Kickstarter You Should Be Backing: Mark Wheatley’s Giant… Songs

Kickstarter You Should Be Backing: Mark Wheatley’s Giant… Songs

I’ve known comics creator and illustrator Mark Wheatley since he emerged from the pupae stage. We were handed a proposal for a project called Mars – “we” being the late and lamented real First Comics. Said proposal was given to art director Joe Staton and production manager Bruce Patterson. Joe and Bruce were raving; this, in and of itself, was nothing new but they were raving about this specific project. So I read the proposal, and as the kids say, I immediately green-lighted it.

Mars was the work of Mister Wheatley and his studio-mate Marc Hempel and they were advocating a story that was unlike anything I could remember in American comics, and they were telling that story in a manner that was equally unique. Silly businessman that I am, that’s exactly the sort of venture that I find most appealing. No, I have never thought about being wealthy enough to retire. As work progressed and we started to promote Mars, the head of one of the largest comic book distributors (there were many back then) asked me, quite politely, if I were out of my mind.

Well, if I wasn’t sufficiently excited before that moment…

A couple years later, Mark and Marc pitched a project called Breathtaker. By then I was at DC Comics, still ignoring my savings account. My feelings about Breathtaker were like those I had about Mars, and I pitched it to DC. They agreed, but “they” did not include the publisher who was not part of that approval process. She thought we were somehow making fun of concentration camp inmates. Decades later, I’m still scratching my head over that one, but I was comforted in the knowledge I was still upsetting apple carts. And I maintained those feelings some time later at the premiere of the first graphic novels exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum, where Mark, Marc and Breathtaker commanded the real estate of an entire wall – and sundry staff curators came out with copies for us to autograph. Pretty heady stuff for a bunch of comics guys.

I’ve worked with Mark on various projects ever since, and we’ve maintained a friendship that no one can rend asunder, unless that person is disgusted by puns. Mark and I can flip them back and forth with a fervor that could empty out Camden Yards.

I’m not involved in Mark’s current project. Perhaps it was something I said. Or didn’t say. You can ask us April 12 – 14 at the Windy City Pulp show in Lombard Illinois; we’ll both be there, but the part you’ll enjoy is gawking at Mark’s massive… exhibit.

So… what, you might ask, is this brand-new project of Mark’s? How can you become part of it? And why did I bury the lead so deeply?

Mark has just launched a new Kickstarter called Song Of Giants: The Poetry of Pulp – Illustrated. It’s got 72 pages of “mind-blowing illustrations by all of Fame artist Mark Wheatley,” as the back cover so intriguingly states. He’s limited himself to three such giants: Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and H.P. Lovecraft. Oh, yeah, them again!

Of course there’s a website in addition to the Kickstarter page. Grow up! It’s 2019! It’s like gravity! Check it out for more info and even more pretty pictures.

Mark’s also coming out with an audio book, and he’s teamed up with noted producer / voice actor and all-around swell guy Mark Redfield. What can I say? He’s got a thing for guys named Mark. Or Marc. Yup, this is an audio book of a book of illustrations. Mark is still boldly going, I see… In these difficult times, it’s nice to see that somethings do not change – abruptly.

Check out the Kickstarter. Help make it happen. Tell ‘em Groucho sent you, particularly if you’re happening by a DeSoto dealership.

With Further Ado #031: Kirby and Lee: Stuf’ Said  by John Morrow

With Further Ado #031: Kirby and Lee: Stuf’ Said by John Morrow

“It’s complicated” is a simple term that’s creeped into all facets of our lexicon. It’s now become something more than just a placeholder of a particular status category on social media. But let’s face it; whenever we deal with real people who live on planet Earth, things tend to get complicated. There are no simple answers.  Even the shades of gray have shades of gray.  And that’s the proper mindset for jumping into John Morrow’s phenomenal new book Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said.

This book is a fascinating deep dive into contentious relationships between the men, and women, who would shape what pop culture now regards as the Marvel Universe.   There are so many questions: Who contributed what? Did the writer actually write the stuff? Who came up with the ideas originally? Why didn’t everyone get along better? Marvel now generates billions of dollars in business, so we have to wonder if all involved had been compensated fairly? (Spoiler alert: “no”.)

There seems to be a lot of excitement for this book.  “John Morrow has done it again,” said Emil Novak, Sr, a pioneering comic book retailer since 1969.  Stuf’ Said chronicles the perplexing conversation of who fundamentally created most of Marvel’s comic book characters.  And the results will change your thoughts and history forever.”  Continue reading “With Further Ado #031: Kirby and Lee: Stuf’ Said by John Morrow”

Spotlight Interview with David Pepose and Jorge Santiago Jr. of Spencer and Locke

Spotlight Interview with David Pepose and Jorge Santiago Jr. of Spencer and Locke

Welcome back to another Spotlight Interview. We had the great fortune to get together with the creators of the Ringo Award nominated series Spencer and Locke.

Spencer and Locke first debuted in 2017, and was published by Action Lab. It was created by David Pepose and Jorge Santiago Jr.  The creators have described it as riff on the idea of what would happen if Calvin and Hobbes had grown up in Sin-City.

The concept is so audacious, a lot of people wanted to look to see if we could stick the landing.

David Pepose

The collected first volume of this ambitious mashup series can be found at your LCS or on Amazon or Comixology. We highly recommend it.

Capitalizing on the success of their hit series, the guys are back with Spencer and Locke 2, and it is beginning on April 24, 2019.  You can find the preorder information on PreviewsWorld.

Our conversation with David and Jorge covered topics ranging from the inspiration for the series to process techniques, and fan reactions. Take a look below. We think you will be impressed with these guys and definitely intrigued about what you will find in Volume 2 of Spencer and Locke.

Pop Culture Squad: What was the inspiration for the original series of Spencer and Locke?

David Pepose (Writer/Creator):  It took me a while to muster up the nerve to think that maybe I could write a comic. I think there is a lot of mysticism about creating stuff that people think it is kind of magic. Where, to me, it’s more like building a chair.  It’s hard work, but there is a form to it that you can build upon. So, people say to write about what you know, and I thought, “Well I don’t know anything about anything, except for comics.” The more that I thought about that, the more I thought it was not as limiting as one might think. Continue reading “Spotlight Interview with David Pepose and Jorge Santiago Jr. of Spencer and Locke”

WIth Further Ado #009: An interview with Jacque Nodell

WIth Further Ado #009: An interview with Jacque Nodell

An interview with Jacque Nodell, author of How to Go Steady: Timeless Dating Advice, Wisdom, and Lessons from Vintage Romance Comics

As a young reader, I would have told you out loud that I loved all comics. But that wasn’t really the case. I didn’t have much use for humor comics back then. Teen comics? Well, once my Aunt Elissa gave me a box of Archie comics, I warmed up to them.  War Comics and horror comics weren’t my cup of tea, but I’d read them now and then.

Romance comics, however, were never on the list.  Too icky. Just like girls. So icky.  Like many young boys, my tastes would do a 180 in just a few years. But I still wouldn’t read a romance comic.   

Over the last few years, however, I’ve relaxed these standards. I’ve started to enjoy them occasionally. In fact, I am on a Quixotic quest  for romance comics featuring Jay Scott Pike art. He was a master, and beyond that Showcase issue with the Dolphin story, I never really knew anything about him.  There’s many other great artists in vintage romance comics. It’s a great place to stumble across the early works of favorites like John Romita or Gene Golan, as discovering new favorites.

So it’s not a surprise that I enjoy Jacque Nodell’s Sequential Crush. It’s a celebration of romance comics. And out this page has come her first book.  I had a lot of questions for Jacque, and despite planning for a wedding (true love wins!) she found some time to answer them all!  Continue reading “WIth Further Ado #009: An interview with Jacque Nodell”

Brainiac On Banjo #014: Should We Ban Banned Books Week?

Brainiac On Banjo #014: Should We Ban Banned Books Week?

Do you remember all the way back to last Tuesday, when the Washington Post still was referred to as a “liberal” newspaper? Many people believe that. The following day, Wednesday September 26th, was the day the Post just might have turned the corner.

Ron Charles, the Post’s book critic, opined we might not need Banned Books Week any longer. “I just wish Banned Books Week didn’t appear to exaggerate a problem that’s largely confined to our repressive past… Are we winning any converts with this annual orgy of self-righteousness?”

He contradicted his point when he reported how many books were, indeed, banned last year. The label of self-righteousness rarely is self-imposed.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that, over the years, I have edited or contributed to a decent number of “banned books” and have been railing against banning books for, damn, a very long time. When it comes to the Pop Culture Squad, well, suffice it to say I am not alone.

Mr. Charles states, among other things (and I urge you to read his piece, to which I conveniently posted the link in my second paragraph), “Doesn’t Banned Books Week carelessly lump together the interested mother with the book-burning Nazi?” Well, part of the parenting process is the unfortunate imposition of mommy and daddy’s more disgusting values onto their children. Such is life, and many kids challenge those “values” as part of their maturation process. But my blanket response to this sort of challenge is “If you don’t want to be conflated with book-burning Nazis, stop acting like a book-burning Nazi!”

I am opposed to removing any book from any library or any bookstore. The librarian and the bookseller have no right to impose their self-indulgent mores upon an unsuspecting audience. By removing that which they find objectionable, they believe they have the right to transplant their views and politics onto everybody else. They most certainly do not.

For the record, I would not even ban Mein Kampf. Indeed, I encourage teenagers to read this book and to discuss it from both the moral and the historical perspectives. As I often do, I once again quote George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Arguably, that is the most important aphorism of all time.

You may ask “OK, smart-ass. Would you edit a graphic novel adaptation of Mein Kampf?” I’m hardly your go-to-guy for far-right-wing subject matter, although I have proudly worked with many conservative and right-wing talent and I never interfered with their points of view. Adolf Hitler… well, my own backstory just might get in the way of that.

In the hands of the right creative team, a Mein Kampf adaptation might work. But it most certainly would not get racked in libraries or placed on Apple Books.

Librarians are teachers and… well… teachers teach. That means discuss, exchange points of view, and listen. Point out the problems with allowing a person with a small gaggle of follows to shove his or her will down everybody else’s throats. That’s particularly important these days, no matter what your worldview might be. If we don’t keep these discussions going, the next thing we’ll see is these same librarians and teachers cart away all the copies of the greatest American novel, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Actually, we’ve been seeing this for a while now, but most of these culture vultures seem content to merely censor the hell out of the book – thereby voiding the author’s point.

I understand his concerns and I think Mr. Charles’ piece was well-written and rather clever. But when it comes to bringing attention to censorship and the imposition of limits to the acquisition of knowledge, his heart is in the right place but his head’s up his ass.

I say that with respect.

Seriously.

 

Kreigh Collins’ Classic Comic Strip, Mitzi McCoy, Collected

Kreigh Collins’ Classic Comic Strip, Mitzi McCoy, Collected

SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND—Lost Art Books, the award-winning publishing imprint devoted to the graphic arts, is proud to announce the release of The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. This volume collects the entire two-year run of the Mitzi McCoy strip for the first time.

While illustrator and comic artist Kreigh Collins is not well-known to today’s audiences, his adventurous globetrotting life, combined with his skillful storytelling and superior illustration, never fails to enthrall new readers. This volume showcases his picturesque landscapes, lovely character designs, and thrilling action sequences brimming with detail and charm.  Continue reading “Kreigh Collins’ Classic Comic Strip, Mitzi McCoy, Collected”

WIth Further Ado #005 Why Don’t You Know About Emanuele Taglietti?

WIth Further Ado #005 Why Don’t You Know About Emanuele Taglietti?

Here in the US, in the late 70s and early 80s, we were reading comics like Marvel’s The Human Fly. But there was something entirely different going on in Italy. The ‘sexy fumetti’ craze had taken hold. This fad put the the scariness of horror films and twisted humor into blender, and then topped it all off with another dollop of unabashed sexiness.  Some people have called them “the most shocking comics ever produced”, and I say that’s an understatement.

A counterbalance these lurid, prurient comics is the outstanding art of Italian master Emanuele Taglietti.  He painted over 500 covers for many comics including Sukia, Magnum 44 and Ulula.  Each painting has a sense of urgency combined with an off-the-charts level of skill.

Korero Press has recently published Sex and Horror: The Art of Emanuele Taglietti.  Clearly, it’s not for the faint of heart or the prudish.  Even liberal thinkers probably need to take a deep breath before reading this one.  Continue reading “WIth Further Ado #005 Why Don’t You Know About Emanuele Taglietti?”

With Further Ado #004: (Not) Afraid of Flying

With Further Ado #004: (Not) Afraid of Flying

I was struck by how many smaller publishers were exhibiting at San Diego Comic-Con. Maybe “smaller” is the wrong word. It diminishes the efforts and passion that’s behind all these efforts. Maybe I should instead call them up-and-coming publishers.

And I’m drawing a line between this idea – the hopes and dreams of small publishers –  and the fascinating book I’m reading, Double Ace by Robert Coram.  It’s the story of one of the most celebrated World War II pilots, Robert Lee Scott, Jr.  He was a war hero who shot down an astounding number of enemy pilots during WWII. 

Comic fans used to love aviation heroes. There were titles like Wings, Flying Aces and Air Fighters. There were heroes like Airboy, Blackhawk, Flying Jenny, Black Venus ( a couple of them, in fact) and Sky Wolf.

Guys of a certain age, like me, graduated from the TV steam punk of the Wild, Wild, West to Baa Baa Black Sheep, a (mostly) fictionalized TV series about another real life war pilot, Pappy Boyington.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #004: (Not) Afraid of Flying”

Beat JENeration #004: Fangirls of a Certain Age

Beat JENeration #004: Fangirls of a Certain Age

I recently started reading and watching Outlander. Hold on to that thought.

If having children has taught me anything, it’s that personalities are pretty much cemented at age 10. Yes, we all grow and change with each new experience or trauma, but the core essence of who we are stays the same. This, is my non-scientific proof that no one should expect me or any of my sisters-in-arms to outgrow our penchant for being super enthusiastic about fictional characters and the actors who play them.

Fanboys need no one’s permission to go forth and geek out about whatever kicks their Serotonin and Dopamine into action be it sports or Star Wars. Whereas women are often met with hostility on the matter — and the stigma runs deep, even amongst our own.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #004: Fangirls of a Certain Age”

With Further Ado #001: Logo-A-Gogo

With Further Ado #001: Logo-A-Gogo

Did you ever wonder about a brand and why that brand grabbed you? It may have been something about the business proposition, or it might have been the way that idea was communicated in the brand’s logo.  So why don’t we kick things off with a column about logos?

My name’s Ed Catto and this is the first “With Further Ado”, my new column for Pop Culture Squad. I’m an entrepreneurial marketing guy and long-time comics fan. I’ve recently joined the faculty of Ithaca College were I teach business, with a focus on entrepreneurism, to MBAs and undergrads while I continue with my management & marketing consulting. In this column, I’ll be covering the crossroads of comics, entrepreneurial business and geek culture. I’m so happy you’re here.

Logo-a-gogo

Logos have long been an important part of the comic experience.  The iconic Superman logo has been one of the most copied, and parodied, logos ever.  But in a medium that’s about story as much as it is about art, a strong logo reinforces what a brand is while doing the necessary work of grabbing a customer’s attention and helping make the sale.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #001: Logo-A-Gogo”