How I Spent My Summer: Cowboys and Plagues in Comics

Everyone who loves comics is talking about the DC reboot. I immediately thought of cowboy boots, especially my favorite pair I had as a child when I was into comics and Superman, Superboy, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Little Lulu and the like. It’s a classic fifties nostalgic pov. When I was a little girl watching George Reeves fly across the black and white TV set I knew my grandfather had something to do with Superman but no longer owned it and that no one was really sure how that happened or why. It’s 50 some odd years later and the official story isn’t the full story. I’m closer to discovering the truth more than most have been able to do and I’m looking forward to getting that story out.

George Reeves as Superman. From tvparty.com. ©Respective holders.

I don’t have a financial stake in whether DC gets it right with the reboot or not. It’s just a matter of pride since it was my grandfather’s creative ideas that started the whole thing. I also enjoy seeing talented friends get decent work in mainstream comics whether it’s DC or Marvel or a graphic novel or something else. My comic book knowledge has a huge gap in it from about the end of the fifties till around the year 2000 with the exception of the underground comix of the late 60′s so I’m not the person who can talk about all the changes of each character and all the rationalizations for same.

I’m not going to give a review here either. It would take entirely too long and really there are better men than me to do such a thing. I was really looking forward to the reboot in order to reconnect with the material so I’m trusting that eventually the kinks will be worked out–like the incredibly kinky and overtly sexist material that comes across as still attempting to hit the same tired old demographic. I wish DC would recognize that in the publishing industry it is women who buy books and keep brand loyalty. You don’t have to skew everything in that direction but how about a few in the midst of 52. And how about a few that are appropriate for children. I thought that was the whole point–to bring in a larger pool of readers. Everyone would like for DC to succeed so hopefully they’ll pay attention to some of the excellent and thoughtful critiques out there. Here is my favorite graphic critique re Starfire.

My boots were walking all over this summer and at the end of the summer I attended a couple of events to support friends who do good work in comics. In addition, a couple of friends deserve note for their most recent artistic endeavors.

Speaking of boots, the effervescent and irreverent Mr. Terence Griep has a real nice pair of boots for his wrestling outfit as the professional wrestling villain, The SpiderBaby. Terence, a wonderful writer and one of those few people who can make me laugh out loud, regularly writes for DC’s Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? He just recently landed the perfect writing gig with DC contributing the script for “Danger Drive,” appearing in Batman 80-Page Giant 2011 #1, a comic book anthology published by DC.

The Amazing Mr. Griep aka The SpiderBaby.

“When other writers tell stories of larger-than-life, spandex-clad figures engaged in battles of Good Versus Evil, they’re engaged in fiction,” Griep asserts.  “When I tell such stories, I’m continuing an autobiography.” You heard it here!

You can track down a copy of the anthology by going to the Comic Shop Locator site here. And why do we have to “track” down copies of comic books? Big sigh.

I always enjoy Terence’s regular column for Prism Comics, an organization that supports LGBT comics, fans and creators. Here’s a link to one of his latest columns about the DC 52. You’ll see what I mean by better men than me.

Saturday Mornings: Art by Garry Black. Photo. NWNB

Another one of my favorite Good Comic Book guys in white hats is Lawrence Klein. Lawrence founded the Museum of Cartoon and Comic Art in Manhattan. It’s a great organization and in early August I saw a wonderful panel there which I’ll comment on below. These days Lawrence, one of my Berkshire neighbors continues his good deeds every summer through the auspices of Storefront Artist Project. He organizes the very popular Cartoon and Comic Art Comes Alive series with lots of events which are family friendly and boy do we need more of those! This year’s featured artist was Garry Black and here are a few pics from the opening of his exhibit entitled Saturday Mornings: The Paintings of Garry Black. I enjoyed meeting Garry and his art work is not only great fun but beautifully executed.

Artist Garry Black. photo NWN Brown.

Art by Garry Black. photo NWNBrown

The good guys in white hats at MoCCA had a fantastic exhibit this spring and summer curated by Denis Kitchen and Danny Fingeroth entitled “Will Eisner’s New York: From The Spirit to the Modern Graphic Novel.” If you don’t know about MoCCA or haven’t been, do yourself a favor and check it out. I have seen some fascinating panels and great exhibits there. They also have a series of ongoing classes with some of the best names in comic and cartoon art. You can also become a member and get discounts as well as special invites to events. If you love comic art this is the place to be.

Ellen Abramowitz, Jim Salicrup. Photo. NWNB

I was there on August 4th for a panel on Will Eisner entitled “Will Eisner’s Evolution” hosted by one of my favorite guys, Danny Fingeroth who has written a number of books. I’m reading Superman on the Couch right now and love Disguised as Clark Kent. Danny is one of the great comic book philosophers and always manages wonderful panels. The panelists were N. C. Christopher Couch, also a favorite guy, a marvelous writer and comic book historian. His latest book is Jerome Robinson: Ambassador of Comics and it’s a wonderful book as well. I finally got to meet Denny O’Neil, who wrote and edited for both Marvel and DC. He is a sophisticated writer (and thinker) especially noted for stories in The Shadow and The Question among many other titles. Besides being a comic book treasure he is a lovely man. And finally the remaining panelist was David Hadju.

Danny F, Chris C, David H. Photo NWNB

I was very interested in what David would have to say. He did not present a very nice picture of the Major in his book The Ten Cent Plague and I was curious to find out how that came to be because it is obvious that David is a very smart guy. He’s also an excellent writer and The Ten Cent Plague is full of great stories and an astute look at one of the aspects of the demise of comic books through the misguided notions of censorship. I’m here to say that David redeemed himself. He’s a bit of a Devil’s Advocate, which I like and doesn’t always toe the party line. I don’t want to write some family hagiography of my grandfather so I am truly interested in learning as much as I can from diverse points of view. I really enjoyed David’s participation on the panel. It was a lively, fascinating back and forth between all the guys and as usual I learned a lot.

Denny O'Neil and guys. Photo. NWNB

Since the summer is really gone for good this weekend with the freaky snow storm just before Halloween, I’m changing my cowboy boots for snow boots.

Tomorrow as my Halloween Trick or Treat I’m going to talk about another group of guys I like a lot–Jason Goodman, grandson of Marvel founder Martin Goodman and his newly revived Atlas Comics particularly Grim Ghost written by the unstoppable Tony Isabella. Of course, Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without bats and Batman himself, Michael Uslan who has a new biography entitled The Boy Who Loved Batman. And in the pulp department, that amazing pulp scholar John Locke who has reprints of stories from the pulp, Ghost Stories. Some of them were too scary for me to read!

 

 

About Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson

Writer/Editor and Publisher for over 20 years with a Master's Degree in Classical Greek Mythology and Theatre. Perfect for writing about Comics!
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