Friday, 23 June 2017

What Is It That Disturbs You, Stephen?

The 1976 Dr. Strange annual was, I think, one of the last things Craig Russell did during his initial time at Marvel, and like pretty much every piece of his ever, it's a tour de force.
Not that Craig was overly pleased with it, over the years trying to convince Marvel to reprint it with better production values.
Getting the go-ahead in 1997, Russell initially tried adding 12 new pages to the piece in order to reprint it as a graphic novel, before realizing how much his style had changed over the years, and sitting down to do the whole thing from scratch. It was released as Dr. Strange: What Is It That Disturbs You, Stephen? and I obviously recommend it massively.

But here's the original. If I'm honest, having read both versions, I'm still not 100% sure what the story ( co-written by Craig with Marv Wolfman ) is actually about, and what really happens, but what I can't resist about it is that it looks, in places, like it's taking place on Killraven's Earth, Russell being fresh from that strip at the time.
What I also like is the same thing that occurs to every single person who reads it: None of what happens to Doc would've been necessary if he'd just realized one simple, eternal truth.
When your hot girlfriend from another dimension tells you you're not paying her enough attention, the one thing you don't do is 'turn inward to study her words, and understand yourself'. That's exactly why she's pissed off at you, dude.


  1. Classic, obviously.
    There are all kinds of ways the 90s version is better what with it being drawn by an obviously more experienced and accomplished artist but I still like the original. As you say Pete, it has something of the feel of Killraven. Thats always going to endear the work to readers of a certain age.

    A funny story about that Strange annual I recall reading in an interview with Russell -
    At the time Marvel had started returning artwork under a system that gave the writer some pages (you can see why the artists might not have been totally happy about that). Anyway, for one reason or another the pages all ended up with Russell, and Marv Wolfman asks for his share; so Russell proceeded to carefully peel off all the word balloons and passed them onto him.

    Well, it made me laugh.
    Good for Russell; it might go some way to explain why he didn't do any more work at Marvel for a while after though...


  2. Good story, Sean - don't think I'd heard that one!