Beat JENeration #022: Tidying up was never so goddamn cute

Beat JENeration #022: Tidying up was never so goddamn cute

I am not a joiner and as such generally am too detached (lazy) to suffer FOMO. This is why you will not find me participating in the latest shit collectively stirred up on the internet. Birdbox…yeah, even as a devoted Sandra Bullock fan, I’m sitting this one out. Gillette Toxic Masculinity ad…haven’t seen it.

I am also not what you’d call a tidy person. I don’t love my clutter, but I learned to live within it. Though, occasionally, I have been known to make a half-hearted stab at improving my surroundings. There were a couple years were I went full-on Fly Lady for up to at least a month at a time. But generally, as long as I move house every decade and quarterly need to ransack my desk or nightstand for an important document, gift card, passport, or some other misplaced suddenly important item, I will keep myself out of contention for hoarders.

You know where I’m going with this, right? Tidying up with Marie Kondo Continue reading “Beat JENeration #022: Tidying up was never so goddamn cute”

Brainiac On Banjo #022: Life, Hope, and Funny Books, by Mike Gold

Brainiac On Banjo #022: Life, Hope, and Funny Books, by Mike Gold

Batton

I am reminded of a conversation I had with Batton Lash several years ago. We were at one of those massive comics conventions – after 51 years they now all blur together into one unending conflation of backpacks, unpassable aisles, and excessive body heat. As you may know, Batton died this weekend and our obituary speaks for itself.

That conversation probably started out with several insulting but vaguely clever comments and then went on to my trying to get him to do another Munden’s Bar story. That’s me as an editor on autopilot: I see great talent and I think of it as a piece of birthday cake. But there’s at least one difference between people and birthday cake – the former might engage me in conversation. And, of course, that’s one of the great pleasures of my job. I prefer the sugar buzz from conversation.

Harvey

Somehow our discussion evolved into my desire to do a contemporary funny book, by which I really mean “funny.” In a medium that calls itself “comic” but is largely full of violent conflict, I feel the need to be specific. Anyway, the challenge is to create a project worthy of the 21st century reader’s time but without any obvious nod to Harvey Kurtzman and Mad Comics.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #022: Life, Hope, and Funny Books, by Mike Gold”

Batton Lash, 1953 – 2019

Batton Lash, 1953 – 2019

Writer / artist Batton Lash died Saturday of complications from a “very aggressive” form of brain cancer. Whereas he was fighting the disease for several years, according to his widow Jackie Estrada it recurred two months ago.

A one-time assistant to Howard Chaykin, the Brooklyn native was a graduate of the School of Visual Arts, where he learned his craft from teachers that included Will Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman. He created Wolff & Byrd – Counselors of the Macabre in 1979 where it ran in The Brooklyn Paper as well as in The National Law Journal. From there Wolff & Byrd appeared in a wide variety of comics, including a rather stellar story in the Munden’s Bar feature in GrimJack (I’m not taking any credit here; the story was edited by the gifted Anina Bennett). Several years later, the series was published on its own as Supernatural Law by Exhibit A Press, an outfit established by Batton and Jackie.

Batton racked up quite a number of assignments, including The Big Book series from Paradox/DC Comics, the Eisner Award-winning Radioactive Man for Bongo (a Simpson’s spin-off title), and one of my personal favorites – the story is as good as the concept – Archie Meets The Punisher for Archie Comics. Recently, he produced The First Gentleman of the Apocalypse for David Lloyd’s Aces Weekly.

One of his classiest acts was having his studio, which he shared with artist Bob Smith, at the one-time home to EC Comics, 225 Lafayette Street. He racked up a sizable number of awards nominations and was the recipient of the 2009 Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Award for Graphic Novels.

Batton made no secret of his political views and worked with James D. Hudnall on an anti-Obama feature for Andrew Breitbart. He endured some criticism, and I should point out that he counted among his friends any number of left-leaning members of the comics community, as well as at least one outright radical.

Jackie, of course, was the long-time organization provocateur of the San Diego Comic-Con and past president of the Friends of Lulu. She will be continuing the publishing program at Exhibit A that she and her husband had established.

And, no, Batton was not a lawyer. He was one of the greats of the independent comic book field. His go-to attorney was Mitch Berger, a comics fan and a former member of DC’s legal team.

Memorials are being planned in both San Diego and New York City.

Batton was 65. He was one of the best.

– Mike Gold

Brainiac On Banjo #021: Raymond Loewy, Jony Ive, Bill Maher, and Stan Lee… by Mike Gold

Brainiac On Banjo #021: Raymond Loewy, Jony Ive, Bill Maher, and Stan Lee… by Mike Gold

Back when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, from time to time my friends and I would gather in the schoolyard and call out the makes, models and years of the cars driving by. You could do that back then, as damn near every car had its own identity, its own look and style. They were so distinctive that I think we could have ID’ed most of these cars by their silhouettes, as though we were World War II Civil Defense car spotters.

Between The Great War and The Great Vietnam Fiasco, the concept of “style” was critical to our culture. Movie theaters weren’t simply big rooms with white sparkly screens – many were cathedrals of film designed to inspire you to appreciate the entirely of the moviegoing experience. Drug stores had soda fountains that were overrun with chrome-plated art deco machinery. Designers unleashed mountains of energy defining the environment shared by four generations, led by the brilliant Raymond Loewy, who created the look of cars, refrigerators and other household appliances, furniture, corporate logos and packaging, and airplanes. In fact, he teamed-up with President John F. Kennedy in 1962 to design Air Force One.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #021: Raymond Loewy, Jony Ive, Bill Maher, and Stan Lee… by Mike Gold”

Beat JENeration #020: If you really must make a New Year’s Resolution

Beat JENeration #020: If you really must make a New Year’s Resolution

Resolutions are bullshit.

Over half of them don’t see February, and honestly everyone sounds like a douche when talking earnestly about theirs. Just like veganism, carb negativity, crossfit/rock-climbing/SoulCycle/hot yoga, sugar shunning, sobriety, and juice cleansing normal people don’t want to hear about it. Intended or not, talking about all the good you do for yourself always comes off as passive aggressive.

Self betterment is best when you keep it to yourself, but I can’t deny that it has its place. Until the world decides to be Mark Darcy to our Bridget Jones and like us very much, just as we are, many of us will feel the pressure of peer perfection. And as such, one shouldn’t be shamed for making New Year’s Resolution.

Maybe we can make your resolution a little less bullshit together.

There’s no crime in editing your resolution in the first week to something that is as doable as it is meaningful. Though for god’s sake, if you declared to make a life change because of some  soulful post on a celebrity style guru’s IG or a whimsical Ways To Improve Yourself Lifehack I cannot help you refine. Just start over and concentrate on the three keys to living one’s best life.

Don’t put pressure on yourself. Embrace being basic. Don’t play into what society wants, man.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #020: If you really must make a New Year’s Resolution”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #019: My Bed Is Getting Crowded, by Mike Gold

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #019: My Bed Is Getting Crowded, by Mike Gold

As I often say, the last two weeks of the year is the most boring time of the 52 weeks Pope Gregory XIII granted us. Nothing happens, and outside of maybe some parties there’s nothing much to do. Even with 666 teevee channels – plus streamers  – there’s nothing to watch. I’m amazed the birthrate doesn’t take a preposterous leap every Labor Day, and not simply to actualize the pun.

This void particularly annoys the 24-hour, broadcast, print, and ether news operations. Simply put, outside of a bunch of redundant and now-boring tweets, there’s no news to be dished out in Greater Newsland. Seeing as how the phrase “nature abhors a vacuum” has become a commercial dictum, the media need to surround their public service advertising and football promos with something and, really, making stuff up is harder to do than covering a flower show.

So we in the media (and, yes, this is part of the media – and so are you) do the next best thing: we direct our attention to the babblings of pundits who will pull predictions out of their asses and then make negative comments about those very utterances. Hypocrisy is just another word for short attention span.

This year, the theme is “look at how many Democrats are running for president!!!” Let’s ignore the fact that, technically, there are no announced candidates for the 2020 presidential ballot. Let’s also ignore the fact that the only race right now is for campaign contributions and the millions a candidate can raise from the Legion of Fatcats not only inures to their benefit but also keeps said loot out of the hands of their potential opponents. It’s that simple. Most polls put most likely candidates in single-digits, but that is meaningless. The potential candidate only wants to make his or her name recognizable to said fatcats. If these wannabes can’t raise enough money, they won’t declare their candidacy. Well, not without Vlad Putin’s help.

The waning weeks of 2018 also showed us the media think (without a uni-mind, contrary to the babblings of the professionally paranoid) America is fed up with the current Petulance-in-Chief so they consider these alternatives as saviors. Of course, as saviors none of these people can possibly measure up, and thus the media has something else to bitch about. As Don Henley sang before Mojo Nixon had him killed, “We can do ‘The Innuendo’ / We can dance and sing / When it’s said and done / We haven’t told you a thing.” So we’re grasping at straws – and, then, at straw polls.

Maybe there are something like two-dozen members of the Democratic Party who are dancing the Election Shuffle. In fact, I think that number is but a fraction of those who are really thinking it over. What of it? Is this news? Is this a surprise? Is this… anything?

No. It is not. The first primaries are in a bit over a year – the Iowa Caucuses are set for February 3 2020, there will be at least three more that month that month, and Super-Tuesday is set for March 3rd. That will involve interested voters in Alabama, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.  Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #019: My Bed Is Getting Crowded, by Mike Gold”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #021: 2018 Music Rewind

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #021: 2018 Music Rewind

Funny thing (to me at least) is as much as I consider myself a pop-culture connoisseur, the one tent of it I tend never to wax poetic on is music. Where I find that in review of print media, film, and TV all lend itself easily to good or bad — with plenty of grey area between the two — music has long felt an area safe from my I’m right and if you disagree you’re wrong mentality. Why? Because from an early age I found it easy to understand the notion of music taste. That certain songs, genres, and formats could be loved by one person, tolerated by another, and loathed by a third.

As an example, sitting in the family room of my Grandma Mickey and Papa Bernie as they listened to the symphony… I could visibly see their enjoyment of the melancholy cacophony my ears where whispering to me was boring. And then, on the ride home, my mother blares You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) by Jimmy Sommerville — rewinding the cassingle after each play to enjoy it again long before “repeat” was a button on our stereos. My father, to date, owns only a handful of music — he is more apt to listen to literal silence or news radio if he is in control of the speaker-box. Yet amidst what anyone might assert as having no foothold to the larger musical world, my love of music is as much as part of my identity as my love of literally all other mediums combined.

I can go years without needing to read a comic. My Netflix and Hulu queues are choked with shows I know I’ll love that will remain unwatched as I make my way through my 813th viewing of the entirety of Scrubs. To date, I’ve still not seen dozens of mandatory films I should have absorbed years ago. But rest assured: whenever it is time to truly work on anything in my life — be it a comic book I’m drawing, design I’m completing for a client, or even just visiting the gym — music is on and affixed to my head so-as to ensure no other sound makes its way into my sphere.

With that preamble in place, I wanted to call out some music that I stumbled over in 2018 — be it new, or just new-to-me — and share some thoughts about why it wriggled its way into my head and didn’t leave.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #021: 2018 Music Rewind”

With Further Ado #023: Winged Passion – Tim Board’s Hawkworld

With Further Ado #023: Winged Passion – Tim Board’s Hawkworld

There are a few select long-lived comic characters who always seem to bring out the very best in creators. Marvel’s Daredevil comes to mind. One can easily list a “Who’s who” of top comic creators and realize they all brought their A-game their time on the series.  Just off the top of my head, I think of talented folks like Wood, Colan, Miller, Nord, Bendis, Waid, Isabella, Rivera, Samnee and Soule and wistfully remember each of their stints on the title.

Hawkman is another character with that same pedigree.  Originally created during the 40s, during the Silver Age when two legendary artists, Joe Kubert and Murphy Anderson each left an indelible stamp of creative excellence during their runs on the series.  Top creators followed in their impressive footsteps, providing memorable work – each arguably at the top of their game – Truman, Gold, Ostrander, Nolan, Morales, Sook, Palmiotti, Isabella (there he is again!), Grey, Chaykin, Simonson…. the list goes on and on.

So, it’s not surprising that Hawkman has inspired great passion among comic fans. It’s always amazing how certain fans carry the torch and pass along their personal passion to other fans.  Sometimes they almost act as an official marketing department.  That’s why I wanted to catch up with one Hawkman fan named Tim Board, who rules the roost of…

…Hawkworld Continue reading “With Further Ado #023: Winged Passion – Tim Board’s Hawkworld”

Working Title #014: Welcome to 2019

Working Title #014: Welcome to 2019

So. New Year’s Day. Happy 2019. Traditionally, a time to look backwards and forwards, see where we’ve been, take a guess where we’re headed.

I wish I could say I was optimistic about the future but I’m not. I’m going to hit 70 this year; cranky old man time. Not, I think, unwarranted.

Let me state my prejudices upfront; I’m a Democrat, a liberal, and I despise Trump. I thought he was a joke the first time he ran for President and now I think he’s a disaster. He’s a narcissist and a liar; he must think we’re fools because we can fact check a lot of the lies. They’re on video. He doesn’t care. He lies, lies some more, and double downs on the lies. He is racist, homophobic, misogynistic and delusional. As the old gag goes, “And those are his good points.”

His presidency is going to do a lasting damage to this country. While I think there’s a fair chance the Democrats in the House will impeach him, I think there’s little chance the Republicans in the Senate will convict him. Unless he ups and quits or just drops dead, Trump will be in the White House, continuing his mischief, until at least 2020.

And I don’t think the damage can be undone.  Continue reading “Working Title #014: Welcome to 2019”

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in January 2019

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in January 2019

Welcome back to New Number Ones!!

Here, we give our readers a preview of the new comic book series that we are looking forward to each month. We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from PREVIEWSworld.

As we burst into 2019, there are some very interesting new titles coming. DC will be debuting its Wonder Comics label with two new series, and Marvel will be bringing back some familiar titles with new distinctive spins. There are also some returns of classic properties for the Indie publishers.

We hope you will take a look and think about giving these a try. We will bring you reviews of most of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

Continue reading “New Number Ones: Comics Coming in January 2019”