Category: Columns

Michael Davis: Milestone is Dead 2: Long Live Milestone

This article processes some hard truths many won’t like.

The first part of this narrative, Milestone Is Dead, got a lot of people talking.

Nothing and I mean nothing in that article was new. I’ve written about what and why I thought the holdup at Milestone was many times. The only thing that was new was the title.

Every move Milestone has made I’ve predicted beforehand, and done so in writing.

But as always put a new spin on an old point, and people see something bright and shiny and want to play with it.

NOW people are paying attention.

Paying attention to see whether or not I’m going to throw more shade at my former partners. I didn’t throw any in the first place. I told the truth Milestone 2.0 formed almost seven years ago, and there are no books.

Milestone is dead for four reasons.

Three I wrote about.

  1. Except for Denys Cowan comics are not a priority for the partners.
  2. Corporate bullshit.
  3. Milestone has no infrastructure.

Here’s reason number four and the biggest reason Milestone is dead and will remain dead:

  1. Dwayne McDuffie is gone.

Milestone died the moment Dwayne went to pitch God a story.

Dwayne McDuffie left us much, but the magic that was Milestone Media is gone forever. Hope makes us think it can live again.

It can’t.

Years ago, when I heard my favorite toy from my youth Captain Action was to be recreated by Playing Mantis Toys, waves of nostalgia hit me. The day couldn’t come fast enough for me to own one.

When that day came, driving to Toys R Us, my reminiscence of playing with Captain Action when I was six years old transported me there in my mind. When I arrived home, I made a place to display my new Caption Action next to the original.

My original surrounded by a Lucite box the regeneration taken out of its box posed to stand on its own. Gone was my six-year-old self, taken away by the realization you can’t go home again. I was a middle-aged man. Captain Action was a toy, an action figure, and to those who don’t share my nerd ways, a doll.

Like George Webber in the Chet Baker novel, I found out the hard way; you can’t replace the memory with reality. That moment in time did what moments in time do.

They pass.

I doubt if those who were there during the heyday of Milestone Media will ever stop wanting those days to return magically. Alas like respect for Vanilla Ice those days are gone forever.

MILESTONE IS DEAD.

There’s a chance new readers could experience that magic. Everything old is new again and if not seen before it’s brand new.

LONG LIVE MILESTONE.

Enter Milestone 2.0— but well before 2015 when the was announcement was made.

Milestone Media was poised to return in 2000. Bob Johnson, the former owner and CEO Black Entertainment Television, was ready to do it. I put the deal together, but when it became apparent one partner was not wanted I didn’t do the deal I said then; “If not all of us, none of us.”

M2.0 was poised to debut at San Diego Comic-Con International in 2013. SDCC was to honor Milestone’s for our 20th Anniversary. Derek Dingle was not invited nor remembered. I told Comic Con we would pass if Derek wasn’t involved. “If not all of us, none of us.”

Those two examples should tell people who I am.

There are those who believe me a troubled man ripe with problems, using only my perceived brashness as evidence. Perception isn’t evidence— it’s opinion.

A Misguided perception can quickly become a reality. Spreading opinion as fact rarely helps and aimed at a person long enough can do some serious damage.

No doubt some people reading this are still under the impression that Dwayne McDuffie created Milestone. He didn’t nor was he Milestone’s first Editor and Chief. Denys Cowan created Milestone, and I was there at that very moment he came up with the idea and co-signed.

Make no mistake: Dwayne was the heart and soul of our company. Nobody was more Milestone than Dwayne.

Except for perhaps Dwayne, no one has done more to keep Milestone alive in the eyes of the public than I. Since his passing I’ve done more to keep Milestone viable than all the other partners combined.

That’s a well-documented fact, but why bring it up now?

Because the perception that I had little to do with Milestone by some taints others into believing that. I’ve said this many time I don’t let people define my brand or me with lies.

Milestone’s history, my history is important to this narrative.

I’ve stated Milestone of old is dead. What about Milestone NOW?

Milestone will publish.

Milestone will be embraced by the fans.

Milestone will fail.

Many retailers see those characters as ‘Black’ only. They aren’t, but DC will make no attempts to counter that. I don’t blame DC— it’s too risky a play, especially when they don’t own the Milestone characters.

If I’m correct, Milestone will try and get DC to handle the heavy lifting. That’s schedule, dealing with Diamond, editorial checks, and balances or put another way Milestone’s infrastructure.

I have no way of knowing but if faced with that DC may just balk. I would. Why on earth would DC devote the workforce to handle the shitty little details for characters they don’t own?

OK—let’s say they assign a team to handle Milestone’s infrastructure. No way in hell will that team works only on Milestone stuff.

Why?

Every move in any corporation has a cost to it. The cost of a DC team doing nothing but Milestone work is a non-starter. That team must come from Milestone; if such a group existed now there would be books. There are no books. If it’s a DC team, they will have to have Milestone added to their existing workload.

That’s a HUGE problem for two MASSIVE reasons.

  1. When faced with what’s important, DC will always get the nod. ALWAYS.
  2. Resentment.

Here’s some of that truth some won’t like: Milestone’s infrastructure went away when I did. I’ve produced three major universes since Milestone.

The other partners combined?

ZERO.

Motown Machineworks: Used as ‘illustrated concepts’ Machineworks books were mini-series canceled when sold into another medium. Law: Man, Against Time, was sold to FOX. Casual Heroes optioned by the Cartoon Network. Alas, all these deals died when Motown’s parent company at the time Polygram decided Motown should return to the core business. That’s OK those concepts reverted to me and in the case of Causal Heroes, Kevin McCarthy and me.

Publisher: Image.

The Action Files: Created and developed by Simon & Schuster (S&S) as a high-interest low-level reading program the Action Files (AF) has since moved to Pearson Learning and is the only curriculum based comic book program taught in the schools.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster & Pearson Learning

The Guardian Line: Created as a vehicle to reach young African Americans within the church and home. They did not preach or talk down to the reader.

They did contain good vs. evil value lessons as does the clear majority of all superhero comics.

Fun Fact: The books were killed in the direct market. Retailers saw them as preachy and corny. As I said they were not, but once again perception dictated the mindset, so retailors played it safe. The publisher is Urban Ministries Inc.(UMI) a Black Christian publisher and despite how the books looked (like DC and Marvel) and read (Like Image and Dark Horse) retailors stayed away.

My pitch for the Guardian Line was: imagine the film Devil’s Advocate but with superheroes.

Why is ‘killed in the direct market’ a fun fact? UMI is the biggest Black media company in America. They control because they own their distribution channels. They don’t need the direct market to sell over a million copies of the line. That, according to CEO Jeffery Wright, is a “low guesstimate”— he was in transit so he couldn’t give me exact figures. No outside advertising or marketing; all sales were generated via UMI’s database.

No idea what the numbers are on the Action Files. They must be massive because there is now a non-teacher guide version available on Amazon. The Action Files books have been in the schools for over twenty years. The Guardian Line celebrated its 10th last year.

Fun Fact: I hate the way those books look and read. They were ridiculously over art directed by people on the publisher’s side with NO CLUE how to do comics. I could not stand to see my creation butchered so I parted ways with Simon & Schuster on that project only to return on another sometime later.

When Pearson (the world’s biggest educational publisher) brought the S&S education imprints, I opened talks with them to revamp the series then I got sick and had to abandon all my creative endeavors for a while. I’m better now not perfect, but the revamp is going to happen.

MILESTONE IS DEAD. That’s the Milestone of our memory.

LONG LIVE MILESTONE. The promise of what a new Milestone Media can mean to our future.

Here are my bottom line recap and summary.

The old Milestone is dead the new Milestone has a chance to build on its legacy. That will not happen by repeating the errors of the past and not acknowledging the power of the retailors and the love of our fans. Retailers do much more than order books. They engage the fans Milestone must engage them.

Years with no news isn’t the way to engage anyone and to expect perceptions to change without reaching out to both fans and retailors frequently is just plain arrogance and stupid. Those guys are far from stupid so whatever the reason for their silence I hope they fix it and fast.

In my opinion, Milestone needs the following:

  • Mainstream distribution beyond Diamond directly into areas DC can’t reach.
  • Specialized distribution into areas that will generate additional revenue.
  • Self-contained infrastructure.
  • Access to new talent.
  • A forum that champions their message and destroys perceptions.
  • Funding resources.

Just so happens I know a guy with distribution beyond Diamond directly into areas DC can’t reach such as the Black church household and school system. This guy also has the following:

Self-contained infrastructure.

Access to some of the biggest talent in the business via Bad Boy Studios.

The Black Panel the leading pop culture forum specializing in diversity columns in Bleeding Cool, Comicmix, and his popular returning website.

Unmatched Resources and access to significant funding.

There you go, haters, I just gave you a gift, written proof that it’s all about ME because the above list is all me.

Pop Quiz:

  • Q. Treated like I’ve been why on earth would I offer any insight, assistant or help?
  • A. Here’s why it’s not about me (haters go fuck yourselves) it’s about Milestone, and it’s about love.

These two-part series are written with love— there is no malice in my heart, not anymore. I love what Milestone was and what it could be. This is an offer to help because I don’t want Milestone to fail.

All the partners must do is look at my actions as well as what’s written and more importantly what I haven’t written over the last few years.

All this may be moot. Milestone’s play may just be film and television, in that case, all they need is Reggie Hudlin and his impressive resume. There’s a genuine chance none of what I wrote is anywhere near accurate.

Here’s what’s not in dispute; the point of Milestone was to bring in readers who were not being represented. I’ve not only done that but done so in markets any sane publisher would embrace.

The following is for the partners:

I take DC at their word there is no ill will between us. There exists no business reason to avoid my help from their side. I know there is no business reason at Milestone.

If there’s issue with my loudness that’s an issue you’re going to have to own. No disrespect but I’ve been vetted by giants in both the African American and Latino media space a lot bigger than Milestone, the company I helped found.

Low overhead and high revenue are the voice they listen to most days. They also hear the voices of loyalty integrity and purpose.

In other words: yes, I’m loud, but I’m brilliant according to more than a few CEO’s.

Milestone is still the greatest African American comic book company that ever was. You don’t need me to make it more awesome, but you certainly need a guy like me.

Good luck with that.

Denys, you more than anyone know why this is perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever written. The haters will concentrate on this line: Milestone will fail.

Milestone won’t fail.

Regardless of what I write or do. Milestone won’t fail regardless or my involvement or not. Milestone won’t fail even if the upcoming launch falters.

Milestone is you, my friend, and you will not let it.

I write an opinion column, that’s all this is.

No one can do what you can and no one ever will.

Just remember: at 4 am in the morning if you miss the Q111 at Jamaica Avenue, look for the car with the brick in the window.

He’ll take you home.

Marc Alan Fishman and the Rise of the Meninists

Meninist: A (satirical) belief showing the hypocrisy of first world feminism by flipping the sexes and complaining about men’s rights in a similar way to what first world feminists do.

Tip of the hat to ComicMix’s Adriane Nash for introducing me to the term via her always well-observed, vitriolic Facebook posts where she often denotes an active war being fought against stupidity – not just against meninists, but idiots from all genders and persuasions. And a polite nod to my comic book compatriot Danny Limor for the inspiration this week.

Is there something in the water these days? With DC finally enjoying both fan praise and box office dollars with the release of Wonder Woman, there’s been a definitive rise in the empowerment of women – if not in actual practice certainly at least via mentions and discussions on all the social feeds I frequent. And everyone is rightfully justified in the celebration of women. Wonder Woman was a phenomenal accomplishment – not because it is a well-written movie that is helmed stem to stern by a woman, but because it was finally a DC release that didn’t rely solely on gritty destruction and seething angst. It was a celebration of compassion and love – two concepts missing from anything else produced by the studio to date.

In our post-modern world, what is loved must also be reviled by the counter-masses. Hence the coined term at the beginning of this article. My feed has been popped here and there with “WTF” posts linking to articles that complain about Gal Gadot’s minuscule paycheck, screeds that posit Warner Bros installed some kind of glass ceiling to prevent the movie from succeeding, to backlash for having the utter gall to offer a presser of the movie to just women. It’s enough to drive me to carve out my Y chromosome in disgust.

Wonder Woman aside, the meninist agenda even crept its way into professional wrestling. At the Money In the Bank pay-per-view not a week back, a history-making titular ladder match specifically booked with just female performers was won by a man. The goal, clearly, to elicit heel heat – unabashed anger against the villains – but transparent enough to be unaccepted by smart fans. It was evident from the finish of the match that Vince McMahon’s creative team sought to be protective of their female talent, but in doing so missed the very point they celebrated with a video package pre-match! To have specifically called out that this was the first time the Money In the Bank Ladder match would have all female participants… only to cause the victor (The Queen of Staten Island, Carmella) to claim her prize by way of a male manager, reduces history to something fans will pray for retconning.

For those following along, the WWE heard the backlash loud and clear and stripped their superstar of her newly-acquired briefcase of doom. But much like the butthurt bloggers denied access to the all-lady Wonder Woman screening, it comes as too little, too late.

So, what gives? For every victory, there is defeat. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, but seemingly everyone these days feels compelled to take a side – creating these now more vocal outliers who decry things that need no opposition. Wonder Woman was fantastic. The WWE’s female divisions – that’s right they have enough talent to field no fewer than three decent rosters full of femmes fatale – have literally never been more capable and captivating. To see a group of men who actively shun these things puts a knot in my stomach right next to the one formed by Trump supporters.

Women writ-large face a tougher time garnering the same riches (be it fame, fortune, or good old-fashioned respect). It’s a proven fact. One so well documented, I need not even provide you with an errant Google link’s worth of response. It doesn’t matter to a select few idiots, who thanks to the internet whose voice now carries louder and larger than ever necessary.

To proclaim the victories of women as an unbalancing is as absurd as electing a four-time bankruptee to the highest position of governing…

Nevermind. This is why we can’t have nice things, my fellow nerds.

Martha Thomases: Comic Books – Adapt or Die!

We talk about diversity a lot here at ComicMix, partly because it is often in the news, but mostly because it’s an interesting topic. Comics, like most popular entertainment, have generally been most lucrative for straight cis white men, but changes in demographics and delivery have made that less true in recent years. There are now visibly queer, non-binary people of different colors who are also expressing themselves in our medium, sometimes in ways that earn them money.

So I’d like to talk about diversity this week, but not in terms of the politics or the morality. I’m in favor of discussing politics and morality, but that’s not what’s interesting to me right this second. At the moment, I’d like to talk about diversity in terms of capitalism.

Diversity makes money. Just ask Hollywood.

In other words, when we acknowledge that our society has many different facets and sub-cultures, we can fine-tune our marketing strategies to make even more money. In the process, we get more different choices in our entertainment. This “marketplace of ideas” is supposed to be the justification not only for capitalism but the First Amendment as well.

It’s not a perfect system. Hollywood, like so many others (myself included), will often find itself in such a rut of conventional thinking that they miss opportunities that would have enriched our imaginations and their bottom line. Still, the major studios move more quickly than their comic-book counterparts.

For example, in most cases, when an entertainment conglomerate was about to launch a superhero movie franchise in which they had invested hundreds of millions of dollars, they would do everything they could to arouse curiosity about the project. However, even though Marvel’s Black Panther film is coming out next February (Black History Month) and the trailer for it has been seen almost 100 million times online, the interest in the character has not been sufficient for the publishing side of the business. The World of Wakanda, written by the best-selling author Roxane Gay, was recently canceled, and it is not certain that a trade collection will be published.

Even if the single issues weren’t profitable, one would think the loss they caused would be just a small fraction of the total marketing budget for the character. And, in the meantime, people who were intrigued about the writer because she had just appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah would be able to find something that might turn them into comic book readers.

Comics don’t market like that. Marvel and DC own characters, not writers. In general, they see no incentive to promote a writer, especially one who hasn’t been brought to the public’s attention by comic book publishers. There are exceptions (Ta-Nehisi Coates, for example), but they are few and far between.

Comic book marketing needs to change, along with comic book publishing and comic book retailing. I don’t know what it’s going to take for that to happen, but we must adapt or die. All retail businesses must do this.

If you read a link above, it’s about how Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods might change the retail experience beyond simply Amazon and Whole Foods. The kinds of trips to stores we make might change, and our experiences within those stores might change. In some cases, we might interact with humans and in some cases, we might not. Our interactions with other humans might be more personal than simply handing a cashier items to be scanned, and might require conversations about our mutual wants and needs. In the process, the kinds of goods and services offered in stores might change as well.

My pal, Mike Gold, frequently jokes about the impending demise of the bookstore at the hands of Amazon and other online retailers. I appreciate Amazon (no pants required), but I love bookstores of all kinds, and I hope he’s wrong. I like grocery stores, too, although I use them less and less for produce, preferring to shop at my local Green Market. If I’m going to go shopping in a store, I like to make my own choices based on what is in front of me and ask advice from someone whose expertise I believe. This is true whether I’m looking for sugar snap peas or something to read.

In my experience, which I sincerely hope is outdated, comic book publishers tend to think of their market as almost exclusively the direct market. When I worked at DC, if I would suggest a particular idea that would appeal to bookstores, for example, I was told that comic book stores would object to such an action. I understand that comic book stores are the largest customers for the product, but they are not the only customers. In fact, I thought that if I were part of the creative team who hoped to earn royalties, and I found out that a big chunk of potential customers for my work was being dismissed, I would be pretty angry.

Bookstores are bigger customers for comics than they used to be, but the business is still, for the most part, not designed for them. Too many publishers decide what to print solely based on single-issue sales, even though the way to grow the market is to provide products for readers in every format that might be appealing. If this means formats that are more appealing to new readers (like graphic novels instead of serialized fiction), give those a try. Certainly, DC, with its Earth-1 series, seems to be willing to take that tiny little chance.

For the most part, however, corporate entertainment companies, at least those that include comic book publishers, seem determined to not only focus on superhero comics … but only certain kinds of superhero comics. They still target that straight, cis white guy, and in a way that seems, to me, to be guaranteed to turn off anyone else. My FaceBook friend, writer and editor Mariah McCourt, recently posted this (I have edited her post for brevity):

The alt-right sees diversity at Marvel Comics as a betrayal by Jews of the “white race.”

“Possibly the most perennial… “debate” in comics is about the sexualized imagery of female characters. For many decades now the depiction of female comic book characters has relied on sexualized exaggeration through a (mostly) straight male creator lens.

“What I have just said is a fact. It’s not an interpretation or an opinion, it’s a fact. … It’s not just true of comics, although it’s definitely one of the more obvious examples. Fine art also has a history of this, which is why there is the entire method & school of art critique that revolves around the concept of the ‘male gaze.’…

“For years now my issue is not that sexualized art exists, or whether that’s inherently offensive or even sexist. It can be and often is, but art having a sexual nature doesn’t bother me.

“What bothers me is when that is the default state of female characters and people try to deny it, excuse it, or otherwise wriggle around that reality. When they argue that all comic characters are exaggerated, as if there isn’t a significant difference in how and why and by whom and for which audience.

“Comics are a medium, not a genre. You can have sexy sex comics, in which case sexualized characters and art make a lot of sense. That would be a pretty understandable context for them to exist in.

“It makes way less sense, when you think about it objectively, to constantly walk a very fine line between softcore art in what are supposedly “mainstream” comics that do not exist to depict sex. They may contain sex, but they aren’t sex comics. So it’s pretty weird for them to constantly default female characters, and almost exclusively female characters, to exaggerated depictions that are clearly sexualized.

“It is also intellectually dishonest and not even borderline insulting to suggest that comics art cannot be critiqued because it is “not supposed to be realistic”. That is not a valid argument. That is a crappy deflection.

“Plenty of non-comics art is not realistic or exaggerated and it is subject to criticism. Van Gogh, Munch, Picasso. No art is above that. … It exists within the framework of its time, its creator, its intention, its execution, and more. Art does not get a pass. Art is not neutral or stagnant or banal. Or it’s not really art.

“This is all maybe even more true of commercial art, of art that is part of a collective zeitgeist or cultural movements, times, places, and creations.”

Yes, let’s have sexy sex comics. Let’s have comics with stories about adorable puppies and kittens. Let’s have historical comics and science fiction comics and fantasy comics and non-fiction comics. Let’s have graphic memoirs and space operas and unicorns and fighting squadrons. Let’s have biblical comics, Hindu comics, Sharia comics and pagan comics. Let’s have military history and genderqueer confessions.

And then… let’s make those comics available where readers can find them.

Dennis O’Neil: Wonder Woman Gives Peace A Chance

Of arms and the man I sing • Virgil

If high-flyin’ kick-ass jelly is your pleasure, sir or madam, and you haven’t yet seen Wonder Woman, well, skedaddle. Plenty of action there and you can still see it on the big screen, the way god – Zeus? – intended it to be seen. The USA Today movie maven wrote that during the last battle, the CGI seams were showing. Maybe, but I didn’t see them.

But there’s more to the film than excellent mayhem, seamless or otherwise. Melded into the reinvented mythology that constitutes a lot of WW’s backstory is an advocacy for peace. It doesn’t take much screen time and it’s played gently – this isn’t the kind of story that grabs you by the lapels, shakes you and snarls listen to me! But the message is there and it’s one that seldom encountered in mega-entertainments. War is not glorious. Violence is a last resort.

In the movie, WW’s sister warriors learn combat skills only to be able to protect themselves and their home from invasion. World War I is raging in Europe and we see enough of it to demonstrate that the Amazons’ fears are justified. WW is horrified at the carnage – the slaughter of innocents – and that’s why she gets involved. But we are given no reason to believe that she enjoys any of it.

I don’t know if WW’s pacific sentiments are registering with the popcorn crowd.

It’s not an easy sell, this peace stuff, not in a country whose president crows that we must win more wars if America is to be great. (The president adds “again” to the end of the previous sentence, but I’d rather not do that.) Not that we must strive to end the monstrous cruelty that’s war by deploying troops if absolutely necessary and recalling them as soon as possible. No, our Mr. T wants to win more wars which presumably requires starting new wars.

Let’s be fair. War and its glorification is as old as civilization (older if you count the skirmishes that must have occurred among hunter-gatherers.) It’s that ole debbil evolution again. Our ancestors developed an aptitude for savagery because that enabled them to deal with the perils of their world and, incidentally, allowed their descendants to become big cheeses. (Take a bow, you and I.) And much of our earliest narrative art deals with soldiers: you know – Odysseus, Achilles, Aeneas. That crowd.

So here we are and that which enabled us to survive now threatens to destroy us. And judging by the news media, nobody seems interested in even acknowledging the existence of options other than creating shiny new hells for our children to enjoy. Maybe someone will think of a way to make peace seem as desirable as war.

Meanwhile, we’ve got Wonder Woman.

 

Mike Gold: Randomonium™

As I type these words, today is today. Usually, today is yesterday or a day before or so, and if any of our other columnists pulled this stunt I’d be bitching my brains off. But, to paraphrase stand-up philosopher par excellence Mel Brooks, “it’s good to be the king editor.”

I do have an excuse, and a good one at that. I just got back from Manhattan Island where we had a wonderful dinner with the classy part of ComicMix, The Tweeks, a.k.a. Maddy and Anya Ernst. Oh, yeah, their mom Jen was there as well – even in New York City, letting even adult-looking underagers wander about is frowned upon. The “us” part consisted of four members of the ComicMix crew – Tweeks’ producer and associate editor Adriane Nash, columnist Joe Corallo, utility infielder Wizardly Glenn Hauman, along with the amazing Brandy Hauman who hangs around with us to show us what it’s like to have a real job, and the oft-aforementioned geriatric boy editor.

Yeah, that’s my superhero name. Geriatric Boy. It fits me like a glove. And if it don’t fit… But I digress.

We had a wonderful time. Well, at least I did, but I don’t think the others were faking. We stayed so long the restaurant manager sorta suggested they wanted the opportunity to make money off of some other folks. We stood in front of the place jabbering for another hour.

We talked about the stuff you might think a gaggle of ComicMixers would discuss: Star Wars, Doctor Who, food, architecture, theater, improv, opera (a little bit), comics… Jen and I talked about Chicago because that’s what people who lived in Chicago always do. Hell, we do that when we’re only around New Yorkers as well. It seems to annoy the pettier of our east coast clan.

I’m not going to rat anybody out, and I’m certainly not going to discuss Maddy and Anya’s career plans or anything like that. Not only would doing so be rude of me, but I’d also be pre-empting material from The Tweeks’ weekly (if not more often) video blogs. If I did that, Adriane would roll up a copy of the Sunday New York Times and bop me on the nose with it, shouting “bad editor – bad editor.”

Sigh. I hate being a grown-up. Lucky for me, I only do that for a living. And even then, rarely.

Maddy, Anya and Jen live in Orange County, which makes going to that ridiculously overstuffed comic book convention fairly easy – for them. The show is in several weeks, and if you look through the website you can see the high quality of their interviews with celebrities and other people who hire public relations firms. All of them (I believe) are online here at ComicMix, and it’s really fun to watch how they’ve evolved and improved since they started this thing three years ago. When they were eleven. Now, they’re fourteen.

If the Tweeks are any indication, they’re making smarter and more stylish fourteen-year-olds than they did when I was that age. Oh, sure, I was smart all right, but in my case, that word qualified the next word, which was “aleck.”

I’m a big believer in mentoring. Indeed, when it comes to such activity I am a fundamentalist. I’m really proud of Adriane’s work in that regard – and that is the result of her work and not her being my daughter. Which, need I remind you, has been the coolest thing that ever happened to me.

This is not to take anything away from the Tweeks’ parents. Parenting is a different thing from mentoring. Mentors can say “See ya!” when they want to or need to. Parents have their gig forever. I dunno; maybe it’s something to do with “responsibility.”

It was a great evening. It was the reason I really love this job.

Happy summer solstice. If it seems like the longest day of the year… trust your instincts.

 

 

 

 

Joe Corallo: Pat Shand’s Destiny

Back on November 3rd, a much more innocent time, Pat Shand’s Kickstarter campaign for his graphic novel Destiny – NY Volume One: Who I Used To Be was successfully funded. This past Saturday I received my hard copy of the book in the mail and it’s got my name printed in it as a backer and everything! Since I already read Destiny – NY I figured talking about this book and reviewing it would make for a good column this week. If you keep reading past this point, I’ll assume you agree with me.

For those of you who don’t know Pat Shand, he is a writer and an editor with hundreds of comics under his belt as well as multiple novels. Most of his work is over at Zenescope which Pat recently left to focus more on running his new publishing arm, Continuity Entertainment. The first volume of Destiny, NY is the inaugural title.

Written by Pat Shand with art by co-creator Manuel Preitano, letters and design by Jim Campbell and edited by Shannon Lee, Destiny, NY is a slice of life story about a girl who peaked too early in life, and it’s also a story about magic, murder, and conspiracy in a magical school here in NYC.

Without getting into spoilers, Logan McBride is a girl at an odd point in her life. She’s young but feels she’s accomplished the most important thing she ever will years ago. She still attends magic school but feels it’s pointless and has gotten restless. She has a job as a barista which helps, but it’s not where she wants to be. Her ex-girlfriend and fiancé, Bailey, has moved on and is engaged to a man which she made a spectacle of on social media to Logan’s dismay. However, Logan has just met a badass woman named Lilith and Logan’s life is finally starting to have some meaning to her again.

As all of this is happening, Logan’s friend and one-time hookup, Gia, is finding out her destiny at school might just involve ruining Logan’s life. Things aren’t looking too good for Lilith, either.

Now that I got the facts about of the way, let me get to my favorite part: my opinions.

Let me start with the story itself and Pat Shand. I’ve known him for years. He can write a hip story about the young folks that doesn’t feel forced, and he very often writes women as the leads of his stories. And it works for him. You can tell Pat models himself after Joss Whedon or Kieron Gillen in his writing.

In Destiny, NY nearly all the characters of consequence are women. Nearly all of them are queer. And they aren’t all white. That’s important to me and a lot of other people out there. The character of Bailey, while not the most important character in the story, is openly bisexual in a way that’s treated respectfully and avoids characters erasing her queerness and that’s important. Even when Logan is at her maddest, she never questions Bailey’s bisexuality. I cannot stress to you, dear reader, how that is still a rare thing here in 2017.

One of the unique aspects of the story here is how it’s structured. You could argue, as I would, that Logan is a passive protagonist. Her story is more slice of life and she’s constantly reacting to obstacles the story throws at her despite the fact that she’s carrying the A plot. The B plot, carried by Logan’s friend Gia, is about Gia’s destiny which directly affects the A plot and creates what Logan has to react to as a passive protagonist. This is a unique plot structure in print comics, and Pat should be applauded for the breaking the rules a bit here. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure another publisher would pick up this title without notes to change this structure. Luckily Shannon Lee thought it worked.

Now onto Manuel Preitano. The artwork is gorgeous. It’s very tight, crisp and easy to follow. Manuel’s choice to have flashback scenes done as an ink wash while having bold inks in the present works beautifully and is conveyed so well you don’t miss a bit.

There are some absolutely fantastic layouts that deserve the reader’s lingering attention. I will say that I wanted more layouts like that. Because of the nature of the A plot, we get a lot of pages of shot/reverse shot camera angles, people standing around talking, people sitting down talking, and while that doesn’t always work, this is a story about a magical school and comics is an incredibly visual medium. Since this book is done in black and white, the team loses the ability to transform some mundane scenes with color.

I don’t mean to sound like the book is in any way boring; it’s not. I was fully engaged and banged it out quickly. I’d just like to see Manuel Preitano really let loose and go wild, or for the team to more consistently juxtapose the mundane nature of life with the fantastical world of magic.

Jim Campbell’s lettering and designs mix so perfectly with Preitano’s art that they must have a symbiotic relationship. The pages are very easy to read and are very welcoming. Pat likes to write a lot; maybe a little more than in most big-two books. That makes laying out those bubbles even more of a strategy game which is executed very well here. The only critique I would have here is that there are some narration boxes that are lettered in italics and that’s always harder to read and feels unnecessary when it comes up.

All in all, Destiny, NY Volume One: Who I Used To Be, is a fantastic debut from a promising start-up publisher. Pat, Manuel, Jim, and Shannon should all be proud of the work they did. I’m excited to see what they all have in store for us next.

You can pick up your own copy through their storenvy.

Mindy Newell: Disappointment and Delight

This season of Doctor Who just isn’t working for me.

This is imho, of course, and YMMV, but after a great opening episode (The Pilot) I’ve been very disappointed. The stories haven’t excited me, and, more important, the relationship between Pearl Mackie’s Bill Potts and Peter Capaldi’s Doctor doesn’t seem to have moved all that much forward; there isn’t any there there, as Trumpists like to say these days. (Of course I had to get a Trump reference in here. You know me.) It started off great, with hints of something even more brewing.

Why does the Doctor take an interest in the non-matriculated kitchen worker who was attending his lectures? Why did he go out of his way to use the TARDIS to go back in the past to take pictures of Bill’s dead mom – of whom she had no memory – and leave them for her as a present? Does it have something to do with the framed pictures of his granddaughter Susan and his wife River Song on his office desk? For that matter, why did the Doctor install himself as a professor (for the last 50 years?) at a specific Bristol university? Was he secretly keeping a grandfatherly eye on Susan, who had chosen to remain on Earth? Has he been waiting for Bill, knowing that she would be there? (“All of time and space, everything that ever happened or ever will…”)

There are only two more episodes left in Series 10 – three, if you count the Christmas special – and by this time in previous seasons, the Doctor’s relationship with his previous companions – Rose, Donna, Martha, Amy & Rory, Clara – had all reached a level of intimacy beyond their familiarity with the TARDIS and the sonic screwdriver. Bill, it seems to me, has developed a closer friendship with Nardole (Matt Lucas) than she has with the Doctor – in fact, everything she has learned about the Galifreyan has come from Nardole.

Each episode had also moved each companion’s story forward. So far, there hasn’t been much we’ve learned about Bill that we didn’t learn in her first appearance: she hasn’t had much formal education, though she’s smart as a whip and eager to learn more; she’s a science fiction geek; she’s gay and, like a lot of us, she hasn’t had much success with love. She wishes she knew more about her mom and her family; and – well, that’s about it.

As I said, there’s only three episodes left this season, and there just seems to me to be an awful lot to be discovered yet.

I don’t want to think that Moffat is coasting his way to the end of his association with Doctor Who; he hasn’t yet disappointed me. I loved the denouement of last season, so I’m still crossing my fingers – but…

Anyway, this is a rather short column today. But I do want to give a shout out to my niece Isabel, who has made her debut performance this week in the Newtown (Pennsylvania) Arts Company production of The Philadelphia Story as Dinah Lord.

You may be familiar with the 1940 movie which starred Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart, and was responsible for relaunching Hepburn’s career as a major Hollywood player – did you know that she was considered “box office poison” and couldn’t get a walk-on part at this point in her career? The play was specifically written for Hepburn by playwright Phillip Barry, whose wife, Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, was a Philadelphia socialite and a friend of Hepburn’s. Hepburn not only starred in the play, but also financially backed it, exchanging a salary for a percentage of profits. The Philadelphia Story was a smash hit on Broadway, and Hepburn enjoyed a great triumph as well as a flip of the bird to those who had tried to destroy her film career, especially when her friend Howard Hughes gave the film rights to her as a gift. Hepburn was able to convince Louis B. Mayer, head honcho of MGM, to give her veto rights over producer, director, screenwriter, and cast by selling Philadelphia to MGM for only $250,000, an amazingly cheap price. A pretty goddamn impressive move by Hepburn, and one that paid off in spades for her.

Here’s the plot, from Wikipedia, because I’m being lazy. Hey, I drove close to 200 miles today, so deal with it!

Tracy Lord (Hepburn) is the elder daughter of a wealthy Philadelphia Main Line socialite family. She was married to C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant), a yacht designer and member of her social set, but divorced him two years ago, because he did not measure up to the exacting standards she sets for all her friends and family: he drank too much for her taste, and as she became critical of him, he drank more. Now she is about to marry nouveau riche “man of the people” George Kittredge.

Spy magazine publisher Sidney Kidd is eager to cover the wedding, and assigns reporter Macaulay “Mike” Connor (Stewart) and photographer Liz Imbrie. He can get them into the affair with the assistance of Dexter Haven, who has been working for Spy in South America. Dexter will introduce them as friends of Tracy’s brother Junius (a U.S. diplomat in Argentina). Tracy is not fooled, but Dexter threatens her with an innuendo-laden article about her father Seth’s affair with a dancer. Tracy deeply resents her father’s infidelity, which has caused her parents to live separately. To protect her family’s reputation, she agrees to let Mike and Liz stay.

“Dexter is welcomed back with open arms by Tracy’s mother Margaret and teenage sister Dinah (this is the part Isabel played (much to her annoyance. When George sees Mike carrying an intoxicated Tracy into the house afterward, he thinks the worst. The next day, he tells her that he was shocked and feels entitled to an explanation before going ahead with the wedding. She takes exception to his lack of faith in her and breaks off the engagement. Then she realizes that all the guests have arrived and are waiting for the ceremony to begin. Mike volunteers to marry her (much to Liz’s distress), but she graciously declines. She also realizes, for the first time, that she isn’t perfect and shouldn’t constantly condemn others for their weaknesses. At this point, Dexter offers to marry her again, and she accepts.”

The Philadelphia Story was nominated for six Oscars, including Katherine Hepburn for Best Actress and James Stewart for Best Actor. Stewart won his only golden statue – hard to believe, isn’t it? And Hepburn went on to a total of 12 nominations – surpassed only by Meryl Streep – and won four Academy Award, the record for any performer. And Cary Grant? He was nominated so many times, but the only Oscar he was ever given was “Honorary,” in 1970, for “his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues.” Unbelievable, right?

As for Isabel? Here’s her “Who’s Who In The Cast”:

 “Like Dinah Lord, she is an avid equestrienne, can play piano and sing at the same time, and will pursue Conservatory training in Musical Theatre. Iz has played Annie in “Annie,” Belle in “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” and Amelia Earhart. She has soloed on cello with Symphony in C Orchestra, and toured Asia with Maestro Eschenbach of the Philadelphia Orchestra. (C’est vrai! Absolument!)”

Acting is a precarious profession, as we all know, but I won’t be surprised at all if and when the day comes when Isabel Newell will be up on a stage, accepting her own award.

And thanks to you all for putting up with an indulgent, and very proud, Aunt Mindy.

Ed Catto: Spellbound by Batman

When Leonard Nimoy died, several comic conventions paused for a moment of silence as fans offered up the Vulcan salute. Those were lovely gestures as the nerd community showed how beloved the actor, and his signature role, was to them.

I wish that Batman’s Adam West had a signature gesture like that. A hands-on-hips pose means Superman. The Vulcan salute embodies all of Star Trek’s mythology. Television’s Wonder Woman had a spinning motion (it enabled her to change from her meek self into her heroic costume) that we of a certain age remember. Iron Man kind of owns that punching-the-ground-while-crouching pose. But TV’s Batman really could’ve used an iconic pose.

Perhaps it would be holding a bomb, with a lighted fuse, above one’s head? Perhaps that silly/sexy Batusi dance move, evoking a bat’s eyes and ears? Somehow they just don’t seem right. But he had something better.

The past weekend, the Batsignal was shining onto Los Angeles’s City Hall. And the folks behind it knew their stuff. This Batsignal was the version of the Batman emblem that Adam wore. The L.A. Times showed the crowds and the entire affair looked impressive.

Everyone seems to have an Adam West story to share. I have a few too. I was really struck by how kind and sweet the stories were. To his credit, Adam West seemed to be able to instantly understand, and respect, the different connections that fans had with his TV alter ego.

As Mark Evanier, and others, reminded us, Adam West was an actor and Batman was just one part he played. Kudos to MeTV for recently running episodes of 60s western and science fiction TV series featuring Adam West appearing in other roles, before running the very first two episodes of Batman.

And in many ways, playing Batman damaged his career. He was typecast and couldn’t get other roles subsequent to the series’ cancellation. It wasn’t until years later that he was able to figure it all out, with the help of his enthusiastic agent, Fred Westbrook. They found ways so that Adam could finally reap the financial benefits of his all-too-brief superhero years.

Sadly, Fred recently passed away too. He was an agent with a real respect for his clients. He was clearly a fanboy, but he used that drive to create engaging and profitable projects for his clients. Like Adam, Fred was a great guy too. And boy, did he love TV game shows. I don’t know if he was the nation’s biggest expert on TV game Shows, but it seemed like that to me.

I fell under the spell of Adam West’s Batman TV show, but it quickly translated into a love of comics. For many fans, seeing some of those covers we saw as kids bring indelible memories front and center.

Viewing these comics is like winning a ticket for a time machine. I’m immediately transported back to Pauline’s, the newsstand that was so close to my grandmother’s house. My dad would treat us to one treasure there (I’d always choose a comic) after our Italian Sunday Dinner each week.

Detective Comics #358 is that kind of a comic for me. There’s something about those DC silver age covers with red backgrounds that bring out the six-year-old in me. This issue features the debut of Batman’s unforgettable foe, Spellbinder!

What’s that, you say? Did you forget him? Yeah, well, I guess that’s understandable.

I think that everyone who read this story forgot about it. It’s not that it’s so bad. It’s just so bland. The Spellbinder is a bank robber with a gimmick – he can hypnotize people. And like a fairy tale, the Spellbinder fools Batman three times, until the Darknight Detective finally figures out how to defeat him.

But that cover – wow! As a kid, I had thought this would’ve been the battle of all ages! It’s all about wild colors and an undoubtedly an epic battle about to be waged. I certainly expected to see Spellbinder pop up in an episode of the 60’s TV series, but he never did.

I wonder who could’ve played Spellbinder on TV?

Holy Fashion Faux Pas! What a mishmash of colors and patterns. If it were published today, Tim Gunn would have a fit. Oh, and I’m not even talking about Spellbinder’s costume. I’m talking about those clashing Detective Comics and Batman logos. Spellbinder’s nutty costume is an absurd thing of beauty… and doubtlessly it struck fear into the hearts of comic artists everywhere. In fact, no one would draw him again for years.

My copy of this comic is really special. It’s the file copy of longtime Batman editor, Jack Schiff. In those pre-internet days, publishers kept old comics on file for easy reference. Curiously, by the time this comic was published, Schiff was no longer editor on the Batman line. But he sold his file copy collection to Tim Ash Gray of Ithaca’s Comics For Collectors back in ’92, and Tim sold them to fans.

This issue is overflowing with nostalgic treasures, including:

  • More Superheroes – There’s an Elongated Man back-up (with some sharp Sid Greene art for a change) and Superman fights for Unicef in a one-page adventure on the inside front cover
  • Lots of Toy Car Ads – Geez, if future archeologists study this comic, they’d come to the conclusion that little boys in the 60s only read comics and played with toy cars. Still, one these ads showcases artwork from beloved DC artist Murphy Anderson.
  • It’s not the first time Batman fought villains on a building and certainly not the last. After the memorial service, the skyscraper battle now makes me think of the LA tribute to Adam West and the Batsignal shining on L.A.’s City Hall.

So many of us are willingly spellbound by Batman. There are a lot of good things about that. Like a long train, we all jump on at different points. That’s kind of special too. For me, it all started with that TV series and Adam West.

Superman and Metropolis Celebrate John Ostrander!

So – where was I last weekend? I was in Metropolis, that’s where, down in the Southern tip of Illinois attending the 39th Annual Superman Celebration. Way back in 1972 the city got DC’s permission to call itself Superman’s home and later that year the Illinois legislature passed a resolution confirming it. By the late 70s, the city decided to capitalize on all this by staging an annual Superman Celebration on the second weekend in June, a festival for the Man of Steel. Damn good idea, I sez.

The Celebration includes media guests connected with Supes. This year it was Margot Kidder, Dean Cain, James Marsters, and Sarah Douglas… as well as a few of us comic book types. I was the featured writer about six years ago and it seems I didn’t burn too many bridges because they had me back again this year along with Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Jim Hall and others.

The Celebration is a hoot and a truly unique Con. It’s one part convention and one part neighborhood block party/street fair. It has carnival rides, scavenger hunts, vintage cars and plenty of food trucks selling every carnival treat you can think of and maybe a few you can’t. Need something fried? Oh, they got that. My mouth waters and my arteries clog at the memory of it.

The town notably has a thirty-foot tall painted bronze statue of Supes in front of the courthouse as well as a smaller bronze statue of Noel Neill who played Lois Lane on The Adventures of Superman. Ms. Neill was a fixture at the Celebration for many years before dying last year but the last time I was there I did get to meet her and, according to reliable witnesses, just geeked out. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Long before I was a pro, I was a fan.

Speaking of fans, they were great. They were warm and eager and so happy to see us. One of the great things about a Con of this size is that you have time to chat with the fans. While there’s plenty of stuff to do, there’s no rush. And some of them geeked out to see me (I’m not sure why) so I told them the stories of my geeking out. We geek bonded.

I also had lots of good conversations with Amanda and Jimmy. I’ve known both of them for a long time but we don’t usually get much chance for long chats. We bumped into each at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport when we gathered for the plane to Paducah which was the closest airport to Metropolis. Amanda is a sweetheart and Jimmy is a character. Real Brooklyn in his speech and attitude and that’s a compliment. Better companions you couldn’t hope to find.

The trip to the Celebration also gave me the chance to renew some old friendships such as Tim and Tracy Brown. We first met some years ago at a Con in Memphis along with a whole bunch of others. Elvis had his Memphis Mafia; they’re part of mine. Tim and I crack each other up with our impressions – I do Elmer Fudd and Ethel Merman and he does Carol Channing. I can make him laugh so hard he squeezes his eyes shut; once I did while Tim was driving the car over the bridge crossing the Ohio River. People were yelling at me to stop but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Despite my best efforts, we got across the bridge safely. If Tim’s wife Traci didn’t gag me I think My Mary did.

The big wind-up to the celebration was the costume contest on Sunday. I know that cosplay has become a big thing in recent years but the Superman Celebration was doing it long before it was fashionable. I was a judge at this year’s contest and I have a few thoughts for people competing. At Metropolis, there were three areas to consider – how well did the contestant know the character they were portraying, how was the costume, and how well did they sell it, i.e. how well did they interact with the crowd?

There were some great costumes in the competition (Doctor Octopus was stunning) but the winner was a Wonder Woman and not just because this is her hour. Other people might have had better costumes but she sold it best. If you’re going to be in a costume competition, folks, you gotta walk the walk and talk the talk.

When I was there last, there was a riverboat casino in Metropolis because it wasn’t legal to have one on dry land. Now it is and Harrah’s has a hotel and casino on terra firma. I find that odd but interesting; a city of maybe 7,000 doesn’t have its own airport but has a gambling den. I wandered through it one night on my way to the buffet for dinner and found it completely disorientating. Not my thing but I can see how it might be for someone else.

Next year, Metropolis will celebrate its 40th Celebration and I suspect the hotels are already getting booked up. I understand people come from a long way to be there. It’s unique, a small city in which, for at least one weekend, their major industry is Superman. That’s pretty cool. Thanks to the Celebration’s staff, especially Karla Ogle, for inviting me down and treating us all so well. I’m ready to do it again sometime.

Up, up… and away!

Marc Alan Fishman: My Five Best Comic Book Meals!

Life is about balance. After last week’s screed on my personal health journey, it’s only fair I balance things out with a very gluttonous listing of my most favorite meals whilst being an indie creator. You see, a life in comics — part time, at least — find folks assembled around a table to break bread more often than you’d think. When logging in considerable hours at a convention, creators often will nibble here and there, and then run out of the expo hall in a mad dash for food when the con floor closes. Great minds have met over bowls of pasta and pizzas, whilst inking deals on Batman or the X-Men. Here are, in no particular order, five meals that remain stuck in between my teeth:

Miller’s Pub with Mike Gold

The first time ComicMix honcho Mike Gold asked Unshaven Comics to meet him for a meal, he chose Miller’s Pub in downtown Chicago. Prior to the lunch we shared, Mr. Gold was a fleeting presence at the Wizard World Chicago where we made our debut. The lovely late Linda Gold had stumbled across we Unshaven Lads, dying a slow and panicked death in Artist Alley. She listened to our pitch and promised to bring Mike by. After briefly meeting us, Mike and I exchanged e-mails post-show. When the opportunity arose to find Mr. Gold back in the Chicagoland area, he proposed a meeting of the minds. Over hot sandwiches and the first round of name-dropping stories we would succumb to hear on a yearly basis, Mike looked us in the eyes (as we demanded Unshaven Comics pick up the check) and said the kindest thing we’d ever hear in our careers: “Boys, I will do whatever I can to see you doing well in this business.” And let me tell you, nothing has ever tasted sweeter.

Breakfast Buffet with John Ostrander

A few years back, John asked us to pick him up at his house and drive him down to the Detroit Fanfare comic convention. We were more than happy to oblige. The next morning, he asked us to join him for breakfast. Amidst pans of bacon, lukewarm pancakes, and runny scrambled eggs, John waxed poetic about all sorts of things. Star Wars, the Suicide Squad, playwriting in Chicago, and even the secret origin of Wasteland all came tumbling out from John’s timid timbre. Matt, Kyle, and I sat in awe of an industry legend as he treated us as friends… not the drooling fanboys we were. And not to be undone by Mike Gold, John heaped a bit of praise on us (as we picked up the check): “Seriously, I don’t know how you guys do it. You have everything planned out to the nines. I’m in awe of you.” Not bad for the cost of a few plates of breakfast meat.

The CowFish with The Samurnauts

Unshaven Comics got greedy in 2013. Figuring we could sell tons of books by splitting up and covering more ground, we sent Unshaven Salesman 2000 (Kyle Gnepper) off to a show in Cincinnati whilst Unshaven Matt and I covered the HeroesCon in North Carolina. Knowing that sans-Kyle we’d be without our real power, our blue and yellow Samurnauts (Cherise and Erik) joined our menagerie to bolster our abilities. While we learned that four of us couldn’t match a single Gnepper, we did find something redeeming about the lackluster show. Unshackled from Kyle’s more predictable palette, the Samurnauts, Matt and I found a burger/sushi restaurant in a neighboring town. I could spend literally an entire article simply remarking about what all we ordered… or I could simply say we loved the place so much, the manager gave us coupons if we’d consider coming back the next night. And we very much did.

Brandy Hauman’s Homecooking

When Unshaven Comics makes the 14-hour trek from Chicago to New York (or, in fact, Homewood to Weehawken), ComicMix’s Glenn Hauman is always the most gracious of hosts — opening his home to us for the price of a few bottles of hooch. As the New York Comic Con sits on the single piece of New York real estate devoid of decent food, we often wind up at la Casa del Hauman for some real New Jersey takeout. But last year, Glenn’s amazing (talented, beautiful, funny, and charming) wife demanded she make us a home-cooked meal. A nice roasted chicken and some sides — but it was served over a table filled with laughter, embarrassing stories, and friendship. With this past NYCC our fourth journey to the city that never sleeps, this single meal stands out as a testament to the best part of the tri-state area: the people who you make friends.

Some BBQ joint in Stamford, CT

I’ll end here on the most sincere memory I have in regards to comics and food. As mentioned above with the meal at Miller’s Pub, with this meal Mike Gold quickly morphed from a coveted mentor to both a mentor and a mensch. When my wife and I got married in November of 2009, we’d invited all of the ComicMixers we knew — knowing that the gesture was largely symbolic given the distance any of them would have had to travel just to see a then super-fat Marc stomp on a glass and yell L’chaim. As it would turn out, the newly minted Mrs. Fishman and I would take our honeymoon out along the East Coast (we didn’t quite google that Cape Cod is really a summer town). Mike was quick to demand that on our way home, we move our route to swing down his way. There, not far from the WWE headquarters, Kathy and I would be greeted by Glenn, Mike, Linda, and a smattering of other ComicMix friends for a BBQ lunch. As with much of this list: I don’t remember the food as much as the feeling that I’d made friends I’ve held on to ever since. That these oddballs would welcome me and mine into their family has cemented that my life in comics has been filled with some of the finest meals a man could dine on.