Press Release: “A SPOILERVERSE CHRISTMAS CAROL” LAUNCHES IN SUPPORT OF GIVE COMICS HOPE

Press Release: “A SPOILERVERSE CHRISTMAS CAROL” LAUNCHES IN SUPPORT OF GIVE COMICS HOPE

Press Release:

Wednesday December 23. 2020, Seattle –

Spoilerverse.com, the universe of pop culture podcasts based in Seattle (home of the Spoiler Country, Misery Point Radio, Narrative Gunslingers & Hard Agree podcasts – and many more) announce the launch of their annual “A Spoilerverse Christmas Carol” podcast, this year in support of Give Comics Hope.

“A Spoilerverse Christmas Carol” is the first of Spoilerverse.com’s annual yuletide charity podcasts and features regular Spoilerverse commentator/podcaster (and EVP of London’s Titan Entertainment) Andrew Sumner performing Charles Dickens’ one-man public performance version of Dickens’ Yuletide classic A Christmas Carol.

http://scpod.net/a-spoilerverse-christmas-carol/

Sumner commented: “we’re coming to the end of a wildly-turbulent & damaging pandemic year, which has left the comics industry’s all-important network of individually-owned comic book stores – the temples of pop culture in which we all worship – hard hit & struggling to survive. William Schanes’ team at GiveComicsHope.org have dedicated themselves to supporting our comic book shops until we can get to the other side of the pandemic. Their mission of community support reminded myself and Spoilerverse show-runners John Horsley & Kenric Regan of Dickens’ own seasonal message of empathy & civic responsibility, so we thought “what better way to underline & amplify Bill’s mission than to return to the words of Charles Dickens himself, the great believer in human society pulling together?”

“A Spoilerverse Christmas Carol” is live now:
http://scpod.net/a-spoilerverse-christmas-carol/

Brainiac On Banjo #103: So You Want To Be An Editor!

Brainiac On Banjo #103: So You Want To Be An Editor!

Stan Lee and Roy Thomas

So… do you really want to be an editor? A comics editor? Really?

Why?

Seeing as how I’ve been editing lots of different stuff (newspapers, magazines, books, broadcast stuff, and a whole lot of comics) since President Johnson thought he was a shoo-in for a second term, I guess I’ve learned a thing or two about the job. I’ve come to that point in my life where I’m ready to share. I figure I’m no longer grooming any competition.

Here’s just a few of the skills you need for the job:

Marvel Editors 2017

1) A deep, ongoing desire to be eternally satisfied with struggling to make ends meet. Publishing is an iffy racket on its best day, and that was before anybody with an internet connection and a self-serving sense of ethics could download whatever they want without paying for it. Maybe someday that will change, maybe Russia will want to better monetize bootlegging, but right now the only gold in them thar hills is writing this piece.

2) You are a control freak. Honestly, it’s the gist of the job. I have tried to avoid being a control freak when I’m not on the clock, but, hey, white-collar workers work home from time to time. There’s a fine line between being a control freak and being an asshole, but as an editor, your superiors are going to put you into the position of being one lest you lose your job. After a while — but before I got into comics — I discovered that finding out exactly where that line in the sand is can be enormous fun, but my sense of entertainment is very anti-corporate.

3) You enjoy being in the middle of a lot of shit storms. If you’re the type of person who watches those camera people on The Weather Channel chase tornados and wonders who in their right mind would want to do that, editing is not the best career move you can make. Taking comics as my example — after all, that’s what I said in my lede paragraph — let me explain why a comics editor titled one of his creations “The Human Target.”

Will Eisner

Your job is to represent the interests of the company and all its contradictory and ever-shifting needs and practices to the talent. Because there is nothing more fun than owning a condo in the crossfire, if you have any sense of ethics your job also is to represent the needs and skills of the talent to the publisher, which includes the master of editorial, the master of marketing, the masters of art direction, the master of production, the grand-master publisher, the owners, their board of directors and the Grand Invisible Cop-Out, the stockholders. Oh, and the lawyers. Everybody’s lawyers.

(Fun fact: even lawyers dislike lawyers.)

Let’s make this even more interesting. Your job is to represent the needs and the skills of the talent to the needs of the other talented people working on the project. Let me remind you, I used the phrase “shit storms” in the plural. When it comes to creative vision, not everybody’s always on the same page. I’ve had to referee a great many such disputes, and, no, I am not going to rat out the perps. Talent is driven by ego, so what do you expect? It’s Chinatown, Mr. Gittes. But I’m just childish enough to note that the better the creative team is and the longer they’ve worked together, the more likely such conflicts will pop up like zits before a teenage orgy.

Chances are, you, as an editor, will be involved in several different projects at the same time. Let’s say you are handling five different projects, which might even be reasonable. Multiply everything I just said by five.

Now, let’s say you are a full editor and you’ve got an assistant and/or an associate editor or maybe several of them. Perhaps you’ve been around for a while and instead of offering you more money, which they probably don’t have, they make you a group editor or a senior editor or a master-of-Kung-editor and you’ve got several editors working under you… and they’ve got their own assistances and associates. Maybe you share a proofreader and other support staff. We used to have photocopy kids which, in many cases, was the only way to observe and learn the craft. Now that we have all these computers and scanners and wi-fi, these folks pretty much have gone the way of the buggy whip. Yeah, you might have to Google that. Anyway, managing all those folks is also a part of the job. What, you wanted to make friends?

So. Does all that sound like a barrel of monkeys? Well, life always is better with a monkey. There’s got to be a reason I’ve been doing this for decades, but at least it helps explain how I developed my warped worldview.

If you’re still with me, you’ve made it past your first hurdle. Congratulations. Continue following this series, the second part of which just might appear in this space next week.

But maybe not next week. The biggest hurdle you’re going to have to leap, every day of your career is what Marvel Comics long ago called the “dreaded deadline doom.” It is inescapable, and if it didn’t exist “they” wouldn’t need to hire you. I’ve got a way to train yourself to handle that, but I’ll hold that as bait.

Which is another stupid editor trick.

© 2020 Mike Gold – ArrogantMGMS. Watch your ass!

With Further Ado #126: Ripped from the Headlines: The Fake News of Rip Hunter

With Further Ado #126: Ripped from the Headlines: The Fake News of Rip Hunter

It’s funny how the looking at an old story with a contemporary lens can change things completely.

But before I get into that, I must admit I’ve always loved time travel stories.  Movie favorites include everything from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court to Time After Time to Back to the Future. I love the simple ones and the complex ones.  I still think the main reason I was admitted to a top ten business school was because I turned my essay into a time travel story.  And in my comic collection, I have one short box that’s all time travel-y series, you know stuff like Aztec Ace, Chronos, Ed Brisson’s Comeback and Stephen Perry and Tom Yeates’ Timespirts. And DCs’ Rip Hunter…Time Master is right there in the front of the box.

I snagged a beat-up “readers copy” of Rip Hunter…Time Master #23 earlier this year, but I just recently got around to reading it. As you can see by the stunning cover – the shocker is that George Washington was really a spy!

(As an aside, I can’t help but draw parallels between Rip Hunter’s “You’re a spy/No you’re a spy” exchange the infamous “I’m not a puppet, you’re the puppet” debate exchange a four years ago.)

It seems that in 1964, many American school children believed, or were taught, that George Washington was the greatest American patriot of all. So, how could he, of all people, have been a spy?!? That’s what the whole sales hook of the cover was based on.

Here in 2020, there’s a contrary view for everything.  I am fascinated by the concept of the epistemic dissenter. As I understand it, this term refers to a well-informed individual who uses selective facts to develop a view or belief that is contrary to mainstream, commonly held and even science-based ideas.

As an extreme example, people who believe the world is actually flat, and have facts to support their theory, are epistemic dissenters.  And no, I don’t know if they can explain how their cellphones work. Continue reading “With Further Ado #126: Ripped from the Headlines: The Fake News of Rip Hunter”

YEAR IN REVIEW: Best New Comics of 2020

YEAR IN REVIEW: Best New Comics of 2020

We have made it to the end of 2020. Congratulations, it has not been an easy task. While I doubt many can say that it was a great year in general, there were some seriously good comic related things that happened.

The world has struggled with the catastrophic economic and health related consequences of pandemic not seen in a century. Despite that and a nearly two month pause in comic book distribution, the industry has survived and moved forward. When preparing for this column, I was looking for new books that came out in late spring and had forgotten that there were no new books in April and May. This year has felt like it has taken forever to get through.

In the year of almost no comic conventions, and massive layoffs and shakeups at major publishers, there managed to be some amazing comics produced. The big two delivered a couple of line wide crossover events, and the independent publishers continued to cultivate quality storytelling in a wide variety of genres.

The list you will find below is a selection of some of the best new series that I read this year. Some are limited series and some are new ongoing titles. This list is by no means exclusive of all the good comic books of the year. It is the books that I read and liked a lot.

In a normal year, I would have read more, but this year hit all of us in unexpected ways. You will find excellent story telling and art in books below. As always, we encourage you to find what you like and support it.

The list below is in alphabetical order. I added some notes to let you know why each book is on the list. Let us know what you think.


Alienated
Boom! Studios
Written by Simon Spurrier
Art by Chris Wildgoose
Colors by Andre May
Letters by Jim Campbell

Issue #1 released 2/12/20

PCS Notes: We were instantly smitten with this expertly crafted series. The technical maneuvers that were implemented to tell this cohesive story from multiple perspectives are fantastic.


Billionaire Island
Ahoy Comics
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Steve Pugh
Colors by Chris Chuckry
Letters by Rob Steen

Issue #1 Released 3/4/20

PCS Notes: Mark Russell is a master of satire in comic form, and with Steve Pugh they lampoon the capitalist economic structure of the elites with an entertaining front story. Continue reading “YEAR IN REVIEW: Best New Comics of 2020”

Weird Scenes #119: Spaaaaaaaace Farce!!!

Weird Scenes #119: Spaaaaaaaace Farce!!!

Oh, holy crap!

Last week, outgoing Vice President Pence proclaimed “We just returned from the Oval Office and so it is my honor, on behalf of the President of the United States, to announce that henceforth, the men and women of the United States Space Force will be known as ‘guardians.’” Hmmm. From this, I gather our soldiers, sailors, air people, and Marines no longer have to be troubled with guarding anything.

Upon hearing this pronouncement, Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn whimsically tweeted, “Can we sue this dork?” Others — many others; maybe everybody who ever saw these movies or and/or have ever read the very long-running Marvel comic books of the same name — asked if either Groot ( the tree who only says “I Am Groot!”) or Rocket Raccoon (who is a raccoon) would be the United States Space Force mascot.

The government pointed out that they’ve been using the term since 1983 when they appropriated the name “Guardians of the High Frontier.” That’s nice, but the Marvel Comics trademarked property “Guardians of the Galaxy” debuted in 1969. For that matter, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created a super-hero for DC Comics named “The Guardian.”

This is hardly the first time the United States Space Force has been accused of purloining intellectual property. Their logo is a pathetically obvious (or hysterically oblivious) swipe of ViacomCBS’s Star Trek, which has been in continuous use since 1966 and, as of this writing, is in use on five separate current and ongoing television productions.

The United States Space Force already has a major problem: many people, including this cynic, find it impossible to utter the name without triggering the giggle-reflex. That’s a really dumb name for what we’re told to accept on faith is a serious use of 16,000 troops and a 2021 budget of $15,400,000,000.00. Prior to their creation on December 20, 2019 (happy birthday, I guess) “Space Force” had been used as the name of the new Steve Carell / John Malkovich situation comedy, which is presently filming its second season. This television series was green-lit by Netflix in January 2019, almost a full year before the creation of the United States Space Force.

Carell’s character, General Mark R. Naird, doesn’t seem to know the details of the Space Force’s mission. What a coincidence! We’ve never been told what purpose is served by the United States Space Force, if any. Is there reason to believe we will be fighting some sort of war in space? With whom? The Russians? Japan? The Klingon Empire? As an occasional tax-payer, I’d like to know something about what we’re getting for our bucks, other than a big wet kiss on the ass of our outgoing Idiot-In-Chief.

There’s good reason why we should take our sundry defense services seriously. Combined, they provide the security blanket for the United States of America, which is a lot more than I can say for our current president. To put a decimal point on this, the budget for our Department of Defense for Fiscal Year 2020 is in the neighborhood of $721.5 billion — not counting the black budget stuff. In real estate parlance, that is known as a high rent district.

I guess that compared to $721.5 billion, $15.4 billion is just a fart in a blizzard. Sure, we’re spending a hell of a lot more than all that on Covid research and relief, but we’ve already lost almost as many Americans to Covid as we did in World War II, and it’s disgustingly likely that before this is over that number will eclipse American WWII deaths. So I understand where that money is going. Such expenditures are understandable and clearly benefit the greater good.

Until we have evidence to back up both the concept and the expenditures, the United States Space Force will be commonly perceived as Donald Trump’s vanity project with its marketing elements ripped off from those who have been fostering our sense of wonder without the benefit of any tax dollars whatsoever.

In other words, the United States Space Force is little more than a joke.

But the joke is on us.

Brainiac On Banjo #102: Will Wonder Woman Destroy Life As We Know It?

Brainiac On Banjo #102: Will Wonder Woman Destroy Life As We Know It?

The answer to my headlined query is “yes, but don’t blame it on her.”

In eight days or so, I suspect the majority of Pop Culture Squadsters will be plopping our quarantined asses on our couches and watching Wonder Woman 1984. We might be eating microwaved popcorn and chomping the heads off of gummy bears. Some will be bitching about how they miss the magnificence of the shoebox movie theaters out by the Applebee’s, and to these folks I mutter the immortal words of William Shatner: Get a life!

Movie theaters were puking up blood long before The Joker weaponized Covid-19. The whole idea behind the contemporary movie theater was to motivate people into driving 10 miles, parking in a lot and walking 3500 icy feet to a gaudy poster-laden building, wrestling with an obstinate ticket machine and a debit card to ransom the tickets for which you’ve already paid, standing in a ridiculously long line to procure a 55-gallon drum of soda pop and a vat of popcorn upon which somebody hosed glow-in-the-dark oil, maneuver all that into the one theater out of maybe two dozen that is showing your movie in the format you paid for and juggle your way into your assigned seat, which, of course, is right behind the one occupied by The Incredible Hulk.

(Fun Fact: Those ever-rotating hot dogs at the candy counter? Yup, you’re absolutely right. They have been twirling in vain since Jimmy Carter announced his presidential run. I wouldn’t bite into that shit if it was sprayed with the Covid vaccine.)

Portal to portal, including gas, you’ve blown your kids’ college fund on a night out which, in December 2020, might kill you. Remember the good old days when all you had to worry about was getting an STD?

Yeah, I’m not a fan of the multiplex movie theater. I love seeing movies with a bunch of my friends. If some asshole is talking in my home theater, most likely that asshole is me. But with 65-inch 5K televisions now available in boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, I can invite those same folks to my home to watch a streamer and charge less than half the theater rate for well-greased popcorn.

There’s lots of stuff from my youth that I miss. Restaurants that aren’t themed. Bars with less than a half dozen television sets all tuned to El Ocho. Cars with fins. Parking meters. Lime Lifesavers. Glittering movie palaces that inspire awe and put you in the mood for magic. The only thing these shoebox theaters give me, aside from a maxed-out credit card, is the thrill of listening to two movies at once to the light of dumb people’s smartphones.

So, now, the theater chains are screaming about streaming. I get it: their future is on the line, and that sucks. Pardon me if I’m just a bit more concerned about the neighborhood bars and other family-owned businesses that do not force me to go to a nearly-abandoned shopping mall where three of the four anchors went blooie because Macy’s doesn’t understand that buying up the local department store chains undermines the shopping experience.

Like I said, times change. Geriatrics bitch about how great the good old days used to be, and we’re often right about that. Childhood experiences are habit-forming. But tomorrow’s good old days will look a lot like a big parking lot that houses a Best Buy, a Denny’s, a Costco, a Pizza Hut, and maybe a Bed, Bath and Beyond. You know, the folks who are keeping the postal service alive.

Before you know it, the streamers will have gone the way of Blockbuster. They will have been replaced by something else. I’m hoping for that phone company brain implant chip predicted in 1967 in that truly wonderful movie, The President’s Analyst.

You probably can catch The President’s Analyst on one of the streamers.

With Further Ado #124: Leading Man and Superman, Superheroes on Stage

With Further Ado #124: Leading Man and Superman, Superheroes on Stage

Last week I turned With Further Ado over to one of my students, Anthony Hernandez, as the winner of the first annual Ithaca College Guest Columnist contest.  At the Ithaca College School of Business, I teach entrepreneurism, including classes on planning and managing trade shows – like comic conventions.  This semester, we’ve examined the many changing issues of this unique segment of entertainment business.  I invited the students to submit potential With Further Ado columns for Pop Culture Squad, and I was very impressed with their thoughts and writing.

Because it was hard to select just one, here’s the “runner-up”, Ithaca College student Tyler Jennes. I think you’ll like what he has to say too!

Leading Man and Superman: Superheroes on Stage

by Tyler Jennes

When you’re someone who harbors a deep love of superheroes as well as theater, you don’t tend to see a lot of crossover between those two interests. So, imagine my surprise when 2019 produced two substantial contributions to that middle Venn Diagram portion – that being the Marvel Spotlight series of superhero plays commissioned by Samuel French, and the Tom Kitt musical Superhero. But not all stories end happily, for the Marvel Spotlight plays don’t show any indication of being produced on a scale larger than local theater, and Superhero was, well, not great. But I’m used to disappointment as a superhero/theater fan. Continue reading “With Further Ado #124: Leading Man and Superman, Superheroes on Stage”

Preview Review for the Week of 12/16/20: Taarna: The Last Taakarian #1

Preview Review for the Week of 12/16/20: Taarna: The Last Taakarian #1

Welcome to the latest installment of Preview Reviews.

This week we have a new series by Stephanie Phillips and Patrick Zircher called Taarna: The Last Taarakian from Heavy Metal.

You can find this book at your LCS on December 16, 2020.


Taarna: The Last Taarakian #1
Heavy Metal, Inc.
Written by Stephanie Phillips
Art by Patrick Zircher
Colors by Jessica Kholinne
Letters by Marshall Dillon
Cover Art by Christian Ward

Original Solicitation:

From the death of the last Taarakian and a collapsed universe, Taarna was born. Heavy Metal’s flagship character from the animated film returns in a new series of cosmic mystery and battles throughout the multiverse in her war against Kako, the embodiment of chaos. This is the story of a millennia-old battle between godlike beings, with all sentient life caught in their path. A new life for Taarna begins from writer Stephanie Phillips, artist Patrick Zircher, with covers by Christian Ward (Invisible Kingdom).

PCS Review:

We have been looking forward to this book for quite some time. Soon after it was announced, we spoke with writer Stephanie Phillips about her excitement for the book. The initial installment of this story is visually gorgeous and evokes a lot of the somber and cinematic quality of the Heavy Metal movie that introduced the world to Taarna in 1981.  There is a scene in the last portion of the book that recreates and expands upon a classic part of the Taarna story in the movie. It is masterfully rendered.

This book is captivating in a unique way. Phillips tells the story in mostly from a mostly observational perspective which feels natural considering that the character did not speak in the movie. However, a strong emotional connection is formed to this stoic figure through her actions. The deliberate pacing is perfectly executed. The quiet moments match excellently with the action sequences. Continue reading “Preview Review for the Week of 12/16/20: Taarna: The Last Taakarian #1”

Weird Scenes #118: The Lighter Side of Covid

Weird Scenes #118: The Lighter Side of Covid

 

Bernie Farber (L) and the author, as feckless hippies

My dear friend Bernie Farber has been in a nursing home for a few weeks, recovering from an accident. Bernie and I go way back – and I mean way, way back, almost 52 years when we were both bratty young writers for the fabled “underground” newspaper, the Chicago Seed. A smart, funny, dedicated guy who just happens to be a brilliant writer. I rarely reread my old stuff, but I reread his.

When I first heard he was in a nursing home, I felt a strong sense of dread followed by a wistful wave of nostalgia. For the past nine months just about the worst place one could be, Covid-wise, was in a nursing home. We’ve got better procedures now, but thankfully we now have the vaccine. By “we” I mean Bernie; he’s slightly older than I am, but folks in such environs will be getting the shot before I do and that is quite fair. As a science fiction fan and a lawyer who quotes from Star Trek, Bernie has no problem welcoming the shot.

Mindy Newell (R) and the legendary Trina Robbins

The nostalgia part kicked in when I realized Bernie was one of the last people I had seen before the quarantine. I was back home this past February, which now seems like a century ago, and I saw Bernie the day before I drove back to the Atlantic Northeast. When I got home my daughter put barbed wire around the doors and I haven’t been out of state, or even out of the house but for my car, ever since. Ah, the good old days!

Another friend who will be getting the shot around the time this is posted is comics writer/editor/groundbreaker Mindy Newell. That’s because in her secret identity Mindy is an operating room nurse, and that makes her a first responder, so she gets the shot so she can go on saving other people’s lives. Coincidentally, Mindy also is a Star Trek quoting science fiction fan. Talk about “live long and prosper,” huh?

Batman and Robin meet Sammy Davis Jr, sans 7 Hoods

So I want to thank Bernie and Mindy and the thousands of highest-risk folks out there who are, as a matter of fact, our beta testers. I trust the process by which this vaccine was approved, but, still, I figure the first person who used a parachute had thoughts when he first looked down. Science is not faith-based. If you’re among the first to get the jab, you’re opening some important doors for the rest of humanity, as well as for your friends and family.

I have no doubt that there will be so many celebrities taking the shot in public this week you’d think it was being given by Batman and Robin while they were Bat-roping it up the side of a building. Most of our former presidents, arguably save one, will be getting it – Democrats and Republicans alike. Prominent doctors will be going on-camera, starting with Anthony Fauci, putting their money where their mouths are. We’ll probably see a lot of show business folks doing the same thing. That’s great: we need something in the neighborhood of 75% of us to get inoculated before we can pull the death count down, and we all should get the shots as soon as each of us can.

The Multi-Colored Rainbow Religious Sacrament

However, I can predict some of those who will not. Some will bitch about religious freedom, but these people are self-serving assholes. We don’t let Mormons do their polygamy thing, we don’t permit those whose faith structures indulge in human or animal sacrifice to do their thing, and only members of the Native American Church can use their faith as a reason to score some peyote. Religious freedom stops where the next person’s freedom begins – and vice versa.

Some of the death-loving idiots who will refuse to get the vaccine will be seen on television on January 20, 2021 when, unless plans change, our former president Donald Orange Skull will have a massive Loser Rally in his newly adopted home state of Florida, the retirement home of Al Capone and Ted Bundy. Given the fact that some 74,000,000 American racists voted for the lying piece of shit, I think it is safe to assume that almost all of them will refuse to wear a mask, will not engage in social distancing, will decline to get the vaccine, and/or will be carrying handguns.

So I figure around February 1st, which henceforth I shall call February Fool’s Day, the rabid right will have more of its best and brightest lying in bags in refrigerated trucks.

You know what? I’m fine with that. I make my own bed.

 

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Book Writer Erica Schultz

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Book Writer Erica Schultz

We have another great interview to bring to you. A few weeks ago, I had a chance to have a conversation with comic book writer and editor Erica Schultz.

In the past couple of years her writing credits have really started to pile up. She has written for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Red 5 Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, her own label Vices Press, and more.

Erica also has taught lettering for Comics Experience and is currently an instructor at the Kubert School.

Her creator owned comic series Forgotten Home, with art by Marika Cresta, was published as a Comixology Original, and she is currently writing The Legacy of Mandrake, the Magician for Red 5 Comics.

We talked about her process and her latest projects. It was a fun interview and Erica is a fantastic storyteller.

We transcribed a good portion of the interview below, but there is plenty more in podcast.

You can find the audio recording of our discussion below. We hope you enjoy the conversation.

 


PopCultureSquad: Let’s start off with the newest book that you have released. The Legacy of Mandrake the Magician. You are writing with art by Diego Giribaldi was released on October 28th. It is wonderful. Can you tell us how it came about?

Erica Schultz: Actually Stonebot Comics approached me. In the summer of last year, I was approached by Matias Timarchi, and he wanted to know my availability for a possible project about a “legacy” character. Like with a lot of projects, when people reach out, they don’t give all the details of the projects that they are planning because of NDAs and stuff like that.

He asked if I was familiar with Mandrake, and I said that I was familiar with the character, but I am not like a super-fan or anything, and I would have to do some research. He mentioned that they were going to be updating the character. It wasn’t going to be a reboot of Mandrake. It was going to be a legacy character.

PCS: What type of framework did they give you for that?

ES: They actually had been working with another writer prior, so I was given kind of a story bible. I was told to use it as a guide. So I came up with some stuff. Some of it we used in the final story, and others they pushed back on because I think that there was a specific direction that they wanted to go with.

I had a lot of fun working on the character. I read a bunch of the old strips so that I could get an idea about the world. Also, in the original series, Mandrake’s powers and abilities aren’t really defined. It is almost as if he has whatever ability he needs at that particular time.

PCS: Right, well, back then the didn’t worry about people going on blogs and complaining how things didn’t match.

ES: Exactly, so I wanted to set some parameters and a framework. The fact that the main character Mandy is just learning her abilities, that helps. She is not able to just snap her fingers and everything gets done. She has stops and starts.

I think that having a teenage girl, who is dealing with not just trying to get a handle on these abilities, but also trying to get a handle on life, is fun, and there is a lot of potential there and a lot of different avenues that you can go down.

PCS: What is the publishing plan for Mandrake? Is it a limited series?

ES: Well, there is a #0 issue that is free on Comixology.com. That is the digital only intro. It is a one and done, but it introduces the character. As of right now, this is a mini-series. We have discussed more, but we are not technically doing more at this point. The #0 issue and the four-issue mini-series will be collected in a trade, for now.

PCS: The opening issue is a great set up, and it feels like there will be some serious hurdles for Mandy?

ES: Yes. High School sucks! She and her mom both really love each other, but they are very strong personalities, and that tends to cause conflict. Her mom has very specific things that she wants for Mandy. Mandy is first generation American, and coming from an immigrant family myself, this idea that you have to go to college and be better than I did, is sort of sticking point between Mandy and Mabel, her mom. Mabel has a more traditional tract that she want Mandy to go in. Mandy is wondering if she wants” the normal life.”

Check out the audio for some exploration about how expectations of maturing are changing and what Erica thinks about how it works in Mandrake.

Continue reading “Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Book Writer Erica Schultz”