Continued After the Next Page #009: Conversation with John Workman – An Oral History of Comics

Last summer, as we were getting this site up and going, one of the first things that I did was reach out to legendary comic letterer and artist John Workman. I had met him at a couple of conventions in the past, and he had told me some interesting stories about how comics were made in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I felt that the stories were amazing insights into the world of comic making, and I wanted to get all the details so that we could share those incredible stories with all of you.

My intent for our initial interview was to clarify some details he had told me about making Thor in the 80’s with Walter Simonson. What ended up happening was an almost two-hour conversation and a truly life changing event for me. I clipped out a little bit of our conversation for a column last year called When Thor Road the Bus.

Before I get too far along, I must say that John Workman is one of the nicest people that I have ever met. He is thoughtful, considerate, inquisitive, and incredibly talented. Since our initial phone conversation, John and I have spoken a couple of more times over the phone, and my wife and I spent a lovely afternoon with John and his wife Cathy at their home last November. He has become a regular email pen pal of mine. I consider John a friend, and I am lucky for it.

The purpose of this article is to share with the world some of the amazing things that we spoke about. The topics range from the page counts for comics in the 70’s to his time at Heavy Metal. There are some funny stories about Harlan Ellison and Wally Wood. There is the tale of the “Lost Mignola Batman Story”, and much more. So hang on and I will try my best to navigate all this history and bring it into the world so that we can all share in its wonder.

Jeannette Kahn and Dollar Comics

I had mentioned to John that the title to my column on PCS would be called “Continued After the Next Page” as a throwback to comic days of yesteryear. He broke out into some pretty cool comics production history.

John Workman: I worked at DC from 1975 to 1977 before I went to work at Heavy Metal. During that time, as had been true since the early 1950s, there were thirty-six pages [thirty- two interior and four for the front and back covers] in a regular comic book. Of those pages, somewhere over 20 (27 in the ’60s) were devoted to actual comics material with the rest being made up of a combination of paid ads and “house ads” that let readers know about other DC publications. Shortly after I arrived at DC, the number of comics pages dropped to seventeen, and I remember two things that we had to do. We [the production department] had to white-out all the pages numbers down in the corner so people would be a little less aware that they were only getting seventeen pages of comics, and we had to go in a lot and put in “Continued After Next” or “Second Page” or whatever, because the seventeen pages of comic material was broken up by more ads. There were a lot of in-house ads to fill out the issue because seventeen pages was only one more than the total number of pages in a book.

I was shocked at this and felt the need to clarify Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #009: Conversation with John Workman – An Oral History of Comics”

Everything We Read This Week – 5/1/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 5/1/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week.  This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This week is a short list. We took the top seven books that we were most eager to read from our pull list and present them to you here. It is a good cross section of publishers and genres, with a a couple of New Number Ones thrown in.

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Abstract Studios, AfterShock, and Action Lab this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics.

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

DISCLAIMER: 

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

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

 

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 5/1/2019”

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in May 2019

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in May 2019

Welcome back to New Number Ones!!

Here, we give our readers a preview of the new comic book series that we are looking forward to each month. We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from PREVIEWSworld. Look for our PCS NOTES below where we just have to tell you some more about the new comic in question.

May, with five new release dates, has a great group of premiere issues that we are excited about. They are coming at you from a wide variety of publishers. Some of our favorite comic book talents are bringing us some of these new series.

We hope you will take a look and think about giving these a try. We will bring you reviews of most 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.

Continue reading “New Number Ones: Comics Coming in May 2019”

Everything We Read This Week – 04/24/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 04/24/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week.  This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This week is a short list as we were at Awesome-Con in Washington, DC this weekend. However, we did not want to leave you with nothing. We took the top six books that we were most eager to read from our pull list and present them to you here. It is a good cross section of publishers and genres, with a a couple of New Number Ones thrown in. I am going to let you know up front that all of this comics are great and earned 4 Stars this week.

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel,Valiant, AfterShock, and Dark Horse this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics.

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

DISCLAIMER: 

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

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

 

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 04/24/2019”

Awesome-Con 2019 Panel LiveBlog: DC Celebrates 80 Years of Batman Comics

Awesome-Con 2019 Panel LiveBlog: DC Celebrates 80 Years of Batman Comics

We will be bringing you the info from this panel live from Awesome-Con in Washington DC.

Awesome-Con Panel Description

Eighty years after his debut, Batman continues to be one of the most iconic Super Heroes of all time. Meet some of the key players in the Dark Knight’s world who create and bring you the best Batman comics stories ever.  Buckle up for an incredible ride in the Batmobile and hear what these creators have to say about one of your all-time favorite DC Super Heroes.

Follow along in the 24LiveBlog window below.

 

Everything We Read This Week – 04/17/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 04/17/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week.  This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

We are back this week with a full column. There are still some series that we are behind on due to travel last month, and we will do our best to get fully caught up in the near future. There are a coupleof New Number ones in the list and a bunch of other really good books.  This was a great week for new comics. Make sure you go and find the ones that move you.

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Image, AfterShock, Dynamite, and Dark Horse this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics.

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

DISCLAIMER: 

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

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

 

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 04/17/2019”

Everything We Read This Week – 04/10/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 04/10/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week.  This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This is an abbreviated edition of EWRTW. We picked the top 8 books that we wanted to read from our pull list and are bringing them to you. There are a bunch of New Number ones in the list and some other really good books.  There are plenty of other great comics that were release this week. Make sure you go and find them.

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Image, AfterShock, Dynamite, and Boom! Studios this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics.

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

DISCLAIMER: 

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

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

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

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 04/10/2019”

Everything We Read This Week – 04/03/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 04/03/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week.  This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This was a great week for comic books, although it is a little weird that there is no Batman or Superman main title released this week. There are a couple great new series that started this week.  There are a few of the independent books that are ending arcs and will be picking up after a break. We try to read as much as we can to bring you recommendations on what good stuff is being produced. Unfortunately, we can’t read all the comics. So, remember to find what you like, GO OUT AND FIND SOME COMICS TO READ!! They are good for you.

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Image, IDW, Ahoy, AfterShock, Dark Horse, Dynamite, and Lion Forge Comics this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics.

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

DISCLAIMER: 

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

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

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

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 04/03/2019”

With Further Ado #036: Watching the Detectives

With Further Ado #036: Watching the Detectives

Detective Comics just hit an amazing milestone. This series just published its 1,000th issue.  Pretty impressive?  There’s been a lot of buzz about it.  But  to me, there’s another thing going on: the celebration of oversized issues of Detective Comics.

For “fans of a certain age”, the old 80 Page Giants hold a special place in our hearts. Before old comics were regularly reprinted and repackaged into real books -like today- we thought this was the closest we were ever getting to bookshelf-worthy collections.   Each one had so many stories, and even though the price tag was hefty (“Hey, who has an extra quarter just lying around?”, we would think), every 80 Page Giant was worth it.

Technically, though, there was never an 80 Page Giant for Detective Comics back in the day. The Batman series had a few (and yes, several were annuals), but Detective Comics per se never did.

Then in the 70s 100 Page Super Spectaculars burst onto the scene. They started focusing on DC’s top characters, but soon became a format for certain titles, like Justice League of America, Batman and, you guessed it, Detective Comics.

The changeover for Detective Comics – bulking up to these glorious 100 pagers, came during a magical time for the series.  The Batman stories were top-notch, but there was this quirky new back-up series included. It was called Manhunter. 

Manhunter was a character name that DC had used in the past.  This was an innovative reboot by a fantastic writer, Archie Goodwin, and a young writer, Walter Simonson.

IDW’s Scott Dunbier has claimed the title of #1 Manhunter Fan, but I think I’m a close second. When this series started, it seared my eyeballs and exploded my brain. If there was a word that means “wow times a thousand”, I’d have used it to describe Manhunter.

Manhunter was an adventure strip, but as Walter Simonson recently described at his ITHACON panel, the idea was to create a counterbalance to Batman.  Manhunter was everything that Batman was not.  Batman focused on domestic adventures in Gotham City, Manhunter globetrotted to exotic locales. Batman was dark and moody, Manhunter embraced a bright and garish look. Batman, other than the occasional batarang, eschewed weapons, while Manhunter was a weapons master.

At ITHACON, Walter Simonson described how he worked hard in his early days not to be pigeonholed as a “science fiction artist”. When assigned a short period piece, a story about the Alamo, he eagerly accepted it. He then thoroughly researched each setting for every panel.  His hard word was noticed, so much so that when it came time to pick an artist for the international Manhunter strip, he was approached. Manhunter was a such an impressive success at the time that soon every editor knew his brilliant work.

Last Wednesday, DC released Detective Comics #1000;  jam-packed with the work of outstanding creators.  Reportedly, comic shop retailers did well with selling this milestone comic.

But over in the Wal*Mart, there was another Bat-Surprise waiting for Detective Comics fans.  As part of DC’s 100 Page Comic Giant series, Detective Comics finally got another chance to shine with the 100 Page treatment. More than that – ‘tec (as we used to call the title) even got its own cardboard display case!

Unlike most of the Wal*Mart DC comics, which usually reprint more recent stories, this one dug deep into Detective Comics’ rich history offering the first adventures of Batman, Robin and Batgirl. There are a few wonderful surprises, including two of my favorite Detective stories, both with gorgeous Dick Giordano art.  Trivia fans will note these adventures showcase the first appearances of two regular characters on the Gotham TV show – Leslie Thompson and Barbara Kean.

Happy 1,000th Birthday, Detective Comics! Thanks for all the fun.

Everything We Read This Week – 03/27/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 03/27/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week.  This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

The lack of a column last week is not indicative of a lack of good comics. We were at C2E2 and you should have seen and will continue to see the exclusive content that we were capturing there.

This was a great week for comic books. There are a couple great new series that started this week.  We focused mainly on books from the smaller publishers this week. This was not by design but we were particular about the books we chose to review this week. We try to read as much as we can to bring you recommendations on what good stuff is being produced. Unfortunately, we can’t read all the comics. So, remember to find what you like, GO OUT AND FIND SOME COMICS TO READ!! They are good for you.

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Image, IDW, Dark Horse, Valiant, Titan, and Vault Comics this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics.

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

DISCLAIMER: 

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

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

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

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 03/27/2019”