Category: Interviews

Spotlight SquadCast Interview: A Discussion with Danny Fingeroth about Jack Ruby, Comics, Stan Lee, and More

Spotlight SquadCast Interview: A Discussion with Danny Fingeroth about Jack Ruby, Comics, Stan Lee, and More

How do you have a conversation that involves historically significant murders, Stan Lee telling convention promoters to back off, Jonathan Silverman’s father, and Taylor Swift? You invite Danny Fingeroth to talk about his latest biography. That’s how!

Danny Fingeroth started working in comics back in the days when superheroes were pretty much the only game in town and he built a career of delivering high quality comics through his writing and editing. He is well remembered for creating the fan-favorite character Darkhawk and a long run writing Dazzler as well has his excellent work editing books like Spectacular Spider-Man, The New Warriors, and more. In recent years, he has produced some excellent books about comics and comics history including A Marvelous Life, The Amazing Story of Stan Lee, the acclaimed biography of Stan Lee.

Jack Ruby: The Many Faces of Oswald’s Assassin is the newest book from Danny Fingeroth and will be released on November 21, 2023. The book explores one of the central figures to a touchstone event in the lives of an entire generation. We spoke with Danny about his motivation for writing such a book and what he discovered in through his writing process. We also managed to squeeze in a word or two about his career in comics and as a prose writer.

The entire interview is on our YouTube channel and streamable below:

The solicitation for the Jack Ruby is below and the book is available for preorder now on Amazon:

Jack Ruby changed history with one bold, violent action: killing accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV two days after the November 22, 1963, murder of President John F. Kennedy. But who was Jack Ruby—and how did he come to be in that spot on that day?

As we approach the sixtieth anniversaries of the murders of Kennedy and Oswald, Jack Ruby’s motives are as maddeningly ambiguous today as they were the day that he pulled the trigger.

The fascinating yet frustrating thing about Ruby is that there is evidence to paint him as at least two different people. Much of his life story points to him as bumbling, vain, violent, and neurotic; a product of the grinding poverty of Chicago’s Jewish ghetto; a man barely able to make a living or sustain a relationship with anyone besides his dogs.

By the same token, evidence exists of Jack Ruby as cagey and competent, perhaps not a mastermind, but a useful pawn of the Mob and of both the police and the FBI; someone capable of running numerous legal, illegal, and semi-legal enterprises, including smuggling arms and vehicles to both sides in the Cuban revolution; someone capable of acting as middleman in bribery schemes to have imprisoned Mob figures set free.

Cultural historian Danny Fingeroth’s research includes a new, in-depth interview with Rabbi Hillel Silverman, the legendary Dallas clergyman who visited Ruby regularly in prison and who was witness to Ruby’s descent into madness. Fingeroth also conducted interviews with Ruby family members and associates. The book’s findings will catapult you into a trip through a house of historical mirrors.

At its end, perhaps Jack Ruby’s assault on history will begin to make sense. And perhaps we will understand how Oswald’s assassin led us to the world we live in today.

With Further Ado #226: See You at San Diego – A conversation with author Mathew Klickstein

With Further Ado #226: See You at San Diego – A conversation with author Mathew Klickstein

When I say I love history, I don’t just mean I like to read about ancient Rome and the Revolutionary War. There’s so much more out there, and Mathew Klickstein has provided a doozy. His newest book, See You at San Diego: An Oral History of Comic-Con, Fandom and the Triumph of Geek Culture is a deep-dive history of San Diego Comic-Con. It’s informative, insightful and great fun. So, as we prepare for the With Further Ado’s Annual Holiday Gift Guide (it’ll be published next Wednesday), let’s use this interview with Mathew as a sort of “Gift Guide Eve” column!


Ed Catto: I’ve really enjoyed your book See You at San Diego Mathew. But then again, I’m really into the history of comics and geek culture. Is this book only for people like me?

Mathew Klickstein: I appreciate it, and also appreciate the question. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “challenge,” but I’ve been doing my best to get the word out not only about the book but the fact that it’s not merely about San Diego Comic-Con, Comic-Con, or even “just” comics or what some people might call “comics culture.”

I think it’s for a much wider audience for the reason that the book is in fact an oral history of fandom and pop culture nostalgia itself – over a century’s time – as told by those who made a lot of it happen. We did focus our narrative on the prehistory, history, and expansion of what turned out to be the largest pop culture convention worldwide according to Guinness: and that’s Comic-Con. Otherwise, the book would’ve been 50,000 pages instead of 500.

Seeing everything through the lens of the rise and conquest of Comic-Con helped narrow the story … but, like Comic-Con itself, it’s really about everything in the geek culture or pop culture scene.

EC: This book has such a unique design. How did it all come about?

MK: The principal praise for our eye-catching, immersive, and dynamic design has to of course first and foremost go to our genius designer, Jonathan Barli. I told him as soon as I saw the first proofs that I would always make sure to mention him and ensure people knew who was most responsible for it. Continue reading “With Further Ado #226: See You at San Diego – A conversation with author Mathew Klickstein”

With Further Ado #182: Oral History of Star Trek & Catching Up with Ed Gross

With Further Ado #182: Oral History of Star Trek & Catching Up with Ed Gross

When teaching a class one day last semester, I had to use Spotify on my laptop which is then projected onto the big classroom screen.  A student noticed that one podcast I listen to is Inglorious Treksperts.  It’s a fun show that’s a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of the original Star Trek series.  Not really about the trivia of Star Trek mythology, but rather insights into how things really got made. For example, where else can you hear stories from the casting director of Desilu?

My student surprised me by explaining he listened to it too!

I guess there’s an interest in the early days of Pop Culture. In fact, I just enjoyed both Being the Ricardos on Amazon Prime and TCM’s The Plot Thickens podcast focusing on the life story of Lucille Ball. And I’m not really a big I Love Lucy fan, either.

I’m so glad I finally read The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman.

It’s an incredible book with dialog from all the key players who were there, as they recount and ruminate on how things happened. Sometimes they are even contradictory and a bit contentious. I caught up with co-author Ed Gross and he had so many insights to share!


Ed Catto: I’m fascinated by your “oral history” format, and it feels so natural and authentic. I’d even venture to say that it’s the perfect format for presenting differences of opinion. How would you describe Oral History, and can you comment on the pros and cons of this format?

Ed Gross: The way Mark Altman and I have frequently described the oral history format is that it’s like gathering a couple of hundred of your closest friends and having an in-depth conversation about something.

The truth of the matter is that I’d barely been aware of the format prior to our writing The Fifty-Year Mission, which we started in 2015. Mark brought the idea up to me and suggested that I read Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller’s Live from New York and Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks’ I Want My MTV, which I did. Well, I instantly fell in love with the format. For starters, I found them so damn readable; you could pick them up any time you wanted and effortlessly start where you left off or bounce around and still have a satisfying reading experience.

Continue reading “With Further Ado #182: Oral History of Star Trek & Catching Up with Ed Gross”

With Further Ado #104: Johnny Dynamite Is Back

With Further Ado #104: Johnny Dynamite Is Back

Back in the day, I was a big fan of Ms. Tree by Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty. I liked hard-boiled fiction (and still do), but this comic was different.  Somehow Collins and Beatty took everything that private-eye fans liked, jumbled it all up and delivered a new series that seemed fresh as a counterfeit sawbuck and as enticing as a nightclub singer’s over-the-shoulder wink.

Collins and Beatty developed a rapport with the readers, and soon we all began to understand the stuff that influenced their work on Ms. Tree.  Soon it become clear that it all started with the hard-boiled detective author Mickey Spillane, although there was a little Dragnet in there too.  They also revealed they were influenced by a 50s Private Eye comic series, Johnny Dynamite.

Johnny Dynamite was a character who – “ahem” – borrowed many of the attributes of Spillane’s detective, Mike Hammer. Ms. Tree comics reprinted the old Johnny Dynamite  stories, and the character Johnny Dynamite even ended up crossing paths with Ms. Tree. Eventually, Collins and Beatty created a new Johnny Dynamite mini-series (with great Mitch O’Connell covers).

And it’s taken a while, but now, in the summer of 2020, there’s an explosive new Johnny Dynamite collection just published by the good folks at Yoe Books. It’s a stunner.

I reached out to Max Allan Collins to provide some details: Continue reading “With Further Ado #104: Johnny Dynamite Is Back”

With Further Ado #103: Ray Bradbury & The Fan Who Came In Late

With Further Ado #103: Ray Bradbury & The Fan Who Came In Late

It’s a big year for Ray Bradbury. Fans of this incredible author are celebrating his centennial.  Later this month, in fact, San Diego Comic-Con will feature him on the cover of their Souvenir Book* with a gorgeous William Stout illustration.  It’s appropriate as Bradbury was a frequent guest and attendee of Comic-Con. (And artist Will Stout is one of the few people who has attended every San Diego Comic-Con.)

During this centennial, the prolific author, Bradbury, is very much on the mind of an industrious fan named David Ritter.  Ritter kind of joined the party late, he admits. He started getting serious about Bradbury when he turned fifty, although he read E.E. “Doc” Smith and H.P. Lovecraft growing up.

But now, he’s making up for lost time, and he’s working hard on the First Fandom Experience. Here’s how David officially describes the effort: Continue reading “With Further Ado #103: Ray Bradbury & The Fan Who Came In Late”

With Further Ado #93: Why the Industry Needs Paul Kupperberg’s How-To Book

With Further Ado #93: Why the Industry Needs Paul Kupperberg’s How-To Book

There’s this photo that’s posted on a museum website that makes the rounds on the internet from time to time. It shows a modest drafting table and a dingy chair in an unglamorous office.  It’s nothing fancy.  And at first glance, one might be inclined to think that the artist it belonged to would never create anything imaginative or enduring.  The space is so uninspiring. But it belonged to Jack Kirby. It’s almost hard to reconcile that so many brilliant ideas sprang from the imagination of one man, despite his meager studio.

But then you realize that all the fancy tools and studios don’t matter. It’s all about the personal creativity and the discipline of an individual.

That’s one of the reasons I am so enamored with this new book: Paul Kupperberg’s Illustrated Guide to Writing Comics. This one isn’t about the fancy tools needed to create. This is not a how-to about getting a fancy new software program, or even formatting scripts in one particular way. This new book gets to the heart of things and provides solid, useful guidance in memorable ways.

Paul Kupperberg is a long-time comics author, having written so many of my favorites.  I was excited to see him sharing his insights. After reading this book, I asked him about his fresh approach. Continue reading “With Further Ado #93: Why the Industry Needs Paul Kupperberg’s How-To Book”

With Further Ado #092: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 2)

With Further Ado #092: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 2)

Let’s start with a beer. Shall we?

In the old days, Miller Lite TV Commercials presented the world as one big party for adult men. The long-running, phenomenally successful marketing campaign featured retired sports stars laughing, drinking and teasing one another. It was kind of a secret fraternity that wasn’t so secret. Anyone could join, and all you needed was Lite beer. It was fun, playful and good natured.

Among all the sports stars, two decidedly non-sports celebrities stood out – comedian Rodney Dangerfield, enjoying a bombastic second act to his career, and mystery writer Mickey Spillane.

Mystery writer Mickey Spillane? Really? We think of celebrity fiction writers, and it’s hard to conjure up their image.  F. Scott Fitzgerald? James Patterson? What do they look like? I guess most of us know what Stephen King or J.K. Rowling look like. Maybe we all would recognize Hemingway or Truman Capote.  But America was drinking beer and kidding around with one particular writer. Mickey Spillane was in our living rooms –  during every commercial break – when we were watching sitcoms and ball games, for years and years. Continue reading “With Further Ado #092: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 2)”

With Further Ado #091: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 1)

With Further Ado #091: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 1)

I like a lot of detective heroes found in books, movies and TV shows. Part of the fun of an adventure with any of Philip Marlowe, Jim Rockford, Pete Fernandez, Spenser, or Myron Bolitar is that I think it would be fun to hang out with that guy.  Even the heroes who are a bit prickly, like Sherlock Holmes or Stumptown’s Dex Parios, would still be a riot to run around with for an adventure or two. They are all so likeable.

But I never used to like Mike Hammer, the toughest of the tough guy detectives.  I knew he was a big deal and his novels, written by Mickey Spillane, were successful. I would learn later that, at one point, Spillane was the world’s best-selling author, having written seven of the top ten best-selling novels. It turns out that it happened was when he had only written seven novels.

Yes, this guy Spillane was seven for seven. Incredible, right?

I think that, initially, the character Hammer was just too brutal for me. He gave the bad guys what they deserved, however gruesome.  He always “colored outside the lines” of both the legal system and good taste. Unlike that classical 1930s and 1940s detective who would walk down those mean streets like a modern day knight of the round table, adhering to a personal code of honor, Spillane’s Mike Hammer took it way over the edge.

But my perception changed when I started reading the “new” Mike Hammer novels.  After an incredible writing career, and second act in a long-lived Miller Lite advertising campaign, Mickey Spillane left behind a treasure trove of partially-finished stories, and story ideas, that he only trusted one man to finish – Max Allan Collins.

Max Allan Collins has emerged as one of the top mystery writers in his own right. He’s incredibly prolific, and it’s astounding that he never seems let his level quality slip; not in any of his novels (Nate Heller, Quarry), comics (Ms. Tree, Batman), adaptations (CSI, Criminal Minds) and comic strips (Dick Tracy, Batman.) You might also know he was the guy wrote the brilliant graphic novel, The Road To Perdition, which also became a movie starring Tom Hanks. Continue reading “With Further Ado #091: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 1)”

Spotlight Interview: Talking Comics and Geekdom With Writer Amy Chu

Spotlight Interview: Talking Comics and Geekdom With Writer Amy Chu

Picture copyright Amy Chu

If you are not familiar with comics writer extraordinaire Amy Chu, you should be. If you are, then we will endeavor to share with you some great tidbits about her writing, current projects, and other passions.

We were able to catch up with Amy at Awesome-Con in Washington, DC back at the end of April. In the past five years, she has exploded into comics and has worked for DC, Marvel, Dynamite, Lion Forge, and more. Her titles include Girls Night Out, Poison Ivy, Red Sonja, Dejah Thoris, The Green Hornet, Summit, KISS, and more.  Recently, Sea Sirens, her original graphic novel with Janet Lee was published by Viking Books.

Amy has also just been announced as part of the faculty for the Kubert School starting this fall. You can see the press release here.

Besides comics, Amy Chu has led an amazing life that included suing her school under Title IX to be allowed to play on the boys’ soccer team in high school. She holds degrees from both MIT and Harvard. She is also the mother to two wonderful boys. [I’ve met them. They are good kids.]

Amy is regular on the comic convention scene. We often wonder how she has time to do all she does, and yet she manages to do it all. If you see her at a Con, she will most likely appreciate coffee and donuts, as her Twitter motto these days includes “#DonutKiller”

Continue reading “Spotlight Interview: Talking Comics and Geekdom With Writer Amy Chu”

With Further Ado #037: Stepping into the Twilight Zone with Nick Parisi

With Further Ado #037: Stepping into the Twilight Zone with Nick Parisi

In one of those summers of my youth, my buddies and I would always wrap up our nightly mischief so that we could get home in time to watch The Twilight Zone reruns at 11 pm. The next day, my buddy David Locastro and I would eagerly ask one another, “Did you see that one last night?”  With our utmost fanboy authority, we’d begin to dissect the most recent episode.

Fast forward to late March when the 44th Annual Ithacon hosted Twilight Zone expert and Serling aficionado Nick Parisi. His recent book, Serling, His Life, Work and Imagination is a fascinating and engaging work. As Rod Serling was a professor at Ithaca College and Ithacon was exhibiting treasures from the Serling Archives this year, it made perfect sense to invite Parisi as a guest.

The show was great fun but, as all shows are, it was also a blur of activities. So, it was after Ithacon that I caught up with Nick to speak more about this book.

Ed Catto: So many of us grew up with The Twilight Zone and we all have our stories.  For me, I have fond memories of watching it on WPIX out of New York City. What was your interaction and how did you become so much of fan that you’re now an author and expert?

Nick Parisi: Ed, I have similar memories of WPIX. I started watching TZ on WPIX when I was nine or ten years old and I still remember the nightly schedule: The Odd Couple at 11, The Honeymooners at 11:30, Star Trek at midnight, and The Twilight Zone at 1 am. I would do my best to stay awake and I would usually make it! The show mesmerized me pretty much immediately and I became a fanatic for it pretty quickly. Then Marc Zicree’s Twilight Zone Companion came out and it kicked my fanaticism into another gear. That was a truly revolutionary book.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #037: Stepping into the Twilight Zone with Nick Parisi”