Tag: roger stern

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.

With Further Ado #142: ITHACON 2021

With Further Ado #142: ITHACON 2021

When I was a little kid, my family spotted a flyer on the bulletin board at a Fay’s Drug Store for ITHACON – a comic con that was going to be held in nearby Ithaca, NY.  I could barely contain myself as it sounded like a glorious event.  My family had been to Ithaca many times, as my dad was a Cornell University alumnus, and we’d often go back for homecoming.

I probably should have won some award that year for “kid who nagged their parents the most”, but somehow it worked.  And it was a glorious day! So many comics! So many collectibles! So many professional comic creators! And a building full of fans – just like me – who loved this stuff.

Fast forward to today – this amazing comic convention is still going on. And it is the 2nd longest running convention in the nation, right after The San Diego Comic-Con, also known as Comic-Con International.

And by a strange twist of fate, I teach at Ithaca College’s School of Business – and one of the classes I teach focuses on tradeshows and conventions. In fact, the students have a hands-on opportunity to plan and manage an actual convention – ITHACON.

These students work with the “senior management team” of ITHACON  – longtime enthusiasts and volunteers – through a unique partnership with Ithaca College.

Bill Turner is the visionary guy who started it all, and he’s still working hard on ITHACON- –  forty-six years later! “For my part, I find it hugely gratifying that what we began just as a celebration of something we personally loved has been embraced by new generations and the broader society  – not only the convention itself, but the comics,” said Bill.  “In the 1970s we were a source of amusement; press coverage leaned toward “Can you believe that a grown man reads comics?” Now our geeky fan activities have become mainstream. I’m especially pleased to see that the creators who we wanted to meet and honor are finally receiving the recognition they deserve, even if they were not allowed to retain the rights to, and reap the financial rewards from, their work. And an educational institution like Ithaca College adopting ITHACON into its programs is something wonderful that I had never foreseen.”

“Ithacon is a family tradition,” said Becca, who is also part of the management team. “We enjoy sharing our love of costumes, science fiction, art, and games every year.”

And we’ve brought in some amazing professionals to get the students up to speed. Just last week, in fact, Word Balloon Podcast’s John Siuntres held a workshop to help hone the students’ moderation and interviewing skills.

The students are energized and ready go!

“I’ve been to a few different virtual events during Covid but I’m excited for Ithacon because I got to be a part of how this virtual event came to be,” said Maddie Jacobs, a senior at Ithaca College.

Tess Kneebone, also a senior at Ithaca College, shared some thoughts too. “Ithacon 45 is allowing me to put my Live Event minor into action while adapting to real world circumstances like the pandemic,” said Tess. “This experience has changed my close-minded perspective on virtual events and has allowed me to see the endless possibilities virtual events can offer. As graduation is just around the corner, I can confidently say that I am ready for anything the world throws at me.”

Stan Lee

Like so many other conventions, ITHACON will be virtual this year. It’s coming up fast – Saturday April 24th and there’s so many cool events planned on platforms like ZOOM and Discord.  Admission is free.  (So is parking!) You can see the full schedule here , but let me also call out:

The Lost Stan Lee Tapes: It turns out that in 1975, Stan Lee came to speak at Ithaca college. We have the “long-lost” recording of his talk, and we’ll be analyzing this with noted Stan Lee author Danny Fingeroth.

Ross Richie

ITHACON hosts Ross Richie: The charismatic CEO & Co-Founder of BOOM! Studios, Ross Richie, was a guest lecturer in class recently.  The students really enjoyed to speaking with In fact, they couldn’t get enough of him, so they’ve invited back for a panel Saturday at noon (9 am PST).

We’ll be spotlighting two of our favorite publishers, AfterShock Comics and AHOY Comics!

There will be plenty of bargains, collectibles and crafts available at this year’s special ITHACON Virtual Dealers’ Room featuring both retailers and entrepreneurial artisans.

Gaming: While these panels and experiences are expected to be the highlight of the online convention, there will be a number of gaming rooms via Discord with different games ranging from social deduction games like Among Us to party games like The Jackbox Party Pack.

WandaVision captured the attention of everyone, and ITHACON is celebrating with two panels- one is a deep dive into the WandaVision series and the other is a creator spotlight with comics writer Roger Stern – the creator of Monica (Captain Marvel) Rambeau, the breakout character from this Disney+ series.

And there’s so much more, including Cosplay, an LGTBQ panel, Crafting for Kids and an illustration workshop featuring one of my favorite artists, Steve Ellis.

Fans are encouraged to visit the ITHACON website, Ithacon.org , for additional details and information about the event. And don’t be shy about following their socials: Instagram (@ithaconny), Twitter (@ithaconNY), and Facebook Group (Ithacon).

I hope you can join in the fun and I’ll “see you” there.