Continued After the Next Page #010: Characters Will Change, Even in the Future. Get Used to It.

Continued After the Next Page #010: Characters Will Change, Even in the Future. Get Used to It.

Despite the traditional theme of this column, we are going to dive into some current events in comics fandom with this installment. There has been quite a bit of moaning and groaning along with some absolute vitriol about some of the creative decisions by prominent publishers regarding character revisions, lately.

Art by Ryan Sook

When I say lately, I am using a wide measuring stick. This has been going on for a while. The volume of the critical voices is amplified in this age of instant access to everyone’s thoughts, AKA Twitter. The pure virulent hate that has been spewed at publishers and any creator even tangentially involved with promoting inclusive and diverse characters has morphed into the hate group #ComicsGate. The most depressing thing about these events is that is ruins my inherit belief that comic readers are proponents of hope and change.  I am probably wrong about that, and that is disappointing.

Let’s take a second to look at some facts. In the past week, DC Comics revealed that two of its long slumbering properties will be revived. The Legion of Super-Heroes will return, starting in September, under the stewardship of Brian Michael Bendis and Ryan Sook. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #010: Characters Will Change, Even in the Future. Get Used to It.”

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”

Continued After the Next Page #008: Happy Geek Day!!!

Continued After the Next Page #008: Happy Geek Day!!!

We are living in a golden age of fandom. Gone are the days of hiding your comic collection in the closet when school friends came over. The time when liking sci-fi books was cause for odd glances in the cafeteria is in the past. There are incredible things happening in the world today.

Let’s take for example the things we can point at that show the geek/nerd culture is popular in the mainstream;

Avengers

The best selling motion picture in the world is Avengers: Endgame. It is the epic conclusion to over ten years of movie storytelling. I was moved to tears of joy while watching it at the massive amount of comic book characters from my your being translated to the big screen. This move was highly anticipated and it shattered box office records left and right.

Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #008: Happy Geek Day!!!”

Continued After the Next Page 007: On George Perez’s Retirement…

Continued After the Next Page 007: On George Perez’s Retirement…

If you have read the previous posts in this column, you will know that I am a child of the 80’s. I began my love for comics when the two biggest selling series were Uncanny X-Men and New Teen Titans. The New Teen Titans was the most influential comic series on me as a child. Hell, my best friend, and current tattoo artist, painted the Titans Tower portraits for my Bar Mitzvah party.

With that bit of background, it is easy to understand why George Perez is the first comic book artist that I fell in love with. My sister, who I am betting has read maybe two comic books in her life (only because I forced her), even knows who George Perez is. There are so many fantastic artists in the medium. Too many to name. But George tops them all for me. He is my paragon. In adulthood, I have gained appreciation for those who came before him. As a youngster, I didn’t understand Kirby or Ditko the way that I did Perez. Adams was too melodramatic for me. George Perez’s tight lines and dynamic action scenes where what I expected comics to be.

Recently, Mr. Perez announced that 2019 will be his last year on the comic convention circuit, and he will essentially retire from making new comics. These decisions are due to the toll that health issues have taken on him. We are terribly sad to hear that he has come to this place at such a young age. Mike Gold has become the de facto eulogizer around Pop Culture Squad headquarters. Thankfully, George is still with us, and therefore, I will take a shot a living tribute in this post.

Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page 007: On George Perez’s Retirement…”

Continued After the Next Page 006: Why Do We Need to Relive Bad Decisions in Comics?

Continued After the Next Page 006: Why Do We Need to Relive Bad Decisions in Comics?

OK Folks. We are not all about spoilers here at PCS, but there is definitely some spoilery information in this post. If you have not seen the first six episodes of Young Justice: Outsiders, and you are planning to, there will be spoilery information below.

After a long break, one of the best animated shows ever has returned. Young Justice is now producing new episodes, and they are airing on the DC Universe streaming platform. This show has always been a favorite of mine, and I have urged as many people as I could to go and watch this fantastic series.. The new season is absolutely incredible. It is inventive and respectful to canon while telling a unique story. The voice acting is superb, the dialogue is witty and engaging, and the animation is excellent. However, I have an issue. It is the “respect for canon” thing with which I think the show-runners went a little too far.

Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page 006: Why Do We Need to Relive Bad Decisions in Comics?”

Continued After the Next Page #005: Best Single Issue Ever NTT #38

Continued After the Next Page #005: Best Single Issue Ever NTT #38

Welcome back to “Continued After the Next Page”. If you are new here, we try to shine a spotlight on stories and comic book nostalgia from the past. Today we are going to talk about just one comic book. In my opinion, it is the greatest single issue that I have ever read. Now, that is a lofty perch on which I have just placed this book, and I am willing to listen to other suggestions, of course. However, this issue, which is a one-and-done story, strikes such emotional tones that I cannot find a book that tops it.

The book in question is The New Teen Titans #38. It was released in late 1983 with a January 1984 date stamped on the cover. The issue was co-plotted by Marv Wolfman and George Perez with a script from Marv and art by George and Romeo Tanghal. Sadly, letterer Ben Oda, colorist Adrienne Roy, and editor Len Wein have all passed on by now. If you are going to call something that is the product of a collaborative effort “the best of its kind”, then that thing should display a high level of talent from the individual collaborators that is independently identifiable, but is even better in the context of the complete collective work. This book certainly accomplished that goal. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #005: Best Single Issue Ever NTT #38”

Continued After the Next Page #004: When Thor Rode the Bus

Continued After the Next Page #004: When Thor Rode the Bus

Comic books today are made in vastly different ways than the were in years past. Scripts are emailed; pencils are done on tablets and then emailed or shared again across the internet; colors and letters are handled digitally. Of course, I am generalizing, but the point is that, in the world we live in, the creators of comic books have evolved to take advantage of the technology available to them. In this column, I want to remind us of the interesting events that surrounded the physical creation of the comics we read in the past.

I had the great opportunity to meet legendary artist/writer/letterer John Workman at a convention last year. He shared an amazing story with me, and recently we spoke again about it and many other comic and non-comic topics. In the coming weeks, here on Pop Culture Squad, I will be sharing the interview as a whole, but today, I would like to share with you a few humorous and fascinating stories related to the methods that John employed in getting the art, words, and color on the Bristol board pages that made the comics of old.

John Workman has been a frequent collaborator with the great Walter Simonson throughout the years. John was the letterer on the entirety of Walt’s remarkable run on Thor in the 80’s (1983-1987). They are still working together on the creator-owned Ragnarok, for which John is nominated for both Eisner and Ringo Awards this year. I asked John to recount the tale of how he and Walt would pass the comic pages back and forth back in the day:

Thor Rode the Bus Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #004: When Thor Rode the Bus”

Continued After the Next Page #003: Comic Coincidence and Paul Gulacy

Continued After the Next Page #003: Comic Coincidence and Paul Gulacy

Comic books have been an important part of my life for over thirty-five years now. The things that I have read and seen in those pages affect things in my mind and outlook that most people might not expect. Large parts of my worldview have been shaped by the topics and interesting characters that I have been exposed to by reading comics. Often, I find that pieces of information in my mind come directly from knowledge gleaned from the pages of the fantastical stories that I read growing up. Weird things that make no sense. For example, whenever I hear the word “oblivion”, there is some small part of my mind that remembers that I first learned that word reading J.M. DeMatteis’ Iceman mini-series as a kid.  The villain in the story was called Oblivion, and it has stuck with me. These type of odd combinations of knowledge and memory happen all the time. As my friend David, from my Local Comic Shop, reminded me once, “Everything comes back to comics.”

I’d like to share a strange set of circumstances that combined to bring comics from the past right to the present day in an amazing moment of coincidence.  This event Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #003: Comic Coincidence and Paul Gulacy”

Continued After the Next Page #002: The Comic I Have Owned the Longest

Continued After the Next Page #002: The Comic I Have Owned the Longest

I began reading and collecting comic books when I was 8 years old in 1981.  I would get comics from my Aunt’s convenience store in Seaside Heights, NJ.  For the next few years, I would pick up comics from local convenience stores with spinner racks. For those who are from New Jersey or the Northeast, names like Krausers and Cumberland Farms were havens of comic goodness. One day, I found out that there was such a thing as a comic book store. A whole store devoted to comic books. I was in awe. By this time, at about 12 years old, I had started working in my Aunt’s store on Sunday mornings. I would put the Sunday newspapers together for $5 bucks per hour.  I had found that there was a Comic Shop in Lakewood, NJ. It was only in the next town. I somehow managed to convince my mother to take me to this magical place so that I could spend my hard-earned dollars on comic goodness.  I am sure I spent way longer than my mom would have liked perusing the stacks and boxes to find a few bits of awesomeness. Most likely, I picked up some New Teen Titans that I had not read or old copies of the Legion of Super-Heroes.  At one point, I saw a flyer on the counter for a “Comic Convention” in Toms River, NJ. That is when my fandom for comics hit the accelerator and stayed glued to the floor.

Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #002: The Comic I Have Owned the Longest”

Continued After the Next Page #001: Introduction

Continued After the Next Page #001: Introduction

“Continued After the Next Page” is the title that we came up with for this column. What does it mean?

Well, If you have to ask that, then most likely you started reading comics after 1990 and haven’t reached into the past. And truly, this column is about reaching into the past. It is about sharing stories and experiences. It is about celebrating comic fandom.  The main topics we will cover here are experiences interacting with the historical culture of comic books.  There will be reviews and reminiscing about classic or meaningful comic issues or stories. There will be interviews with comic book professionals from the past and present.  Ultimately the goal is to remember what got a lot of people into reading comic books and how it led to the pop culture explosion that you can see all over this site.

The most important thing to know about this column is that it is not a grumpy old man screaming “Get off my lawn!!”  It is meant to be positive, supportive, and inclusive.

Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #001: Introduction”