For some time now I’d been trying to transition from straightforward weekly new release bulletins to something a little more bloggy (read: pathetically self-indulgent), but related to comics all the same. That War of the Realms rundown really burned me out. Not just with writing brief four-color reviews either — I was worried that I needed a real break from superhero books. I’ve been reading and collecting comics pretty much nonstop for over thirty years and, for whatever reason, these last few months had seen my unread stacks pile up to unprecedented heights (save for the stupid WotR tie-ins, given my stubborn insistence that I read every damn page in order and on time) and my enthusiasm for reading the latest installments of some of my favorite capes n’ tights books had stalled considerably.
Then Comic Con happened.
It was another joyful blitz of pop culture enthusiasm, this time accompanied by more friends and family than any prior year. It was particularly fun to finally be able to share this experience with my kids, knowing full well that they’d find something to gravitate towards and get excited about. JDG spent a lot of time nerding out in gamer panels and demo-ing upcoming releases, and LDG drank a lot of margaritas and joined SS for a marathon of high-profile animation spectaculars.
We had our share of celebrity run-ins too. Aisha Tyler served us beer; RF and Chip Zdarsky are basically dating now; MMJ spent the weekend thinking she posed with Mark Hamill (before the Fluke Skywalker news broke). Speaking of my dear MMJ, without whom I don’t know that I would have ever been talked into this craziness in the first place, all she talked about for days leading up to Con was all that Peanuts swag. And we nailed it. She got it ALL. And, thanks to Preview Night, we got into that Star Trek transporter experience without spending half a day in line.
And I did all the fantastic things that I love about Con. I sat through all four hours of the Eisners (dominating the pool; it’s like the other four people I was with weren’t even trying) and several more hours of scholarly Comics Art Conference discussions. I met Tom King & Mitch Gerads. Bill Sienkiewicz and I reminisced on a mid-80’s convention in San Francisco (he held up the signature line that I accidentally cut by regaling me with stories of a drunken James Doohan and foul-mouthed Mel Blanc). I got books signed by Seth and Gilbert Hernandez. Two new commissions for our coffee gallery came home courtesy of Andrew MacLean and Nooligan. And I roamed the exhibit floor for days buying so. much. stuff.
Continue reading Avengers Complete! Now What?
A few weeks ago, it came to my attention that we were not properly celebrating a new “National Day” designation. Not to be confused with Free Comic Book Day, which happens the first Saturday of May each year, National Comic Book Day is one of those arbitrary days of observation that was seemingly birthed thanks to the Internet and the ability to generate buzz with a hashtag or flash sale. We should put a National Day of Idleness on the calendar. I think our pals at Idle Times SF would get behind that.
Regardless! Far be it from us to miss out on a chance to celebrate one of the key pillars supporting our clubhouse of frivolity. So I started asking various Idlers to share a comic or comics that stand out in their memory as personal game-changers, formative issues, or books that set them on a path of irrepressible obsession. We’re starting with RF’s recollections on TMNT. – MMDG
The first thing I ever obsessed over was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was only four or five, but I had already had strong, nerdy inclinations and everything in my life had to be TMNT, including birthday cakes, a sleeping bag, turtle pajamas (colored headband included), and my prized collection of action figures. Of course, the cartoon show was part of my fix, as I spent hours watching rented VHS tapes on a daily basis. Everything stemmed from this show, and if something had a picture of a ninja turtle on it, I had to be a part of it. And I suppose, that’s how I ended up possessing volumes three and four of the original Eastman and Laird comic book series. Continue reading First Obsessions: TMNT
My love of Kamandi began in college. Though I had been a fan of comic books nearly all my life I had yet to delve into their history. I had always thought that older comics were corny, or too message-based to appeal to me. I like badasses like Spawn and Wolverine. I admit I even had a fondness for the extreme 90s styling of Rob Liefeld. It wasn’t until high school that I began to branch out of Marvel and into DC, and even then it was only Batman and Birds of Prey that caught my attention. At some point in those halcyon days of Mountain Dew and Taco Bell I remember seeing an old issue of Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth for sale at my local comic book store. At first I thought the book looked ridiculous; here was this boy with flowing golden hair, Hulk-like ripped pants, and a gun. Once I opened the pages though I remember seeing the genius of Jack Kirby in full view. A tribunal of Ape-men sentencing a Lion-man and a Dog-man to death with the caption “Clemency denied!” I wish I had picked up that book and began my love of Kamandi and Kirby a few years early.
Still, that initial exposure to the world of Kamandi stayed with me. Though the boy’s name was soon forgotten, that imaginative world, that Planet of the Apes on acid, stuck with me until one day at the SF State campus bookstore I saw the Kamandi Omnibus Volume 1 for sale. There he was, there was that lost world again. So I sat down and read the entire thing, completely forgetting the two or so classes I had that day. It was okay though, my teachers would understand. There were gorillas riding jeeps into battle with a tiger army that was a bit more pressing than Philosophy of Art. Continue reading Jack Kirby’s Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth
I remember the day I played sick from high school to read entire collections of Mark Millar’s Ultimate X-Men, thus kicking off an expensive habit of collecting the trades as they came out. And I collected every stupid iteration of the team from X-Babies, to Exiles, and those gory X-Force books, because the depth and width of their universe is fucking incredible. These days I don’t read many comics, but I always find myself asking MMDG or another Idle Timer about what’s going on with my team. I love those X-books, and I guess I kind of love Jack Kirby for starting it.
Truth be told, Jack Kirby didn’t have to do with much of the X-Men I know. Wolverine, or Hugh Jackman, as some people may know him, was the brain-baby of Len Wein, Roy Thomas, and John Romita Sr, before being fleshed out into the tormented berserker by Chris Claremont. A lot of the stories and characters from the X-Men cartoon are from the Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne era, too.
So why give thanks to Jack Kirby? Continue reading Jack Kirby’s The X-Men