Category: Conventions

With Further Ado #172: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Tyler Jennes

With Further Ado #172: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Tyler Jennes

Tyler Jennes is a newly minted comics professional who’s on a career rocket ride. He’s currently working at Modern Fanatic, but there’s so much more to what he does. I was so impressed with everything he was doing and involved with at NYCC that I just had to catch up with him. I think you’ll enjoy what he has to say.

Question 1:

Ed Catto: What sort of comics and pop culture things did you like before you became part of the industry, and how deep into it were you?

Tyler Jennes: Well, I did go to Ithaca College as a film major, so I was definitely trying to watch as many movies as I possibly could. Besides that, I know I watched a hell of a lot of sitcoms when I was supposed to be doing work, so I can always talk shop about the Norman Lear and James L Brooks output! And I’d like to think I was pretty deep into the comic book scene before I was ever officially in the industry! I would go to NYCC annually and try to meet as many creators as I could (some of whom I now have the pleasure of working with!). But in terms of avidly following characters, there was a period of time where I’m pretty sure I had read every Deadpool title ever published. Now I try to keep myself caught up on all the hot new titles for work purposes!

Question 2:

EC: At Ithaca College, you were very involved with Ithacon (the nation’s second longest running comic con). Can you tell me a little bit about it?

TJ: Like you said, Ithacon has been around for a WHILE. I’m pretty sure it was even one of the first conventions that Frank Miller ever attended. It has a deep, rich history in the comic world, and what makes it even more special is that it’s now student-run! Of course, they still have the original organizers around to supervise things, but the convention is now hosted at the Ithaca College campus, and the student put together the whole thing, from handling guests to setting up events to running booths. I’d also like to add that you can find some amazing stuff at these booths. I vividly remember looking at used comic trades and coming across a Superman collection signed by Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Julie Schwartz, and John Byrne. The seller didn’t even realize what he had on his hands, so do you know how much I paid for that? Eight dollars.

Question 3:

EC: There’s a general consensus that many professionals have got to find their own way into the industry -there’s no set plan (unlike a classic profession like, say accounting). How did you get involved?

TJ: I was a junior poised to go off for a semester in LA and start the production assistant grind many film students go through when the pandemic kicked in. At the time, I was in the class for Ithacon, gearing up to put all our convention plans into motion. Obviously, the con wasn’t going to happen that year, so to make it up to us, our professor, the one and only Ed Catto, started having industry folks join the remote classes every week to talk about the biz. These were folks like Rob Salkowitz, Paul Levitz, and even Dan DiDio. But one of those guests was an IC alum, comic editor Will Dennis, who was involved with just about every title Vertigo put out. During the class I tried to make myself stand out by asking a bunch of inside baseball-type questions. He had also mentioned being overloaded with work recently and probably needing an assistant. So, I crossed my fingers and contacted him afterwards, and the rest is history. I started working on Scott [Snyder]’s stuff with Undiscovered Country, and after about a year, I fully hopped on the Best Jackett train and I’ve been running with those two guys ever since. Continue reading “With Further Ado #172: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Tyler Jennes”

With Further Ado #171: Come Fly With Me

With Further Ado #171: Come Fly With Me

I found this kooky little comic in a bargain bin at Ken Wheaton’s Empire Comic Fest last weekend. It’s a promotional comic for American Airlines, presumably given away to young kids to keep them busy during a plane ride.  This is the issue of Harvey’s AstroComics from 1975. Although sometimes they also spell it as Astro Comics.

I found it absolutely charming.

Despite the fact, that when you really think about it, one of the main characters is a dead child. I am not sure what Casper’s official origin story was at this point, or if he even had one.  But isn’t it kind of creepy to encourage a young kid (maybe it’s their first time on airplane) to read a story about a deceased little boy?

This promotional comic includes a team-up story with Richie Rich and Casper. I didn’t realize they shared adventures, but apparently they often did. In fact, Harvey published  a comic called Richie Rich & Casper that ran for 45 issues in the 70s. Kind of like Harvey’s very own version of World’s Finest Comics, I guess.

Of note: the team-up story is from Richie Rich & Casper #20, and most of the stories included are reprinted from past Harvey comics.

But Astro Comics #1 was designed to keep kids even busier with several innocuously fun American Airlines pages (i.e., corporate propaganda).  Things like a connect-the-dots activity page, a “Story of your Flight Attendant” text page, another text piece called “All about your Flight Crew” and an American Astro Comic Flight Quiz.  This quiz has questions like “Whose football team does Joe Namath play for?”*

The back cover might just be a milestone. I think it’s the very first Back Sketch Cover! Could it be? I do need to do a little more research before I wake up Overstreet’s J.C. Vaughn at 2:00 am with this amazing “find”.

But can you imagine if every kid on a plane got a free comic to read during their flight? Oh sure, they might rather play with their phone, but wow – what an introduction to comics that would be.

Hot Stuff

One more thing: I love this Hot Stuff cover!  One of my fellow faculty members, at Ithaca College’s School of Business has great memories of reading Hot Stuff comics. He’s not a “comics guy”, per se, but he got a few issues for his young son. I make it point to rescue any issues of Hot Stuff I find in bargain boxes at comic shops (like the excellent Heroes Your Mom Threw Out in Elmira or Wonderland Comics in Rochester) and pass it along to my co-worker. I recently grabbed a couple of issues with that in mind, but I love this cover so much I had to find a spot for it in my collection!


*The answer to this question ties into one of the American Airlines destinations, but you have to unscramble the answer.   It is listed as “weN rYko”.

Eighty Years of Hawkman Panel at Baltimore Comic-Con

Eighty Years of Hawkman Panel at Baltimore Comic-Con

On October 23, 2021 at Baltimore Comic-Con we held a panel discussion about the history of Hawkman in comics. Guests in attendance were Mike Gold, Jack C. Harris, Jerry Ordway, and Robert Venditti.

We talked about important creators involved in the character’s history and his popularity and publication challenges. Robert Venditti talked about his most recent Hawkman series. Jerry Ordway gave some great insights into the character from an artist’s perception. Mike Gold and Jack Harris shared some inside details on how comics get made. It was a super informative conversation.

We hope you enjoy the panel and let us know what you think.

Brainiac On Banjo: Deep Waste. Nein?

Brainiac On Banjo: Deep Waste. Nein?

Errant words of wisdom from your humble correspondent.

Wasteland Forever!

Those of you who are regular denizens of this etherspace are well-familiar with the Heather Ross’s documentary about our little Wasteland comic book, For Madmen Only – The Stories of Del Close. This magnificent puppy features Del and (to name but a few) Kim Howard Johnson, Adam McKay, Tim Meadows, Susan Messing, Alan Meyerson, Bob Odenkirk, John Ostrander, Patton Oswalt, Jason Sudekis, Dave Thomas, James Urbaniak, Michaela Watkins, George Wendt, and your aforementioned humble correspondent. Indeed, I’m in it a lot – as myself, and I’m played by Matt Walsh in the flashback scenes. I can appreciate any consternation regarding my appearances, but Matt is fantastic and I want to be just like him if I grow up.

It’s been streaming for several weeks on several services, and now you lucky devils can buy your own copy on DVD/Blu-Ray so that you can continue to appreciate the film when that horrible day comes when For Madmen Only is no longer streaming. Seriously.

I’m very proud of being involved in this, and I’m very proud of you for buying it.

More Than Just Sports and Poe

The Hawkman panel at Baltimore Comic-Con 2021: Bob Harrison, Jerry Ordway, Robert Venditti, Jack C. Harris & Mike Gold.

Speaking of those of you who are regular denizens of this etherspace – get a life, folks – you may recall that my favorite of the larger long-form comic book conventions is the Baltimore Comic-Con, not just because it’s well-run, great fun, and features a lot of my friends, but because it is one of the very few larger long-form comic book conventions that actually is about “comic books.” Go know, right?

Well, after skipping last year’s show due to the plague and those virulent death-seekers who refuse to take precautions, the 2021 Baltimore Comic-Con resumed last weekend and it was typically terrific. Our pal and Pop Culture Squad comrade Bob Harrison hosted a bunch of panels, Gene Ha copped the Hero Initiative’s Humanitarian of the Year award, cosplay was more varied, and the living was easy.

But something happened to me on my way into the show on Sunday. A couple very nice people accosted me and stuck a needle in my arm. Yup, I got my official Fuck Covid booster shot – with my permission, although those without a vax card couldn’t get in in the first place. That is the best thing that ever happened to me at a comic book show, at least with my clothes on, and I thank promoter Marc Nathan and his crew and the Maryland Department of Benevolent Jabbing for making me a less infectious person. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Deep Waste. Nein?”

Pop Culture Squad at Baltimore Comic-Con 2021

Pop Culture Squad at Baltimore Comic-Con 2021

Pop Culture Squad will be returning to Baltimore this weekend for “America’s Greatest Comic Convention”. Baltimore Comic-Con will be held at the Baltimore Convention Center from Friday 10/22 – Sunday 10/24. Mike Gold and I will be there catching up with old friends and hopefully making some new ones. You can find Mike at booth 3606 with our friends at Insight Studios.

For those who are planning to attend the show, please note that vaccination or proof of a negative Covid-19 test are required for entry and masks are also required to be worn. You can see the health and safety requirements here.

We hope to see a bunch of you all there. We will be updating the site and our socials as much as we can over the weekend and beyond; so, stay tuned.

Programming Notes:

I will  be hosting discussion panels all three days of the convention and will be dragging Mr. Gold along for a couple of them. The details are as follows:

FIRST COMICS REUNION

Friday October 22, 2021 starting 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm | Room: 322
Come see the forces behind the groundbreaking independent publisher that changed the comics landscape as they recount how it began and what its legacy is. Hear the history from the ones who made it happen. Guests: Mike Gold, Mark Wheatley, Marc Hempel, and Joe Staton. Hosted by Bob Harrison.

80 YEARS OF HAWKMAN

Saturday October 23, 2021 starting 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm | Room: 326
Join Robert Venditti, Jerry Ordway, and Mike Gold, with host Bob Harrison for a retrospective with the ageless hero. They will be discussing the character with perspective from creators who brought their own unique experience to the legendary winged warrior.

CREATING COMICS FOR YOUNG ADULTS

Sunday October 24, 2021 starting 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm | Room: 322
Stop in as we explore what goes into creating comics for teens and young adults in today’s world. With guests creating in multiple genres and formats, we will discuss how these creators curate their comics for their intended audiences.  Guests: Kami Garcia, Gene Ha, and Thom Zahler, with host Bob Harrison. Sponsored by The Hero Initiative.
With Further Ado #166: The Return of Conventions…?  (part 2) Wonder Con -Sort of

With Further Ado #166: The Return of Conventions…? (part 2) Wonder Con -Sort of

Last week I focused on the 2021 edition of New York Comic Con. As I’ve been reading and hearing everyone’s reactions (PW’s More to Come had a great podcast on it last week) it seems like most people were very happy and very impressed with the planning.

This past Saturday, I had my second convention in two weeks. It’s not really Wonder Con, the long-lived West Coast conference (I especially loved that one when it was in San Francisco), but a small comic con run by the team from Rochester’s Wonderland Comics. The folks behind Wonderland comics, the husband and wife team of Wayne and Carol, are great people – upbeat, forward-thinking retailers who really love comics.

Their positive attitudes are baked into this small convention. It’s all about the comics and collecting. They don’t focus on the media adaptations, celebrities, anime or cosplay here. In fact, they didn’t even have any comic professionals on site. It was just comics and comic-related collectibles.

And you know what? It was glorious!

There were long time fans and collectors, Central New York State’s finest comic exhibitors, and lots of families on site. Everyone was masked up without a fuss or protests.

A few highlights:

Money Was Changing Hands

At this stage, I tend to gravitate towards the bargain boxes to find lost treasures, but I was really struck by the vintage comics- so many 1950s books – that were selling for serious prices.  Kudos to those collectors and the sellers too.

Getting ready for ANOTHER One

Ken Wheaton was there – and he’s planning another Rochester based convention in November. It will have a little different vibe, as longtime pro Jim Shooter will be the Keynote Guest. Details for Empire Comic Fest are here.

A Treasure So Easy A Caveman Could Collect It

I rescued a few treasures at this con including issue #4 of Dell’s Naza. I never heard of this one before, but it did kind of strike a chord. As a kid, cavemen stories were a big deal.  It’s About Time was a kooky show we watched.  Dino Boy would adventure with Ugh the caveman in between Space Ghost adventures.  Movies and shows like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea always seemed to have caveman and dinosaur stories.  The cover, by Vic Prezio is a beauty, but the interior art by Jack Sparling disappointed me a bit (as it often does).

Two conventions in two weeks. SOOOO invigorating. Another sign of hope!

With Further Ado #167: The Return of Conventions…?  NYCC in 2021

With Further Ado #167: The Return of Conventions…? NYCC in 2021

Conventions and trade shows are great places to find your tribe and celebrate your passions or professions. But for the first hours of New York Comic Con, just held last weekend at NYC’s Javits Center, I felt a bit out of place. At first, it felt, to me, like going to your college campus about 5 years after you graduated. The vibe was a bit weird, and I was constantly comparing and contrasting the show floor to what was there in prior years.

The good news is that I quickly ‘got over myself’ and really enjoyed the convention. There were so many good things bubbling up, and it felt terrific to see so many old friends in person again. Given the realities of the world, there were more fist-bumps than bro-hugs, but it was still invigorating.

Here’s a few highlights and observations from New York Comic Con 2021:

Serious About Vaccinations

I wasn’t surprised, but still happy that ReedPop, the company that runs the convention, took vaccinations serioucospsly.  The area that they had staged outside the Javits had rows of tents and workers, so it was quick and easy to prove you had the vaccination and that you were who you said you were. I had downloaded the Clear app, as was suggested, and it all was seamless.

Inside the convention center, just about everyone had their masks on and the crowd size was such that we weren’t all on top of one another. Part of that was smaller number of attendees, and part of it was the new Javits North Building

The new Javits building makes it seem like a real convention center.

So many convention centers worldwide, and stateside are grand and gorgeous. I am sad to say that the Javits Convention Center hasn’t been that way for a very long time. The joke has always been that the Crystal Palace, the main entranceway, is inappropriately named.

The new Javits North Building is spacious and grand. It overlooks the Hudson River and even the top of the ‘regular’ Javits building.  The openness and long areas to walk between conference rooms will surely help spread out the future attendees – and offer lots of opportunities for Cosplayers to pose for photos.

AfterShock was #1

Without the bigger, more established publishers (Marvel, DC, Image) officially participating in the show, the biggest comics publisher on the floor was AfterShock Comics. They’re a great company (full disclosure- I have many friends there) just celebrating five years in business and 100 published comics series.  Word was that they had their best convention sales day ever – on the Thursday of NYCC.  Sounds like a rousing success.

Captain America Cosplay

It was invigorating to see the many Sam Wilson Captain America cosplays on the show floor. As you may recall – I’ve been a big fan of the many iterations of Captain America (here’s an old column). And it was even nicer to just yell out “Hey, Cap” and have that instant connection.

Excited for Crime

My Hidden Entrepreneurs / Crime Fiction panels had fans lining up an hour ahead of time. That really surprised me, if I am to be 100% candid and frank. This panel was all about how authors, and crime/thriller authors in particular, have to not only be good writers but be also strategic marketers. Their publishers don’t really do the marketing anymore.   I was encouraged by the fans that were hungry to talk crime fiction and by my Hidden Entrepreneurs – J.C. Vaughn  and Charles Ardai.

Artist’s Alley Was Where It Was At

Another result of absence of big publishers was that Artist’s Alley seemed so vibrant.  Anchored by ComiXology Original’s debut of Scott Snyder/Best Jacket comic line, there was plenty of the usual suspects (amazing artists like Billy Tucci, David Mack, Art Baltazar & Franco – just to name a few) and new up-and coming creatives.

The coolest part of Artist’s Alley – for me- was buying old comics from longtime pro and visionary Denis Kitchen. How many hundreds (thousands?) of times has he done that? And he always seems to be “on” and happy to be there. There’s a lesson there for all of us.

 

Pop Culture Squad Will Be at New York Comic Con

Pop Culture Squad Will Be at New York Comic Con

Hey there Squad Members!!!

The comic convention season is in full swing and we are going to be at the biggest in person event so far. ReedPop Expo’s New York Comic Con is being held at the Jacob Javits Center in New York beginning today 10/7 until Sunday 10/10.

We will be walking the halls and talking with guests and attendees during the show. There are hundreds of vendors and professional presenters. There is a pretty full slate of panel programming including one from our own Ed Catto.

Stay tuned to Pop Culture Squad on this page or at our social media for updates of what we find.

 

 


Here are some good links on the NYCC site to find your way around at the show:

Panel Programming

Cosplay Contest

Family HQ


The show has strict health and safety guidelines for attendance. If you are planning to attend, please familiarize yourself with the requirements. The show requires ALL guests and attendees to be fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative Covid-19 Test within 72 hours of the event.

Health and Safety Guidelines

 

With Further Ado #166: Hidden Entrepreneurs In Publishing

With Further Ado #166: Hidden Entrepreneurs In Publishing

Beyond the creativity on the page, comic conventions are the place to find creativity in business. The best conventions have almost become pop culture incubators, inspiring people to make something happen.

With that in mind, I wanted to give you a preview of a panel I’ll be moderating at New York Comic Con this year. It’s called Beaten to a Pulp: Publishing Entrepreneurs in Today’s Crime Fiction.

Today’s authors have become Hidden Entrepreneurs, actively finding, developing and managing new ways to reach and connect with audiences. The industry realizes that the days of fiction writers just turning in a completed manuscript and sitting back while the publisher markets the book are long gone. In this panel, J. C. Vaughn (Second Wednesday, McCandless & Co.) and Charles Ardai (entrepreneurial publisher of Hard Case Crime) will be revealing, and debating, the best ways to build audiences in their chosen niche.

I contend these panelists are “Hidden Entrepreneurs”, i.e., non-traditional entrepreneurs. I’m fascinated by this topic. In fact, this is the focus of one of my courses at Ithaca College’s School of Business, where I am an instructor on entrepreneurism and start-ups.

(And hey, good news : Entrepreneurism & Innovation is now a minor at Ithaca College.)

The Beaten to a Pulp panel is part of Reed Expo’s New York Comic Con this October 7 -10th. More details are available at www.newyorkcomiccon.com.

Here’s the official write-up:

11:15 – 12:15 Friday October 8, 2021

Beaten to a Pulp: Publishing Entrepreneurs in Today’s Crime Fiction

The days of fiction writers just turning in a completed manuscript and sitting back while the publisher markets the book are look are long gone. Today’s authors have become Hidden Entrepreneurs, actively finding, developing and managing new ways to reach and connect with audiences. Authors Alex Segura (Miami Midnight, Poe Dameron: Free Fall), J. C. Vaughn (Second Wednesday, McCandless & Co.) and Charles Ardai (Hard Case Crime) will be revealing, and debating, the best ways to build audiences in their chosen niche – crime fiction. Moderated by Ithaca College’s Ed Catto.

Hope to see you there!

 


*NOTE: Unfortunately, Alex Segura had to cancel his appearance at NYCC. His presence will be missed.

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #077: “Dragon Conned?”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #077: “Dragon Conned?”

On labor day weekend of 2021… Unshaven Comics (yeah, my studio still exists) got in the ole’ minivan of power and headed from our quaint Chicago suburbs all the way down to Hotlanta for the back-in-the-venues-for-real Dragon Con. The show was our first outing as a studio since Dragon Con of 2019. Why? It rhymes with schmovid blinetine.

The show gave me all the feels, and it behooves me now to reflect. And I’m not here to sugar coat said thoughts and feelings. Because there’s no need for spin anymore. I’m 39. I’ve been making comic books and associated bric-a-brac now for 15 years. For those doing the math? That’s more than a third of my life. I’m done faking it till I make it… and so is Unshaven Comics.

For my lil’ studio, the show was already not going to be as successful as we might have wanted it to be. Because one third of the company was still at home. That’s right… our secret weapon, Kyle “Salesman 5000” Gnepper opted to stay back and away from the potential throngs of con-goers. For his safety, and that of his wife and children… he made the choice to let me and Matt “Penciler, Inker, Coffee Drinker” Wright do our thang as a gruesome twosome. Let’s be clear: Matt and I were 100% cool with the choice. And irony be damned? Kyle’s kiddos had a bit of cold to fight during the weekend anyways. As dads ourselves, we knew that Mr. Gnepper was best served doing his fatherly duty. The fort, we figured, was held down. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #077: “Dragon Conned?””