Tag: Mike Gold

With Further Ado #195: Whew! A live convention, and it was fantastic!

With Further Ado #195: Whew! A live convention, and it was fantastic!

Whew!  Last week I pulled back the curtain as we were in the throes of planning for ITHACON. It was the first year we’d be back live, after the pandemic restrictions, and there was a lot of anxiety in the air.

And as you might recall, ITHACON is a unique show: Bill Turner, the founder, is still very much involved, but I have the privilege of teaching an Ithaca College course about tradeshows and conventions, and as a part of that class, the students promote, plan, and manage ITHACON.  Having worked for Reed Elsevier, I set the bar really high too.

But you know what? It all worked out. The show was a huge success.

I’ll rely on the photos to tell the tale this week, but I still want to fire away with five random thoughts (If I was trying to impress you, I’d label them as “Five Insights”) about ITHACON 2022.

1. People like people – and they are excited to gather together. There were a lot of happy smiles all around and just about everyone: the attendees, the guests, the dealers/exhibitors, the cosplayers, the students (they did all the work), the volunteers, the Comic Book Club of Ithaca (and even the facilities staff) reported they had a great time.

2. ITHACON attracted the people who wanted to be there. Attendance was down from when we were last in person, but that was expected. And you know what? We didn’t want it too crowded anyways. This resulted in quick lines and opportunities for fans wander about and to discover new things.  The dealers were happy too; many of them told us tales about how ITHACON 45 was their best show in a while/ever!

Continue reading “With Further Ado #195: Whew! A live convention, and it was fantastic!”

With Further Ado #193: Convention Planning in the Age of Uncertainty

With Further Ado #193: Convention Planning in the Age of Uncertainty

Planning for a comic convention in 2022 sure is weird!

As Covid drags on, everything seems to be affected as we all, as a society, struggle to shift back to normal. Or to redefine what normal means.  And when you add in the anxiety of world events, the in-your-face impact of inflation (rising gas prices) and a rainy spring season- there’s a lot more to planning an event than there used to be!

But this Saturday and Sunday, April 23 and 24th, we’ll be hosting ITHACON 45.  The nation’s second longest running comic convention, right after San Diego Comic-Con (CCI), will be back in-person and live. This show’s founder, Bill Turner is still VERY active in all aspects of the show, and I have the honor of teaching a class at Ithaca College’s School of Business where we teach students about conventions, trade shows and live events, and then provide them the “hand’s on” opportunity to help promote, manage, and run a real show – ITHACON. Continue reading “With Further Ado #193: Convention Planning in the Age of Uncertainty”

With Further Ado #189: Star Light, Star Bright

With Further Ado #189: Star Light, Star Bright

There’s something special about writing and documenting comics history.  Part of it is celebrating cherished things, part is speaking with favorite creators, and yet another part of it is just starting a conversation amongst fans.

Back Issue Magazine, published by TwoMorrows, is one of those magazines that I both love and dread. I love reading it, and contributing articles to it, but, if I am truthful, I kind of dread it because I always find every article so compelling. I find I’ve got to carve out big chunks of time to read it.

But hey, if that’s my worst problem life isn’t so bad, right?

Here’s an opening excerpt of my latest article, focusing on one of DC’s many Starmen characters.  It was a kick to research and write, and here you’ll even see insights from fellow Pop Culture Squad columnist Mike Gold in this excerpt (and more in the full article).

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art — John Keats

Imagine creating a comic hero with a proud historical name, the everyman quality of Marvel Comics and a unique fresh setting. It seems like a foolproof recipe for success. Instead, like a competent athlete overshadowed by a younger brother’s extraordinary success, the 1988 Starman’s fame was eclipsed. He would be relegated to the bargain boxes at the local comic shop and occasional guest appearances.

But there was something wonderful and bright and optimistic about this 1988 Starman series. Like a glance up into a sky full of stars on a summer night, this comic was full of hope, wonder and potential.

Another Star Is Born

While the name Starman has a long history, this incarnation of Starman was meant to be something new and different.   In the first issue, editor Bob Greenberger provided two text pieces. “Star Light, Star Bright, Fourth Star I See Tonight” explained the history of the various Starmen who preceded this character.  The second text piece, “The Rebirth of Starman” ran on the inside back cover (!) and detailed how Mike Gold challenged him to create a hero from an existing name.

“The retailers didn’t want to bet on the same thing,” said Gold. “They wanted to give something new a try.”

As Greenberg recounted, creating a new Hourman was of interest, but that name was already in use in Infinity, Inc.  And so, they moved on to Starman.  The company-wide Invasion series was also being planned, and there were natural synergies that could be leveraged with Starman. Greenberg also detailed how he recruited writer Roger Stern and artist Tom Lyle.

The first issue got things rolling along quickly. Readers are introduced to a hiker who is found in the wilderness. It’s all very mysterious and creepy.  Soon the hiker, Will Payton, is on the run from the authorities, discovers his powers, and tries to sort it all out.

His saving grace, in his evolution to becoming a superhero, is his sister Jayne. She’s what we would today call a Fangirl. Jayne has a deep knowledge of how superheroes operate and has the skills to design his costume.

Ed Konecny of Comics, Etc. has fond memories of the character. “Unlike most characters at the time, there was no direct lineage to the last generation of hero,” said Konecny. “Ted Knight (the original Starman) had long since been obscured by the Crisis events. Golden age characters had lost their appeal and the rise of characters of “true grit”. Amongst the strangeness of the late eighties, a story about a lone hiker being found within a circle charred into the ground, and without a mark on him, smacked of aliens and the title Starman was still fresh from Jeff Bridges attempt to bring a character of the same name.”

For more on this Starman, and so many other Starmen, grab a copy of Back Issue #133, on sale now at finer comic shops.  You can also buy it directly from TwoMorrows. Tell them Ed sent ya.

Eighty Years of Hawkman Panel at Baltimore Comic-Con

Eighty Years of Hawkman Panel at Baltimore Comic-Con

On October 23, 2021 at Baltimore Comic-Con we held a panel discussion about the history of Hawkman in comics. Guests in attendance were Mike Gold, Jack C. Harris, Jerry Ordway, and Robert Venditti.

We talked about important creators involved in the character’s history and his popularity and publication challenges. Robert Venditti talked about his most recent Hawkman series. Jerry Ordway gave some great insights into the character from an artist’s perception. Mike Gold and Jack Harris shared some inside details on how comics get made. It was a super informative conversation.

We hope you enjoy the panel and let us know what you think.

Pop Culture Squad at Baltimore Comic-Con 2021

Pop Culture Squad at Baltimore Comic-Con 2021

Pop Culture Squad will be returning to Baltimore this weekend for “America’s Greatest Comic Convention”. Baltimore Comic-Con will be held at the Baltimore Convention Center from Friday 10/22 – Sunday 10/24. Mike Gold and I will be there catching up with old friends and hopefully making some new ones. You can find Mike at booth 3606 with our friends at Insight Studios.

For those who are planning to attend the show, please note that vaccination or proof of a negative Covid-19 test are required for entry and masks are also required to be worn. You can see the health and safety requirements here.

We hope to see a bunch of you all there. We will be updating the site and our socials as much as we can over the weekend and beyond; so, stay tuned.

Programming Notes:

I will  be hosting discussion panels all three days of the convention and will be dragging Mr. Gold along for a couple of them. The details are as follows:

FIRST COMICS REUNION

Friday October 22, 2021 starting 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm | Room: 322
Come see the forces behind the groundbreaking independent publisher that changed the comics landscape as they recount how it began and what its legacy is. Hear the history from the ones who made it happen. Guests: Mike Gold, Mark Wheatley, Marc Hempel, and Joe Staton. Hosted by Bob Harrison.

80 YEARS OF HAWKMAN

Saturday October 23, 2021 starting 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm | Room: 326
Join Robert Venditti, Jerry Ordway, and Mike Gold, with host Bob Harrison for a retrospective with the ageless hero. They will be discussing the character with perspective from creators who brought their own unique experience to the legendary winged warrior.

CREATING COMICS FOR YOUNG ADULTS

Sunday October 24, 2021 starting 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm | Room: 322
Stop in as we explore what goes into creating comics for teens and young adults in today’s world. With guests creating in multiple genres and formats, we will discuss how these creators curate their comics for their intended audiences.  Guests: Kami Garcia, Gene Ha, and Thom Zahler, with host Bob Harrison. Sponsored by The Hero Initiative.
With Further Ado #124: Leading Man and Superman, Superheroes on Stage

With Further Ado #124: Leading Man and Superman, Superheroes on Stage

Last week I turned With Further Ado over to one of my students, Anthony Hernandez, as the winner of the first annual Ithaca College Guest Columnist contest.  At the Ithaca College School of Business, I teach entrepreneurism, including classes on planning and managing trade shows – like comic conventions.  This semester, we’ve examined the many changing issues of this unique segment of entertainment business.  I invited the students to submit potential With Further Ado columns for Pop Culture Squad, and I was very impressed with their thoughts and writing.

Because it was hard to select just one, here’s the “runner-up”, Ithaca College student Tyler Jennes. I think you’ll like what he has to say too!

Leading Man and Superman: Superheroes on Stage

by Tyler Jennes

When you’re someone who harbors a deep love of superheroes as well as theater, you don’t tend to see a lot of crossover between those two interests. So, imagine my surprise when 2019 produced two substantial contributions to that middle Venn Diagram portion – that being the Marvel Spotlight series of superhero plays commissioned by Samuel French, and the Tom Kitt musical Superhero. But not all stories end happily, for the Marvel Spotlight plays don’t show any indication of being produced on a scale larger than local theater, and Superhero was, well, not great. But I’m used to disappointment as a superhero/theater fan. Continue reading “With Further Ado #124: Leading Man and Superman, Superheroes on Stage”

With Further Ado #113: The History of Comics in 3 Easy Steps

Well, if this column’s title doesn’t win the award for “Overpromise of the Year”, I don’t know what will. But the truth of the matter is that from anyone’s own personal vantage point, we are all able to see the broad scope and history of this unique medium on any given trip to the comic store.

That’s certainly not the same for other arts. You can’t envision the history of cinema during a trip to your local movie theater. (Let’s assume that we all will be able to go to the movies again soon.). You can’t get a sense of the broad scope of music at one live concert.  One might even argue that on any trip to a library, you can’t really get a sense of the history of publishing or of books.

But comics are different. The old and the new, the nostalgic and the cutting edge, all exist shoulder-to-shoulder at any comic shop or comic convention. (Again, let’s look forward to the time when we can all attend conventions again.)

Step One: New Fun

DC Comics just published a reprint of their very first comic: New Fun Comics #1.

My colleague Mike Gold wrote about this fascinating new book here.  It’s an oversize reproduction of the 1935 issue that would become DC Comics’ first comic.  It’s great fun and a virtual time machine you can hold in your hands. Continue reading “With Further Ado #113: The History of Comics in 3 Easy Steps”

Comic-Con at Home Panel – Denny O’Neil Tribute

Comic-Con at Home Panel – Denny O’Neil Tribute

With this year’s Comic-Con International (#ComicConAtHome)being virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, all the panels that were intended to be live and onsite are now available to everyone on YouTube.

With that being the case we are proud to share with you the Denny O’Neil retrospective which includes PCS’s own Mike Gold.

 

With Further Ado #104: Johnny Dynamite Is Back

With Further Ado #104: Johnny Dynamite Is Back

Back in the day, I was a big fan of Ms. Tree by Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty. I liked hard-boiled fiction (and still do), but this comic was different.  Somehow Collins and Beatty took everything that private-eye fans liked, jumbled it all up and delivered a new series that seemed fresh as a counterfeit sawbuck and as enticing as a nightclub singer’s over-the-shoulder wink.

Collins and Beatty developed a rapport with the readers, and soon we all began to understand the stuff that influenced their work on Ms. Tree.  Soon it become clear that it all started with the hard-boiled detective author Mickey Spillane, although there was a little Dragnet in there too.  They also revealed they were influenced by a 50s Private Eye comic series, Johnny Dynamite.

Johnny Dynamite was a character who – “ahem” – borrowed many of the attributes of Spillane’s detective, Mike Hammer. Ms. Tree comics reprinted the old Johnny Dynamite  stories, and the character Johnny Dynamite even ended up crossing paths with Ms. Tree. Eventually, Collins and Beatty created a new Johnny Dynamite mini-series (with great Mitch O’Connell covers).

And it’s taken a while, but now, in the summer of 2020, there’s an explosive new Johnny Dynamite collection just published by the good folks at Yoe Books. It’s a stunner.

I reached out to Max Allan Collins to provide some details: Continue reading “With Further Ado #104: Johnny Dynamite Is Back”

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”