Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Writer Jeffrey Burandt

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Writer Jeffrey Burandt

Our latest Pop Culture SquadCast features comic writer Jeffrey Burandt who is in the midst of campaign to fund his latest comic on Kickstarter. Burandt’s style is satirical with warm heart. The best part about his writing is that while the things he writes about run the gamut from straight humor to life and death sci-fi, the reader gets the sense that Burandt is enjoying the telling of the story regardless of topic or genre.

We got a chance to talk to him about his new project with Jason Goungor called Killer Bad, and we also talked about his other projects including Odd Schnozz from Oni, anthology projects Love is Love and Pandemix, and more.

Killer Bad looks to be a hell of ride. This first issue that is being Kickstarted is a superhero slasher story set in the 90’s.

 

Check out the campaign information for Killer Bad and then go and back it.

 

 

The comic is described by the creators  this way.

KILLER BAD is a brand new, superhero-horror comic book series with ’90’s comix flair! Each issue is a done-in-one story reflecting a different horror genre through the superhero lens, but with connective tissues of plot and character that run through the entire series. And you can start at the beginning right now with issue #1!  

When an elite super-group travels to a remote island to retrieve a powerful artifact, they are stalked and killed by a super-slasher, serial killer. Killer Bad #1 is a grindhouse, gore-fest of world-shattering death and destruction!

The campaign ends on September 1 and is super close to being funded. There are terrific backer rewards tiers available.  Below you can see the  preview pages.

 

 


We want to thank Jeffrey Burandt for sitting down with us and sharing the info about Killer Bad and his craft. You can find him online at jefwrites.com and on Twitter at @jef_uk

With Further Ado #160: What is the Best Comic DC Is Publishing?

With Further Ado #160: What is the Best Comic DC Is Publishing?

Recently, DC Comics made a lot of changes, after the last time they made a lot of changes, and I thought I was kind done with them. But you know what? I find myself enjoying quite a few of their titles.

  • For example, I’m digging Swamp Thing, especially with that great Mike Perkins art . Who would have ever thought that a character with an impressive lineage of top artists (Wrightson, Yeates, Bissette, Paquette – the list goes on and on) could ever find another artist on that level? They did with Perkins. His work is top-notch.
  • Detective Comics -While the main Batman title has been become a little too creepy for me, I have been picking up the last few issues of ‘ It’s refreshing to see the trials and tribulations of a downsized Bruce Wayne.
  • Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert are killing it on Batman: The Detective. I believe that Andy Kubert’s art is better than ever. Every page is in the “astonishing” category.

Wing and a Prayer

The best kept little secret at DC might be the new Nightwing series. In fact, it might be the most enjoyable comic DC’s publishing right now.

I saw a social media post from one the world’s top comic shop retailers, Marc Hammond. He was extolling the virtues of this Nightwing series just as I was preparing this column.  He’s a guy who knows his comics and keeps up with everything in the industry.

“The creative team on Nightwing is absolutely knocking it out of the park,” said Marc Hammond, Co-Owner of Aw Yeah Comics.* “Every issue immediately jumps to the top of the stack. It has a classic Dick Grayson feel to it while definitely forging a new path, placing Nightwing prominently at the forefront of the DC pantheon.” Continue reading “With Further Ado #160: What is the Best Comic DC Is Publishing?”

With Further Ado #159: Summer Beach Reading …with the Saint

With Further Ado #159: Summer Beach Reading …with the Saint

Oftentimes when we think about characters like Batman, James Bond or Harry Potter, we imagine they will go on and on ad infinitum. Despite the overwhelming merchandising juggernauts that these properties have become, that’s not really the case.

Take Leslie Charteris’ The Saint. This character, a devil-may-care adventurer, debuted in a story called Meet the Tiger in 1928. He then went on to a long career of battling bad guys in more novels, magazines, radio shows, TV shows, movies and even comics.

But I feel if I offered $100 to the first of my college students who could tell me (without looking it up on the web) who the character the Saint is – I’d still have that C-note!

I was introduced to The Saint through the long-running  60sTV show. This was, in some ways, a multi-season audition for the star, Roger Moore, for his subsequent role as James Bond.  Moore was charming, focused and fun – just right for the part.

The series focused on light mysteries and adventures  in glamorous cities all around the world.  The Saint would usually romance a different co-star each week. And one of the cleverest bits of the show was a recurring gag right before the opening theme song. Invariably, some random character would recognize the ‘famous Simon Templar, aka The Saint” and call him out.  (Simon Templar was kind of famous in the world he inhabited.) An animated halo would magically appear over  Moore’s head and then he’d notice the animation, look up at it and shrug in resignation. He was definitely in on the joke. It was all very meta before meta was a thing.

And I have another thought for this week.  I think it’s always great to read a mystery or two during the summertime. On the beach, if possible. And I want to make it easy for you all to do just that.

So, this week I’m featuring the Saint + a mystery story. The following pages are from an old issue of Life Magazine* that present a comic (but with photos instead of illustrations) of a Saint mystery adventure.

For this drama, The Saint is played by the author Leslie Charteris. It’s set in the glamorous setting of Palm Springs. And it’s a “fair play mystery”, so see if you can figure out who the villain is before The Saint does!

*thanks to Professor Laurence Maslon for the heads up!

Continued After the Next Page #018: What is a Substack and Why Do I Care?

Continued After the Next Page #018: What is a Substack and Why Do I Care?

After decades of predictable delivery methods for comic book content, the past twenty years has been full of novel delivery mechanisms, and now we are being presented with an new option: Comics via Newsletter. The New York Times reported on the announcement that several high profile writers are joining Nick Spencer at Substack.com and creating comic content for their subscription based newsletters.

Writers Jonathan Hickman, James Tynion IV, Saladin Ahmed, Molly Ostertag, and Scott Snyder are the first group of creators that are announced to be creating on the Substack platform. Substack is a website that bills itself as “a place for independent writing.” If you want to try to determine what the platform is trying to accomplish, you can start with their About Page, and I wish you luck. George Gustines of the New York Times did a good job of covering the details of the announcement, and if you have access to the NYT, I recommend checking it out, as it is a big deal in comics news.

I would like to look at this concept from a consumer’s perspective. This development is indicative of the difficult economics behind comic book publishing. Print publishing in general seems to be in great turmoil in terms of making things profitable as the world moves further away from paper.  I get that writers and artists are struggling and do not begrudge anyone the opportunity to get paid for their art.

This newsletter platform concerns me as a consumer of comics. It raises questions in terms of delivery expectation and content. I wonder how often a subscriber will be paying for expected content on a subscription and be disappointed that someone fails to deliver. The difference in this type of platform versus Patreon.com is that while Patreon is advertised as a support mechanism for creators, Substack is promising a product in return for the subscription. Without corporations and publishing companies absorbing the liability for delays and errors in products, the creators on Substack will have no one to hide behind if the product does not make it to market as anticipated. This is a big risk for future revenue and reputation.

There has been little said to this point as to what the subscribers are actually entitled to and what the subscription tiers actually cost. A concern is that the typical subscription is around $5 per month, and that generally works out to the cost of a single issue of a comic book.  Will these Substack Comics be generating a full single issue per month? Other digital platforms such as Webtoon or Comixology deliver products that are either free or complete at time of consumption. Therefore. the consumer knows what they are getting for their “money”.

My last concern is that as a consumer, I now have to determine if reading and purchasing comic content from some of my favorite creators is worth supporting Substack. There are plenty of reservations about the way the platform does business and who it does it with. A simple google search should give you plenty of reading material. The comic book consumer’s budget is now divided between Direct Market Retail shops, Online Digital delivery of published comics, Kickstarter campaigns, and bookstores. Adding this new expense may require thoughtful deliberation on the part of the consumer.

Ultimately, this is a way for creators to take more control of the monetization and delivery of their art. I applaud that. There is a feeling that comic creators are underpaid and under supported. I want comics to thrive and survive. I wish the creators who are endeavoring to deliver comics in this innovative way all the luck for success. I am not sold yet on this, but for the creators and fans, I hope it works and we get the next great comic story delivered in our inboxes via Substack.

With Further Ado #158: Comic-Con Begins: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Mathew Klickstein

With Further Ado #158: Comic-Con Begins: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Mathew Klickstein

The latest comic from Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones, Groo Meets Tarzan, is brilliant.  Tom Yeates is also along for the ride, and if you, like me, are ravenous for more of his artwork beyond the weekly Prince Valiant Sunday strip, his contributions to this one won’t disappoint you.  The first issue kicks off with a double page spread showcasing the main floor of San Diego Comic-Con and it had me laughing out loud and missing it all -both at the same time.

To be sure, San Diego Comic-Con, or Comic-Con International, has grown to become a sprawling, wonderous event. It will be fantastic when things ‘get back to normal’ for this annual celebration.  So… while we’re waiting for that, maybe now is the perfect time to learn a little about the origins of this event?

The new podcast Comic-Con Begins, is informative, illuminating and just plain fun.  I had the pleasure of catching up with Mathew Klickstein to get the lowdown on it all.

Question 1:

Ed Catto: Why do you think there is such an interest in comic cons and specifically in the history of comic cons?

Mathew Klickstein: One of the many reasons we thought a history of “the” Comic-Con would be something worth investing massive amounts of blood-sweat-n-tears into is that there really hadn’t been a history like this put together before, at least not in such an extensive, extremely deep-dive investigative/exploratory way. Certainly not involving the entire force of folks who made it all happen back in the day.

There’ve been some great books – mostly academic/scholarly or personal memoir – about cons and fandom over the years, along with a handful of well-crafted documentaries and the like. But we just hadn’t seen too much in the way of such a long-form history, which again, was a principal motivator for us to plunge into the project with such breakneck insane passion, and certainly a major factor in why we wanted to do all we could to get it done “right.”

We wanted to fill in that lacuna, the gap in our shared cultural history. We aspired throughout the process to achieve that with Comic-Con Begins.

As for interest in the conventions themselves? I’m hoping too that that interest has been, if anything, bolstered by this past year+ of the lack of their happening in-person (or, in many cases, at all).

That this last year+, I hope and believe, has reminded people why a true in-person, “I’m there with the rest of the fans all together in a finite space” singular experience of being at a con is something we truly need as fans, as geeks, as “misfits” or whatnot who connect with members of their “tribe” through certain pop culture and creative/artistic entities and that going to conventions to see old friends and enjoy these experiences together, in person, is not simply a luxury. It’s something we desperately require as a social species. (Fan or otherwise!)

Question 2:

EC: And even though it’s not the biggest comic convention, many would argue that San Diego Comic-Con is still the most important. Do you think that’s true? Why or why not? Continue reading “With Further Ado #158: Comic-Con Begins: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Mathew Klickstein”

TerrifiCon 2021 Was Fantastic

TerrifiCon 2021 Was Fantastic

Well, Convention season has returned. Following a year and a half of postponements, cancellations, and online approximations, there are actual in-person comic and entertainment conventions popping up all along the calendar. Vendors, creators, entertainers, and fans are attempting to return to a semblance of normalcy.  This past weekend, we went to the middle of the woods in Connecticut to attend TerrifiCon, and it was a welcome experience.

Mitch Hallock had a diverse and robust lineup of comic pros, toy and comic vendors, celebrities, and a nice artist’s alley. This was my second time at TerrifiCon, and like before, this show is in a single large hall. It was well set up to maximize the aisles widths and people flow. Overall the physical layout of the show was well done.

I do find it interesting how the lines and locations of certain “high-traffic” guest get modified between Friday and Saturday. This is not a knock on this show; it happens everywhere. Inevitably, there is some guest that draws a more than expected number of fans, and they need to be moved to an area that can handle the traffic. Often there are unexpected last-minute cancellations that help provide the space to let everyone enjoy the show with the least amount of congestion.

Is It Safe To Go Back To Cons?

Alright, let’s get to the big questions. How was the Covid-19 protection at the show? Were people wearing masks and social distancing? Is that possible at comic con? I have to say that I was impressed. There was a large segment of the fan base that were wearing facemasks. If I had to guess, I would say about half of the attendees. Keep in mind, there was no mask state requirement, and Connecticut is a state with high vaccination rates and low current infection rates. The show did request that all unvaccinated attendees to wear face coverings. Along with those positives in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, there was a sense of responsibility among the guests and patrons. Continue reading “TerrifiCon 2021 Was Fantastic”

Cosplay Pics from Terrificon 2021

Cosplay Pics from Terrificon 2021

Hey there. Guess what? Comic conventions are making their way back, and we were at one this past weekend. As we decompress from our first three-day con in eighteen months, we wanted to share some of the great cosplay that we saw roaming the aisles at Terrificon!!

There was some amazing effort put into costumes and one of the best parts was that there were lots of families getting involved together. With all the pop culture properties that have been released during the lack of conventions, there were plenty of ideas to turn into reality.

While there were some tried and true staples of cosplay that we saw, there were a bunch of adventurous choices in cosplay. In terms of newer cosplay choices, we did see Red Guardian or two, but we are really looking for someone to nail the Alligator Loki cosplay.

We will be delivering our full report on the con tomorrow, (Spoilers… It was terrific!) but in the meantime enjoy these great pictures of some folks getting their geek on!!!

With Further Ado #157: A Kiss is Just a Kiss…?

With Further Ado #157: A Kiss is Just a Kiss…?

I just had Ken Quattro, the Comics Detective, come speak to one of my summer classes. You may also recognize his name as the recent recipient of an Eisner Award for his ground-breaking book, Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books. It’s an enthralling and important deep dive into the lives of several black artists.

And just like every time Ken rolls up his shirtsleeves and gets down to business, it’s meticulously researched. Ken brands himself as a comic book detective, but like so many focused writers, he’s an exceptional historian.

I love writing about comics history for publications like TwoMorrow’s Back Issue Magazine and Overstreet’s Comic Book Price Guide, but I’m not in the same league as a historian like Ken.

But having written that, I think I found something new in the pop culture milestones to which historians usually refer.

Kiss Me, Captain

The original Star Trek TV series was groundbreaking in so many ways – everything from thoughtful, allegorical episodes to anticipating devices like cellphones and voice activated smart speakers.

Star Trek was also gutsy enough to debut the first interracial kiss on network TV. Granted, the characters, Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhuru did not kiss of their free will – the bad guys made them kiss one another. But still, Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura’s kiss was a milestone.

Back in 2016, Hollywood Reporter reflected on the milestone this way:

There were reasons for the cast about this TV first – the show was in its third season, and cancellation was imminent. But it was NBC that was reluctant to pull the trigger. Network execs were worried that the interracial scene would upset Southern affiliates, so an effort was made to shoot coverage where Kirk and Uhura don’t actually lock lips. “We did a few takes, but Bill was deliberately trying to flub it”, recalls (Nichelle) Nichols. “At one point, he even crossed his eyes to make me laugh.”

(To be fair, as a kid seeing Shatner behave like a horsey was the part that really bothered me, but that’s another story.)

In comics, the first interracial kiss was in Warren Publishing ‘s black-and-white horror-comics magazine, Creepy #43, published in January 1972. The kiss was part of the story, “The Men Who Called Him Monster” by writer Don McGregor and artist Luis Garcia.

For color comics, the first interracial kiss is generally considered to be in Marvel’s Amazing Adventures #31 from July 1975. This comic showcased a “War of the Worlds” series, where a hero named Killraven and his merry band adventured in a post-apocalyptic world of which H.G. Wells could only dream. Don McGregor wrote this series too. It’s illustrated by the alarmingly talented P. Craig Russel. Don recently told the story behind the story here.

It makes sense that Don McGregor wrote these stories. He’s a brilliant writer who always looked forward and delighted in writing about the human condition. He’s a kind guy full of warmth, enthusiasm and all the attributes that make good men become great ones.

He’s also a hopeless romantic. For my money, he’s written some of the very best love scenes in comics. And if you have the good fortune to meet him in person, he brings the definition of charming to a whole new level.

You might get the impression that I’m gushing about Don McGregor. And you’d be right. I think the absolute world of Don McGregor as a writer and as a person.

An Unrecognized Milestone

Even so – I think I uncovered a historic milestone. It’s in DC’s color comic, Korak, Son of Tarzan #54 published October-November 1973.

This series was all about Tarzan’s son, Korak, on a long quest to find his abducted girlfriend, Miriam. As you can imagine, he had many adventures along the way. In issue #54’s story, “Blood Brothers”, written by Robert Kanigher and illustrated by Murphy Anderson, Korak makes a new friend, Mnumbo. After a few close scrapes together, Mnumbo introduces his lovely sister, Salamma, to Korak.

It’s easy to see that Salamma is smitten with Korak. And either she or artist Murphy Anderson read a lot of Prince Valiant comics, because she performs a fetching campfire dance that may have been inspired by Aleta’s (Valiant’s girlfriend and eventual wife) most famous dance.

And as the adventure ends, and Korak is getting ready to ride into the sunset (well, to walk into the sunset, but you know what I mean), they share a passionate kiss.

I believe that this is the first interracial kiss in color comics.

And you know what? I think there was almost the second interracial kiss in color comics in the very next issue. In that adventure, an Asian woman, Lotus, is embracing Korak and is about to plant one on him until a bad guy interrupts them.

Let’s Get Serious for a Moment

I think this is important. In the early 70s, as a kid, it was important to me to be shown love ought to be colorblind. We didn’t say “love is love” back then, but that was idea.

And to a young fan like me, it was important that my favorite creators, guys like Don McGregor and Murphy Anderson, showed the way. There wasn’t a lot of fanfare. There were no cover blurbs proclaiming these were special collectible issues. It was more about measuring the true worth of someone and following your heart.

On a personal level, one of my favorite uncles, (he was actually a great-uncle), was my Uncle John. He was Italian by way of Sicily, and married my Aunt Ruby, a wonderful Jamaican woman. He was white and was black. As an adult, I’ve learned that he suffered, and fought, bias and prejudice. But he never let the struggles show. He was consistantly confident, fun-loving and in love with his wife.

I hope that 20-somethings reading this think “what is the big deal?” And I hope that their kids think it’s even less of a big deal, and the next generation thinks it’s even less of a big deal.

For my part, I’m so appreciative I had folks like my Uncle John, Murphy Anderson and Don McGregor to help me get my head on straight at an early age. And I’m grateful now for guys like Ken Quattro researching and spotlighting the lives of brave creators who often suffered discrimination.

One last thing: go find someone you love and kiss ‘em!

* * *

Just to be thorough, there is one technicality: some consider the very first interracial kiss in a color comic to be in a Golden Age Blackhawk story where the a dying woman’s request, a kiss from the hero Blackhawk, was platonically granted. The woman was Asian, and Blackhawk seemed pretty WASPy (even though he was really Polish).