Priorities of Fans and Writers

White Tiger on the cover of Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #52

Some fans have a different priority from the professionals–especially the writers and editors–when it comes to the understanding of to what degree writers should deal with the consequences of earlier storylines, either their own work, or that of others. The most vocal fans seem to prefer that writers deal with that material. Meanwhile, the new writers generally seem to prefer to tell their own stories, even if dealing with the consequences of someone else’s tale almost seems like a no-brainer.

There are a few examples in somewhat recent Spider-Man comics. Hector Ayala (AKA the White Tiger) was friends with Peter Parker in college/ grad school, and even a member of the supporting cast during Bill Mantlo and Roger Stern’s runs on Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man. Yet when he was killed off in Daredevil, we never saw Spider-Man’s reaction. Mattie Franklin (AKA the third Spider-Woman) was killed off at the end of the Gauntlet mega-arc, and there’s no indication that anyone will explore the consequences of J Jonah Jameson’s niece being murdered by Spider-Man’s enemies.

Peter David was surprised to learn that no one else was writing a big confrontation between Peter Parker and J Jonah Jameson in the “Back in Black” era, so this became the focus of his final issue of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. He was only able to do this because his run was extended by an issue due to delays on One More Day. At some point between One More Day and the beginning of Brand New Day, Peter Parker lost his organic webshooters and the abilities he had gained since “The Other.” And this is something that hasn’t been explored until Chris Yost’s run of Scarlet Spider several years later.

On the one hand, writers have a finite amount of space to tell Spider-Man’s story, so I could understand a reluctance to waste this real estate–which usually requires weeks of work from talented artists, colorists and inkers–for material that is likely to be continuity-heavy, and largely reactionary, while also interrupting the momentum of the stories they want to tell. Dealing with all this material could easily become overwhelming. Readers who are especially invested in this particular scene would imagine how it would go, so writers would have to compete with their vision of that. These scenes would tend to be predictable and often derivative, considering how much time has been spent in previous comic books and stories dealing with the consequences of traumas, discoveries and the like.

Amazing Spider-Man #206 cover by John Byrne

On the other hand, many readers expect payoff to developments they care about, and expect characters to care about. Ignoring stuff that seems to be a big deal to the characters can come across as rather careless. And a good answer to a question that concerns the readers can be quite satisfying.

 

It’s a fine line, as a writer can easily go overboard exploring the ramifications of other writers, or even his/ her own work, without introducing anything new. This is complicated by the constant stream of new readers who aren’t emotionally invested in previous stories and are therefore less interested in the wrapping up of loose ends. As more stories are published, new material comes with new developments that may be worth exploring.

It can be difficult for writers to incorporate this material into their stories. A brief scene where Peter visits White Tiger’s gravesite still has to fit whatever narrative the writer is trying to tell. It still skips over Peter’s initial reaction the tragedy. And then there’s the issue of how you handle the scene for the readers who don’t know of Spider-Man’s connection to the White Tiger.

This has been going on in comics for a long time. There were dropped threads during the Silver Age, before fans had the luxury of blaming the transition from one writer to another. If message boards existed when Stan Lee & Steve Ditko were on the title, you’d have readers asking if the Tinkerer mystery is ever going to be resolved, and where Liz Allen went off to after Amazing Spider-Man #29. It’s hardly exclusive to comics. In other media, especially television, stories are dropped all the time and plot threads go unaddressed. Three of my favorite shows: West Wing, Lost and 24 come to mind, with some rather prominent examples of suddenly missing supporting characters.

Sometimes there are logistical problems. One thing that bothered me about a stretch of Doctor Who episodes was that a major trauma for the characters (a missing child) was essentially ignored, when I would really have liked to see this get mentioned more. One problem was that a subsequent episode was initially supposed to be released prior to the traumatic event, but got shuffled aroun, so that the behavior of the characters seems off for reasons outside of that particular script. This type of stuff happens in comics. You can’t deal with the consequences of an event that occurs in a comic published in May 2016 if your story was supposed to be published in February 2016, and was delayed a bit.

Spider-Man: Dead Man's Hand cover

One solution has been to explore this material in peripheral projects like one-shots, mini-series or annuals. The insignificance of this project becomes somewhat obvious, which affects the sales, as well as interest in the book from readers. Creative teams are also less likely to want to work on these kinds of books, with the possible exception of Roger Stern. It has an effect on branding. If mini-series and annuals are an afterthought, it makes readers less likely to pick those up. I think it’s better for the mini, 1 shot or ancillary title to be something that can standalone. Something that exists mainly to resolve previous plot threads for readers who are still interested in that material doesn’t quite fit the bill. Of course, such as a project doesn’t have to sell as well as regular issues of Amazing Spider-Man to justify publication.

 

Another solution was to have fill-in issues of the main title in which someone else ties up the loose ends. This happened in Amazing Spider-Man #206, when Roger Stern and John Byrne tied up a subplot about J Jonah Jameson’s nervous breakdown as well as featuring the defeat of a mad scientist who had been haunting the books on and off for about a hundred issues. It also occurred in #289, when Peter David provided the answer to the Hobgoblin’s identity. Granted, the latter story pops up often enough on lists of the worst Spider-Man stories.

 

 

It is worth noting that during Spider-Man’s engagement, the writers plowed through what could have been an interesting period in Peter Parker’s life. In their rush to get to the destination, Marvel didn’t quite let that idea play out. The issue after Mary Jane accepts Peter’s proposal, they’re already married and it’s Part 2 of a crossover. The wedding occurred in the same annual in which Peter & MJ told their aunts that they were getting married. Amazing Spider-Man #289, the issue before Peter proposed to MJ, had him romantically involved with the Black Cat. They broke up in issues of Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man, released during the same months as the proposal. In that story, the Black Cat sleeping with the Foreigner, while manipulating him and Spider-Man, as Peter learned in the final pages of Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #128.
The final (last) page of Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #128

So right before Peter Parker proposed to Mary Jane, another girl betrayed him in a nasty way. And this was never brought up in the proposal issues. Or the wedding. I think it could have fit organically into the page where Mary Jane gave her reasons for saying no. It’s something you’d expect to come up with these characters in this particular context: a guy proposing to his ex shortly after his heart was broken by someone else. All you’d need is for Mary Jane to ask if the proposal has anything to do with Felicia, Peter to say it doesn’t and an editor to make a note guiding the reader to Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #128-129, while Mary Jane starts mentioning the other reasons she’s saying no to Peter. Granted, I could see why Marvel didn’t want to reference events in another title during a jump-on point for new readers.

There’s a related tension that I’ve noticed. While writers may spend less time than many readers prefer dealing with the ramifications of a story, they may spend significant real estate setting up major plot beats that readers know are coming. One More Day would be an example. The first two and a half issues of that storyline, which was the culmination of a 60+ issue run, were spent getting Peter Parker to the place where he would consider a deal that would bring his marriage to an end. Due to various promotional images, pretty much every reader who picked up the book knew that particular beat was coming. So they were more likely to be disappointed with the issues that were setting up that beat. What was expected to be the focus of the story was instead the final act.

Writers might suggest that these types of complaints are a result of the undue impatience of the readers. Readers could suggest that it’s the result of writers having the wrong priorities and marketers revealing too much. Peter David avoided this problem in “The Death of Jean Dewolfe” by having the title event occur in the first four pages. The gold standard is probably The Death of Captain America. The event was the payoff to years of subplots, but it was also the first issue of a new storyline. The big story dealt with the things that interested readers: the cast of the title reacting to something that was a big deal. And since most people picking up the title knew what the big moment was going to be, Brubaker added a major twist to it (the identity of Cap’s shooter) that wasn’t advertised in the media write-ups. But I’m not sure it’s appropriate to expect every writer to use this particular structure for highly promoted storylines. Even if it’s likely to satisfy more of the readers.

Green Goblin VS Hobgoblin by Todd Mcfarlane

Amazing Spider-Man #312, an Inferno tie-in, had an interesting structure. It’s quite accessible as a standalone comic book featuring one of the best Spider-Man artists drawing something really cool: the Hobgoblin VS the Green Goblin. But if you were following the other Spider-Man books, it was the middle of a longer storyline. So Marvel kept the big commercial moments in the main book, and moved the set-up and aftermath to the satellite books. The biggest problem with this approach is that it turns the satellite books into stuff that wasn’t important enough for the main title.

Some writers do like exploring the ramifications of earlier stories. Roger Stern used the Hobgoblin Lives mini-series to retcon the previous revelation of the Hobgoblin’s identity, providing a new ending to an arc he had been begun in the early 1980s. This wasn’t an editorial mandate, but a story he wanted to tell. He had also written ASM 206 and Dead Man’s Hand, which tied up loose ends with the obscure villain Carrion. One of the things so satisfying about Jonathan Hickman’s run of the Fantastic Four was his willingness to deal with the aftermath of a big storyline he had been spent the majority of his run building up to.

The Infinite Spider-Man is a series of mini-essays regarding Marvel’s options for the future of the best character in comics.

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The Culture Shock of Brand New Day

Some of the backlash against Brand New Day was inevitable. The book suddenly had younger (defined by the year they were born, rather than the year in which they started writing Spider-Man) American writers. For 30+ years from September 1972 to December 2007, the series was dominated by writers who were a few years older than Gerry Conway, or a few years younger. Conway was born in September 10, 1952. Len Wein, the next Spider-Man writer, was born in June 12, 1948. Marv Wolfman was born in May 13, 1946. Bill Mantlo was born in November 9, 1951. Roger Stern was born in September 17, 1950. Tom Defalco was born in June 26, 1950. Peter David was born in September 23, 1956. JM Dematteis was born in December 15, 1953. Howard Mackie was born in January 22, 1958. J. Michael Straczynski was born in July 17, 1954, making him two years younger than Conway, a guy whose seventh Spider-Man issue touched on social controversies of 1973 with a feminist villain named Man-Killer.

Marvel Team Up #8 cover

There were a few other significant runs by younger writers, although these don’t prepare readers for the sensibilities of the writers of Brand New Day. Paul Jenkins and Mark Millar were British. Roberto Aguierre Sacasa had an elite upbringing as the Ivy League educated son of a diplomat. His run was also fairly short, often with a fraction of the sales of JMS’s Amazing Spider-Man. Brian Michael Bendis had Ultimate Spider-Man, but he didn’t really work on the version of Peter Parker introduced in Amazing Fantasy #15.

The people who dominated the Spider-Man comics for a 35 year period until late 2007 could have all gotten together for drinks on January 22, 1977, to celebrate Howard Mackie’s nineteenth birthday (New York’s drinking age was 19 until the 80s.) The question isn’t whether this has an effect on charcterization, but if it’s conceivable for this to not have a major effect.

This could be unique to the Spider-Man books. There aren’t that many series with so many writers on a character. It comes down to Batman, Superman and the X-Men. There hadn’t been a recent situation where writers of a particular generation essentially lucked into a strangehold on a major franchise. It would have been a bit different if Johns or Fraction had extended runs on Spider-Man, but they didn’t. Writers on smaller books also have less competition when it comes to the writers of the past. It’s understood that Matt Fraction will have a different take on Thor than Dan Jurgens did.

There may be some analogues in the distant past. In Superman the Unauthorized Biography, Glen Weldon described the middle-aged writers of the book during Marvel’s Lee/ Kirby/ Ditko boom. That was at a time when turnover among readers was a lot more normal. So when new guys like Cary Bates and Eliot Maggin came along, there wouldn’t be as many complaints from long-time fans that the character was written differently than he was under writers of Siegel’s generation.

The writers on Brand New Day were usually younger than their predecessors. Dan Slott was born in 1967. He was no spring chicken, but a different generation than Conway. Zeb Wells and Joe Kelly’s ages are’t readily available on the internet but I think they’re slightly younger than Slott. Fred Van Lente was born in 1972. Mark Waid was born in 1962.

Dan Slott Spider Island cover

There was still work by older writers. Bob Gale (whose Spider-Man run was pretty short) was actually an year older than Conway. Stern and Dematteis both contributed to the books during the BND era. Conway’s also gotten involved in the Spider-Man comics of the last year. But they’re no longer as dominant, and that has an effect on characterization and senisibility.

Other factors accenuated any culture shock. Thanks to the sliding timescale, the 2007 comics also depicted a Peter Parker who had become Spider-Man at some point in the 1990s. Since Peter Parker was single again after 20 years, some readers were going to be surprised by what is now acceptable in a mainstream comic book with a flagship character. There’s stuff Spider-Man did in Amazing Spider-Man #601-607 that wouldn’t have been allowed on most of the animated series. It also didn’t occur in the Raimi trilogy, although that’s mainly because the guy and the girl didn’t get together until the end of Spider-Man 2. To use the feature/ bug analogy, many readers looked at a bug in the earlier comics–a prudishness of the main character mandated by the comics code of authority–and saw it as a feature, a defining element of Peter Parker’s character, rather than a product of the format and the times.

Peter Parker arguably had an interesting and PG-13 love life in some of the later issues of Spider-Man, but those aren’t reprinted as often. Someone could read 1967’s Amazing Spider-Man #53-56 in Marvel Tales back issues, Marvel Masterworks collections, Essential Spider-Man collections, the Lee/ Romita Omnibus, the British digests and the Out of Print but relatively cheap  Spider-Man VS Doctor Octopus TPB. A reader would only have opportunities to come across the following scene if they had read Amazing Spider-Man #289–an issue before his engagement to MJ–either by owning the original issue, or by getting their hands on something that collects a lot of Amazing Spider-Man issues (IE- the now out of print Complete CD/ DVD-Rom collection.)

Amazing Spider-Man - 289 39This might all explani why the character just felt off to some readers. There’s a tendency in discussion about pop culture to try to define things you’re against by one specific example, but that’s usually not the experience of reading and enjoying (or not enjoying) a comic. It’s not one thing that ruins a book. It could be a hundred little things, or just the larger sense that there’s something missing. And a part of it could be the sensibility of writers who grew up in the 1960s or earlier.

This process could repeat itself in the future. If Slott was suddenly replaced with writers in their twenties/ early-thirties (IE- if Sarah Bruni, Ryan North and Max Landis became the new writers on the Spider-Man comics) their take on Peter Parker might be quite different from his, informed by experiences growing up in a different time, in addition to the sliding time scale changing Peter’s cultural frames of reference as well. On a side note, it’s odd to observe to note how many rising stars in comics are all in their late 30s and even 40s. It’s not that easy to find people 32 or under with the resume to plausibly write Spider-Man.

There wasn’t much that Marvel could have done to avoid this. They could have had Slott & company do more work on the titles in the months before One More Day, although that requires kicking off writers like Peter David even earlier, and prevents Brand New Day from being a clean break. They could have opted for older writers in Brand New Day, but that seems restrictive. It seems like a situation where anything they did would be controversial.

The Infinite Spider-Man is a series of mini-essays regarding Marvel’s options for the future of the best character in comics.

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Poor Lindsey Graham

Donald Trump gives out his phone number. And he’s running for President with zero support in the last four polls.

Bottom of the polls 2016 republican presidential primary

Maybe the tiff with Trump can get him the support necessary to get into the next debate.

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Why There Should Be A Movie About Dyan Cannon And Cary Grant

Dyan Cannon

Dyan Cannon is probably best known now as Cary Grant’s fourth wife, and the mother of his only child. She’s also a two-time Oscar nominee (same number Grant had), and hosted one of the first episodes of Saturday Night Live. I hadn’t seen any of her movies until recently, but her story is pretty damn compelling, and could make for an interesting film.

There’s a clear beginning to the story. An aspiring actress gets a phone call that one of the biggest movie stars in the world—and arguably one of the most charming men to have ever lived—saw on her on a TV show, and wants to meet with her. And it’s not for a film. He just wants to date her. And then they go on to elope in Vegas.

During this time, Grant deals with his own issues, including his troubled relationship with his mother, who he had at one point incorrectly believed to be dead for decades, when she was institutionalized for depression. Cannon and Grant soon divorced, partially due to his LSD use, which helps make this an even more appealing role for any middle-aged leading man. Grant goes on to retire from film, making the claim that his newborn daughter needs stability.

The important thing about Cannon is that her career doesn’t end with her marriage or her divorce. She prospers in the New Hollywood, getting her first Academy Award nomination in 1969 for Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, a comedy about open relationships. That was also the same year that Grant got his lifetime achievement award, for films that did not involve open relationships or changing cultural mores. So in that one ceremony, there is the contrast between the old Hollywood and the 60s counterculture, in one erstwhile relationship.

Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon

Cannon would get two more nominations, one for directing a short film and another as supporting actress in Warren Beatty’s Heaven Can Wait, further cementing her standing in the New Hollywood. Meanwhile, Grant stayed retired, getting paychecks schmoozing fellow rich people on behalf of Faberge. The film could end there. It could also explore what happened decades later, when Grant has a better reputation. As David Thomson wrote in The New Biographical Dictionary of Film

As well as being a leading box-office draw for some thirty years, the epitome of the man-about-town, as well as being the ex-husband of Virginia Cherrell, Barbara Hutton, Betsy Drake, and Dyan Cannon, as well as being the retired actor, still handsome executive of a perfume company—as well as all these things, he was the best and most important actor in the history of the cinema.

No one ever said anything as nice about Cannon, and she doesn’t have an entry in that 1,076 page tome. This is why I think the story would be so interesting. There was a brief period when her career was better than his. But it didn’t last.

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The Best Decade in Film Keeps Changing

The Godfather greatest film

I enjoy seeing lists of great movies. Part of it is to get recommendations for films worth checking out, but there’s also a fun in observing how things have changed, be it in the way that Louisiana Story was briefly considered one of the most acclaimed movies ever, or how Birth of a Nation stopped being DW Griffith’s most acclaimed film. One interesting thing is the way that the repuations of decades have shifted. The consensus seems to have shifted a bit.

I can compare three lists of mostly American films formed by polls of Hollywood insiders and critics: The American Film Institute’s 1997 Top 100, their 2006 follow-up and the Hollywood Reporter’s list from last year, which came to my attention because they keep retweeting it. In the 1997 AFI Top 100 list, the 1950s were the best represented decade with twenty films, and seven in the top twenty: On the Waterfront in 8th Place, Singin’ in the Rain in 10th, Sunset Boulevard in 12th, The Bridge on the River Kwai in 13th, Some Like it Hot in 14th, All About Eve in 16th, and The African Queen in 17th. For the 2007 list, five films from the 50s were removed (From Here to Eternity, Rebel Without a Cause, An American in Paris, Giant and A Place in the Sun.) Another decade had taken its place.

In the 1997 list, the 1970s were represented by 18 films, with The Godfather in third place. Two films from the decade were removed (Patton and Close Encounters of the Third Kind) but four were added (The Last Picture Show, Cabaret, Nashville, All the President’s Men) so the 1970s were the dominant decade. With last year’s list, the change was more drastic, perhaps because the focus on film professionals from multiple walks on life means they’ve got a much younger crowd. There were eleven films from the 1950s (none in the Top 25!), and eighteen from the 1970s. This time the 1990s dominated, with 24 films.

1994 film

1994 in particular made a hell of a showing, with Forrest Gump in 14th place, Pulp Fiction in 5th place and Shawshank Redemption in 4th place. There were fourteen films from the 2000s, but none in the top fifty. Part of it may just be that there isn’t a perceived consensus, and the kids exposed to these films weren’t in a position to vote for these things. Early film was really missing from the list, with two films from the 1930s (Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind, both from 1939) and three from the 1940s. I’m not sure what that means. Perhaps younger film folks simply aren’t tolerant of early film technology, or the anachronistic attitudes.

The first AFI list had 18 films from 1939 or before. Seven were gone in the next iteration, although there were five new ones, with Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights jumping from 76th place to 11th, and Buster Keaton’s The General popping up in 16th place. Birth of a Nation was in 44th place in the 1997 list, and gone in the 2007 list, although DW Griffith was represented with Intolerance. It’s suprising how much the reputations of the earliest films are still so much in flux.

It’s also taking some time for recent films to become established parts of the film canon. This can take a while. Pulp Fiction and Shawshank Redemption did some climbing to get to the top five. It’s possible they’ll be a little bit lower next time around, but probably not by much. Schindler’s List is the one film from the 1990s on all three top ten lists, so it was acknowledged relatively quickly, in a way that doesn’t seem apparent of any film in the 2000s, although much of that may just be the combination of artistry with a director acknowledged as one of the best ever, and weighty subject matter. There isn’t quite that perfect storm with recent films.

Wall-E can be considered a great film

My guesses for the films most likely to rank higher in lists made decades from now are Wall-E, The Lord of the Rings and The Dark Knight. Wall-E is probably Pixar’s masterpiece, and the best science fiction film in decades. Lord of the Rings was the Star Wars of the 21st Century, and the biggest problem is determining whether the first film (which introduced the characters and brought attention to the franchise) should rank higher than the third (which got more awards, and brought the story to a satisfying conclusion.) The Dark Knight is considered the best superhero film, so it’s the apex of a genre dominating the box office, and typically getting impressive reviews. Heath Ledger (whose lead performance in Brokeback Mountain is also in the Top 100) is one of the great film villains, while Nolan is probably the most acclaimed recent director (Inception and Memento made the Top 100.) The Shawshank Redemption, and Citizen Kane a long time ago, show that films don’t chart in early lists can still rate highly decades later, so it’s possible for films ignored in The Hollywood Reporter‘s selection to dominate in the 2020s. Don’t be surprised to see The Departed (Scorcese crime drama with A-list cast), Requiem for a Dream (arguably the best drug drama in American film, can rise with the fortunes of lead Jared Leto or director Darren Aronofsky) or The Hurt Locker (Most significant American film by a female Director, Most acclaimed film about the 21st Century military) start climbing.

Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly in Rear Window

Incidentally, I’d still say that the 1950s for are the best decade in film. It was a good decade for English language cinema, with directors like Hitchcock, Wilder, and Kazan at their peaks, in addition to impressive westerns (High Noon, The Searchers, Shane) and a few other all-time classics (Singin’ in the Rain, Paths of Glory, Bridge on the River Kwai, The African Queen, Touch of Evil.) The ’70s might be better for American films-although I’m not convinced on that one- but the 50s was fantastic for foreign language films. Kurosawa had Rashomon, Seven Samurai and Ikiru. Ingmar Bergman had Smiles of a Summer NightWild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal. And there was Diabolique, La Strada, Wages of Fear and The 400 Blows.

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What Comedy Central Should Do With Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah's twitter

Trevor Noah’s stint as lead anchor of the Daily Show has now been scheduled for the end of September. The conversation about him briefly shifted from whether he was too obscure and inexperienced, to whether his comments on twitter have been problematic, and reflected an insensitivity unbecoming of the replacement for John Stewart. Considering the guy had 9,000 tweets, I don’t think his handful of dumb comments was a major deal, although the now mostly forgotten fuss was a reflection of the new political correctness.

He’s not the worst choice for host. The obvious replacements have their shows, and the clips I’ve seen of his are pretty funny. He’s also hosted stuff in South Africa, and seems like a good match with Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore (younger guy with international background followed by middle-aged American.)

However, I do think he would have been a better match for the 11:30 show. His main schtick is an exxagerated outsider’s perspective, which is much more Colbert than Stewart.

Comedy Central tried to replace the Colbert Report, but the ratings haven’t been that good for the Nightly Show. So, a swap seems to be in order. Larry Wilmore could get promoted to the Daily Show, where he can present a more intuitive understanding of some of the things they’re supposed to mock. That would be especially important heading into the 2016 presidential election. Noah could play the confused foreigner, perplexed by American questions, the guy who can act dumb during interviews to get interesting answers.

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Edward F. Murphy, Forgotten Vice-Presidential Contender

Edward F Murphy for Vice President

I’m curious about the people who get selected President, and also in who gets selected for the nomination and who gets selected for Vice-President, and who gets selected to be a losing nominee for Vice-President.

Edward F. Murphy is quite unusual. He received 77 votes to be the Republican nominee for Vice President at the party’s 1908 convention, but wikipedia didn’t even have an entry for him. Charles Fairbank

1908

There was a Democratic Senator Edward Murphy Jr, who served from 1983-1899. He has also been a former mayor of Troy, New York. He would have been in his early 70s in 1908, and it would be unusual for so many Republicans to back a Democrat.

The mystery was was solved through the New York Times. I got a trial subscription which gave me access to the archives.

Murphy

There was a reference to Governor Fort of New Jersey’s lukewarm support of former Governor Murphy for Vice President. There was no Governor Edward Murphy, but a Franklin Murphy served as Governor of New Jersey from 1902-1905 as a progressive “square deal” Republican. He had been in his late 50s when he was elected, and had been serving as chair of the New Jersey Republican committee (which he had previously held for 12 years) at the time of the 1908 election.

By the time I found this out, wikipedia user Ariostos had changed “Edward F. Murphy” to “Franklin Murphy” so it was a moot point, but an interesting digression.

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