Steve Ditko (b. 1927) is an American comic book artist and writer best known as the artist and co-creator, with Stan Lee, of ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Doctor Strange.’ As of mid-2012, Ditko continues to work at a studio in Manhattan’s Midtown West neighborhood. He has refused to give interviews or make public appearances since the 1960s, explaining in 1969 that, ‘When I do a job, it’s not my personality that I’m offering the readers but my artwork. It’s not what I’m like that counts; it’s what I did and how well it was done…. I produce a product, a comic art story. Steve Ditko is the brand name.’ He has, however, contributed numerous essays to Robin Snyder’s fanzine ‘The Comics.’
Ditko studied under ‘Batman’ artist Jerry Robinson in Manhattan at the Cartoonist and Illustrators School (later the School of Visual Arts). He began his professional career in 1953, working in the studio of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, beginning as an inker and coming under the influence of artist Mort Meskin. During this time, he then began his long association with Charlton Comics, where he did work in the genres of science fiction, horror, and mystery. He also co-created the superhero ‘Captain Atom’ in 1960.read more »
Hideo Kojima (b. 1963) is a Japanese video game designer, screenwriter, director, and producer. He is the director of Kojima Productions, which he originally founded in 2005, and a former vice president of Konami Digital Entertainment. He is often regarded as an ‘auteur’ video game director.
He is the creator, director and writer of a number of widely praised video games, including the ‘Metal Gear’ series of stealth games, and the adventure games ‘Snatcher’ and ‘Policenauts,’ and he also directed or produced games in other series, including ‘Zone of the Enders,’ ‘Boktai,’ and ‘Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.’read more »
Christopher Nolan (b. 1970) is a British-American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He created several of the most successful films of the early 21st century, and his eight films have grossed over $3.5 billion worldwide. Having made his directorial debut with ‘Following’ (1998), he gained considerable attention for his second feature, ‘Memento’ (2000). The acclaim of these independent films afforded Nolan the opportunity to make the big-budget thriller ‘Insomnia’ (2002), and the more offbeat production ‘The Prestige’ (2006); which were well-received critically and commercially. He found popular success with ‘The Dark Knight’ trilogy (2005–2012), ‘Inception’ (2010), and ‘Interstellar’ (2014). He runs the London-based production company Syncopy Inc. with his wife Emma Thomas.
His films are rooted in philosophical and sociological concepts, exploring human morality, the construction of time, and the malleable nature of memory and personal identity. Experimentation with metafictive elements, temporal shifts, elliptical cutting, solipsistic perspectives, nonlinear storytelling and the analogous relationship between the visual language and narrative elements, permeate his entire body of work.read more »
Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series ‘The Sandman’ and novels ‘Stardust,’ ‘American Gods,’ ‘Coraline,’ and ‘The Graveyard Book.’
Though his work is frequently seen as exemplifying the monomyth structure laid out by mythologist Joseph Campbell, Gaiman says that he started reading Campbell’s book on the common structure of myths but refused to finish it: ‘I think I got about halfway through ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ and found myself thinking if this is true – I don’t want to know. I really would rather not know this stuff. I’d rather do it because it’s true and because I accidentally wind up creating something that falls into this pattern than be told what the pattern is.’read more »
Bill Watterson (b. 1958) is an American artist and the author of the comic strip ‘Calvin and Hobbes,’ which was syndicated from 1985 to 1995. Watterson stopped drawing the strip at the end of 1995 with a short statement to newspaper editors and his readers that he felt he had achieved all he could in the medium.
Watterson is known for his views on licensing (he refused to merchandise his creations on the grounds that displaying their images on commercially sold mugs, stickers and T-shirts would devalue the characters and their personalities) and his move back into private life after ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’read more »
Robert H. Lustig is an American pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where he is a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics. He practices in the field of neuroendocrinology, with an emphasis on the regulation of energy balance by the central nervous system. He also has a special interest in childhood obesity.
Lustig came to public attention through his efforts to establish that fructose can have serious deleterious effects on human (especially children’s) health if consumed excessively. In 2009, he delivered a lecture called ‘Sugar: The Bitter Truth’ that spread virally on YouTube, in which he calls fructose a ‘poison’ and equates its metabolic effects with those of ethanol.read more »
Gregory Clark (b. 1957) is an economic historian at UC, Davis. His grandfathers were migrants to Scotland from Ireland, and he was born in Bellshill, Scotland. In 1974 he and a fellow pupil won the ‘Scottish Daily Express’ school debate competition. After school he earned his B.A. in economics and philosophy at King’s College, Cambridge in 1979 and his Ph.D. at Harvard in 1985. He has also taught as an Assistant Professor at Stanford and the University of Michigan. At Davis his areas of research are long term economic growth, the wealth of nations, and the economic history of England and India.
Clark is most well known for his book, ‘A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World.’ He argued that the current divide between rich and poor nations came about as a result of the Industrial Revolution originating in Britain. Prior to 1790, Clark asserts, man faced a Malthusian trap: new technology enabled greater productivity and more food, but was quickly gobbled up by higher populations. In Britain, however, as disease continually killed off poorer members of society, their positions in society were taken over by the sons of the wealthy.read more »
John Swartzwelder (b. 1950) is an American comedy writer and novelist, best known for his work on the animated television series ‘The Simpsons,’ as well as a number of novels. He is credited with writing the largest number of ‘Simpsons’ episodes by a large margin (59 full episodes, with contributions to several others). Swartzwelder was one of several writers recruited to show from the pages of George Meyer’s ‘Army Man’ magazine (a short-lived comedy periodical published in the late 1980s; Meyer would also go on to become an acclaimed ‘Simpsons’ writer).
Swartzwelder has been animated in the background of several episodes of ‘The Simpsons.’ His animated likeness closely resembles musician David Crosby, which prompted Matt Groening to state that anytime that David Crosby appears in a scene for no apparent reason, it is really John Swartzwelder. Additionally, Matt Groening has stated that the recurring character ‘Herman Hermann’ (the owner of Herman’s Military Antiques) was originally physically based on Swartzwelder–with the exception of his one arm.read more »