Spam Diego, by John Ostrander

John Ostrander

John Ostrander started his career as a professional writer as a playwright. His best known effort, Bloody Bess, was directed by Stuart Gordon, and starred Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, William J. Norris, Meshach Taylor and Joe Mantegna. He has written some of the most important influential comic books of the past 25 years, including Batman, The Spectre, Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, Suicide Squad, Wasteland, X-Men, and The Punisher, as well as Star Wars comics for Dark Horse. New episodes of his creator-owned series, GrimJack, which was first published by First Comics in the 1980s, appear every week on ComicMix.

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30 Responses

  1. Rick Taylor says:

    Well put Johnny.Things are getting a lttle crazy compared to the days before these events became more like a media circus.My fear is that some film company will come buy the event and make it one big commercial for their movies.Remember the COMICS in Comicon?I do.

  2. Russ Rogers says:

    As I started reading your column and gathered that you didn't dislike conventions or even the SDCC, but that it was the SIZE of the SDCC that bothered you. You don't like the extra time commitment of the extra day. And you don't like that it's morphed into this THING that's too HUGE for the space allotted and more about media event than comics. I kept thinking, "He should come to the MCBA FallCon on October 4 and 5! That's a short convention (just two days) in a nice BIG city with a small town feel. How will I word a clever invitation?" I've sprinkled invitations to FallCon about on ComicMix already. Personally, I have never been to a comics convention. I went to a D&D GenCon about 30 years ago. And I was at a Start Trek convention for about 3 hours 15 years ago. But ComicMix has turned me into more of a fanboy than I've ever been. So, when I saw a flyer for FallCon at "The Source," (one of Minnesota's handful of really good comics shops, located less than a mile from the convention site), I decided to go. This ROCKS! I'm sorry, I'm "geeking out" a bit. I'm VERY excited that you will be coming, John. Will ComicMix have a booth? An official presence? Will ComicMix be sending other representatives to the show? Are you coming to represent ComicMix, another company or are you an invited "Guest of the Con" just representing yourself and your fabulous body…uh, of work? FallCon has had Tim Truman, Mike Oeming and Terry Beatty as past guests. The convention will be at The Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, also less than a mile from the St. Paul Como Zoo, one of the best FREE ADMISSION zoos in the nation (although they've started to ask for a $2 voluntary donation at the door). For somebody interested in theater, you will be pleased to note that the Twin Cities is second only to New York in live theater per capita. And you can still get tickets to "Little House on the Prairie: the Musical," at the Guthrie on October 3!

    • Alan Coil says:

      Russ,I've been to the Fallcon. It's a nice little convention…stress little. You will have time to chat with every creator there that you wish to. Admission is cheap enough, and if I recall correctly from the one I attended, they do charity work, too. I think the year I went admission was half off with donated food. But it's been 4 years and my brain is old.

      • Russ Rogers says:

        The charities linked to FallCon this year seem to include the Hero Initiative, the CBLDF and the Lupus Foundation. It looks like a really cool show, although not much has been announced about the guests or itinerary this year. I was planning to attend even before finding out John Ostrander was going to be there.

  3. mike weber says:

    This year, I think I heard that people are having to commute in from Chicago.In Greenville SC, where i grew up, at one time the biennial International Textile Exposition was Huge the largwst textile industry show in the world (Greenville is literally the center of the textile industry, and not just in the US); so big that, solely to accomodate it, the Greenville/Spartanburg airport is an international port.Anyway, due to the influx of people needing rooms, it was literally simpler for the better-funded to get rooms in Atlanta, 150 miles away, and fly in daily…

  4. Alan Coil says:

    "Extra credit essay points for anyone who can explain what Paris Hilton has to do with comics."Porn comics?

    • Rick Taylor says:

      Hey, she got cut outta her her grandaddy's fortune for acting like a ho and dragging the gamily name through the mud.Girl's gotta make a living.

      • Russ Rogers says:

        Paris was never going to get that much from her grand-daddy's fortune anyway. Seriously, she started down the pecking order of vultures. She made a name for herself "Clubbing" with her sister. She's somebody who was famous for being famous. [Sort of like Kitty Carlisle, what was she famous for? Oh, married Moss Hart!] The Hilton Sisters are moderately photogenic (not stunning) and occasionally danced on top of the bar or video taped themselves having sex. Paris has been more willing able to market all that than Nikki. Marketing is the real talent, maybe her only one. She can't sing or act. not well. But she's made more money from her TV shows and Perfume line than she ever would have inherited.Paris is supposedly at SDCC promoting her move, "Repo! The Genetic Opera." The movie was pitched with a comic book trailer and has some comic book sensibilities. For more info, you can check out the official website for the film here: It looks like the movie is a cyber-punk rock opera! How's that for niche marketing! It actually looks kimda … cool. And Paris has a large role! Might this be the project that changes my mind about Ms. Hilton?

        • Rick Taylor says:

          Well, from what I've heard the only 'acting' that Paris has done that is any good was her infamous sex vid.Some guys (mostly cop friends) have told me that shot from that hip she's a real pro.

        • John Ostrander says:

          RussC'mon — she was in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA. So far as I'm concerned, ANYONE who was in ANATO gets props.– John

          • Rick Taylor says:

            An endless episodes of 'To Tell The Truth'.I saw a great interview with Kitty on TCM this week. She's not sure why she got the job the marx Bros. either.Besides was HARDLY the piece of trash Paris the Heiress is today. Kitty probably even remembers to wear her underwear.

          • Russ Rogers says:

            (an incredulous look) Paris Hilton was in "A Night at the Opera"? Here's a nice remembrance of Kitty Carlisle and her contribution to the Marx Brothers legacy.Now, who was Buff Cobb? Why is she famous? And for bonus points: What is her loose connection to ComicMix?

          • Rick Taylor says:

            Russ,Seriously, she started down the pecking order of vultures. She made a name for herself "Clubbing" with her sister. She's somebody who was famous for being famous. [Sort of like Kitty Carlisle, what was she famous for? Oh, married Moss Hart!]You made the comparison between Kitty and Paris and their famous for being famous thing.

          • Russ Rogers says:

            It is funny that both Paris and Kitty are in "…Opera" movies.

          • John Ostrander says:

            The big difference between Kitty Carlisle and PH is that Ms. Carlisle had class and PH. . .well, she forgets to wear her undies.

          • Rick Taylor says:

            Bingo, Johnny.Kitty was also part of a film classic.Paris… well, she forgets to wear her undies.

          • Russ Rogers says:

            You guys sure are obsessed with Paris' lack of undies! What if Kitty went "commando" every once in a while, would it change your opinion of her? All right, Kitty Carlisle was prettier, more talented, smarter, better mannered and far more charming that Paris might ever hope to be. Kitty wasn't tortured by the paparazzi, hounded like a fox on the hunt.I'm not sure why Paris is so loathed and yet … has been able to take the Public's unnatural curiosity in her life and turn that into a commodity. Do we resent what we see as "unearned" wealth? Do we sense that the media isn't hypnotized by her glamor but salaciously wanking to her tawdry antics? Are we mad that the media seems powerless to the flash of a bit of flesh? Is Paris Hilton just a symbol of the de-evolution of society. Gossip and scandal used to be more polite. Now it's all "Blood in the Water" feeding frenzy crap.

          • Rick Taylor says:

            Russ,As I'm perplexed at your defense of the heiress gone mad,Kitty never went 'commando'.And you can't compare her to something that never happened during her time i.e. the paparazzi.Paris' embrace of the press was initially her choice. She walks around with that smart-ass 'I'm better than you' smirk on her face and engages in all sorts of smarmy activities.I don't think I'm beating up on her by pointing out the obvious.

          • John Ostrander says:

            Okay, I'm declaring this Paris Hilton/Kitty Carlisle discussion a dead horse. Gents, this is a sidetrack to the main topic of the column — namely that Spam Diego has gotten too big and is being taken over by the movie industry. The MAIN question in the first place was what did Paris Hilton have to do with comics? By extension, I'm wondering how much the SDCC has to do with comics any more. The reports I read suggest less and less all the time.

          • Rick Taylor says:

            Agreed Johnny.ComicCon has probably become a cheap (by comparison) way for Hollyweird to hype it's stuff.

      • Steve Chaput says:

        It's funny, but I was at the convention on Friday and somebody mentioned seeing Hilton at the Convention. I assumed that he was either mistaken or making some lame joke. It wasn't until seeing her photo (the gal does not look good and a bit puffy, if you know what I mean) in the next day's newsletter.Comics? The convention had comic books?

  5. mike weber says:

    (I just posted this comment to another, later, post, but i think it will fit fairly well here, in light of your remarks about how big the con has gotten:)Back in 2006, Dan Shive did a non-continuity sequence of his webcomic El Goonish Shive, in which Sarah, the experience con-goer and Susan, the newbie, went to SanDiego. it starts here, and runs for some time afterward (though, sadly, not completed). The first strip, in particular, is even more appropriate this year than then, apparently.(Should you happen to check it out, i call your attention in particular to a Very Funny throwaway gag in the sxth strip.)

  6. John Tebbel says:

    Glad Kitty isn't around to hear this, for pity's sake. Compared to PH she's Sarah Bernhardt, an actual working actress, trained singer, worth the attention and love of one of the giants of the stage (don't worry folks, those chains are made of chrome steel!). It wasn't Shaw or Coward, but her daily repartee on multiple panel shows was harder than it looked, never sensational, never hurtful. The PH equivalents of her generation are, uh, forgotten.

  7. Russ Rogers says:

    Rick,I would not call the phrases, "[the media is] salaciously wanking to [Paris'] tawdry antics," or "Kitty Carlisle was prettier, more talented, smarter, better mannered and far more charming than Paris might ever hope to be," as strong defenses of an heiress gone mad.Your insistence that Kitty Carlisle NEVER went commando implies a familiarity and closeness with her that I didn't think you had.I think Celebrity Game Shows can be the perfect example of people who are famous for being famous. Kitty Carlisle (who is more famous for being a celebrity game show contestant than for the things that made her a celebrity), Brett Summers. Paris Hilton and any of the Trump wives or children fall into the category of people more famous for "who they are" (being famous) than what they have achieved.And the Hollywood Gossip/Paparazzi Machine was not born with Paris Hilton. It goes WAY back to a time with Gossip would make or break carriers. Fatty Arbuckle's career was crushed by the press.

    • Russ Rogers says:

      **"…a time when Gossip Columns would make or break careers." Sorry. Usually I proof better before I post.

    • John Ostrander says:

      Hey, Russ — enough's enough, okay? Like I said, this is beating a dead horse AND it has sidelined discussion on the major topic in he column. Paris Hilton was a side mention in the column, the major question being what did she have to do about COMICS which the SDCC is supposedly ABOUT.

  8. Russ Rogers says:

    I understand. Sorry. I was already composing this when you called a moratorium on all think PH, so I did not see the ban. And Comics might be what SDCC and ComicMix are supposedly about, but reality rarely lives up to our Platonic Ideals. Personally, the thing that mosts interests me from the SDCC this year was the MST3K panel from Friday night. But I can't tell you what that has to do with comics either. A Mystery Science Comic would be cool! Imagine, reprint old comics while witty characters make snarky, perceptive comments from the margins! Are there public domain gems of truly BAD or cliché ridden stuff? DC came close to this concept with House of Mystery, I think. They would reprint old horror stories and tie them together with Cain and Able or the Weird Sisters making intros and closing comments.

  9. Steve Chaput says:

    John, I didn't see the ban on all things Paris until after posting my own comments. My bad!

  10. Steve Chaput says:

    Mark Evanier has made the comment about how you can have the convention you want if you plan ahead. Truthfully, I don't think you can actually do that anymore. I had planned on attending far more panels, but was easily distracted by the bright & shiny exhibits all around. The one panel I did attend on Friday was on a topic of which I had no interest at all, but was simply looking for a place to have my coffee and rest in the air conditioning. (By the way, how many different versions of The Question is Mattel coming out with? Also, how much does the guy dressed as "Matty" make an hour?)After two days of the convention, both I and my friend Dan (this was his 1st SD) were both so drained we skipped Sunday and just did some sight-seeing.

  11. Josh B says:

    Hey John, Very excited that's you're coming to the Minnesota con in October…rest assured, it's a 100% genuine comic book convention….