Tag: coronavirus

PANDEMIX Is the Comic Anthology You Need to Be Reading Today

PANDEMIX Is the Comic Anthology You Need to Be Reading Today

We are living and surviving today in a world with a virus that has changed so much of how we were used to living. It has affected everyone in America and most of the world whether you “believe” in it or not.

Talented artistic folks have invariably impacted significantly. While many artists were used to the working at home that has become the new norm for so many more, the world is different than it was pre-COVID19, and we knew that it would be only a matter of time before we saw creative expression of what the pandemic has wrought in comic form.

That time is now. We present to you PANDEMIX: Quarantine Comics in the Age of ‘Rona!! Available Today!!!

A group of nineteen talented artists and writers have come together to share their impressions of how they are seeing the world that we live in today. It is a wonderful collected anthology of comic goodness, but wait there’s more. This self published digital edition is available on Patreon , and all proceeds go to charity with donations to The Hero Initiative.

Continue reading “PANDEMIX Is the Comic Anthology You Need to Be Reading Today”

Squadcast Spotlight Interview with No Heroine writer Frank Gogol

Squadcast Spotlight Interview with No Heroine writer Frank Gogol

Welcome back to another spotlight interview. In this session, we talked with comic writer Frank Gogol.

Frank Gogol is a comic writer who if following up the hit series Dead End Kids with his latest creator-owned story, No Heroine. He is an alumnus of the Comic Experience program and also produced the Ringo Award nominated anthology Grief. All three of those books are published by Source Point Press.

No Heroine is a three issue mini-series on which he is working with Chris Madd on art, with colors by Shawna Madd and letters by Sean Rinehart.

We spoke to Frank in May, and below, is the result of that conversation.

You can find the audio recording of our discussion below, and we transcribed a big portion of it for you as well.

We hope you enjoy the conversation.

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Pop Culture Squad: Frank! Welcome back to Pop Culture Squad.

Frank Gogol: Good to see you again or to hear you again, I suppose.

PCS: Sure. So, let’s start out with this. We are on the verge of a new “Frank Gogol” story. What do you want people to know about No Heroine, in terms of the story?

FG: That is a big question. I’ve been talking about this book for, what is it the middle of May, for about six months now, and I still don’t really know how to say everything succinctly. I guess, this is my love letter to Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. I grew up on Buffy. I started watching Buffy, the Vampire Slayer way too young. I was eight when it premiered in 1997, and I’ve been watching it pretty religiously ever since.

So, I was a little too young for it, but I watched it and knew sort of immediately, instinctively, it was something different, something special. I always loved the storytelling, and it has definitely informed my storytelling. Joss [Whedon] is a dark guy. He writes these stories, and he really sticks the knife in and twists it. I think that’s the stories I try to tell. It’s definitely the case in No Heroine. It doesn’t pull a lot of punches, it’s a dark book about a young woman dealing with drug recovery, and there are vampires too, I guess. But that isn’t really the point.

PCS: I think that is a good starting point. This book is clearly not the slice-of-life or reality-based books that I have read of yours. How did you find having the shackles of human-only characters being removed? As you said, it’s not necessarily a vampire book. There are vampires in it, but there ARE vampires in it?

FG: When I starting writing four years ago last month, and I remember about that time right before and right after. I was sort of setting down some sort of principles or pillars for myself as a writer, like the kind of stories I want to tell and the things that I would not do and things I would do. One of the things I said I would do, and I think I stuck to this pretty well, was to tell character forward stories and have a genre and action take a back seat in favor of really good character work. Weather its good or not, it’s definitely taken a front seat. Definitely in Dead End Kids and definitely in Grief.

In this book, I wanted to do the same thing. So, the vampires are not an afterthought in the story but an afterthought in the creation of the story. I wanted to tell a story that gave a fair and honest, sort of “gray space”, look at the recovery part of addiction. We have a lot of pop culture that deals with addiction. We see this sort of phase of people’s lives where they are using drugs, and we see the rehabilitation phase quite a bit, but we don’t usually see the part that comes next, which is, for the people who find success in rehab, the recovery phases. Continue reading “Squadcast Spotlight Interview with No Heroine writer Frank Gogol”

With Further Ado #96: Heavy Metal – Your One Way Ticket To Midnight

With Further Ado #96: Heavy Metal – Your One Way Ticket To Midnight

Way back in the 80s, when I was in college, it wasn’t really cool to read comics. Of course, I didn’t stop reading them. Occasionally, I’d lend my comics to my classmates so they could read them, but for the most parts, Marvel-type superheroes were viewed as silly or childish by many college students.

It’s funny, but I still remember having to scold Brian Winke (he lived down the hallway of dormitory) when he bent back the cover of my copy of Avengers #217.  I gave him a friendly lesson on the tragedy of spine roll and how it destroyed the condition of comic.   Clearly, comics were important to me, cool or not.

The one comic that I was never paused to read ‘in public’ was Heavy Metal. It was filled with strong art and adult themes.  Although, to be fair, “adult themes” often translated simply to excessive violence and topless robot girls.

The story I really enjoyed back then was Jim Steranko’s adaptation of Outland. That was a science fiction movie starring Sean Connery that was essentially High Noon in space.  It was serialized over a few issues, and Steranko was delivering stunning top-of-his-game pages each and every time.

But I inevitably drifted away from Heavy Metal over the years. Somehow, I’d categorize it as something adjacent to comics, but not really include it as part of my core comics purchases.

Now, in 2020, that might all change.  There’s a new sheriff in town.  Matt Medney is the new Chief Executive Officer of Heavy Metal. I caught up with him and he pulled back the curtain to share his vision and his plans for Heavy Metal. Continue reading “With Further Ado #96: Heavy Metal – Your One Way Ticket To Midnight”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #065: Grinding My Gears

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #065: Grinding My Gears

I recognize that having column inches such as I do grants me a public space to air my grievances. A place, in plain sight, to shoot straight and vent with hope in finding sympathetic ears. Such as it were, we all have these spaces — take the social media platform of choice, and let loose. But here, on Pop Culture Squad, I’m given a bit more leeway to stretch a would-be status message and let it get some height. Normally I’d save my ire for something specifically in the pop culture space (#relevancy), but, here I am stuck in quarantine — a nebulous vacuum of pop culture at present. So, I’m detailing several things in my life that are at very least pop culture adjacent that have been grinding my gears. Hopefully with a little venting, this tightening in my chest might relieve itself a bit. On with the ranting!

1. Virtual Events

With remote learning, and businesses needing to flock to tele-meeting spaces like Zoom, Facebook rooms, Skype, and the like… the population is tired of virtual fraternization. Save perhaps the concerts being put on by various musical artists who all happen to have sophisticated recording equipment in their homes… Zoom and the like are fast becoming tiresome. Yes, we all get it. You throw on a normal shirt, and keep the pajamas on under the gaze of your web cam. Ha ha. Woo. But every virtual event remains the same. We speak over one another, or have dueling monologues. Our kids crash in, and suddenly we’re juggling staying engaged, and remembering we’d literally like to be anywhere else. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #065: Grinding My Gears”

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind  #089: Suicide Is Painless

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #089: Suicide Is Painless

That game of life is hard to play / I’m gonna lose it anyway / The losing card I’ll someday lay / So this is all I have to say / Suicide is painless / It brings on many changes / And I can take or leave it if I please — Suicide Is Painless (theme for movie M*A*S*H), written by Johnny Mandel, 1970

As tempting as it is, we just cannot go around saying “100% of us believe…” or “everybody feels…” We know that’s ridiculous; there are 7.8 billion people on this planet as of this writing, and most of us couldn’t agree on where to go for lunch.

So I will not state “100% are stir-crazy and would gnaw our right arms off to leave the house and go to…” whatever. However, I would not be the least bit surprised if 99% of us felt that way. Maybe we can get together and T-P the houses of that other 1%.

No. Wait. Is there still a toilet paper shortage? I wouldn’t know. I haven’t been permitted to enter any building other than my own for… jeez, about 10 weeks now. I did drive around the neighborhood last week, just to give my car some reassurance, and I was surprised at how little had changed. But I was more surprised at how few cars were on the road, how empty the parking lots were, and how easy it would be to park at the train station.

I’m also surprised at how clean the air seems. This figures — with fewer people driving, we have less ground dinosaur bits clogging our atmosphere. This latter fact frightens the crap out of the oil and gas industry, which has been hell-bent on choking us to death in the name of dividend checks and nine figure annual employment packages. Some of these greed-driven killers are down to their last 50 million bucks.

I have little doubt that this is one of the chief reasons we are being pushed over the brink of insanity with constant reminders of how wonderful it will be to get out of the house and go to restaurants, sports events, family reunions, and, I dunno, maybe orgies. Don’t forget your condoms; you wouldn’t want to catch a disease, would you? Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #089: Suicide Is Painless”

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind  #088: Every Cloud Has Its Tinfoil Lining

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #088: Every Cloud Has Its Tinfoil Lining

It’s good news week / Someone’s found a way to give / The rotting dead a will to live / Go on and never die — It’s Good News Week, written by Jonathan King, recorded by Hedgehoppers Anonymous, 1965

Ever since Benjamin Franklin gave up editing his newspaper, people have been bitching about how there’s nothing but bad news in our informative media. Well, I get that but it’s the bad stuff people want to know about, and often that’s the stuff people need to know about. Trust me, the day we’ve got an effective and approved cure or vaccine for coronavirus, it will be good news that will lead every newscast and probably every conversation.

Particularly if said cure contains bleach.

A good part of the problem is the attitude of the beholder. Our Great Pumpkin in the White House chirps out “good news” everyday, but the majority of humanity regards such prattling as our purest form of bullshit. Today, many people are avoiding the news because it’s all about the same subject and there’s little deployable information. I get that too, and I would feel the same way had the news not been my smack since we replaced a Klan member with a war hero in the Oval Office.

Nonetheless, it remains an attitude problem and, I dare say, people familiar with Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind have a pretty good idea of my attitude. So, with respect to Jonathan King (noted above), here’s some true — as opposed to truly — good news… as I see the world.

ITEM: Big business has seen measured success in the whole work-from-home thing. Many outfits are talking about shifting more office work to their employee’s home environment and cutting down on office rent. This, in turn, exacerbates the amount of unrented commercial property and drives rents down. If you like working from home, this is good news. It’s very good news if you dislike the annoyance and the cost of your daily commute, it has a nice depressing effect on gas prices, and leads to slightly cleaner air. Perhaps some of these cost savings might be passed on to us “consumers,” but let’s not get too high on that cloud of smoke.

The best news for those of us who drift towards jaded cynicism — a disease that spreads faster than coronavirus — is the impact this will have on the Shemp Howard of the Trump family, Jared Kushner, a man so unqualified to live that his very existence brings to mind the words uttered by Lex Luthor in Superman II: “Even with all this accumulated knowledge, when will these dummies learn to use a doorknob?”

ITEM: Speaking about getting high on that cloud of smoke, Colorado Representative Ed Perlmutter tweeted “I just learned the #SAFEBankingAct is included in the CARES 2.0 package. I have been pushing for this because the #COVID19 crisis has only exacerbated the risk posed to cannabis businesses & their employees & they need relief just like any other legitimate business. #copolitics risk posed to cannabis businesses & their employees & they need relief just like any other legitimate business. #copolitics.”

Many representatives and some senators have been working hard to get the laws changed to allow the greater cannabis industry to use our banking system — including credit cards and similar economic engines — the way all other legitimate businesses do. This will be a significant spur to our economy, increase employment, and reduce the overwhelming load of non-violent occupants of our prisons and jails in those states where cannabis use is legal. And, given the dearth of tax revenues, when all this Covid-19 shit is behind us we will see that list expand by necessity.

ITEM: We seem to have something of a resurrection of the movie drive-in. Now, that’s not necessarily important to our well-being as we seem to have gotten along just fine without them these last several decades and, surprisingly, there appears to have been no reduction in our birth rate due to such closures. But if you and your medically-vetted family want to share in the communal movie experience and you just happen to be living near one of the surviving drive-ins, soon you might be able to do just that. I recommend renting a 1956 Thunderbird with a functional AM-FM radio.

Fun Fact: I saw the movie Last Tango In Paris at a drive-in. We might want to consider the impact of X-rated movies that can be viewed from our Interstates. Yes, I’m talking about you, Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive In off of I-80 in North Ridgeville, Ohio!

See? It’s not all doom and destruction. There’s good news out there, if you pay attention.

But having a good sense of humor helps.

‘New Mutants’ Movie Has A New Release Date Set for August

‘New Mutants’ Movie Has A New Release Date Set for August

This is not a drill!!! The New Mutants film will finally see the light of day, unless it doesn’t. According to Variety, Disney has added The New Mutants back to its release calendar with a “theatrical” debut on August 28, 2020.

Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, Charlie Heaton and Anya Taylor-Joy in “The New Mutants.”

The former Fox film was originally set for release in 2018, but has been beset by numerous delays. When Disney set the April release and started showing some amazing trailers and set photos, fans of the comic book team began to get excited that they would actually get to see Magik, Dani Moonstar, Cannonball, and Wolfsbane on the screen.

However, the nationwide shutdown of movie theaters in response to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in Disney removing the film from the schedule. While the new date for release it at the end of August, we are still hoping that theaters will be open by then and there will not be any additional delays with this ill-fated film.

Here is the trailer for those that haven’t seen it or those that need to see it again!!!!

Source: ‘New Mutants’ New Release Date Set for August – Variety

With Further Ado #94: Those Good Old Days… That We’re All Hating

With Further Ado #94: Those Good Old Days… That We’re All Hating

How much longer will this lockdown last?  The “snow day”-ness of it is getting old. I’m definitely ZOOMed out (even though I think these remote meetings are here to stay).  I can see the fatigue bubble up with debates about when to open up local economies for business. And I’ve also learned about the “epistemic dissidents” – those contrarians who choose to ignore established facts, and instead rely on fringe ideas and crackpot conspiracies.  If that sounds hard, it’s meant to be.  I am losing patience with these knuckleheads.

Recently, I pulled up to one local comic shop, Ithaca’s Comics For Collectors for some curbside comics.  Although the store is officially closed, I was invited in to browse a bit. I kind of felt like rock star who gets to shop privately when no one else is in the store.  Kudos to the owner who set it up so the experience was super- safe – social distancing, sanitizer, gloves and masks.  (Masks make sense for comic shops too, of course.)  I snagged the comics from my pull list, a few recent favorites, and even rescued some treasures from the bargain box.

It was a treat to get the VIP treatment from that store…but we’re all so tired of the pause. I don’t think I’ll ever fondly remember that private shopping trip.

There are other ways to support local stores. I’ve reached out to a few other retailers and purchased comics online or gift cards. I have been so impressed that in every case, these shops have sent me extra stuff with each order.  These acts of kindness, when the “other guy” is suffering, will not be soon forgotten.

Getting to Know the Publishers

During quarantine, I feel like I’m getting to know comics publishers better too. Continue reading “With Further Ado #94: Those Good Old Days… That We’re All Hating”

Press Release: Boom Studios Reaffirms Committment to Comic Shops with New Day One Program

Press Release: Boom Studios Reaffirms Committment to Comic Shops with New Day One Program

Boom! Studios has been out front throughout the disruption to weekly comic book shipping firmly in support of Local Comic Shops.  Today, they announced their plans to help with the restart of the physical comic book economic machine.

In the wake of yesterday’s announcement from Diamond Comic Distributors that shipping new comics will resume in a few weeks, publishers are beginning to reveal their plans for moving forward. As you can see below Boom! Studio’s plan involves various degrees of returnability, incentive variants, discounts, and enhanced communication.

Boom! has taken massive steps forward in the past year or so in terms of enhancing the comics that they are producing. This program will go a long way toward solidifying the positive reputation of the company in the minds of the retailers, who are the ones who take the financial risk in ordering comics to put on their shelves.


Press Release:

LOS ANGELES, CA (April 29, 2020) – BOOM! Studios today announced the new DAY ONE RETAILER SUPPORT SERVICES PROGRAM, an industry-first plan to immediately support comic shops and their communities worldwide.  Every comic shop will have their own “Day One” – the date they reopen their doors to their communities and engage with new customers. BOOM! Studios has committed to arm their retail partners with clear advance information in support of every comic book store having a successful Day One. In that spirit, the groundbreaking program from BOOM! Studios was announced alongside the award-winning publisher’s new single issue comics release schedule beginning May 20th (a full release schedule through the end of June can be found here).

Continue reading “Press Release: Boom Studios Reaffirms Committment to Comic Shops with New Day One Program”

Breaking: Diamond Comic Distributors Sets May 20 Target to Ship New Comics

Breaking: Diamond Comic Distributors Sets May 20 Target to Ship New Comics

We have received word that Diamond Comic Distributors will restart their new comic delivery process for new sales on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. That is three weeks from tomorrow.

A letter has been sent to retailers announcing the news, and Diamond CEO Steve Geppi will be going live on YouTube later today (5:30 EDT) to give an update and answer questions.

The slate of books has not been confirmed, but early reports do indicate that DC Comics books will be part of the first shipment. A final list of books is expected to be provided by Friday of this week.

The state of comic shops ability to be open for business in three weeks is still very much in doubt in some areas of the country. Some states are beginning to lifts non-essential business closures, but many still remain in place with no timelines of lifting them announced. How this affects them we will need to continue to monitor.