy, considered by many to be the ultimate MoKF artist (#31)

Paul Gulacy, Gene Day, and Mike Zeck were all great artists and good pals at the time. Paul is still a good friend and favorite collaborator. Gene passed away in his prime, quite shockingly and to my utter dismay. (We were just about to renew our collaboration, this time at DC on Batman.) And although I've lost touch with Mike, I'm sure we'd pick it right up again were we to bump together. The three artists displayed different strengths on MOKF, yes, but I prize visual storytelling above all else and all three were/are great storytellers. I always say there's flashy and straightforward -- and each, when done well, gets the job done in its own way. Carl Barks was straightforward, like John Ford or Howard Hawks, and Will Eisner was flashy, like Alfred Hitchcock or Orson Welles. Mike Zeck was in the camp of Barks and John Buscema and Ford and Hawks. Paul Gulacy obviously falls into the camp of Eisner and Steranko and Hitchcock and Welles. Gene Day was somewhere in between, using flashy panel layouts but filling his panels with more conventional and straightforward storytelling. I guess I'd call Gene's work almost diagrammatic. As far as "style" of their inherent drawing goes (as opposed to storytelling), I'd call Gulacy flamboyant, Zeck more traditional, and -- again -- Day somewhere between the two. Variety is life's special spice and working with each artist was an honor and a joy.


Did you have to work differently with each artist?

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Mick Zeck, the second major MoKF artist (house ad)

Pretty much the same with each artist, albeit with separate attempts to accommodate -- and exploit -- each artist's perceived strengths and preferences. Discussions (mostly by phone) with Paul tended to focus more on the actual nuts and bolts of upcoming plots. With Mike, it was mostly general direction and shooting the breeze. Gene stayed on the phone the longest and seemed to be interested in (and excited about) everything, but mostly to "prepare without wanting to interfere," as he put it.


MoKF always seemed like a meticulously crafted comic with intricate pieces of staging and pacing, as well as a lot of symbolism, which couldn’t simply have been fortuitous accidents. How much control did you assert?

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Gene Day, a lyrical artist who combined the strengths of Gulacy and Zeck (#114)

I think you're both right and wrong about "fortuitous accidents." There were many of them, as I recall, constantly cropping up most felicitously and unexpectedly -- but probably from ground made fertile by an abundance of long-range preparation, detail, symbolism, characterization, and continuity. I just kept finding little frissons ripe for the picking. As for control, at a certain point I tried to assert as much as possible while still affording each artist the greatest degree of freedom. Comics have obvious similarities to both novels and movies, but I've always felt that good comics are more like music as a synergy of collaborative give-and-take. If a synergy is defined as an end-product whole which is greater than the sum of its individual parts, then that's what a truly good comic is -- better than the writing on its own and better than the art on its own, and even better than the separate qualities of both added together. Only when the two combine and fuse in elegant fashion -- like, yes, yin and yang -- is a third thing created which simultaneously "completes" and transcends its two components. Scanning the art alone should convey a sense of general narrative crying out for more full and detailed comprehension. Reading just the balloons and captions should do the same thing. Experiencing the two together, as a synthesis of words and pictures complementing each other, should satisfy in a way no other medium can. As much as I love the Feldstein ECs, they are not really good comics. Indeed, I think of them as superbly but overly illustrated short stories. Feldstein's narration and dialogue is so detailed and heavy that the art becomes redundant and unnecessary. On the other hand, Eisner's SPIRIT -- and the Kurtzman ECs -- are perfect examples of good comics, stories in which the words need the pictures and the pictures need the words. Personally, I've found that it's more difficult (although hardly impossible) to create good comics when starting with a full script, and easier when using the "Marvel method." With a full script, all control is ceded to the writer up front; for this to result in a "good comic," the artist must be subservient while meticulously rendering the script's directions exactly as written. The "Marvel method" -- plot, pencils, "dialoguing" or "final scripting," lettering, inking, coloring -- becomes more collaborative by adding an extra stage to the process enabling writer and artist to "feed off each other." My "plots" tend to be longer and more detailed than the full scripts of most other writers, but they also offer the penciller a greater degree of narrative input should he or she wish to exercise it. At their most detailed, my plots are broken down by page but not panel, although each paragraph in the plot can be treated as one panel if the artist so chooses. This was generally the approach taken by Mike Zeck. In contrast, Paul Gulacy might break a paragraph into three separate "sequential" panels or combine three paragraphs into one large montage panel. In either case, I would receive the pencilled pages and enjoy the luxury of adjusting captions and balloons to best suit the art. I might find a caption redundant and unnecessary because the art perfectly conveyed the point -- or I might add a line of narration or dialogue to clarify something which seemed overlooked or confusing in the art. Many of the changes in this "final scripting" phase were simple adjustments to opportunities offered by the art -- an unexpected facial expression, for example. In any case, while the "Marvel method" worked in different ways for each of the three main artists, it was also the best method for all three. At the very least, it made for a finished product in which writer and artist always seemed to be "on the same page" rather than in conflict or oblivious to each other.  

IT TAKES TAO TO TANGO, pt. 2

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Part 2 in which Doug Moench talks about his favorite storylines on Master of Kung Fu, Robert Anton Wilson, synchronicity and Shang Chi’s legacy.

What were you favourite storylines?

I know there are "sleepers" in there, but my memory is also asleep so I'll just cop to the usuals. Velcro, Mordillo, the several big-deal Fu Manchu sagas, the Cat two-parter, the "China Seas" multi-parter, and (sue me!) the Hackstabber stories.


What prompted the radical change in direction with #29 (The Crystal Connection)?

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As I said, I really liked what Englehart and Starlin had begun, but I also knew it would become a repetitive dead-end at best. You can only do so many issues in which a passive Shang-Chi is minding his own business only to be attacked by yet another Si-Fan assassin sent by his father. Had Englehart and Starlin remained on the series, I'm certain they would have developed their own shake-up solution to this untenable status quo, just as Paul and I found ours. (For the record, Steve Englehart twice went out of his way to compliment me, both times saying something to the effect of: "I just want you to know it's not where I would have taken it, but your MASTER OF KUNG FU is my favorite book." Wish I would've asked where Steve would have taken the book, just out of curiosity, but -- duh -- I didn't, either time.) Anyway, a new framework was required, in which passive Shang-Chi could be more active (albeit reluctantly active) in pursuing or at least confronting conflicts. Given Paul's love of the James Bond movies, my own interest in spy stuff both fictional and real, and Sir Denis Nayland Smith's pulp-established role in British Intelligence, the solution easily fell into place.


What inspired the ‘rotating narrative’ device in the Golden Daggers/Dreamslayer arc (issues 45-50)?
Do you regret not giving Larsen his own issue to narrate?

I wanted to distinguish the big Fu Manchu story in some way beyond its sheer length, and Shang-Chi's unique narration inspired me to extend the device to the other characters. First-person narration is always more "immediate" and intimate and I always enjoyed it, whether writing as Shang-Chi in MOKF or Jack Russell in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT. Getting into the other characters' heads, I decided, could work similarly well -- and I think it did. Or at least I remember being pleased at the time. Most of the characters' narrative voices came easily, with Leiko being the toughest but ultimately the most satisfying. It never occurred to me to do one in Larner's voice, however, and I wonder now if that option was subconsciously precluded because I knew the character's upcoming fate. Or maybe there just weren't enough issues to go around. 


Was it difficult to remain motivated during what I call the ‘Wilderness Years’ after Gulacy left with #50 and before Zeck took over as regular artist with #71? Did you ever consider leaving the strip at the time?

Yeah, I remember that period of artistic musical chairs being a drag, but I didn't realize until just now that it lasted twenty issues. In any case, I still loved the characters and the overall series concept, so no, I never thought about quitting. And, in hindsight, I'm glad I didn't. Some of the series' best moments came, I think, during the Zeck and Day runs.

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Mike Zeck became regular artist with issue 71's classic "Night Times", which ushered in the second era of
greatness for MoKF

How influential was Robert Anton Wilson on the second big Fu Manchu magnum opus, ‘The Warriors of the Golden Dawn’?
His fingerprints are all over the place. You kept incorporating the number 23 like after the showdown with Fu in New York when Shang bids farewell to his comrades on Pier 23 in #90. And the flashback with Sir Dennis Nayland Smith in #100 is dated the 23rd of May 1932 (the last two digits being 23 reversed).

For a period in the late 70s and/or 80s, Robert Anton Wilson and I were pen pals. I'd enjoyed his earlier ILLUMINATUS! trilogy, but it was COSMIC TRIGGER which really blew my mind and forced me to initiate our correspondence. The book's section on the freaky recurrence of the number 23 in synchronicities or "meaningful coincidences" zapped me back to a key turning point in my life a decade or so earlier, making me feel I'd retroactively participated in the realm of Robert Anton Wilson cosmic weirdness without even knowing it at that the time. What's more, I had proof, documented in print. Back then I was just starting to write comics for CREEPY, EERIE, and VAMPIRELLA when a very strange and very attractive girl sat next to me on an otherwise empty train. In the course of picking me up, she asked what I did and I told her about writing these horror and fantasy stories. With her stop coming up, she quickly scribbled two phone numbers, her own and that of her friend "Frank" who she said could give me advice on writing. Frank turned out to be Frank Robinson, author of THE POWER and eventually co-author of TOWERING INFERNO, not to mention Harvey Milk's speechwriter. (I recently got around to finally watching my DVD of the Sean Penn film MILK and there was Frank in a cameo, looking much the same after all these years, as well as in an extended interview in the Extras.) When I first called Frank's number, it turned out he lived just a few blocks away from me in the "hipster" Rogers Park area of Chicago and he said come on over. When I got to his place he asked who'd given me his number and I told him about the girl on the train. He looked pained. The girl, it turned out, was living with one of his good friends. So I never called the other phone number, but Frank did indeed give me advice on writing. I was interested in doing prose short stories as well as comics, and Frank told me the facts of life about the pathetic payments offered by the sci-fi and fantasy magazines, even lower than what Warren was paying for comics. On the other hand, Frank said, there was good money to be made from the "men's skin" mags -- ADAM, KNIGHT, DUDE, FLING, SWINGLE, et al -- if I was interested in writing softcore sex stories. I wasn't at first, since those magazines still seemed stodgy and stuck in the 50s, but then it occurred to me that I might try autobiographical "hippie-humor-romantic-sex" stories that were real and true and firmly rooted in the (late-60s, early-70s) modern day. I wasn't sure the editors would go for such a radical change, but it turned out they were starved for a new attitude; they just didn't realize it until the manuscripts hit their desks. I ended up writing about a dozen stories like this and sold every one. And the money was more than good; it was a fortune for a young longhair like me. I was paying something like $90 a month for rent and getting $500 for a 2000 word story knocked out in an afternoon. Anyway, the first of these stories to see print -- my very first published prose work -- was called "23 on the 23rd," the true story of my 23rd birthday on the 23rd of February, an uncommonly warm day for that date in Chicago which began with me opening my mailbox to find my IRS refund check in the amount of $23.23. This was, remember, a significant amount of money back then, more than enough to fund a wild night in Chicago's Old Town, a night which involved one bizarre and improbable coincidence after another and another, not to mention a gorgeous blonde hippie chick recently escaped from Texas, and "magical" romantic sex in a bedroom overlooking a flickering torch in Piper's Alley and above the Mother Blues club where Buddy Guy was playing loud enough to be heard through the open window. The story makes a big deal about all the coincidences and how 23 kept popping up, and it was written and published some ten years before COSMIC TRIGGER's extended riff on the "23 synchronicity."

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Rober Anton Wilson's fingerprints and the number 23

Even after my birthday adventure, the number 23 seemed to plague or please me in very odd ways, constantly attached to weird coincidences. And that's why I had to share the story with Robert Anton Wilson himself, launching one of my two favorite correspondences (the other being with my idol Fritz Leiber). One last synchronicity: When I met and became friends with Frank Robinson, about a year before he left Chicago for San Francisco to co-write INFERNO (and to become Harvey Milk's speechwriter), he was the "Playboy Advisor," answering PLAYBOY readers' questions about sports cars, hi-fi equipment, cocktails, and sexual etiquette, having succeeded the previous "Playboy Advisor" Robert Shea, who was none other than Robert Anton Wilson's co-author on the ILLUMINATUS! trilogy. Sometimes, I swear, this Synchronicity Stuff threatens to melt my mind. Sometimes I even wonder if the girl on the train was "real." 

In issues 88 & 89, Fu Manchu carries out a terrorist bomb threat on New York’s Twin Towers. Rereading it recently was quite chilling. Any thoughts?

As I say, I seem to be plagued with synchronicities. Click this link to see a video clip of me from an upcoming documentary discussing my most chilling synchronicity to date:

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The bomb attack on the Twin Towers (#88) is chilling

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How important were the philosophical themes of the mag for you?
How familiar were you with eastern philosophy - Taoism, Buddhism and such - when you started out on MoKF?

The essential core of "eastern philosophy" was extremely important to the series, obviously, although my understanding of it was accrued strictly by osmosis. I did not study it, either formally or informally, and still haven't. I've been told by several people that I seem "eastern by nature," for whatever it's worth, and even that I must have been eastern in a previous life. In any case, I'm extremely fascinated by the tenets and notions of Taoism -- opposites existing in harmony, conflict as dynamically balanced conjunction, simultaneous dignity and humility, respect and reverence for nature, quiet contemplation, living in the moment, the importance of truth, and so forth. And for my money, the yin-yang symbol itself is the most purely elegant design ever conceived.

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Yin-Yang was the leif motif of MoKF throughout the strip


How much of Shang’s philosophy reflected your own?

I seem to think and feel more by instinct than rigorous philosophy, although my instincts align more closely with Taoism than any other codified system.


MoKF was very much ahead of its time in terms of the way it dealt with adult themes such as violence - there were many real deaths and Shang deliberately killed on occasion - and sex; the main characters were implicitly but obviously having sex and even engaged in sexual musical chairs; Shang-and-Leiko-and-Clive, Shang-and-Juliette-and-Shen Kuei, heck even Sir Dennis and Fah lo Suee.
It was also pretty enlightened in its depiction of independent women, ethnic minorities and interracial relationships.
Did you ever get any resistance from editorial or the Comics Code?

Definitely no friction on this level from anyone at Marvel, and I don't recall any objections from the Comics Code either. I was a firm believer in amping comics up, broadening their appeal to more sophisticated readers, but I was also aware that kids were also looking on and therefore had few objections to the standard safeguards and taboos. Most of what you picked up in, say, the romantic entanglements was entirely inferred. Sophisticated readers got it; kids didn't. As for the rest -- independent women, minorities, interracial relations -- I was a child of the 60s and simply writing what I lived.


The relationship between the black character M’Shulla and his white girlfriend in Don McGregor’s WAR OF THE WORLDS caused quite a stir at the time. Was there any controversy about the interracial relationships in MoKF?

Don McGregor was probably my best friend in the Marvel Bullpen days and I think he delighted in "controversy." Given that, I suspect he may have exaggerated any WAR OF THE WORLDS stir. I certainly don't recall any fuss. On the other hand, since it was no big deal to me, maybe the fuss simply went right over my head. And no one expressed any objections to interracial mingling in MOKF. In fact, the only comment I remember is Chris Claremont saying he "wanted Leiko Wu bad." He was serious too, genuinely "in love with" the character.

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Clive and Leiko seek comfort during a dangerous mission (#85).
A fine example of the mag's (sexual) sophistication


You developed a sort of lyrical/poetic writing style for Shang, which you seemed to carry on into your later work. Was that ‘just’ your style or was it a direct influence from MoKF?

A writer is always developing, trying to retain the best from the past while learning new tricks. It may be that my run on MOKF occurred at a key period in my development.


You left the mag with issue 120, your final issue with Gene Day. That issue had such a sense of finality to it and it’s such a fitting swansong to your run with Gene. Was it planned that way?

As I recall, it was not planned and therefore at least mostly felicitous. Indeed, it could not have been planned for a simple reason. When I could no longer tolerate the friction with Jim Shooter and (reluctantly) quit Marvel, I agreed to finish scripting everything that was in the works while refusing to do any more plots. My final issue, therefore, had already been plotted. On the other hand, it could be that I plotted the issue after Gene had been forced off the book by Shooter -- i.e. knowing it was to be Gene's last issue. And I certainly knew it during the final scripting phase. Indeed, I have a dim recollection of reworking some of the dialogue and narration at the end. Ergo, the sense of finality was mostly -- but not completely -- felicitous.


How do you feel about the handful of Shang Chi stories you have collaborated on since #120?

I remember "Bleeding Black," with Gene's brother Dan Day, being pretty good. I also remember a story in the weekly book being not so good.


What did you think of the mini-series you did a while back with Paul Gulacy for the MAX imprint?

Paul and I both had major -- and completely unexpected -- conflicts with the editor. It made the experience regrettably unpleasant and I think it probably damaged the series. A shame.


Would you return to the character if you could?

Under the right conditions, sure, but I doubt those conditions will ever again exist. Never say never, of course, but I'm not holding my breath after that last experience.


What’s it like having worked on a mag more than 3 decades ago, which still inspires such a strong following? What is its legacy?

Legacy is not for me to assess, but I think there's some good work in there and I'm extremely gratified by whatever following it still has. Fun Fact: Someone passed on a fairly recent Quentin Tarantino interview in which he was asked to name his favorite comic book. His answer was something like: "MASTER OF KUNG FU was hands down the best @$@!%%+ comic book of all time." Trust me, I'll take that.

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Doug and Gene's swansong (#120)

 

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