Tag: Superman

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson

In our latest episode of the Pop Culture SquadCast, we spoke to comic book writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson. Phillip’s catalog of published comic work has increased significantly in recent years. He created and wrote the hit DC Comics Black Label series The Last God and currently is writing for both DC and Marvel comics. He is penning Action Comics for DC and the newly launched Alien book for Marvel, among others.

Phillip has an amazing “day job” as a member of the United States Army and has come to comic book writing later than others. His roots in comic publishing come from the creator owned space with books like Last Sons of America that was published by Boom! Studios,  and his collaboration with Steve Orlando on the AfterShock Comics book Kill A Man was a significant topic in our conversation.

Phillip is often found to be thoughtful and excited about telling stories in the comic medium. It is always a joy to spend some time talking comics with him. Our conversation touched on a bunch of different topics including his current projects.

We delved into the world building that Phillip does in his storytelling and how from The Last God to Superman and Alien you can see the care that he takes in making the setting authentic. The topic of alien languages came up and people interested in how to make that work will be very interested in that conversation.

As a reader of comics, I often wonder how the dynamic of two writers works in the practice of writing the story. Phillip went into detail about how the project Kill A Man was proposed to him and about how he and Steve Orlando traded off on scenes and then came back to collaborate and create a fluid single voice to the book.

The concepts and plans that are coming in the second arc of Alien from Marvel were discussed, and Phillip has taken great care to tell interesting stories in the world of Alien that respect the fan base but also push the boundaries. He laid out the premise for “Alien: Sanctuary” which begins in September.

We hope you enjoy the conversation and it inspires you to seek out Phillips work. You won’t be disappointed.

 

You can find Phillip on Twitter at @PhillipKJohnson and also on his website phillipkennedyjohnson.com.

New Number Ones: New Comics Series Coming In July 2021

New Number Ones: New Comics Series Coming In July 2021

This month we give our readers a list of the exciting new comic book series debuting in July. We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from the publishers. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you about the new comics in question.

There are quite a few of great new and interesting series starting this month from AfterShock Comics, Ahoy Comics, IDW Publishing, Boom! Studios, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Vault Comics, Image Comics, Marvel Comics, Scout Comics, Valiant Entertainment, Dynamite Entertainment, AWA/Upshot Studios, Titan Books, and Bad Idea Comics.

A very interesting nugget from this month’s list is that there are no new Batman books and two Superman books. DC is mixing it up to keep us on our toes.

We will bring you reviews of most 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.

You will find the books listed below in the order of when they are released.

Week of 7/7/21
Week of 7/14/21
Week of 7/21/21
Week of 7/28/21


Week of July 7


Black’s Myth #1
Ahoy Comics
Written by Eric Palicki
Art by Wendell Cavalcanti
Cover Art by Liana Kangas

Meet Janie “Strummer” Jones, just an ordinary werewolf PI, trying to make it on the mean streets of LA. When the case of a lifetime falls into her lap, it’s up to her and her charming djinn assistant Ben Si’lat to figure out just how many silver bullets have been used, and just where do silver bullets come from anyway? A new horror series from writer Eric Palicki and artist Wendell Cavalcanti, with lush covers by Liana Kangas. Every AHOY book comes with extra prose stories and illustrations. Issue 1 features a stunning variant cover by Jamal Igle.

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: You had me at “ordinary werewolf PI”. I am up for this one!


Clans Of Belari #1
AfterShock Comics
Written by Rob Blackie & Peter Blackie
Art by Daniel Maine & Carlos Lopez
Cover Art by Andy Clarke & Jose Villarrubia

PRIMARY LAWS OF THE BELARI SYSTEM:

1.) No person or Clan may exit the system.
2.) No person or Clan may do the Designated Work of another Clan.
3.) Clans may not merge.
4.) Any person that breaks a Primary Law shall be made Outcast.

On the far side of the galaxy, an isolated branch of humanity is trapped in a feudal dystopia. Oder is maintained by a system of oppression, until an orphaned girl and her incorrigible adoptive father sow the seeds of a revolution and unite the clans against a fearsome alien threat.

From Rob Blackie and Peter Blackie (creators and writers of Netflix’s historical action-adventure series, Frontier) and artist Daniel Maine comes this vast and enthralling sci-fi adventure.

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: Who doesn’t love a sci-fi epic that delves into the nature of how humanity treats itself? Looks good.


Fight Girls #1
AWA / Upshot Studios
Written by Frank Cho
Art by Cho & Sabine Rich
Cover Art by Cho

Ten hard-as-nails women face off in an ancient contest of champions where the winner truly takes all: the title of “Queen of the Galaxy.” To win the challenge each contestant must survive the hazards of the planet’s harsh landscape, the ferocious predators on and below its surface, and their fellow contestants. This edition of the contest has a twist: one of the contestants is an infiltrator who has her eye on something bigger than the prize. Who is she and what does she really want?

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: I will say that Frank Cho is a very good storyteller, and that makes me want to see what this book has in store for the reader.


Justice League Infinity #1
DC Comics
Written by J.M. DeMatteis & James Tucker
Art by Ethen Beavers
Cover Art by Francis Manapul

From Justice League Unlimited producer James Tucker and series writer J.M. DeMatteis comes an all-new season starring the World’s Greatest Heroes! There is a being wandering the universe searching for its true purpose, but what it finds out on the farthest edges of the cosmos will change not just our universe, but many! Meanwhile, the war for the throne of Apokolips arrives on Earth, and the true ruler will only be decided one way: Who can destroy the Justice League?

Release Date: July 6, 2021

PCS NOTES: This takes place in the “universe” that is very special to a lot of people, and the creative team inspires a lot of confidence that this will be a good story. Looking forward to it.


The Lot #1
Bad Idea Comics
Written by Marguerite Bennett
Art by Renato Guedes
Cover Art by Guedes

In 1970, legendary filmmaker Oliver Larsen began production on his latest horror masterpiece on the lot of Los Angeles’ famed Cloverleaf Studios. Obsessed with bringing authenticity to the genre, the director insisted on casting real-life occultists to perform a genuine Satanic ritual live on camera – until something went horribly wrong. In the bloody aftermath, the production was shut down, the footage was confiscated, and the soundstage was forever shuttered.

Until today.

On the heels of a promotion that’s just made her the youngest studio chief in decades, Aviva Copeland is planning to overhaul Cloverleaf’s fading image for the 21st century – starting with the prime piece of California real estate that’s gone unused for 50 years: the very same lost soundstage where Larsen filmed his doomed masterpiece. But, as Aviva will soon discover, this corner of the lot may have been closed for a half-century, but it’s far from empty… and the evil that lives within its haunted walls will soon seize its chance to kill again.

New York Times best-selling writer Marguerite Bennett and artist Renato Guedes present a terrifying vision of horror and Hollywood in the boldly bloody Bad Idea manner!

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: A new horror story from Marguerite Bennett is not something that you let slip by. Find somewhere that Bad Idea is sold and get this book. 


Mamo #1
Boom! Studios
Written by Sas Milledge
Art by Milledge
Cover Art by Milledge

BOOM! Studios is proud to showcase the incredible artistic vision of Sas Milledge!

Can Orla O’Reilly embrace her destiny in order to bridge the divide between humanity and the faerie world?

Orla, the youngest in a long line of hedge witches, finds herself pulled back to her hometown after the death of her grandmother – Mamo.

Without Mamo managing magical relationships between the townsfolk and the fae, the seas are impossible to fish, the crops have soured… and Jo Manalo’s attic has been taken over by a poltergeist!

Now, Orla and Jo will both be pulled into worlds they never wanted to be part of. Can the two girls work together to save the town?

Sas Milledge debuts her first original series perfect for fans of The Last Witch and Sabrina The Teenage Witch that answers the question of how we all reconcile our responsibilities with our dreams for our own future.

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: This solicitation and cover art got us. We are interested in meeting Orla.


Masters of the Universe: Revelation #1
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Rob David, Tim Sheridan & Kevin Smith
Art by Mindy Lee
Cover Art by Stjepan Sejic

Following a vicious Orlax attack on his father King Randor, He-Man learns the creature is linked to the origin of the sword of power. To save Randor and put an end to the chaos He-Man embarks on an epic journey that pits him against his longtime foes Skeletor and Evil-Lyn, and sees Teela take the reins of a powerful legacy.

The official prequel to the upcoming Netflix show!

Variant cover by Mike Mignola.

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: Are you excited for the new Netlfix He-Man series. We are, and this book looks to be a good introduction to the series if you need a refresh on the world of Eternia.


Ordinary Gods #1
Image Comics
Written by Kyle Higgins
Art by Felipe Watanabe
Cover Art by Watanabe

For fans of THE OLD GUARD and GOD COUNTRY comes the extra-length first issue of a centuries-spanning action epic from writer KYLE HIGGINS and artist FELIPE WATANABE!

The Luminary. The Prodigy. The Brute. The Trickster. The Innovator. Five gods from a realm beyond our own, leaders in the “War of Immortals.” Aleast, they were – before they were trapped, sent to a planet made into a prison, forced into an endless cycle of human death and reincarnation. Christopher is 22. He’s got two loving parents and a 12-year-old sister. He works at a paint store. He’s in therapy. He’s one of the Five. Which means, in order to save everyone he cares about, Christopher will have to reconnect with his past lives and do the unthinkable: become a god again.

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: I like the concept behind this story and am intrigued to see how they pull it off.


Red Sonja: Black, White, Red #1
Dynamite Comics
Written by Kurt Busiek, Amanda Diebert, & Mark Russell
Art by Benjamin Dewey, Cat Staggs, & Bob Q
Cover Art by Lucio Parrillo

Dynamite proudly presents a prestige project by the world’s greatest storytellers! Red Sonja, like you’ve NEVER seen before…all presented in beautiful black, white, and red!

KURT BUSIEK and BENJAMIN DEWEY  take you to The Mountains Of Night, a foreboding haunt where the She-Devil With A Sword seeks a precious, priceless item…

AMANDA DEIBERT and CAT STAGGS wind you through a mysterious adventure of crimson and ebony…

MARK RUSSELL and BOB Q return to put their final stamp on their classic Red Sonja series, with a coda that will leave you breathless…

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: Yes another limited pallet anthology series, BUT try to convince me that Dynamite could come up with a better lineup of talent for the first issue of this offering. You can’t. Just get the book and enjoy.


Skybound X #1
Image Comics
Written by Various
Art by Various
Cover Art by Ryan Ottley

Celebrate a sensational 10 years of Skybound with a cavalcade of your favorite creators for all-new stories of your favorite series past, present and future! Each issue of this oversized, weekly series will kick off with a new chapter of a serialized THE WALKING DEAD story—RICK GRIMES 2000—by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley!

In addition, we’ll be debuting all-new series and characters every issue, starting with the First Appearance of the most requested WALKING DEAD character of all-time: Clementine, star of the bestselling Telltale’s The Walking Dead video game series!

Did we mention new ULTRAMEGA and MANIFEST DESTINY stories?! If you want to know what to expect in Skybound’s next 10 years, it all starts here!

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: Not much to add to the solicitation for this book.


X-Men #1
Marvel Comics
Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Pepe Larraz & Marte Gracia
Cover Art by Larraz & Gracia

THESE X-MEN ARE…FEARLESS! The heroes of Krakoa are here to save the planet! Things might be complicated between the nation of Krakoa and the rest of the world, but to the X-MEN, things are simple—you do what’s right, you protect those who need protecting and you save the world we all share. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Sunfire, Rogue, Wolverine, Synch and Polaris are the chosen champions of mutantkind, and they will not shrink from any battle for their home planet. Writer Gerry Duggan reteams with superstar artist Pepe Larraz to chart the course of the X-Men in a world of the Reign of X!

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: It’s time for a new X-Men #1. Let’s be honest some of the best storytelling at Marvel is coming from the X-office. We will be on-board with this new number one for sure. Continue reading “New Number Ones: New Comics Series Coming In July 2021”

With Further Ado #150: The Prescience of Superman

With Further Ado #150: The Prescience of Superman

Last week I presented my interview with Roy Schwartz about his new book Is Superman Circumcised? The Complete Jewish History of the World’s Greatest Hero. This time around, let’s take another look at Superman, albeit in a decidedly batshit crazy way.

Rescued from the Bargain Box

Recently, I rescued a copy of Superman #184 from the bargain box at Ravenwood in Utica, NY.  This comic, originally from February 1966, sports a cover by Superman stalwarts Curt Swan, George Klein and Ira Schnapp.  Or at least ¾ of the cover. I love three-quarter-covers, although this mutilation renders it a pariah by many collectors. We used to see more of these ripped covers in the old days. Before the direct market was established, retailers would be required to send back their unsold comics for credit. After a while, that proved to be too cumbersome, so the practice of sending back only the cover, or only the top logo from the cover, was adopted.  The leftover comics were often not destroyed and instead illegally resold at a discount. Continue reading “With Further Ado #150: The Prescience of Superman”

With Further Ado #149: Is Superman Circumcised?

With Further Ado #149: Is Superman Circumcised?

It’s getting to be that time of year when I want to get my summer beach reading all lined up. That’s one reason why I was so eager to speak with author Roy Schwartz about his new book Is Superman Circumcised? The Complete Jewish History of the World’s Greatest Hero.  Here’s my five-and-a-half questions and Roy’s five-and-a-half-answers:

Question 1:

Ed Catto: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Roy? And are you a comic fan?

Roy Schwartz: I’m a huge comic fan. I grew up on comics, it’s how I taught myself to read and write. My favorite has always been Captain America—and this goes way back, when people would say “who?”

I used to have a decent collection. 42 long boxes, which isn’t huge, but it was well-curated. I had a complete run of every Cap comic published from October 1964’s Tales of Suspense #58 (signed by Lee & Kirby!) to October 2012, when Hurricane Sandy destroyed my storage unit and with it my lifelong collection overnight.

I’d like to give a shout-out here to Chuck Rozanski from Mile High Comics, who heard about it and sent me a few boxes of back issues. It was the sweetest gesture. This is a guy who spends his time and money volunteering for homeless causes around Denver. He’s a real-life superhero.

I don’t collect with the same gusto anymore, but my home office looks like a comic shop. I have a framed copy of Avengers #4, Cap shield and helmet replicas, life-size bust of Christopher Reeve’s Superman, a bunch of Hot Toys and other cool stuff.

When I’m not in fanboy mode I’m disguised as a mild-mannered director of marketing & business development for a great metropolitan law firm.

Question 2:

EC: Your book, Is Superman Circumcised? The Complete Jewish History of the World’s Greatest Hero looks fascinating. What’s the book about? Continue reading “With Further Ado #149: Is Superman Circumcised?”

Brainiac On Banjo: Publish and Perish?

Brainiac On Banjo: Publish and Perish?

“I need you, but I hate to see you this way / If I were Superman then we’d fly away / I’d really like to change the world / And save it from the mess it’s in / I’m too weak, I’m so thin / I’d like to fly but I can’t even swim” — Ray Davies, (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman, 1979.

You might have heard the news. It’s been bombarding El Casa de Oro all week, and it’s been blitzing the interwebs to the point where I’m thinking of upgrading my dial-up. But just in case you’ve been away chasing after the Perseverance Rover, I’ll make my journalism teachers happy.

This past weekend, AT&T sold control and most of their ownership of their WarnerMedia division to Discovery Networks, owners of the many, many Discovery “cable” channels, HGTV, the Food Network, TLC, ID, Animal Planet, the Magnolia Network, and the Discovery+ streaming operation. They call this stuff “reality programming” but, as we all know, reality is in the mind of the beholder. As far as I’m concerned, that million-dollar vaccine lottery is the only reality show.

AT&T had only recently bought what they now call WarnerMedia — Warner Bros, CNN, HBO, Cinemax, the Cartoon Network, TCM, TBS, TNT, and a bunch of other stuff. If you can read the six-point type, you’ll discover they own some publishing as well, such as whatever is left of Mad Magazine and the meandering DC comics. Ma Bell went into so much debt to do this deal that, upon reading the report, King Midas reflexively picked his nose.

After acquiring that Denali of debt load, AT&T came down with a severe case of buyer’s remorse. I’m sure the stay-home-or-die principle that governed most thinking humans these past fourteen months did not help one bit, but it wasn’t a very good deal in the first place. After all, what does AT&T know about running the Home Insurance Building of media (sorry; “I.P.”) companies? Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Publish and Perish?”

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in March 2021

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in March 2021

This month we give our readers a list of the exciting new comic book series debuting in March. We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from PREVIEWSworld. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you about the new comics in question.

There are a bunch of great new and interesting series starting this month from AfterShock Comics, Boom! Studios, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Oni Press, Image Comics, Marvel Comics, AWA/Upshot Studios, and Bad Idea Comics.

There are a lot more new series starting this month from both DC and Marvel than we are used to. The Infinite Frontier initiative from DC Comics is bringing with it some new numbering to existing series, returning series that have been out of publication for a while, and a few brand new titles.

Marvel on the other hand is launching some interesting new series with lower star quality existing characters that seem pretty interesting.

Also of note, March has a magical fifth Wednesday. So this list is supersized because there are five weeks of new comics this month.

We will bring you reviews of most 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.

You will find the books listed below in the order of when they are released.

Week of 3/3/21
Week of 3/10/21
Week of 3/17/21
Week of 3/24/21
Week of 3/31/21


Week of March 3rd

America Chavez: Made in the USA #1
Marvel Comics
Written by Kalinda Vazquez
Art by Carlos Gomez & Jesus Aburtov
Cover Art by Sara Pichelli & Tamra Bonvillain

WHO IS AMERICA? America Chavez is incredible — her origins, her strength, her dimension-shattering star portals! But when the foundation of everything she believes is shaken, America will stand up and face the parts of herself she’s been running from. From writer Kalinda Vazquez and artist Carlos Gomez comes an explosive, brand-new story all about what made America Chavez who she is — and what she’ll do to protect the ones she loves.

Release Date: March 3, 2021

 


Chariot #1
AWA / Upshot Studios
Written by Brian Edward Hill
Art by Priscilla Petraites & Marco Lesko
Cover Art by Jeff Dekal

The Chariot was a Cold War-era secret government project to provide its star agent with a weapon unlike any other in the form of a supercharged muscle car. It sank into the ocean decades ago, and the agent along with it. Now, a petty criminal looking to reform his life has stumbled upon the Chariot, and he’s about to find out that the agent’s consciousness is still controlling it in this synthwave thriller.

Release Date: March 3, 2021

PCS NOTES: AWA continues to bring us high quality creatives with interesting story concepts.


Crime Syndicate #1
DC Comics
Written by Andy Schmidt
Art by Kieran McKeown & Bryan Hitch
Cover Art by Jim Cheung

Spinning out of the pages of Dark Nights: Death Metal, the Multiverse is reborn — and Earth-3 with it! In this six-issue miniseries, witness the true origins of the malevolent makers of mayhem known as the Crime Syndicate as a common foe unites them! But how long can alliances last between villains like these? Also in this issue, it’s the origin of Ultraman in our special backup story drawn by superstar artist Bryan Hitch!

Release Date: March 3, 2021

PCS NOTES: I am not typically a fan of “villain books” but I want to see what Andy Schmidt has in mind. Continue reading “New Number Ones: Comics Coming in March 2021”

With Further Ado #136: Look! Up in the Sky!

With Further Ado #136: Look! Up in the Sky!

As a kid in the mid-sixties, it was a big deal when there was going to be a new Superman show on TV.  Batmania had taken hold, and there was a ravenous hunger for more superhero stories. I loved the Justice League comic of the day, which had one dominant message for young readers – if you like Batman, he has a bunch of friends and you should buy their adventures too!

Filmation’s The New Adventures of Superman debuted on Saturday mornings, and it was a must-see. Never mind fellow-comic book alumni Casper on the opposite channel (although Secret Squirrel looked kinda cool). That was the show for me. Even though it was, in many ways, a retread of the old Superman radio show, we just knew these NEW adventures presented to best version of Superman ever! Continue reading “With Further Ado #136: Look! Up in the Sky!”

Weird Scenes #122: The News About Sperm

Weird Scenes #122: The News About Sperm

Zero. Perhaps we should start thinking about a Go-Fund-Me for cloning research.

Right now, half of this world’s nations have a live birth count insufficient for maintaining population status quo. “Insufficient” means the live birth rate is exceeded by the dead death rate, so half of our nations are losing population. This might be a bad time to become a real estate speculator.

To me, this is a good thing. When it comes to human survival, I do not see our biggest problem as diminishing resources. It’s overpopulation, and that’s not quite simply another way of looking at the same thing. Of course, the fastest way to deal with that outside of total war is for heterosexuals to severely cut back on fucking. That didn’t work in China, and that didn’t surprise anybody… including the Chinese government.

Unfortunately, I suspect the sundry fundamentalist organizations disagree with my worldview. Organized religion is cool with massive overproduction as long as the only humans who are being overproduced are those of their own particular brand. This starts a competition which, in turn, has lead to a lot of wars and disease and, perhaps curiously, rape. I’ve always found organized religion to be very confusing. It all seems to me to be a bunch of highly weaponized country clubs.

If you define “nature” as a physical force that scientifically takes control when humans screw up – after all, we humans are but an extremely tiny part of nature – then we have been conducting a war with nature. It’s thrown a lot of stuff at us to cut the population. Spanish influenza, HIV, Covid-19 are just three of the items in the cosmic trick bag that seem to have been designed to, as author Harry Harrison postulated, make room make room (a.k.a. Soylent Green). It seems we have been overwhelming those stopgaps.

Due to our inability to develop a reasonable attitude towards stewardship of our planet, which is the only apartment building our species can rent, we’ve been using up everything we’ve got. Food, fuel, clean air, potable water, patience… we might have enough of all that to make it to 2045, but if you’re looking forward to raising grandchildren, it seems likely they, in turn, will not be able to share that desire.

Superman was sent to Earth because his planet of birth self-destructed. I doubt Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster meant that to be a guide or a methodology. Then again, I could be wrong: they were big science fiction fans and the most significant purpose of the genre is to warn us about… well, us. We haven’t been catching on to the trend because we — myself included — do not want to give up our creature comforts. While our planet does not appear to be in danger of exploding per se, it is clearly seeking self-preservation by vaccinating itself from his most deadly disease. That disease, of course, is us.

I have no doubt that Earth will be around for the next millennium. To ironically anthropomorphize our Mothership, unfortunately, we won’t be around to hear our planet laugh triumphantly.

Right now, the human race meets three of the five standards commonly used to be classified as an endangered species. It is critical to note that it only takes meeting one of those standards to make the endangered species list. Ergo, we, the human race, is an endangered species.

There’s a sort of silver lining in this. If, in 24 years, there are no new babies crawling about we do not need to be sweating global warming today. As the saying goes, it’s just a fart in a blizzard. We might want to whip out the last reel of Doctor Strangelove and start choosing survivors.

Douglas Adams was mistaken. It is time to panic.

Brainiac On Banjo #106: “Be Original?”

Brainiac On Banjo #106: “Be Original?”

Having spent the better part of my life in the comic book field – define “better” as you wish – one might think that I wouldn’t be so hung up on originality. After all, when it comes to those companies big enough to hoist a catalog, for 60 years now the orders of the day have been “reboot, relaunch, revise, and retread.”

Those are my words and not those of any marketing whiz. I am reminded of one of the medium’s great intellectual property redevelopers, editor Julius Schwartz. His nickname was “B.O. Schwartz.” The “B.O.” part stood for “Be Original.”

But, for the purpose of this treatise, let’s put aside four-color history and, instead, let’s talk about television. Or streaming. Or whatever we’ll wind up calling what’s been flickering between those programming arms on either side of the big glass teat.

Take a good look at some of the new fodder that’s been appearing on the boob tube the past decade and what’s in the pipeline for the immediate future, and you’ll see the orders of the day are now “reboot, relaunch, revise, and retread.” Why? Because it’s worked so well for comics?

Nudging aside my sarcasm (no easy feat), look at some of the recent programming options we have been given in the fantasy drama field. We find the reassembled return of Walker, Hawaii 5-0, MacGyver, Star Trek The Red Shirt Years, Doctor Who, Battlestar: Galactica, Superman, and many others that walk in the shoes of others. If it was once extremely popular and it wasn’t a western set in the old west, chances are it’s been or about to be rebooted, relaunched, revised, and retreaded. A new coat of paint and you’ve got yourself a franchise.

So, what do we have in that ever-widening pipeline right now? Law and Order SUV Mach II. The return of Criminal Minds. Yellowstone The Prequel. CSI (OG). Even Frasier. One might quibble that the upcoming return of Sex and the City is not drama per se. I don’t have a fully informed opinion about that, but to the extent that I am aware that program has been dramatic and certainly quite fantasy-oriented.

I could offer the argument, one that was standard in the comics field until maybe the early 1970s, that there’s an audience turnover and thus, for today’s viewers, these revivals are something new. Except they are not. Television has been swimming in reruns since Ampex invented videotape recording in the 1950s. Just about everything broadcast on network television since their videotape recorder was first installed has been broadcast and rebroadcast ad infinitum ever since. DVDs gave all that another platform, digital television, and the decimal television stations have expanded that, and now streaming has turned such accessibility into an ocean of nostalgia.

(A digression: the history of Ampex, which heavily involves Bing Crosby, Les Paul, and Ray Dolby, is quite interesting to those so inclined, as well as to those who have worked for ABC-TV during the past 60 years.)

Ampex-AVR-2-Quad-TVR

I’m not suggesting that all these reboots suck, or even most of them. But there’s no catharsis in “been there, done that.” It used to be each market had between three and five television outlets; today the only restraints are bandwidth and speed (both are increasing) and the consumer’s willingness to subscribe. That creates a lot of opportunity for all sorts of stuff, and there is more good stuff on “television” than one could have been imagined back when FCC commissioner Newton Minow called the medium a “vast wasteland” in 1961.

Nonetheless, Julie Schwartz’s admonition to “be original” is just as valid today as it was back in the day. If watching images float rapidly as viewed between our toes continues to be a thing, it is impossible to offer enough originality.

Sorry, Stabler. I’d rather see a bit more innovation.

With Further Ado #122: I Love A Parade

With Further Ado #122: I Love A Parade

It’s a big deal to have a balloon in the Macy’s Day Parade. When I was in brand management at Unilever, we worked to get Snuggle, the cuddy teddy bear mascot for Snuggle Fabric Softener, included in this wonderful event.  It made for a few special Macy Day Parades.

There have been a bunch of corporate mascots included over the years (I’m looking at you, Poppin’ Fresh, you Pillsbury Doughboy!) This annual event generally has been very inclusive to comic characters too.

In fact, you could “Look! Up in the Sky” many times over the years to see the “first” superhero: Superman.

The last of son of Krypton actually had three incarnations with the Macy’s Day Parade. The first Superman balloon took to the skies in 1939.  Superman’s first’s appearance was, of course, in April of 1938. It’s incredible to us today that a character could debut one year and become a giant balloon in one of the famous parades the very next year. Surprisingly, this balloon even preceded  The Adventures of Superman radio show.

And as Superman was so new, it’s understandable that he looked a little “off-model”, a term that didn’t even exist all those Thanksgivings ago. Continue reading “With Further Ado #122: I Love A Parade”