Tag: Ithacon

With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Kenobi Gets Too Much Hate

With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Kenobi Gets Too Much Hate

Following up on the theme from last week’s entry, here’s another winning entry from our annual student competition:

Kenobi Gets Too Much Hate
By Oliver Rucker

So, I am super late to the party. Being the Star Wars fan that I am, I’m frankly embarrassed, but I finally got around to watching Obi-Wan Kenobi, the series diving in on the beloved Jedi’s life in between the fall of the Republic at the end of Revenge of the Sith, and our introduction to Luke Skywalker and the gang in A New Hope.

For starters, I’d like to attempt to explain myself. I was coming off of The Bad Batch and The Book of Boba Fett, both of which I did not care for. I can go on and on, but to keep it brief, if I was twelve, I’d love Bad Batch, and I simply found Boba Fett to be remarkably boring. So as excited as I was to see what Obi-Wan was getting up to on Tatooine, my spirits were down, expectations low, I was dejected, and honestly just a little but Star Wars’d out.

Before going any further, I’d like to explain that I am not like every other Star Wars fan in existence, who just has a fiery hate for everything new that is put out into the cosmos. In fact, I find myself to be in the strong minority that really enjoyed Attack of the Clones. Sure, the dialogue is just awful, but the story is incredibly strong and it evokes emotions like sadness, anger, jubilation, memorization, and the anticipation of imminent disaster. All things I love in a movie. Continue reading “With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Kenobi Gets Too Much Hate”

With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Is Superhero Fatigue Real?

With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Is Superhero Fatigue Real?

You might have heard (maybe from me?) that we had another outstanding ITHACON. As part of Promoting and Managing ITHACON, a class I teach at Ithaca College, each year we embrace this annual tradition with the With Further Ado column.

Each spring, I ask the students to submit a column on pop culture as if they were the author of this space. Our crack editorial staff pours over the submissions and selects a winner, and they get published on this website. (The fact that it gives me a little break right after ITHACON is of no concern to anyone but me.)

Anyway, we have several amazing columns to publish this year. Our first winner runner-up of this year’s fill-in columnist contest is Nina Amato and her thoughts on superhero fatigue. (Nina just got finished working on ITHACON, and was on our program team creating a fantastic publication.) Congrats and thanks for all the hard work, Nina!

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Is Superhero Fatigue Real?
By Nina Amato

Whether we like it or not, superheroes are ingrained in our everyday media. Today, more than ever, we can see superheroes all over our film, television, and even literature. In fact, movie and television studios introduce the public to a new superhero almost bimonthly. It makes sense for them too, as superhero movies have been proven to serve as box office decimators. But why? While we’re seeing these movies succeed, they’ve also been heavily scrutinized by critics, especially recently. So, are superhero stories getting worse, or are we just getting tired of them? Continue reading “With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Is Superhero Fatigue Real?”

With Further Ado #295: ITHACON Preview

With Further Ado #295: ITHACON Preview

We’re getting to launch ITHACON again. It’s the nation’s second longest running comic convention, and I’ve had to the privilege to be involved with this one for the last few years. This year, we have some amazing guests and some very clever panels!

And of course, there’s more information here and if you haven’t bought your tickets yet, what are you waiting for? They are available here!

Re-Awakenings: Disney’s Gargoyles 30th Anniversary Panel:
11:30 Saturday

Thirty years ago, a new type of hero hit the airwaves as part of the Disney Afternoon: stone statues called Gargoyles who came to life at night to fight crime! Blending history, mythology, sci-fi, and romance, Disney’s Gargoyles ran for 78 episodes, boasted a Marvel Comics tie-in, a video game, and toys. Now, at Dynamite, the Gargoyles live again! Meet Joseph Rybandt, Editorial Director at Dynamite Entertainment, the publisher of Gargoyles record-setting revival, and other panelists for a discussion of the show’s history, its current success in comic book form at Dynamite, and its future in the recently announced live-action Disney+ reboot! Moderated by Jonathan Chalmers

Editing Comics 101: with Shelly Bond
2:30 Saturday

What does a comic book editor actually do? Find out with ITHACON 47’s Guest of Honor, Shelly Bond. She’s had an impressive comic career, and it started with she was a student at Ithaca College. We’re excited to roll out the red carpet for Shelly -and her husband, artist Philip Bond. In this panel, Shelly will deconstruct the process of making comics. Don’t miss it!

Continue reading “With Further Ado #295: ITHACON Preview”

With Further Ado #284: Up, Up, and Away! So long, Sid Friedfertig

With Further Ado #284: Up, Up, and Away! So long, Sid Friedfertig

It with great sadness that I reflect on the passing of my pal, Sid Friedfertig, who died on December 30th in Brooklyn at age 69. Sid was the man behind preserving a special bit of comics history – the daily Superman newspaper strips. Partnering with the American Library of Comics and IDW Publishing, Sid worked to publish these strips in beautiful hardcover collections.

It was honor to invite Sid to exhibit, and lecture, at recent ITHACON comic conventions. He was gentleman and a professional – always kind and patient with fans at his booth. And when on panels, he was informative and upbeat; never stuffy.

Every year at ITHACON I’d buy one more volume of this superb series – and ask him to autograph it, of course. ITHACON is a wonderful event, but for me, it will shine just little less brightly this year. Fandom will be just a little bit dimmer with the loss of this hard-working comics historian.

So long, Sid. It was great to know you – all too briefly. And thanks for being a great guy, a great father and an outstanding Superman Fan.

For this week’s column, I’d like to re-present an interview that I had the pleasure of conducing with Sid a few years ago.

With Further Ado #39: Look! Up in the Newspaper – A Super Interview with Sid Friedfertig
Originally published April 24, 2019

The irony of a reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper appearing in the funny pages of a great metropolitan newspapers, and quite a few rural newspapers, is not lost on me.

Superman in comics, in the movies, on TV or the in the newspaper inspires the best in us. I had the pleasure of catching up with entrepreneur and super-fan, Sid Friedfertig, at the 44th annual Ithacon and it was a such a treat. He’s a guy with great passion inspired by Superman. Through his Herculean efforts (or should I say “Kryptonian efforts”?) , fans can enjoy so many lost Superman adventures – and rediscover old adventures in longer stories with better, but still vintage, art! “What is this?”, you say? Well, read on and enjoy my chat with Sid Freidfertig:

Ed Catto: Can you tell me why you are such a Superman fan, and why do you feel Superman is so enduring?

Sid Friedfertig: Superman endures because he is unique. With every other costumed hero the plots must be crafted so the hero’s ability is able to counter the menace facing him. Superman is the reverse, he is the All-Good, the ideal. To me that makes him more interesting.

EC: How did you get hooked on the Silver Age Superman, and how did you develop such an interest in the Superman Newspaper Strips?

SF: I grew up reading the Silver Age Superman comic books, which featured covers mostly drawn by Curt Swan, while at the same time watching the Adventures of Superman TV series. George Reeves was Swan’s Clark Kent come to life. Sometimes though, the story inside the comics was drawn by another artist. I wanted to see Swan’s artwork that went with those glorious covers. Later I realized that Swan had drawn those same stories for the Superman newspaper strip. Here were the stories that went with those covers, and I decided that I was going to find all of them.

EC: I love how you partnered with IDW for this effort. Can you tell me a little about the relationship?

SF: I own the only known collection of Superman newspaper strips. I knew that fans had been for years demanding from DC that these stories be reprinted but DC did not have them. Due to a decision that is lost to history DC published the strips once then threw them away. No copies were made, no individual titles were recorded, we don’t even have an accurate list of which newspapers carried the strip in its final years, so I created a website to showcase my collection; it received a great deal of attention. IDW approached me and we have been working together ever since. They have a wonderful imprint called The Library of American Comics, headed by Dean Mullaney, whose aim is to publish as many lost American comic strips as is possible, not only Superman.

EC: How many books in the series do you have out now, and what’s coming up next?

SF: IDW picked up in 1943 where Kitchen Sink Press left off. In the late 1990’s they reprinted the first three years of dailies and Sundays. Each dailies volume covers 2 to 2 ½ years of episodes. The final Golden Age volume will be in stores in May. Next year we will enter the Atomic Age of comic strips after which comes the one I am looking forward to most, the final book in the series, the beginning of the Cambrian explosion of creativity also known as the Silver Age.

EC: The covers to these books are wonderful! How are they designed?

SF: The beautiful covers, front and reverse, were drawn by the great Pete Poplaski. Lorraine Turner designs all the books. I think each cover conveys the lighthearted spirit that permeated 60’s comics.

EC: What makes these Superman Newspaper Strips so special, and why should Superman fans read them?

SF: If you love Silver Age Superman stories that appeared in the comics, you will love these books. Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel was rehired by DC to transform scripts written for the comic books into strip format. The added length of the strip versions allowed Siegel to give the stories more depth and characterization than their comic doppelgangers. These strips were Siegel’s last Superman work and in my opinion the best work of his life.

EC: You recently were a guest at ITHACON. What was that like? Were there any surprises there?

SF: I loved attending Ithacon. The only surprise was how appreciative of my efforts were the comics professionals in attendance. It was very fulfilling.

EC: These newspaper strips have so many familiar supporting characters. Did they also introduce new characters or narrative elements to the Superman mythology?

SF: Because the comic books have a longer lead-time than the dailies, several episodes appeared in the strips first. As a result, the first appearance of arch foes Brainiac, Bizarro, Metallo, and Mr. Myxptlk occurred in the strips. Supporting characters like lovely Lyla Lerrol also made their debuts in the strips.

EC: Which creators worked on these strips and who do you feel delivered the best work?

SF: Wayne Boring was so adept at drawing the Superman strip that he drew both dailies and Sundays for a time and he remained on the Sunday strip for a quarter of a century. But the most fulfilling part of my journey has been publishing Jerry Siegel’s final Superman work that had been lost for over half a century.

EC: What’s your favorite Superman Newspaper adventure and why?

SF: Siegel’s story ‘Superman’s Return To Krypton’ is my favorite. In the comics, it appeared as a full-length novel, which means the single story occupied the entire comic book. When Siegel wrote the newspaper version he told the same story using about 50% additional panels giving the story great depth. The interaction of Superman and his doomed parents achieves great poignancy, those scenes always break my heart.

EC: Thanks so very much for your time and for all your efforts, Sid.

 

 

Watch the Death of Superman Panel from ITHACON 2023

Watch the Death of Superman Panel from ITHACON 2023

Thirty years ago Superman died. Amazingly, that was not the end of the Man of Steel, but the storyline that led up to to that momentous event and the subsequent stories that immediately followed it have become a huge part of the history of the character.

At ITHACON on April 21, 2023, I hosted a panel with writer Roger Stern and colorist Glenn Whitmore and we discussed how the story came to be and the execution of it. At the time there were four monthly “Superman” books and Roger Stern was writing Action Comics. Glenn Whitmore was coloring all four of those books.

Roger Stern began writing comics professionally in the mid 1970s and had long runs on Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers, as well as a memorable run on Captain America for Marvel Comics, among other titles. His work at DC Comics included creating the Will Payton version of Starman as well as long runs on Superman titles. Glenn Whitmore started as a colorist for DC Comics in 1988 and has had long career in comics working for DC, Archie Comics, and others. He has been involved in some incredible comics over his career.

Please enjoy the below embedded video of the discussion with these excellent comic creators:

With Further Ado #246: ITHACON Student Writing Competition – Taking a Look at Black Butler

ITHACON 46 was a rousing success. It seems like just about everyone had an outstanding experience. As part of the class I teach the Promoting and Managing ITHACON Class at Ithaca College, each year we embrace this annual tradition with the “With Further Ado” column.

Each year, I ask the students to submit a column on pop culture as if they were the author of this space. Our crack editorial staff pours over the submissions and selects a winner, and they get published on this website. (The fact that it gives me a couple of weeks break right after ITHACON is of no concern to anyone but me.)

Anyway, we have three amazing columns to publish this year.

Our second runner-up of this year’s fill-in columnist contest is Collin Longo and his thoughts about manga called Black Butler. Congrats to you, Collin!


Black Butler is a manga series created by mangaka (author) Yana Toboso, published in Square Enix’s magazine Monthly GFantasy. Having been published since September of 2006, the manga is currently ongoing with one hundred and ninety-eight chapters and thirty-two physical volumes released. In October of 2008, an anime television series of Black Butler was released, it now having three seasons, an original video animation (OVA), and a feature length movie. Several other adaptations have also spawned such as a live action movie, a video game, and even five stage musicals. Continue reading “With Further Ado #246: ITHACON Student Writing Competition – Taking a Look at Black Butler”

With Further Ado #245: Keeping Ithacon Fresh after 46+ Years

With Further Ado #245: Keeping Ithacon Fresh after 46+ Years

As you know by now, I’m really excited for ITHACON this weekend – April 22nd and 23rd. For me, it’s the perfect way to spend a weekend because it’s a comic convention that you can get your arms around and still be exposed to big ideas and brilliant people.

But as the nation’s 2nd longest running comic convention, you’ve got to work hard to stay fresh.

(As a digression, Shelton Drum, who runs the 3rd longest running comic convention, HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC, also does a fabulous job of keeping it fresh….and I can’t wait to attend his show in June!).

So, with all that in mind, I wanted to highlight some of our “new” things at ITHACON this year:
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A New Publisher: A Wave Blue World

Continue reading “With Further Ado #245: Keeping Ithacon Fresh after 46+ Years”

What To Expect at Ithacon 46 – April 22-23, 2023

What To Expect at Ithacon 46 – April 22-23, 2023

You may have heard about Ithacon, the second longest running comic convention in America, before. Our own Ed Catto is a major force behind making it a terrific little comic show. It is going to happen next weekend, and as the weeks leading up to it are now down to just days, we wanted to let you know all the amazing things that will be there.

First of all Pop Culture Squad will be attending. Mike Gold is a Featured Guest and will be the subject of the discussion panel “Reinventing Characters with Mike Gold” on Saturday 4/22 at 11:30AM. You won’t want to miss it.

Also Bob Harrison will be representing Pop Culture Squad and hosting and participating in a bunch of panels at the con. Follow this link for a look at the complete programming schedule.

The list of Featured Guests also includes Will Dennis, Jamal Igle, Roger Stern, Glen Whitmore, Tom Peyer, and Stuart Moore. The full list of guests can be found here.

Here are some of the things to look for at Ithacon from their announcements that you may have missed.

Continue reading “What To Expect at Ithacon 46 – April 22-23, 2023”

With Further Ado #244: Five and a Half Questions with Mike Reiff  (An ITHACON Prelude)

With Further Ado #244: Five and a Half Questions with Mike Reiff (An ITHACON Prelude)

I can’t wait for ITHACON! It’s coming up soon – April 22nd and 23rd. And if you buy your tix before April 16th, you also get this amazing swag bag. Trust me – there’s so much cool merchandise in these that it totally offsets the (modest) ticket prices.

Educator and writer Mike Reiff will be presenting at ITHACON this year too, and I couldn’t be happier. I caught up with him just so I could keep track of everything he’s up to!

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Question #1

Ed Catto: You are doing so much work with Graphic Novels and kids now. Can you tell me about it all?

Mike Reiff: Well, I would first note that I’m working with an outstanding team at Ithaca High School (IHS) on this – from the support of the district leadership to building principal Jason Trumble to a great English department, when we think about our recent push to diversify our literacy offerings – with “diversify” a complex and expansive term – one person couldn’t do what’s being done, it takes a team. So I’m speaking as a reporter as much as an implementer of some of the shifts, and some of the graphic novel work pre-dates my active involvement in this, including texts taught in classrooms and a astonishing array of graphic texts offered and promoted by our High School librarian team. Continue reading “With Further Ado #244: Five and a Half Questions with Mike Reiff (An ITHACON Prelude)”

Continued After the Next Page #022: Planning Panels and Conventioning in the Windy City and Ithaca

Continued After the Next Page #022: Planning Panels and Conventioning in the Windy City and Ithaca

In the “before times”, people would come to the gathering place and wander the concourse taking in the sights purchasing shiny wares with no fear of deadly disease. That was three years ago. Are we back to that point? Probably not, and probably not for a while still, but we are getting closer.

Comic convention season is back in full force. That break in con scheduling that we normally have from before the December holidays until late February didn’t really happen this year. Most people seems to be willing to return to the circuit with little concern for the pandemic creating coronavirus. The best part of this is that my social media feeds are not filling up with tales of infections or even the dreaded con-crud.

All of this has me even more excited to begin my 2023 convention season in a couple of weeks. Your intrepid correspondent will be part of the press contingent at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, more commonly known by its geek friendly acronym C2E2. I will be walking the floors all three days talking to exhibitors and fans and checking out some of the interesting panel programming.

However, the most exciting panels, in my not so humble opinion, will take place on Sunday April 2, 2023. I will be hosting two panels a Reed event for the first time in my career, and I am beyond excited. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #022: Planning Panels and Conventioning in the Windy City and Ithaca”