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With Further Ado #294: Tripwire Explains that Crime Does Not Pay

With Further Ado #294: Tripwire Explains that Crime Does Not Pay

5 and ½ Questions with Tripwire’s Joel Meadows

Joel Meadows is always juggling the most interesting projects, so I’m elated that I was able to speak with him and ask him 5 and ½ Questions about the next issue of Tripwire Magazine.

Question #1
Ed Catto: Can you give us a little background on Tripwire?

Joel Meadows: Tripwire has existed as a print magazine covering the worlds of comics, film, TV and art since 1992 and online since 2015. We publish a print magazine three times a year, currently in a high production value of a 100-page format. We have garnered a lot of industry fans over the years:

“Tripwire is research done right celebrating and investigating the love of comic books.” – writer/ artist Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn, Jonah Hex, Pop Kill, Paper Films)

“Tripwire is a vibrant part of entertainment coverage – specifically comics and geek culture. Supporting them, we support ourselves.” – writer Alex Segura (Pete Fernandez book series)

“Tripwire is always well-researched and enthusiastic, by people who truly care about the importance of story. It’s analytical without losing heart.”–JH Williams III (artist, Echolands, Promethea, Batwoman)

” Tripwire has been for over three decades the touchstone of comic book culture in the U.K and one of the leading periodicals dedicated to this narrative art form. Incisive, smart and always relevant.” – Guillermo del Toro (Oscar winning director, The Shape of Water)

“Tripwire covers such a wide variety of topics in the world of news, entertainment and the arts, and covers them so well, that it’s pretty much become my go-to source for what’s going on in media. I know if Tripwire is covering a subject, it’s not only interesting, fun and informative, it’s also legit.” –Bill Sienkiewicz (legendary artist and illustrator)

Question #2:
EC: The current issue of Tripwire looks especially fun. What’s it all about?
Continue reading “With Further Ado #294: Tripwire Explains that Crime Does Not Pay”

With Further Ado # 292: The Prescience of Otto Binder

With Further Ado # 292: The Prescience of Otto Binder

I dropped by a comic shop in Elmira, NY with a clever name: Heroes Your Mom Threw Out. It’s run by a passionate retailer named Jared Aiosa. You might remember I talked about a signing event he hosted last year with Ed Brisson. This shop is packed full of treasures, and it’s just the type of place that Burgess Meredith would love to get locked into if the world ended (provided he doesn’t break his glasses).

Jared had just acquired some beat-up Silver Age comics, and they caught my eye as they hadn’t been filed yet. Jared sold them to me at bargain prices, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. They were more for reading rather than collecting.

But Superman #188 (July 1966) was a shocker. Wrapped in a glorious Curt Swan/George Klein cover is a story by Otto Binder that’s illustrated by Al Plastino (not my favorite Superman artist) that could have been written last week. It’s all about AI, fake news and the anxiety of elections! Continue reading “With Further Ado # 292: The Prescience of Otto Binder”

Brainiac On Banjo: Dues For Artificial Intelligence

Brainiac On Banjo: Dues For Artificial Intelligence

“And now you dare to look me in the eye. Those crocodile tears are what you cry. It’s a genuine problem, you won’t try to work it out at all, you just pass it by.” Substitute, written by Pete Townshend

Image created by Jay Vollmar for The Washington Post

I’m about to ask a serious question that should, and eventually will, become central to the artificial intelligence story. It has to do with the conflation of reality and the effluvia of computer-created content.

First, I need to report the backstory that generated my concerns. It’s a tough story revolving around one of the societal taboos that most certainly should be taboo — but it’s not the actions of the perpetrator with which I take issue. This is a closed case: the criminal pleaded guilty and was sentenced.

This is a discussion topic, not an analysis of disgusting acts that the defendant says he committed. I’m discussing a point that rests at a legal and a moral juncture, at least in my mind. Here’s the news story, as reported in The Guardian last Friday.

CONTENT WARNING –  A text version of a news report concerning images of child abuse follows.

Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Dues For Artificial Intelligence”

With Further Ado #291: From Convention to Comic Shop

With Further Ado #291: From Convention to Comic Shop

Conventions can be the perfect place for discovery. Here are three comics that I wouldn’t have stumbled across if not for first learning about them at conventions:

The Displaced
By Ed Brisson and Luca Casalanguida
Published by BOOM! Studios

After the recent ComicsPRO industry meeting, all the attendees traveled to various comic shops in the Pittsburgh area. The first stop was Pittsburgh Comics, owned and operated by Colin McMahon. Wow – what a fantastic store-it’s laid out well, upbeat and fun. Plus, it’s stuffed with so many treasures!

During this visit, Ed Brisson was on site signing and selling copies of his new comic, The Displaced. Brisson is an innovative writer and an industrious entrepreneur. I’ve been a big fan of his ever since I read his time traveling Comeback comic series. He always seems just as happy selling his books as he is creating them. I bought two issues of The Displaced #1 from him. Upon reflection, I wish I had bought his variant issue. He explained that sales from that comic fuels his signing tours.

The Displaced is a moody thriller with a disastrous event and then a creepy cover-up. It almost seems like it could be a modern-day version of one of the best The Twilight Zone episodes that never existed.

I had enjoyed Luca Casalanguida’s art on Scout’s Honor from AfterShock Comics a few years ago, and he’s only gotten better. (That one was written by David Pepose, and I’m eager for his new take on Space Ghost for Dynamite). Continue reading “With Further Ado #291: From Convention to Comic Shop”

Brainiac On Banjo: Wanna Buy A Duck?

Brainiac On Banjo: Wanna Buy A Duck?

“It paints you with indifference, like a lady paints with rouge, and the worst of the worst, the most hated and cursed, is the one that we call Scrooge. Unkind as any, and the wrath of many, this is Ebenezer Scrooge.” – Scrooge, written by Paul Williams.

O.K. I’ll admit it. When I first saw a cover to Uncle Scrooge and The Infinity Dime, I thought it was a variant for one of the Avengers titles. Obviously, I was mistaken. It was one of 13 different covers — you tell me which is not the variant — of Marvel’s first-ever (kinda) produced Disney legacy characters comic book.

I doubt I would have guessed Jason Arron would be the writer. Not that I have a bad opinion of his work; quite the contrary. It just didn’t occur to be that a Punisher writer, not to mention Superman, The (various) Avengers, Batman, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — among a treasure trove of others — would be the person to waddle in the palmate footpath of Carl Barks and Don Rosa.

Back when I first entered the friendly confines of organized comic book fandom, and I use the word “organized” advisedly, it seemed as though there were four things “everybody” was collecting: Will Eisner’s The Spirit, EC Comics, All-Star Comics (the Justice Society of America, although no one would pass up those first two issues), and Carl Barks. Well, mostly Barks’ duck stories, although, again, nobody would pass up his Porky Pig. Barks’ nickname was “the good duck artist” because it took a while for us to learn the names of the rest of Disney’s flock of talent. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Wanna Buy A Duck?”

With Further Ado #290: SXSW 2024 Reactions Part 2- Flatstock

With Further Ado #290: SXSW 2024 Reactions Part 2- Flatstock

It was my second time at that business/start-up/technology + music convention, SXSW. I’ve been describing this festival-convention to folks as San Diego Comic-Con without the comics.

During the second half of the show, they have a portion of their exhibit floor focused on the total creativity that is Flatstock 92. It’s a true event-within-an-event.

Here’s the official description:

Flatstock is an art exhibition of the world’s most influential and exceptional gig poster artists, featuring handmade, limited-edition posters from artists around the globe. The show features an incredible range of visual styles, techniques and colors for sale by the talented artists who created them.

I love these posters, but I focused my purchases on stickers from the artists rather than the posters per se.

As I joked last year, if “a picture tells a thousand words”, this column may become longer than War and Peace and Don Quixote. I’m going to let these amazing poster artists do the heavy lifting for the rest of this With Further Ado column. Continue reading “With Further Ado #290: SXSW 2024 Reactions Part 2- Flatstock”

Brainiac On Banjo: Rare Praise Indeed!

Brainiac On Banjo: Rare Praise Indeed!

“The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s how the smart money bets.” ― Damon Runyon

My all-time favorite writer — I’m volunteering because you didn’t ask — is Damon Runyon. He’s the author of about a million brilliant short stories largely concerning the mobsters and the Guys and Dolls of Broadway, inventing a whole New York City that never existed, but should have, to the point where many New Yorkers think his Manhattan leaked verisimilitude. Sadly, it was entirely created by a master craftsman who invented his own American dialect to delineate those stories.

He wrote a column for the Hearst newspaper chain and wire services during the first half of the last century, which meant his words were presented to an audience in the tens of millions. His stories have been adapted to stage and to screen — for example, the aforementioned Guys and Dolls. He has written passages that have taken away my breath.

Including the one I’m about to offer. It’s about another astonishingly gifted man, master cartoonist George Herriman, creator of the deservedly legendary daily and Sunday Krazy Kat newspaper comic strip, which also ran for decades in the Hearst newspapers and elsewhere.

That effort of Runyon’s, my friends, is rare praise indeed.

As published in the Arizona Gazette on August 13, 1921, and in dozens and dozens of other newspapers on or around that date, here is “Father of Krazy Kat Admired As Mild-Mannered Genius,” by Damon Runyon.

Charley Van Loan – peace to his ashes! – used to tell me about “The Greek.”

George Herriman and Employee

“Funny guy, the Greek.” said Charley. “You’ll have to meet him.”

It so happened that the meeting never took place until one day out in Los Angeles. I was visiting at Charley’s house, and Charley answered a ring at the door bell.

Presently I heard him whooping, and in a moment he returned dragging with what seemed to me outrageous violence, a mild-looking gentleman in impeccable attire who was plaintively submissive to Charley’s handling.

“‘This is ‘The Greek!’” roared Charley; “meet ‘The Greek.'”

So I met “The Greek.” who is not a Greek at all, but who looked like a Greek to Van Loan’s fanciful eyes. I met George Herriman, the cartoonist who draws “Krazy Kat,” and one of the sweetest, gentlest and one of the souls I have ever known.

It is my opinion that fate originally intended George Herriman to write another “Alice in Wonderland,” or some new fairy tales for the children, but inadvertently it gave him great facility for drawing pictures.

Having arrived in an era when drawing pictures was productive of more immediate returns than writing stories, Herriman began drawing. In drawing, however, he also began telling his fairy stories, probably in a ruder form than his gentile artistic sense dictates, but none the less stories. “Krazy Kat” is the quaintest conceit in what I might call cartooning history. George has invented dozens of more or less famous pen and ink characters., including “Dingbat,” and “Baron Bean,’ but none of them ever compared with “Krazy Kat” in humor.

Only Herriman could have thought of reversing the real relation of the cat and the mouse, making the cat the victim of torment by the mouse, but always enjoying the inevitable brick bouncing off its feline head. And only Herriman could write the lines that accompany the pictures. lines, It is in these pictures, I think, that he attains a higher degree of humor than even in his pictures.

Take one of Herriman’s “Krazy Kat” strips and study it well. Note the amazing character delineation in the funny little birds and animals he draws. What could be more appropriate than having the “Mock Duck” a Chinese character, the coyote a Spaniard, the doctor a stork and the cop a bull pup?

James Montgomery Flagg, Ellis Parker Butler, Charles M. Schwab, Neysa MeMein, Enrico Caruso and Percival Grenville Wodehouse are among those who have praised Herriman’s work, but I imagine, knowing George, that the finest praise to him must be the praise of his brother cartoonists.

I don’t know whether he is aware of it or not, but he is the cartoonists’ cartoonist. By that I mean he is their favorite. I have talked with many of them in my time, and I have yet to find one that did not immediately declare that George the greatest that of them all in point of humor, originality and execution.

Now cartoonists, more than any professional other men, are quick to praise a contemporary if he is doing good work.

Personally. Herriman is so modest and self-effacing that he is almost annoying. He talks very little, and then in a soft, low tone. He is full of sentiment and it leaks out through his pen.

One of these days George may take it into his head to do some writing, and when that time comes I predict that we will have a new master of tales for children such as we have not had within the memory of the present generation.

If getting a guest contributor is supposed to save the writer time and energy, I failed miserably. But to dig up and share the opinions of one of our greatest writers about one of our greatest cartoonists — well, that’s a rare privilege indeed.

George Herriman and Damon Runyon. Two creators who deepened our understanding of genius.

 

With Further Ado #289: SXSW – X: “South By” + The X-Men (From the Ashes)

With Further Ado #289: SXSW – X: “South By” + The X-Men (From the Ashes)

The annual South by Southwest Festival is usually written as SXSW and folk typically refer to it as ‘South By”. I tend to describe it to industry friends as “San Diego Comic-Con without the comics”, but that doesn’t really capture the essence of this sprawling and wonderfully bloated event. It’s more like the answer to a riddle along the lines of “What if a business conference, with a focus on technology, media and start-ups had a baby with a Music Festival?”

Last year there was only one comic industry panel. Vault Comics made some cool announcements and leveraged a celebrity collaboration they had just inked.

This year, Marvel Comics (not Marvel Studios) was at the main convention hall (there are SXSW events and panels all over Austin, TX) with a panel that pulled back the curtain on a new X-Men initiatives and talked about a collab with new technology startup.

The panel was initially led by Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief, C.B. Cebulski. Also onstage were Executive Editor Tom Breevort and writers Gail Simone and Jed MacKay. Continue reading “With Further Ado #289: SXSW – X: “South By” + The X-Men (From the Ashes)”

Brainiac On Banjo: Superman Kills!?!

Brainiac On Banjo: Superman Kills!?!

“People say that life is good, but I just piss and moan. I got one foot on a banana peel, the other in the Twilight Zone.” Life Sucks And Then You Die, written by Mike Girard, Doug Forman and Rich Bartlett

It is well-known that the Man of Steel does not kill. However, that has not always been the case.

I just started rereading the first year of the Superman newspaper comic strip. It began publication near the beginning of 1939, five months prior to the release of the first Superman #1. Its circulation was mammoth, quickly appearing in virtually all major American cities and headlined by The New York Mirror, which ultimately had a daily circulation that was about the same as all three printings of Superman #1 combined. It is fair to say that, in these earliest days, the strip did quite a lot to maximize the Man of Steel’s popularity. The Adventures of Superman radio show, equally successful in widening the audience, didn’t start until a full year later.

Initially, the strip was produced by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s studio in Cleveland. Joe’s eyesight was pretty much shot by 1939, but he inked — at the very least — the character faces. The rest of the artwork was handled by Wayne Boring and Paul Cassidy. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Superman Kills!?!”

With Further Ado #288: Tarzan, the Rebooted

With Further Ado #288: Tarzan, the Rebooted

I remember in the early 90s when “upstart” publisher Malibu Comics burst on the scene with their new Tarzan comics. To add a bit of context, their efforts followed the classic runs of Tarzan comic series published by Gold Key Comics, with wonderful Russ Manning and Doug Wildey artwork, DC, with top-of-his game Joe Kubert art, and Marvel Comics, showcasing John Buscema as he was obviously loving every minute of it.

This new Malibu comic cover had a different Tarzan (albeit throwback) logo and a shocking image of the central characters with jarring colors. The front cover was by Marc Hempel and the alternate cover – flip covers were the norm back then – was painted by Simon Bisley. The cover copy taunted readers: “You’ve never seen Tarzan like this before!”

And they were right!

Writer Mark Wheatley, penciler Neil Volkes, and interior inker Hempel showcased a different approach to Tarzan. I don’t know if we were all using the word “reboot” back then, but this clearly was a reboot.

Wheatley explained to me that the Tarzan fans, at the time, were furious with him. But over time, his innovative run has now become revered and embraced.

How difficult is it to reboot a classic character? Is it necessary? Is it ever embraced initially?

Tarzan the Untamed

I just read the seventh of book in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original Tarzan series: Tarzan, the Untamed. My wife, Kathe, and I were in a wonderful comic shop in Saratoga Springs, Cosmic Capes Comics, not long ago. The cover to this hardcover caught my eye. How could it not? The insanely talented Joe Jusko is providing new covers to all the ERB books. He’s knocking it outta the park! Each cover is clever, creative and compelling. Continue reading “With Further Ado #288: Tarzan, the Rebooted”