Mark’s Remarks – Marvel Age #100 (May 1991)

In tribute to MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE reaching its hundredth issue, I’d like to share with you a hundred short observations about life, comics, and the universe. Some them may be clever. Some of them may be revealing. Some of them may actually be original.

  1. Gruenwald’s first rule of comedy: Anything more annoying to someone else than it is to you is funny.
  2. Gruenwald’s second rule of comedy: If something is not funny the first time, by the fiftieth time you repeat it, it will be hilarious.
  3. Gruenwald’s third rule of comedy: Rules, like comedy, should always come in threes.
  4. If your hobby becomes your profession, find a new hobby.
  5. My three most common dreams are flying, appearing in public without clothes, and forgetting to finish an important homework assignment.
  6. People read comic books to be entertained, not to feel stupid. Therefore, writers should always strive to make things clear lest readers feel it’s their fault they can’t understand what’s going on and give up on comics.
  7. I jog quite a bit but I’m not sure if I’ve ever experienced a “runner’s high.” Sometimes, though, I feel like I have so much energy I will never have to stop.
  8. Beauty is only spirit deep.
  9. I have no problem believing in the afterlife, it’s the afterdeath I’m not so sure about.
  10. A mutant deliberately creates conditions for himself so severe he must either adapt or perish.
  11. I could never live somewhere that doesn’t have dramatic changes in the seasons.
  12. A person must be ready at all times to entertain three things: one’s self, a guest, and a new idea.
  13. I know who writes the Bullpen Bulletins Page. (It’s not me. I edit it.)
  14. Never give up on anything you truly like, just keep adding new things on top of it.
  15. Whenever I think of Voyager hurling out of our solar system with a Check Berry laser disc on board, it brings tears to my eyes.
  16. There is no excuse for leading a boring life.
  17. Will somebody please make comic books told in the first person narration go out of style?
  18. To be able to love someone else, you must first love yourself. To love your own work, you must first be able to love someone else’s.
  19. Once upon a time it was possible to be knowledgable about every single facet of popular culture.
  20. If I didn’t exist, I’d have to invent me.
  21. It takes an equal amount of work to make an enemy as it takes to make a friend, and enemies won’t take in your mail when you’re out of town.
  22. My autograph is different from my signature.
  23. The quality I most value in men is a sense of humor. The quality I most value in women is some acknowledgement of the acceptability of my continued existence.
  24. Different people are driven by different things. I’m driven by the need to discover what drives me.
  25. As a young child, I used to go to my friends’ houses and reorganize their toys.
  26. I have found that whatever mood I’m in on New Year’s Eve tends to define the tone for the whole year.
  27. Though you have to keep an open mind about things, you shouldn’t keep it so open that what’s already stored in there blows out.
  28. All my old girlfriends have virtually identical handwriting. Sure glad my new girlfriend doesn’t.
  29. A hack is a person with contempt for his audience. A hack says the audience doesn’t deserve any better work than this so that’s all the effort I’m putting into it.
  30. Life is filled with pleasure and pain. Sometimes it can even be experienced simultaneously.
  31. I love my VCR. I have taped hundreds of hours of television shows I intend to watch someday when I get caught up on my work.
  32. To attain true happiness in your career you must convince people to pay you to do things you would do regardless of pay.
  33. I’m really getting into hiphop music, but I think there should be a federal statute limiting the number of notes that may be “sampled” from one source while assembling a song to ten.
  34. Sometimes I wonder if the haircut I wear now is going to embarrass me when I look at a picture of myself ten years from now.
  35. One of the things that makes life worth living: good bread.
  36. True love exists between souls, not bodies, but one’s body influences the character of one’s soul.
  37. Kids: never get rid of a toy you like that you’ve outgrown. Your adult like will be haunted by it.
  38. There are certain comic writers who don’t know how to begin or end their stories, but have the middles well worked out.
  39. My small Manhattan apartment is filled with books, computers, exercise equipment, video paraphernalia, toys, clothes, and dust. It’s great to live alone.
  40. When in doubt, leave it out.
  41. Everything ultimately succumbs to entropy, but until it does, enjoy it.
  42. The writer’s job is to give the readers what they want, not what they say they want, and to give it to them in a way they don’t expect.
  43. What is the evolutionary advantage to emotions?
  44. Writing comics for a living is like having homework to do every night for the rest of your life.
  45. I take humor seriously. If you haven’t laughed so hard you thought you’d vomit at least once a year, there was no point in living that year.
  46. Another of the things that make life worth living: hearing your child say something she learned from you.
  47. Place in a single stack, my published work in the comics medium is longer than my arm from fingertip to armpit. Once, in Chicago, a fan brought me all of my work to autograph.
  48. I thought I’d found my soulmate once. Unfortunately, at that moment, I’d misplaced my soul.
  49. Another of the things that make life worth living: the night sky far away from any manmade source of light.
  50. Are all writers frustrated performers?
  51. Mythology researcher Giorgio de Santillana once wrote, “A god outgrown becomes a life destroying demon. His form must be broken, his energy dispersed.” I wish I had written that.
  52. I have this recurring dream where a friend of mine falls from a great height and I am unable to save him or her. Will somebody please tell me what this means?
  53. To be as alive as it’s possible to be, you must wonder like a child, feel like a teenager, and think like an adult.
  54. Men: if you can find a woman who really like the Three Stooges or old Twilight Zones, don’t let her out of your life.
  55. I never set out to write a bad story, but sometimes when I haven’t thought out the initial premise enough, no amount of good plotwork will make it rise about mediocre.
  56. Theodore Sturgeon is renowned for saying “Ninety per cent of everything is crap.” But very little crap is one hundred per cent pure.
  57. Becoming really good at something – anything – is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Don’t let the possibility that there may be somebody better than you at whatever it is you do deter you from striving for excellence. With any luck, you’ll never have to lunch with that person.
  58. Qualities we like in other people are qualities we either like or lack in ourselves.
  59. My favorite foreign film is Fellini’s “8-1/2.” It took great power on my part to walk out of the film halfway through the ninth time I saw it, so I can say to this day I’ve seen it 8-1/2 times.
  60. When you’re a comics fan, there’s a month gap between the adventures of your heroes. When you’re a comics pro, they just go on and on without a break.
  61. It’s possible to learn how to be cool.
  62. Why do I find bathroom humor funny, but bedroom humor unfunny?
  63. Sometimes I wish I’d been working in the comics industry in the 1940’s, back when all the good character names hadn’t been taken.
  64. Another of the things that make life worth living: music.
  65. With every single issue of every single comic book, a writer owes his first time reader a fighting chance to be able to understand what’s going on, and owes his regular reader something he or she has never seen before.
  66. Beware of people who don’t own dictionaries.
  67. The best line Ian Fleming ever wrote: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”
  68. Right now I’m older than I ever imagined being, but I still feel exactly the same way I did ten, even twenty years ago. No matter how old I get, it feels like the right age to be.
  69. Life goes on, whether we’re in it or not.
  70. I’m not a natural storyteller. A natural storyteller can take trivial and tell it in such a way as to make it seem momentous. I have to work with the momentous and keep it from seeming trivial.
  71. I can’t stand missing the first few minutes of a movie.
  72. The second best things in life cost money.
  73. My Latin teacher used to tell me that what you get our of an experience is in direct proportion to what you bring to it.
  74. Hard to believe but every single comics character has its fans. Even It the Living Colossus, Turner D. Century, and Captain Hero.
  75. I admit it. The fiction I write is primarily for juveniles. But just because it’s for juveniles doesn’t mean it has to be valueless. I try to imbed my juvenile adventure stories with values I believe in, values that transcend the genre. Sometimes I succeed.
  76. The problem with life is not that it’s too short, it’s just that it’s too thin.
  77. No joke is an old joke to someone who hasn’t heard it.
  78. Beware the professional who tries to tell you what professional behavior is.
  79. I caution people against meeting writers whose work they admire. Once you find out the guy’s a slob in real life, how can you not let that color your impression of his work?
  80. The best line Voltaire ever wrote: “Men will cease to commit atrocities when they cease to believe absurdities.”
  81. I’ve always felt lucky in that I don’t believe in luck.
  82. The best guitar riff in rock history can be found in the opening bars of Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman.” Or maybe the Doors’ “Break on Through.” Or Eric Clapton’s “Layla.” Or Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” Or…?
  83. I love New York.
  84. I wish that when I was young somebody had told me that time goes by more quickly the older you get. Not that I would have lived my life any differently, just that I wouldn’t have been caught unprepared.
  85. Be good to people who care about you.
  86. Gruenwald’s first rule of Halloween: A costume should totally disguise one’s appearance.
  87. Gruenwald’s second rule of Halloween costumes: A costume should have something to do with the persona of the wearer, reflecting what he or she’d like to be or the exact opposite.
  88. Gruenwald’s third rule of Halloween costumes: A costume should be comfortable enough to wear the whole night without having to take any of it off.
  89. If we can’t kid each other, who can we kid?
  90. I began drawing comic books at five years old, but even by age 18, I could tell my stuff didn’t look as good as the stuff printed in the comics. That being the case it never occurred to me to send my artwork to the professionals. Now that I’m in the business, it’s always astounding to me when I’m sent samples that aren’t even in the ballpark.
  91. I’m not superstitious. Stitious maybe.
  92. Jim Kelly’s best line in “Enter the Dragon”: “Mister, you’re like something out of a comic book.”
  93. Another of the things that make life worth living: falling in love.
  94. If I had my own rock band, I’d call it “Cognitive Dissonance.”
  95. If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing with all the energy you can bring to it.
  96. Listen to everybody. A good idea is a good idea, even if an idiot said it.
  97. When I die, I’m really going to miss me.
  98. I have two cats, one of whom sits on my lap whenever I’m at the computer. She’s there right now.
  99. One of the main things that separates Man from the other Animals is that only Man needs to make lists.
  100. 100. This is the oldest the universe has ever been.

–Mark Gruenwald