Category: With Further Ado

With Further Ado #172: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Tyler Jennes

With Further Ado #172: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Tyler Jennes

Tyler Jennes is a newly minted comics professional who’s on a career rocket ride. He’s currently working at Modern Fanatic, but there’s so much more to what he does. I was so impressed with everything he was doing and involved with at NYCC that I just had to catch up with him. I think you’ll enjoy what he has to say.

Question 1:

Ed Catto: What sort of comics and pop culture things did you like before you became part of the industry, and how deep into it were you?

Tyler Jennes: Well, I did go to Ithaca College as a film major, so I was definitely trying to watch as many movies as I possibly could. Besides that, I know I watched a hell of a lot of sitcoms when I was supposed to be doing work, so I can always talk shop about the Norman Lear and James L Brooks output! And I’d like to think I was pretty deep into the comic book scene before I was ever officially in the industry! I would go to NYCC annually and try to meet as many creators as I could (some of whom I now have the pleasure of working with!). But in terms of avidly following characters, there was a period of time where I’m pretty sure I had read every Deadpool title ever published. Now I try to keep myself caught up on all the hot new titles for work purposes!

Question 2:

EC: At Ithaca College, you were very involved with Ithacon (the nation’s second longest running comic con). Can you tell me a little bit about it?

TJ: Like you said, Ithacon has been around for a WHILE. I’m pretty sure it was even one of the first conventions that Frank Miller ever attended. It has a deep, rich history in the comic world, and what makes it even more special is that it’s now student-run! Of course, they still have the original organizers around to supervise things, but the convention is now hosted at the Ithaca College campus, and the student put together the whole thing, from handling guests to setting up events to running booths. I’d also like to add that you can find some amazing stuff at these booths. I vividly remember looking at used comic trades and coming across a Superman collection signed by Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Julie Schwartz, and John Byrne. The seller didn’t even realize what he had on his hands, so do you know how much I paid for that? Eight dollars.

Question 3:

EC: There’s a general consensus that many professionals have got to find their own way into the industry -there’s no set plan (unlike a classic profession like, say accounting). How did you get involved?

TJ: I was a junior poised to go off for a semester in LA and start the production assistant grind many film students go through when the pandemic kicked in. At the time, I was in the class for Ithacon, gearing up to put all our convention plans into motion. Obviously, the con wasn’t going to happen that year, so to make it up to us, our professor, the one and only Ed Catto, started having industry folks join the remote classes every week to talk about the biz. These were folks like Rob Salkowitz, Paul Levitz, and even Dan DiDio. But one of those guests was an IC alum, comic editor Will Dennis, who was involved with just about every title Vertigo put out. During the class I tried to make myself stand out by asking a bunch of inside baseball-type questions. He had also mentioned being overloaded with work recently and probably needing an assistant. So, I crossed my fingers and contacted him afterwards, and the rest is history. I started working on Scott [Snyder]’s stuff with Undiscovered Country, and after about a year, I fully hopped on the Best Jackett train and I’ve been running with those two guys ever since. Continue reading “With Further Ado #172: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Tyler Jennes”

With Further Ado #171: Come Fly With Me

With Further Ado #171: Come Fly With Me

I found this kooky little comic in a bargain bin at Ken Wheaton’s Empire Comic Fest last weekend. It’s a promotional comic for American Airlines, presumably given away to young kids to keep them busy during a plane ride.  This is the issue of Harvey’s AstroComics from 1975. Although sometimes they also spell it as Astro Comics.

I found it absolutely charming.

Despite the fact, that when you really think about it, one of the main characters is a dead child. I am not sure what Casper’s official origin story was at this point, or if he even had one.  But isn’t it kind of creepy to encourage a young kid (maybe it’s their first time on airplane) to read a story about a deceased little boy?

This promotional comic includes a team-up story with Richie Rich and Casper. I didn’t realize they shared adventures, but apparently they often did. In fact, Harvey published  a comic called Richie Rich & Casper that ran for 45 issues in the 70s. Kind of like Harvey’s very own version of World’s Finest Comics, I guess.

Of note: the team-up story is from Richie Rich & Casper #20, and most of the stories included are reprinted from past Harvey comics.

But Astro Comics #1 was designed to keep kids even busier with several innocuously fun American Airlines pages (i.e., corporate propaganda).  Things like a connect-the-dots activity page, a “Story of your Flight Attendant” text page, another text piece called “All about your Flight Crew” and an American Astro Comic Flight Quiz.  This quiz has questions like “Whose football team does Joe Namath play for?”*

The back cover might just be a milestone. I think it’s the very first Back Sketch Cover! Could it be? I do need to do a little more research before I wake up Overstreet’s J.C. Vaughn at 2:00 am with this amazing “find”.

But can you imagine if every kid on a plane got a free comic to read during their flight? Oh sure, they might rather play with their phone, but wow – what an introduction to comics that would be.

Hot Stuff

One more thing: I love this Hot Stuff cover!  One of my fellow faculty members, at Ithaca College’s School of Business has great memories of reading Hot Stuff comics. He’s not a “comics guy”, per se, but he got a few issues for his young son. I make it point to rescue any issues of Hot Stuff I find in bargain boxes at comic shops (like the excellent Heroes Your Mom Threw Out in Elmira or Wonderland Comics in Rochester) and pass it along to my co-worker. I recently grabbed a couple of issues with that in mind, but I love this cover so much I had to find a spot for it in my collection!


*The answer to this question ties into one of the American Airlines destinations, but you have to unscramble the answer.   It is listed as “weN rYko”.

With Further Ado #171: The Original Dracula is Back

With Further Ado #171: The Original Dracula is Back

The world changes quickly. It’s that time of year when Americans unite on the one thing they can all agree upon – to decry the early blitz of holiday marketing.  But it’s inevitable; Halloween gets swept away quickly and it’s Christmas time again – with just a passing nod to Thanksgiving.

But one holiday campaign, a celebration of that spooky stop motion classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas, reminds us that Halloween and Christmas “kind of” go together. Just like the way that Tokyo Pop and Cracker Barrell “kind of” go together with this wonky promotion. It turns out that Cracker Barrel will be distributing copies of a manga retelling of this story.

So, with all that in mind, I rationalize that its entirely appropriate to shine the spotlight, in a November column, on a new spooky book: Dracula: The Original Graphic Novel.

This one is the latest from Vanguard publishing, and it’s a beauty.  Dracula: The Original Graphic Novel is an impressive re-presentation of the 1966 Dracula Graphic novel by Otto Binder (with Russ Jones & Craig Tennis) and Alden McWilliams.

Publisher J. David Spurlock and Vanguard have done it again.  Dracula: The Original Graphic Novel presents this material in lovingly timeless fashion. Each illustration is big and bold, with plenty of room to marvel at the art. Too often, I find, when reading comic strips, I can buzz through them too quickly.  Keeping up with the story can take precedence over drinking in the artwork.

Thankfully, this book almost seems to whisper, “read it slowly” and “enjoy it thoroughly”. Continue reading “With Further Ado #171: The Original Dracula is Back”

With Further Ado #170 : Is Superman Jewish?

With Further Ado #170 : Is Superman Jewish?

In recent weeks, there was the hubbub about Superman’s sexuality that outraged, “Outraged”, I say,  much of the conservative media. Of course, the storyline they were focused on is how in recent comics, it has been revealed that Superman’s son is bisexual.

Editor’s note: See this article.

Somehow, trying to figure out if Superman is circumcised seems almost … pedestrian by comparison. But don’t let that fool you. Roy Schwartz’s new book, Superman is Circumcised?, published by McFarland, is an impressive work that is meant for hard-core, real-deal fans as well as the general public.

I’m reminded of the time when…

How the world has changed. Back when I was a kid, our family went to one of my dad’s college homecomings at Cornell.  Usually, the stop at the bookstore was an opportunity to buy Cornell swag, but I was perplexed and enthralled by one book on sale there. It was The Gospel According to Superman by John T. Galloway, Jr.  I had no idea who John T. Galloway, Jr was, but I could tell right away that the cover was illustrated by a “real” Superman artist – the legendary Murphy Anderson. Continue reading “With Further Ado #170 : Is Superman Jewish?”

With Further Ado #169: The Vast of Night

With Further Ado #169: The Vast of Night

Halloween is time for scary movies. That’s part of the fun. My utopian Halloween would consist of kids trick or treating, going to a killer (not literally) Halloween Party, and then settling in with a classic monster movie, preferably something from Hammer or Universal’s heyday.

And while we “meant” to watch a lot more movies during the recent Covid-19 lockdown times, we really didn’t, just a few here and there. I’m a little disappointed in myself, if I am to be honest with you.

Having shared that confession, it makes sense we missed The Vast of Night at first. I’m elated we finally stumbled across it. This is a brilliant indie film set in the 1950s at the pinnacle of the scary “Flying Saucer craze”.  It’s both creepy and gorgeous, a tribute to both small town Americana and the fears that bubble up from rural communities.

The heroes are an unlikely pair: a plucky teenager with a part time job, played by former Disney Channel actress Sierra McCormick, and a cool-cat radio DJ, played by Jake Horowitz. These two are actors to watch.

I’ve been learning about Rod Serling and enjoy teaching a bit about him.  Nick Parisi’s brilliant book, Rod Serling: His Life, Work and Imagination provided me with a such a rich background and dialing into Tom Elliot’s The Twilight Zone Podcast adds to my Serling knowledge.  Even so, I was really surprised to find that The Vast of Night takes place in a small town called Cayuga, New Mexico.  As you might know, Serling grew up and eventually returned to the Cayuga Lake area. He even taught classes at Ithaca College, far above Cayuga’s waters. Continue reading “With Further Ado #169: The Vast of Night”

With Further Ado #166: The Return of Conventions…?  (part 2) Wonder Con -Sort of

With Further Ado #166: The Return of Conventions…? (part 2) Wonder Con -Sort of

Last week I focused on the 2021 edition of New York Comic Con. As I’ve been reading and hearing everyone’s reactions (PW’s More to Come had a great podcast on it last week) it seems like most people were very happy and very impressed with the planning.

This past Saturday, I had my second convention in two weeks. It’s not really Wonder Con, the long-lived West Coast conference (I especially loved that one when it was in San Francisco), but a small comic con run by the team from Rochester’s Wonderland Comics. The folks behind Wonderland comics, the husband and wife team of Wayne and Carol, are great people – upbeat, forward-thinking retailers who really love comics.

Their positive attitudes are baked into this small convention. It’s all about the comics and collecting. They don’t focus on the media adaptations, celebrities, anime or cosplay here. In fact, they didn’t even have any comic professionals on site. It was just comics and comic-related collectibles.

And you know what? It was glorious!

There were long time fans and collectors, Central New York State’s finest comic exhibitors, and lots of families on site. Everyone was masked up without a fuss or protests.

A few highlights:

Money Was Changing Hands

At this stage, I tend to gravitate towards the bargain boxes to find lost treasures, but I was really struck by the vintage comics- so many 1950s books – that were selling for serious prices.  Kudos to those collectors and the sellers too.

Getting ready for ANOTHER One

Ken Wheaton was there – and he’s planning another Rochester based convention in November. It will have a little different vibe, as longtime pro Jim Shooter will be the Keynote Guest. Details for Empire Comic Fest are here.

A Treasure So Easy A Caveman Could Collect It

I rescued a few treasures at this con including issue #4 of Dell’s Naza. I never heard of this one before, but it did kind of strike a chord. As a kid, cavemen stories were a big deal.  It’s About Time was a kooky show we watched.  Dino Boy would adventure with Ugh the caveman in between Space Ghost adventures.  Movies and shows like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea always seemed to have caveman and dinosaur stories.  The cover, by Vic Prezio is a beauty, but the interior art by Jack Sparling disappointed me a bit (as it often does).

Two conventions in two weeks. SOOOO invigorating. Another sign of hope!

With Further Ado #167: The Return of Conventions…?  NYCC in 2021

With Further Ado #167: The Return of Conventions…? NYCC in 2021

Conventions and trade shows are great places to find your tribe and celebrate your passions or professions. But for the first hours of New York Comic Con, just held last weekend at NYC’s Javits Center, I felt a bit out of place. At first, it felt, to me, like going to your college campus about 5 years after you graduated. The vibe was a bit weird, and I was constantly comparing and contrasting the show floor to what was there in prior years.

The good news is that I quickly ‘got over myself’ and really enjoyed the convention. There were so many good things bubbling up, and it felt terrific to see so many old friends in person again. Given the realities of the world, there were more fist-bumps than bro-hugs, but it was still invigorating.

Here’s a few highlights and observations from New York Comic Con 2021:

Serious About Vaccinations

I wasn’t surprised, but still happy that ReedPop, the company that runs the convention, took vaccinations serioucospsly.  The area that they had staged outside the Javits had rows of tents and workers, so it was quick and easy to prove you had the vaccination and that you were who you said you were. I had downloaded the Clear app, as was suggested, and it all was seamless.

Inside the convention center, just about everyone had their masks on and the crowd size was such that we weren’t all on top of one another. Part of that was smaller number of attendees, and part of it was the new Javits North Building

The new Javits building makes it seem like a real convention center.

So many convention centers worldwide, and stateside are grand and gorgeous. I am sad to say that the Javits Convention Center hasn’t been that way for a very long time. The joke has always been that the Crystal Palace, the main entranceway, is inappropriately named.

The new Javits North Building is spacious and grand. It overlooks the Hudson River and even the top of the ‘regular’ Javits building.  The openness and long areas to walk between conference rooms will surely help spread out the future attendees – and offer lots of opportunities for Cosplayers to pose for photos.

AfterShock was #1

Without the bigger, more established publishers (Marvel, DC, Image) officially participating in the show, the biggest comics publisher on the floor was AfterShock Comics. They’re a great company (full disclosure- I have many friends there) just celebrating five years in business and 100 published comics series.  Word was that they had their best convention sales day ever – on the Thursday of NYCC.  Sounds like a rousing success.

Captain America Cosplay

It was invigorating to see the many Sam Wilson Captain America cosplays on the show floor. As you may recall – I’ve been a big fan of the many iterations of Captain America (here’s an old column). And it was even nicer to just yell out “Hey, Cap” and have that instant connection.

Excited for Crime

My Hidden Entrepreneurs / Crime Fiction panels had fans lining up an hour ahead of time. That really surprised me, if I am to be 100% candid and frank. This panel was all about how authors, and crime/thriller authors in particular, have to not only be good writers but be also strategic marketers. Their publishers don’t really do the marketing anymore.   I was encouraged by the fans that were hungry to talk crime fiction and by my Hidden Entrepreneurs – J.C. Vaughn  and Charles Ardai.

Artist’s Alley Was Where It Was At

Another result of absence of big publishers was that Artist’s Alley seemed so vibrant.  Anchored by ComiXology Original’s debut of Scott Snyder/Best Jacket comic line, there was plenty of the usual suspects (amazing artists like Billy Tucci, David Mack, Art Baltazar & Franco – just to name a few) and new up-and coming creatives.

The coolest part of Artist’s Alley – for me- was buying old comics from longtime pro and visionary Denis Kitchen. How many hundreds (thousands?) of times has he done that? And he always seems to be “on” and happy to be there. There’s a lesson there for all of us.

 

With Further Ado #166: Hidden Entrepreneurs In Publishing

With Further Ado #166: Hidden Entrepreneurs In Publishing

Beyond the creativity on the page, comic conventions are the place to find creativity in business. The best conventions have almost become pop culture incubators, inspiring people to make something happen.

With that in mind, I wanted to give you a preview of a panel I’ll be moderating at New York Comic Con this year. It’s called Beaten to a Pulp: Publishing Entrepreneurs in Today’s Crime Fiction.

Today’s authors have become Hidden Entrepreneurs, actively finding, developing and managing new ways to reach and connect with audiences. The industry realizes that the days of fiction writers just turning in a completed manuscript and sitting back while the publisher markets the book are long gone. In this panel, J. C. Vaughn (Second Wednesday, McCandless & Co.) and Charles Ardai (entrepreneurial publisher of Hard Case Crime) will be revealing, and debating, the best ways to build audiences in their chosen niche.

I contend these panelists are “Hidden Entrepreneurs”, i.e., non-traditional entrepreneurs. I’m fascinated by this topic. In fact, this is the focus of one of my courses at Ithaca College’s School of Business, where I am an instructor on entrepreneurism and start-ups.

(And hey, good news : Entrepreneurism & Innovation is now a minor at Ithaca College.)

The Beaten to a Pulp panel is part of Reed Expo’s New York Comic Con this October 7 -10th. More details are available at www.newyorkcomiccon.com.

Here’s the official write-up:

11:15 – 12:15 Friday October 8, 2021

Beaten to a Pulp: Publishing Entrepreneurs in Today’s Crime Fiction

The days of fiction writers just turning in a completed manuscript and sitting back while the publisher markets the book are look are long gone. Today’s authors have become Hidden Entrepreneurs, actively finding, developing and managing new ways to reach and connect with audiences. Authors Alex Segura (Miami Midnight, Poe Dameron: Free Fall), J. C. Vaughn (Second Wednesday, McCandless & Co.) and Charles Ardai (Hard Case Crime) will be revealing, and debating, the best ways to build audiences in their chosen niche – crime fiction. Moderated by Ithaca College’s Ed Catto.

Hope to see you there!

 


*NOTE: Unfortunately, Alex Segura had to cancel his appearance at NYCC. His presence will be missed.

With Further Ado #165: They’ve Got It Covered

With Further Ado #165: They’ve Got It Covered

I wanted to make a joke about when it is appropriate to judge a book by it’s cover, but then I realized IDW’s solicitation copy for the brilliant new book The Art of Pulp Fiction; An Illustrated History of Vintage Paperback already used that gag.

This brilliant volume, by Ed Hulse, seems like it’s another one in the recent Pulp art series of books, but instead focuses on the stepchild of the pulps – paperbacks.  There’s 240 pages crammed with brilliant covers, and preliminary sketches for covers that instead of satiating fans lust for paperback art, just leaves the reader panting for more.

Here’s a part of the official description:

The mid-20th century saw paperbacks eclipse cheap pulp magazines and expensive clothbound books as the most popular delivery vehicle for escapist fiction. To catch the eyes of potential buyers they were adorned with covers that were invariably vibrant, frequently garish, and occasionally lurid. Today the early paperbacks–like the earlier pulps, inexpensively produced and considered disposable by casual readers–are treasured collector’s items.

Award-winning editor Ed Hulse (The Art of the Pulps and The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction) comprehensively covers the pulp fiction paperback’s heyday. Hulse writes the individual chapter introductions and the captions, while a team of genre specialists and art aficionados contribute the special features included in each chapter, which focus on particularly important authors, artists, publishers, and sub-genres.

Illustrated with more than 500 memorable covers and original cover paintings. Hulse’s extensive captions, meanwhile, offer a running commentary on this significant genre, and also contain many obscure but entertaining factoids. Images used in The Art of Pulp Fiction have been sourced from the largest American paperback collections in private hands, and have been curated with rarity in mind, as well as graphic appeal. Consequently, many covers are reproduced here for the first time since the books were first issued.

These brilliant covers, neatly divided by genre and timeframe, serve as much as an invitation to the stories, as they do as stand-alone testaments to the time long gone by.

They are more than just invitations to adventure, but kind of like windows into the very best that cheap fiction has to offer.

There’s a chapter for everyone too. I really enjoyed the chapter on the pulp hero revival. Hulse recruited Will Murray for this section, and in addition to showcasing paperback covers of Doc Savage and Shadow, rare stuff, like cover to Operator #5, The Phantom Detective and the preliminary images for that old Spider reboot are included. What a treat!

Is it wrong to collect paperbacks and not read them? I struggle with this ethical issue. I don’t need another thing to collect, but every once in a while I will snag a paperback with an engaging cover.

The book celebrates that guilty pleasure – without the guilt.


More information is available here.

 

Available now.


The Art of Pulp Fiction; An Illustrated History of Vintage Paperback
Diamond Code : APR210623
ISBN: 978-1-68405-799-3
By Ed Hulse
Introduction by Richard A. Lupoff
Various essays included by Will Murray, etc.
IDW Publishing
240 pp Full Color

 

With Further Ado #164: Thanks Heavens for My Commute

With Further Ado #164: Thanks Heavens for My Commute

One of the nice things about a driving commute is the opportunity to sit back, let your mind wander and enjoy something that sounds fantastic. I’ve got a bit of a commute these days. But to be fair, it’ nothing like I used to have going into the NYC from the ‘burbs every day.

I was looking forward to listening to a new podcast on my way into work. Batman: The Audio Adventures had a cool logo and seemed to signal that it would be a cool thing for an old-time radio/old movie fan, like myself, to enjoy on the morning ride. I gave it a try but only listened to about 3 minutes of it.

Ugh!  It’s awful.

Here’s what Rich Johnston had to say about it on the on long-running Bleeding Cool site:

Batman: The Audio Adventures is a new audio drama podcast produced by HBOMax, the first American-made Batman audio drama serial since the 1940s. What they didn’t tell us was that the series is what you get if Saturday Night Live made a Batman radio show. The publicity for Batman: The Audio Adventures mentioned that the show takes a comedic approach to Batman. Just about every trope in the Batman mythos is here – the supervillains, the Batmobile, Commissioner Gordon, Gotham City as a major character – but given a heightened, slightly campy, comedic twist.

What a shame and what a weird product. I thought we, as a society (albeit one obsessed with media) had given up on the silly, overused, poke-fun-at-the-super-hero style of comedy. To me, this show was stupid, misguided and goofy.  But hey, I know that I’m not the target. Maybe it’s aiming for the same kind of fans who love Star Trek: Lower Decks.

Instead, might I suggest two other radio drama programs disguising themselves as podcasts? And one “forgotten treat”? (Click on the images to find the podcasts and how to listen.)

The EC Vault of Horror Podcast is a lot of fun.  It’s the audio version of the old EC comics  with a little updating and tweaking.  When I think of EC, I tend to think of my old favorite EC artists, so I wasn’t sure I would like this one. Turns out it’s a riot. Certainly worth a try.

The Frozen Frights Podcast is extremely well done.  It actually owes a lot to that old 1950s style of horror comics – but like the EC Horror Podcasts, this one is updated and slick, so it appeals to both older and younger fans.  A creepy good time is waiting for you…if you dare!

Rod Serling’s Zero Hour was one of his last projects. It’s from the early 70s, long after the Golden Age of Radio had ended. But this was on last try to recapture that lightning in a bottle. Serling worked with Elliot Lewis, a giant of old time radio, and some of the top TV stars of the day – folks like William Shatner, Bob Crane and Lee Meriwether.  If you love The Twilight Zone, you’ll like this. Maybe not love it, but definitely like it.

Who needs a hackneyed, bloated Batman radio show? Sure, I’ve been waiting for a cool Batman radio show for a long time.  But it’s easy not miss something like that when there’s so many other OTR-ish things to listen to!

 


*Thanks to Yamu Walsh for turning me onto these awesome podcasts in the first place.