Category: TV

Brainiac On Banjo #079: The Future of Comics?

Brainiac On Banjo #079: The Future of Comics?

In these disease-ridden times, it is quite natural for us to be preoccupied with matters of life, health, and continuity. But it is equally logical to assume that someday this will pass, and most all of us will be around the celebrate.

Well, I hate to be a buzzkill, but on that much anticipated day… that’s when we step into deep pile of fresh economic bat-dung. Lots of people are going to be hurting bad for money – I’m writing this on Sunday, so I can’t check out my retirement fund, and that is a relief. I suspect almost as many are going to be hurting for jobs.

This hurts all of us, but it likely will be devastating to Mom ’n’ Pop stores, cockroach capitalists, and to self-employed folks of all stripes. In other words, I’m talking about the network of maybe a couple thousand (on a good day) comic book stores. Therefore, I’m also talking about the future of the “smaller” comics publishers, their staffs, writers, artists, and the related backroom activities like distributors necessary to keep everything moving. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #079: The Future of Comics?”

With Further Ado #86: Interview with Joel Meadows of Tripwire Magazine

With Further Ado #86: Interview with Joel Meadows of Tripwire Magazine

Tripwire was one of those magazines about comics that always made you feel smarter after you read it. Or maybe that conversion happened right when you bought it. It was a gorgeous magazine and always looked smart too.   I’m excited to say that Joel Meadows, the man behind Tripwire, is at it again and Tripwire is returning. I had a lot of questions for Joel, and he had a lot of thoughtful answers.

Ed Catto: The news that Tripwire is returning is just fantastic, Joel. But first, can you tell me, or remind me, how it all started?

Joel Meadows: Tripwire began way back in March 1992 – or actually it began the previous year. We published one issue of a magazine we called The Review, which was a very basic fanzine that I did with someone I went to school with. We printed about 100 copies, but it was fun to do. So, we came up with Tripwire in February 1992 and published our first issue in March 1992. At that point, I was doing it with a neighbour of mine and someone I went to sixth form college with. We launched the same weekend as Vertigo.

EC: I loved those Tripwire issues. In your opinion, what made it special and unique among all the Geek Culture magazines?

JM: When it started, we were a lot more sarcastic and a lot more irreverent towards our material. I was only nineteen when it began, and I learned a hell of a lot as we continued to publish issues. We had a very British attitude to our material, which initially was comics and music, but we dropped the music and replaced it with film and TV in 1999. We were prepared to take chances, and we were the first place to cover the Vertigo creators, like Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Peter Milligan, and Frank Quitely. I was a big fan of former UK magazine Speakeasy, and I think that had a big influence on me when it came to Tripwire. Continue reading “With Further Ado #86: Interview with Joel Meadows of Tripwire Magazine”

Brainiac On Banjo #077: Disasterbaiting – The Lighter Side of Doom

Brainiac On Banjo #077: Disasterbaiting – The Lighter Side of Doom

I learned our government must be strong / It’s always right and never wrong / Our leaders are the finest men / And we elect them again and again • “What Did We Learn In School Today?” written by Tom Paxton, 1964.

It does not matter if your favorite movies and teevee shows and steamers have halted production – as most have. Theaters and binging parties and gas stations and toilet paper are history, at least for the nonce. Most sex workers are off the stroll but, hey, soft white gloves are impossible to find, so WTF.

Therefore, as a card-carrying obnoxious bastard (yes; I have a card – as does our Pop Culture Squad HBIC), I decided to bother a bunch of friends, contacts, and complete strangers who can mumble through their useless face masks. Hey, it’s a living. I asked them the following question:

“How does the ‘Hollywood’ shutdown affect you personally?” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #077: Disasterbaiting – The Lighter Side of Doom”

LEGO Masters: A TV Show That Will Knock Your Block Off

LEGO Masters: A TV Show That Will Knock Your Block Off

Someone has figured out a reality show for adults who love to play with their favorite toy as a kid and turned it up a notch. I am talking about LEGO Masters. It is on Wednesday nights at 9 pm EST on FOX.  It is based on a British show of the same name. The best part about the show is its family-friendly feel.

There are ten teams of two and what a great group they are. The diverse teams are made up of fathers and sons, brothers, couples, friends, and even a team that met at a club for adults who love LEGO. The winners will win $100,000 and a LEGO Master’s trophy. The first week they competed for the Golden Brick, of which the winner is immune from being eliminated at a time of their choosing.

There have only been two episodes so far. It premiered on Wednesday, February 5th and is hosted by Will Arnett (In case you don’t know he is the voice of LEGO Batman, but don’t worry. He will remind you.). He is the perfect host for this show. He has two expert judges with him. Amy Corbett is a senior design master at the LEGO Company. She works on the LEGO Friends line and worked on the concept team for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. You can follow her on Instagram at @brickmasteramy or on Twitter at @BrickmasterAmy. Jamie Berard is the other judge, and he is a LEGO Brickmaster, with thirteen years of experience with LEGO. He works on LEGO products for teens and adults with a focus on the Creator Expert and Architecture lines. You can follow him on Instagram at @brickmasterjamie. Continue reading “LEGO Masters: A TV Show That Will Knock Your Block Off”

Brainiac On Banjo #072: Grave New World

Brainiac On Banjo #072: Grave New World

I dream of cherry pies / Candy bars, and chocolate chip cookies / We used to microwave / Now we just eat nuts and berries / This was a discount store / Now it’s turned into a cornfield / You’ve got it, you’ve got it / Don’t leave me stranded here / I can’t get used to this lifestyle – (Nothing But) Flowers, David Byrne

I have spent my entire life being a collector.

No, not a debt collector or a tax collector, not even a rubber band collector. I am a stuff collector, and I mean “stuff” in the George Carlin sense of the term. I collect music (over 43,000 tracks, thank you), I collect comic books, I collect books about comic books, I collect books in general. I collect movies, teevee shows, artwork… all kinds of stuff.

The question “now where do I put this?” spikes my second biggest fear. My biggest fear is having to move all my stuff from the house that has warehoused my collections for almost a third of a century, abetted by the many collections possessed by my daughter and my late wife. Comics collections from the three of us, a legion of statues, enough history books to fill a wing at the Library of Congress, flicks I am dying to see again but won’t live long enough to do so… All this has combined to define the most consistent and most dominant part of my life. But moving it all to another place will look a lot like photos of those ancient, beautiful houses that somehow get boosted onto a flatbed truck and taken cross-town so developers who bribed their way into eminent domain can turn the land into a parking lot.

This hasn’t been an investment thing, and in that I am lucky. If all this stuff was here to make money, I’d have to go down to Wall Street and jump out of a window. This is because, aside from the Daffy Duck “I WANT IT” syndrome, today nearly all that stuff, no matter what it is, is available digitally. A 30-terabyte hard disc drive will house it all in a box that is much smaller than the Collected Works of Michael Moorcock. Of course, with all the streaming services around covering virtually all media, you really don’t even need that disc drive.

It’s possible that moving or disposing my collections will not be my problem. It might become my daughter’s problem. Hey, none of us are getting any younger (you’ve probably noticed that) and, whereas that’s a nasty trick to play on her, she is merely 25 years my younger and I’d like to be around to see her have decide what to sell and what really neat shit to hold on to. Sort of a Sophie’s Choice… without the “wait; you’re going to kill one of my kids??” bit.

Overall, this is a rather minor concern. There are much more important things to be concerned about. I don’t wake up in a cold sweat thinking about this, although I’m certain I will if I ever have to move it. I’ve enjoyed this stuff and, besides, maybe the tons of dust my collections gather will cure cancer or the common cold or something. I mean, look, we do not know why the guy who first looked at penicillin in a petri dish said “Wow! Cool!! I think I’m going to hit this shit up!” However, I do wonder if, at that time, this cat had the clap.

You know the old phrase “Evolution Happens.” Well, okay, I poured some artistic license over that one, but you get the point. The focus should be on content and not possession. Buddha had tons of material possessions, as the story goes, but he gave it all away to charity. I wonder which charity would be most interested in my Steve Ditko collection.

Like most of us who have a strong sense of wonder but a short attention span, I always have endeavored to embrace change. But making plans for one’s personal end times is a whole ‘nother thing. I think it takes well over a decade to work all this stuff out but… Hello! Short attention span, remember?

The contradiction in this labor is that I’ve spent my entire lifetime acquiring all this stuff. My thinking about eliminating it, no matter how remarkably logical it is to do so, feels as though I am invalidating my mission, my passion for existence.

And you wonder why old men scream at the clouds.

With Further Ado #79: Doing Your Homework for Star Trek: Picard

With Further Ado #79: Doing Your Homework for Star Trek: Picard

I vividly remember watching the debut episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987. I was in Boston at that time, recently graduated, and living with my great pals Pete (Hoff) Hoffman and Hans (Hadji) Rempel. I was the guy deepest into comics, but they each had their favorites and Pete, especially, was a big Trek fan. In fact, we had grown up together in the same little town and watched the original Star Trek series reruns every Saturday night on WPIX. And then, we’d go out and get into the usual high school mischief. Both activities were baked into the core of who we are.

So it was perfectly fitting years later that we were watching Star Trek on another Saturday night before we went out to find more mischief in Boston. Star Trek: The Next Generation was a different Trek from what we were used to. I will be the first to admit that I thought of the original series as the adventures of three friends who wandered about, broke the rules, and sometimes met exotic beauties along the way. TNG, in contrast, was much more disciplined. It seemed to be all about working in teams and overcoming obstacles with creativity. I remember one episode in particular, where Commander Ryker was trying to motivate Lt. Commander Data to manage a planet-side situation, and it was exactly what we had been talking about in my MBA management class that week.

Fast forward to last Saturday night, and my wife and I watched the debut of Star Trek: Picard. How come we all got so much older since the last outings, but Patrick Stewart is ageless? The message is clear – we all really must drink more Earl Grey. Continue reading “With Further Ado #79: Doing Your Homework for Star Trek: Picard”

Brainiac On Banjo #071: To Baldly Go…

Brainiac On Banjo #071: To Baldly Go…

Star Trek Picard started up a couple days ago, so if you know any ViacomCBS executives, now it a good time to hit ‘em up for a loan.

I can’t say I’m a huge Trekker. I saw the first episode at broadcast and thought it was decent but not particularly compelling. The next day, a young lady who held my interest told me she thought it was the Citizen Kane of television (I paraphrase) so, in order to show her how hip I was, I became a regular viewer. Look, I was hardly the first 16-year-old whose hormones determined his television-viewing decisions.

Sadly, the show held my attention longer than my puppy lust. There were some extremely weak episodes, particularly in the third season, and often I was afraid Captain Kirk was going to leap out of the boob tube and run away with my dinner. But as television went back in those days, it was pretty good and, at times, excellent.

Two decades later, Paramount launched Next Generation. I thought it was a very interesting idea, but I saw the broadcast at a Brandeis University comics convention under less-than-perfect circumstances, in a room filled with college-age fans who were pre-ordained to perceive every fart as a rose – and vice versa. I liked the show, loved the tribute to the original series, and found much of the cast to be first-rate. The writing was a bit weak in the beginning, but it improved around season three.

But this Patrick Stewart guy who headed up the show was magnetizing. In a room filled with Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts graduates, Stewart could grab your attention and imprint himself onto your synapses. I’m not a sucker for the British accent – at least, not when deployed by the male gender – but this man fit the Del Close definition of subtext. And most things Star Trek have a lot of subtext. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #071: To Baldly Go…”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #075: Fake History, Real Heroes

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #075: Fake History, Real Heroes

Last Saturday saw the fourth annual Women’s Rights Day with demonstrations all over the nation, many in very inclement weather. This year’s march was fueled in part by the calendar: 2020 is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, expanding the ability to vote to those without that icky Y chromosome.

I have slightly mixed feeling about that. Every egalitarian victory should be celebrated, but, damn, why should we get all enthused over 144 years of denying half of our population the right to participate in our vaunted democracy? Whereas I can hold a grudge until it screams, we should be educating citizens current and future to all the limitations we have placed on women, including those many that have not been sliced from our massive national discrimination pie.

However, the National Archives celebrates that victory by layering it with a purposely misleading patina of truthiness. They maliciously chose to alter it, and in complete contradiction to their mission, they celebrated women’s suffrage under a veil of lies. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #075: Fake History, Real Heroes”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise

A long time ago in a galaxy far away… a nerd convinced a studio to give him money to make a visual effects masterpiece with significant merchandizing appeal. He mashed together the tropes of the science fiction and fantasy serials he loved growing up, and put together a wonderful homage to the hero’s journey. It made a lot of money, and soon thereafter, Star Wars became an empire. But you already knew that.

As I’ve detailed before: my personal Star Wars fandom was mild to possibly salsa verde at any given point. As an only child of parents not into pop culture, I didn’t actually sit down to enjoy the original trilogy in earnest until the late 90’s special edition releases. And while I’d been inundated to all the significant moments through delightful pastiches abroad, as well as avidly played through any number of Star Wars licensed video games (Tie Fighter, Rebel Assault, and Dark Forces)… in the battle between the light and dark side, I was quite the mercenary. That’s to say that I was a fan only when it suited me to be. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise”