Tagged: Chicago Comicon

John Ostrander: Jack Kirby is Still King!

I may have told this story before but I’m at an age where you repeat yourself a lot. And it’s germane to this column.

Years ago, when I was still somewhat new to the industry, I was working the First Comics booth at a Chicago Con along with my lovely wife, Kim Yale. A group of pros walked past me that included Julie Schwartz, the legendary DC editor, and Roz and Jack Kirby.

My jaw dropped and I started hyperventilating. Kim gave me a strange look.

“Pssst! Julie!” I whispered. I knew Julie from DC, at least somewhat. Ever affable, Julie came to the table.

“Whatcha want, kid?”

“Introduce me to the King!” Julie gave me a strange look.

“Whattaya talking about? It‘s just Jack. Come over and say hello.”

“No no no no no! I can’t! Don’t you understand?! He’s the King! Help a guy out, wouldja?”

Julie looked at me like I was demented, which I probably was. He just shook his head and said, “C’mon, kid.” I was still young enough to be called a kid… comparatively speaking.

Julie took me over to the group and made the intro and Jack Kirby shook my hand and said “Hi. Howareya.” I made noises resembling words. I think my voice cracked. Kim would later tell me that she watched her husband turn into a 14-year old boy, complete with zits a-poppin’.

I freely admit it. Jack Kirby was the King and, despite making my living in comics, I was still the fan-nerd I had always been.

And still am.

Many of you out there will know all about Jack Kirby and will need no explanation, but some of you might.

Jack Kirby (1917-1994) was born in Brooklyn as Jacob Kurtzberg and got into the comics biz in the Thirties which was the dawn of comics. He took out time for World War II and then came back and worked for a number of different publishers.

What makes Jack Kirby the King? For me, it’s this.

  1. Imagination – The word “prodigious” comes to mind. So many concepts, so many characters, bear his mark. So many styles of stories. From the spires of Asgard to the weird distortions of the Negative Zone to the brutal cityscapes of Apokolips, to Ego the Living Planet, no one could top his visuals.
  2. Storytelling – His figures leaped off the page. The panels couldn’t contain the events on them. Even standing still, they vibrated with potential power. There was energy to burn on his pages. You felt them as much as you read them. You couldn’t read the story fast enough and when one issue was done you wanted the next one right now.
  3. Artistry – Okay, his anatomy was not always perfect. And every woman’s face looked the same. He was still one of the best ARTISTS that ever drew a comic because comics are about storytelling and no one beat Kirby as a storyteller.

He and the other titans of his era invented comic books, for cryin’ out loud! Without the King, there is no Marvel Universe, let alone the Marvel Movie Universe! He created or co-created Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Nick Fury, the Howling Commandos, S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers, Black Panther, the X-Men, the Inhumans, the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, Magneto, Loki, and the Hulk – among so many others… including Groot! At DC he created Darkseid, the whole New Gods, OMAC, Etrigan the Demon, Challengers of the Unknown (only one of the great titles in DC history), the Boy Commandos, The Guardian and gobs of others! And he did a whole posse of Westerns and co-created the genre of romance comics! He turned out three or more penciled books a month plus the occasional oversized Annual! My brain explodes!!!

(I don’t know if you can talk about Jack Kirby without using exclamation points!)

So here’s to the King! I did eventually wash the hand that you shook; Kim insisted. However, you were and are one of my comic book heroes and I’m glad I had the chance to meet you.

Marc Alan Fishman: Defending Wizard World

Chicago-Comicon-logo

Last weekend, Unshaven Comics were the guests of ComicMix, sitting in their booth at Wizard World Chicago. ComicMix was more than generous to allow the squatting, and I figure it behooves me to publicly thank them here.

So, after treating an insane bout of con crud upon coming home, I’ve had some time to troll social media to see what the world thought of the 39th variation on the original Chicago Comicon. The consensus amongst most of my friends was largely positive. But a few folks took to their feeds to take Wizard to task and dog-pile on the once crown-jewel of Chicago-based comic conventions. Perhaps it’s the massive dehydration I’m working myself off of, but I’ll be damned… I feel compelled to defend Wizard World Chicago.

First, let it be said: I myself have taken to putting Wizard World on blast before. I’ve also given them helpful advice. Suffice to say, WWC is my home show. This was the first con I ever attended as a fan. This was the first con I ever showed in as a creator. I have a love/hate relationship with it, as it is for so many cherished memories of our youth that don’t hold up upon later scrutiny. But somehow, within reading the dour thoughts of a random Facebook friend left me desiring to stand over the limp body of WWC and shout “leave her alone!”

Let’s be honest with ourselves: The advent of the Mega Con has mutated what was once the Comic Con. The big publishers now save their budget for San Diego, New York, and maybe a small handful of others. Why the Chicago snub? Same reason I assume they aren’t showing in Austin, Seattle, Baltimore, or a handful of other large metropolitan shows: It’s expensive, and thanks to the marketing of the TV and movie brands, the need to remind people they publish comic books isn’t as needed as it once was. Erecting a large booth, paying the travel and hotel costs of big named talent, and hosting panels with executives (who should be back bean-counting, and figuring out ways to enrage the internet) just doesn’t make sense when balancing the books at the end of the year. Obviously I could argue that the millions of dollars of profit earned for those TV and movie licenses might otherwise bankroll a larger convention showing – especially in America’s third largest city – but even if that were true, the big boys would sooner show up at C2E2.

So, without the big named publishers (or, really, any named publishers), Wizard World Chicago has opted instead to promote its contractually obligated appearances of a litany of celebrity guests. Because of this, my wife got to meet Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Renner, and Brett Dalton – all of whom were super nice and gave my wife lasting memories and keepsakes. A large showing of fans making their way to WWC come primarily for these meet-n-greets. I was once amongst those who bashed this concept. Spending potentially hundreds of dollars for an opportunity to take a picture with someone, to me personally, seems like a complete waste. But on the same token, taking into account how many hundreds of dollars I once used to purchase comics, graphic novels, statues, and other miscellanea leaves me at a stalemate. Autograph seekers are a part of pop culture as much as comic book collectors. And as much as it pains me to say it: Nathan Fillion will bring far more paid attendees to a convention than the promise of that one penciler on that book you like.

Wizard World Chicago has been a show in flux over the last few years. Call it growing pains, if you will. The shift from being a show that celebrated comic books first and foremost to the more general pop culture has left some in a state of bitterness. I myself was one of them for a long time. But hindsight is always 20/20. Comic books are a part of pop culture. Wizard is a business, and as such, pop culture is larger than comics alone. The shift to truly becoming a pop culture show means larger attendance. More vendors. More exhibitors. More panelists and programs. To decry the death of the Chicago Comicon because of Wizard is to blame San Diego, Reed, and the other convention giants around the country.

Wizard World Chicago is many things to many people. So long as comic books are at least some of those things? Then, leave WWC alone. It will never be what it once was. But if it continues to draw a large crowd willing to checkout the always-expanding Artist Alley, then who are we to judge? For those seeking the old-school Comic Cons of yesteryear, well, there’s still plenty of fantastic one day shows. Wizard, simply no longer is one of them.

 

Marc Alan Fishman Becomes a Viking!

SpringConBy the time these words hit you, I’ll have trekked across the barren wasteland known as Wisconsin (sorry, Cheeseheads!) to arrive at the Midwest Comic Book Association’s Spring Con, held annually in Minneapolis. Since Unshaven Comics started seeking conventions outside the Chicagoland area, Spring Con has long been a desired destination. Our compatriots sang nothing but praises for the show each year without fail. And with careful planning, we’re elated to schlep our way west (for once) in order to hawk our wares to the unsuspecting Vikings fans.

I always look forward to a new convention. Unshaven Comics has built a reputation on the cold sale. Why? Because we embrace the fact that no one knows us from Adam. Or the Atom. Or Adam Strange. Or Dr. Strange. I could go on. The simple truth is our Artist Alley table represents a pop-up artist’s commune. But a Domo Trading Card or hand-made commission by Matt is only an expression of our physical talents. The sale of a Samurnauts book is a representation of two very important things: it’s validation of our ability to create a fulfilling piece of fiction, and it’s assurance that we are able to tap into the market and minds of like-minded fans. It’s cliché, but it’s true; there is no greater satisfaction professionally.

Even better, Spring Con is very much a dying breed, one we hope to continue to pump life into. As a convention that isn’t owned by some large conglomerate seeking to grow its mound of gold atop the mountain… it’s one of those “wacky” shows that seemingly is founded first and foremost on the celebration of the culture. Not ‘pop’ culture – tacky, silly, D-List, exploitative wastes of time – comic culture.

Panels at Spring Con? Adam Hughes being interviewed by Bill Willingham. Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber discussing their process. And rather than purposefully gouge show-goers with inflated concessions and needless gifts? How about free autographs, free picnic areas, and free parking. And the coup-de-grace? Over 250 comic creators on hand, ready and waiting to interact with fans. While Reed and Wizard may boast similar numbers… they aren’t the type to offer a free dinner for their artists. Spring Con does. Sensing a theme?

Don’t get me wrong. Unshaven Comics would not be in business (such as it is) without Reed and Wizard. C2E2, Chicago Comic Con, and New York Comic Con combined for over a thousand book sales last year. In all honesty, if we top a buck fifty by the end of Sunday night, it’ll be a banner convention for we beardly boasters.

Spring Con – which is nearly all volunteer run – exists first and foremost to bring people together. For over 26 years now, it’s been a staple of the great lakes (one would assume). Reed, Wizard, and the like also desire to bring people together… but their purpose is profit, and no one questions it in the least. The fact that they continue to pick on the local conventions like MCBA, and try to push them out of town only endears them harder with the community of creators. Of course we all also attend those for-profit shows too; we need to eat at some point.

This brings up my last li’l point. You see, many people (OK, like three or four) have asked us how we’ve attained the successes we’ve enjoyed to this point – specifically regarding our track record at making all attended conventions lucrative.

Well, I could (and will eventually) spill those beans at a later date. For now though, how about one juicy secret. We count everything. We count books in, books out, dollars in, dollars out, number of pitches, number of unique customers, number of up-sells, yadda yadda. And when we do a new show, we bring our data with us to try to figure out what sort of business we should expect. And when we leave the show, we debrief on the car trip home. Spring Con brings with it the most important thing Unshaven covets… numbers. But I digress.

Should you find yourself in or around the Minneapolis / St. Paul area today or tomorrow? Make your way out to the state fairgrounds, and find your way to our table. We’ll pitch, you buy. Sounds like a plan! There’s nothing more invigorating than a new set of fans to be made. I’ve built a semi-career around it. So, for the time being, I’m happy to declare it:

Go Vikings.

 

John Ostrander: Time and Space and Remembrance

Ostrander Art 131124An unusual convergence of historical dates of different emotional resonances for me occurred this weekend – the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and what would have been the sixtieth birthday of my late wife, Kimberly Ann Yale.

Like many Americans, I remember where I was when I heard the news of JFK. I was in my history class at Quigley Preparatory Seminary North near downtown Chicago. The word that the President was shot came over the loudspeaker used for school announcements, followed a little later by the news of his death. I was stunned, in denial. I remember little else of that day. I think school was closed and we were sent home.

Kim’s dad was a Navy chaplain and they were living on-base at the time. She later told me how she was at school off-base and had to hurry back. The base was going into lockdown after the assassination and if she was outside when the gates closed, she wouldn’t have been able to get home. That was her tenth birthday.

For me, I place the days of my youth between two sets of gunshots – the ones that killed JFK and the ones that killed John Lennon on December 8, 1980. I was 14 for the former and 31 for the latter. Both gave me a slightly darker sense of the world around me and the country in which I lived. Both events inform my writing to this day.

The day after Kennedy was killed, a new TV series was launched over in the UK – Doctor Who. The series tells of the adventures of a time-traveling alien Time Lord and his (usually) human companions through time and space. When William Hartnell, the original actor playing the part, became too ill to continue the series, the producers came up with a key concept to the longevity of the series: when a Time Lord faced the death of his mortal body, it can “regenerate” into a wholly new form and, even more significant, a different character. Most important, there’s a whole new actor with a new interpretation of the main character. That, I think, has been key to keeping the series fresh and vital.

I met Kim through Doctor Who. I loved the Doctor and wanted to be the Doctor. I also knew that the odds, then or now, of an American ever playing the part was virtually non-existent. However, I was an actor in Chicago and a sometimes playwright and less often a producer. So I conceived of an idea of getting the rights to put on a play version of the Doctor in Chicago.

I managed to arrange a meeting with show runner John Nathan-Turner during a combined Chicago Comic Con and Doctor Who Convention (sometimes referred to as the Sweat Con since the hotel’s air conditioning unit proved inadequate to the number of people attending and outside it was a 106° Chicago August day). John Nathan-Turner brought along Terry Nation (creator of the Daleks for Doctor Who) and Mr. Nation brought along a lovely young woman with big eyes, curly hair, and a megawatt smile who was his assistant for the Con. That was Kim.

To describe Kim as a Doctor Who fan doesn’t begin to describe it. She was also very knowledgeable on all things Time Lord and I used her an a consultant as I developed the script. Nothing else developed at the time; Kim was married and I don’t fool around that way.

We became a couple only later, after the play project had folded and her marriage had broken up. My romantic life at that point was, if anything, even worse than my theatrical career. I’d given up dating; I hadn’t seen anyone in almost two years. It just seemed too painful to try. Kim and I had kept in touch and she was also a big fan of my work on GrimJack, the comic book I had created for First Comics.

I should note here that Doctor Who was an influence on creating GrimJack. It might seem that the two couldn’t be less alike but one of the things I loved about Doctor Who was that you could do any kind of story. They did horror, they did Westerns, they did everything and I wanted to do that with GrimJack. In that sense, he was my Doctor. Later, we showed he could even reincarnate. There is a darkness to the series that I can, in part, trace back to the assassination of Jack Kennedy.

Kim wrote to me about a specific issue of GrimJack that had affected and resonated with her; I found it a little strange that she would write since we lived less than a mile apart and she had my phone number. I told her this and she replied that some things were best expressed in writing. What can I say? I’m a writer; I understood that. Kim was a writer as well. That night was the night our relationship changed. That was the night we started to become a couple.

It’s just coincidence, I suppose, that the three dates are in such proximity to one another. We assign meaning to dates, both as a people and as individuals. It’s an accident that the significant anniversaries of the assassination, Kim’s birthday, and the launching of Doctor Who are in conjunction this year. The connections that I see, that I feel, among them are mine. We are all the results of the various events that have happened in our lives and none of them occur in a vacuum. This weekend, I remember and honor three that were significant to me.

MONDAY MORNING: Mindy Newell

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten

 

Marc Alan Fishman: How to Meet Your Heroes*

Fishman Art 131109*And not stick your foot in your mouth, come across like an idiot, or otherwise embarrass yourself.

The other day I hopped into Facebook because, you know, why not be pseudo-social, right?. I noted in my news feed that the show-runner from the Kokomo (Indiana) Comic Con was pleading to his friends, customers, and followers to help him live a dream – to secure Denny O’Neil for the 2014 Kokomo Comic Con. I figured since I shared column space with the living legend, I might be able to lend a hand. I made some introductions via e-mail, and well… the gentlemen are ironing out the details. Suffice to say, I love their con, and hope to see Denny there next year. Heck, I hope I see John, Mike, Michael, Emily, Martha, Mindy, Adriane, Glenn and everyone who reads my column there! But then again, like the aforementioned show-runner, I am a dreamer.

Several times throughout my life I’ve been able to meet men and women I greatly admired. And in every instance I wedged my foot so far down my mouth, I passed shoelaces. It’s taken many years, many opportunities, and a few lucky breaks to finally figure out the best way to meet someone I admire and come out of said meeting with my feet solidly beneath me. Consider this my three easy steps for not making the same mistakes I did.

Look where you are.

When you come across that special celebrity / comic writer / artist / C-List celebrity from a reality show you enjoyed back in 2008, do yourself a favor and look where you’re about to initiate a conversation. Are you bumping in to them in a coffee shop or are you in a receiving line at a convention? Context is key. If you’re running into them in a setting where they might be trying to live their life, be considerate. Yes, they may hold significance to you and your life would not be complete without telling them exactly how they’ve impacted your experiences as a night nurse in the Lackawanna County Jail… but let them get that cup of coffee. If they don’t look like they are in a terrible hurry, then go on, cowboy.

How did I learn this lesson? I ran into Mark Waid at the Chicago Comic Con about a decade ago. He was perusing some long boxes deep in the heart of the dealer room. Without warning, amidst hauling out a pile of Scrooge McDuck comics, I bolted up to him, and immediately started blabbing away. He smiled, gave me a curt answer to one of the 1,000 questions I stammered out, and pulled his focus back towards the dealer. I turned a brighter shade of red, and limped away. Flash Fact: Creators don’t walk the show floor looking to be interviewed. Sometimes they’re just enjoying being a fan.

Think before you speak.

I know it’s cliché. But it’s a long-standing piece of advice for a reason. A big thing we geeks tend to forget in mid-frenzy is that our heroes are in the industries we love… but that doesn’t automatically make them as fervent, opinionated, or as knowledgeable in the minutiae of their specific craft as we may be. I like to equate this to the person at the office party who bends his co-workers ears off about work. Your heroes are people. They have likes and dislikes that don’t always align perfectly with what they do for a living. While I myself love talking comics, I also love the Chicago Bears, haute cuisine, and the acoustic-stylings of the Barenaked Ladies. So too, might Wil Wheaton have more interest in the finer points of liberal politics over phaser settings.
Simply put, when you have an opportunity to have a little repartee with an esteemed person of note? Be original. Sure, you can tell them you love their work. But in the day and age of the Internet, Wikipedia, and social media, why not have a question about something outside of the norm? I’ve found that when I catch someone off guard with a question, comment, or anecdote they weren’t expecting? It breaks the ice, and moves the conversation beyond the normal small-talk that dissipates without even a lingering memory. My case in point: Pitching to Dan DiDio to buy my book because the stickers I threw in with the deal “are totally better than those ten cent rings you’re giving away for Blackest Night.” And you know what? He bought the book, and laughed.

Remember it’s not a pitch meeting, job interview, or investment opportunity.

When you come face to face with someone you admire, there just might be that catch in your throat… that little voice in your head that says “Hey, when will you ever have this chance again! Tell them about how you can save the franchise!” Obviously though, it’s not gonna happen. Trust me when I tell you this: I’ve spent the last five years finding every way possible to dance around the idea that I’m one joke, one conversation, one chance blurb away from landing that big gig I’ve always wanted. I’m now older, wiser, and weary; conventions are where deals get started, yes, but not because you want them too.
I’ve been lucky enough to have breakfast with a CEO of a company I would shave my face to be a part of. I broke literal bread with the man. I was witty. I listened attentively. I asked leading questions. I even got an industry veteran to vouch for what good work I was doing. And you know what? I’m not working with that company now, and can safely say it’s not on the horizon either. Lucky for me, the breakfast was damned tasty and the next time I saw that CEO he waved hi and asked me how Unshaven Comics was doing.

Sorry for going a bit long today, kiddos. I’m just looking out for you. Next time you run into that retired wrestler, cosplaying sexy Spongebob, or Kevin Smith at the Quick Stop? Remember: look where you are, think before you speak, and don’t waste your opportunity to make a memory in lieu of begging for a job they don’t have the power to give you on the spot. Shake their hand. Tell them why you love their work. Ask about their favorite album released in the last year, and then leave on a laugh. Those coveted creators and celebrities are just human, and as such, it’s worth it to enjoy making a human connection with them.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

 

Mike Gold: The Big Booth 1105 Crossover

imagesIt was fated to happen. ComicMix is participating in our very first crossover.

This coming weekend – as in Friday, Saturday and Sunday – ComicMix will once again be appearing at the C2E2 comics and pop culture convention at Chicago’s McCormick Place, on the scenic downtown shore Lake Michigan near the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Natural History Museum, and that formerly beautiful football (and, next March, hockey) stadium Soldier (sic) Field – before that hideous flying saucer landed on top of it.

More prestigious still, we ComicMixers will be teaming up with our good buddies at Unshaven Comics. This means the “good” Marc Alan Fishman will be appearing at the same booth as the “evil” Marc Alan Fishman. And if they inadvertently touch… well, let’s just say people will stop bitching about Mrs. O’Leary’s improperly defamed cow.

Representing ComicMix: Glenn Hauman, Adriane Nash, either the good or the evil Marc Alan Fishman (I can never tell which one is which) and yours fairly truly. We will be making two – count ‘em two ­– major announcements at the show, each of which will be promptly detailed in this slice of the etherverse. I won’t tip our collective hand, but I will say this: the second of these announcements will reveal what “CMPS” stands for. I mean this in the acronymical sense, and not in any ethical sense. Certainly not.

We’ll be at booth 1105 in case you didn’t read the headline, and you should because the editor-in-chief spends a lot of time obsessing over them. We eagerly await the opportunity to meet you. Unless you’re rude or insulting; then, we eagerly await the opportunity to let out our pent-up convention aggression. In my case, well, I’ve been going to comic book conventions for 45 years now. But I also used to be among the crowd that founded and ran the amazingly perfect Chicago Comicon, so I know this won’t be an issue.

Truth be told, I like Chicago conventions that are actually held within the city limits. There’s a bunch of reasons for this: the fans are amazingly friendly, the food is unbelievable, the city is everything great that New York City says it is but isn’t and can never be, and – most important – the Fire Marshal, for some odd reason, actually enforces the fire laws at massive conglomerations of humans and paper goods.

Holy Odin’s Eyehole, I’m gotta get it from insecure New Yorkers, aren’t I? Well, as you read this I’m already in Chicago (meetings, meetings, meetings; all at amazing restaurants) so I can only respond in person on the convention floor. Please re-read the sentence above about rude or insulting people and my 45 years of pent-up convention aggression.

We’re gonna have us a swell time. And to take tongue out of cheek for a rare moment, I hope you-all can share those swell times with us.

I hope to see you this weekend.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

 

Roger Ebert, Behind The Screen

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.clsThe multitude of Roger Ebert obituaries were wrong. I knew a different guy.

The Roger Ebert I knew was this kid fresh out of college who, after about a year at the Chicago Sun-Times, was pressed into service helping high school newspaper editors improve their craft. I was sports editor at the Niles High West Word, and the guy painstakingly yet affably showed me a slew of techniques that immediately improved my work, stuff that I use to this day, stuff that, as an editor, I share with others.

Just a few years later, the Roger Ebert I knew befriended the “underground” newspaper that employed me, the Chicago Seed (our circulation topped out near 50,000 copies so I always put quotes around “underground”). I was up at the Sun-Times one day in the early 1970s when Roger came into the city room and was mobbed by his fellow staffers, all congratulating him for his just-published piece in Esquire Magazine. He laughed and handed out copies of a different magazine that also carried his by-line, saying he was much more proud of that sale. The magazine was a science fiction digest, Fantastic, edited by the brilliant Ted White. Some people thought Ebert was kidding. Those people were wrong.

Like every other Chicago institution and individual, The Seed had its favorite pizza joint: Pat’s Pizza, on Sheffield about a half-mile north of our office. We shared this passion with Roger, and I would often – surprisingly often – run into him there. The guy knew his pizza joints.

Like his competitor and broadcast partner Gene Siskel, Ebert had strong passions towards the comics medium. When, in 1976, I was among the handful of people who organized the first Chicago Comicon, Roger called to ask if I could line up an interview with Harvey Kurtzman, one of our guests-of-honor. Even though I was familiar with his interest, I was taken aback. In 1976, if the press covered comics at all the headline always contained the words “pow,” “zap,” and/or “crash,” and focused on the imbeciles who would pay $35.00 for a 20-year old piece of crap. Ebert saw comics as an important storytelling medium and Kurtzman as one of its most important auteurs, a view with which I strongly agree. He was one of the first reporters to take us seriously. He was most certainly the first Pulitzer Prize winning reporter to bestow the light of credibility upon our medium.

I more-or-less lost touch with Ebert when I moved out to New York and he became tied up with his television show and his movie festival and such. But I never forgot that important push he gave me back when he was only in his early 20s. And I am forever grateful.

Roger Ebert died Thursday of complications from cancer, after a half-century of a career that can best, and most succently, be described as “two thumbs up.”

Thanks, Roger.

 

JOHN OSTRANDER: WWKL?

This week marked fifteen years since the death of my sometime writing partner and lovely wife, Kimberly Ann Yale. Since here we talk about pop culture in so many different forms, I thought I would pose myself a question – WWKL? What Would Kim Like? What has come out since her death that she would really have gotten into?

Let’s start right here – on the Internet. First of all, she would have loved ComicMix and probably would have had her own column here. Kim was a terrific essayist – much better at it than me, I think. She was thoughtful, she picked words with care and grammar and punctuation really mattered to her. Me? If it gets past spellchek, I’m good.

In fact, I think Kim would have been all over the Internet. She would have had a blog or two or three, she would have been answering other peoples’ blogs, she would have been Queen of Facebook. Facebook was invented for someone like Kim. She would have had a bazillion friends on FB. I would have had to pry the computer from her.

Kim was also big into monsters and horror, vampires being her especial faves. I think she would have favored True Blood over the others because of the sex and the melodrama and the Southern-fried aspects of it all. (Kim’s mom was Southern and Kim fancied herself as a Southern belle. Kind of hard to do when you’re born up North but her mind worked it around.) The Dark Shadows movie starring Johnny Depp? Eeeeeeeeee! She would be camped out for it right now.

I think both The Walking Dead comic and TV series would have sucked her in but she would have been tickled by Shaun Of The Dead. Kim had a terrific sense of humor and the world’s most infectious laugh. Trust me – if you were a stand-up comic or doing a comedy in the theater, you wanted Kim in the audience.

I wonder what she would have made of Cowboys And Aliens? She was the one who got me started watching westerns and they were among her favorite genre films and, of course, adding sci/fi to it would have really intrigued her but I’m not sure what she would have made of the execution. I only give it two stars and I think she would have agreed (Kim also worked as a movie critic back in Chicago for a small suburban newspaper, so she could really knew how to dissect a movie.)

On the cowboys and spaceships mode, I think she would have been into both Firefly and the movie tie-up, Serenity. And Nathan Fillion would have led her to the Castle TV series (she also loved fun mysteries and strong female characters).

Then there’s Doctor Who. Kim and I met at a Doctor Who con (actually, a combined Doctor Who / Chicago Comic Con) and she would have rejoiced at the Doctor’s return. I think she would have liked David Tennant’s Doctor the best; she would have described him as a “creamie” – as in cream your jeans. However, she would have liked all three incarnations that have come out since the series’ return and, as a writer, would really enjoyed Stephen Moffat’s writing and now running of the franchise. She would have also liked his take on Sherlock Holmes and on Jekyll and Hyde. I stopped watching the latter during its first season; not because it wasn’t good but because it really creeped me out too much.

On movies, she would have been amazed and ecstatic with The Lord of the Rings trilogy and would, as Mary and I are doing, been waiting impatiently for The Hobbit movies coming out. Viggo Mortensen would also have been counted as a creamie.

She would have been fascinated by how CGI made superhero movies possible and what happened as a result. Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, especially The Dark Knight, would have sucked her in and, come Hallowe’en, she would have dressed up as Ledger’s Joker, no question in my mind about it.  I think, however, she would have been even more taken with Inception – Kim had an active dreamscape and tried to spend as much time in it as possible so the movie’s setting would have fascinated her.

She would have liked Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man (less so the sequel) not only because he was so good (and he was) but because she was also a sucker for redemption stories and Downey’s reclamation of his career would have stirred her. She would also have really liked Chris Hemsworth as Thor (creamie) and the whole Captain America film and she would really be anticipating The Avengers, not the least because Joss Whedon is helming it.

I could go on much longer but I think I’ve tried everyone’s patience enough. I may be just projecting onto Kim what some of my own likes and dislikes are but it refreshes her memory in my own mind and heart, keeping the flame alive. She was full of life and she would have brought that with her into the future. Like all those we treasure, she lives on in me and in all those she loved and loved her.

Memory doesn’t die with the body, and neither does love.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

 

MIKE GOLD: X-Ray Specs

Reading Michael Davis’s last two columns brings to mind a story; a story about glasses.

I can’t tell you the exact year, but it was around 1990. We were in Chicago (go figure) at the late, lamented Chicago Comicon, since subsumed by Wizard World. By “we” I am referring to Messrs Davis, Cowan, Ostrander, Grell, and my former wife Ann DeLarye. Ann had to get back to New York on business and, therefore, I had to drive her to the airport nearby. It was late at night. Very late. The time of night when only Richard Belzer would wear sunglasses.

Since Michael and Denys and I had late night things to do – probably involving Ostrander and Grell because, as you inferred from Michael’s column yesterday, we often hung out together at conventions, certainly at Chicago shows where Ostrander and I, and to a slightly lesser extent Grell, knew the city like the back of our usually typing hands. In the door pocket of my car (yes, whenever possible I drive everywhere east of the Mississippi and north of the Mason-Dixon Line) was a pair of wraparound shades. Sort of like the type Cyclops would wear if he didn’t mind melting the plastic. I was blessed with great peripheral vision and on long highway drives sometimes it’s helpful for me to wear them to minimize the blinding sun coming across the open fields along the highway. This isn’t as much of a problem today as I’m almost completely blind and I’ll probably run you over no matter which direction the sunlight comes from.

However, at that time there was only one logical reason for me to don wraparound shades at 11:30 at night: I wanted to mindfuck Davis and Cowan. So, on my head they went.

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Chicago Comicon: A Tale of Two Cons (Part Three)

Chicago Comicon: A Tale of Two Cons (Part Three)

Hello again, one and all. I’m back for this final day to wrap up my thoughts on the 2010 Chicago Comic Con, as presented by Wizard. See what they did there? Fooled you. Same way we all don’t know Xfiniity is actually Comcast, and Fox News is actually Satan’s News Network. When we last left off, I’d given a fairly positive review of the dealer floor. While it feels like the Swap-O-Rama had a child with that creepy guy who shows up at the comic store in sweatpants and an original 1978 Incredible Hulk shirt stained with brown mustard… the dealer floor offers a plethora of deals, steals, and hard-to-find collectibles that you’d just not find if not for the gaping square footage of a convention hall. With that said, it’s time we wrap up this little tour of the “Big-Con-That-Could… but didn’t.”

I want to start this final day’s wrap up with a little pull-quote from Wizard concerning former Illinois Governor Rod “1 count of fraud is better than 24” Blagojevich, and his attendance on Saturday.

“Wizard
World Chicago Comic Con is all about pop culture, and Rod Blagojevich is
as relevant to today’s news as it gets,” said Gareb Shamus, CEO of
Wizard Entertainment. “We think the court of public opinion will show
him to be a popular figure at the show.”

I couldn’t state it any better folks. Wizard World Chicago Comic Con is all about ‘pop culture’. Never mind that COMIC is in the title. Never mind that a SINGLE comic book publisher showed on the “exhibitor floor”. Never mind that the same floor was dominated by C, D, and Z level celebrities. Gareb Shamus has turned a show that once was the San Diego Comic Con of the Mid-West into a glorified flea market and three ring circus. I lamented earlier that for me, the meat and potatoes of a convention comes in it’s programming and exhibitors. At this con, the main floor boasted booths for everything BUT comics. In fact, aside from Avatar’s presence, a con goer walking into the show floor may not even reach an actual book until the dealer room. And with panels ranging from iPhone game demos to a “celebration of die-cast car collecting” … they might as well do themselves a favor and take COMIC out of the title. In all honesty, as a comic book fan, I resent that a casual con goer would think what they saw in that hall was a representation of what comic fans like.

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