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

Beat JENeration #021: 9021, Oh why would you even bother?

Beat JENeration #021: 9021, Oh why would you even bother?

In late December, when a picture surfaced of Jennie Garth, Tori Spelling, Ian Ziering, Brian Austin Green, and Jason Priestly, together in public I was intrigued. And as the rumors started circulating about CBS shopping a Beverly Hills 90210 revival/reboot, I have to admit I was very excited.

Of course with Luke Perry and Shannen Dougherty not signed on, I was less excited.

Though now that the truth has surfaced that it’s not a revival at all, I’m actually kind of pissed that I was put in a nostalgia TV tizzy for nothing. This project is (deep breath) an hour-long mockumentary-esque dramedy with the former teen stars playing themselves (or a version of such) chronicling their efforts to get an actual 90210 revival going.

I mean honestly, would I even add such a thing to my endless queue, let alone watch it?  Well, certainly not without Luke Perry or Shannen Doherty.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #021: 9021, Oh why would you even bother?”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #020: Yeah. Just Another Brick, by Mike Gold

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #020: Yeah. Just Another Brick, by Mike Gold

Tuesday night His Petulance delivered an over-rehearsed message to America about the need to build his wall. This time it’s not only to halt the terrorists that haven’t been coming in on foot over the border, it’s also to halt the heroin traffic that the refugees haven’t been bringing into the United States.

For his effort, according to The Hollywood Reporter, he received a 28.1 household rating. This was according to the overnight numbers generated by ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN and Fox News – but not MSNBC. Conventional wisdom has it that MSNBC isn’t His Petulance’s best audience anyway.

His lies immediately were followed by a response from Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer. Broadcast-wise, neither would have done well in the Kennedy-Nixon Debate. Both looked very, very tired, as if to say “Crap, we’ve still got to be polite?”

Nonetheless, the Democratic Party rebuttal outperformed His Petulance, receiving a 29.3 overnight rating from these same venues. And conventional wisdom has it the uncounted MSNBC audience is more likely to be sympathetic to the Pelosi-Schumer less-than-Dynamic Duo.

Jeez. How many popular votes can the Donald lose before he realizes on his best day he’s an also-ran?  Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #020: Yeah. Just Another Brick, by Mike Gold”

With Further Ado #024: Why Didn’t You Tell Me About Red Barry?

With Further Ado #024: Why Didn’t You Tell Me About Red Barry?

I get invigorated each time I visit my friend Bill and he shows me his astonishing comic strip collection. It’s like a trip to the Twilight Zone of Sunday Funnies. I still find it hard to believe that someone in my little town has this incredible collection. Of course, 99.9% of the locals think he “just has a lot junk”. When I view his stuff, I feel a little guilty that I don’t pay him an admission fee.

It starts and ends with Books. A guy named Books, to be precise. We sometimes called one of my high school buddies “Books” because he worked at the library. Ok, I admit, we weren’t the most original thinkers.  My nickname was “Crash”, by the way. Guess why I earned that one.

But we really need to focus on this column.  That collector, Bill, is Books’ dad. Since I’ve moved back to the Finger Lakes region, I’ve renewed a lot of friendships.  Old teachers, old prom dates, etc…you know how it goes. And Books’ father, Bill, is one of those folks with whom I’ve renewed a friendship.

It turns out, Bill owns a truly incredible comic strip collection. I had no idea about his love for comics back when I was in high school.  He has original art, collected editions, autographs, reference books and more. His original art collection is deep – everything from Hal Foster to Frank Robbins to Chester Gould and back again. 

This Christmas, I gifted him a copy of The Complete Kreigh Collins Volume 1: Mitzi McCoy. Longtime readers know that I’ve been excited about this project for a while.  The author, Brian Collins, collaborated with Lost Art Books’ publisher Joe Procopio to methodically collect Kreigh Collins’ first comic strip, Mitzi McCoy.  I helped out with the marketing and also contributed the Afterward.  You can still get a copy at your local comic shop or here, but this column isn’t meant to be a hard sell.

During my Yuletide delivery visit, Bill pulled out a copy of the book he was reading. He enthusiastically explained how fascinating it was and asked if I’d like to borrow it. It’s a gorgeous IDW hardcover reprinting old strips in that same format that they publish comic strip collections of Steve Canyon, Terry and the Pirates, Superman, Rip Kirby and Spider-Man.

(I’ve always been an IDW reader and fan, but now that I’m working on a top-secret project with them – to be announced this spring -you’ll soon see why I’m even more of an IDW fan!)

The book is Red Barry, Undercover Man by Will Gould. But I had never heard of the character, Red Barry, or the creator, Will Gould. Have you?  Continue reading “With Further Ado #024: Why Didn’t You Tell Me About Red Barry?”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #022: Runaway with me?

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #022: Runaway with me?

Hulu’s answer to Netflix’s recent run of freshly canceled Marvel Knights series — from the potent Daredevil to the barely passable Iron Fist — is the teen drama Runaways. Based loosely on the Brian K. Vaughn series penned alongside artist Adrian Alphona in 2003, it’s essentially Riverdale-level drama playing lightly on the edge of the Marvel universe. Is this series related to the aforementioned adventures of Matt Murdock, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, or (barf) Danny Rand? Well, your guess is as good as mine after 2 solid seasons. But that’s neither here nor there. With 23 episodes come and gone… the question I’m still trying to answer remains: Is it any good?

Admittedly while I was a big fan of the original digest-sized graphic novel series, by the time I clicked on the show, my knowledge was limited only to broad strokes. I remember the characters and their powers… albeit vaguely. Above all else, I’d remembered so much of the series banked on a very quick cold open scenario — of a group of friends coming to discover their parents were a super-villain cabal, and shortly thereafter being on the lamb. Hilarity, teen angst, and super-powers followed in a delightful romp.

Upon booting up the pilot, everything I’d recalled began to click into place. The cult meeting. The friendly banter. The — gasp! — evil machinations. Powers are discovered. A dinosaur. Aliens. The whole kit-and-caboodle. As the episodes starting ticking off, I noticed how any semblance to the source material seemed to fade off into the Los Angeles smog. What I was left with was a show that seemingly had an amazing budget, a writers room familiar with the original treatment, but an awkward fear to leave their comfort zone. As if, perhaps, the show was being thought of as a broadcast serial versus a binge-worthy show-for-the-millennials. As such, as often as I’d find myself enthralled at various plot points and character moments… I’d find an equal number of times where my eye-rolls were audible.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #022: Runaway with me?”

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”

Everything We Read This Week – 01/02/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 01/02/2019

Welcome to our first review column of the new year.  This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

There are a lot of good books out this week. We reviewed a bunch of them below. We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Boom!, and Aftershock. Make sure you go find some comics to read.  Hopefully, you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics.

Marvel Comics tribute covers to Stan Lee continue this week. DC also added a tribute to Stan on the last page of their books starting this week.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. You will see books that we were looking forward to with the designation Hot #1 by them. There are a few of them out this week and they are really good.

DISCLAIMER: 

There is a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously as everyone gets their own impressions of art. These ratings are just to give our readers an idea of what we thought of the book, and they will be on the generous side normally. So don’t expect to see a lot of 1 Stars. After all, it’s not often that you have a bad book on your pull-list.

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

Also look for the book we deemed Favorite Book of the Week. It is the comic that we like the most this week. The criteria are difficult to pin down, but suffice to say it is a book that moved us.

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 01/02/2019”

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”

“Young Justice: Outsiders” Is Now Available on DC Universe

“Young Justice: Outsiders” Is Now Available on DC Universe

Today is the day!

For longtime fans of the Young Justice animated series, that phrase brings back good memories. It was the way the youthful heroes anticipated their graduation from sidekick status to full heroes.

Over the two previous seasons of this series, the group of four has changed, grown, and suffered loss. This series has been inarguably one of the best animated action series ever. The quality of the story telling and characterization has always been extremely high. When it was cancelled for spurious reasons, fans were devastated. However, it is back.

Continue reading ““Young Justice: Outsiders” Is Now Available on DC Universe”

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”