So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #088: Vegas Vacation (Part 1)

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #088: Vegas Vacation (Part 1)

When I last left everyone, I’d made mention of exploring Unshaven Comics’ recent respite to Sin City. So I guess I owe no one a Coke. Whew. That’s right, two articles in two weeks. Maybe I’m on to something? We’ll see.

Before I dive deep into our trip, let me take you back — all the way back — to the secret origins of Unshaven Comics. When we debuted at Wizard World Chicago in 2008, the shared goal of the table was simple: Find an all-important Comic Book Editor™ who would be so enamored with our creative non-fiction book “The March: Crossing Bridges in America” that they’d whisk us off to Comic Book Land™ with three full time jobs waiting for us to just make comics for the rest of our lives.

No, I’m not even kidding. We were in our mid-twenties and absolutely that delusional and devoid of any actual industry knowledge. 

The upside to this goal? It made Mike Gold laugh so hard he hasn’t stopped being our friend since his late wife — the amazing Linda Gold — dragged him over to our table to hear about “The March”. Silver linings and all that jazz.

After we three Unshaven Lads learned how the comic book sausage was actually made, our goals shifted appropriately. If the industry wasn’t going to hand us all jobs, then we’d play the long game instead. We recognized that the journey was likely only ever to be our reward, and as such, we declared to no one the new goal: exist. And maybe, if we were ever lucky? Our flagship title The Samurnauts might one day become more than a comic series.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #088: Vegas Vacation (Part 1)”

As Is: Heroes

As Is: Heroes

“So, come on ye childhood heroes! Won’t you rise up from the pages of your comic books, your super crooks, and show us all the way! Make your will and testament. Won’t you join your local government? We’ll have Superman for president. Let Robin save the day.” From Thick As A Brick, written by Ian Anderson.

The Old Folks At My Home

It’s amazing which people I’d vote for over Donald Trump. I suspect at least seven billion out of our global population of 8.2 billion would make that list, including a couple former Nazis who draw the line at fascist fundamentalism. This is not about Trump. This is about saving our nation — and not just from Trump. He’s not even the tip of the MAGA iceberg. In fact, after November they will no longer really need him.

If my goal was simply to defeat Trump, I’d back Taylor Swift. And it’s not about Joe Biden‘s accomplishments, which are truly breathtaking particularly given the fact that if Joe sneezed not a single MAGA would say gesundheit. It’s been four years of pushing the boulder up the mountain against a right-wing House of Representatives, a nearly evenly split Senate, and a Supreme Court filled with religious fascists too insane for The John Birch Society. Against all that, Joe has been doing great.

Judge Holden

This is not about age, and it most certainly is not about a bad head cold. That’s not what we saw last Thursday. Mick Jagger is only a year younger than Joe, and Keith Richards is the man who invented aging. While Joe was debating Judge Holden, Mick and Keith were kicking ass on stage at Chicago’s Soldier Field. But the job of running the United States of America should be a bit more focused.

(Yeah, I know. It’s only rock and roll…) Continue reading “As Is: Heroes”

With Further Ado #304: Same as it Ever Was : Toxic Fandom

With Further Ado #304: Same as it Ever Was : Toxic Fandom

There were a few online conversations recently that discussed the nature of Star Wars fans. On one side of the argument, Star Wars fans are categorized as crabby and inflexible, disliking all of the official recent adventures. On the other hand, there’s a school of thought that corporate owners “just don’t get it”, and that they are ruining the property with their clumsy attempts with new material.

And sometimes it gets really nasty.

Toxic Fandom is – unfortunately – a real thing. Conversations, forecasts, and analyses can quickly become judgmental, angry and ugly. Maaaan..I miss the old days when everyone was friendly and nice.

But wait! That might not have been quite the case. Maybe there never were any “good old days” when fans were happy, kind, and complacent. Here’s why I think that.

This past weekend, a comic shop near Buffalo, NY had an amazing sale of a longtime fan’s treasures. He had recently passed, but quite obviously had amassed, and hopefully enjoyed, an astounding collection. I rescued quite a few Avengers items from this “unveiling” sales event.

No, no, not those Avengers. These were books and fanzines all about the 1960s TV Avengers, from the UK. This weekly show was extraordinarily popular, and is still fondly remembered by folks like me. It mixed the prim and proper genteelness of British culture with the violence and sexiness of spy thrillers. Continue reading “With Further Ado #304: Same as it Ever Was : Toxic Fandom”

Brainiac On Banjo: Cancel, Uncancel, Cancel, Repeat

Brainiac On Banjo: Cancel, Uncancel, Cancel, Repeat

“I blow thru here. The music goes ’round and around (whoa-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho) and it comes out here.” From The Music Goes ‘Round and ‘Round, written by Edward Farley and Mike Riley

It’s not that I have a long memory. I’ve simply lived through a lotta stuff and the goofy has a tendency to stick inside my brainpan.

For example, I remember when Marvel cancelled both Doctor Strange and She-Hulk. I also remember when Marvel cancelled both Doctor Strange and She-Hulk again. Indeed, I can remember a great many times Marvel cancelled both Doctor Strange and She-Hulk.

In fact, I could tell whenever Marvel felt competitive pressure from other publishers — and, yes, I was an “other publisher” so I have a few decades of skin in that game. The idea is, most readers will buy new Marvel titles before they would buy those of “the other outfits,” and they’d be sucking up all the consumer dollars like a cocaine freak at a new record release party.

It still isn’t bad logic, it’s just kinda dated and not as on-the-money as it used to be. Many readers have discovered there are a lot more comics out there that deserve both staples and their attention, and some of those books are absolutely great. Of course, your mileage may vary.

The big red flag on that operation had been Robert E. Howard’s Kull. Marvel would relaunch Kull every time they wanted more rack space. Think of Oreo releasing a Kull cookie; Mondelēz International’s lust for shelf space is gargantuan. But, hell, I dunno the rights situation regarding Kull these days. I know Conan the Character is up for grabs and I look forward to the day Erik Larsen teams the Savage Dragon with Captain Tootsie, the real Daredevil, and Conan the Axe-Dude. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Cancel, Uncancel, Cancel, Repeat”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #087: When Did We Become Old Men?

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #087: When Did We Become Old Men?

Welcome back to my infrequently populated (yes, I know, I’m sorry!) corner of the interwebs wherein I wax poetic about all things geeky in my life. That tends to revolve around a continuously dwindling amount of things: pro-wrestling, streaming mostly (now) older shows, and my not-so-secret-second-life as a comic book author/artist/entrepreneur. PCS’s resident curmudgeon Mike Gold simplified me down to “multi-hyphenate”, and now I’m a little mad because I’ll be damned if it doesn’t fit perfectly. Grumble grumble. I forever digress.

I’ve come out from hiding, halfway through the year, to go through a few big bullet points of Unshaven Comics’ 2024 thus far. When I last wrote in, I condensed our 2023 into a fine little recap. Since that write up, we’ve ventured to Indianapolis for PopCon Indy, Traverse City, MI for Cherry Capital Con, and now most recently Charlotte, NC for Heroes Con. We also went to Las Vegas — yes, for comic book related frivolity — but I’ll get to that in another column. If you don’t see that column in the next two weeks? I owe you a coke.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #087: When Did We Become Old Men?”

With Further Ado #303: Guest Columnist – Too Much Batman?

With Further Ado #303: Guest Columnist – Too Much Batman?

This week, I’m proud to present another student winner for our With Further Ado column: Aleks Maksymyshyn. Aleks is a powerhouse worker and a passionate fan. He is the type that always overdelivers – both academically and in planning/managing an effort like ITHACON.  And he knows his stuff too. I’m sure you’ll enjoy his article.


Step Aside Batman: DC’s Reliance on the Dark Knight to Sell Comics

By Aleks Maksymyshyn

If there is one thing DC Comics is known for, it’s being the publisher of Superman, Wonder Woman, Booster Gold, and a little-known character called Batman. Now, this phenomenon called Batman has caught on and had a lengthy run in TV, movies, and comics. Easily eclipsing all of the heroes above. “Wink.”

However, how much is too much? How much Batman can we have? Many of the most popular things to come out of DC are Batman related while other characters like The Question, Huntress, and The Doom Patrol seem to get side lined most of the time in favor of something more reliable. It seems like at this point, the entirety of the DC Universe revolves around Gotham City. Not a multitude of cities like Keystone, Metropolis, or Opal City. Gotham is the city getting all the major events, the newest villains, and the most attention by new writers and artists. It’s Batmania from the Summer of 1989 over at DC, and it seems to never end. We understand that Batman is DC’s most popular character. In fact, I grew up loving the character myself. Batman and Spider-Man were my favorites growing up, along with a bit of Scooby-Doo for good fun, but the overabundance of him feels like it’s hitting a saturation point. Marvel has promoted all their characters so much that everyone knows who Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, The X-Men, Spider-Man are. The diversity of their catalog is immense. So is DC’s, but they don’t seem to utilize it well. Continue reading “With Further Ado #303: Guest Columnist – Too Much Batman?”

Special SquadCast Interview with Joey Esposito and Sean Von Gorman

Special SquadCast Interview with Joey Esposito and Sean Von Gorman

We had the opportunity to talk to comic creators Joey Esposito and Sean Von Gorman recently. The primary topic of conversation was the soon to be in your hands debut issue of The Pedestrian from Magma Comix. This project, which began in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, and is about to come to fruition.

We spoke about where this comic came from and how these two talented creators have persevered in their careers and with this project to get where they are today.

The first issue of The Pedestrian will be in comic shops on August 7th. Make sure you tell your shop to order it before July 8th.

Please enjoy this conversation and check out the solicitation below.

The Pedestrian #1

Behold, The Pedestrian! A strange visitor speedwalks into Summer City and silently changes the lives of its residents. But not all is quiet in this sleepy, small town—an ancient conflict linked to the secret history of street signs is brewing! DON’T WALK… RUN! In The Pedestrian, justice always has the right of way!

Writer Joey Esposito (Batman: Urban Legends) reunites with Pawn Shop collaborator, artist Sean Von Gorman (Ghost Planet), for an offbeat tale that will stick with you!

Cover A – $3.99 – 32 pages (24 story)
Diamond Item Code – JUN241817 / Lunar Item Code – 0624MM470

Cover B – $4.99 – 36 pages (24 story) • Cardstock cover
Diamond Item Code – JUN241818 / Lunar Item Code – 0624MM471

On Sale – August 7
Final Order Cutoff (FOC) – July 8 (Lunar/Diamond)

New Number Ones: New Comics Series and Specials Coming for the Week of 6/19/24

New Number Ones: New Comics Series and Specials Coming for the Week of 6/19/24

Welcome to the New Number Ones!

Each week we bring you the list of new series and special editions coming this week. We are highlighting what you need to put in your cart at the comic shop or digital marketplace.

This there are a bunch of great new series and special release at your local comic monger’s shop. Check out this list.

We have an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from the publishers of some of the cool new comics that are coming out this week. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you about the new comics in question.

We have books on this week’s list from:  Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Mad Cave Studios, Z2 Comics, and Image Comics.

We will bring you reviews 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.

New Series
New One-Shots and Special Editions


New Series This Week 


Destro #1
Image Comics / Skybound
Written by Dan Watters
Art by Adrei Bressan & Adriano Lucas
Letters by Rus Wooton
Cover Art by Bressan & Lucas

MINISERIES PREMIERE

THE NEXT CHAPTER OF THE COBRA THREAT BEGINS HERE.

James McCullen Destro XXIV is the man behind M.A.R.S. Industries, the undisputed leader in providing high-tech weapons to world powers…for the right price.

But the emergence of Energon has changed everything.

As Destro’s ambitions grow, the “Crimson Twins” Tomax and Xamot Paoli emerge to destroy their competition, and Cobra Commander realizes his current ally could be his future greatest enemy.

Acclaimed writer DAN WATTERS (UNIVERSAL MONSTERS: CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON LIVES!, Loki) and artist ANDREI BRESSAN (DARK RIDE, BIRTHRIGHT) change the balance of power in the Energon Universe forever.

Release Date: June 19, 2024

PCS NOTES: The G.I. Joe comic book renaissance steams along!


Galaxy of Madness #1
Mad Cave Studios
Written by Magdalene Visaggio
Art by Michael Avon Oeming
Cover Art by Oeming

In the far-flung thrilling future of the 41st Century, and on the other side of the galaxy, a swashbuckling space archaeologist, Vigil Virgo, is on the cusp of learning a universe-shattering secret in this four-color fantasy! But she’ll have to dive into the abyss, where no human was ever meant to go, to do it. The question is what happens when she emerges from the other side.

Release Date: June 19, 2024

PCS NOTES: What a fantastic pairing of creators. Can’t wait to get this one. Continue reading “New Number Ones: New Comics Series and Specials Coming for the Week of 6/19/24”

With Further Ado #302: Go Ride Your Bike!

With Further Ado #302: Go Ride Your Bike!

For a comic lover like me, summer was the perfect time to dive into a stack of comics. I have vivid memories of reading comics on steamy summer days. I also have memories of my mom telling me to “Get out of the house!” and to “Go outside and play!”

I grew up in the quintessential TV sitcom neighborhood. Every day was a grand adventure for me and my buddies. And it often started with a bike ride. We did have a “need for speed”, as ridiculous as that sounds, but our bikes also gave us a certain amount of freedom. We could – theoretically – go anywhere.

I guess I wasn’t the only kid that felt that strongly about these two topics (comics and bikes) either. I’ve been digging through a bunch of vintage comics (more on this amazing collection gifted to me another time). I’m struck by just how many bike ads used to be in comics! Continue reading “With Further Ado #302: Go Ride Your Bike!”

Press Release: Indie Comics Studio Ghost Machine Create Scholarship with The Joe Kubert School

Press Release: Indie Comics Studio Ghost Machine Create Scholarship with The Joe Kubert School

Newly created comic collective Ghost Machine has announced a really cool relationship with one of the premier institutions of learning for comic book creatives. A full tuition scholarship and collaborative teaching at The Joe Kubert School are included in the partnership. Read all the details below:

Press Release: 

PORTLAND, Ore. 06/11/2024 — Ghost Machine has set up the Ghost Machine Scholarship in collaboration with The Joe Kubert School, the iconic graphic arts educational institute founded by legendary comic book artist Joe Kubert. Located in Dover, NJ, the esteemed school has nurtured and honed the talents of countless comic book artists and illustrators including Andy and Adam Kubert, Lee Weeks, Stephen R. Bissette, as well as Ghost Machine’s own Brad Anderson and Rob Leigh.

Beginning with the 2024/2025 Fall term, the all-new scholarship will cover full tuition and supplies for one, third-year student at the school known for its renowned, comprehensive approach to sequential art, encompassing not only traditional drawing and inking techniques but also digital illustration and storytelling skills. The first recipient of the Ghost Machine Scholarship will be selected before the start of the new school year. In addition to the scholarship, Ghost Machine creators will teach a series of guest lectures at The Joe Kubert School, covering topics such as writing, visual storytelling, character creation and collaboration.

When founding Ghost Machine, the new generation of artists has always been top of mind for the groundbreaking creator collective, led by a best-in-class lineup of artists and writers whose award-winning and iconic works include Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Aquaman, Stargirl, JSA, The Flash, The Ultimates, Black Lightning, Green Arrow, and countless more: Brad Anderson, Jason Fabok, Gary Frank, Bryan Hitch, Geoff Johns, Rob Leigh, Lamont Magee, Francis Manapul, Brad Meltzer, Ivan Reis, Peter Snejbjerg, Peter J. Tomasi, and Maytal Zchut.

“Ghost Machine was created to disrupt the status quo with an innovative business model giving character and company ownership fully to its creators. But we didn’t build Ghost Machine only for our present generation, we very much envisioned it to include the superstar creators of tomorrow. This scholarship not only honors the importance of The Joe Kubert School within the industry, but it allows us to pay it forward by building an environment that supports, mentors and helps elevate new and aspiring talent,” said the Ghost Machine creators in a statement.

Anthony Marques, President of The Joe Kubert School, said: “Not only has Ghost Machine established itself as a powerhouse in the comics industry, their dedication and belief in nurturing the next batch of incredible comic artists and writers aligns with our mission at The Joe Kubert School. The Ghost Machine Scholarship is not just an opportunity for one of our students; it’s also a launching point for them to jumpstart their career and provides mentorship for all of the Joe Kubert School students. We couldn’t be prouder to partner with our friends at Ghost Machine and look forward to the wonderful work that is about to be created!”

Ghost Machine #1, the company’s highly anticipated one-shot that introduced its lineup of new and original characters and shared universes, was a critical and commercial success, reaching #1 on bestseller lists when it published in January 2024. A Top 10, triple sell-out followed in April with Ghost Machine’s first monthly titles: Geiger #1 (Geoff Johns/Gary Frank/Brad Anderson/Rob Leigh), Redcoat #1 (Geoff Johns/Bryan Hitch/Brad Anderson/Rob Leigh) and Rook: Exodus #1 (Geoff Johns/Jason Fabok/Brad Anderson/Rob Leigh). The Top 10 run was continued by each title’s second installment this month and third issues hit shelves in June. Ghost Machine’s horror universe Hyde Street (Geoff Johns/Ivan Reis/Brad Anderson/Rob Leigh) will unleash scares this fall, and its Family Odysseys titles The Rocketfellers (Peter J. Tomasi/Francis Manapul/Rob Leigh) and Hornsby & Halo (Peter J. Tomasi/Peter Snejbjerg/Brad Anderson/Rob Leigh) will round out the year on a lighter note. All of Ghost Machine’s titles are published through Image Comics. In an industry first, all of Ghost Machine’s creators jointly own and run the company, sharing in all of Ghost Machine’s publishing, media, merchandising and licensing. Each creator is exclusive to the company for their comic book work after completing projects already committed to.

ABOUT GHOST MACHINE:
Ghost Machine’s groundbreaking creator collective was launched at New York Comic Con in October 2023 and features a global best-of-class lineup of artists and writers whose award-winning and iconic works include a who’s who of comic book legends such as Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Aquaman, Stargirl, JSA, The Flash, The Ultimates, Black Lightning, Green Arrow and countless more: Brad Anderson, Jason Fabok, Gary Frank, Bryan Hitch, Geoff Johns, Rob Leigh, Lamont Magee, Francis Manapul, Brad Meltzer, Ivan Reis, Peter Snejbjerg, Peter J. Tomasi, and Maytal Zchut. In an industry first, all of Ghost Machine’s creators jointly own and run the company, sharing in all of Ghost Machine’s publishing, media, merchandising and licensing. Each creator is exclusive to the company for their comic book work after completing projects already committed to.