Category: Comics

With Further Ado #171: The Original Dracula is Back

With Further Ado #171: The Original Dracula is Back

The world changes quickly. It’s that time of year when Americans unite on the one thing they can all agree upon – to decry the early blitz of holiday marketing.  But it’s inevitable; Halloween gets swept away quickly and it’s Christmas time again – with just a passing nod to Thanksgiving.

But one holiday campaign, a celebration of that spooky stop motion classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas, reminds us that Halloween and Christmas “kind of” go together. Just like the way that Tokyo Pop and Cracker Barrell “kind of” go together with this wonky promotion. It turns out that Cracker Barrel will be distributing copies of a manga retelling of this story.

So, with all that in mind, I rationalize that its entirely appropriate to shine the spotlight, in a November column, on a new spooky book: Dracula: The Original Graphic Novel.

This one is the latest from Vanguard publishing, and it’s a beauty.  Dracula: The Original Graphic Novel is an impressive re-presentation of the 1966 Dracula Graphic novel by Otto Binder (with Russ Jones & Craig Tennis) and Alden McWilliams.

Publisher J. David Spurlock and Vanguard have done it again.  Dracula: The Original Graphic Novel presents this material in lovingly timeless fashion. Each illustration is big and bold, with plenty of room to marvel at the art. Too often, I find, when reading comic strips, I can buzz through them too quickly.  Keeping up with the story can take precedence over drinking in the artwork.

Thankfully, this book almost seems to whisper, “read it slowly” and “enjoy it thoroughly”. Continue reading “With Further Ado #171: The Original Dracula is Back”

Brainiac on Banjo: At Last!

Brainiac on Banjo: At Last!

You might have heard a soft chuckling sound wafting in the breeze a couple days ago. That would be me.

Last Monday, the staff at Image Comics voted to form a labor union – to be specific, the Comic Book Workers United. Their statement leads with the following:

For years, comics publishing workers have watched our professional efforts support creators and delight readers. Sadly, we have also watched that same labor be taken for granted at best and exploited at worst. Keeping our heads above water was the new normal before the pandemic and since its onset we have been expected to take on even larger workloads with fewer resources.

Our workforce, and the comic book and publishing industry as a whole, is overtaxed and undervalued. This is detrimental not only to general staff but also to the creators we are paid to serve and the audiences they in turn work to entertain. Our labor is integral to the comic book industry. It requires specialized skills, dedication, and makes quality publishing possible. We love what we do. But loving what you do doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t ask for improvements to your working conditions. It is with this in mind and with great hope for the future of Image Comics and the comic book industry itself that we announce our intent to form a union and request voluntary recognition. Continue reading “Brainiac on Banjo: At Last!”

With Further Ado #170 : Is Superman Jewish?

With Further Ado #170 : Is Superman Jewish?

In recent weeks, there was the hubbub about Superman’s sexuality that outraged, “Outraged”, I say,  much of the conservative media. Of course, the storyline they were focused on is how in recent comics, it has been revealed that Superman’s son is bisexual.

Editor’s note: See this article.

Somehow, trying to figure out if Superman is circumcised seems almost … pedestrian by comparison. But don’t let that fool you. Roy Schwartz’s new book, Superman is Circumcised?, published by McFarland, is an impressive work that is meant for hard-core, real-deal fans as well as the general public.

I’m reminded of the time when…

How the world has changed. Back when I was a kid, our family went to one of my dad’s college homecomings at Cornell.  Usually, the stop at the bookstore was an opportunity to buy Cornell swag, but I was perplexed and enthralled by one book on sale there. It was The Gospel According to Superman by John T. Galloway, Jr.  I had no idea who John T. Galloway, Jr was, but I could tell right away that the cover was illustrated by a “real” Superman artist – the legendary Murphy Anderson. Continue reading “With Further Ado #170 : Is Superman Jewish?”

Image Comics Workers Form a Union

Image Comics Workers Form a Union

Today, the employees of Image Comics announced that they have formed a union called Comic Book Workers United. They have created a website and social media platforms to share their message. There website clearly lays out their goals and offers support options for those who are interested in the work that the union is trying to accomplish, including a petition of support.

In the current global economic and workplace environment, we can do nothing but support this move and wish those involved success.

See the initial release by the organization below:

WE, THE WORKERS OF IMAGE COMICS, HAVE FORMED A UNION.

For years, comics publishing workers have watched our professional efforts support creators and delight readers. Sadly, we have also watched that same labor be taken for granted at best and exploited at worst. Keeping our heads above water was the new normal before the pandemic and since its onset we have been expected to take on even larger workloads with fewer resources.

Our workforce, and the comic book and publishing industry as a whole, is overtaxed and undervalued. This is detrimental not only to general staff but also to the creators we are paid to serve and the audiences they in turn work to entertain.

Our labor is integral to the comic book industry. It requires specialized skills, dedication, and makes quality publishing possible.

We love what we do. But loving what you do doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t ask for improvements to your working conditions. It is with this in mind and with great hope for the future of Image Comics and the comic book industry itself that we announce our intent to form a union and request voluntary recognition.

This should not be radical or revolutionary, and is, in fact, a natural development for a company that started the way Image Comics did. 

In the early stages of organizing, we looked to Image’s founders for inspiration. Their dreams of self-determination and more equitable treatment in the industry they loved and helped make successful are also our dreams.

We are honored to grow their legacy by taking this step to give all comic book industry professionals, regardless of title, the same rights, guarantees, security, and protections which the founders sought when they broke away from the big two to start their own company. In fact, several months into our organizing efforts, Jim Valentino made a comment on social media celebrating union accomplishments. That was the moment we knew this could work.

Despite years of union busting and anti-organization sentiments in the American workforce, we know that Image has, at its heart, a desire to be first when it comes to doing the right thing for comics workers. 

That’s why we know we will win, because our success is the company’s success.

Our success is the creators’ success.

Our success is the readers’ success. 

Signed,

  • Ryan Brewer

  • Leanna Caunter

  • Marla Eizik

  • Drew Fitzgerald

  • Melissa Gifford

  • Chloe Ramos

  • Tricia Ramos

  • Jon Schlaffman

  • Erika Schnatz

 

Source: COMIC BOOK WORKERS UNITED

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in November 2021

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in November 2021

Happy Halloween!

This month we give our readers a list of the exciting new comic book series debuting in November. We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from the publishers. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you about the new comics in question.

This month we spotlight books from the usual suspects: AfterShock Comics, Boom! Studios, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Vault Comics, Image Comics, Marvel Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, AWA/Upshot Studios, Ahoy Comics, Archie Comics, and Source Point Press.

This is a month full of holidays, and the new series releases are front loaded in the first couple of weeks. Publishers expect that travel schedules around Thanksgiving cause normal purchase disruption. I can only assume that has something to do with the dearth of new books in the last two weeks.

There are a few new number ones from Marvel that represent shuffling of creative teams and we think that there might be some good things to come out of these changes.

We will bring you reviews of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

You will find the books listed below in the order of when they are released.

Week of 11/3/21
Week of 11/10/21
Week of 11/17/21
Week of 11/24/21


Week of November 3


After Dark #1
AfterShock Comics
Written by Various
Art by Various
Cover Art by Tony Harris

Tales from the Crypt meets The Twilight Zone-four tales of horror, lost souls and things that go bump in the night.

A prestige format “One-Shock” featuring top creative talent just in time for the most horrific month of the calendar year, AFTER DARK is a collection of tales you’ll want to read with the lights on! A disparate tale from a possible future; a chance encounter with a mythical Black-Eyed Kid, a children’s fable gone awry; and a gut-wrenching last meal at the local diner.

These horrific, bone-chilling tales are conceived and written by Cullen Bunn, Jim Starlin, Joe Pruett, Frank Tieri, and drawn by Cliff Richards, Nikkol Kelenic, Szymon Kudranski, and Joe Eisma.

Release Date: November 3, 2021

PCS NOTES: This book is a one-shot but is full of some truly spooky stories.


Chilling Adventures in Sorcery #1
Archie Comics
Written by Various
Art by Various
Cover Art by Julius Ohta

THE FUTURE OF ARCHIE COMICS STARTS HERE IN AN ALL-NEW ANTHOLOGY-STYLE ONE-SHOT! Madam Satan is our tour guide into this horrific world exploring the underbelly of Riverdale and its surrounding areas! Madam Satan is trying to escape Hell. She goes through the circles of Hell in reverse. Along the way she meets lost/tortured souls who tell their stories-like that of Archie Andrews, who accepted a seemingly normal job as the nighttime security shift at Riverdale’s local pizzeria and children’s mascot entertainment venue. Only to learn that the venue harbors a deep, dark, robotic, monstrous secret! And then there’s Jughead Jones, a teen who never met a food he didn’t like. Until now. What is that eerie noise coming from the kitchen…? All that plus more bonus frightful content sure to delight all Archie horror fans!

Release Date: November 3, 2021

PCS NOTES: We have this other one-shot anthology on this list because we can’t wait to see what is inside.


Dark Knights of Steel #1
DC Comics
Written by Tom Taylor
Art by Yasmine Putri
Cover Art by Putri

An entire medieval world will be forever changed when a spaceship crash-lands from a doomed planet. Monarchs will die, kingdoms will rise, and what seemed the end of the world for many…was only the beginning! An epic high-fantasy story set in a DC Universe where nothing is what it seems…

From worldwide bestselling writer Tom Taylor and acclaimed artist Yasmine Putri comes a generational tale of good and evil within a brand-new DCU!

Release Date: November 2, 2021

PCS NOTES: This creative team inspires confidence in this story’s execution. Looking forward to it.


Fox and Hare #1
Vault Comics
Written by Jonathan Tsuei
Art by Stacey Lee
Cover Art by Lee

When black market coder Aurora Yi uncovers top secret data that has tapped into the past lives of the citizens of Mazu Bay, her world is turned upside down. The mega corporation Synastry Designs wants its data back and is hot on her trail. Aurora has no choice but to turn to the Fox and the Hare, the most feared mercenaries in the city, for protection.

Release Date: November 3, 2021

PCS NOTES: This book has the makings of a great chase story. It looks fun.


The Heathens #1
AfterShock Comics
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Heath Amodio
Cover Art by Sami Kivela

When evil men and women escape from the depths of the eternal abyss, the Pirate Queen Lady Shih is sent to retrieve them. But when one of history’s most notorious killers breaks free, even she needs help. Enter the Heathens: Shih, Lucky Luciano, Bumpy Johnson, Sofia the Golden Hand, and Billy the Kid. From Hell they came to mete out a justice as dark as their own tormented souls.

Release Date: November 3, 2021

PCS NOTES: Hell Yeah! This is an intriguing concept from the superactive mind of Cullen Bunn.


Human Target #1
DC Comics
Written by Tom King
Art by Greg Smallwood
Cover Art by Smallwood

Christopher Chance has made a living out of being a human target—a man hired to disguise himself as his client to invite would-be assassins to attempt his murder. He’s had a remarkable career until his latest case protecting Lex Luthor when things go sideways. An assassination attempt Chance didn’t see coming leaves him vulnerable and left trying to solve his own murder…as he has 12 days to discover just who in the DCU hated Luthor enough to want him dead. Human Target is a hard-boiled, gritty story in the vein of classic detective noirs told by bestselling and critically acclaimed creators Tom King and Greg Smallwood!

Release Date: November 2, 2021

PCS NOTES: I am very excited for this book as Tom King and Greg Smallwood explore this character and often ignored areas of the DC Universe. Continue reading “New Number Ones: Comics Coming in November 2021”

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.

Brainiac On Banjo: Truth, Justice, and All That Jazz

“Faster than an airplane, more powerful than a locomotive, impervious to bullets. ‘Up in the sky – look!’ ‘It’s a giant bird.’ ‘It’s a plane.’ ‘It’s Superman!’ And now, Superman – a being no larger than an ordinary man but possessed of powers and abilities never before realized on Earth: Able to leap into the air an eighth of a mile at a single bound, hurtle a 20-story building with ease, race a high-powered bullet to its target, lift tremendous weights and rend solid steel in his bare hands as though it were paper. Superman – a strange visitor from a distant planet: champion of the oppressed, physical marvel extraordinary who has sworn to devote his existence on Earth to helping those in need.” – written by Allen Ducovny and Robert Joffe Maxwell for the original Superman radio pilot, 1939.

The above proclamation was not original to the Superman comic books or the newspaper comic strip. It was streamlined, and the phrase “Truth, Justice and the American Way” was dramatically appended to the opening as President Roosevelt had started making his plans to dive head-first into World War II. It was also used in the opening to the Fleisher/Paramount Superman cartoons, and later the syndicated 1950s Superman television series.

“Truth, Justice and the American Way” is not in the U.S. constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, or as far as I can tell, the bible of any “major” religion. It is and always has been a marketing slogan, not unlike Fisk Tires’ “Time To Re-Tire.”

Why should he? Superman, long acknowledged to be a world citizen, is not a native born American and never had been. He has acknowledged that being an alien he could not lawfully become president. If he wanted to cheat, he probably could have pulled off running as “Clark Kent” (not his real name), as long as nobody demanded to see his birth certificate. With a raised seal, of course.

Superman is an illegal alien. A dreamer who landed without government permission or knowledge in Kansas U.S.A. without any parents and was seized by a then-elderly heterosexual white married couple. We assume somewhere along the line “Clark Kent” probably forged those credentials he would need to go to school, get a driver’s license and a passport, get married, and so on.

So, of course, this native Kryptonian dropping the “American Way” tagline drove the Rabid Right completely around the bend. Because, you know, he’s posed with the American flag and stuff.

The new phrase, “Truth, Justice and A Better Tomorrow,” would sound great opening a network newscast, unless that network isn’t Fox, Newsmax, OAN or their fellow reality-challenged microcephalic internet rackets. The Rabid Right lost their collective mind. Again.

As I said in this space last week, I enjoy watching the Rabid Right lose its shit. They’re almost as fantastic at that as they are lying through their teeth and causing widespread death. First Superman Son of Superman is revealed to be bisexual, and now, about a week later, he’s an optimistic citizen of the multiverse who is absolutely not working to further any American interests per se. So if the entire idea is to keep the Right reflexively flinching, then right on, DC Comics!

(Mike Gold and Bob Harrison will be representing Pop Culture Squad at this weekend’s the Baltimore Comic-Con, October 22 through 24, at — of all places — the Baltimore Convention Center, the one in Maryland. Evidently, Mister Gold will be on separate panels about First Comics and Hawkman, both hosted by Mister Harrison. We smell a fix…)