Being A Sport, by Mike Gold

Mike Gold

ComicMix's award-winning and spectacularly shy editor-in-chief Mike Gold also performs the weekly two-hour Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind ass-kicking rock, blues and blather radio show on The Point, and on iNetRadio, (search: Hit Oldies) every Sunday at 7:00 PM Eastern, rebroadcast three times during the week – check above for times and on-demand streaming information.

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34 Responses

  1. mike baron says:

    Sports is one of the rare categories in which comics do not excel. Nothing can match sports' own highs, because the purpose of sports is to give you those highs and elicit a mass response. The live event makes up stand up and cheer. The printed event does not.

    • Mike Gold says:

      I dunno. The Japanese do a pretty good job of it. They've got tennis comics, for crying out loud.

    • Mike Catron says:

      And speaking of Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali, has anyone ever published the complete list of all the faces in the crowd? Not just the list published in the book itself, but the unidentified "extras" — the Beatles, for instance, for whom I presume some kind of permission could not be obtained. I've always kind of thought of that cover as the comic book version of the Sergeant Pepper's album cover art. Wish I could figure out how to post a photo here, as I've got one by Jack Adler of Mike Gold, Jenette Kahn, and the Champ himself at the comic's debut press conference. (Was that the first comic book to ever be debuted with a press conference?)

      • Mike Gold says:

        I think it was, Mike. And you and I did that…!E-mail me the photos and I'll figure something out. I've got a couple shots of me and Ali, which is pretty cool, now that I think of it.

  2. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    Tennis? Dear boy, the Japanese have comics about Mah-Jonng. But that's bcause EVERYBODY reads comics over there, and with a market that big, it's easy to find an audience for any fringe-y thing someone wants to do a comic about.Here in the US they had Strange Sports Stories for a good while, culminating in that classic story where the Earth-2 Huntress planned to become a good guy, and her boyfriend the Sportsmaster challenged her to make her desicion on a baseball game between the heroes and the villains. Ahh, classic.And there was that classic EC comic, "Foul Ball!"But in short, it goes back to what I first said – if US Comics had a large enough market, you could easily carry a sports comic. With the proper publicity, I think you could get a good number of people to try out a sports comic, especially if it was, say, on the web, and free.Trevor von Eeden, eh? Sweet.

  3. Russ Rogers says:

    I owned a copy of "Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali"! It was the an oversized, oversized comic. The biggest comic I've ever seen outside of the oversized printing of "DESTROY" by Scott McCloud.Chuck Austen did a baseball/porn comic called "Hardball." That is the only other sports comic I can remember buying.

    • Mike Gold says:

      There were a few other tabloid originals, including the original Marvel / DC crossovers and Marvel's adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. The fad didn't last terribly long, as newsdealers had no place to rack 'em and comics shops tend to dislike comics that aren't shaped like comics.

  4. MARK WHEATLEY says:

    THE MIGHTY MOTOR-SAPIENS is the correct title – just to pick a nit. What would SPIDER-MAN think of SPIDER MAN?

    • Mike Gold says:

      About the same as he thinks of Spiderman, the more common incorrect spelling of Spider-Man's name.Now, if you put in a comma (Spider, man) you've got the hipster version of the classic pulp hero — that you, Mark, were involved with. As was our pal Timothy Truman.

  5. R. Maheras says:

    I think there is one basic reason baseball comics (and sports comics in general) are not very prevalent in the United States: Financial. Comic book publishing has traditionally consisted of shoestring operations run by people who almost fanatically have had their finger on the pulse of their business’s bottom line. And sports comics, by their very nature, would present a financial and logistical problem for any publisher. Let’s say you want to do a monthly comic book about baseball, for example. To get started, you would have to secure permission from Major League Baseball to do stories about its teams, and likely, you’d have to get approval from MLB for every single story, every single month. Not only that, but any teams featured in the comics would have to sign off on the stories as well. And, unless MLB had previously secured some arrangement with the MLB Players Association, you’d also need permission from any player whose likeness appeared in your comic book. If you think such approval would come at no cost, think again. Everyone involved – MLB, the team, and the players — would want a fee. Not only that, with all the approvals required to publish such a comic book, you’d have significant extra administrative costs tied to just that one title. And if you think the Comics Code Authority was restrictive about story content, imagine how it would be trying to get timely approval from THREE (or more) image-conscious entities every issue. So you, being the enterprising scalawag you are, might argue, “Why not do a baseball comic book about fictitious teams?” Why indeed? Well, first off, you’d have to create a totally fictitious baseball universe, complete with teams and players, that readers found interesting – keeping in mind that if you wanted to avoid being sued by MLB, you’d darn well better make sure there were absolutely no similarities at all between your universe and reality. But how would your comic book-buying demographic take to your fake baseball universe? Well, since it seems to me that sports fans tend to identify strongly with their teams and players, I’d wager the answer is, “Not very well.” If all of these hurdles weren’t enough to put a damper on a baseball/sports comic book, the last hurdle might be the clincher: Creator/publisher apathy. No baseball comic book will ever hit the market unless there is a strong push from a creator/publisher “champion” to make it happen.

    • Mike Gold says:

      Good point. I'm reminded of Valiant's first comic book releases, which were World Wrestling Federation tie-ins. You'd think that professional wrestling (we can argue the "sport" part later) would provide decent fodder for comics stories.For about 20 years – through the mid-80s – Licensing Corporation of America represented soccer, tennis, Major League Baseball … and DC Comics. In fact, LCA was started by Jay Emmett, nephew of DC president Jack Liebowitz, former text page writer for DC and model for Hawkman's Police Commissioner Emmett. All this, of course, was before he copped a plea for defrauding DC parent company Warner Communications (now Time Warner) during the infamous Westchester Theatre scandal (Google it).LCA was owned by National Periodical Publications (now DC Comics) until it became a separate division when NPP sold out to Kinney National Services, now Time Warner.DC did all sorts of tie-ins under that relationship, but as far as I can tell, nothing involving LCA's sports licensors. While serving as DC's Director of Development, I once had a meeting with the NFL, but nothing came of it.

      • Rick Taylor says:

        There are TONS of Japanese wrestling comics, too.

        • Mike Gold says:

          There are TONS of Japanese everything comics. There's manga for 84 year old grandmothers who "adopt" dolls as their grandchildren. And I ain't kidding.

        • Rick Oliver says:

          I'd buy a comic book version of Homestar Runner. Okay, so it has nothing to do with sports, but the best character in the cast, Strong Bad, wears a Mexican wrestling mask — and that's about as close to sports as I get after the football season ends.

          • Mike Gold says:

            Somebody's doing an El Santo series… maybe even in this country.The El Santo wrestling superhero movies may very well be the most insane stuff ever put on screen.

  6. Marilee J. Layman says:

    The problem with gambling is that the house always wins. Oh, they might have to give away a little money here or there, but they win in the end.But speaking of March Madness, there's a site that links students to colleges and they're running an elimination contest for a $20K scholarship. My cousin's daughter has made the finals and it'd be nice if any of you were motivated to vote for her:…She's in the North tab and her name is Nawwal Moustafa. Nawi's really big on community service and sports.

    • Anonymous says:

      Marilee,THIS CONTEST IS A WASTE OF TIME AND IF YOU ASK ME A SCAM:If a contest holder is not smart enough to handle cookies when a contest starts. I think that shows their level of programming, leaving the door wide open for all types of bad web behavior. It is a crime that people stoop that low, but that is the web and when money is involved who knows what will happen. It is a shame for those in a contest that the contest holders didn’t think about the ‘ways of the web’ before launching it giving all an even playing field. Contest holder would never admit these things happen as it would be bad for there company.”

  7. Osbo says:

    I've edited sports videos for a living, and the formula is fairly simple. Whatever happens, happens, but a hero and a goat come out of each play. It's spontaneous, still, or has that feeling of spontanaity, and the most exciting moments are when the Goat is someone with a great reputation, which is where the drama stems from.In the actual narrative form, the drama is, at best, formulaic. Just look at sports movies in general. You could predict who will win and who will not once the stakes are spelled out. The challenge is creating the compelling character that we would follow…That, of course, and the exclusive comic book audience – people who read comic books are rarely sports fans (though, in listening to the latest Fanboy radios, that could certainly change).

    • Mike Gold says:

      "People who read comic books are rarely sports fans." I used to believe that, but when we were running the old monthly Chicago Minicons at the fabled Pick-Congress Hotel near Soldier Field, the place would empty out wherever there was a Bears game.I think I now know as many comics fans who are into one sport or another (like my daughter) as I know comics fans who are not (like my wife).

      • Osbo says:

        True – hey, I used to believe that too, but I enjoy editing these pieces and creating heroes, and love watching sports a lot more than I used to. Perhaps it's more people who watch sports are rarely comics readers? It's a format that not many people know.Maybe such a venture should start in the strip or cartoon format in sports magazines or sports sections or sports websites?

  8. R. Maheras says:

    Probably because parodies don’t require licensing fee payments or permission, and some of the folks at Mad were probably baseball fans, there were a lot of baseball-related comics in the early issues of Mad. They include: Mad #3 – “Hex” by Jack Davis (8 pages) Mad #6 – “Casey at the Bat” by Jack Davis (6 pages) Mad #25 – “Baseball… Science or Skill?” by Jack Davis (5 pages) Mad #33 – “Baseball’s Hall of Shame” by Joe Orlando (2 pages) Mad #34 – “Baseball is Ruining Our Children” by Wally Wood (3 pages) Mad #42 – “Baseball Report” by Mort Drucker (3 pages) Mad #47 – “Little League” by Dave Berg (4 pages) Mad #50 – “ABC Plays CBS in the Baseball League” by Mort Drucker (4 pages) Mad #58 – “’Cool’ Casey at the bat” by Don Martin (3 pages) Mad #64 – “The Business of Baseball” by George Woodbridge (4 pages) Mad #66 – “The Little League Hall of Fame” by Joe Orlando (2 pages) Mad #80 – “The Mad Baseball Primer” by Joe Orlando (3 pages) Mad #88 – “The Lighter Side of Little League” by Dave Berg (4 pages) Mad #121 – “A Nostalgic Look at Sandlot Baseball” by Paul Coker Jr (4 pages) Mad #167 – “The Mad Game of Basebrawl” by Al Jaffee (6 pages) As one can see, baseball-related parodies were relatively common in Mad until about the mid-1960s. From the looks of Mad content, baseball seemed to become too tame a topic compared to the tumultuous events that were going on all around the folks from that era, and it gradually faded from the pages of Mad.

    • Mike Gold says:

      "Hex" was also a parody of EC's bread-and-butter, their horror line. And that Jack Davis art was stellar.

    • Rick Oliver says:

      And let's not forget 43-man Squamish!

      • Rick Oliver says:

        Oops, I meant to reply to the comment about Mad's sport parodies. I don't think Jack Davis did the 43-man Squamish art.

  9. Elayne Riggs says:

    From what I understand, NASCAR has a regular comics series under its own brand. Some MLB teams publish annual promo comics as well. James Sturm's The Golem's Mighty Swing did well, and he's coming out with another one about Satchel Paige. There are a number of places doing sports comics, just not the major comic book companies.

    • Vinnie Bartilucci says:

      Nat Gertler, former CompuServer and now the force behind 24-hour comics day, got one of his first breaks writing the "Legends of NASCAR" series of comics in the early 90's. They didn't hit too many comic shops, but they were sold at all the NASCAR races, and they were almost never out of print. So his work got into the hands of a LOT more and varied people than the average comic in the LCS.I'm a bit of a broken record about it, but if comics were able to get out of the shops and into other distribution areas, a lot more people will see them, and then might go to the LCS and buy more. The World of Warcraft comics are getting sold in video games stores. Stuff like that.Please, someone make a deal with Wal-mart and get comics back in front of millions of new eyeballs.

      • Linda Gold says:

        Problem with that is Wal-mart will want to have control over content.

        • Vinnie Bartilucci says:

          You know what? So what? If you pick "safe" stuff like the Johnny DC titles, Superman, Flash, and maybe a couple books that deserve a larger market like Blue Beetle. you wont really have to deal with material they might not like. It's a gateway drug. Get them interested, throw a coupon in the back good at any LCS, and get more kids (and people in general) looking at comics again. Right now Archie is the only comic you can find in supermarkets – that's a damn shame.

          • Mike Gold says:

            Particularly since Disney cancelled Disney Adventures and Comic Zone, the latter in the middle of a Kirby reprint.

            Love the "gateway drug" line!

  10. Glenn Hauman says:

    Hmm. I wonder if there's a market for a hockey comic book.Nah, that's just a nutty idea.

    • Mike Gold says:

      Hockey, boxing, soccer… it's all the same.

    • Adriane Nash says:

      Sidney Crosby saves the world, the NHL and score a hat-trick all by 10 pm?

      • Glenn Hauman says:

        I'd believe he could save the world single-handedly, but he's gonna need help to save the NHL.

        • Mike Gold says:

          You have an extremely parochial view of the NHL. You folks have been predicting it'll go blooie ever since it expanded from the original six. Now there are 30 NHL teams. Evidently, the good folks in your neighboring Newark know something that you — and ESPN — do not.