Sunday, January 30, 2011

In Memoriam - Seth Fisher

Writer(s): Zeb Wells, Joe Hill
Artist(s): Seth Fisher

FANBOYZ from Spider-Man Unlimited #8
Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan #1 #2 #3 #4

Collecting Spider-Man Unlimited #8, Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan #1-#4

(I wish I was even remotely decent at writing than I am now, but here goes anyway)

In a sense, I consider Seth Fisher's work on Big in Japan (and Zeb Wells', by extension) partially responsible for why I got back into comics back in 2006-2007. I remember while browsing on gaming website IGN one day and came across the image of what I would later know as the cover to Civil War: Front Line #1.

By that point I had been out of reading comics for quite some time (my last issue of ASM at the time was literally the one before JMS took over the title in 2001). A lot had changed: Big things like Avengers Disassembled and House of M, to smaller things like Mac Gargan becoming Venom and Luke Cage having any kind of prominence (and without his tiara, no less). Other things like the popularity of the Ultimate Universe and Marvel Zombies. And then, of course, the then upcoming Civil War.

You'll notice above there's quite a few things Mark Millar had a hand or two in. Even though I didn't know his name at the time, in hindsight I more or less consider him the other reason why I got back into comics. Mark Millar gave me the comics that I wanted (the kind of big stories that couldn't be as easily replicated in the movies or video games) but Seth Fisher gave me the story that I needed.*

The most I remember from the time is that I nearly became one of those readers. You know, the ones that only care about The. Next. Big Thing. To. Change. EVERYTHING. But then I came across Hilary Goldstein's review for Big in Japan, leaving readers with this near the end:

Those interested only in continuity-affecting, "serious" comic books can turn the other way. But for those who want to be reminded that comic books are supposed to be fun, Big in Japan is perfect reader for a Saturday afternoon.

I'd like to say a statement like this is completely obvious, but at the time when I was so wrapped up in finding the next big thing, I nearly forgot what was most important: really good stories, 'importance' be damned. I remember in the following months I became exposed to the works of Warren Ellis and Fred Van Lente, specifically Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. and M.O.D.O.K.'s 11 (respectively); two series of minimal continuity importance, but incredibly fun and worthy stories to read for sheer entertainment. Sometimes I wonder if I would have missed out on some great stories if it wasn't for Seth's crazy kaiju-infused FF/Iron Man story.

Five years ago today the industry lost a massive talent long before his time. Seth, you are missed.

*Or simply, Mark Millar is the X, Seth Fisher is the Y.


  1. Hi Matt,

    Thank you for remembering Seth today. Creating FF/Iron Man with Seth and Zeb brought to life everything that I'd hoped to bring to a Marvel as an editor. Fun. Imagination. Wild ideas. A sense of open creative opportunities. A search for new ways to make the language of comics speak. And using all those to bring more people into the crazy world of comics.

    Seth and I talked and emailed a lot over the course of working on FF/Iron Man. (Ideas were already cooking for the next project that I hoped he and Zeb would tackle after we finished FF/Iron Man. It was to star Ant-Man and the Wasp.) Those conversations are priceless memories.

    Here's an excerpt from an email Seth wrote to me on February 10, 2005. He's specifically referring to pages 6-7 of FF/Iron Man #1 here, but it encapsulates everything that made Seth so wonderful.

    "I had imagined the scene sort of as if walking into the muesum of montsers was like stepping into a lifesize RPG video game. (see attachment).

    "Maybe it would be clearer if the THING said "It feels like a video game in here!" Or maybe if we gave each of the charaters "Life Meters" or put some POWER-UPs floating around the room. I just imagine that gamers would think that was really funny.

    "One of my aims with this book was to develope an approch where I can shift from one style to the next smoothly from scene to scene. I care a great deal about the flow of the story and I imagine we both have similar concerns.

    "I really appreciate the creative freedom that you have given me so far on this book. I have this image in my head of the Fantastic Four in the 50-60s and how thier adventures must have looked to the public at large then. Unbelievable montsters, and crazy situations never before seen. It sems to me that all of popular culutre was informing the art at that time, so I too am trying to pull in as many references to common culture as i can. And to have that effect the STYLE of the art as well as the content.

    "Maybe some Matrix style scenes in the next books....
    Maybe more Video game style super uppercuts, or "999 Hit COMBO" lettering effects as they blast a bad guy.
    Or even FF fighting a giant Pixel style Alien from Space invaders.. (maybe too old school....)
    Lots of School Girls... all the stuff that kids like..
    I want to put the "Comic Book" ... back into comics... crazy stories that defy logical possiblity ... are we on the same page?

    "Maybe I can rap with Joe Q about it too. I want to make Marvel comics MORE popular and I really believe that my vision is one that people will snyc up with if they are given the chance."

    We lost so much when we lost Seth, but his work lives on with us. I miss that guy.

    -Cory Sedlmeier

  2. I can only imagine what madness Zeb and Seth would have caused with Ant-Man & Wasp. Seth clearly had a fantastic vision of the Marvel Universe, and really just comics as a whole.

    Cory, thank you for sharing this. These excerpts were wonderful to read.

  3. Don't forget the beautiful work Seth did for DC. Green Lantern, Flash, Batman, and a Vertigo mini called Tokyo.

    I miss seeing his work as well, and I treasure his work in my collection

  4. I met Seth at my 1st SDCC, and we became drinking pals pretty quickly.
    Seth was just a one of a kind human being.
    He said what was on his mind, and sometimes it made him come off a little crazy but the man was simply a wonderful human being.
    He flat out told my (then) girlfriend and I that we should get married which was awkward as hell, but he nailed it!
    I'm a happily married man now, and the only comics paraphernalia that my wife wears is one of his cool as hell shirts!
    My favorite work of Seths was his simple and charming "Bob's Amazing life" all about a slug named Bob.
    Man I miss Seth and his chest hair shaved in the pattern of a star...

  5. @Anonymous: This is true. And based on searching via Amazon, it appears everything he's done (sans Batman: Snow and Vertigo Pop) is out of print. This is...unfortunate.

    @Hartley: That's wonderful. I would have loved to have met him.