Tagged: Beatles

Ed Catto’s Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Yesterday The New York Times devoted a full page to this perplexing moment in Geek Culture we find ourselves in: a time when there are “too many versions” of Batman on the big and little screen. This persnickety topic is worth a deeper dive at a later date, but the big headline for this gift-giving season is that are a cornucopia of options for Geek Culture lovers. I could devote a whole column to Batman stuff available, but instead let me just touch on the Caped Crusader and instead offer up a broad range of Geek Culture gift ideas.

I love just about all of the Titan publications, and their merchandise is quite impressive as well. Their list of new goodies includes everything from The Beatles to Preacher to Pulp Fiction to Kill Bill! Titan’s Yellow Submarine vinyl figures blind box series is especially fun for Beatles fans as it includes obscure and esoteric figures. And each one looks fab.

Eaglemoss creates so many cool products for Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, DC characters, Marvel characters (via their chess set series), Walking Dead and Alien that it’s hard to choose favorites. But let me spotlight a couple I really like – their new Batman Animated Series figures and their Star Trek starships. One spectacular item is the new 11” classic Enterprise. Each item comes with intensely detailed guides that are produced by professionals who know their fandom.

Dan Gearino educates and entertains in Comic Shop The Retail Mavericks Who Gave Us a New Geek Culture, recently published by Ohio University’s Swallow Press. It’s an engaging read that explains the birth of comics’ direct market and also provides up-to-the-minute profiles of retailers and their comic stores.

In Lady Action: The Sand of Forever, author Ron Fortier delivered a thriller cocktail that’s one part Modesty Blaise, one part 007 and one part Indiana Jones. It gets even better, as Airship 27 just released the audio book version. I think Kalinda Little does a superb job reading it, but find out for yourself here.

Michael Eury’s Back Issue Magazine celebrates comics of the 70s, 80s and today with insightful articles and columns. Sometimes I’m afraid to pick up an issue because I can never put it down! An annual subscription http://tinyurl.com/BackIssueSub makes an enduring gift that fans will appreciate throughout the year.

FanSets is a company run by fans for fans – and it shows. They have created gorgeous enamel pins featuring characters from Star Trek, Valiant, DC, Harry Potter, Firefly and more. I am in awe of their choices for DC characters pins like the Golden Age Sandman, Saturn Girl, and the grown-up Robin of Earth Two. It’s hard not to agree with Star Trek fans that this series of pin, including Discovery, look incredible too. Available at your local comic shop (look for their new displays!) or FanSets.com.

John Siuntres’ Word Balloon Podcast offers one-on-one interviews with the industry’s most interesting creators. Siuntres, a longtime radio professional, knows how to get folks talking. I listen to this show to find out more from creators I like and to learn about new things from creators with whom I’m less familiar. The podcast is free, but you could make someone a part of the League of Word Balloon Listeners with a gift donation. Find out more at http://wordballoon.blogspot.com.

This fall, I bought a copy of Classic Comics Press’ Kelly Green: The Complete Collection by Stan Drake and Leonard Starr from Emil Novak at Queen City Comics. I promptly wrote about how much I enjoyed it. Classic Comics Press Publisher Charles Pelto does a great job with all his books and you can’t go wrong with any of them for gifting.

I haven’t completely finished Craig Yoe’s Super Weird Heroes even though I wrote about it earlier this year. That’s because it’s so much fun that I just don’t want it end. Another Yoe book, Behaving MADly is a refreshing read for hard core and casual fans. It’s a wonderful book all about the many MAD magazine knockoffs. I gifted a copy to my pal Walshy (who is completely nuts too) and he was thrilled.

The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide always seemed like a “must have,” but each year publisher J.C.Vaughn and his merry band make it even more and more “must have-ier”! I especially liked Jim Steranko’s Batman cover on this year’s edition. Oh wait, it’s another version of Batman!

All the best to you and yours this Yuletide Season!

Martha Thomases: All You Need is Love

thomases-art-131122-150x136-4745173The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story by Vivek Tiwary and Andrew C Robinson, with Kyle Baker. 144 pages. Dark Horse. Available in both hardcover and electronic editions.

This week, I’m kvelling all the time. The Fifth Beatle is finally in the stores.

Let me explain. About a dozen years ago, I met Vivek Tiwary and we quickly became friends, even though it’s only recently I’ve pronounced his name properly. We met because we had friends in common, friends who inspired us to do some good, in Vivek’s case quite amazingly. (Really, watch the video at the link. It’s wonderful.)

Community service is all well and good, but what really bonded us was comics. We are totally geeks together. We would walk around various conventions (both Book Expo and the San Diego Comic-Con), sharing the kind of fangasms such events inspire. I even helped him take his young son around.

During these walks, and on other occasions, we would often talk about his various projects, He was working on turning Green Day’s American Idiot album into a theatrical musical, and he was working on a screenplay about Brian Epstein. Vivek is quite passionate on the subject of Epstein, the Beatles’ first manager. He first looked tried to find out about him 21 years ago, when he was in business school. There was hardly any information. Over the decades, he pulled the story together. Vivek had a lot of experience as a theatrical producer, but film was a new medium for him. He had written a screenplay, but getting it made was an arduous process.

Why not make it into a graphic novel while you wait, I suggested.

And so he did. He found Andrew Robinson to collaborate on the art (and I introduced him to Kyle Baker, who drew the hilarious scene in the Philipines), and off they went. Thanks to my ComicMix co-columnist Michael Davis, we got the book to Dark Horse.

Vivek didn’t fall into the trap that catches too many writers from other media, including me. He doesn’t cram the page with words. He knows how to let the pictures tell the story. He trusts his artist to convey the pace, the emotions, the energy of the story. Andrew doesn’t let him down. The likenesses are evocative without being overbearing. People who knew some of the characters in real life tell me he nailed the body language as well as the bodies. The use of Beatle lyrics is lovely.

There is a rhythm to the story that is like a great rock’n’roll song. You get caught up in the energy when you read it the first time, and then you can’t get it out of your head.

And now, you have the book in your hands. You’re welcome.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Michael Davis: A Hard Day’s Night

Davis Art 131001When I was around six, I was asked what kind of haircut I wanted.

This was big deal because up until then I had no say over anything in my life. This was my very first grown up decision and I had to weigh it carefully.

Even at six I knew this was a life changing moment. My mother told me to think about it while we were on the bus going to the barber shop. We lived in South Jamaica Queens at the time and except for church there was no place, no place as honored in the black community.

For me there were no two places I hated going to more than church and the barbershop.

What was there to like at the barbershop?

It smelled horrible from all the cigarette and cigar smoke mingled with the distinct smell of snuff being spat into a spittoon. For all of you not familiar with snuff, it’s a type of tobacco. People would put that gross shit in their mouths between their gums and lips and suck on it until the flavor was gone then spit it out before they popped in another jaw full.

Gross with a capital GROSS.

I know some people still do that and with all due respect-that shit is freakin GROSS.

A trip to the barber shop for me was a hellish journey to a smoke filled, snuff smelling spit fest. Oh,and least I forget, when snuff is spat it’s a dark brown / almost black liquid which had a good chance of missing the spittoon and landing on the six-year old sitting in the barber’s chair at the time.

That happened…to me…a lot.

So yeah, the barber shop was horrible and in retrospect, I must have liked church better. At church I was merely threatened with Hell if I wasn’t good. At the barbershop I was spat upon with black ooze, strapped to a chair while some creature took a motorized knife to my head.

The day I walked into the barbershop ready to answer my mom’s question as to what kind of haircut I wanted that particular Hell became Heaven to me for I was no longer a child I was no longer a kid, I was, heck, I don’t know what I was but I know I had respect.

Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any better, it did. The barber did not; I repeat did not sit me in the damn kiddy contraption that boosts the height of the child.


Instead I sat (aided only by a telephone book which in my mind was no aid at all) in the barber’s chair all by myself.

But wait, there’s more!

When asked by the barber what kind of haircut was I to receive my mother told him to…wait for it…wait for it…wait for it…ask me!

At that moment I knew what I was, I was a man! A fact that was underscored by the barber when he looked at me (with what I could tell was a new respect) and asked, “Well little man, what kind of haircut would you like?”

The day kept getting better. Why? Because the entire barbershop, that to me looked like hundreds of people, heard him ask me and then heard my answer…“I’d like a Beatles haircut.”

The barbershop erupted in laughter…and just like that I was back in Hell.

“Little man, you’re black, didn’t anyone tell you?”

More laughter.

I knew I was black, but why that should stop me from getting a Beatles haircut was beyond me. So like the man I was I asked and then the laughter became physically painful to me and I started to cry.

Never again did I ask for a Beatles haircut and, in fact, I started asking questions before I made statements or asked certain things.

Yeah, I was six, but I wasn’t stupid.

What, pry tell does any of this has to do with comics?

Many, and I mean many “artists” have submitted work for a show I’m curating. Some of the art is just bad that’s OK compared to people just not reading or worst even not understand what they read in the call for entries instructions.

I’m just sick to death of aspiring artists and writers who refuse to do anything but draw or write. Their work, attitudes and professionalism need major overhauls and no matter how many times or how many ways you try and tell them they still assume they can get work in the fucking comic book industry.

Or they assume they can send you entire comic books (drawn in ball point pen) when the instructions call for no more than five submissions.

Learn your goddamn craft, people. Learn what you can and cannot do. Until you do you have as much chance of getting in this show or having a career in comics as you do getting a Beatles haircut in the hood.





Michael Davis: It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

Davis Art 130212Actually it was twenty years ago, but it wasn’t today. Look, any time I get to use a Beatles lyric in anything I write I’m using it. Nothing says witty and clever like a Beatles lyric or a Tupac and Biggie reference.

Case in point. One time too freakin’ many an ex-girlfriend asked me in an email if I thought she was getting fat. I was so sick of answering the same freakin’ question over and over again. She would ask when she and I would be on a date, in a car, on the phone, texting and one time I could have sworn she screamed it out during sex. I can’t be sure of that I couldn’t hear her clearly as I was, at the same time, screaming out my name. Yes, I scream my own name out during sex. Someone has to.

I was just sick to death of this shit so in my response I found a way to use a slightly altered Beatles lyric, which was, yes, you are the Walrus.

Twenty years ago, Denys Cowan, Dwayne McDuffie, Derek Dingle, Christopher Priest and I founded Milestone Media.

Hard to believe I was just five when I helped start the company, eh Jean?

Twenty years later, Milestone is still considered the greatest publishing achievement in African American comic book history. The Milestone deal was ground breaking and the universe is still alive and relevant. Milestone has achieved in comics the same kind of reverence the Tucker achieved in the automobile industry or Guns ‘n’ Roses achieved in Rock and Roll, all three burst on the scene, changed the game and for whatever reason lived a short life but has never been forgotten.

What many people don’t realize is Milestone still exists and is still alive in media if not in a monthly series of comic books. Static Shock is still seen on television, Milestone characters are often featured on other DC comics animated shows and Milestone comic book projects still are being created.

Milestone’s 20th anniversary will be celebrated and in the coming months happenings will be reveled. I just can’t tell you now; if I did Denys Cowan would see to it that I join Tupac and Biggie. Yes, I’ve used that line before and I will continue to use it until LAPD does it job and finds their killers…or someone comments how clever and witty that line is. I’m good with whatever comes first.

What I can say is ComicMix readers who are Milestone fans have a guy on the inside. As we all know with great power comes first hand knowledge premiering here at ComicMix before anywhere else.

That is, if I remember to write it after it’s finalized but before the press release goes industry wide.

I’ll try and remember but once I was told over the phone I just had a huge project green lit and could now talk about it. The very next call I was on not three minutes later was with an entertainment magazine doing a profile on me and like a dick I forgot to mention the venture when asked about what projects I was working on.

That omission was like forgetting to mention I own a dog when being interviewed for a cover story in Dog Magazine.

Last thing, for all you fan boys who are still a bit “girl challenged” if your girlfriend…wait, what am I saying? Girlfriend? Fan boys? Ok, if the girl you are smitten with or any girl asks you if she looks like she was getting fat or the classic, do I look fat in this dress?

The answer is always no.

If the heifer weights 300 pounds and is always sucking on a saltlick, the answer is always no.

Trust me, don’t say anything remotely like what I said, I’m lucky to be alive and ten years after the break up I’m still looking over my shoulder.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold and The Nerddom Intelligentsia

THURDSDAY: Dennis O’Neil


Michael Davis: Once You Go Black… Part One

It’s funny. In my adult personal life there was a time that I simply did not see color. I was just as likely to hang out with a white guy as a black guy. I still listen to all types of music and in fact after a lifetime of thinking it would never happen I’m starting to get into country music.

Yeah. Hell has indeed frozen over.

99% of my Facebook friends are real friends. I rarely “friend” people I don’t know. The overwhelming amount of people whom I’m a friend with are white. The overwhelming amount of people I’m in business with are white. I’m the only black guy on my block.

I like bagels and lox. I love The Beatles. I adore classical music.

I’ve dated many and almost married two white girls.

The first white girl I almost married broke it off because her family did not want her to marry me. Her family that she was very close to refused to let her marry me. I just assumed it was because they did not think I was a good enough guy. It was ten years later that the girl who broke my heart called me and said she was sorry for her actions ten years earlier and that’s when I found out the real reason.

It was because her father “Did not want his daughter marrying a nigger.”

That’s what I get for asking. “What exactly did he say” for over an hour.

She explained to me that her mother and father would disown her if she continued to even see me. How like a bad movie is that? Who the hell does that happen to in real life?


Up until then it never occurred to me that she broke up with me because I was black. I believed her when she told me that she just fell out of love with me. She contacted me because she had married some guy and it was he who suggested she make the call. She told him how terrible she had felt for all those years and he said to get it off her chest.

Man, that reminds me…how I loved that chest.

After the call she suggested we meet for lunch. At first I was hesitant, I had a hell of a time getting over her. I thought if I met with her my feelings may return and then I would never get over her again. But against my better judgment I went to have lunch with her. The moment I saw her I realized I was over her for good.

The bitch got fat.

I’m talking huge.

That was one fat bitch. How fat? I had four hundred dollars in cash and a Gold American Express card on me and I was starting to wonder if I could afford lunch.

That fat.

Yes, I’m well aware that “bitch” is a horrible thing to call a woman and yes I am over her but I’m still a wee bit bitter and I’m making a point but more on that later.

Today, I wish the fat bitch well. OK, maybe I’m more than a wee bit bitter. That moment with, let’s call her, oh I don’t know, fat bitch, was the moment when I started thinking about race in my adult personal life.

I grew up in a housing project that was 99.9% black. When I was a kid every person in my life was black.

All my music, friends and family were black and getting blacker everyday. And by “blacker” I mean my future seemed to me to be more of what my past was, black. There was nary a day when I did not think about race. That all changed when I entered the High School of Art & Design, the best high school in the universe. Trust me on that, I am the Master of The Universe so I know these things.

I went from hating gay people and not trusting white people and assuming I would always exist in a black only world to a person who just stopped seeing color. That was until that lunch with fat bitch 20 years later.

If you know anything about my work you know that the vast majority of stuff I do features African-Americans. Currently I’m working on projects about the Underground Railroad, Jackie Robinson and a book called, “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Black People But Were Afraid To Ask.”

I also do non-black theme projects such as the book “The Littlest Bitch” with David Quinn (in it’s 3rd printing and currently in development as a animated show…plug!) , that’s a real book; you can look it up on Amazon (another plug!) and see for your self.

For the most part I still do not see color in my personal life. I’m aware of it. I’m very vocal about it when I see racism but if you are a person in my life you are there because you are you not because of your race.

That’s my personal life.

In business I’ve always seen color and working in Hollywood I’m blinded by it.

In my opinion there is an abundance of racism in the entertainment business and, yes, that includes comics.

Now, this is not going to be a series of how the white man continues to fuck me because I’m black. I’m sure to some it will seem that what I’m going to write about with the way I went about setting this up.

Nope. This is the point I’m going to be making is this; racist decisions are being made by good people who have no fucking clue that their actions are racist.

What’s that I say? Try the following example on for size…

I’m convinced that I’m not disrespecting women by calling one a fat bitch because I’m bitter. I’m convinced that all women know that I’m not disrespecting them.

But, did I not just call a woman a fat bitch?

Get it?

End Of Part One.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Emily S. Whitten and that Deadpool Thing



The Beatles. Apple. Tuesday?

The Beatles. You’ve heard of them.

Apple. The one that makes iPads, iPods, iMacs and the like. Not the one the Beatles own.

Tomorrow, if everything goes as expected and the Beatles’ semi-impoverished record label EMI doesn’t change its mind (evidently they have before), Apple’s Steve Jobs is going to stand on a west coast stage at about 10
AM Eastern time and announce that the Beatles will be available on iTunes – for Macs, iPads, iPods, PCs, and the whole nine-yards.

Merry Christmas, music-lovers!

Beatles to Front Video Game in 2009

Beatles to Front Video Game in 2009

Better start your 2009 Christmas letter to Santa now because you’re going to want The Beatles video game.

MTV has managed something unique: getting the rights to turn the fab four into a video game in an age when you cannot download their music catalogue.

Apple Corps, EMI Music, Harrisongs and Sony/ATV Music Publishing have, according to Variety, signed a deal allowing MTV to work with Harmonix on the game.  The announcement occurred Thursday in London. Harmonix, known for Rock Band, has been granted permission to us 45 songs from the Beatles’ playlist from EMI.

Everyone made certain to stress that this game will be apart from Rock Band and no Beatles music will be heard there or even Activision’s Guitar Hero.

"The game is in development," said Apple Corps CEO Jeff Jones. "We don’t want to talk about how it will turn out a year from now. We’re in the process of creating the game."

Yes, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono Lennon have all been made aware of this development and have been apprised as to the design, layout and rollout of the game. This was the culmination of a 17 month process and the contracts were finally signed four weeks back.

Giles Martin, son of legendary Beatles’ producer George, will be overseeing the music for the game and stressed, "We are trying to present the songs as they were played, adhering to the (original) mix."

Does the game announcement mean the influential music from 1962-1969 will finally be made available in mp3 format?

It’s "the biggest puzzle and so illogical that the Beatles music is not available for use on MP3 players," Martin Bandier, chairman-CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, told Variety. "Maybe the fact that this deal is done will offer an impetus to Apple and EMI" to finalize a deal, he added.

The article noted that with this deal in place, Led Zeppelin remains the final major musical act to eschew lending their songs for commercial exploitation.

Safe Space, by Elayne Riggs

Safe Space, by Elayne Riggs

I first came across the concept of "safe spaces" for women when I was in high school. I went to an all-girls religious school (yeshiva) in 9th and 10th grades. The idea didn’t make sense to me at the time, separating boys and girls just when they were beginning to find out about each other, to really relate to one another as fully-realized people. I was convinced then that the segregation could only come to no good, that we’d grow up completely lacking in social skills regarding how to communicate with the opposite sex, and that it was all doomed to end in tears.

And while I think I was partially correct, at least in my case, Bruriah was the first place I remember feeling this inexplicable sense of female safety (at least when the male instructors weren’t around), of proto-feminist solidarity. It even (temporarily) helped me break some bad personal habits, I’m pretty sure that was the first time I stopped biting my nails for an appreciable period. There was just something amazing about having all that support around me that made it seem anything was possible.

At Rutgers University in New Brunswick, I minored in feminism, which at the time was called Women’s Studies. So naturally, everyone assumed, and still does, that I attended not Rutgers College, but the University’s "female auxiliary" affiliate, Douglass. I didn’t go to Douglass, which by that time was trending from all-female to co-ed anyway. But it was still considered a relative safe space for women, and there were a number of Douglass students in my feminism classes. There, we learned that "safety" didn’t just mean shelter from potential violence (rape awareness was a big part of my curriculum, and I never did figure out why more of it wasn’t aimed at the gender that committed the most rapes — i.e., the guilty party — rather than the gender that was raped most often) but from male aggression in general, even when that aggression took the form of vigorous debate. We analyzed how women in co-ed classes and curricula tended to be more withdrawn and reticent than the men, who interrupted far more and were paid more academic (rather than prurient) attention by the instructors. Without so many men around to hog the limelight and make us feel scholastically intimidated, we were able to blossom more into our own diverse personalities.


59, by John Ostrander

59, by John Ostrander

Numbers represent. They don’t really mean.

Any meaning associated with numbers – or words for that matter – are what we assign to them. My social security number identifies me to the government but it’s not who I am. It has importance, yes, and if unscrupulous people get a hold of it, it can have a terrible impact on my life. It is not, however, my life. The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. The road map is not itself the road.

I turned 59 last Sunday and I’ve asked myself “What does that mean? Am I different in any essential way than I was on Saturday?” No. “Do birthdays have meanings?” If we give them some – yes. I like to celebrate the birthdays of those close to me more than I like to celebrate my own. I celebrate the fact that they were born, that they entered this world, and I get to be a part of their lives. I don’t dislike my birthday; I don’t have a problem with having one. I am thankful for the thoughts and good wishes expressed and any excuse to have a double chocolate cake is a good one.

The real use to me of my birthday these days is a bit more meditative. The number 59 has meaning in context with numbers 1 to 58. They are mileposts in my journey thus far. Milepost thirty-three – my first published comic book work. I remember that because I was pleased to be a rookie at anything at 33. Milepost thirty-eight – I married Kim Yale. Talk about being a rookie! Milepost forty-seven – Kim died and the world collapsed only to begin again a few mileposts later with Mary Mitchell. Life goes on. Death gives way to new life.


In My Ears and In My Eyes (Part 2), by Elayne Riggs

In My Ears and In My Eyes (Part 2), by Elayne Riggs

So as I was saying last week, by the time I hit college I went full-force into my first round of Beatlemania. I must have frequented my share of Beatlefests (as noted in the comments to last week’s column, there’s one coming up in NJ this weekend), but really only remember going to one because that’s where I got Harry Nilsson’s autograph, on the cover of his album A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night (for a reason I no longer remember, I have Jimmy Webb’s autograph on the back). From what I hear, they’re still going on. But the Beatles started influencing pretty much everything else in my life.

I named my fictitious corporation Pen-Elayne (wordplay on "Penny Lane" and "the pen of Elayne") Enterprises, which pun I borrowed again for my weekly comics reviews Pen-Elayne for Your Thoughts and my current blog Pen-Elayne on the Web. Penny Lane really became my theme song; I’d always envisaged something I can only describe as God’s Hidden Camera following my every move, so the line "And though she feels as if she’s in a play, she is anyway" really resonated. Particularly now with Google’s Street View!

Having already gone through two years of Shakespeare in high school, I was primed to expand my Anglophilia, and the Beatles were a perfect outlet for my fascination of all things English. That interest has since culminated in marriage to an actual Englishman who, although four years my junior, is probably more knowledgeable about Beatles trivia than I’ll ever be, has hundreds of bootleg songs, keeps up on all the news items of what’s happening with their music, and generally makes my head spin. Oh, and even though Robin is a southern country boy, we like to goof around with pretty bad imitations of Liverpool accents (okay, his is better than mine, as you’d expect). Through Rob I also met artist Alan Davis and my lettering goddess Pat Prentice, who both share a birthday with Sir Paul. I seem to remember Alan introducing me to Pat by joking that she "sounds like Ringo," since she’s also from Mersey-way. (She doesn’t, although I find a female Liverpool accent as cute as a male one.)