Brooklyn was a place residents worked to escape in Paul Levitzs day, which was decades before an influx of wealthy whites transformed it into something barely recognizable to its natives.
But its hold on its children can be felt in the bitterness, the contempt and the truth behind the opening lines of Levitzs newest comic book: I got Brooklyn in my blood. But it sure as hell isnt this Brooklyn.
The lines belong to Billy OConnor, a pissed-off Marine veteran of Afghanistan turned asshole cop whose struggle with PTSD fuels the engine of Brooklyn Blood, Levitzs first original comic in 40 years published outside DC Comics.
Levitz, an East Flatbush native raised in the shadow of Tilden High School, spent decades shaping DC Comics as a writer, editor and eventually publisher. But on Wednesday, the smaller-press Dark Horse Comics will publish a collected edition of Brooklyn Blood, Levitzs hybrid detective thriller/horror story, a collaboration with artist Tim Hamilton.
Its a creative stretch for Levitz, one of the first comics fans to turn professional, whos most widely known as the driving force behind DCs Legion of Super-Heroes, a 30th century intergalactic task force helmed by teen heroes Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, and Lightning Lad. Brooklyn Blood riffs off Ed McBains detective fiction, he saysgreat procedurals and often structured to work around not developing too much detail about an adversaryand felt it was important to ground such a work in a familiar place.
OConnor is channeling my amazement at the borough changing. Not disgust, part joy, part amazement… and some worry that the working class transformative power of Brooklyn may get lost in the shift, Levitz tells The Daily Beast.
Brooklyn Blood, first serialized in the anthology series Dark Horse Presents, is a nervous tale driven by trauma. OConnors flashbacks to his armored personnel carrier running over an insurgent roadside bomb both complicate and help him unravel the case of a serial killer stalking Park Slope. With help from a psychic, OConnor and his Muslim partner, Nadira Hasan, get sucked ever deeper into a seemingly random spate of slayings that connect to something ancient and occult lurking within the fabric of the borough. Theres even a guest appearance by the borough of Queens.
Somehow, despite the supernatural elements of the story, the least realistic thing about the comic is the idea of a serial killer in Park Slope, the least distinct and interesting neighborhood in Brooklyn.
Well, Levitz says when I ask him about the Park Slope settingor, more accurately, vent my Park Slope antipathyI could argue the contradiction between a peaceful neighborhood and the manic crimes add texture…but mostly it was the history that led me there. To say more would probably spoil the story, but Levitz has a fair point.
He also has a secret weapon: his collaborator Hamilton, whose deep pools of black ink combine with smooth linework to look like a mix between Gahan Wilson and Sin City-era Frank Miller. Hamilton, a Brooklyn resident himself, renders a faithful, familiar 7th Avenue. His color palette is appropriately muted, full of mustards, soft blues and bursts of pink that feel somehow like a woozy borough at dusk, humid even in the fall when the story takes place. Levitzs friend, the comics artist Christine Norrie, connected him with Hamilton, whose adaptation of the Ray Bradbury classic Fahrenheit 451 had caught Levitzs eye.
Levitz is a crucial figure in comics history. His LOSH is the definitive version of a fixture franchise for DC that has fallen into eclipse in recent years, despite a recent televised depiction on the CW show Supergirl. But Levitzs work off the page has similar staying power. It was under Levitz and his similarly legendary publishing partner Jeanette Kahn that DC, ahead of rival Marvel, implemented a royalty system for writers and artists. With creators compensated more fairly than before, DC underwent something of a creative renaissance that stretched beyond revitalized Superman or Batman stories and into the launch of mature-readers imprint Vertigo and black superhero sub-universe Milestone Media.
Levitzs time as a DC executive ended in 2009. But in 2015, he and artist Sonny Liew revamped the Doctor Fate character. This version of the superhero mystic was an Egyptian-American living in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Though Levitz long ago decamped for Manhattan, his daughter lived in Boerum Hill and Williamsburg, making it not so easy to disentangle from a borough he hasnt lived in since he was 23. But the ghosts of his childhood linger: the zoo in Prospect Park, classes at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, taking in the Childrens Museum in Crown Heights or the majestic Brooklyn Museum on Eastern Parkway, where he later volunteered making up boxes for the gift shop.
Brooklyn was the place you worked to get out of in my day, Levitz remembered over email. It's long been a launching pad for immigrants and their families (I'm first generation American), and still is, but now there's this cool aspirational dimension for young people. I think that's unlike anything we've ever seen before…and amazing.
And in his blood.
Stormy Daniels husband filed for divorce last week, days after the porn star was arrested in a sting operation at a strip club in Columbus, Ohio.
Glendon Crain, who married Daniels in 2015, has accused the performer of cheating on him and requested a temporary restraining order. A hearing on the protective order is scheduled for Friday morning in Kaufman County, Texas, where the couple lives with their 7-year-old daughter.
On Monday, Daniels attorney tipped the media to his famous clients split from her third husband by posting a statement on Twitter.
My client Stormy Daniels and her husband Glen have decided to end their marriage. A petition for divorce was filed last week, the accuracy of which is vehemently disputed, Michael Avenatti wrote, without referring to the particulars.
Stormys daughter remains her number one priority, Avenatti added. She kindly asks for privacy for the sake of her family.
Crains attorney did not return messages Monday.
According to Crains petition, the couple wed on Nov. 25, 2015. They stopped living together as spouses on July 11, 2018, the document states.
The marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities, the petition, filed on July 18, stated in part.
Respondent has committed adultery, Crain added of Daniels, without elaborating further.
Crain is seeking full custody of their daughter and child support. He also wants to prohibit performers in the adult entertainment industry from being around the girl.
A judge granted Crains request for a temporary restraining order, which requires Daniels future visits with her daughter to be supervised, records show. The order also gives Crain exclusive use of their home and vehicles and denies Daniels unsupervised access to their child.
In a supporting affidavit, Crain stated that Daniels wanted to fly their daughter out of Texas so she could join Daniels strip tour in North Carolina.
She has purchased a ticket for my child … to fly out on July 20, 2018 and join Respondent on tour. This will involve the child being on her tour bus with other adult performers and producers, Crain stated in the affidavit, signed on July 17.
This will place my child in eminent threat of serious and immediate physical or emotional harm, he concluded.
An attached exhibit showed Daniels purchased a ticket for their daughter to travel from Dallas to Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 20. (Daniels had scheduled performances at the Mens Club in Charlotte on July 20 and 21.)
After Daniels was cuffed by vice cops in Ohio, her arrest report indicated she was unmarrieda small detail that didnt go unnoticed by TMZ. (Hours after her illegal motorboating of undercover cops made news, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein dropped the charges.)
Crain has kept out of the public eye, despite Daniels high-profile strip tour and her lawsuit against President Trump and his former attorney, Michael Cohen, who is now facing a federal investigation over his business dealings on behalf of his boss.
The divorce petitionand attached request for a restraining orderincludes a multitude of requests from Crain.
Crain demands that Daniels be banned from falsifying any writing or record, including an electronic record, relating to the property of either party and from terminating or limiting credit cards in his name. The restraining order bars Daniels from causing bodily injury or threatening Crain or their daughter, too.
Child support would include health insurance, an equitable portion of the childs uninsured medical expenses, private school and day care while the divorce case is pending, the petition states. (An exhibit indicated that the family was not receiving private health insurance.)
Crain also wants to stop Daniels from entering their Forney, Texas residence and from using their 2016 BMW 3 Series and 2018 Cadillac XTS.
The petitionwhich requests attorneys' fees from Danielsseeks to prohibit the porn star or anyone on her behalf from removing their daughter from Texas without written consent.
Petitioner has insufficient income for support, the petition states, and it requests the court to order Daniels to make payments until a final decree is signed.
Crain is seeking a disproportionate share of the couples estate for reasons including fault in the breakup of the marriage and disparity of earning power of the spouses and their ability to support themselves.
Daniels became a household name early this year after the Wall Street Journal exposed her nondisclosure agreement with Cohen. The NDA was inked weeks before the 2016 election to ensure her silence about her alleged romp with Trump a decade before.
The porn star was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about the affair. But after the media reported on her secret deal, she sued Trump and Cohen to be released from the legal agreement. She and Avenatti have been ubiquitous in the news cycle ever since.
Crain is a fellow porn actor who performs under the moniker Brendon Miller. Hes starred in Daniels films including Happy Endings and The Perfect Partner, and in porn parodies like The Dark Knight XXX and Batman v Superman XXX. Hes also a drummer who has toured with Staind, Rammstein and Korn, according to his IMDb page.
In March, Daniels told Rolling Stone that her family was feeling the heat from her battle with Trump, which has become a national spectacle. My daughter didnt deserve any of this, Daniels told the magazine. [Crain] didnt deserve any of this. Dont get me wrong, Im not an angel. Im capitalizing on this.
Later that month, the Daily Mail reported that Crain was arrested for domestic violence against Daniels in 2015, but that the charges were dropped.
According to the Mail, Crain was cuffed for allegedly pushing Daniels to the ground during a disturbance at their home in July 2015.
A single count of assault causing injury to a family member was dismissed on March 15, after he completed a pretrial rehabilitation program, the Mail reported. The dismissal came 10 days before Daniels sat down for an interview with 60 Minutes.
There’s some serious bullying going on between rival superheroes.
Instead of saving the world, the Marvel gang is too busy picking on Conan O’Brien’s poor ole Batman in the cafeteria for the comedy lead-in from “Conan” Wednesday. The Caped Crusader was seeking out brighter company after leaving the bleak DC table ― but maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
“DC you later, nerd,” Thor (David Koechner) snickers.
Watch the cosplay goofiness above, as “Conan” celebrated the start of Comic-Con in San Diego. Special props to Keegan-Michael Key’s hilarious Black Panther.
NEW YORK – Steve Ditko, the Marvel Comics artist who gave the world the woven webs and soaring red-and-blue shape of Spider-Man and the other-worldly shimmer of Doctor Strange, has died, authorities said Friday. He was 90.
Ditko was found June 29 in his Manhattan apartment and was pronounced dead at the scene, police Lt. Paul Ng said. No further details were immediately available.
Ditko, along with writer Stan Lee, introduced the world to Peter Parker and his alter-ego Spider-Man in 1962 in an issue of “Amazing Fantasy.” A year later, Ditko introduced the world to surgeon-turned-metaphysical superhero Doctor Strange.
Ditko, along with writer Stan Lee, introduced the world to Peter Parker and his alter-ego Spider-Man in 1962 in an issue of “Amazing Fantasy.”
Spider-Man would go on to become arguably the most indispensable and recognizable character in the Marvel universe, and Doctor Strange a member of its permanent pantheon. The adventures of both have been turned into blockbuster films, and both had essential roles in the recent “Avengers: Infinity War.”
“Comics are unimaginable without his influence,” tweeted Patch Zircher, a comic-book artist who has worked on “Batman” and “Superman” for DC Comics. “He co-created Spider-man, which will be remembered as significant as Doyle creating Sherlock Holmes or Fleming creating James Bond. Spider-man may outlast them both.”
While Lee embraced his status as a creative god among comics fans, appearing at conventions and in constant cameos in Marvel’s films, Ditko was a recluse who won the worship of the most hardcore comic-book geeks.
They were quick to praise him and the massive influence he had on art, film and culture Friday.
“Thank you Steve Ditko, for making my childhood weirder,” fantasy author and graphic novel author Neil Gaiman said in a series of tweets to his 2.7 million followers. “He saw things his own way, and he gave us ways of seeing that were unique. Often copied. Never equalled. I know I’m a different person because he was in the world.”
Edgar Wright, director of movies including “Baby Driver” and “Shaun of the Dead,” said on Twitter that Ditko was “influential on countless planes of existence.”
English TV and radio host and comic books super-fan Jonathan Martin tweeted that Ditko was “the single greatest comic book artist and creator who ever lived.”
The son of a steel-mill worker, Ditko was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1927. He served in the army in Europe after World War II and began working in comics in the 1950s in New York, eventually landing a drawing job with Marvel forerunner Atlas Comics.
Jack Kirby, Lee’s artist on the Fantastic Four and many other Marvel characters, took a stab at creating Spider-Man in 1961, but Lee was unsatisfied and gave the gig to Ditko, who gave Spidey the essential look he still has today.
Ditko left Marvel in 1966, but returned in 1979. One of his later creations was Squirrel Girl, who after her debut in 1992 became a cult favorite among comics fans.
He maintained a writing studio in Manhattan until his death, but had no known surviving family members and was incredibly reclusive, turning down nearly all offers to do interviews, meet fans or appear at movie premieres.
“We didn’t approach him,” Scott Derrickson, director of the 2016 movie “Doctor Strange,” told The Hollywood Reporter. “He’s like J.D. Salinger. He is private and has intentionally stayed out of the spotlight. I hope he goes to see the movie wherever he is, because I think we paid homage to his work.”
Dalton reported from Los Angeles.
The superheroes of the DC Extended Universe has done well at the movie theaters, but the films have fallen flat critically. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, on the other hand, has not only dominated the box office but generally been well received by critics.
The most recent MCU success, “Avengers: Infinity War,” has passed the $2 billion mark and has an 83 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
So what would MCU writers do to improve the DCEU?
“Infinity War” screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely appeared this week on “Fatman on Batman,” the podcast of director Kevin Smith and Syfy Wire contributor Marc Bernardin. Smith asked the writing duo about their superhero film competitors.
“If someone offered you a fuck ton of money,” Smith said, “and swayed you to the dark side and said, ‘Fix these fucking movies,’ how would you fix the DC Universe?”
The audience erupted in a mix of laughs and cheers.
“I might put Batman and Superman and everybody else ― I mean Wonder Woman’s doing fine ― aside for a second,” Markus said. “Go through the vast world and go, ‘That guy or that girl,’ and go, ‘Let’s just make a really good movie and not a universe and see what happens.’”
Marvel’s next film ― “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly ― opens on June 29. DC plans to bring Jason Momoa as “Aquaman” to the big screen on Dec. 21.
I was at the bedside of my sick friend at the hospital. She was not getting any better.
A moment later I was in the cafeteria. Looking for something to drink. But I couldn’t find that soda I had noticed in the ads.
It was sold out. I clenched my teeth, cursed and stamp on the floor. But hey – did I cry over soda water?
Yeah, sure I did. And that was where my blog idea was born. Since then I have illustrated about 250 first world problems for people all over the world.
How does it work? People send me their problems, I let my followers vote on which one I shall pick, then I draw.
In 2016 I discovered that Taylor Swift used my name, Nils Sjöberg, as a pseudonym when writing pop songs with Calvin Harris. Definitely a first world problem. I illustrated it and it went crazy viral. In 2017 Taylor Swift buried me in her new video. I illustrated it again. And once again it went viral.
In September the blog turns five years and that’s about it, the time has come to move on with another project.
Until then, I will keep illustrating first world problems and would be happy to receive more suggestions.
Scroll down for some examples!