Tag: Louise Simonson

Continued After the Next Page #017: Looking Back At The Good In 2020

Continued After the Next Page #017: Looking Back At The Good In 2020

Well, we made it to the end of 2020. I am sure that it didn’t turn out like any of us expected. There have been plenty of low lights, and there are too many people who have been irrevocably harmed by the local and global tragedies that happened this year. That is awful.

However, someone told me something recently that stuck with me. Despite the horrible dumpster fire that 2020 has brought, your mental health can benefit from the activity of looking at the good things that happened in this past year. So, that is what this final post of 2020 will be about.

The SquadCast

This year I finally got off my tush and started presenting the interviews that I do with comic book professionals in a podcast format. In the past, I had merely transcribed the interview, but I found that there was more interesting content in the discussions that people would enjoy that didn’t quite fit in a text post.

So, I went to Buzzsprout and created a hosting site for the Pop Culture SquadCast: Interview Edition. I learned enough of Audacity to edit the interviews and splice some sound together, and here we are.

I need to say thanks to our artistic genius Marc Allan Fishman for the logo and episode art. Also Space In Time is the band that we use for the intro and closing music. You can check there music out at Bandcamp.

And of course, thanks to the pros who to took the time to talk to me about their work.

The Books

While all of you Pop Culture Squad Members know about our digital presence here on the site and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there is now physical printed evidence that Pop Culture Squad exists. On the back covers of two trade paperback collections, I have blurb quotes for reviews.

I cannot tell you how awesome it is to see my name on a comic book. I could not even have ever imagined that five years ago.

Both of these books are special to me. Hyperbreed from Louise Simonson and Guy Dorian is a fun YA space story from Storm King Comics. Did you notice that? My name is on a book written by THE Louise Simonson!!!!

I have been following the Love and Capes stories that Thomas Zahler creates for years, and when he told me last year that he would be coming back to that universe, I was stoked. He totally made it work, and I am grateful for his putting my review blurb on the back of the book in some seriously impressive company.

The Comics Industry Adapts and Supports Itself

This year has hit the comics industry hard. Publishers and retailers had to deal with a nearly two month shutdown of new comics distribution. But through it all, people worked hard to support each other and save the industry that relies a lot on in-person contact.

So many great new comics were made and you can check out our list of the years best here.

Fundraisers and charity auctions popped up all over the place. We detailed some of those as they occurred.

Give Comics Hope is one of the charities that we highlighted through the year and will continue to do so.

There were plenty of Kickstarter campaigns launched to find different ways to publish and create comic book content. You better believe that we covered them.

Conventions Happened… Sort of

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit America hard in March, comic conventions were scrapped as we all needed to isolate to stop the spread of the dangerously contagious disease. But plenty of talented people scrambled to turn the experience of seeing pop culture personalities and comic creators in virtual cons.

Some were better than others, and none truly replaced the experience of strolling down artists alley and chatting with creators and friends. However, they were good enough to be a decent placeholder for the time that we will be able to be vaccinated and able to go out and see each other in person.

Geek Culture TV

There was a massive amount of quality television programming that was produced and broadcast this year. There are more outlets, streaming and otherwise that are now committed to delivering high quality shows. Here is a list of some of our favorites in no particular order:

  • SCHITT’S CREEK: SEASON 6 – AMC
  • WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS: SEASON 2 – FFX
  • HARLEY QUINN: SEASON 2 – HBOMax
  • THE BOYS: SEASON 2 – Amazon Prime Video
  • THE MANDALORIAN: SEASON 2 – Disney+
  • LOVECRAFT COUNTRY: SEASON 1 – HBOMax
  • THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: SEASON 2 – Netflix
  • STARGIRL: SEASON 1 – CW
  • I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS: SEASON 1 – Neflix
  • STAR TREK: PICARD: SEASON 1 – CBS All Access
  • KILLING EVE: SEASON 3 – BBC
  • PERRY MASON: SEASON 1 – HBOMax

And don’t forget there were some other shows like Tiger King (Netflix) and The Vow (HBO) that left us captivated, or horrified, or both.

Based on the announcements from Disney, Warner Bros, and others, it looks like this trend of high quality serialized episodic programming with continue.

Pop Culture Squad Thrived

Even before the pandemic shut down a lot of the world, we worried that this would be a slow year for PCS. However, we persevered and continued to bring you content as best you can.

If you are not a regular reader of Mike Gold‘s two columns here, you are missing witty and entertaining stories and opinion.

Ed Catto’s regular With Further Ado column finds new ways to look at comics, books, film and other cool stuff.

While we have bigger dreams for what is to come, it was a pretty good year for Pop Culture Squad and we are excited for making them happen in the next year.

Thanks for being here, and READ MORE COMICS!

With Further Ado #111: Let This Be Your Guide

With Further Ado #111: Let This Be Your Guide

Just like with sports or politics, there are many anticipated milestones throughout the year in Geek Culture.  As kid in the late ’60s and ’70s, I knew that summer meant over-sized Annuals and the Justice League & Justice Society of America team-up.

Before Covid-19 interrupted every aspect of business and culture, there was a rhythm to the convention season, kicking off in spring with shows like Emerald City Comic Con and C2E2, reaching a summertime crescendo with Comic-Con International in San Diego, and then celebrating one last burst with New York Comic Con in the fall before a handful of smaller regional conventions.

One highly anticipated tradition that’s been around for fifty years is the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.  Ostensibly, the place to turn for authoritative price documentation on comics, it’s morphed into a scholarly celebration of all domestic comics, an exploration of retailing trends, the last word in listings, a showcase for top artists and a validation for nerds everywhere.

Defying Covid’s grasp, the Overstreet Guide has delivered again.

Got it Covered

Each year, the Guide invites a top artist to contribute illustrations.  Back when I was a kid, we were enthralled with 1976’s Overstreet #4 with the Justice Society heroes on a cover. (All-Star Comics, home of the JSA, was revered in those days). We also loved the Joe Kubert Tarzan cover and the Will Eisner Spirit of ‘76 cover.  I remember laughing with our local comic shop owner, Kim Draheim, how Overstreet #7, spotlighting Porky Pig, missed the mark.  And Bill Ward’s Torchy cover on Overstreet #8 forced that year’s volume into the hide-it-from-your-mother category.

This year again offers top artists contributing cool covers featuring big properties.  This year fans can choose from:

 

  1. Spider-Man and Spawn sharing a cover by Todd McFarlane
  2. The Valiant heroes by John K. Snyder III
  3. Wynonna Earp by Chris Evanhuis
  4. The Defenders by one of my favorite artists, Kevin Nowlan

Continue reading “With Further Ado #111: Let This Be Your Guide”

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.