Category: With Further Ado

With Further Ado #88: Nimble Innovation

With Further Ado #88: Nimble Innovation

I wish this was an April’s Fools story, but it is not.

In Mike Gold’s column here on Monday, Brainiac on Banjo, he talked about how comic shops, like so many other businesses, are struggling during the surreal new reality that the Coronavirus has unleashed. It’s a scary time for these entrepreneurs.

But we need to keep business issues and life-threatening issues in perspective.  We’re just a few weeks into it. Public figures are now contracting the virus, and many of us now know real people who have contracted it. I have two friends fighting the good fight against COVID-19 in the hospital right now. One’s outlook is pretty grim, I am afraid.

So my heart aches in so many ways. The prospect of a collapse, or at best a terrible shakeout of Geek Culture is one the scary things of which I am fearful. USA TODAY even noticed. They started a recent article with a look at a fanboy turned retailer in Pennsylvania:

YORK, Pa. – Brian Waltersdorff has been strolling the aisles of Comic Store West in York, Pennsylvania,  since 1986. He was the store’s first customer.

Fast forward 22 years, he found himself buying a portion of ownership into the store. This past January, he bought out his partners for sole ownership of his childhood comic book shop. 

“First-year businesses always have problems. I didn’t think it would happen (here),” he said. “But here we are.” 

Waltersdorff is one of several comic book shop owners across the country who are battling an unprecedented level of uncertainty caused by the coronavirus outbreak

The restrictions on movement have been catastrophic for him – as they have for most small business owners. However, the comic book industry is navigating a different sea of change: its main supplier has completely shut down its distribution chain.

 

Comic Shops, have, for the most part, been run and owned by strong-willed entrepreneurs who have financially skated near the edge. Likewise, publishers and companies that create Geek Culture ephemera have done the same.

In that column this past Monday, Mike Gold wrote, “Only a very few publishers are owned by massive mega-corporations such as AT&T, Amazon, and Disney. The rest are owned by very hard working Mom ’n’ Pop cockroach capitalists who depend upon these shops.”

TwoMorrows Publishing wrote candidly about how tough it is to sell magazines when your distributor and retailer outlets are closed.  So they are offering a 40% sale to keep the lights on. Continue reading “With Further Ado #88: Nimble Innovation”

With Further Ado #087: Scary Times:  Hung, Drawn and Executed

With Further Ado #087: Scary Times: Hung, Drawn and Executed

These are scary uncertain times, that’s for sure. If I had my druthers, I’d experience my scariness in ninety-minute cinematic chunks, i.e. with monster movies, rather than with a real life pandemic.

One of my favorite parts about monster movies has always been the posters. In fact, during my Screams & Screens movie series, where we celebrate both the best and worst in horror movies, sometimes the best part of the whole thing is the movie poster.

So, you can imagine how much I’m enjoying social distancing as I curl up with another fantastic book from Korero Press, Hung, Drawn and Executed – the Horror Art of Graham Humphreys . This is the perfect coffee table book …if you live in Castle Dracula, but it’s a real treat for those of us who live in less spooky homes too. Continue reading “With Further Ado #087: Scary Times: Hung, Drawn and Executed”

With Further Ado #86: Interview with Joel Meadows of Tripwire Magazine

With Further Ado #86: Interview with Joel Meadows of Tripwire Magazine

Tripwire was one of those magazines about comics that always made you feel smarter after you read it. Or maybe that conversion happened right when you bought it. It was a gorgeous magazine and always looked smart too.   I’m excited to say that Joel Meadows, the man behind Tripwire, is at it again and Tripwire is returning. I had a lot of questions for Joel, and he had a lot of thoughtful answers.

Ed Catto: The news that Tripwire is returning is just fantastic, Joel. But first, can you tell me, or remind me, how it all started?

Joel Meadows: Tripwire began way back in March 1992 – or actually it began the previous year. We published one issue of a magazine we called The Review, which was a very basic fanzine that I did with someone I went to school with. We printed about 100 copies, but it was fun to do. So, we came up with Tripwire in February 1992 and published our first issue in March 1992. At that point, I was doing it with a neighbour of mine and someone I went to sixth form college with. We launched the same weekend as Vertigo.

EC: I loved those Tripwire issues. In your opinion, what made it special and unique among all the Geek Culture magazines?

JM: When it started, we were a lot more sarcastic and a lot more irreverent towards our material. I was only nineteen when it began, and I learned a hell of a lot as we continued to publish issues. We had a very British attitude to our material, which initially was comics and music, but we dropped the music and replaced it with film and TV in 1999. We were prepared to take chances, and we were the first place to cover the Vertigo creators, like Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Peter Milligan, and Frank Quitely. I was a big fan of former UK magazine Speakeasy, and I think that had a big influence on me when it came to Tripwire. Continue reading “With Further Ado #86: Interview with Joel Meadows of Tripwire Magazine”

With Further Ado #85: Saturday Morning Comics

With Further Ado #85: Saturday Morning Comics

There’s a story that the Saturday Morning Cartoons of the 60s were created as a vehicle for networks to serve up cereal and toy commercials to kids, who would then, in turn, nag their parents to buy stuff for them.  I think the real reason about why Saturday Morning Cartoons started  is more mundane and has to do more with networks complying with certain standards for a broad range of programing for various segments of the population. But I like that urban legend so much better.

For those of us of a certain age, Saturday Morning Cartoons and comics go hand-in-hand. The Adam West Batman TV show may have sparked an interest in superheroes for us, but it was reinforced for five glorious hours every Saturday morning back then. We’d thrill to the adventures of authentic comic characters like Superman, Aquaman, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Archie, and Casper, and kind-of-comics characters like Space Ghost, Jonny Quest, Birdman, and so many others.  Of course, all those characters would have their own comics at one point or another too. Continue reading “With Further Ado #85: Saturday Morning Comics”

With Further Ado #84: It’s a Noir World … or … I See Red Door and I Want to Paint It Noir

With Further Ado #84: It’s a Noir World … or … I See Red Door and I Want to Paint It Noir

Nothing’s ever really black and white. Except for movies. So many of my favorites are black and white. And so many of my favorite black and white movies are Film Noir thrillers. You know the type, those sleek and stylish old time Hollywood movies, the kind with dames and detectives, the kind with revenge and lust, the kind with crime and plenty of punishment.

There’s a lot of appreciation for Film Noir lately in comics and other books, so it’s not a surprise that there’s so much readily available for us all to enjoy. Here’s a few recent good ones that you don’t want to miss:

CRIMES OF PASSION “More Than Maybe”
by Steve Orlando and Greg Smallwood
DC Comics

I wanted to snag a copy DC’s Crimes of Passion #1 because I had read that one of the stories in it was a Wildcat adventure written by Stephanie Phillips. She’s a hot new writer, kicking it into high gear with comics like Aftershock Comics’ The Descendent, the upcoming Artemis and the Assassin and Dark Horse’s Butcher of Paris. She’s going to be a guest at ITHACON 45 (it’s on March 21 & 22nd and tickets are available here), and I’m excited to meet her.  Her Wildcat story, “Pulling Punches”, is great fun. Continue reading “With Further Ado #84: It’s a Noir World … or … I See Red Door and I Want to Paint It Noir”

With Further Ado #83: Shiver My Timbers, Matey

With Further Ado #83: Shiver My Timbers, Matey

There’s a truism in comics that “everybody knows”. Pirate comics don’t sell.  However. every piece of common wisdom needs to be shattered at one time or another, and we were just the scurvy knaves to do it. Sit back, sip your rum, and let me tell you the true tale of how we made a pirate comic!

Last year, I had a brilliant student in one of my classes. Naomi Hanson had many different interests and passions, and one of them was the history of real-life pirates. She was quite the expert and delivered lectures at academic conferences nationwide on the subject.

Naomi was also in the ITHACON class, where we teach students about creating and managing trade shows, and then have them run an actual convention: ITHACON.

After hearing about her lectures – shiver my timbers – I thought about how to take it to the next level. I explained to Naomi that I had vision of a Pirate Panel at San Diego Comic-Con. I knew it would be a long shot making that happen, but she was game to try.

The ideas were accepted by the panel committee at San Diego Comic-Con. I knew she’d be great onstage. I recruited another panelist, renowned library science expert Krista Rozanski.  I would be moderator.  The mizzen masts were about to be hoisted, and we were ready.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #83: Shiver My Timbers, Matey”

With Further Ado #82: Contemplating with Kirk

With Further Ado #82: Contemplating with Kirk

There are so many great Christmas comics. As a kid, I always loved those “very special issues” where the adventure would take place during the Yuletide season.  I still do. I always read a few Christmas comics on Christmas Eve, and I’m always careful to finish them and turn out the light before Santa comes.

In comics, celebrating other holidays has always been a little hit or miss.  Oh, sure, there’re lots of creepy Halloween stories. Superhero teams always seem to gather together at Thanksgiving, but I’m not sure if I have ever a had a favorite St. Valentine’s Day comic story.

I do now. IDW’s Star Trek Year Five: Valentine’s Day Special is a mouthful of a comic title, but it’s a wonderful Star Trek story, that – like all the best Trek tales – is about more than just spaceships and phaser blasts.

Paul Cornell is a gifted writer, and here he deftly uses the long history of Star Trek: TOS, and Captain Kirk in particular, to tell a tale of lost love, in a fresh and mature way.  This isn’t another story of Jim Kirk romancing some hot babe in the middle of danger and adventure. Instead, Kirk meets his equal: a woman of similar drive and passions. They are drawn together through the years. Continue reading “With Further Ado #82: Contemplating with Kirk”

With Further Ado #81: Staying in the Business, A Tribute to Victor Gorelick

With Further Ado #81: Staying in the Business, A Tribute to Victor Gorelick

It was a real drag to learn of the passing of Victor Gorelick over the weekend. The longtime Archie Comics Editor-in-Chief was quite a guy, and the industry will be that much smaller without his contributions.   Just one of the most amazing things about Victor was that he knew how to keep a job. He started at Archie at age 16, and stayed there for over 60 years!

When I graduated UNC with my MBA many years ago, the conventional path was finding a job with a big company. This was well before the current fascination (rightly so!) with entrepreneurial ventures.  I chased after the big company jobs, just like everyone else.  But even back then I had an idea that “geek culture”, although we never called it that, had the potential to be a big deal both creatively and for business, although I never anticipated the unparalleled success of something like the Marvel Movies.

So, during my job search at business school, I reached out to comics companies, most of whom had no idea of the job I was envisioning.  I was offered the opportunity to interview with Archie Comics. Publisher Michael Silberkleit invited me to their famous Mamaroneck, NY headquarters.  We had a great time getting to know one another and discussing the industry and where it might go. Continue reading “With Further Ado #81: Staying in the Business, A Tribute to Victor Gorelick”

With Further Ado #80: Digging for Treasure

With Further Ado #80: Digging for Treasure

I’m all about buried treasure lately. Next week I’ll tell you about my wild ride that led to the PIRATES book, soon to be published by Clover Press & Yoe Books.  But this week, I want to write about my travels to the exotic and mystical land called New Jersey, and my adventures in three comic shops and the treasures I found.

The Joker’s Child

The Joker’s Child, a long-lived comic shop nestled in the northern part of New Jersey, used to be my hometown store when I lived there. I brought my daughters, the Catto Girls, there when they were little. They are all grown up  now, and I was back in town to help celebrate one daughter’s bridal shower.  Tempus Fugit!

Continue reading “With Further Ado #80: Digging for Treasure”

With Further Ado #79: Doing Your Homework for Star Trek: Picard

With Further Ado #79: Doing Your Homework for Star Trek: Picard

I vividly remember watching the debut episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987. I was in Boston at that time, recently graduated, and living with my great pals Pete (Hoff) Hoffman and Hans (Hadji) Rempel. I was the guy deepest into comics, but they each had their favorites and Pete, especially, was a big Trek fan. In fact, we had grown up together in the same little town and watched the original Star Trek series reruns every Saturday night on WPIX. And then, we’d go out and get into the usual high school mischief. Both activities were baked into the core of who we are.

So it was perfectly fitting years later that we were watching Star Trek on another Saturday night before we went out to find more mischief in Boston. Star Trek: The Next Generation was a different Trek from what we were used to. I will be the first to admit that I thought of the original series as the adventures of three friends who wandered about, broke the rules, and sometimes met exotic beauties along the way. TNG, in contrast, was much more disciplined. It seemed to be all about working in teams and overcoming obstacles with creativity. I remember one episode in particular, where Commander Ryker was trying to motivate Lt. Commander Data to manage a planet-side situation, and it was exactly what we had been talking about in my MBA management class that week.

Fast forward to last Saturday night, and my wife and I watched the debut of Star Trek: Picard. How come we all got so much older since the last outings, but Patrick Stewart is ageless? The message is clear – we all really must drink more Earl Grey. Continue reading “With Further Ado #79: Doing Your Homework for Star Trek: Picard”