With Further Ado #034: Getting Ready for Another Convention

With Further Ado #034: Getting Ready for Another Convention

Throwing parties, getting ready for parties, cleaning up after parties…there’s a certain flow to it all. I really like all these different stages, even when it gets nuts.

And for me, right now it is nuts. I’m helping throw a party. The 44th Annual ITHACON, Ithaca’s Comic Convention is this weekend.  It’s actually the nation’s second longest running comic con, right after San Diego Comic-Con. I’m part of a big team, including a group of dedicated Ithaca College students. They are learning about conventions and getting their first, hands-on taste of actually planning and running one.

But aside from the all the planning and ever-expanding to-do lists, part of my pre-convention ritual is gathering together some favorite comics for guests to autograph. There’s something about an autograph that makes a favorite comic become even more of a treasure.

Louise Simonson will be a guest at ITHACON. She’s had a such an impressive career- editing B & W magazines (Vampirella, Eerie, Savage Sword of Conan), writing top characters (Superman, the X-Men) and creating ground breaking characters (Power Pack, Spellbound).

But I think I found a favorite comic that I’d like to ask her to autograph.  Superman: The Man of Steel #63 was published in 1996. It was right before the big industry bust, and at that time this title was part of a quartet of Superman comics that created a rich, monthly Super-tapestry of interconnected adventure.  When this comic was published, Superman and Lois had just been married, and Clark had lost his super-powers.

One thing that makes this issue special is that Lois takes center stage in this story.

On John Siuntres’ Word Balloon Podcast, he recently interviewed Brian Michael Bendis who said he realized that Lois was one of the most interesting people in the DC Universe. This story from 1996 reinforces that view.

In this issue of Superman: Man of Steel, Lois is tough, determined and resourceful. She’s not stepping into the spotlight to save Clark because he’s in a temporary jam. In this story, she’s just “doing what she does” because that’s what she always does.

But there’s more: another nuanced part of this tale is how writer Louise Simonson cleverly makes the case to readers that it’s not the powers that make Clark a Superman.   She’s able to write the character and show his humility, his heart and his hero’s soul.

John Bogdanove’s art in this issue still stands up. He had this breezy, action-oriented style that delivered impactful scenes with plenty of oomph.  At the same time, he could pull the reins back for the quiet scenes as well.  And with his inker, Doug Janke, Bogdanove created textures in each panel that would delight and surprise the reader’s eye.

It’s a great issue, and I can’t wait to tell Louise how much I enjoyed it, and still enjoy it, at ITHACON. Fingers crossed she’ll give me an autograph.

One More Thing

Similarly, I also stumbled across another comic in my collection.  I had forgotten how much I liked it.  Doomsday Annual #1 is a collection of short stories focusing on the early days of Superman’s unstoppable nemesis, Doomsday. I was flipping through the comic to review the Louise Simonson story within, but was reminded how much I liked the obscure Green Lantern Corps story that was also included.  It was called “In Blackest Night” and was written by Roger Stern with heart-stopping art by Gil Kane and Jerry Ordway. 

Ordway’s at his best with crusty inks over Kane’s pencils (layouts?) here. Kind of like that delicious cocktail that you’ve just tried for the first time, this combination of two favorites created something special. Jerry Ordway has the roughs and inked pages up on his blog and they’re worth a look.  And Stern’s tragic tale of loss and sacrifice packs so much into a 12-page story.   

Roger Stern is another ITHACON guest, and you can bet I’m going to pester him for an autograph too!

And I don’t mean to slight our other amazing ITHACON guests. For a small show – we’ve assembled an impressive line-up that also includes Walter (Ragnarok) Simonson, award-winning YA author Tamora Pierce, Tom (AHOY Comics) Peyer, Jamal (The Wrong Earth) Igle, David (“Trouble with Tribbles”) Gerrold, Craig  (Behaving Madly) Yoe, Twilight Zone Author Nick Parisi, Frank (Stinger) Cammuso, Superman Expert Sid Friedfertig,  Steve (The Only Living Girl) Ellis, Harold (Small Monsters) Sipe, Ken (Popeye) Wheaton and more.  Maybe even one more super-surpise guest! And we’re trotting out some of the rare treasures from the Rod Serling Archives to put them on display for attendees. Can you tell I’m really looking forward to it? Hope to see you there.

ITHACON 44 celebrates Rod Serling & The Twilight Zone

ITHACON 44 celebrates Rod Serling & The Twilight Zone

Ithaca, N.Y. (March 14, 2019): The Comic Book Club of Ithaca is preparing for the 44th annual ITHACON, to be held Saturday, March 23rd and Sunday, March 24th at Ithaca College’s Emerson Suites.   To prepare for the 60th Anniversary of The Twilight Zone, and to celebrate the life of Finger Lakes native, Rod Serling, ITHACON is developing several special events for this year’s comic convention, including:

  • Twilight Zone Crossover & Mini-Marathon: Ithaca College’s Park School students honor the legacy of The Twilight Zone by creating their own short films based on minor characters in episodes from the original series. The four original Twilight Zone episodes used for inspiration will also be screened: “A Stop at Willoughby”, “The Silence”, “I Shot an Arrow into the Air” and “Penny for Your Thoughts”.
  • Serling Archives Display – Several rare items from the Serling Archives will be on loan and on display for attendees to view, celebrating the incredible creativity and fascinating life of Rod Serling.
  • Twilight Zone Mockulogues Contest – In honor of Rod Serling’s genius and the 60th anniversary of the Twilight Zone, attendees are invited to create their own Rod Serling inspired monologues. Contestants will be given time to prep and present their creation. Monologues will be judged based on various categories, including creativity. Prizes will be awarded. This event will be held at IC Square at Campus Center starting at 6:00 pm.
  • Nick Parisi, author of Rod Serling: His Life, Work and Imagination will be a featured guest. He will also be interviewed during an ITHACON Author’s Panel on Sunday at 1:00pm in the Taughannouck Falls room near the Emerson Suites Exhibition Hall.

As is tradition, ITHACON also provides a strong line-up of comic industry professionals, guests, including Walter Simonson, Louise Simonson, Tom Peyer, Jamal Igle, Bill Schanes, Craig Yoe and Sid Friedfertig. ITHACON is proud to host award-winning authors including Tamora Pierce and David Gerrold.

More information on ITHACON can be found on the official site (ithacon.org) and the facebook page Admission and parking are free for this event.

 

Pop Culture Squad member & columnist Ed Catto

With Further Ado #030: Twilight Zone Comics – Part 2

With Further Ado #030: Twilight Zone Comics – Part 2

There’s that old saying about imitation as the sincerest form of flattery.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Twilight Zone, and I am focusing on that show, and Rod Serling, as it will all be a part of the 44 annual Ithaca Comic Convention.  My focus has expanded, and now I’m even taking a look at competitive, and or derivative, properties.

In the world of this particular niche – Twilight Zone type comics – I’m finding that imitation goes hand-in-hand with the notion of copy degradation. There’s less use of the actual Xerox machines today, but you understand the concept: every time you make a copy of a copy it tends to lose something. That’s exactly what I’m finding with comics series similar to Twilight Zone comics – copies of copies tend to lose something.

The Outer Limits was a science fiction anthology show from the Golden Age of Television. It was ushered in right about the time that The Twilight Zone was being ushered out by CBS. Despite scripts by top-notch writers (Harlan Ellison, Robert Towne, Joseph Stefano, etc.) and some great acting (Robert Culp, Jill Haworth, etc.), this series is often remembered as an also-ran to The Twilight Zone Continue reading “With Further Ado #030: Twilight Zone Comics – Part 2”

With Further Ado #028: Submitted for Approval

With Further Ado #028: Submitted for Approval

Imagine a place and time where experts share their love and knowledge of every pop culture topic dear to them.  Now imagine you couldn’t find an expert on that one corner of pop culture you need to learn more about. There’s a signpost up ahead – next stop, the Twilight Zone.

That’s only fitting.  I’ve been trying to find an expert on Twilight Zone comics, and I keep coming up empty-handed.

It’s important for this big project I’m working on. This March 23 and 24th at ITHACON (the Ithaca Comic Convention), we’ll be celebrating the life and works of Rod Serling. You probably know him as the creator and host of the Twilight Zone, but he’s so much more. And he was a professor at Ithaca College, where they maintain his archives.  We’re going to display these amazing treasures for fans at ITHACON.  That will be a special treat as we also celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Twilight Zone.

There’s a lot of Twilight Zone authors and experts, but everyone seems to ignore the comics. 

Continue reading “With Further Ado #028: Submitted for Approval”

PopCultureSquad’s Ed Catto to Teach 1st Of Its Kind Comic Con Course

PopCultureSquad’s Ed Catto to Teach 1st Of Its Kind Comic Con Course

Our columnist Ed Catto is adding a new line to his resume: College Course Pioneer. The 2019 Spring semester at Ithaca College will be offering student the first course of its kind in the country: Creating and Promoting Ithacon. Students will help organize and promote Ithacon, the second-longest running comic convention in the nation!

Here’s the press release in full:  Continue reading “PopCultureSquad’s Ed Catto to Teach 1st Of Its Kind Comic Con Course”