Category: With Further Ado

With Further Ado #077: Descendent by Stephanie Phillips and Bornyakov

With Further Ado #077: Descendent by Stephanie Phillips and Bornyakov

Aftershock is on a roll. They are publishing so many top-notch series.  While there’s no uniform house style or shared universe, they have definitely carved out their own niche. Aftershock titles tend to be a little more adult, a little more edgy. There’s a thriller aspect to many of the series, often mixed in with a sense of dread and of foreboding.

I just read a Ray Bradbury short story, The Playground, this weekend. It had been years since I read Bradbury, and I kind of forgot how much I enjoyed his work.  It’s a bit of a stretch, but one could argue that many of the Aftershock series have Bradbury baked into their DNA.

Descendent by Stephanie Phillips is another winner, but I might argue it owes more to Brad Meltzer than to Bradbury.  Comics fans might remember him from his DC work on Identity Crisis a few years ago, but the rest of the world knows him as a thriller author.  My favorite books of his entwine a mix of political intrigue and unsolved mysteries.

(There’s a bit of Harlan Coben in this comic too -and that’s high praise indeed from me. I think Coben is just fantastic.)

Descendent tells of a sinister conspiracy, dating back to the Lindbergh kidnapping, and then reveals a tale that is even creepier and more complicated.  The gradual peeling of the onion follows the characters  as they get in deeper and deeper. And as the reader, we’re always either just one step ahead or one step behind.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #077: Descendent by Stephanie Phillips and Bornyakov”

With Further Ado #076: Comics in Vogue – Literally

With Further Ado #076: Comics in Vogue – Literally

It’s so nice to see some comics popping up in unusual places.

The Italian edition of the fashion magazine, Vogue, features the work of a comic artist on its latest cover instead of the traditional photograph of a model or celebrity.  This January they have several variant covers, and one features a wonderful Milo Manara illustration. (Don’t worry, it’s G-rated.)

Milo Manara may be better known overseas than domestically, but he’s still a giant in the comics industry. Many of his works are a bit risqué for most Americans, but there’s no denying that he’s a fantastic illustrator and excels at drawing beautiful women.  This cover is another stunner.  Kudos to Vogue for also giving credit to his model, Olivia Vinton.

One could argue that Vogue borrowed this idea from Marvel, as they featured several Manara covers a few years ago. Infamously, his Spider-Woman cover was deemed too provocative by some folks.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #076: Comics in Vogue – Literally”

With Further Ado #075: Wake Up!

With Further Ado #075: Wake Up!

How’d it all go last night? Did you dance and party your brains out at the greatest event of the year? I hope there was a passionate midnight kiss involved.   Or are you one of those folks who leaves “Amateur Night” to others and got cozy on your couch watching episodes of The Twilight Zone?  I’m not judgey – both plans sound  pretty great to me.

Either way, you probably need a little coffee to get going today, and that’s the focus of this week’s column.

Death Wish Coffee Co. is a small business from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., one of my favorite places in the world. Founder Mike Brown has been on a mission to create the world’s strongest coffee and to fuel coffee drinkers not only each morning, but wherever they go. You might think that the coffee market is oversaturated, or dominated by big companies. It might seem like there’s no room for new ideas, but this is innovative company has been rocking it.  When they won Intuit’s “Small Business Big Game” competition in 2015, they were awarded a 30 second spot on the SuperBowl.

Brown and his team make a solid product with pride and strong ethics, and obviously have fun along the way.  In my classes, I teach college students how magical things happen at the intersection of entrepreneurism and creativity. And that’s the case here.

By Odin, ‘tis Glorious!

One of the things Death Wish Coffee did was create a comic book. It’s called Odinforce and now it’s become a series. Deathwish is just about to publish the third issue!  Continue reading “With Further Ado #075: Wake Up!”

With Further Ado #074: Christmas Comics

With Further Ado #074: Christmas Comics

Merry Christmas!  The big day, second only to the Superbowl for marketing executives, has finally arrived. 

Last night I read comic. And you might think, “there’s nothing particularly remarkable about that, Ed”.  You’d usually be right, but I’ve been reading this one for almost 50 years!

And I’m not sure if that length of time deserves a Tempus fugit, a “yikes” or a just a “Gulp!”.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #074: Christmas Comics”

With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season

With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season

Forget Rudolph, the Grinch and Frosty. I’m not here to talk about it It’s A Wonderful Life  or Hallmark Channel movies (even though my daughter-in-law loves them). Today I want to focus on Christmas Commercials.

It’s been a good yuletide season for ads. Although I’ve yet to see the famous Santa-on-a-Norelco-shaver spot (one of my all-time favorites), there’s been some engaging TV spots. Oh sure, they are all  promoting crass commercialism when we’re all really supposed to be thinking about peace, brotherhood and one very important baby born in a barn, but let’s focus on creativity, entrepreneurism and providing more than a few jobs. 

The Peloton TV spot got all the buzz for all the wrong reasons. This year they stepped in it with an ad that suggesting a rich guy demands his perfectly beautiful wife to continuously workout to maintain her perfectly physique. The stock stumbled for a bit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Peloton has fantastic end of year sales.

Or was it all a sneaky plot? At the end of the day, Peloton is a brand that found a way to successfully sell a piece of fitness equipment  at a super-expensive price – despite the fact that this particular piece of fitness equipment exists in abundance on Planet Earth.   Continue reading “With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season”

With Further Ado #072: The Unrelenting Coolness of Dean Haspiel and Red Hook

With Further Ado #072: The Unrelenting Coolness of Dean Haspiel and Red Hook

Dean Haspiel is a certain kind of artist. When you read his work, you can’t help but like what he’s doing.  And then the more you learn about him, you can’t help but admire who he is, what he’s doing and why he’s doing it.  It’s inevitable that you want to learn more about his focus and his work. 

There’s no denying that he’s a cool cat. That’s part of it, but only part. He’s also a passionate believer. He’s the type of guy that’s fighting the good fight.  It’s easy to picture him getting into arena each day, doing his best, and then repeating that the very next day.  His purposeful work ethic and big dreams shine through every page of his work.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #072: The Unrelenting Coolness of Dean Haspiel and Red Hook”

With Further Ado #071: Rescued from the Bargain Box

With Further Ado #071: Rescued from the Bargain Box

Bargain Boxes! I love them!

My mom was quite the shopper. She’d always come home from the stores and provide a detailed account of the amazing price she paid for each and every item, detailing the sales she’d find and the arcane combinations of coupons she’d use. Looking back, I think she just wanted to my dad to say, at the conclusion of her sales presentations, “Gee Cassie, you convinced me – you couldn’t afford to not buy it!”

There is great love between the two of the them, and anything she wanted to do was just fine with my dad.

I think (worry?) I inherited some of this discount mania from my Mom.  And one way it translates is with Comic Shop Bargain Boxes.

In some ways, the jury is out on these boxes. Some stores don’t like them. One of my favorite shops, The Joker’s Child in Fairlawn, NJ has never had them, subscribing to the notion that they devalue the new, full-priced product that’s on sale.  Other stores, like Comics For Collectors, in Ithaca, NY, always has a few bargain boxes ( 5 comics for a dollar).  For them, it’s a great way to blow through old inventory, and provide an occasional treasure that adds to a customer’s in-store experience.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #071: Rescued from the Bargain Box”

With Further Ado #070: 2019 Yuletide Gift Guide

With Further Ado #070: 2019 Yuletide Gift Guide

It’s been a busy year and it’s time to either (a) help spread the word or (b) reward yourself for getting through another year.  And either way, my Annual Yuletide Gift Guide  is here to help. Here’s a few ideas for you to chew on, after you’ve chewed on your turkey.

 

BATMAN: THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF THE DARK KNIGHT IN COMICS, FILM AND BEYOND

By Andrew Farago and Gina McIntyre

Insight Editions

This is the type of the book that you start in the morning, and when you look up again it’s bedtime.  This lovingly thorough history of Batman touches all the bases, provides new information and is loaded with goodies.  I must admit it’s a thrill, for example, to be reading about the Batmobile from 1950s comics, and then to fold-out a set of Batmobile blueprints.

$75.00 • 400 pp. • hardcover  • ISBN-10: 1683834372

 

A MARVELOUS LIFE: THE AMAZING STORY OF STAN LEE

by Danny Fingeroth

This one might be the comic-lovers go-to gift for the 2019 season.  Danny Fingeroth takes readers on a deep dive into Stan’s life, stuffing this book with balanced analysis and long-lost stories. It’s a page turner and there’s something for everyone inside.

$29.99 400 pp. • Hardcover  • ISBN-10: 1250133904

 

 

 

Continue reading “With Further Ado #070: 2019 Yuletide Gift Guide”

With Further Ado #069: The Forgotten All-Star

With Further Ado #069: The Forgotten All-Star

I’ve been reading stories by Gardner Fox all my life. And thoroughly enjoying them. His “upstanding citizen” version of iconic heroes may have, in some ways, fallen out favor today. But to so many fans, his work is the bedrock upon which superhero comics are built upon. Upon reflection, his version of herodom may also be what other comic innovators pivoted from.  For example, Marvel introduced flawed heroes with human shortcomings as an alternative to the Gardner Fox style of heroes. Indy heroes of the 80s introduced non-traditional protagonists as something new. Even DC comics, where Gardner Fox did so much of his writing, would, by the 80s, showcase heroes with dark histories or motivations, in stark contrast to their Golden Age and Silver Age heroes. 

I loved his stories. I loved his heroes and his twisty plots. His scientific explanations and extrapolations always made me think that much harder. And in the worlds that Gardner Fox created, friendships really meant something.

But I didn’t know much about Gardner Fox himself. I was enthralled when John Siuntres, in his excellent Word Balloon Podcast, interviewed Jennifer DeRoss  who just wrote the biography of Gardner Fox.  Forgotten All-Star: A Biography of Gardner Fox is a winner, and I had to reach out to the author.  Here’s what she had to say:

Ed Catto : I understand you had a family member who was very pro-comics when you were growing up. What’s the whole story behind that?

Jennifer DeRoss: Many people in my family read comics, but my grandmother was my biggest   literacy advocate. She is primarily a fan of the Sunday Funnies and would even clip out the strips she thought I would enjoy and mail them to me because I lived outside of any newspaper circulation areas. Garfield has always been her favorite and she still has quite the collection of Garfield related merchandise. She is also fond of Silver Age DC and when I took an interest in the superhero genre, she was more than happy to support that love.

My grandma would buy me comics right alongside her soap opera magazines every time we went grocery shopping together. She also exposed me to some of the older superhero cartoons, although she would eventually regret that a little after I began obsessively watching the Aquaman VHS every day.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #069: The Forgotten All-Star”

With Further Ado #068: Stan the Man by Dan the Man

With Further Ado #068: Stan the Man by Dan the Man

I’ve had a problem with the recent biographies I’ve read. They have left me feeling a depressed. I understand that we’re all just people, and no one is perfect.   

But, after reading Zoglin’s Bob Hope Biography, I was really bummed out by Hope’s infidelity, and the disastrous results it had on the lives of some his girlfriends.    Jay Jones’s insights into the life of Dr. Seuss in Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination, were fascinating, especially when viewing his creative output through the lens of entrepreneurism. But again, I had a sourness left in my mouth as I learned about the ending of Geisel’s first marriage. Florent Silloray’s Frank Capa: A Graphic Biography left me confused about the paths taken by a man with such a great creative talent.

So, you can understand how I was I was especially worried as I jumped into Danny Fingeroth’s A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee, fearful this biography too might be a downer.

The stakes were, in fact, high for this book. Sometimes it seems like there are two extremes for comics (or Marvel) fans. There are those that hold Stan Lee in the highest regard for his incredible creations.  On the other hand, there are those that hold him in great contempt as a privileged, boastful promoter who ended up wealthy while so many of his collaborators were not able to benefit from their creativity and hard work.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #068: Stan the Man by Dan the Man”