Tag: Mike Gold

With Further Ado #100: 100th Smash Column

With Further Ado #100: 100th Smash Column

Do you think wedding anniversaries are big deal? Anniversaries for comics series are a big deal too!  Fans of a certain age were trained to expect a mandatory celebration when a series reached a certain numerical milestone, and usually the celebration was self-congratulatory, and promotional. And the fans would be soaked for a higher cover price too.

As a kid, I remember when my neighborhood pal George Riley proudly proclaimed he had a copy of the Batman #200 Smash Issue.  I was perplexed.  How could George, whose forte was always war comics, have this important Batman comic? And one that I didn’t have?  And just what was a Smash Issue anyways?

<Note: I still don’t know what a Smash Issue is.> Continue reading “With Further Ado #100: 100th Smash Column”

Continued After the Next Page #015: On the Passing of a Giant

Continued After the Next Page #015: On the Passing of a Giant

There are a lot of amazing people that make and have made great comic books. Some of the people who made the comics of my youth are now friends, if not, at least, acquaintances. There are however some people whose names are inscribed in the mythical pantheon of comic creators. Names like Kirby, Lee, Ditko, Toth, Raymond, Wood, Eisner, Adams, Buscema. Another name that is included in that list is O’Neil.

Dennis J. “Denny” O’Neil passed away last week. A couple of years ago, I got to meet Denny at the Baltimore Comic Con and spend some time with him. I want to share what I learned from him, but first I need to explain what he meant to me.

As a young student of comics, (I mean, I wrote the first research paper in my life about the history of comics when I was in seventh grade.) I learned about O’Neil and [Neal] Adams‘ critical run on Batman and later Green Lantern & Green Arrow. There was a level of realism that they brought to comics that seemed to counteract the turn that DC made towards camp in the 1960s. That realism mirrored what Lee, Kirby, and Ditko had done at Marvel, but was also quite unique.

I don’t want to call Denny’s writing dark or gritty. I kind of have the feeling that he wouldn’t like that. His characters were flawed, like all humans, and despite great wealth or power, they had to find solutions to problems like the rest of us. His characters were nuanced and multidimensional in a way that set them apart and inspired later creators.

The first book that I remember reading new from Denny was The Question. I had read some of his Iron Man earlier, but I wasn’t as aware of creators at that point. The Question, written by Denny with art by Denys Cowan, inks by Rick Magyar, colors by Tatjana Wood, letters by Gaspar Saladino and later Willie Shubert, and shepherded by Mike Gold, lit my hair on fire. It was a story full of mystery and pain and a struggling hero just trying to do what was right. My mind was opened by the complexity and brilliance of the art and the richness of the stories. It made me understand the vast breadth of storytelling that was possible in comics and it, along with Mike Grell‘s The Longbow Hunters, was the story that pushed me intellectually as a comic reader.

I think most of us have that time where we step away from comics. Whether it is intentional or not, there is a time as we hit adulthood that we stop buying new comics and focus on other things. That happened to me during college.

By mid 1990s I was married and had a job. You know. Adult stuff. One day in late 1995, I saw a comic book on a newsstand that caught my eye. It was Nightwing Volume #1 Issue #1. It was my favorite character in his very first solo series, and that Brian Stelfreeze cover was exquisite. I had to buy it. I loved it. It was written by Denny and immediately captivated my imagination. I remembered how much I loved comics and began to slowly start collecting and reading again. Denny brought me back to my passion. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #015: On the Passing of a Giant”

With Further Ado #092: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 2)

With Further Ado #092: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 2)

Let’s start with a beer. Shall we?

In the old days, Miller Lite TV Commercials presented the world as one big party for adult men. The long-running, phenomenally successful marketing campaign featured retired sports stars laughing, drinking and teasing one another. It was kind of a secret fraternity that wasn’t so secret. Anyone could join, and all you needed was Lite beer. It was fun, playful and good natured.

Among all the sports stars, two decidedly non-sports celebrities stood out – comedian Rodney Dangerfield, enjoying a bombastic second act to his career, and mystery writer Mickey Spillane.

Mystery writer Mickey Spillane? Really? We think of celebrity fiction writers, and it’s hard to conjure up their image.  F. Scott Fitzgerald? James Patterson? What do they look like? I guess most of us know what Stephen King or J.K. Rowling look like. Maybe we all would recognize Hemingway or Truman Capote.  But America was drinking beer and kidding around with one particular writer. Mickey Spillane was in our living rooms –  during every commercial break – when we were watching sitcoms and ball games, for years and years. Continue reading “With Further Ado #092: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 2)”

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”