Tag: Superman

With Further Ado # 292: The Prescience of Otto Binder

With Further Ado # 292: The Prescience of Otto Binder

I dropped by a comic shop in Elmira, NY with a clever name: Heroes Your Mom Threw Out. It’s run by a passionate retailer named Jared Aiosa. You might remember I talked about a signing event he hosted last year with Ed Brisson. This shop is packed full of treasures, and it’s just the type of place that Burgess Meredith would love to get locked into if the world ended (provided he doesn’t break his glasses).

Jared had just acquired some beat-up Silver Age comics, and they caught my eye as they hadn’t been filed yet. Jared sold them to me at bargain prices, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. They were more for reading rather than collecting.

But Superman #188 (July 1966) was a shocker. Wrapped in a glorious Curt Swan/George Klein cover is a story by Otto Binder that’s illustrated by Al Plastino (not my favorite Superman artist) that could have been written last week. It’s all about AI, fake news and the anxiety of elections! Continue reading “With Further Ado # 292: The Prescience of Otto Binder”

Brainiac On Banjo: Wanna Buy A Duck?

Brainiac On Banjo: Wanna Buy A Duck?

“It paints you with indifference, like a lady paints with rouge, and the worst of the worst, the most hated and cursed, is the one that we call Scrooge. Unkind as any, and the wrath of many, this is Ebenezer Scrooge.” – Scrooge, written by Paul Williams.

O.K. I’ll admit it. When I first saw a cover to Uncle Scrooge and The Infinity Dime, I thought it was a variant for one of the Avengers titles. Obviously, I was mistaken. It was one of 13 different covers — you tell me which is not the variant — of Marvel’s first-ever (kinda) produced Disney legacy characters comic book.

I doubt I would have guessed Jason Arron would be the writer. Not that I have a bad opinion of his work; quite the contrary. It just didn’t occur to be that a Punisher writer, not to mention Superman, The (various) Avengers, Batman, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — among a treasure trove of others — would be the person to waddle in the palmate footpath of Carl Barks and Don Rosa.

Back when I first entered the friendly confines of organized comic book fandom, and I use the word “organized” advisedly, it seemed as though there were four things “everybody” was collecting: Will Eisner’s The Spirit, EC Comics, All-Star Comics (the Justice Society of America, although no one would pass up those first two issues), and Carl Barks. Well, mostly Barks’ duck stories, although, again, nobody would pass up his Porky Pig. Barks’ nickname was “the good duck artist” because it took a while for us to learn the names of the rest of Disney’s flock of talent. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Wanna Buy A Duck?”

Brainiac On Banjo: Superman Kills!?!

Brainiac On Banjo: Superman Kills!?!

“People say that life is good, but I just piss and moan. I got one foot on a banana peel, the other in the Twilight Zone.” Life Sucks And Then You Die, written by Mike Girard, Doug Forman and Rich Bartlett

It is well-known that the Man of Steel does not kill. However, that has not always been the case.

I just started rereading the first year of the Superman newspaper comic strip. It began publication near the beginning of 1939, five months prior to the release of the first Superman #1. Its circulation was mammoth, quickly appearing in virtually all major American cities and headlined by The New York Mirror, which ultimately had a daily circulation that was about the same as all three printings of Superman #1 combined. It is fair to say that, in these earliest days, the strip did quite a lot to maximize the Man of Steel’s popularity. The Adventures of Superman radio show, equally successful in widening the audience, didn’t start until a full year later.

Initially, the strip was produced by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s studio in Cleveland. Joe’s eyesight was pretty much shot by 1939, but he inked — at the very least — the character faces. The rest of the artwork was handled by Wayne Boring and Paul Cassidy. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Superman Kills!?!”

Brainiac On Banjo: To Ramona

Brainiac On Banjo: To Ramona

I’ve heard you say many times that you’re better than no one and no one is better than you. If you really believe that you know you have nothing to win and nothing to lose, from fixtures and forces and friends your sorrow does stem that hype you and type you, making you feel that you gotta be just like them. “To Ramona,” written by Bob Dylan

Back in the post-WWII days when 10 cent comics cost a mere 10 cents, there were but a handful of ongoing superheroes, all of them were published by DC Comics, and each had a very distinctive look. Not the razor-sharp nearly photogenic linework of artists like Curt Swan and Carmine Infantino, but highly stylized and not quite real-world: Wayne Boring’s Superman, Dick Sprang’s Batman and Robin, Russ Andru’s Wonder Woman, George Papp (and, briefly, Jack Kirby’s) Green Arrow, and Ramona Fradon’s Aquaman. They maintained and advanced the standard for comics’ most enduring characters.

Of course, this was seven decades ago. Time seems to move on and, now, the last of these famous artists has left the building. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: To Ramona”

With Further Ado #284: Up, Up, and Away! So long, Sid Friedfertig

With Further Ado #284: Up, Up, and Away! So long, Sid Friedfertig

It with great sadness that I reflect on the passing of my pal, Sid Friedfertig, who died on December 30th in Brooklyn at age 69. Sid was the man behind preserving a special bit of comics history – the daily Superman newspaper strips. Partnering with the American Library of Comics and IDW Publishing, Sid worked to publish these strips in beautiful hardcover collections.

It was honor to invite Sid to exhibit, and lecture, at recent ITHACON comic conventions. He was gentleman and a professional – always kind and patient with fans at his booth. And when on panels, he was informative and upbeat; never stuffy.

Every year at ITHACON I’d buy one more volume of this superb series – and ask him to autograph it, of course. ITHACON is a wonderful event, but for me, it will shine just little less brightly this year. Fandom will be just a little bit dimmer with the loss of this hard-working comics historian.

So long, Sid. It was great to know you – all too briefly. And thanks for being a great guy, a great father and an outstanding Superman Fan.

For this week’s column, I’d like to re-present an interview that I had the pleasure of conducing with Sid a few years ago.

With Further Ado #39: Look! Up in the Newspaper – A Super Interview with Sid Friedfertig
Originally published April 24, 2019

The irony of a reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper appearing in the funny pages of a great metropolitan newspapers, and quite a few rural newspapers, is not lost on me.

Superman in comics, in the movies, on TV or the in the newspaper inspires the best in us. I had the pleasure of catching up with entrepreneur and super-fan, Sid Friedfertig, at the 44th annual Ithacon and it was a such a treat. He’s a guy with great passion inspired by Superman. Through his Herculean efforts (or should I say “Kryptonian efforts”?) , fans can enjoy so many lost Superman adventures – and rediscover old adventures in longer stories with better, but still vintage, art! “What is this?”, you say? Well, read on and enjoy my chat with Sid Freidfertig:

Ed Catto: Can you tell me why you are such a Superman fan, and why do you feel Superman is so enduring?

Sid Friedfertig: Superman endures because he is unique. With every other costumed hero the plots must be crafted so the hero’s ability is able to counter the menace facing him. Superman is the reverse, he is the All-Good, the ideal. To me that makes him more interesting.

EC: How did you get hooked on the Silver Age Superman, and how did you develop such an interest in the Superman Newspaper Strips?

SF: I grew up reading the Silver Age Superman comic books, which featured covers mostly drawn by Curt Swan, while at the same time watching the Adventures of Superman TV series. George Reeves was Swan’s Clark Kent come to life. Sometimes though, the story inside the comics was drawn by another artist. I wanted to see Swan’s artwork that went with those glorious covers. Later I realized that Swan had drawn those same stories for the Superman newspaper strip. Here were the stories that went with those covers, and I decided that I was going to find all of them.

EC: I love how you partnered with IDW for this effort. Can you tell me a little about the relationship?

SF: I own the only known collection of Superman newspaper strips. I knew that fans had been for years demanding from DC that these stories be reprinted but DC did not have them. Due to a decision that is lost to history DC published the strips once then threw them away. No copies were made, no individual titles were recorded, we don’t even have an accurate list of which newspapers carried the strip in its final years, so I created a website to showcase my collection; it received a great deal of attention. IDW approached me and we have been working together ever since. They have a wonderful imprint called The Library of American Comics, headed by Dean Mullaney, whose aim is to publish as many lost American comic strips as is possible, not only Superman.

EC: How many books in the series do you have out now, and what’s coming up next?

SF: IDW picked up in 1943 where Kitchen Sink Press left off. In the late 1990’s they reprinted the first three years of dailies and Sundays. Each dailies volume covers 2 to 2 ½ years of episodes. The final Golden Age volume will be in stores in May. Next year we will enter the Atomic Age of comic strips after which comes the one I am looking forward to most, the final book in the series, the beginning of the Cambrian explosion of creativity also known as the Silver Age.

EC: The covers to these books are wonderful! How are they designed?

SF: The beautiful covers, front and reverse, were drawn by the great Pete Poplaski. Lorraine Turner designs all the books. I think each cover conveys the lighthearted spirit that permeated 60’s comics.

EC: What makes these Superman Newspaper Strips so special, and why should Superman fans read them?

SF: If you love Silver Age Superman stories that appeared in the comics, you will love these books. Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel was rehired by DC to transform scripts written for the comic books into strip format. The added length of the strip versions allowed Siegel to give the stories more depth and characterization than their comic doppelgangers. These strips were Siegel’s last Superman work and in my opinion the best work of his life.

EC: You recently were a guest at ITHACON. What was that like? Were there any surprises there?

SF: I loved attending Ithacon. The only surprise was how appreciative of my efforts were the comics professionals in attendance. It was very fulfilling.

EC: These newspaper strips have so many familiar supporting characters. Did they also introduce new characters or narrative elements to the Superman mythology?

SF: Because the comic books have a longer lead-time than the dailies, several episodes appeared in the strips first. As a result, the first appearance of arch foes Brainiac, Bizarro, Metallo, and Mr. Myxptlk occurred in the strips. Supporting characters like lovely Lyla Lerrol also made their debuts in the strips.

EC: Which creators worked on these strips and who do you feel delivered the best work?

SF: Wayne Boring was so adept at drawing the Superman strip that he drew both dailies and Sundays for a time and he remained on the Sunday strip for a quarter of a century. But the most fulfilling part of my journey has been publishing Jerry Siegel’s final Superman work that had been lost for over half a century.

EC: What’s your favorite Superman Newspaper adventure and why?

SF: Siegel’s story ‘Superman’s Return To Krypton’ is my favorite. In the comics, it appeared as a full-length novel, which means the single story occupied the entire comic book. When Siegel wrote the newspaper version he told the same story using about 50% additional panels giving the story great depth. The interaction of Superman and his doomed parents achieves great poignancy, those scenes always break my heart.

EC: Thanks so very much for your time and for all your efforts, Sid.

 

 

With Further Ado #271: Holiday Gift Guide Part 1 – Voices from Krypton

With Further Ado #271: Holiday Gift Guide Part 1 – Voices from Krypton

Every year, it’s a treat to shine the spotlight on top-notch creative endeavors for the With Further Ado Holiday Gift Guide. Maybe these are suggestions that would be fantastic treasures for you to gift to your loved ones. And maybe, let’s face it, they are suggestions that you want to make to others so they will gift ‘em to you! Hey, I’m not judging.

Ed Gross is an enthusiastic fan with a polished writing talent. The books he creates are the kind that force you to bargain with yourself. You know those types of bargains: “I will just read five more pages and then turn off the light,” or “I will just read this chapter, and I can finish up that work project early in the morning.”

His latest oversized volume Voices from Krypton is exactly that type of book. It’s an oral history of Superman, as told by an impressively wide array of people who were either there at the time, or who are experts in their field.

Gross has assembled folks like Ilya Salkind, Richard Donner, and Margot Kidder to discuss the 70s Superman movies. Or actors like Tom Welling, Teri Hatcher, and Melissa Benoist analyze their Smallville, Lois & Clark and Supergirl TV shows.

Modern day super-experts like Mark Waid and Andy Mangels are also included and provide smart insights with a learned expertise. Waid, in fact, supplies a fantastic afterward and admits he even learned a thing or two from this book. Continue reading “With Further Ado #271: Holiday Gift Guide Part 1 – Voices from Krypton”

New Number Ones – New Comic Series and Specials Coming the Week of November 1, 2023

New Number Ones – New Comic Series and Specials Coming the Week of November 1, 2023

Welcome to the New Number Ones!

Each week we bring you the list of new series and special editions coming this week. We are highlighting what you need to put in your cart at the comic shop or digital marketplace.

We have an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from the publishers of some of the cool new comics that are coming out this month. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you about the new comics in question.

This is the first week of November and it’s a five Wednesday month folks, so get ready.

We have books on the list from: DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Ablaze, AWA Studios, Vault Comics, and Boom! Studios.

One thing to remember, we continue to measure the “comic week” as Wednesday. #NCBD is Wednesday.

We will bring you reviews of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

New Series
New One-Shots and Special Editions


New Series This Week 


Almost Dead #1
Ablaze
Written by Galaxy
Art by Ryan Benjamin
Cover Art by Tyler Kirkham

Somewhere between pure exhilaration and sheer terror is Almost Dead!

After having an accident on her way home to visit her family, Sara Walker awakens to find that the world has changed. Now she must travel up the Eastern Seaboard, using suppressed survival skills she learned as a child, in hopes of reuniting with her loved ones in the midst of a viral pandemic that has turned humans into monsters. Set in modern day 2005, Sara unites with old acquaintances and new friends along the way, and her struggle to survive will be both an unexpectedly exciting journey and an absolute horror.

Almost Dead is a new post-apocalyptic horror-drama adventure about triumph, growth and the resiliency of the human spirit brought to you by writer and Comic Con Radio / Spoiler Magazine founder Galaxy and Eisner nominated artist Ryan Benjamin (Batman Beyond, Star Wars, Xmen, Grifter) that redefines the genre, with its cinematic approach and attention to detail.

Relentlessly vicious, Almost Dead isn’t your typical apocalyptic story. Tying in conspiracy with historical flashbacks and showing how perhaps everything we’ve learned in our textbooks has been altered over time.

Release Date: November 1, 2023

PCS NOTES: This solicitation has me intrigued and I am a fan of Ryan Benjamin’s art.


Blood Commandment #1
Image Comics
Written by Szymon Kudranski
Art by Kudranski
Cover Art by Kudranski

Living an isolated life in a shadowed valley surrounded by mountains and a thick forest, a father and son are terrorized by a dangerous supernatural presence. Only the father’s dark secrets can save them…or damn their souls for all eternity! Being a single father can be tough, but for Ezra Connolly, it’s a duty he doesn’t take lightly. Living off-grid, away from prying eyes, in the heart of forest country, he spends his days teaching his teenage son Wil survival skills. But Wil has questions, questions Ezra fears to answer—about his past, and about why they never leave the valley before sundown… A four-issue horror miniseries from the creator of the breakout hit series SOMETHING EPIC and the artist of SPAWN and Punisher. SZYMON KUDRANSKI serves us a story about survival, sacrifice, and hope.

Release Date: November 1, 2023

PCS NOTES: This looks like a good pick-up for fans of terrifying comics. Continue reading “New Number Ones – New Comic Series and Specials Coming the Week of November 1, 2023”

Brainiac On Banjo: It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s… the Mayor?

Brainiac On Banjo: It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s… the Mayor?

Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December, but the days grow short when you reach September. When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame, one hasn’t got time for the waiting game. “September Song” written by Teemu Brunila, Ben Hudson, Jon Cobbe Hume, and John Paul Cooper.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the peoples of steel, well, I understand. It’s hard to find DC books that aren’t about Batman. It might come as a surprise that DC Comics still publishes Bat-less books. And now that DC’s daddy has licensed their Looney Tunes characters out to Dynamite Entertainment, it’s even harder.

But if you search the racks a bit you’ll see that there are quite a few DC titles that feature the many various Supermans flying around the ever-morphing DCU comics that do not have Batman grabbing the staples, at least not in every issue. In fact, you might be confused with all the different Super men, women, children and pets. If you’re in Metropolis, and you look up at the sky, if you don’t see a fast moving red blur, you’re probably visiting an Earth with four digits.

The fact that all these Supers, with the arguable exception of Krypto, keep trying on new costumes does not help lesson the mob mentality one bit.

So it might come as a surprise that some major changes have been going on and, even more shocking, these charges are evolutionary and not the result of typical obsessive-compulsive rebooting.

As we have seen in last week’s Superman #850 (an up-priced anniversary issue because it ends in “50”), Daily Planet E-I-C Perry White, on leave of absence, has decided to run for mayor of the City of Tomorrow. Before he took leave prior to his announcement, he put the Planet in the hands of his star reporter, Lois Lane.

Now, that would be unlikely to happen on whichever Earth we happen to be living on. Lane has won more Pulitzers than the next ten winners combined. She is worth far more to the paper as a reporter. But this isn’t our Earth, and on hers she deserves the appointment, if she wants it.

In 2023, the existence of a women editor-in-chief of a great metropolitan newspaper is no longer rare. In fact, as print papers have dwindled down to a precious few, women editors are doing better than the medium for which they toil. Yeah, that isn’t much, and if this were British opera you might take that as a sign of their end times.

Should Perry win, should Lois become permanent E-I-C — and either can happen without the other — all kinds of interesting plot paths come into being. How would the job affect her marriage to Clark? How would the job accept her marriage to Kal-El? To their kid, to their family, to the other Supers and to the Justice League members she knows so well? And… what about Lex Luthor? Besides, if she’s running the Planet, she is unlikely to have time to fall out of helicopters.

What kind of mayor would Perry be? Does he have sufficient political skills to get anything accomplished? What sort of enemies will he make, and how will they act out? Will Perry have any sort of relationship with the Planet and his old friends? Will Mayor White’s work place those friends in jeopardy? Hoe long will he be mayor — and what happens after that ends? Senator White? President White?

In fact, Perry White had been mayor of Metropolis on one of the best known infinite Earths. It was revealed that Perry had been mayor before he went to the Daily Planet in the hit television show The Adventures of Superman, a program whose exposure and longevity is among the highest in history — it’s in the I Love Lucy class. Which is vaguely funny as Superman crossed over into Lucy.

Of course, there’s a 500 pound gorilla with Kryptonite ray vision sulking in the corner waiting for a big-ass strike to be resolved. What will happen to all of this as James Gunn’s Superman Legacy comes out — July 11, 2025, as time currently is reckoned in Hollywood? Does that establish another “sell-by” date for the masters of seat-of-your-pants circumlocution at Warner Bros Discovery? Hell, given the past ten years or so, will Warner Bros Discovery still be a thing? I wouldn’t bet either way.

There could be some interesting and fairly original stories coming out of all this. Then again, it all could wind up looking like a 30-car pileup in a blizzard on I-80 in Pennsylvania. We can and need to pay attention to history, but be careful about taking odds on the endgame.

But I like the sound of a kick-ass Mayor Perry White.

With Further Ado #264: Look. Up in the Sky. It’s Off-Model!

With Further Ado #264: Look. Up in the Sky. It’s Off-Model!

We went to the Great New York State Fair this weekend and enjoyed every minute of it. It was kind of like San Diego Comic Con without all the superheroes. Check that – there were plenty of superheroes there.

So many T-shirts, inflatables and toys all adorned with Batman, The Avengers, Captain America and Spider-Man characters and/or logos. Many licensed products were on sale and many unlicensed products were too.

The New York State Fair, like many state fairs, I suppose, had buildings with 4-H club raised animals, homemade jams, jellies and baked goods and more -all competing for Blue Ribbons. But make no mistake, the Midway is where the action is. And on this midway, the most impressive, scariest ride was the Superman ride.

It was more like an overwhelming torture robot that Lex Luthor would have invented.* This ride would propel attendees into the stratosphere, and then whip them around a few times and spin them upside down.

I skewered my courage up and went on of a few these rides with my daughter Tess, but for this one …I just shook my head. I sheepishly muttered, “No way” and added “You are on your own for this one, Tess.” I felt like the Last Son of Krypton would have been disappointed by my lack of courage. Continue reading “With Further Ado #264: Look. Up in the Sky. It’s Off-Model!”

With Further Ado #261: I’ll Drink to That!

With Further Ado #261: I’ll Drink to That!

Readers of this column might know Professor Larry Maslon from the PBS documentary, and book, Superheroes! A Never-Ending Battle Documentary or his book Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture. (And to be fair, he worked closely with his partner, Michael Kantor, on each effort.) Or maybe you saw him moderate panels at San Diego Comic-Con. If you were really lucky, you may have enjoyed our epic round of Superhero trivia (and his book signing) at the Captain Action booth at New York Comic-Con a few years ago.

But this week, I want to celebrate his new book I’ll Drink To That. Continue reading “With Further Ado #261: I’ll Drink to That!”