New episodes start Friday October 30th on Disney+
I know I don’t write often much these days; the pandemic has a way of making me feel like time is both infinite and unending. Is that vague enough an excuse? Unlikely. But much like the fists flying in faces throughout Cobra Kai, the snake has awaken my desire to act once again here on Pop Culture Squad. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #069: Cobra Kai Has No Mercy… For My Love” →
Give me a doubleheader funeral in Wrigley Field / On some sunny weekend day – no lights / Have the organ play the National Anthem / And then a little ‘Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye’ / Make six bullpen pitchers carry my coffin / And six groundskeepers clear my path / Have the umpires bark me out at every base / In all their holy wrath — Steve Goodman, A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request, 1983.
One of the many differences I have with the Conventional Wisdom is that I see professional sports as part of our popular culture and not as a religion. If every player on the New York Mets were from New York City, and so on, that might be different. Root, root, root for the home team. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #097: Yeah, Baseball!” →
Well, I went to the doctor / I said, “I’m feeling kind of rough” / He said, “Let me break it to you, son / “Your shit’s fucked up.” / I said, “My shit’s fucked up? / “Well, I don’t see how / He said, “The shit that used to work / It won’t work now.” – Warren Zevon, My Shit’s Fucked Up, from the album Life’ll Kill Ya, 2000
This week we offer a three short subjects for our attention-span impaired friends…
ITEM 1: Beware of Falling Objects
A couple months ago, WarnerMedia announced HBOMax, the ultimate Warner Bros streaming service. And the most expensive, as I noted. They consumed their first Pac-Man, HBOGo. Go? Go know… I also noted, a few hours after the announcement, that there no longer was a way to keep their DC Universe going. I certainly wasn’t the only person who came up with this analysis — it was obvious, sorta like saying “that yellow thing in the sky is ‘the sun’” — but I blurted it out faster than a speeding bullet.
However, there was some significant collateral damage. The death of DCU (which, as predicted, will see its original programming going over to HBOMax) begat a very severe round of staff-hatcheting at DC comics. After moving 3,000 miles to new “state-of-the-art” facilities — they didn’t mention which art — their parking lot now can welcome more pigeons. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #094: Nyah Nyah, Nyah Nyah, Nyah Nyah!” →
Way back in my freshman year of college, instead of taking a traditional English class, students could select a Freshman Seminar. These courses were full of a lot of reading and writing, just like those traditional English classes, for these Freshman Seminars, you’d choose a topic that really excited you.
One that I chose was Medieval Studies 106 : King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table. I was surprised to find out that one could take classes in Medieval Studies.
It was really something! I had grown up enjoying King Arthur movies and books. In fact, John Boorman’s Excalibur debuted the summer before I went away to college. But the scholarly nature of the class opened my eyes wide to the rich, expansive landscape the Arthurian Legend.
There were quite of few stops along the way before that movie. The musical Camelot was a favorite as were the many King Arthur picture books I’d read as a kid. And so many King Arthur comics inspired me to learn more about the Round Table. There’s an impressive new one that was just published that I’ll write about towards the end of this column.
As a kid in the 1960s, for me World’s Finest #162 was an epic comic. In this adventure, those two great pals, Batman and Superman, adventured in medieval times with the Knights of the Round Table, and it turned out that the Arthur’s knights are essentially old timey superheroes. Oooooh! Now I got it. When you put it that way, how could I (a young boy obsessed with superheroes ) not be enthusiastic about King Arthur stories?
One of the Knights of the Round Table, Prince Valiant, seemed to come into our life every week in the Sunday funnies. I’d read his adventures every Sunday, just after The Phantom. Continue reading “With Further Ado #106: In Short, There’s Simply Not” →
As of this writing, which is 9 PM EDT Sunday July 12, the DC Universe streaming service is still alive. It’s home to some of the most entertaining superhero teevee programing around, in my opinion. I can’t speak for yours. But that thing coughing up blood all over your Wi-Fi is, sadly, the DC Universe streaming service. And it’s the fault of their own artistic success.
Aside from hospitals, the only place that has had a worse month than the DCU has been the White House. In fairly quick order, the service lost future first-run episodes of Stargirl to the CW, saw The Doom Patrol multicast on the pathetic HBO Max sinkhole, Harley Quinn also airing on Syfy and Canada’s Adult Swim, and is thought to be migrating to HBO Max as well. Titans remains, but might be severely undermined by DC’s new Gotham City Police show (not necessarily the final title) spinning out of The Batman movie the now filming in Europe.
Bleed Them Dry is a new comic series created by Hiroshi Koizumi, written by Eliot Rahal and illustrated by Dike Ruan, with colors and letters by Miguel Muerto and AndWorld Design, respectively . It’s published by one of those industrious “upstart” publishers, Vault Comics. This one looks like fun, and I appreciated the new twists and turns the creators brought to the party.
It turns out my old buddy F.J. DeSanto is involved with this one. Recently, as an invited guest speaker (via ZOOM) he enthralled my Ithaca College students (and me!) with insights into his work developing comics (Vagrant Queen) and big properties (Transformers, Shazam) and bringing them to the screen. After enjoying the first issue of Bleed Them Dry, I was eager to catch-up with him and learn more about it.
Ed Catto: How do you describe Bleed Them Dry to folks who ask, “What is this is about?”
F.J. DeSanto: I can usually hook someone with two simple words: Ninja Vampire.
EC: What makes Bleed Them Dry different from other vampire or sci-fi, or even cop stories? Continue reading “With Further Ado #102: Interview with F.J. DeSanto about Bleed Them Dry” →
“I’ve seen the future and it will be / I’ve seen the future and it will be / BATMAN, BATMAN / I’ve seen the future and it will be / BATMAN / And where, and where … is the BATMAN?” – Batdance, written by Prince, 1989.
I enjoy going to comic book convention trivia panels when Mark Waid is on the dais. Not just because Mark knows almost everything, no matter how obscure, but because he is actually embarrassed that his knows minutiae as well as he knows trivia.
But this question might blow his brainpan right out his neck. Therefore, this Spoiler Warning is just for Mark Waid.
Question: Name all the different actors who have played the part of Bruce Wayne.
Follow-up questions: If he signs the new multi-picture deal, should Michael Keaton be counted twice? And will Bruce Wayne meet Adrian Toomes? Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #089: Riddle Me This, Keaton!” →
Joe has a written a new comic, Disaster, Inc., debuting this week from AfterShock Comics. It is drawn and colored by Sebastián Piriz and lettered by Carlos Mangual.
He has written for Marvel, DC, Image, IDW, and Storm King Comics, among others. He is well known for shepherding the return of The X-Files to comics at IDW beginning in 2013. Some of his other titles include: Great Pacific, Snowfall, Rockstars, Slingers, and Surviving Nuclear Attack.
Harris also wrote the screenplay to Sony Pictures’ Darkness Falls. His style is very character centered and his creator owned work tends to cling to the horror or speculative fiction genres.
We were excited to get a chance to talk to him about his writing process and also how he is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic while living in New York City.
You can find the audio recording of our discussion below, and we transcribed a big portion of it for you as well.
We hope you enjoy the conversation.
Pop Culture Squad: So, thanks for doing this. Before we get into anything, how are you feeling?
Joe Harris: I feel good. I’m looking into getting an antibody test soon. So, I can know, one way or another, if I have had COVID-19 or not. I was symptomatic a few weeks ago. I think you remember. So, who knows.
PCS: Well, I am pretty confident that you had it based on the symptoms you were describing. You documented the illness while you were in isolation, and then you sort of disappeared for a day. It’s scary, and it is a scary time for everyone. For all those people who are down playing the seriousness of it, people are dying. You live in the center of the worst of it.
What’s that like being in New York right now?
JH: Um, Kind of surreal. I mean, at this point, it’s kind of shocking at how normal everything has become… There are things you’ll probably get angry about this stuff no matter where you go. You probably see somebody not wearing masks. You’ll see people that aren’t keeping adequate distance, but for the most part New York, I think, by and large, considering how big it is, has done a decent job.
I don’t know how that comes out in the wash when you think about the amount of dead and the number of infected, but it seems like at least for a stretch the city was doing what it could. It is a little less desolate now though. I can hear more people out on the street. I don’t hear as many ambulances.
Which makes sense considering, that the emergency rooms aren’t has overrun as they apparently were. I don’t know when we come out of this. It’s been a little surreal. So, it’s hard to imagine how everything goes right back to normal. That much I don’t see; I don’t know what would looks like or what that will feel like. The city just kind of adapts. I haven’t been down in the subway in months, and I expect it will be sometime before I am again.
PCS: Let’s get into some comic stuff. We know that Disaster, Inc. is the first book that Aftershock is going to be shipping through Diamond when the restart happens on May 20th. So, what do you want to tell people about the book? Continue reading “Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Writer Joe Harris” →
Star Wars! / Give me those Star Wars! / Nothing but… Star Wars / Don’t let them end — written by Nick Winters, 1977
With all the streaming at our fingertips, the entertainment business is making a lot of headlines promoting what they’re going to do once Earthlings return to mobility. But don’t get excited just yet: the only cameras operating right now are working Zoom and not Studio Binder. When Keith Richards self-quarantines, everyone should self-quarantine.
Next week’s launch of HBO Max has turned up the heat. Clearly, studios are concerned about competing for subscribers with promises of new content, which, at best, won’t appear until after the winter solstice. My take on HBO Max is simple: it’s goddamn expensive, and right now they’re running little but reruns. It’ll probably work out because they’re not promoting that fact. But reasonable bean-counters understand that few people are going to maintain subscriptions to HBO Max, Disney+, AppleTV, CBS All Access, Peacock Premium, and Amazon Prime – to name but a very few – all at once. That’s a lot of money, and it’s also more programming than one can handle. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #085: Crossing The Stream” →