Continued After the Next Page #009: Conversation with John Workman – An Oral History of Comics

Last summer, as we were getting this site up and going, one of the first things that I did was reach out to legendary comic letterer and artist John Workman. I had met him at a couple of conventions in the past, and he had told me some interesting stories about how comics were made in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I felt that the stories were amazing insights into the world of comic making, and I wanted to get all the details so that we could share those incredible stories with all of you.

My intent for our initial interview was to clarify some details he had told me about making Thor in the 80’s with Walter Simonson. What ended up happening was an almost two-hour conversation and a truly life changing event for me. I clipped out a little bit of our conversation for a column last year called When Thor Road the Bus.

Before I get too far along, I must say that John Workman is one of the nicest people that I have ever met. He is thoughtful, considerate, inquisitive, and incredibly talented. Since our initial phone conversation, John and I have spoken a couple of more times over the phone, and my wife and I spent a lovely afternoon with John and his wife Cathy at their home last November. He has become a regular email pen pal of mine. I consider John a friend, and I am lucky for it.

The purpose of this article is to share with the world some of the amazing things that we spoke about. The topics range from the page counts for comics in the 70’s to his time at Heavy Metal. There are some funny stories about Harlan Ellison and Wally Wood. There is the tale of the “Lost Mignola Batman Story”, and much more. So hang on and I will try my best to navigate all this history and bring it into the world so that we can all share in its wonder.

Jeannette Kahn and Dollar Comics

I had mentioned to John that the title to my column on PCS would be called “Continued After the Next Page” as a throwback to comic days of yesteryear. He broke out into some pretty cool comics production history.

John Workman: I worked at DC from 1975 to 1977 before I went to work at Heavy Metal. During that time, as had been true since the early 1950s, there were thirty-six pages [thirty- two interior and four for the front and back covers] in a regular comic book. Of those pages, somewhere over 20 (27 in the ’60s) were devoted to actual comics material with the rest being made up of a combination of paid ads and “house ads” that let readers know about other DC publications. Shortly after I arrived at DC, the number of comics pages dropped to seventeen, and I remember two things that we had to do. We [the production department] had to white-out all the pages numbers down in the corner so people would be a little less aware that they were only getting seventeen pages of comics, and we had to go in a lot and put in “Continued After Next” or “Second Page” or whatever, because the seventeen pages of comic material was broken up by more ads. There were a lot of in-house ads to fill out the issue because seventeen pages was only one more than the total number of pages in a book.

I was shocked at this and felt the need to clarify Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #009: Conversation with John Workman – An Oral History of Comics”

C2E2 Recap: A Big Con with Something for Everyone

C2E2 Recap: A Big Con with Something for Everyone

Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) was held on Friday March 22, 2019 through Sunday March 24, 2019. If you are a follower of our site, you will know that we were on hand for all three days of the festivities. Now that we have had time to recover from the great weekend that was C2E2, we want to let you know just what we thought of it.

Before we get into the details of what we saw and the review of the show, it is important to set the stage. We are extremely grateful for ReedPop providing PopCultureSquad with Press Passes for this convention. This was our first time in Chicago and the first time that I personally attended a ReedPop convention. We travelled from Baltimore to Chicago on Thursday night before the show started and stayed in one of the hotels that adjoined the McCormick Place Convention Center using the group discount rate negotiated by the Con.

Security and Entrance

First, a bit about security. In order to get into the con hall, all visitors, guests, and exhibitors were required to go through a metal detector and have their bags and packages checked. There were even bomb sniffing dogs on site to check bags. Once through security, the staff hearded visitors into large sectioned-off areas to wait for the show to open. Once the 10:00 AM hour was reached, thousands of people made their way through the entrance to the main hall in a very organized and orderly manner. Access into the show was really well done and not really a hassle for us on any day of the Con.

Location and Layout

The Con was located in the large halls of South Building of McCormick Place on the third floor of the building. The majority of the panels were held in the fourth and fifth floors of the hall which is just an escalator ride up from the floor.

Continue reading “C2E2 Recap: A Big Con with Something for Everyone”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #031: Justice v Vengeance

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #031: Justice v Vengeance

According to the Vera Institute of Justice, the cost of incarceration averages more than $31,000 per inmate per year. That can run as much as $60,000 in some states. Add to that the state’s expenses for prosecution and appeals (both from the state and from the defense) and the resources needed in getting the convict to and from court, and you’re talking about some real money. Multiply that by the annual number of people convicted of non-violent, essentially petty crimes and you’re talking the GNP of, oh, say, maybe Latvia or Tunisia.

So when we talk about locking somebody up – as opposed to other sanctions such as community service, fines, et al – we should ask ourselves are we serving the cause of justice, or are we just seeking revenge?

Yeah, I know. “An eye for an eye” (Matthew 5:38-42) vs “Vengeance is mine, I will recompense, sayeth the Lord” (Hebrews 10:30). First amendment, separation of church and state, yadda yadda yadda.

Obviously, this brings us to the current brouhaha regarding actor and failed hoaxer Jussie Smollett. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #031: Justice v Vengeance”

Beat JENeration #028: Gen X is Having a Shitty Week

Beat JENeration #028: Gen X is Having a Shitty Week

Gen X’s having kind of a shit week. The death of our generation’s quintessential teen crush, Luke Perry, was just too much, too soon. And even though that alone was all it took to break my heart, on The Facebook and in conversations with my way-too-young-and-hip-to-be-in-their-forties friends, I realized the dawning of our mortality was closing in from other angles as well.

Somehow in an attempt to block out an Academy Awards I wasn’t invested in, I missed the whole Selma Blair chronic illness reveal in her gorgeous Ralph & Russo gown and custom monogrammed cane. Now that I’m caught up, I see she announced her MS diagnosis back in October and in doing so told a very familiar story of doctors explaining away her 2011 flair up as exhaustion and typical postpartum / mommy / women-y problems. I have been hearing tales such as these over the past couple-few years from friends and colleagues (all female, strangely enough, hmmmmm….) who have been lugging their undiagnosed and routinely belittled illnesses in and out of doctor’s offices. Treated as if their aches, pains, and debilitating fatigue was more emotional baggage than medical reality, they are slowly driven mad questioning their ability to effectively communicate what is happening to them. If they are lucky, the gaslighting stops once they get a diagnosis that makes their once vague symptoms finally seen for what they actually are.

But as members of Generation X, we’re a cynical lot, and so it’s not surprising that the actress who won an MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss in 2000 (with Sarah Michelle Gellar for Cruel Intentions — I’ll wait while you rewatch that) had to air her medical woes on GMA to highlight this disturbing issue of middle-aged properly-insured women having to go into battle over their health care.

So, now America knows, but still we can’t help being pissy — and skeptical that things are going to change — but at least we’re starting to be heard.  Maybe.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #028: Gen X is Having a Shitty Week”