Brainiac On Banjo #041: It’s Not Easy Drinking Green

Brainiac On Banjo #041: It’s Not Easy Drinking Green

If you’re from the Midwest or you’ve spent some serious time there, you are about to understand why I am expanding the meaning of the phrase “pop culture.”

I had just turned 11. I know this because my Uncle Irv took me to Normie’s deli for lunch, and it was next door to Weiner’s Drug Store where I purchased Superman #149, “The Death of Superman.” Yup, that’s the way fanboys organize our personal histories.

I told Uncle Irv I wasn’t very hungry and he suggested I just order a plate of french fries. I didn’t know you could do that, so I was thrilled I didn’t have to waste stomach-space on stuff that inadvertently might be healthy. He then asked me if I ever had a Green River. I didn’t know what that was, so he ordered me a glass. Green River was – and remains – what we in the Midwest call “pop.” Some southerners call it “co-cola” (even if it’s Pepsi), and folks out east call it soda. That annoys me – in my world, “soda” has ice cream in it. Seeing that New Yorkers look down their nose at all things non-New York, I refer to the substance as “soda pop.” They scowl, but they don’t complain. Not if they know me. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #041: It’s Not Easy Drinking Green”

With Further Ado #046: The Game’s Afoot – or The Thrill of the Hunt

With Further Ado #046: The Game’s Afoot – or The Thrill of the Hunt

I missed an issue of a comic series I’ve been collecting…and it felt great.

In recent years, I have had the luxury of popping around to several different comic shops during my time in Metro NY and now in the Finger Lakes.  Thus, I don’t ask my favorite retailers to order specific series for me. That does make it that much harder for the retailer, and I know that’s a drag for them.  But somehow, even with reserving copies, I don’t usually miss issues that I’d like to read.

Beyond my favorite comic shops, I’ve also been buying the DC 100-Page Comic Giant! comics (we used to know them as Super Spectaculars) from Wal*Mart.  In an effort to reach new readers, DC has been producing these overstuffed comics as Wal*Mart exclusives. Each one has a short new story and then several recent reprints.

There’s also another benefit – these comics are great to gift to young readers. They are packed with content and I like to think that when you give one to a  kid, they might spend some meaningful time reading (and away from their screens).

I really enjoyed their Detective Comics reprint comic, but I have made it a point to keep up with two series:  Batman Giant and Superman Giant Continue reading “With Further Ado #046: The Game’s Afoot – or The Thrill of the Hunt”

Continued After the Next Page #009: Conversation with John Workman – An Oral History of Comics

Last summer, as we were getting this site up and going, one of the first things that I did was reach out to legendary comic letterer and artist John Workman. I had met him at a couple of conventions in the past, and he had told me some interesting stories about how comics were made in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I felt that the stories were amazing insights into the world of comic making, and I wanted to get all the details so that we could share those incredible stories with all of you.

My intent for our initial interview was to clarify some details he had told me about making Thor in the 80’s with Walter Simonson. What ended up happening was an almost two-hour conversation and a truly life changing event for me. I clipped out a little bit of our conversation for a column last year called When Thor Road the Bus.

Before I get too far along, I must say that John Workman is one of the nicest people that I have ever met. He is thoughtful, considerate, inquisitive, and incredibly talented. Since our initial phone conversation, John and I have spoken a couple of more times over the phone, and my wife and I spent a lovely afternoon with John and his wife Cathy at their home last November. He has become a regular email pen pal of mine. I consider John a friend, and I am lucky for it.

The purpose of this article is to share with the world some of the amazing things that we spoke about. The topics range from the page counts for comics in the 70’s to his time at Heavy Metal. There are some funny stories about Harlan Ellison and Wally Wood. There is the tale of the “Lost Mignola Batman Story”, and much more. So hang on and I will try my best to navigate all this history and bring it into the world so that we can all share in its wonder.

Jeannette Kahn and Dollar Comics

I had mentioned to John that the title to my column on PCS would be called “Continued After the Next Page” as a throwback to comic days of yesteryear. He broke out into some pretty cool comics production history.

John Workman: I worked at DC from 1975 to 1977 before I went to work at Heavy Metal. During that time, as had been true since the early 1950s, there were thirty-six pages [thirty- two interior and four for the front and back covers] in a regular comic book. Of those pages, somewhere over 20 (27 in the ’60s) were devoted to actual comics material with the rest being made up of a combination of paid ads and “house ads” that let readers know about other DC publications. Shortly after I arrived at DC, the number of comics pages dropped to seventeen, and I remember two things that we had to do. We [the production department] had to white-out all the pages numbers down in the corner so people would be a little less aware that they were only getting seventeen pages of comics, and we had to go in a lot and put in “Continued After Next” or “Second Page” or whatever, because the seventeen pages of comic material was broken up by more ads. There were a lot of in-house ads to fill out the issue because seventeen pages was only one more than the total number of pages in a book.

I was shocked at this and felt the need to clarify Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #009: Conversation with John Workman – An Oral History of Comics”

With Further Ado #039: Look! Up in the Newspaper – A Super Interview with Sid Friedfertig

With Further Ado #039: Look! Up in the Newspaper – A Super Interview with Sid Friedfertig

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 Friedfertig:

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.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #039: Look! Up in the Newspaper – A Super Interview with Sid Friedfertig”

Everything We Read This Week – 04/10/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 04/10/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week.  This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This is an abbreviated edition of EWRTW. We picked the top 8 books that we wanted to read from our pull list and are bringing them to you. There are a bunch of New Number ones in the list and some other really good books.  There are plenty of other great comics that were release this week. Make sure you go and find them.

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Image, AfterShock, Dynamite, and Boom! Studios this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. You will see books that we were looking forward to with the designation Hot #1 by them. There are a few of them out this week and they are really good.

DISCLAIMER: 

There is a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously as everyone gets their own impressions of art. These ratings are just to give our readers an idea of what we thought of the book, and they will be on the generous side normally. So don’t expect to see a lot of 1 Stars. After all, it’s not often that you have a bad book on your pull-list.

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

Also look for the book we deemed Favorite Book of the Week. It is the comic that we like the most this week. The criteria are difficult to pin down, but suffice to say it is a book that moved us.

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 04/10/2019”

Everything We Read This Week – 03/13/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 03/13/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week.  This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This was a great week for comic books. There were so many great books out there for all types of readers. There are a few great new series that started this week.  We try to read as much as we can to bring you recommendations on what good stuff is being produced. Unfortunately, we can’t read all the comics. So, remember to find what you like, GO OUT AND FIND SOME COMICS TO READ!! They are good for you.

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Image, Black Crown, Dark Horse, and AfterShock this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. You will see books that we were looking forward to with the designation Hot #1 by them. There are a few of them out this week and they are really good.

DISCLAIMER: 

There is a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously as everyone gets their own impressions of art. These ratings are just to give our readers an idea of what we thought of the book, and they will be on the generous side normally. So don’t expect to see a lot of 1 Stars. After all, it’s not often that you have a bad book on your pull-list.

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

Also look for the book we deemed Favorite Book of the Week. It is the comic that we like the most this week. The criteria are difficult to pin down, but suffice to say it is a book that moved us.

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 03/13/2019”

Everything We Read This Week – 02/13/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 02/13/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week.  This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This was a big week for comic books. There were a lot of quality books out there for all types of readers. There were some great new series that started and a couple that ended. Remember to find what you like, GO OUT AND FIND SOME COMICS TO READ!! They are good for you.

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Image, Aftershock, Black Mask, and Abstract Studio this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. You will see books that we were looking forward to with the designation Hot #1 by them. There are a few of them out this week and they are really good.

DISCLAIMER: 

There is a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously as everyone gets their own impressions of art. These ratings are just to give our readers an idea of what we thought of the book, and they will be on the generous side normally. So don’t expect to see a lot of 1 Stars. After all, it’s not often that you have a bad book on your pull-list.

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

Also look for the book we deemed Favorite Book of the Week. It is the comic that we like the most this week. The criteria are difficult to pin down, but suffice to say it is a book that moved us.

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 02/13/2019”

Everything We Read This Week – 01/16/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 01/16/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week.  This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

There are a lot of new comic books out this week. There are some new series and some ending of story arcs that make it a pretty mixed bag. At first, when I began this column, I wasn’t super thrilled about the crop of new releases, but there really are some high quality comic books out this week. Check down below and you’ll see.  We say this often, but seriously, GO OUT AND FIND SOME COMICS TO READ!! They are good for you.

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Image, Black Crown, Titan Comics, Aftershock, and Ahoy Comics. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. You will see books that we were looking forward to with the designation Hot #1 by them. There are a few of them out this week and they are really good.

DISCLAIMER: 

There is a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously as everyone gets their own impressions of art. These ratings are just to give our readers an idea of what we thought of the book, and they will be on the generous side normally. So don’t expect to see a lot of 1 Stars. After all, it’s not often that you have a bad book on your pull-list.

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

Also look for the book we deemed Favorite Book of the Week. It is the comic that we like the most this week. The criteria are difficult to pin down, but suffice to say it is a book that moved us.

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 01/16/2019”

YEAR IN REVIEW: Best Limited Comic Series of 2018

YEAR IN REVIEW: Best Limited Comic Series of 2018

As we end 2018, which is our first year of existence, we at PopCultureSquad.com want to take a moment and recognize some of the great comic books that we have seen this year. Over the next few days, we will be bringing you three “Year In Review” posts.

This is the first post. We will take a look at the Best New Limited Series that debuted in 2018. This category took some finagling due to the trade paperback nature of some of the indie publishers. Often a series is published, and after the first arc is complete, it disappears. Therefore, we included series on this list that were either solicited as being limited or have a complete end to the story.

These limited series represent a cross section of the publisher market which helps us point out that great comic book storytelling is out there and comes from many different places. There are series from DC and Marvel as well as Image, Berger Books at Dark Horse, Black Crown at IDW, AHOY Comics, and DC’s Young Animal imprint.

We chose books that have a high quality storytelling. Stories that make sense, are intriguing, and are pleasing to the eye. You will find a link to the Comixology page for the series and a link to the collected edition on Amazon, if it is available. Of course, it should go without saying that our preference for getting your hands on these wonderful comics is to go down to your Local Comic Shop if you have one, and get it there.

It is difficult to rank series against each other. Each story brings something special to the table, and we collected twelve series here that we thought were outstanding. The books we chose are below in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “YEAR IN REVIEW: Best Limited Comic Series of 2018”

Everything We Read This Week – 12/12/2018

Everything We Read This Week – 12/12/2018

Welcome back as we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

There are so many good books out this week. We reviewed twenty-two of them below. We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Image, Black Mask, Dynamite, and Aftershock. Make sure you go find some comics to read.  Hopefully, you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics. This is a big list again this week but still not all that we have on our list.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. You will see books that we were looking forward to with the designation Hot #1 by them. There are a quite of few of them out this week and they are really good.

DISCLAIMER: 

There is a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously as everyone gets their own impressions of art. These ratings are just to give our readers an idea of what we thought of the book, and they will be on the generous side normally. So don’t expect to see a lot of 1 Stars. After all, it’s not often that you have a bad book on your pull-list.

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 12/12/2018”