DENNIS O’NEIL: Comics Education
If you’re a dedicated reader of movie end credits, the name Michael Uslan might be familiar to you. If it isn’t…let’s remedy that.
If you know of Mike, it’s probably because he was executive producer of all the recent Batman flicks, including Catwoman and The Dark Knight, coming to a theater near you next June. He’s also been involved in producing a lot of other stuff for screens both large and small. And he’s done considerable writing, some of which was for comic books. I first met him when he was a law student at Indiana State University in Bloomington, where he was teaching the first accredited college course in comics and a related correspondence course; he was nice enough to invite me to meet his class.
Mike’s latest project – and here we come to this week’s real subject – is a documentary movie on comics super heroes to have its world premiere on September 15 at the Montclair Art Museum which is located, no surprise, in a town called Montclair in a state called New Jersey, a short drive or train ride from New York City. The movie screening is part of a much bigger deal, an exhibit of about 150 examples of comics art and related stuff at the museum that is currently there and is not leaving until January 13th of next year. The screening is scheduled for 4:30 in the afternoon.
And if you’re still not satisfied, if that isn’t enough…On October 13th the museum will shelter a panel discussion on comics which will put Mr. Uslan, Danny Fingeroth, Tom DeFalco, and me in front of anyone who cares to show up, listen, ask questions. Genuflecting and flinging rose blossoms at us are optional.
I haven’t visited the exhibit yet, but everything I know about it indicates that it’s worth going a bit out of your way to see. If you do – go out of your way to see it, that is, or even if you plan to see it without going out of your way – you might want some info. You can get it by visiting www.montclairartmuseum.org or phoning (973) 746-5555. And while I’m in reporter mode, one final thing, the museum’s address is 3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042
I believe that at one time it would have been customary to, at this point, urge you to “be there or be square.” Aren’t we glad that time is past!
And aren’t we glad that comics have come to a place where respectable institutions promote and host educational efforts on their behalf? Well, yes, with some qualification. Producing comics isn’t the informal, loosey-goosey business it once was, and so maybe a little less fun. And I, for one, am not entirely comfortable with all this respectability. I’m not happy that pretty young women behind checkout counters call me sir, either. But better respectability than oblivion and, come to think of it, better being called sir than oblivion, too.
RECOMMENDED READING: Walden and Civil Disobedience, both by Henry David Thoreau.
Dennis O’Neil is an award-winning editor and writer of comic books like Batman, The Question, Iron Man, Green Lantern and/or Green Arrow, and The Shadow, as well as all kinds of novels, stories and articles.