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Pop Culture Squad’s Another Smart Marc Wrestling Podcast Episode #001: The 2023 Royal Rumble.

Pop Culture Squad’s Another Smart Marc Wrestling Podcast Episode #001: The 2023 Royal Rumble.

Another Smart Marc Wrestling Podcast is Pop Culture Squad’s corner in the squared circle. Join Marc Alan Fishman and his special guests as they discuss the best of WWE and AEW. From gauntlets down to squash matches, Marc and his friends who leave no holds barred.

Episode #001: The 2023 Royal Rumble

Join Marc Alan Fishman and his special guest Kayfabe Brewing’s Ed Bove for an in depth analysis of the 2023 Royal Rumble!

Marc brings his hot takes on WWE — proclaiming the show to be a bit “homogenous” for his taste. Ed, a longtime WWE fan, comes to run the milk truck hose to Marc’s spice. Be sure to keep both feet off the floor for this first episode of Pop Culture Squad’s “Another Smart Marc” Wrestling Podcast!

Brainiac On Banjo: The ComiXology Kamikaze

Brainiac On Banjo: The ComiXology Kamikaze

When I look over my shoulder, what do you think I see? Some other cat looking over his shoulder at me. And he’s strange, sure is strange. – Donovan Leitch, “Season of the Witch.”

When it comes to the digital world, sometimes all those zeroes and ones just don’t add up. Let’s look at ComiXology, what I once considered to be a genuine revolutionary force in the medium.

In the history of paper publishing going all the way back to papyrus, it’s often been a crappy way to make a living. Oh, sure, some folks have been enormously successful, but on the same hand some folks win the lottery. Expenses are high and nobody knows what the market wants. Paper is getting hard to find (soon we will have to make a choice between having paper and having oxygen and trees), and places to buy the finished product have run thin. “Book browsing” and impulse purchases have become 21st Century rotary dial telephones.

We needed an alternative way to get comics. In 1981, Marvel Comics published Dazzler #1 and made it available only to the then-growing number of dedicated comic book stores, and that showed us there just might be life after the newsstands and candy shops. To make a long story short, around that same time I turned to theatrical producer Rick Obadiah and said “hey, you know, we could do this.” And that’s the shortest origin story for First Comics ever told.

Things went pretty well until the overwhelming number of distributors bellied up after exclusive distribution deals kicked in. As those distributors were coughing up blood, the “smaller publishers” (meaning just about everybody except Marvel and DC) started getting paid late, if at all. Again, I’m making a very long story short. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: The ComiXology Kamikaze”

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Tony Fleecs and Tim Seeley about Their Upcoming Book Local Man

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Tony Fleecs and Tim Seeley about Their Upcoming Book Local Man

In the latest episode of the Pop Culture SquadCast we sat down with a pair accomplished comic creators and talked about the book that they are creating together.

Both Tim Seeley and Tony Fleecs are known for creating excellent and inventive comics over the past couple of decades, and this one is off to a great start.

The two cartoonists are creating a book called Local Man that focuses on a superhero who is at a low point in his life and has to go back to his hometown and solve crimes without using his super powers.

Local Man is being published by Image Comics and issue one comes out next month.

We spent some time in our conversation talking about the interesting way that Seeley and Fleecs have worked together to create this comic. Since both have been writers and artists and letterers on comics, they are able to divide up the work in creative ways.

We also talked about their take on the state of the comic industry and what being and independent creator means today.

We hope you enjoy the conversation.


Pop Culture Squad: Let’s start off with Local Man. How fun is making this book?

Tony Fleecs

Tony Fleecs: It’s pretty great. Like, I’ve done a lot of collaborating and Tim’s done a lot of collaborating and co-writing and working with people, and it’s always fun working with somebody who’s also
a writer/artist because it’s sort of like both of us. We both do things differently, but we both can sort of do the, the whole thing, which is neat. I can send something to Tim and just be like, “Can you draw on this? Or can you fix this writing or whatever?” Continue reading “Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Tony Fleecs and Tim Seeley about Their Upcoming Book Local Man”

With Further Ado #233: Cheesy, Cheap & Charming – The Silver Surfer in a 1962 Charlton Comic

With Further Ado #233: Cheesy, Cheap & Charming – The Silver Surfer in a 1962 Charlton Comic

I recently rescued another treasure from a bargain box. It is Space Adventures #44 (Feb. 1962). It’s published by Charlton Comics. They always seemed to be a B-level (at best) publisher, but that doesn’t mean that some of my very favorite comics weren’t published by Charlton. In many ways, this issue is typical of Charlton – cheesy, cheap and charming!

(I’m really looking forward to reading Charlton Companion by Jon B. Cooke, in fact. Cooke is an outstanding historian and author. You can never go wrong reading anything he writes.)

Judging a Book by Its Cover

The cover copy above the logo proclaims that this issue of Space Adventures is “New! Different!”, but that might be an overstatement. From the vantage point of 60 years later, it almost seems like it should be magically changed to read “Nostalgic! Predictable!”

The cover features repurposed artwork from two interior stories. The heroic figure, “The Mercury Man” is miscolored, unfortunately. Come to think of it, the scary looking aliens are miscolored too. Continue reading “With Further Ado #233: Cheesy, Cheap & Charming – The Silver Surfer in a 1962 Charlton Comic”

Preview Review for the Week of 1/18/2023: Barbaric – Hell to Pay #1

Preview Review for the Week of 1/18/2023: Barbaric – Hell to Pay #1

Welcome to the latest installment of Preview Reviews.

This week we have a great book for you. We were able to review Barbaric: Hell to Pay #1 from Vault Comics.

You can find this book at your LCS or wherever you buy books on January 18, 2023.

Also the rest of the #NewNumberOnes for January are here.


Barbaric: Hell to Pay #1
Vault Comics
Written by Michael Moreci
Art by Nathan Gooden
Colors by Addison Duke
Letters by Jim Campbell
Cover Art by Gooden & Duke

Original Solicitation: 

Barbaric is back and headed straight to hell in an all-new arc so big and bloody, it’s getting an extra issue!

While Owen tames a dragon with an old friend, Soren and Steel cross paths with someone else from our cursed barbarian’s past…who isn’t looking nearly as friendly. Hell hath no fury like a woman stabbed through the heart by an ugly f***ing orc.

Oh, wait! Who’s carrying Axe?

PCS Review:

Hell Yeah! The Axe is Back! Listen, we love this property. This is the start of the third main arc. I think there were a couple of one-shots thrown in. If all out carnage and mayhem are things you enjoy, you will love this book. If humanity and exploring the meaning of regret, companionship, and honor are what you like to see in comics, this is the book for you.

Michael Moreci, Nathan Gooden, et al. have crafted a crazy story about a barbarous axe and the beings that surround it that just brings all kinds of emotions with it. This latest issue jumps the protagonists a few steps from where the last arc ended and ups the ante in terms of the peril that they find themselves in.

Nathan Gooden and Addison Duke work some masterful images to evoke strong emotional beats while also bringing the gore. Gooden’s panel layouts are particularly interesting and important to the flow of the story. Jim Campbell has been slaying on Barbaric from the start and keeps the high quality lettering coming in this issue.

If you are looking for a fun comic that will subtly draw you in emotionally, don’t miss this book.

 

 

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #079: “Dear Dwayne”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #079: “Dear Dwayne”

Dear Dwayne,

I know you prefer to be called by your full moniker,  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but I want to speak to the person behind that particular mask. Put the eyebrow down. Send your posse on a 20 minute break. Place your phone on airplane mode, and place it face down on the table in front of us. It’s just you, me, and the millions (AND MILLIONS) of my fans reading this. Cool? Cool. 

You need to stop it. Seriously. C’mon, man. You know what I’m talking about. Really? You’re going to make me say it out loud? Fine.

“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

We loved when you dabbled your toe into acting. That turn as your own father in That 70’s Show? Great. Playing an alien version of yourself in Star Trek: Voyager? Uhhh… let’s come back to that.. And hey… your first trip to Saturday Night Live? Pitch perfect. Seriously. Better than any “sports stars” they featured prior. You then took the summers off in 2000 so you could become the Scorpion King (which, I assume was why you were on SNL). Like many fans… I actually went to the theater to catch your first starring role. Because it would either be good, or we’d have something to replace that one flick where Hulk Hogan made a dude crap himself.

And hey. It was fine. 20 something years later? I can’t recall a single scene, line of dialogue, or action sequence. But I do recall you fighting the late Michael Clark Duncan, and thinking it was cool. 

After that? I really want to commend you. You started taking interesting roles. Get Shorty. The Rundown. Walking Tall. Southland Tales. Were you “generic badass tough guy” in most of them? Sure. But the scripts were smart. And because of it, you looked smart. Not just catchphrases and stuntman body slams. Versus previous wrestler-turned-actors — Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Jesse Venture — you seemed to have more depth, better comedic timing, and pathos (when called for).  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #079: “Dear Dwayne””

Brainiac On Banjo: Streaming Ahoy!

Brainiac On Banjo: Streaming Ahoy!

The reading today is from the book of Punter, Chapter 9, Verse 17: “All we have to fear, is me.” – Firesign Theater

Presuming climate change doesn’t do us in first, Americans are about a decade way from abandoning the concept of the continuous media vehicle. In English, that means the idea of television (and radio before 1962) had lengthy “seasons” and, if successful, would return for a following season.

Of course, this was well before streaming became a thing.

Unlike the rest of magazine publishing, the comic book medium also was a continuous media vehicle: numbering was consecutive and rarely split into “volumes” of, say, twelve monthly numbers per year. Nobody cares what consecutive issue numbers were applied to Time Magazine in August 1975, but if you ask the issue number for the X-Men cover-dated that same month there are enough comic book enthusiasts who know the answer to that – #94, for those who came in late – to fill Yankee Stadium. At least the #94 that was in use in August, 1975. Around that time, the late, legendary comics retailer Joe Sarno pointed out in an interview if you put consecutive numbering on something, some people are going to collect it. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Streaming Ahoy!”

Rapid Reviews for the Week of 1/11/2023

Rapid Reviews for the Week of 1/11/2023

Welcome to our first Rapid Reviews column of 2023.

This week we have a bunch of middle issues to discuss. While we did include one New Number One and one concluding issue, the middle issues of comic arcs and series are often overlooked.  These books are really well done and definitely belong in your pull list.

Our reviews are spoiler free and focus on the positive aspects of comic storytelling in each issue. You can find all of these books at your Local Comic Shop now or wherever you get your comics.


All Against All #2
Image Comics
Written by Alex Paknadel
Art by Caspar Wijngaard
Colors by Wijngaard
Letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover Art by Wijngaard

The first issue of this comic was excellent. This second issue is better. The sides of the conflict that is rapidly escalating are clearly delineated in this issue. The defining feeling of this issue is the anxiety of the primary narrator B’Tay. Paknadel, Wijngaard, and Otsmane-Elhaou all combine to use their extensive skills to pass that uneasiness and anticipation on to the reader with this extraordinarily tense comic. It is beautiful, terrifying, and sad all at once. This book is a must pull.


Billionaire Island: Cult of Dogs #3
Ahoy Comics
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Steve Pugh
Colors by Chris Chuckry
Letters by Rob Steen
Cover Art by Pugh

This is a thoroughly entertaining comic. There are two complementary stories on display, and the techniques used to tell them clearly and effectively are brilliantly executed by Russell and Pugh. The rising tension in the main story has this reader completely engaged in this series. Pugh does wonderful job with high quality visual storytelling and Russell’s socio-economic commentary finds its customary place behind a thin veil in a post-apocalyptic storyline. Well done all around. Continue reading “Rapid Reviews for the Week of 1/11/2023”

With Further Ado #232: Ms. Tree – Success Is No Mystery

With Further Ado #232: Ms. Tree – Success Is No Mystery

I never grew out of Superheroes, but I did grow into detective fiction. I’m not sure when it was (maybe middle school?), but mysteries and detective stories were my favorite literary genre. And while I’ve always been all in on comics, there was never an overwhelming amount of traditional detective/mystery/private eye comics.

Oh, there were a few that pulled me in, and I enjoyed them all. I particularly remember Mike W. Barr’s Maze Agency, Jonni Thunder and those Jason Bard back-up stories in (appropriately) Detective Comics. And the long running Ms. Tree was also always a favorite.

This character, and series, were created by two folks who would become favorites of mine. Max Allan Collins is a Mystery Writers of America 2017 Grand Master ‘Edgar’ winner, although I knew him better as the Dick Tracy writer and the guy behind the Nate Heller novels. Terry Beatty is a fantastic artist and today many folks know him as the inker of the Eisner Award-Winning Batman and Robin Adventures series and the World’s Finest graphic novel. Continue reading “With Further Ado #232: Ms. Tree – Success Is No Mystery”

Spotlight Squadcast Interview with Michael Nathanson

Spotlight Squadcast Interview with Michael Nathanson

We are roaring back into the new year with more exclusive Pop Culture Squadcast interviews. This latest episode was recorded last month while we were at LA Comic Con. The folks there were able to connect us with this opportunity for an exclusive one-on-one interview.

Actor Michael Nathanson has recently launched a unique and interesting podcast called Playing Dead, and he was gracious enough to spend some time with us talking about the project. We discussed the origins of the concept and some of the interesting things he learned through the process.

The concept for this podcast is that Nathanson, who played Sam Stein in Marvel’s The Punisher on Netflix, spends time talking to actors and other film professionals about the experience and mechanics of dying on-screen. It is a great concept, and the interviews are extremely well crafted and executed.

Nathanson is a very talented actor who has been in dozens of roles in TV and Film. In addition to his main cast role on Season 1 of The Punisher, he was also a major part of the Cinemax series The Knick as Dr. Levi Zinberg. He has appeared in films such as Young Adult, Side Effects, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Our conversation, while focusing on Playing Dead, also veered into the realm of Geekdom. Nathanson grew up reading comic books and loving sci-fi. We nerded out a little bit, and I hope you enjoy the conversation. Continue reading “Spotlight Squadcast Interview with Michael Nathanson”