Tag: Mike Gold

With Further Ado #88: Nimble Innovation

With Further Ado #88: Nimble Innovation

I wish this was an April’s Fools story, but it is not.

In Mike Gold’s column here on Monday, Brainiac on Banjo, he talked about how comic shops, like so many other businesses, are struggling during the surreal new reality that the Coronavirus has unleashed. It’s a scary time for these entrepreneurs.

But we need to keep business issues and life-threatening issues in perspective.  We’re just a few weeks into it. Public figures are now contracting the virus, and many of us now know real people who have contracted it. I have two friends fighting the good fight against COVID-19 in the hospital right now. One’s outlook is pretty grim, I am afraid.

So my heart aches in so many ways. The prospect of a collapse, or at best a terrible shakeout of Geek Culture is one the scary things of which I am fearful. USA TODAY even noticed. They started a recent article with a look at a fanboy turned retailer in Pennsylvania:

YORK, Pa. – Brian Waltersdorff has been strolling the aisles of Comic Store West in York, Pennsylvania,  since 1986. He was the store’s first customer.

Fast forward 22 years, he found himself buying a portion of ownership into the store. This past January, he bought out his partners for sole ownership of his childhood comic book shop. 

“First-year businesses always have problems. I didn’t think it would happen (here),” he said. “But here we are.” 

Waltersdorff is one of several comic book shop owners across the country who are battling an unprecedented level of uncertainty caused by the coronavirus outbreak

The restrictions on movement have been catastrophic for him – as they have for most small business owners. However, the comic book industry is navigating a different sea of change: its main supplier has completely shut down its distribution chain.

 

Comic Shops, have, for the most part, been run and owned by strong-willed entrepreneurs who have financially skated near the edge. Likewise, publishers and companies that create Geek Culture ephemera have done the same.

In that column this past Monday, Mike Gold wrote, “Only a very few publishers are owned by massive mega-corporations such as AT&T, Amazon, and Disney. The rest are owned by very hard working Mom ’n’ Pop cockroach capitalists who depend upon these shops.”

TwoMorrows Publishing wrote candidly about how tough it is to sell magazines when your distributor and retailer outlets are closed.  So they are offering a 40% sale to keep the lights on. Continue reading “With Further Ado #88: Nimble Innovation”

Brainiac On Banjo #073: Weed Thrills, Part One

Brainiac On Banjo #073: Weed Thrills, Part One

So, what’s it like to wake up one morning after a decade-long nap only to discover that you have to take your shoes off at the airport, same-sex marriage is legal and you can buy the demon weed marijuana over-the-counter in 17 states and counting?

I dunno. Go ask a Trumper.

Marijuana has been a major part of our popular culture for over a half-century and was a significant background aspect for at least another 30 years. It has ruined many lives: hundreds of thousands of largely young people have been arrested and imprisoned for using the stuff, particularly in America’s communities of color. Once imprisoned you are forever a convict and life after incarceration has been pretty well laid out for you: minimum wage jobs if you’re lucky, restrictions on your movements locally and internationally at least while you’re on parole, and ostracization by the masses of hypocritical assholes who think your private behavior is any of their business. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #073: Weed Thrills, Part One”

GrimJack Convention Panel Audio at Baltimore Comic Con 2018

GrimJack Convention Panel Audio at Baltimore Comic Con 2018

Hello there. In the interest of making sure you have something to do this weekend. We are bringing you an audio recording of the GrimJack Panel from Baltimore Comic-Con in September 2018. It is moderated by our own Mike Gold, and is starring the creators of the wonderful GrimJack, PCS’s John Ostrander and Timothy Truman. Former First Comics Art Director and comic legend Joe Staton also makes a guest appearance.  The audio recording tracks the panel discussion from the origins of the character and lets the creators share some of their fond memories of John Gaunt.

 

 

 

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #016: … and The Doobie Brothers Aren’t Really Brothers!

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #016: … and The Doobie Brothers Aren’t Really Brothers!

Good news, potheads! You no longer have to drive down to Uruguay to hang out in a nation where your recreational smoking predilections won’t get you thrown in prison.

Yesterday’s Toronto Star gave us the news. Recreational cannabis is now legal north of the border. “As Canada stops treating cannabis as a ‘social evil,’ police look to ‘culture change’ in enforcement.” Their coverage of the event went on to discuss expedited pardons for pot possessors, a province-by-province breakdown of the price of weed, and photos of normal, average everyday Canadians standing in long lines at their newly opened weed shops as though they enjoyed waiting for that first iPhone a decade ago.

And, from the looks of the crowd, I’m sure many did.

Yesterday, cartoonist/storyteller Erik Larsen scored one of the biggest (probably unintentional) public relations victories in comics. The 239th issue of Savage Dragon (full disclosure: it’s one of my absolute favorite comics, for reasons I’ll probably explain in an upcoming Brainiac On Banjo column) went on sale the same day Canadian weed went legal. The lead character, his wife and children, and some members of the supporting cast relocated to the Great White North last year. Toronto, to be exact, which happens to be my favorite city in North America. I identify with, and am jealous of, any Chicagoan who moves to Toronto. Will the Savage Dragon mellow out and become the Magic Dragon?  Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #016: … and The Doobie Brothers Aren’t Really Brothers!”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #013: Kavanaugh and Cosby’s Innocent Merriment

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #013: Kavanaugh and Cosby’s Innocent Merriment

My object all sublime / I shall achieve in time / To let the punishment fit the crime / The punishment fit the crime; And make each prisoner pent / Unwillingly represent / A source of innocent merriment! / Of innocent merriment

-William S. Gilbert, The Mikado, 1885

The oft-suggested de facto position of the Republican Party is that rape really isn’t such a big deal. They are mistaken. In fact, rape is obscene, lawless, hideous, dangerous, dirty, violent… and extremely pervasive.

On Fox News Monday evening, Supreme Court Justice-wannabe Brett Kavanaugh offered as his defense against two charges (quickly upgraded to three) of sexual assault his claim that he was a virgin all the way through college. The mere fact that he thinks this is any sort of a defense makes him lower than pond scum, yet only half as intelligent. Although many of his Republican friends backed this defense until they were told, possibly by their daughters, to shut the hell up. I believe Brett when says he was a virgin because, quite frankly, with his attitude I’m amazed any woman or man would ever want to fuck him. But as a defense, his alleged virginity is completely irrelevant.

Brett, you birdbrain, here’s the bird’s-eye lowdown on sexual assault. You can, and according to your very own behavior most likely did, commit sexual assault while still maintaining your virginity. There’s a term for this: it’s called attempted rape. It’s a felony. It appears, Brett, from the very words you uttered during the past two weeks that you are a failed rapist.

Well, after all, Republican boys will be Republican boys. 

The Kavanaugh cover-up almost interfered with the story of Bill Cosby’s sentencing for the rape of Andrea Constand in 2004. He had been found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault which, combined, carries a maximum sentence of 30 years. On Tuesday, Judge Steven O’Neill sentenced Cosby to three years.

Judge O’Neill, whose office telephone number is 610-278-3985, was appointed to the bench in 2002 by Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker, then a prominent member of the Republican Party. You know, the party that is anti-abortion but pro-rape. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Judge O’Neill will be on the bench until 2023, in case you’re planning on drugging and raping somebody but you’re not sure where best to do it.

“Well, he’s an old man,” some say. “Fuck you,” I say. He’s an old rapist, and three years in prison does not pass the Mikado test. If Cos is an unruly bastard in the slammer, his sentence might be extended up to 10 years. My guess is that he’ll remain under house arrest until his appeals have been exhausted. At his age, Cosby’s likely to have been exhausted before his appeals are exhausted.

Oh, yeah. Cosby must register as a sex offender. As Noah said, “Riiiight.” This will fuck up his ability to land a job. Quite frankly, registering as a sex offender is redundant. He’s already registered as “Bill Cosby.” America’s Dad has got himself a problem.

Recent comments made by numerous top-level Republicans including Senate leader Mitch McConnell and pussy-grabber-in-chief Donald J. Trump trivialize women’s experiences. They may or may not have a similar position about male rape victims. Mr. Trump, an admitted sex deviant, took pride in boasting about how he burst in to the girl’s dressing room to gawk at the semi-naked underage girls at his 1997 Miss Teen USA pageant. Perhaps where he’s headed, our nation’s top monster will learn otherwise the hard way.

If the punishment is to fit the crime.

(Our columnist would like to thank Marty Balin and the late Paul Kantner for the use of my favorite line from their song “We Can Be Together.”)

Brainiac On Banjo #012: Streaming The Universe

Brainiac On Banjo #012: Streaming The Universe

The streaming service called DC Universe is up and running. Sort of. If you’re looking to discover why Robin angrily said “Fuck Batman!” you’re going to have to wait about a month, or fly to New York City, sneak into the New York Comic-Con (by all means, do not give those bastards your money), stand at the back of a cramped overstuffed under-air conditioned room and watch Titans about a week early.

Wow. I actually digressed in the lead paragraph. I’ll get back to my intended rant now.

The world of “television” changes every day, and where it’s heading right now seems to be an environment where you are getting a lot more entertainment and a lot more choice of where you want to get it. You also have a lot more hassle, signing up for Crom-knows how many streaming services. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Sling, HBO Now, DirecTV Now, Showtime When, Playstation Vue, Acorn, WatchTV, CBS All Access, ESPN+, Cinephiles, YouTube TV, NuMedia, Mubi, Fandor, Sundance, and now DC Universe… I’m sure I missed a few. Hell, before I did my research I hadn’t even heard of six of them. But even if you have, do not relax: there are plenty more coming your way, including Disney, which may or may not include Marvel and/or Star Wars and/or Pixar and/or Fox.

Each of these services run between about $5 to $50 a month and while there is some overlap, you’ve got to join – and pay for – each one separately. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that we’ll see mergers and washouts and aggregating services to lighten the load. But it’s unlikely there will be a service that lets you triple your available viewing time.

OK. “It’s a brave new world, yadda yadda yadda.” Every day it’s a goddamned brave new world. No wonder our attention spans have been reduced to that of kittens.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #012: Streaming The Universe”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #011: I Won’t Toe Your Line Today

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #011: I Won’t Toe Your Line Today

There I was at the immigration scene / Shining and feeling clean, could it be a sin? / I got stopped by the immigration man / He said he doesn’t know if he can let me in

There’s this disc jockey I’ve been listening to and learning from for about, oh good grief, almost 45 years now. Her name is Terri Hemmert, she’s been on WXRT-Chicago all that time after doodling around in Rochester NY. Spending 45 years at one radio station is not simply an accomplishment. Unless you own the station, it’s the rarest of rarities. And for good reason, the same reason that, through the miracle of the Internet, I still listen to her after all this time. Live and learn. It’s a good thing.

Sometimes learning actually is relearning; those slap-your-forehead moments that makes you wonder why you hadn’t thought of that. Last Monday Terri played Immigration Man, written and recorded by Graham Nash and David Crosby back in 1972. She noted that this song actually is more relevant today than it was when it was released.

Which is when I slapped my forehead.  Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #011: I Won’t Toe Your Line Today”

Brainiac On Banjo #011: Death of A Super-Hero?

Brainiac On Banjo #011: Death of A Super-Hero?

He rides through the jungle, tearin’ limbs off of trees Knockin’ great big monsters dead on their knees The cats don’t bug him ’cause they know better ‘Cause he’s a mean motor scooter and a bad go-getter He’s the toughest man there is alive Wears clothes from a wildcat’s hide He’s the king of the jungle jive Look at that cave man go!

Way back in May 1960, the ABC network purchased a Chicago-based rural-oriented radio station from the Prairie Farmer magazine, not because they wanted to aid corn-growers but because it was a 50,000 watt “class A” radio station. That meant it was received by listeners in about 33 states, much of Canada, and, if you lived next to their transmission towers, probably your dental fillings as well.

In other words, they wanted a money machine. Pursuant to this, WLS changed format from “music to milk cows by” to that nasty-ol’ rock’n’roll. ABC thought the farmers wouldn’t appreciate the musical musings of Chuck Berry, Brenda Lee, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and the ever-frightening Elvis Presley. So, in order to clear the field, they chose one song to play over and over and over for a few days. Their disc jockeys were a talented group of kids including the legendary Dick Biondi and Bob Hale, who a year previous had emceed the Iowa concert where Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens performed their last. Those jocks were the heart and soul of the station. They announced that song under various contrived titles. The farmers quickly found something else to listen to, and the kids were brought in through word-of-mouth generated by their redundancy programming.

That song was Alley Oop, performed by The Hollywood Argyles and written by Mort Shuman and Doc Pomus, two of rock’s most important writers. For the record, it debuted on WLS a month before official release. The song was based upon the brilliant newspaper comic strip of the same name – which, unless I’m mistaken (it happens), was not published in any of the five major Chicago newspapers at the time.

Oh, wait. This isn’t about rock’n’roll radio. It’s about an obituary. Well, maybe not. Hopefully not.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #011: Death of A Super-Hero?”

Brainiac On Banjo #010: The Defenders Drop Five

Brainiac On Banjo #010: The Defenders Drop Five

My favorite Marvel characters, thank you for asking, are a bunch of characters that have a tough time holding onto their own titles. They started out their solo adventures in the 1960s split-books Strange Tales, Tales To Astonish, and Tales of Suspense. No, I do not count Journey Into Mystery because when the other titles dropped their mystery stories JIM actually became a Thor title.

So there. I’m a fanboy. I get to be anal retentive. It’s in the job description.

To narrow it down, those favorite characters of mine are, in no particular order, Nick Fury, Sub-Mariner, and Doctor Strange. In other words, two-thirds of the original Defenders, plus Nick Fury – who now disappears from my rant. When Marvel wanted to launch a new super-team book, they reached to the Sub-Mariner and to Doctor Strange, adding the Hulk to the group to provide necessary muscle and humor.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #010: The Defenders Drop Five”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #009: Finger From Beyond The Grave!

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #009: Finger From Beyond The Grave!

It’s impolite to joke around over somebody’s death, but when it’s the deceased who make the joke from beyond the grave, hey, credit the jokester and pass the gag around. It’s his legacy… and, well, it’s also really cool.

There were few issues where I was on the same side as Senator John McCain. However — and this is in keeping with my past bleatings here at Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind — McCain wasn’t a kneejerk ideologue. He listened to people. Sometimes, after reflection, he’d change his mind or position. This is not what we’ve been getting from our politicians, but it is what we expect from real human beings.

In contrast, there is our president. He is not an ideologue either, but the difference is McCain actually had ideas. POTUS brags how he maliciously maintains his ignorance. He supports whatever he last heard on Fox And Friends is his policy, until he’s next distracted by something even more dark and shiny.

Yes, Donald Trump got his start as a villain in a Max Fleischer cartoon.  Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #009: Finger From Beyond The Grave!”