Category: Columns

With Further Ado #198: Beyond the Stars with Ron Fortier

With Further Ado #198: Beyond the Stars with Ron Fortier

This one looks like fun. One of my favorite comic writers, Ron Fortier (you may remember him from NOW’s Green Hornet) is working with an Italian artist Andrea Bormida on a new Kickstarter. It’s called Beyond The Stars, a six-issue mini-series, from Silverline Comics.

Ron Fortier is not only a great writer but a focused entrepreneur too. I’ve been lucky to collaborate with him in several different roles in his position as a prose book publisher over at Airship27.

This series is something completely different. “The concept originated with Andrea,” explained Fortier. He saw pages on a social media board where Bormida was seeking feedback from industry professionals. “They were completely penciled, inked, and colored…and incredibly beautiful.”

Fortier reached out to Bormida, and they began working together. Fortier crafted an outline for the six-part cosmic adventures. Shortly thereafter, Fortier reached out to Silverline editor Roland Mann.

“I’m a big science fiction fan anyway,” says Mann, “but when I read Ron’s pitch and saw Andrea’s art…well, we jumped on it right away! Even more impressive was that Ron had assembled his entire team so quickly. I’m a big fan of Mike W. Belcher’s work, and Ron already had him lined up to do lettering and design.”

The Anxiety of a Launch

“It’s my first crowd-funded project,” said Bormida. “Will it work? Shall I be able to reach out to new fans? Such a new adventure.” Continue reading “With Further Ado #198: Beyond the Stars with Ron Fortier”

With Further Ado #197: Winner of the Third Annual Guest Columnist Contest 2022 – Reece Clausen

With Further Ado #197: Winner of the Third Annual Guest Columnist Contest 2022 – Reece Clausen

I have reached the end of this year’s Ithacon season. The class of Ithaca College students that promote, plan, and execute the convention have come to the end of their tasks. As has become a tradition, this column has become a venue to host the winner of the “guest columnist” assignment that the students complete.

Last week, we published the runner-up Tyler Haraden’s piece. This week we are publishing the winner’s column. Reece Clausen combined some new pop culture news with a bit of opinion and some genuine fanboy emotion while discussing the Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga video game. Those are the three things we strive for in this column.

I look forward to bringing next year’s winners to you and hope that they are as wonderful as this year’s.

The Urge to Purchase Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is Destroying Me

by Reece Clausen, Ithaca College

The balance of the force has been shaken. The draw towards the dark side of the force is consuming me faster than Anakin Skywalker being told that he can save his wife from certain death. In case you somehow did not read the title of this article, I’m talking about Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga that just released. Now, I’m a 21 year old college student and I have fond memories of playing Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga when it released in 2007. Now, I and many other people my age can tell you that this game was our childhood. I have so many fond memories, from starting fights in the cantina hub, smashing my controller over the podracing level, and constantly killing my friends for no reason other than it was funny to see them fall apart into many Lego bricks. Like I said, good times.

Now when I found out back in 2019 that there was going to be a new Lego Star Wars game that would include levels based on all nine films, my hype levels were through the roof! Fast forward three years and delays, and the game has finally arrived! The gaming community has been giving nothing but praise for this game and all the new things it has brought to the table. Over 300 characters, open world environments, expansive levels, and all the humor you would expect from a Lego game, this masterpiece has it all! It even has Obi-Wan saying “Hello there.”, and multiple jokes about Anakin Skywalker not liking sand! What more could I want? The world is falling in love with this game, and I’ve waited so long for it. Except there is just one problem. I am a broke college student. Continue reading “With Further Ado #197: Winner of the Third Annual Guest Columnist Contest 2022 – Reece Clausen”

With Further Ado #196: Third Annual Guest Columnist Contest 2022 Runner-Up Tyler Haraden

With Further Ado #196: Third Annual Guest Columnist Contest 2022 Runner-Up Tyler Haraden

Well it is that time of year again. Spring is finally really here, and kids are getting antsy because school is coming to an end. As I have mentioned, I teach the Promoting and Managing ITHACON Class at Ithaca College, and we have developed a bit of a tradition that ties this column to the class.

Each year, I ask the students to submit a column on pop culture as if they were the author of this space. The crack editorial staff at PCS pours over the submissions and selects a winner, and they get published on this website. (The fact that it gives me a couple of weeks break right after Ithacon is of no concern to anyone but me.)

Anyway we have decided that we will publish two columns this year. The first one is the runner-up and the winner will be posted next week.

Just a reminder the first year we did this, there were two columns published Anthony Hernandez and Tyler JennesLast year we published three winners: Jordan Green, Maya Lewis, and Caleigh Clarke.

The runner-up of this year’s fill-in columnist contest is Tyler Haraden and his lament for the lack of Grand Theft Auto VI.

Will we ever see Grand Theft Auto VI?

Guest Columnist Tyler Haraden – Ithaca College

Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is one of the greatest gaming titles ever released. Developed by the famous game development company, Rockstar Games, Grand Theft Auto can be traced back to its first game of the series, Grand Theft Auto One, released back in 1997. Since the release of GTA One, we have seen many great games including Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto Four, Grand Theft Auto Vice City, and more. Continue reading “With Further Ado #196: Third Annual Guest Columnist Contest 2022 Runner-Up Tyler Haraden”

With Further Ado Extra: The Ebullient Artistic Audacity of Neal Adams

With Further Ado Extra: The Ebullient Artistic Audacity of Neal Adams

Cover by cover, page by page, convention by convention – every interaction with Neal Adams was like having him pulling up in a convertible in front of your house, laying on the horn and saying, “Come on! Get in! It will be fun!”  And we’d eagerly get in the car every damn time.

When someone is larger than life, it’s hard to come to terms with their passing.  Neal saw the world as some grand Arthurian Epic.  And through his phenomenal artistic talent, charismatic personality, and warm smile, he helped us to see the world that way too.

He had a big heart and big visions – and to me he was also always welcoming and supportive.  I was a fanboy first and foremost, but became a friend and collaborator too.  I was his so-called ‘art director’ on two projects: one for NYCC and another for a variant Batman cover.  What a laugh to think I was an ‘art director’ to Neal! I was just along for the ride. No one can art direct a wild tornado or a breathtakingly memorable sunset. They happen with a grand design all of their own. Continue reading “With Further Ado Extra: The Ebullient Artistic Audacity of Neal Adams”

With Further Ado #195: Whew! A live convention, and it was fantastic!

With Further Ado #195: Whew! A live convention, and it was fantastic!

Whew!  Last week I pulled back the curtain as we were in the throes of planning for ITHACON. It was the first year we’d be back live, after the pandemic restrictions, and there was a lot of anxiety in the air.

And as you might recall, ITHACON is a unique show: Bill Turner, the founder, is still very much involved, but I have the privilege of teaching an Ithaca College course about tradeshows and conventions, and as a part of that class, the students promote, plan, and manage ITHACON.  Having worked for Reed Elsevier, I set the bar really high too.

But you know what? It all worked out. The show was a huge success.

I’ll rely on the photos to tell the tale this week, but I still want to fire away with five random thoughts (If I was trying to impress you, I’d label them as “Five Insights”) about ITHACON 2022.

1. People like people – and they are excited to gather together. There were a lot of happy smiles all around and just about everyone: the attendees, the guests, the dealers/exhibitors, the cosplayers, the students (they did all the work), the volunteers, the Comic Book Club of Ithaca (and even the facilities staff) reported they had a great time.

2. ITHACON attracted the people who wanted to be there. Attendance was down from when we were last in person, but that was expected. And you know what? We didn’t want it too crowded anyways. This resulted in quick lines and opportunities for fans wander about and to discover new things.  The dealers were happy too; many of them told us tales about how ITHACON 45 was their best show in a while/ever!

Continue reading “With Further Ado #195: Whew! A live convention, and it was fantastic!”

With Further Ado #193: Convention Planning in the Age of Uncertainty

With Further Ado #193: Convention Planning in the Age of Uncertainty

Planning for a comic convention in 2022 sure is weird!

As Covid drags on, everything seems to be affected as we all, as a society, struggle to shift back to normal. Or to redefine what normal means.  And when you add in the anxiety of world events, the in-your-face impact of inflation (rising gas prices) and a rainy spring season- there’s a lot more to planning an event than there used to be!

But this Saturday and Sunday, April 23 and 24th, we’ll be hosting ITHACON 45.  The nation’s second longest running comic convention, right after San Diego Comic-Con (CCI), will be back in-person and live. This show’s founder, Bill Turner is still VERY active in all aspects of the show, and I have the honor of teaching a class at Ithaca College’s School of Business where we teach students about conventions, trade shows and live events, and then provide them the “hand’s on” opportunity to help promote, manage, and run a real show – ITHACON. Continue reading “With Further Ado #193: Convention Planning in the Age of Uncertainty”

With Further Ado #193: Book Review – The Set-Up

With Further Ado #193: Book Review – The Set-Up

If you like boxing and old film noirs, you might know the movie The Set-Up. Directed by Robert Wise, it’s an impactful film about struggle, grittiness and aging all wrapped up in the knowledge you are just “one punch away from being the champion.”

This book isn’t exactly like that.

As it turns out, the story’s original writer hated the film version. Author Joseph Moncure March was a New Yorker born into wealth. He worked hard to understand, and write about, the “real” world and the common man. He is best known for his earlier work, The Wild Party. This story, first published in 1928, is told as a long poem. It is about a black fighter’s battles in and out of the ring.

The author described it as “the story of a Negro fighter who has already been defeated by race prejudice, but doesn’t know how to stop fighting.”

Korero Press, the UK publishing house that is always stretching to try creative new projects, has just published a new version of The Set-Up. It’s a cross between a graphic novel and a heavily illustrated epic poem. It has the feel of a lost treasure one would find on a back shelf of some forgotten bookstore. And yet, somehow it seems crisp and new.

The art is a big part of the experience. Erik Kriek is a powerful modern-day illustrator. He’s based in Amsterdam, and maybe that’s why I’m not familiar with his work.  He has illustrated graphic novels (including In the Pines and Creek County) as well as children’s books. Continue reading “With Further Ado #193: Book Review – The Set-Up”

With Further Ado #192: A Fantastic Mystery

With Further Ado #192: A Fantastic Mystery

Two different pals recently recommended two different books to me. I ended up really enjoying both recommendations and strangely, reading them both at the same time made the experience all the better.

Professor Laurence Maslon recommended Fantastic Four No. 1 Panel by Panel to me, and I’m glad he did.  The Professor is not only a Broadway expert (check out his recent NYTimes story here) but a comic expert too. You may have enjoyed his Superheroes! A Never-Ending Battle Documentary, which ran on PBS a few years ago.

This is an engaging coffee table book, celebrating the first issue The Fantastic Four and the birth, in many ways, of Marvel Comics.

As you could infer from the title, this book showcases each individual panel of the 1961 comic. But Chip Kidd, one of my favorites, and Geoff Spear, add in a little zing to it all.  No panel is pristine. Each one is a little off kilter. Some in the cropping, some in the colors, some in other ways. Kind of just like the original comic was first presented, and read, all those years ago.

Several smart comic folks, including Mark Evanier, provide additional thoughts and focus on this important comic. It’s an enjoyable package. Continue reading “With Further Ado #192: A Fantastic Mystery”

With Further Ado #191: Are Cons Back?

With Further Ado #191: Are Cons Back?

I don’t think there’s a word for it – but I attended two comic con last weekend. There were both small, but it was encouraging to see the fandom struggling to get back into the groove.  It was all so hopeful. And in this column, I’ll let the pictures do the heavy lifting. I will ask you to note the incredible smiles on everyone, though.

The first comic con was Finger Lake Expo, also called FLX, held on the northern end of Cayuga Lake in Geneva, NY. One of the best parts, for me, was catching up with old friends on the floor of a convention center. Wow – I really miss that.

Continue reading “With Further Ado #191: Are Cons Back?”

With Further Ado #190: Grinning With Gilbert

With Further Ado #190: Grinning With Gilbert

Don’t we all need a little more cheer in our lives?  I sure do, and that’s why I love Art Baltazar’s work.  Gillbert #4: The Island of Orange Turtles is the talented writer-artist’s latest Papercutz book. As usual, it’s impossible to read without grinning from ear to ear.

I’m happy that comics has bestselling authors like Dav Pilkey writing Dog Man and Cat Kid and Jeff Kinney churning out his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.  Their dominance of the bestseller lists is impressive and encouraging.  Publisher’s Weekly’s John Maher provided a solid overview here earlier in the year.

But for whatever reason, those authors don’t really connect with me. But I am an older comic fan; they don’t need to. Or shouldn’t, really.  I tend to gravitate to the work of writer-artists like Art Baltazar, Franco Aureliana and Frank Cammuso because of (a) their very public passion for comics and (2) kids dig their books. I love reading their books and gifting their books to young readers.

As a kid, the “Creature from the Black Lagoon”, or the Gill-Man, was one of those iconic images that we embraced whenever we wanted to scare the bejeezus out of ourselves. He might have been a half-step behind Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Werewolf, but he was still up there.

So, if Pilkey can adapt classics like Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights or Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls to YA bestsellers, it makes all the sense in the world that Baltazar can adapt old Universal monsters like The Creature from the Black Lagoon into an upbeat smile-fest of a story.

And that’s what this is. How fun is it to follow Gillbert and his friends on their adventures?  Baltazar (as a creator and as a person) always embraces the urgency and importance of every childhood adventure. And it’s all wrapped up with colorful, outrageous artwork, solid storytelling, and crazy names.

Go, go Gillbert!

 

Gillbert #4: The Island of the Orange Turtles
By Art Baltazar
Published by Papercutz
88 pages
ISBN-10: ‎ 1545807183
Reading Age: 7 to 12
Grade Level: 4 to 6

Available from Amazon on 4/19/22.