Category: Continued After Next Page

Continued After the Next Page #20: Representation Matters Even in the 30th Century

Continued After the Next Page #20: Representation Matters Even in the 30th Century

As Pride Month 2022 comes to a close, I want to highlight what I feel is an often overlooked relationship in comic books. In the last couple of decades, gender and sexual identity in mainstream comic books have made great strides in diversity. I always have fond memories of the first same-sex relationship involving two superheroes that I saw in DC Comics.

The “Five Years Later” run of the Legion of Super-Heroes that started with Legion of Super-Heroes Volume 4 #1 (1989) has often been the subject of derision from fans as it represented a significant break in the history of the team. I am not sure how well received the book was at the time of publication, but it took almost thirty years for it to ever be collected. However, as a long time LSH fan, I find it to be one of the most daring, unique, and compelling version of one of my favorite super hero teams.

The initial run of this volume of the Legion was plotted and penciled by Keith Giffen with scripts by Tom and Mary Bierbaum. Within the pages of this run, particularly at the beginning, the reader is exposed to a slightly older group of familiar characters coming to grips with the reality of the political world that they live in and searching for the thing that is missing in their lives. For many, that thing is the Legion and their friends.

Lightning Lass – art by Steve Lightle

In the five years since the end of the Magic Wars, the characters of Salu Digby (Shrinking Violet or just “Vi”) and Ayla Ranzz (Lightning Lass) have suffered trauma but come through it with a love for each other that will forever remain truly special in my heart. I could go through all the details of what happened to them and how their relationship was portrayed in each individual issue of this series, but that has been done, and done well, by others [see below]. I want to focus on why this relationship means so much to me.

Shrinking Violet – art by Keith Giffen

I have wanted to write this article for some time. However, I have struggled with it as I am not confident that mine is the voice that needs to be heard. For full disclosure, I am a cis, hetero, white male. I believe that love is love and celebrate diversity in every medium and support inclusive representation in pop-culture and society as a whole. It is with that perspective that I approach this article. Representation is important. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #20: Representation Matters Even in the 30th Century”

Continued after the Next Page #019: Telling Complete Stories From Supergirl to Danger Street

Continued after the Next Page #019: Telling Complete Stories From Supergirl to Danger Street

With the current format of comics publishing, it makes sense at times to wait and and evaluate the work after it has been completed. When I was younger, the norm was that when a comic series was green lit and published, it was perceived to have no end date. The limited series or mini-series were the exceptions, but more recently, the never ending ongoing series has become the exception. The limited series tend to have an intentional story and are filled with overarching themes that are better explored as a whole rather than issue by issue.

My point here is that with a complete story, evaluating a series as a whole feels like something I should be doing more of, and I am going to start that with the recently completed Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow. The eight-issue series was written by Tom King with lineart by Bilquis Evely and colors by Matheus Lopes. Clayton Cowles did the lettering, and Brittany Holzherr edited it.

It is important to note that comic creators are telling the stories that they want to tell more often without continuity constraints. The concept of shared universes and continuity really began to take shape in the sixties and came to a head in the eighties.  At the very beginning, there were issues with it. Legend says that the Avengers were a thrown together group intended as a sort of a one-off, and not part of a grand concept of one great Marvel Universe. Stan Lee is said to have given the reason for the original Avengers leaving and being left with Cap’s Quirky Quartet because it was too difficult to keep stories straight between the Avengers and the individual heroes’ books. While a lot of deluge has flowed under the bridge of comic continuity, both Marvel and DC Comics have more recently provided readers with stories about their favorite characters that may or may not be in continuity.

Tom King while working mostly for DC has been a master of telling compelling comic stories that do not necessarily fit into current or historical continuity. His Mister Miracle, Strange Adventures, Omega Men, and even Vision for Marvel are all complete stories that can be read without any context of what is going on in the larger comic universes. I think that is a good thing. When the time is taken to tell an extended story, and the creative team executes that story without continuity interference, it makes for excellent comic book storytelling, and that brings us Supergirl. Continue reading “Continued after the Next Page #019: Telling Complete Stories From Supergirl to Danger Street”

Continued After the Next Page #018: What is a Substack and Why Do I Care?

Continued After the Next Page #018: What is a Substack and Why Do I Care?

After decades of predictable delivery methods for comic book content, the past twenty years has been full of novel delivery mechanisms, and now we are being presented with an new option: Comics via Newsletter. The New York Times reported on the announcement that several high profile writers are joining Nick Spencer at Substack.com and creating comic content for their subscription based newsletters.

Writers Jonathan Hickman, James Tynion IV, Saladin Ahmed, Molly Ostertag, and Scott Snyder are the first group of creators that are announced to be creating on the Substack platform. Substack is a website that bills itself as “a place for independent writing.” If you want to try to determine what the platform is trying to accomplish, you can start with their About Page, and I wish you luck. George Gustines of the New York Times did a good job of covering the details of the announcement, and if you have access to the NYT, I recommend checking it out, as it is a big deal in comics news.

I would like to look at this concept from a consumer’s perspective. This development is indicative of the difficult economics behind comic book publishing. Print publishing in general seems to be in great turmoil in terms of making things profitable as the world moves further away from paper.  I get that writers and artists are struggling and do not begrudge anyone the opportunity to get paid for their art.

This newsletter platform concerns me as a consumer of comics. It raises questions in terms of delivery expectation and content. I wonder how often a subscriber will be paying for expected content on a subscription and be disappointed that someone fails to deliver. The difference in this type of platform versus Patreon.com is that while Patreon is advertised as a support mechanism for creators, Substack is promising a product in return for the subscription. Without corporations and publishing companies absorbing the liability for delays and errors in products, the creators on Substack will have no one to hide behind if the product does not make it to market as anticipated. This is a big risk for future revenue and reputation.

There has been little said to this point as to what the subscribers are actually entitled to and what the subscription tiers actually cost. A concern is that the typical subscription is around $5 per month, and that generally works out to the cost of a single issue of a comic book.  Will these Substack Comics be generating a full single issue per month? Other digital platforms such as Webtoon or Comixology deliver products that are either free or complete at time of consumption. Therefore. the consumer knows what they are getting for their “money”.

My last concern is that as a consumer, I now have to determine if reading and purchasing comic content from some of my favorite creators is worth supporting Substack. There are plenty of reservations about the way the platform does business and who it does it with. A simple google search should give you plenty of reading material. The comic book consumer’s budget is now divided between Direct Market Retail shops, Online Digital delivery of published comics, Kickstarter campaigns, and bookstores. Adding this new expense may require thoughtful deliberation on the part of the consumer.

Ultimately, this is a way for creators to take more control of the monetization and delivery of their art. I applaud that. There is a feeling that comic creators are underpaid and under supported. I want comics to thrive and survive. I wish the creators who are endeavoring to deliver comics in this innovative way all the luck for success. I am not sold yet on this, but for the creators and fans, I hope it works and we get the next great comic story delivered in our inboxes via Substack.

Continued After the Next Page #017: Looking Back At The Good In 2020

Continued After the Next Page #017: Looking Back At The Good In 2020

Well, we made it to the end of 2020. I am sure that it didn’t turn out like any of us expected. There have been plenty of low lights, and there are too many people who have been irrevocably harmed by the local and global tragedies that happened this year. That is awful.

However, someone told me something recently that stuck with me. Despite the horrible dumpster fire that 2020 has brought, your mental health can benefit from the activity of looking at the good things that happened in this past year. So, that is what this final post of 2020 will be about.

The SquadCast

This year I finally got off my tush and started presenting the interviews that I do with comic book professionals in a podcast format. In the past, I had merely transcribed the interview, but I found that there was more interesting content in the discussions that people would enjoy that didn’t quite fit in a text post.

So, I went to Buzzsprout and created a hosting site for the Pop Culture SquadCast: Interview Edition. I learned enough of Audacity to edit the interviews and splice some sound together, and here we are.

I need to say thanks to our artistic genius Marc Allan Fishman for the logo and episode art. Also Space In Time is the band that we use for the intro and closing music. You can check there music out at Bandcamp.

And of course, thanks to the pros who to took the time to talk to me about their work.

The Books

While all of you Pop Culture Squad Members know about our digital presence here on the site and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there is now physical printed evidence that Pop Culture Squad exists. On the back covers of two trade paperback collections, I have blurb quotes for reviews.

I cannot tell you how awesome it is to see my name on a comic book. I could not even have ever imagined that five years ago.

Both of these books are special to me. Hyperbreed from Louise Simonson and Guy Dorian is a fun YA space story from Storm King Comics. Did you notice that? My name is on a book written by THE Louise Simonson!!!!

I have been following the Love and Capes stories that Thomas Zahler creates for years, and when he told me last year that he would be coming back to that universe, I was stoked. He totally made it work, and I am grateful for his putting my review blurb on the back of the book in some seriously impressive company.

The Comics Industry Adapts and Supports Itself

This year has hit the comics industry hard. Publishers and retailers had to deal with a nearly two month shutdown of new comics distribution. But through it all, people worked hard to support each other and save the industry that relies a lot on in-person contact.

So many great new comics were made and you can check out our list of the years best here.

Fundraisers and charity auctions popped up all over the place. We detailed some of those as they occurred.

Give Comics Hope is one of the charities that we highlighted through the year and will continue to do so.

There were plenty of Kickstarter campaigns launched to find different ways to publish and create comic book content. You better believe that we covered them.

Conventions Happened… Sort of

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit America hard in March, comic conventions were scrapped as we all needed to isolate to stop the spread of the dangerously contagious disease. But plenty of talented people scrambled to turn the experience of seeing pop culture personalities and comic creators in virtual cons.

Some were better than others, and none truly replaced the experience of strolling down artists alley and chatting with creators and friends. However, they were good enough to be a decent placeholder for the time that we will be able to be vaccinated and able to go out and see each other in person.

Geek Culture TV

There was a massive amount of quality television programming that was produced and broadcast this year. There are more outlets, streaming and otherwise that are now committed to delivering high quality shows. Here is a list of some of our favorites in no particular order:

  • SCHITT’S CREEK: SEASON 6 – AMC
  • WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS: SEASON 2 – FFX
  • HARLEY QUINN: SEASON 2 – HBOMax
  • THE BOYS: SEASON 2 – Amazon Prime Video
  • THE MANDALORIAN: SEASON 2 – Disney+
  • LOVECRAFT COUNTRY: SEASON 1 – HBOMax
  • THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: SEASON 2 – Netflix
  • STARGIRL: SEASON 1 – CW
  • I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS: SEASON 1 – Neflix
  • STAR TREK: PICARD: SEASON 1 – CBS All Access
  • KILLING EVE: SEASON 3 – BBC
  • PERRY MASON: SEASON 1 – HBOMax

And don’t forget there were some other shows like Tiger King (Netflix) and The Vow (HBO) that left us captivated, or horrified, or both.

Based on the announcements from Disney, Warner Bros, and others, it looks like this trend of high quality serialized episodic programming with continue.

Pop Culture Squad Thrived

Even before the pandemic shut down a lot of the world, we worried that this would be a slow year for PCS. However, we persevered and continued to bring you content as best you can.

If you are not a regular reader of Mike Gold‘s two columns here, you are missing witty and entertaining stories and opinion.

Ed Catto’s regular With Further Ado column finds new ways to look at comics, books, film and other cool stuff.

While we have bigger dreams for what is to come, it was a pretty good year for Pop Culture Squad and we are excited for making them happen in the next year.

Thanks for being here, and READ MORE COMICS!

Continued After the Next Page #016: Roy Harper – Pin Cushion With a Bow

Continued After the Next Page #016: Roy Harper – Pin Cushion With a Bow

One of the interesting things about the extensive list of DC Comics characters is that there are plenty of characters that can be used to advance or deepen the story of lead characters. Since the dawn of stories, storytellers have been using the damage of “lesser” characters to add complexity to the protagonist by having them deal with the tragedy of those they care about.

In the case of Roy Harper, it has become an almost competitive sport to see who could do the most damage to the red-headed step child (literally) originally known as Speedy. The character was created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp as the ward and sidekick of Green Arrow and originally debuted in More Fun Comics #73 in 1941.

The Sordid Comic History of Roy Harper

The character’s torment began in earnest with one of the most famous and important socially aware stories of the seventies. In Green Lantern #85, the issue title “Snowbirds Don’t Fly” written by Denny O’Neil and drawn by Neal Adams, it was revealed that the teen sidekick of Green Arrow had become addicted to heroin. This fact has been retconned to alcohol addiction and back to drugs, but it remained in his history that Roy was an addict. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #016: Roy Harper – Pin Cushion With a Bow”

Continued After the Next Page #015: On the Passing of a Giant

Continued After the Next Page #015: On the Passing of a Giant

There are a lot of amazing people that make and have made great comic books. Some of the people who made the comics of my youth are now friends, if not, at least, acquaintances. There are however some people whose names are inscribed in the mythical pantheon of comic creators. Names like Kirby, Lee, Ditko, Toth, Raymond, Wood, Eisner, Adams, Buscema. Another name that is included in that list is O’Neil.

Dennis J. “Denny” O’Neil passed away last week. A couple of years ago, I got to meet Denny at the Baltimore Comic Con and spend some time with him. I want to share what I learned from him, but first I need to explain what he meant to me.

As a young student of comics, (I mean, I wrote the first research paper in my life about the history of comics when I was in seventh grade.) I learned about O’Neil and [Neal] Adams‘ critical run on Batman and later Green Lantern & Green Arrow. There was a level of realism that they brought to comics that seemed to counteract the turn that DC made towards camp in the 1960s. That realism mirrored what Lee, Kirby, and Ditko had done at Marvel, but was also quite unique.

I don’t want to call Denny’s writing dark or gritty. I kind of have the feeling that he wouldn’t like that. His characters were flawed, like all humans, and despite great wealth or power, they had to find solutions to problems like the rest of us. His characters were nuanced and multidimensional in a way that set them apart and inspired later creators.

The first book that I remember reading new from Denny was The Question. I had read some of his Iron Man earlier, but I wasn’t as aware of creators at that point. The Question, written by Denny with art by Denys Cowan, inks by Rick Magyar, colors by Tatjana Wood, letters by Gaspar Saladino and later Willie Shubert, and shepherded by Mike Gold, lit my hair on fire. It was a story full of mystery and pain and a struggling hero just trying to do what was right. My mind was opened by the complexity and brilliance of the art and the richness of the stories. It made me understand the vast breadth of storytelling that was possible in comics and it, along with Mike Grell‘s The Longbow Hunters, was the story that pushed me intellectually as a comic reader.

I think most of us have that time where we step away from comics. Whether it is intentional or not, there is a time as we hit adulthood that we stop buying new comics and focus on other things. That happened to me during college.

By mid 1990s I was married and had a job. You know. Adult stuff. One day in late 1995, I saw a comic book on a newsstand that caught my eye. It was Nightwing Volume #1 Issue #1. It was my favorite character in his very first solo series, and that Brian Stelfreeze cover was exquisite. I had to buy it. I loved it. It was written by Denny and immediately captivated my imagination. I remembered how much I loved comics and began to slowly start collecting and reading again. Denny brought me back to my passion. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #015: On the Passing of a Giant”

Continued After the Next Page #014: Exercise Your Right to Vote For Comics – Ringo Edition

Continued After the Next Page #014: Exercise Your Right to Vote For Comics – Ringo Edition

This is the time of year when every comic fan can get involved in the process of recognizing excellence in comic making. The public nomination process is open for the 2020 Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards.

One of the great features of the Ringo Awards is that all fans and professionals have the opportunity to nominate their favorite creators and productions from 2019.

The ballot is available here.

I have taken some time to go through things that I have read or seen that was produced in 2019. Below is a list of some suggestions for each category.

PLEASE NOTE THESE ARE NOT OFFICIAL NOMINATIONS!! These are merely my suggestions!!!

The initial public nomination process is a free form text option for each category. Unfortunately (Actually, it’s pretty great!), I have found so many worthy candidates for each category.

In my list of nomination suggestions are people and publications that I feel are deserving of nominations. I am one hundred percent certain that I have forgotten or not included worthy candidates. This may be the first and only time I do this based on how many people I offend. Please forgive any omissions. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #014: Exercise Your Right to Vote For Comics – Ringo Edition”

Continued After the Next Page #013: The Case of Alex Toth and the Transplanted Head

Continued After the Next Page #013: The Case of Alex Toth and the Transplanted Head

Let’s take a trip into the past world of comics production.

Recently, a discussion bubbled up on Twitter about the origins of a particular cover drawing from back in the seventies.

This is the cover in question:

DC Comics has announced a special edition hardcover book that collects a whole bunch of classic Super Friends comics from the 1970’s. The solicitation found on PREVIEWSworld is as follows:

SUPER FRIENDS SATURDAY MORNING CARTOON HC VOL 01

MAR200666
(W) E. Nelson Bridwell, Others (A) Ramona Fradon, Others, Ric Estrada (CA) Alex Toth

From the Hall of Justice come these tales of the Justice League of America, inspired by their hit 1970s animated TV series! In these stories, the Justice League of America battles evil in the form of Queen Hippolyta, the Riddler, the Ocean Monster, and many more. Collects Super Friends #1-26, the Super Friends features from Limited Collectors’ Edition #C-41 and #C-46, and the ultra-rare Aquateers Meet the Super Friends #1.

In Shops: Jun 03, 2020
SRP: $69.99

 

This cover art for this collection include a group figure drawing by Alex Toth, and also includes his signature. This image was taken from the original cover for The Limited Collections Edition presents Super Friends, which was published in January 1976.

That original publication is a sixty-four page book that had six pages of new Toth art and an essay from him about animation art. The rest of the book included JLA reprint stories.

So, the ironic thing is that the folks at DC are reusing this image from a book that had very little Toth work in it for a cover of a book that has even a less percentage of his work. The Super Friends series that is collected in the new volume consists of mostly Ramona Fradon pencils and Bob Smith inks. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #013: The Case of Alex Toth and the Transplanted Head”

Continued After the Next Page #012: Finding a Stray When Missing Your Nightwing

Continued After the Next Page #012: Finding a Stray When Missing Your Nightwing

For many people, Robin, the Boy Wonder was the first super hero that they identified with. Whether it was from the Batman live-action TV show, or from Super-Friends cartoons, or on the pages of comic books, there was something enticing about the young sidekick to the cool and powerful superhero, Batman. I was very much that person.

Art by George Perez

My affinity for Robin became specific. I am a fan of Dick Grayson, the original Robin and also Nightwing.  As a pre-teen and teen, The New Teen Titans, by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, was my jam, to use a term I am far too old to use. As Dick Grayson grew past the Teen Wonder persona in the comics, I was growing, and while other youngsters took up the mantle of Robin, I remained committed to my Grayson fandom.

Over the decades, my passion for the character only grew. Many of my comic creator friends, and anyone who has read previous episodes of this column, know how much Nightwing/Dick Grayson means to me. However, that character has been effectively removed from the current DC Comics Universe for the past eighteen months. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #012: Finding a Stray When Missing Your Nightwing”

Continued After the Next Page #011: Goodbye 2019 – Welcome 2020!!

Continued After the Next Page #011: Goodbye 2019 – Welcome 2020!!

What the new year brings to you will depend on a great deal on what you bring to the new year !

 

Welcome to 2020!

In the past year, the news has often been filled with confounding rhetoric, and there have been some truly terrible events, but we need to resolve to focus on the positive, while committing to make things better. We can be the agents of change that we need in this world.

What an amazing year that 2019 was around here!!! As Pop Culture Squad celebrates the completion of its first full calendar year of existence, we have a lot of great accomplishments to look back on.

Here are a few highlights: Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #011: Goodbye 2019 – Welcome 2020!!”