Author: Mindy Newell

These days Mindy Newell knows that if she could do it all over again she’d have gone to college for screenwriting and film editing. Instead she became a nurse to please her parents and pleasing your parents was what it was all about for nice Jewish girls who graduated from high school in 1971. But the creative larva was in her soul, and when the cocoon broke and the butterfly emerged, it flew to DC’s New Talent Showcase program. Under the auspices of legendary editors Karen Berger, Len Wein, Julius Schwartz, Paul Levitz, and ComicMix’s own Robert Greenberger, Mindy learned the craft and art of writing comics, including Tales Of The Legion, V, Legionnaires 3, Amethyst, Lois Lane: When It Rains God Is Crying, and numerous other comics, including a Superman story based on a dream Mindy had as a child. She also worked on Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg! and other independent comics. All this time Mindy continued to work as a nurse while being a single mom to her daughter Alixandra, until the late and dear Mark Gruenwald hired her as an assistant editor at Marvel, while writing stories of the Black Widow and Daredevil. She edited NFL Pro Action, a licensed kid’s magazine about football with the NFL until Marvel imploded in 1996. Returning to full-time nursing, she she also co-wrote a story for 2000 A.D. with her then-husband, British artist John Higgins. A few years ago Mike Gold called and asked her to join the team of columnists here at ComicMix, where her topics freely range from comics to pop culture to politics; she even wrote a piece about the great American thoroughbred Secretariat, which caused editor Mike to tell her that she had won the prize for the most off-topic column ever written ComicMix.

Mindy Newell: The Adventure Will Continue

I don’t know about you, but I keep forgetting to watch Star Trek: Discovery.

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t wait for each episode of Star Trek Continues.

As I’m sure you know, CBS, through the complicated Hollywood system of it’s mine, it’s mine!, owns the television rights to Trek and in its infinite wisdom stupidity decided to launch Discovery on their streaming network. Which you have to pay for.

Star Trek Continues, a continuation of the five-year mission of the Constellation class starship USS Enterprise NCC-1701, captained by James Tiberius Kirk, is a love-fast to the original series. It is available for free on YouTube and its own website.

STC was co-produced by the non-profit charity Trek Continues, Inc., Dracogen, Far From Home LLC and Farragut Films, and was partially funded by Kickstarter, in an incredibly successful campaign of crowd sourcing. Nobody got a salary, and all the money went into the production itself. And it showed; everything, down to the buttons on the bridge consoles, was exactly the same as we remembered –

It was, im-not-so-ho, a spectacular and amazing series, with great acting by show runner Vic Mignogna as Kirk (totally separated at birth from William Shatner), Todd Haberkorn as Spock, Chuck Huber and Larry Nemecek as Dr. McCoy, Grant Imahara as Sulu, Kim Stinger as Uhura, Wyatt Lenhart as Chekov, and Chris Doohan (yes, James Doohan’s son) as Scotty. It also introduced Lt. Elise McKennah, PhD. (Michelle Specht) as the first ship’s counselor in Star Fleet, and Lt. William C. Drake (Steven Dengler), Chief of Security, and Kipleigh Brown as Lt. j.g. Barbara Smith.

Star Trek Continues also featured many alumni of the original series, notably Michael Forest reprising his role as Apollo in the very first episode. Bobby Clark, who played the Gorn in TOS’s “Arena” appeared in the third episode. Marina Sirtis was the voice of the Enterprise computer, while over in the Mirror Universe the computer was voiced by Michael Dorn. John de Lancie, the irrepressible “Q” on The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, and Voyager, guest-starred in episode nine. And in a “timey-winey wibbly-wobbly” twist, Rekha Sharma, the court-martialed Commander Landry in Star Trek: Discovery, acted in episode eight. Many more veterans of Star Trek, both in front of and behind the camera, and of the movies and web games, also appeared in the series.

The stories encapsulated the heart of Star Trek, that magic something that has kept the series flourishing, in all its many forms, over the decades.

Until, that is, Discovery. Though I’m positive that everyone working on that series is in it with all their heart, soul, and mind, I just keep thinking that, for CBS, it’s a nothing more than a cash-grab.

And so, CBS, in its infinite wisdom stupidity, forced Star Trek Continues to shut down. Jealous, much?

Star Trek Continues crossed the “galactic barrier” between the television series’ horrifying and insulting season three conclusion, “Turnabout Intruder” and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. And show runner Vic Mignogna somehow was able to negotiate a fitting, heart-warming, and tear-inducing finale to the five-year mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 that encompasses everything that made us love Star Trek.

And I know, one way or another, the adventure will continue.

For you…

And for me.

Mindy Newell’s Thanksgiving Musings

Just some musings this week…

Outlander Season Three, the adaptation of the third book in author Diana Gabaldon’s story of the 20th century English combat nurse and the 18th century Scottish Highlander (Voyager) is up to its 10th episode, with three to go, and it hasn’t disappointed. I read somewhere that the program’s ratings have steadily gone up with each episode, and Season 4 is already in production. I know that there are many who are disappointed that the show isn’t following the book word-for-word and paragraph-for-paragraph, but as I often remind my fellow Outlander lovers over at Compuserve, television is a visual medium, entirely different from the literary, and there are also time restraints. Im-not-so-ho, Ronald D. Moore and company have actually done a remarkable job bringing a densely packed historical romance/science fiction/fantasy – Outlander is one of those books and series that crosses genres as easily a pedestrian crossing a street – series to life.

And speaking of Compuserve, that venerable site is shutting down all its forums as of December 15, with no explanation given and that “e-mail, news, weather, sports, and entertainment information will remain available to you after this change.” Huh? Who goes to Compuserve for e-mail, news, weather, and et.al.? It’s always been about its forums – and as for Outlander, Diana Gabaldon, way back when, when she was first writing the original book, often posted her “what I’ve got so far,” and asking for comments, edits, and information. I just don’t get it.

I’m in the midst of answering a series of questions for an interview that fellow ComicMixer Joe Corallo is conducting with me for Geek.com. It’s funny what interviews can do sometimes. If it’s live, it can be a matter of thinking quick on your feet, especially if you don’t have a list of the questions in advance. When it’s going to be published somewhere, the interviewee – me, in this case – has a chance to think about it before writing down the answers. For instance, I discovered something about my work on Catwoman in the course of answering Joe. Consider this a sneak peek:

Joe C.: You’re also the first woman to write Catwoman. What was that like to you? Did you get to do what you wanted with the character?

Me: Was I really? I didn’t know that! It was pretty cool. My first swing at her was in Action Comics Weekly #’s 611– 614, a four-part story, “The Tin Roof Club.” To tell you the truth, I think it’s better than that Catwoman mini-series with my name on it. By the way, I came up with the title of “The Tin Roof Club” because that’s how I’ve always thought of Selina:  “What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof? – I wish I knew…just

staying on it, I guess, as long as she can” Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

With that in mind, my biggest disappointment with the Catwoman mini-series is that DC wouldn’t allow Selina to deliberately kill her pimp. I don’t know why. The guy was a fucking pimp, for Christ’s sake! The whole idea of her murdering the bastard was that it would cause Selina to forever remain that “cat on the hot tin roof.” Stuck, y’know? So I had to write it so that it was unclear. Which was total bullshit, of course.

I also made a mistake in involving nuns and Selina having a sister who was a sister. (“My sister, the sister,” as Father Mulcahy would say on M*A*S*H.) It was supposed to be an homage to Frank Miller, not only because of Batman: Year One, but also to his work on Daredevil, in which Matt’s Catholicism played such a strong role. But I think it would have been stronger, and more interesting, if I had stuck to my own roots and made Selina Jewish – after all, “Kyle” could be just a “street name” to disguise her origins.

Basically, I guess what I’m saying is that I wish I could do it all over againor have another crack at her.

It’s a nice, long, juicy interview – well, I think so, at any rate –  so I’ll let you know when it’s slated to appear. Keep an eye out for it, ‘kay?

I’ll keep up the tradition of Thanksgiving “thanksgivings” now:

  • This year, as most of you know, I lost my dad and my mom. So first and foremost, I am grateful to God, the Goddess, and the Universe for blessing me with my grandson Meyer, my daughter and son (in-law) Alixandra and Jeff, my brother Glenn and his wife Ana, and my niece Isabel.
  • I am thankful to ComicMix and Mike Gold for allowing me entrée into the comics world via my columns these past – how many years is it, Mike? Wow! And I freely admit that my column about Secretariat was a stretch, but, hey, he was a Super-Horse!!!!
  • I am thankful to Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, NJ for investing in me and investing me with a sense of home and belonging.
  • I am thankful for Robert Mueller.
  • I am thankful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, MSNBC, Frontline, Vice, CNN, Real Time with Bill Maher and other sane and responsible news organizations and programs for not faltering in the pursuit of truth, justice, and the American Way in 2017.
  • And thanks a lot, The Washington Post, The New York Times, MSNBC, Frontline, Vice, CNN, Real Time with Bill Maher and other news organizations and programs for going insane and being irresponsible and treating Il Tweetci the Mad’s campaign as a ratings grab and celebrity reality show in 2015 and 2016? Now you’re doing your job? Where were you in 2015 and 2016?

Mindy Newell: What Goes Around…

DC Comics Editor Suspended After Forcible Reports Of Forcible Kissing, Groping

by Nicole Hensley, New York Daily News, Sunday, November 12, 2017

A high-ranking editor at DC Comics has been suspended after three women publicly accused him of forcible kissing and groping in allegations dating back more than a decade.

DC Entertainment on Saturday announced the company is investigating group editor Eddie Berganza after Buzzfeed reported on his alleged history of predatory behavior.

“There will be a prompt and yet careful review into the next steps as it relates to the allegations against him, and the concerns our talent, employees and fans have shared, DC said in a statement, the news site reported.

Former writer Liz Marsham said Berganza kissed her during a party and groped her at a company gathering at a bar in 2006.

Another DC Comics employee reported a similar encounter. Joan Hilty, who is openly gay, said Berganza tried grabbing her at the same bar during a separate incident, according to Buzzfeed.

At least five women confronted DC Comics’ HR with their objections after learning Berganza was being considered for an executive editor promotion. He was promoted anyway, the site said.

Berganza was demoted to group editor in 2012 after a similar allegation that he forcibly kissed a married freelance writer during the WonderCon convention.

Despite the demotion, Berganza went on to oversee projects related to Superman and Wonder Woman.

•     •     •     •     •

I just posted this bit of news on my Facebook page.  My friend Neil Cohen replied:

“I know it was a different time a whole few years ago when this first broke, but how was nothing done then?”

And I replied: “Because this happened yesterday, Saturday, November 11, 2017…”

And my next post: “…and they can’t hide it anymore.”

•     •     •     •     •

Ever since October 5, when the New York Times published the Harvey Weinstein bombshell (reported by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey), the bombs have just kept on exploding.  Here’s a list, released by the Times yesterday, working backwards from Friday, November 10:

Andrew Kreisberg, Executive Producer of Supergirl, Arrow, and The Flash

Louis C. K., comedian and producer

Benjamin Genocchio, Executive director of the Armory Show art fair

David Guillod, Co-Chief Executive of Primary Wave Entertainment agency

Jeff Hoover, Kentucky Speaker of the House

Brett Ratner, Producer and director

Kirt Webster, Music publicist

Andy Dick, Actor

Michael Oreskes, Head of news at NPR and former New York Times editor

Hamilton Fish, President and Publisher of The New Republic

Kevin Spacey, Actor/Director

Ken Baker, E! News correspondent

Mark Halperin, NBC News and MSNBC contributor, author of “Game Change”

Rick Najera, Director of CBS’s Diversity Showcase

Knight Landesman, Publisher of ArtForum

Leon Wieseltier, former editor at The New Republic

Terry Richardson, Fashion photographer

John Besh, Chief Executive of the Besh Restaurant Group

Lockhart Steele, Editorial Director of Vox Media

Robert Scoble, Tech blogger and co-founder of the Transformation Group

Chris Savino, Creator and showrunner of “The Loud House”

I’ve only listed the names, but you can go here to see the allegations and fallout.

I’ve also heard Dustin Hoffman’s name bandied about while driving to work and listening to the radio, though that was the only time I heard it.

And speaking of work, well, sometimes the talk can get pretty risqué but lately any jibe or joke has been preceded by is this sexual harassment? or assurances that I am just joking, I’m not harassing you, am I? This is mostly a good thing, I suppose, as awareness is heightened that someone listening might be offended, but at the same time, I can’t help thinking that the “sensitivity-meter” can be working overtime. Meaning, any joke or acerbic comment or ironic observation is capable of offending somebody at any given hour or on any given day—are comedy clubs and HBO specials on the road to extinction?

And then there’s this:

Trump: I moved on her, actually. You know, she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.

Unknown: Whoa.

Trump:  I did try and fuck her. She was married.

Unknown: That’s huge news.

Trump: No, no, Nancy. No, this was [unintelligible] –  and I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I took her out furniture – I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.

Trump: Whoa! Whoa!

Bush: Yes! The Donald has scored. Whoa, my man!

Trump: Look at you, you are a pussy.

Trump: All right, you and I will walk out.

Trump: Maybe it’s a different one.

Bush: It better not be the publicist. No, it’s, it’s her, it’s –

Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Bush: Whatever you want.

Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

Hey, Donald, remember this…

What goes around comes around.

Mueller’s got you by the balls…

And he’s squeezing.

•     •     •     •     •

And on another topic…

Hey, Maddy (Maddy Ernst, ½ of the Tweeks). Regarding Stranger Things 2 and your review:

Yep, it totally rocked!
I gotta give Noah Schnapp major kudos here, especially as it seems to me that everyone else gets so much praise and attention from the media and fans. He had an incredibly difficult path as an actor this season, and the kid totally pulled it off!!!
Also, David Harbour and Millie Bobby Brown as Jim Hopper and Jane Ives/Eleven? Loved their pairing!!!!

Totally agree with you regarding Sean Astin.
SPOILER ALERT: The Mind-Flayer/Shadow Monster hovering over the Snow Ball at the middle school–okay, girlfriends, who is infected with the “virus?” Mike? Chief Hopper? Maybe too obvious, hmm? How about Dustin? (My vote.)

One more thing…
I stretched out the binge to two sittings, but even so, nine episodes went by way too quickly. And now it’s gonna be, what, another year until the third season?
That sucks, doesn’t it?

 

Mindy Newell: Even Stranger Things

I walked down to the store on Saturday to buy some groceries. It was a gorgeous day here in the NYC metro area – perfect fall weather, not too hot, not too cold, but with just enough of a chill in the air to warrant wearing my mom’s orange-rust suede jacket for the first time.

I was legitimately creeped out.

No, it wasn’t the jacket; she wanted me to have it. Although it made me feel sad and happy at the same time; sad because it was her favorite cool weather gear – and believe me, she always looked beautiful wearing it, even at the ripe old age of 91 strolling with the aid of her red walker – and my wearing it was an acknowledgement that she is no longer here, and happy because the jacket itself wears so many wonderful memories of my mom.

I was legitimately creeped out because I had just finished watching the first five episodes of Stranger Things 2.

Didn’t mean to binge. But, just like last time, ST2 pulls you in and you just can’t stop watching. I only managed to pull myself away after five episodes because, well, Mrs. Hubbard’s cupboard was bare, I was hungry, and I didn’t feel like ordering out. Also, I wanted to save myself for marriage… no, that wasn’t it. The season is just so damn good that I didn’t want it to be over too soon. Sorta like the wedding night you saved yourself for – well, if you’re lucky.

I’m attempting not to spoil anything here, so I’m going to give you only a brief and wide outline of the first episode. You’ll thank me in the morning.

That first episode, “Mad Max,starts almost exactly a year after Will Byers was rescued from the “Upside Down”; 352 days, to be exact. But we aren’t in Hawkins, Indiana. We’re in Pittsburgh, and we’re watching a robbery take place. And as the police chase the getaway car, we discover that one of those lab rats who came before the girl called Eleven is in the car. And as we watch, she enables a getaway that needs to be seen to be believed. (You’ll understand my turn of phrase when you watch the episode – again, I am endeavoring not to spoil anyone.)

Meanwhile, back in Hawkins, 1984, it seems that everyone is getting on with his or her lives and put the past behind them.

 

Or so it seems.

As obsessively geeky as ever, Will and his buds (Mike, Dustin, and Lucas) are at the arcade, where they discover that someone has topped Dustin’s score at Dig Dug.  Turns out it’s the new kid in school, whose calling card on the video game is “Mad Max,” only he is a she, Maxine, and suddenly Lucas and Dustin are aware of their raging, adolescent hormones.

But for Mike, there is still only Eleven, and there is no turning back, as he tries to raise her on the walkie-talkie while sitting in the little lean-to he made for her out of seats and sheets in the basement.

His sister Nancy and her boyfriend Steve are still in love, but while Steve has seemingly and successfully moved on, Nancy is quietly suffering from post-traumatic disorder, still mourning her friend Barbara and feeling all sorts of guilt for not telling Barbara’s parents, who are stuck wondering what happened to their daughter, the truth.

And then there’s the wild and crazy but determined investigative reporter who reminds me of a younger Bob Balaban and acts like Fox “Spooky” Mulder on magic mushrooms, who just knows The Truth is Out There.

As for Will…

He is suddenly thrust into a vision of the Upside Down. The arcade is dark, those little particles that look like individual dandelion puffs are floating everywhere, Mike and Dustin and Lucas are gone, everyone is gone, and he is alone, except for an eerie, reverberating, and muffled thunderous noise. He follows the noise outside, and witnesses a landscape and sky turned into a hellish aftermath of a nuclear blast; it is the end of the world as we know it.

And it turns out that Joyce, who is the ultimate warrior mom and hovering helicopter parent (and also has a new boyfriend, Bob Newby, played by Sean Astin, who works at the local Radio Shack) shepherds Will to the Hawkins Department of Energy lab on a regular basis, where he undergoes therapy – or is interrogation? – with Dr. Owens, a seemingly kind man, because this isn’t the first time Will has gone back to the Upside Down. But is there slime underneath the lab coat? (Since Dr. Owens is Paul Reiser, who played the ultimate corporate sleazeball in Aliens, our trust in him can’t, uh, be trusted.)

And meanwhile, Chief Jim Hopper is no longer hiding those Eggos in a box in the woods. Nope. All that beer in his refrigerator has been replaced with those little toaster-oven waffles, and his trailer is swept and dusted and clean. Because he’s sorta adopted a young girl, a pretty little moppet with short, curly hair, and like all fathers, he has sworn to keep her safe.

The moppet’s name is Eleven.

The Legendary Mindy Newell?

One of the joys of having returned to the comics convention scene this fall was seeing old friends and industry comrades again after too many goddamn years – Walter and Louise Simonson, Marv Wolfman, Fabian Nicieza, Timothy Truman, Jim Salicrup, Dave Gibbons, Cat Staggs, and Jill Thompson, to name just a few – and to have a chance, at last, to meet, face-to-face for the very first time, a woman whom I’ve wanted to meet for a very long time, a woman of immense talent and of immense class

The first time Gail and I communicated it was through Facebook, by which she reached out to me to apologize for all the press she was getting about her assignment to write Wonder Woman, i.e., “Wonder Woman Gets First Female Writer” and so forth, and that she wanted me to know that she kept trying to correct the press.

I said something like this: “But, Gail, if they print that, if they call you the second ongoing Wonder Woman writer, there’s no story.”

Of course, Gail went on to write one of the best ever run of the Amazon’s adventures.

Anyway, that led to Gail asking me to participate in her “Five Questions with…” site. Check it out. I just reread it – it’s one hell of an interview!

Gail and I continued to communicate via social media, but we still remained only “Facebook friends” until…

At this year’s NYCC, knowing Gail was there, I walked up and down the aisles until I finally found her booth. She was off at a panel, but I was determined to make time to at last meet one-on-one. So at timely intervals I kept walking over to her table – it was about the fourth time that I knew that she was back because the crowd and line around it snaked up and down the aisle. I stood off a little bit watching her talk to fans and sign her work until there was a (very) momentary break – I slid in, with apologies to the fans at the front of the line (“Just want to say hello for a quick second”) – and felt like a complete idiot. I finally had a chance to meet Gail, and I was tongue-tied.

It felt like an eternity; but it was probably a maximum of three seconds, until I said, “Hi, Gail, it’s Mindy Newell.” (Like I was on the phone or something.) I think I stuck out my hand for a shake and said, “It’s so nice to finally meet you.”

She just stared at me. I thought I had done something wrong, so I think I said, “Well, I don’t want to hold anybody up,” and left.

Then, yesterday, I found this on my Facebook page:


Gail Simone

21 hrs ·

https://www.facebook.com/mindy.newell.35

It was lovely to meet the legendary Mindy Newell briefly at my table at NYCC.

She’s the REAL first acknowledged writer of the Wonder Woman ongoing title

(something I get routinely, but incorrectly, credited as being).

She’s a huge inspiration and a lovely person, and when she came to meet me at my table I was too overwhelmed to do much more than just gasp out a hello.

But she’s a legend and I adore her!

Honestly, guys, the last thing I think of myself as is “legendary.” Legends in the comic books industry, to me, are people like Stan Lee, or Jack Kirby, or Steve Ditko. Or Neil Gaiman, or Marv Wolfman. Or George Pérez, or Alan Moore, or Karen Berger. (And yes, you, too, Mike Gold, as I kiss up to my editor here at ComicMix *smile*.) To me, it is absolutely incredible that I even know these people. Or worked with some of them. Or can call so many of them, and others, friends. Or that I knew and worked with Julie Schwartz, whom my daughter still remembers giving her pink sucking candies from the jar on his file cabinet in his office. Or Len Wein, who actually invited me to a poker game where sat around the table people who had only been names on a splash page before. Or Mark Gruenwald, who always made me laugh and actually hired me to work at Marvel.

Legendary?

I’ll tell you a secret.

Sometimes I feel like a fake. A fool. An illusionist.

Someone who didn’t try hard enough. Someone who gave up too easily.

Yeah, it’s easy to say, “I suffered, and still do, from chronic depression syndrome.” It’s easy to say, “I had a daughter to raise.” It’s easy to say, “I needed a job with benefits and a regular paycheck.” It’s easy to say, “I didn’t have any support.”

That’s not what legends say.

That’s what cowards say.

Legendary?

That would be Gail Simone.

Mindy Newell: The Letter

Is being the target of an uncouth, offensive, foul, and vulgar letter the same as being sexually harassed?

At the time it occurred – let me do the math here, hang on… okay, it was 29 years ago – I didn’t think so, because I thought of sexual harassment as being defined as (a) some goon putting his unwanted hands and other parts of his body on me; (b) the classic quid pro quo scenario of a sexual favor being demanded in return for professional advancement; and (c) something that happens face-to-face, as when, waaaay back in time when I was 19 and working as a receptionist in a Wall Street firm, the VP of my department called me into his office as I was doing my mail rounds and told me that “everyone” was talking about my sweater:

“What’s wrong with my sweater?” I asked him, trying to brazen it out. “Too informal?”

No, he said.

Too tight?” I asked, thinking of Lana Turner, the original “sweater girl,” in an attempt to dare him to say yes.

No, he said.

I was stumped. What the hell was he getting at?

It’s what on it, he said.

I looked down at my sweater, which was extremely fashionable for 1972 – I’ve always been a fashionista – when animal prints on sweaters were all the rage. “You mean the cat?”

He stared at me a few seconds, and then…

“I mean the pussy.”

I didn’t really know how to handle it. I just looked at him, then turned and went back to my desk. The only thing I did that day was to tell another girl about it; all she said was, “Don’t let it bother you. He’s a prick.”

But I didn’t go back to work the next day. I told my parents that I quit, without telling them why, which of course led to a big fight and hurtful words about me and my abilities and work ethics, and to me sitting in my bedroom, disconsolate and believing that I had let everybody down, including myself.

Years and years later, as an adult who had matured into the “F-bombing” woman I am today, I brought up the incident with my parents. All was cleared up, and my father said that I should have (1) kicked the guy in his balls, and then (2) called human resources. My mother scoffed, and said, “HR wouldn’t have done a thing.” She was a wise woman.

•     •     •     •     •

Anyway, about that letter:

It was from someone in the comics industry, and here is an example of what it contained:

“You have no talent. The only reason you get any work is because you come strutting down the hallways in your short skirts and your fishnet stockings and your FMP’s…”

 

There were lots more sentences and accusations. All concerning my sluttiness and inability to construct a sentence. The words filled the front and back of the page. I was horrified. I saw red. I didn’t want this disgusting diatribe in my house, where my 10-year-old daughter lived.

And I was burning mad.

So I burned it.

Yep. Set it on fire, held it over the toilet, and flushed the ashes away.

And I swore that I was finished with anything to do with comics…

Right in the middle of a project.

I didn’t call anybody. I didn’t do anything. I don’t remember even telling my friend and co-worker, Karen Berger.

I don’t exactly remember how long it was. Maybe a few days. Maybe a week. Maybe two. I didn’t write a thing.

And then I got a call from Dick Giordano, who invited me to lunch at the Top of the Sixes. I told him it didn’t matter, that I was through – but it was Dick, and he was always a gentleman to me, and kind, and encouraging, so I agreed.

I don’t remember what Dick ordered, but I had a shrimp cocktail. And we talked.

He asked me if I still had the letter.

I looked down at my plate, then looked up at him.

“I burned it.”

Without the letter, he said, he couldn’t do anything. I said, “I know, and I know it was a stupid thing to do, but I couldn’t have that thing in my house.” Dick got it.

He asked me to finish the project. He talked about professionalism and how there were other people depending on me. He talked about my future in the industry. He talked about how I would regret walking away. How, ultimately, it would hurt me, while the perpetrator would continue on his merry way.

I finished it. For Dick. And for myself.

•     •     •     •     •

And no, it wasn’t Len Wein, may HaShem grant his soul peace and bless his family. It wasn’t Bob Greenberger or Julie Schwartz or Marv Wolfman or Alan Gold. It wasn’t Sal Amendola. It wasn’t Mike Gold or Andy Helfer.

But I know who it was, and so does he.

•     •     •     •     •

So, is being the target of an uncouth, offensive, foul, and vulgar letter the same as being sexually harassed?

29 years ago, I didn’t think so.

29 years later?

Hell, yeah.

And 29 years later, I’m still waiting for an apology, and a thank you.

An apology for that piece of drek.

A thank-you for burning that letter…

Instead of your career.

Mindy Newell: Single Jewish Woman?

Mindy Newell: Single Jewish Woman?

“Mindy Newell (veteran of Wonder Woman, Daredevil, and just about everything else) noted that she originally thought ‘SJW’ stood for ‘Single Jewish Woman.’” • Comics for Causes: Planned Parenthood at the New York Comic Con • John Odum • Bleeding Cool, October 7, 2017

At my family’s celebration of Rosh Hashanah – Food! Lots and lots of food! And much imbibing of the alcohol of your choice! – shortly after 9/11, the conversation that we all had been avoiding finally arrived with the dessert and coffee. A lot of anger, a lot of sadness, a lot of fear, but no historical context until I opened my big mouth:

“This is what happens after nearly 100 years of the West treating the Middle East like pieces on a chessboard.”

Silence. My father is shaking his head.

“Hello,” I said. “The break-up of the Ottoman Empire? The Sykes-Picot agreement? Ignoring, discounting, millions of people with their own history, their own ethnic and religious and tribal identities?”

“You’re not excusing what they did, are you?” someone said in astonishment and horror.

No fucking way! But, and I’m sorry, guys, we are not innocent in any of this, either.”

A fight was about to start, but someone, I think it was my cousin, quickly changed the subject.

Later on, driving home in the car, everybody else fast asleep in the back seat, my dad said, “When are you going to learn to keep your mouth shut?”

“You don’t think I’m right?”

“You were absolutely right.

“So?”

“Just don’t say it at work or anywhere else. People don’t want to hear it.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I know.”

I’d like to say that I listened to my dad, who was a very smart man, but *sigh* I guess it’s still a work in progress. I have a very hard time “keeping my mouth shut,” even at work, especially when I get fired up.

And, oh, boy, was I fired up on Saturday at the NYCC, where I was part of the Comics for Causes: Planned Parenthood panel to inform and also celebrate the coming publication of the Mine!: A Celebration of Freedom and Liberty anthology put into production through fellow ComicMixers Joe Corallo and Molly Jackson to benefit the Planned Parenthood organization, which is now being attacked more brutally than I can ever remember, and is in very serious danger of being defunded by “you-know-who” and “you-know-who”’s administration and the Repugnanticans. (Just a week ago today, Tuesday, Oct 3, the Repugnantican-controlled Senate passed this, ignoring the law of the land that Roe vs. Wade has become.

Nobody counted, but my use of F-bombs might have set a record at this NYCC, and quite possibly every other comics convention on record. John Odum of Bleeding Cool even made note of it here. First time I’ve ever made it into Bleeding Cool… as far as I know.

I’m not apologizing. I meant every single one of those F-bombs. I meant every single thing I said.

My dad must be spinning in his grave. But I also know that he’s also proudly thinking:

“That’s my Mindela.”

Mindy Newell: Charm City

I spent last weekend at the Baltimore Comic-Con with my niece, Isabel, in all her cosplay glory: not just one, but three terrific outfits. Oh, yeah, also in attendance were ComicMixers Mike Gold, Joe Corallo, Glenn Hauman, Evelyn Kriete, and Emily S. Whitten (Denny O’Neil had to cancel). Unfortunately, Isabel and cosplayer supreme Emily never had a chance to meet because whenever Emily showed up, Iz was off checking out the con and also spending her aunt’s money. (How much of her aunt’s money? Let’s just say that I am a very indulgent aunt. *smile*)

Izzy and I only made it to one panel. I don’t remember the exact name because I am old and getting older – though my ego was boosted when more than one person I met that weekend took me for 14 years younger – but it was about industry women and their opinions on where the industry is today and where it’s headed. The topic turned to comic book shops and the unfortunately still ubiquitous problem of fan boys (and I do mean “fan boys” in an insulting manner) unable to deal with OMG!!!! There’s a creature with two enormous growths on its chest!!!! in the store.

Auntie Mindy was plotzing as Isabel added her opinion to the discussion, comparing her own experiences with bullying by classmates for her love of comics and gaming to the unhappy experiences of many of the women in the audience who talked about what they encounter when they enter their local “He-Man Women Haters Club.”   

I also must admit that, although I have been the subject of bullying (as I mentioned in a previous column), I’ve never experienced it in a comic book store; have never even thought about it, to tell you the truth. Either I have been very lucky in my choices of where I bring my business, or the fact that comics emporia became a fact of comics reading life when I was already an adult prevented the “fan boys” from daring to open their mouths to me.

I also should admit that I don’t really understand the women who let it bother them – as I said at the panel, “to paraphrase Bryant Gumbel or Bob Costas on their show(s) talking about sports, the only color that matters is green. As in $$$$.” In other words, it’s a really stupid proprietor who makes a customer feel, at the very least, uncomfortable, in his store.

I also want to publicly apologize to the lovely young woman who was sitting a couple of rows behind me to whom I think I was rather rude. She was recounting the time when she went into a comic book store and some jackass said to her, “I’ve never seen a woman in her before” (I may be paraphrasing – again, my brain is hijacked), and how it made her feel so uncomfortable.  I turned around to her and said, “And then you say, ‘Well, now you have.’” I guess you had to be there – I said it with a lot of snarkiness – she kinda blinked. I think I apologized to her, but, anyway, I don’t know if she reads this column, but it’s been bothering me, so I wanted to put it out there. I’m sorry, lovely young woman with black hair. I was really rude. In fact, I think I was guilty of a bit of bullying myself.

Other than that, Izzy and I had a great time. In fact, I would say that a good time was had by all.

Except… for the drive home. When the Giants demonstrated the axiom “no guts, no glory,” after blowing a 21-point lead and they chose to punt instead of going for it on a 4th and 1, allowing the Eagles and rookie Jake Elliot to drill a 61-yeard field goal as time expired.

That really sucked.

P.S.: As I write this, the Giants are down 5, 14 – 22, to the Buccaneers. There is 3:22 left in the game. Gi’nts just called a time-out. Will it be 0 and 4, or 1 and 3?

 

Mindy Newell: Outlander, The Scot, The Sassenach                 

July 9, 2016.

Droughtlander begins with the airing of the Season 2 finale, “Dragonfly in Amber.” Somehow millions of fans around the world must satisfy their continuing hunger for the Starz adaptation of author Diana Gabaldon’s book series that started with Outlander, first published way back in 1991.

Centering on the love story between 20th century Royal Army nurse Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) and 18th century Scottish Highlander James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser, it encompassed the lead-up and beginning of the 1745 Jacobite Rising which climaxed in the final defeat of the Stewart claim to the British throne at Culloden Moor and the end of the Highland clan culture.

Interjection: Prime Minister David Cameron delayed the premiere of Outlander before the referendum on Scottish independence, so worried was he over its influence.

The millions of fans – and I am one of them – had to slate their hunger for more, more, more! through rereading the books (up to eight now, not counting the “sideways” shorter novels, novellas, and short stories, with Ms. Gabaldon hard at work on the ninth), rewatching Seasons 1 and 2 ad infinitum, relistening to podcasts (there are so many, but 31 are recommended here), and endless discussions on message boards and chat rooms.

Outlander had a built-in audience when it premiered on Starz on August 9, 2014, but, like me, I think many, many tuned in because of the involvement of Ronald D. Moore, who had ultra-successfully rebooted Battlestar Galactica for the Sci-Fi channel (now horribly called, im-not-so-ho, SyFy) and who had “made his bones” writing for Star Trek: The Next Generation (first episode: Season 3’s “The Bonding”), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (writer and co-executive producer), and Star Trek: Voyager. He was also a consultant on the HBO series Carnivale, where he met Terry Dresbach, the costume designer. Here’s a great article about the couple from the New York Times.

Neither Ron nor Terry have disappointed.

The final episode of Season 2, the aforementioned “Dragonfly in Amber,” ended with the Battle of Culloden about to start. Jamie, believing that he will die in that battle, forced Claire, who is pregnant, to return to the 20th century (in one of the most heartbreaking scenes I’ve ever seen) for the sake of their unborn child, whom Claire will raise with her 20th-century husband, Frank. It also jumped ahead to 1968; Frank has died, and Claire and her child, now a 20 year-old young woman named Brianna, have returned to Scotland, where Brianna (named after Jamie’s father) discovers the truth of her heritage…

And Claire discovers that Jamie did not die that day on the moor.

Will she go back?

September 10, 2017.

Season 3 of Outlander premiered.

Droughtlander is over.

And last night, September 17, the story continued.

•     •     •     •     •

Next weekend, September 22 – 24, is the Baltimore Comic-Con. ComicMixers Mike Gold, Glenn Hauman, Joe Corallo, Evelyn Kriete and Emily Whitten. And I’ll be there as well!

But because I’m not sure if I’m working on Friday – yes, I’m back at work, though I’m wearing an ankle brace – if you’re looking for me, I may not be at the until Saturday. With my niece Isabel – OMG, she’s 17!?? How did that happen!? – who has discovered the joys of comic conventioneering and cosplay. I am so excited to be able to share my love of the medium with Izzy!

•     •     •     •     •

A giant and heartfelt thank you to everybody who contributed and made Mine!: A Celebration of Freedom & Liberty Benefitting Planned Parenthood possible.

You did it!!!!

Mindy Newell: Days Of Yore

Presenting two real-life stories from my days of yore, although names have been changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty.

Story The First:

I knew a girl in high school – I wouldn’t say we were friends, but she was someone who had never participated in the Piggy horrors. Sally was an A+ student, on the track to an Ivy League school. Pretty (but not gorgeous) and popular (but quiet about it), she came to me one day and said that she needed to talk to me privately. I was surprised… and a bit suspicious. What did she want? But because Sally had never been overtly mean to me, even though she was part of the clique that instigated most of the callous cruelties upon me, and because I still hoped to be “accepted,” and I wanted to believe for some reason she was about to warn me of some new devilishness about to be inflicted on me – forewarned was forearmed – I agreed. But it had nothing to do with me at all.

Sally was pregnant.

I was, frankly, shocked. Not just about what she said, but also because I was thinking, why are you telling me?

She seemed to be reading my mind about that last part. “I can’t tell Laura, or Toni, or anybody. It would be all over the school in a second. You know how they are.”

Did I ever. Still –

“But they’re your friends.”

All she said was, “I made an appointment with Planned Parenthood in the city. Will you come with me?”

I know exactly why I said “yes.” Out of kindness, certainly. But to be totally honest, I also thought that this could be a way in. Hey, whaddya want? I was a teenager.

We had to cut school the day of her appointment. I met her at the corner bus stop, about an hour after classes started. Sally was very quiet, she didn’t say anything, but I remember she was very pale. As for me, I was sure I would see my father in his car on the way to work. I wasn’t so worried about my mom – I knew she was already at the hospital, where she worked in the ER. At any rate, both of us were very nervous and impatient, waiting for that bus to the PATH train into the city.

At the time – September 1971 – there was a Planned Parenthood in Manhattan on First Avenue between 21st and 20th Streets.  I guess – and I don’t blame her – that Sally made the appointment there rather than the one in Jersey City because Jersey City is too close to Bayonne… too close for comfort. Anyway, I don’t know what either of us was expecting, but it was modern and clean and the staff was professional, kind, and, most importantly, totally non-judgmental.

Sally’s name was called. I sat in the waiting room. It seemed like a long time, but the receptionist at the desk assured me everything was fine when I asked.

Interjection – as an RN in the operating room, I can tell you that the actual procedure takes very little time, especially in the first trimester [as Sally was]. Frequently I’m not even done with my charting before it’s over and I have to assist in transferring the patient to the PACU (Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, commonly referred to as the Recovery Room). Most of the intraoperative period is taken up with other things involved in any visit to the OR – anesthesia induction, proper and safe positioning, emergence from anesthesia, transfer to PACU, and monitoring in the PACU, which lasts about an hour or so on average, until discharge.)

Afterwards, as we had planned, we used our pooled resources and took a cab home. This was well before Uber or Lyft. Sally didn’t’ say much except to complain about some cramping – totally normal, btw – but the “worry” was off her face; she was visibly relieved. The cab dropped us off about a block from her house; I walked her home, and before she went inside, she turned and said: “See you in school tomorrow.”

No, we didn’t become best friends after that; things pretty much went back to normal, actually. Hey, we were teenagers, and there were rules of engagement. But I do remember that Sally was never around when it was time to “play Piggy with Mindy.

Sally went on to graduate in the top 25 of a class numbering 750 (I finished 145) and went on to that Ivy League school. I didn’t see her much after high school, a couple of parties and a reunion or two at the Jewish Community Center. I don’t even know what she went on to become as an adult, though I’ve heard she was “successful and happy.”

Story The Second:

Jack and Jill were my high school’s dream team. Every high school has one. Jack was the champion quarterback. Jill was the head cheerleader. Jack was the president of the Student Union. Jill was the editor of the school newspaper. Both had bright futures. Early admission to the colleges of their choice, with Jack receiving a full scholarship based on his football prowess to a Big Ten school, and Jill planning on majoring in journalism at NYU.

They were great people.

And they never treated anybody like Piggy.

Anyway, sometime in the late fall of our senior year, after the Thanksgiving holiday, Jill suddenly disappeared from the school hallways. First, we heard that she was sick with mononucleosis (the “kissing disease,” as it used to be called), but as January became March, rumors began spreading, rumors having to do with pregnancy and forced marriages. Especially after Jack dropped out – two months before graduation.

The truth broke free, as truth is apt to do, sometime in the fall of 1971. During the Christmas break when everybody came home from college, it was the talk of the town, the bars, and the parties.

Jill had become pregnant, and, since back in those stupid days, girls “in the family way” were not allowed to finish high school, she had been forced to leave under the cover of the mononucleosis story, though she refused to go to one of those “homes for fallen women” or whatever they were called. (Do they still exist?)  Her parents had gotten her a tutor so she could finish her high school degree, but not only had she disappeared from the school hallways, Jill had also been confined to the house to “hide her shame.”

Worse, when Jill wanted to go to Planned Parenthood for advice – and advice only – her parents would not allow it. They were very observant Catholics and the name Planned Parenthood was as abhorrent as the name Judas Iscariot. Jill’s pregnancy was treated as if it were a monstrous sin.

She had also finally admitted that Jack was the father because her father had beaten it out of her. Her father then called his father, and they decided that Jack and Jill would get married right away.

And in 1971, not only could you not be pregnant in high school, you couldn’t be married, either; which meant that Jack had to drop out, too, meaning, of course, that he lost his football scholarship and any hope for college. And in case you’re wondering – no college for Jill, either.

Of course, there was always the future, but…

After they got married and Jill had the baby, and Jack got some kind of job, nothing much, he started drinking. Drinking hard. And doing drugs. Hard drugs.

And that’s how the story stood that Christmas break, the last week of 1971.

But it didn’t end there. About 10 years later I met one of Jill’s cousins at the mall. We got to talking about high school, and eventually – of course – Jack and Jill came up. I’ll never forget that conversation.

Jack’s downward spiral had continued. He lost one job after another. The drinking continued, and he was chippinghttp://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=chipping on some weekends, too.

Then he started abusing Jill, and it hadn’t stopped.

“But Jill was always so smart. Why doesn’t she leave?” I said.

“Jesus,” her cousin said.

“Jesus?”

“Jill’s become really religious. That’s why she won’t leave. I think she thinks she’s atoning for getting pregnant and fucking up Jack’s football scholarship. “

“Jesus.”

“Yep.”

That was the last time I ever heard about Jack and Jill. I have no idea what happened to them. Or their kids.

•     •     •     •     •

As if this writing (Sunday, September 10) there are five days to reach the $50,000 goal to produce Mine!: A Celebration of Freedom & Liberty Benefitting Planned Parenthood. We are almost but not quite there.

And, look, guys, I get it. This has been a summer and early fall of donating funds. I understand it’s a matter of priorities. I get the feeling of being “donated out,” too. And our hearts go out to the many caught up in the current round of hurricanes.

Even if it’s just $5, hell, even if’s just a $1, just think about what Bernie Sanders accomplished with an average of $27 to his campaign.

When people think of Planned Parenthood, they think “abortion.” But I’m telling you, and now I am speaking to you as a member of the professional healthcare community, the organization does so much more: Counseling and cancer screenings and preventative and maintenance health care. For women and for men.

The anthology features work by:

 And even more.

Just do it, okay? Because one day, you or yours could be just like Sally or Jack and Jill. Because, just when you or yours need it, Planned Parenthood could be gone.

Don’t let that happen.