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Brainiac On Banjo #101: Let’s Go Get Screwed

Brainiac On Banjo #101: Let’s Go Get Screwed

You know I work so hard, all day long / Everything I try to do, seems to always turn out wrong / That’s why I wanna’ stop by, on my way home and say / Let’s go get stoned – written by Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson, and Josephine Armstead, 1965.

You would think that after decades of legal entanglement, public ridicule, and media hostility, corporate America would have learned something from the Jerry Siegel – Joe Shuster “who owns Superman” slugfest. You might also think it would be swell if we could watch monkeys fly.

On his justifiably well-respected Word Balloons podcast last week, John Siuntres conversed with Alex Ross, and Alex dropped some shit. It seems the DC Comics daisy chain (DC < Warner Bros < WarnerMedia < AT&T, a.k.a. Ma Bell) no longer pays artists or writers when they use their work on screen. Alex discusses his Kingdom Come series with Mark Waid, his design of the current Batwoman, his re-design work with Wonder Woman, and his contributions to Black Lightning. His work has been seen, or closely imitated, in various WarnerMedia adaptations of the DC grimoire. Movies, teevee shows, streaming stuff, the whole enchilada has been heavily seasoned with buckets of Ross. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #101: Let’s Go Get Screwed”

With Further Ado #123: Holiday Gift Guide 2020

With Further Ado #123: Holiday Gift Guide 2020

It’s been rough year for most of us, but in Geek Culture there’s been plenty of bright spots. In the spirit of trumpeting some of the good stuff, here’s my Annual Holiday Gift Guide.


HOLLY JOLLY: CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS PAST IN POP CULTURE
Written by Mark Voger
TwoMorrows Publishing

Every year, I make room on my nightstand for The Battle For Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum. For me, it’s the “alpha book”  in analyzing and explaining our Christmas traditions that have shaped the way we celebrate the holiday.

But this December, I think I will have to make room on that night stand for TwoMorrows Publishing’s newest book. Holly Jolly by Mark Voger looks to be the definitive pop-culture counterpart to Nissenbaum’s tome.  I always enjoy Mark Voger’s writing, and I just loved his Groovy: When Flower Power Bloomed in Pop Culture (also published by TwoMorrows) a few years back.

“I can’t think of a single topic that has generated more art and culture,” says author Mark Voger of why he decided to do a Christmas book. “From music to movies, TV, cartoons, food and decor, everybody seems to have a favorite Christmas ‘something’ — a delicacy or a song or an animated special. I tried to cram everything in Holly Jolly.”

$43.95 192 pp. • Hardcover, Full Color  • ISBN: 1605490970

Available everywhere books are sold, and from the publisher TwoMorrows.


THE FANTASTIC PAINTINGS OF FRAZETTA
by J. David Spurlock 
Vanguard Publishing

Despite the calamitous nature of 2020, my wife and I were able to visit the Frank Frazetta Museum last summer. It was a wonderful trip, and I am still in awe of all the amazing paintings there.  Reading this oversized coffee table book is like a V.I.P. guided tour in that museum.  Spurlock provides just enough background and reference so that anyone can appreciate Frazetta’s talent and creativity. In fact, I wrote about this book earlier this year, and you can read that here.

My Highest Recommendation

$39.95 120 pp. • paperback  • ISBN-10: 1934331813

Available at bookstores, comic shops, the Frazetta Museum, and directly from Vanguard, the publisher.


FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES

CAT & CAT: GIRL MEETS CAT
by Christoph Cazenove, Herve Richez & Yrgane Ramon
Papercutz

Yrgane Ramon sure can draw funny cats. But the thing I like most about this artist’s work is the panels she creates. While eschewing the traditional panel grid/border, Ramon still creates a sense of storytelling urgency.

There’s a lovely element where the heroine, Cat, is from a strong single parent family. It’s not a hit-you-over-the-head type of thing, but just another sweet element of a very sweet book.

$9.99 96 pp. • Paperback  • ISBN-10 : 1545804281

Available at bookstores. comic shops and directly from the publisher, Papercutz.


ATTACK OF THE STUFF
by Jim Benton
Papercutz

If you gift this book to a fourth grader, you’ll be thrilled by how much they laugh out loud and how cool they think you are. But if you read this book with your spouse, as I did, you’ll also be laughing out loud. And maybe you’ll be thinking, “I shouldn’t have given that book away as a gift – I should’a kept it!”

The main character has a gift to hear the thoughts of all inanimate objects. The only problem is – everything whines. It’s a hilarious concept and I can’t wait for the next book in this series.  Publisher Jim Salicrup shepherds so many brilliant books, that it shouldn’t be a surprise what a winner Attack of the Stuff is. But it is a winner and that’s a wonderful surprise.

Caution: Don’t drink milk while reading this because you’ll snort it out your nose from laughing so much.

$9.99 96 pp. • Paperback  • ISBN-10 : 1545804990

Available at bookstores. comic shops and directly from the publisher, Papercutz.


EDISON BEAKER, CREATURE SEEKER: THE NIGHT DOOR
by Frank Cammuso
Viking, an imprint of Random House

What’s fun, and goofy and feels like that exact time of day when school lets out? That’s easy! The answer is any book by Frank Cammuso. His latest Edison Beaker adventure is no exception. This is an engaging one to read or to gift!

$16.99 120 pp. • Hardcover  • ISBN-10: 1949028445

Available at books stores & comic shops everywhere and online

 


GILLBERT VOLUME 3: THE FLAMING CARATS EVOLUTION
By Art Baltazar
Papercutz

Many folks think that a creator like Art Baltazar can do no wrong. I’m one of those guys!  Once again, Art takes readers on a journey of fun and silliness, peppered with a hefty dose of natural, wide-eyed fun and awe.  A wonderful read for all ages!

$14.99 80 pp. • hardcover & paperback  • ISBN 978-1-5458-0488-9 (hc)

Available at comic shops, fine bookstores and directly from Papercutz.


COLLECTED COMICS

UNDONE BY BLOOD or SHADOW OF A WANTED MAN
by Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson and Sami Kivelä
AfterShock Comics

I like this book so much that I assigned it as homework in one of my classes. An unconventional western with more than one twists to shake up the genre and keep every reader on her or his toes.  This clever story is brought to life with strong art from Kivelä.

$15.99 160 pp. • Paperback  • ISBN-10: 0425291936

Available at bookstores & comic shops everywhere and online here.


BILLIONAIRE ISLAND
by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh
Ahoy Comics

Last week I skimmed an article in the New York Times about how billionaires have made so many Trillion (with a “T”) dollars more during the pandemic. It was, I will admit, a little debilitating.

But this hilarious series from Ahoy Comics helped me laugh away any depressing thoughts.  Satirist Mark Russell sets his sights on the ultra-wealthy in this recent series, just collected as a trade paperback.  It’s hard to imagine that he wrote it all before the recent headlines.  Steve Pugh, a longtime favorite (I still miss his detective-exorcist series, Alice Hotwire) delivers a gorgeous story, all the while making it look so easy.

<This is the kind of book that a guy like fellow columnist Mike Gold would love.>

$16.99 144 pp. • paperback  • ISBN-10: 1952090024

Available at comic shops and fine bookstores everywhere and at the online store of NYC’s Midtown Comics.  


THE MAN WHO F#%&ED UP TIME
by John Layman and Karl Mostert
Aftershock Comics

I like time travel stories, and I bet you do too. In fact, in my comic collection I have a box devoted to time travel comics.  You know, stuff like Aztec Ace, Rip Hunter, Chronos, Timespirits and Chrononauts. This new series from Aftershock, The Man Who Fu#%&ed Time, fits right in. It’s funny, irreverent and thoughtful. But not so thoughtful that your head hurts. This one moves along at a brisk pace and the reader almost wishes it unfolded more slowly. Ah well, tempus fugit, as they say.

$15.99 160 pp. • Paperback  • ISBN-10: 1949028453

Available at bookstores & all the best comic shops.


GET SMART

CITY OF PLEASURE
By Alexandre Dupouy
Korero Press

You know how you think that your parents’ or grandparents’ generation was all prim and proper, and that you, and your friends, were the first to discover how much fun it is to be bad? Well, a book like this one will quickly cure you of that naïve hubris.

Dupouy’s book celebrates Paris during the time of madness, between the wars, and the new lifestyles embraced, all with a lust for excess.  This book definitely puts the growl back in to the roaring twenties.

$30.39 176 pp. • hardcover  • ISBN 1912740052

 Available at comic shops, fine bookstores and directly from Korero.


THE CONSCIOUS MARKETER : Inspiring a Deeper and More Conscious Brand Experience
By Jim Joseph
Mascot Books

If you can’t get enough of marketing expert Jim Joseph through his daily blog, I’d heartily suggest you give his latest marketing book a try. It’s insightful, brisk to read and leaves you feeling energized and just a little bit smarter.

$24.95 216 pp. • hardcover     • ISBN 978-1-68401-871-0

Available at bookstores and directly from the publisher, Mascot.

 

 

* * *

Have a wonderful Yuletide…and to all a Good Night!

New Number Ones – Comics Coming in December 2020

New Number Ones – Comics Coming in December 2020

This month we give our readers a list of the exciting new comic book series debuting in December. We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from PREVIEWSworld. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you about the new comics in question.

December is a relatively slow month for new series, and this is a list of just some of the new series coming this month. Check with your LCS or wherever you get comics to make sure you find new things to thrill you. 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.

You will find the books listed below in the order of when they are released.

Week of 12/2/20
Week of 12/9/20
Week of 12/16/20
Week of 12/23/20

Continue reading “New Number Ones – Comics Coming in December 2020”

Another Smart Marc Podcast — The Pilot!

Another Smart Marc Podcast — The Pilot!

Just in time for professional wrestling to implode, Pop Culture Squad is proud to present the pilot to Another Smart Marc — a pro wrestling podcast as part of our Pop Culture Squadcast Network!

Join PCS columnist SmartMarc Alan Fishman and his guest, singer/songwriter Jeremy Lieb as they breakdown the coming and (mostly) goings in the world of rasslin’.

The lads discuss the current empty arena shows — the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’re taking Friar Ferguson levels of ugly. And if you get that reference? Well my friend, you’re just another smart mark.

Download

The Comic Industry Adapts to Coronavirus Reality to Survive

The Comic Industry Adapts to Coronavirus Reality to Survive

The world is changing rapidly due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Almost daily, we are receiving new news that changes the status quo.  Schools are closed across the country. New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and many more are under stay-home orders. Non-Essential business are shuttered in many states. That includes comic shops.

Today, Governor Larry Hogan issued the order for non-essential businesses to close in Maryland, the home of Diamond Comic Distributors. How does that order affect the already severely wounded comic industry? We will find out.

Comic Publishers React

We have seen public statements from several comic book publishers over the past few days reacting to the anticipated drop in orders and revenue due to the fact that most of the country is following the #StayHome orders for the immediate future. They have implemented programs to make more comics returnable, and reduced the or postponed shipments of books that have been anticipated. Below is a list of what we know at this point. Continue reading “The Comic Industry Adapts to Coronavirus Reality to Survive”

Who Are BTS? A Crash Course on the World’s Biggest K-Pop Phenoms

Who Are BTS? A Crash Course on the World’s Biggest K-Pop Phenoms

Two months ago, I would have asked the same question – “Who are BTS?” And yet a short while later, I am a huge fan, and well down the rabbit-hole of listening to, viewing, reading about, and absorbing the many, many facets of this powerhouse group – from music; to music videos with complex choreographies; to live vlogs, interviews, and fan videos; to fictional universe storylines and the connected webcomic; to reality TV shows; to solo projects; to unique cultural aspects; to live performances; to merchandise; to social media interactions and the online presence of their devoted fans, affectionately known as A.R.M.Y. 

What. The Heck. Happened??

 Simply put, I saw videos of their live performances on Saturday Night Live, and that was all it took. On April 13, 2019, BTS made history as SNL’s first K-pop musical guest. They performed two of their songs live: “Boy with Luv (feat. Halsey)”

[the peppy-sweet pop single from their latest album, Map of the Soul: Persona; and “MIC Drop”

 a more driven and aggressive hip-hop number that came out in 2017. For both acts, while singing they danced in crisply coordinated and charismatic choreographies. The performances exuded a mesmerizing group energy and yet also showcased individual talent strengths and personalities of each member, a magnetic combination that (along with their stunning K-pop idol good looks) is one of the many reasons this group has an insanely large and dedicated fan group.

Immediately after seeing SNL, I found myself seeking out and listening to their music, and somehow discovering that they were going to be doing a live performance very soon and conveniently close to my childhood home in New Jersey, a reasonable distance to travel from D.C. – and one of only three U.S. appearance locations on a limited six-date U.S. tour. Of course, I recognized that this opportunity might not come around so easily again and curiosity got the better of me – were there any tickets left? Oh look, there were – and they were hella expensive; but not quite expensive enough to deter me from purchasing – which I did. But hey – if I spend that much money to attend a concert, let me tell you, when I get there I want to know the music and what to expect well enough to enjoy it.  Continue reading “Who Are BTS? A Crash Course on the World’s Biggest K-Pop Phenoms”

Steve Ditko: Inside His Studio Sanctum Sanctorum

I wrote my first letter to Steve Ditko in early 1973, while I was still in high school. It was the typical letter, the type a budding fan-artist back then might send to a seasoned professional comics artist — full of effusive praise, capped with a request for some secret kernel of artistic knowledge that would magically transform overnight a fan’s crude artistic efforts into professional-level artwork. Ditko did his best to answer, giving what was, in retrospect, a solid list of advice.

Two years later, I wrote Ditko again, and this time, I asked if I could stop by his studio for a visit when I was in New York City later that year. He politely declined, and I pushed that idea into the dustbin of history – not realizing that 28 years later my request would become a reality.

More than two decades passed before I wrote Ditko again in 1997. In the interim, I joined the Air Force, learned to be an aircraft avionics technician, got married, had kids, opted to be a career Airman, traveled and lived abroad for nearly a decade, earned a bachelor’s degree, retrained into public affairs during the early 1990s military drawdown, kept drawing, and kept publishing my fanzine, “Maelstrom.” In fact, my third letter to Ditko was a request for what I knew was an extreme long shot: An interview for an upcoming issue of my ‘zine. Again, he politely declined.

I wrote a few more letters during the next two years about nothing in particular – including a couple while I was stationed in the Republic of Korea in 1998. In one of them, I included some terrifically supple Korean-made brushes that were ridiculously cheap, but feathered ink like a Winsor & Newton brush costing 30 times as much.

I retired from the Air Force in 1999 and published “Maelstrom” #7, and dutifully sent Ditko a copy. Our correspondence continued off-and-on until 2002, when I started preparing a Steve Ditko article for “Maelstrom” #8 – along with a cover I drew featuring many of Ditko’s more notable characters. When the issue was published, I sent him a copy, and something about it obviously struck a chord as he sent me several letters of comment. Suddenly, the correspondence was a regular back-and-forth, and as my letters got longer, so did his. Some of Steve’s letters were 10, 12, or even 16 pages long.  Continue reading “Steve Ditko: Inside His Studio Sanctum Sanctorum”

What Comic Have You Owned the Longest

What Comic Have You Owned the Longest

Everyone has a part of their collection that is special to them. It might be something that you paid a lot of money for, or it could be something that you searched a long time for. It might be something that just touched you in an emotional way.

How about that piece that you have owned longer than anything else?

For me I have owned New Teen Titans #1 longer than any other comic in my collection. I wrote a long form piece about it here.

What about you?

Share in the comments what comic you have owned the longest. We would love to hear from you.