Tagged: Denver Comic Con

Mindy Newell: Denver, Stormtroopers, and Farts

X-Wing @ DCC, 2016

So as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted by fellow columnist Emily S. Whitten calls “Convention Crud” and I called, last week, “Airplane Adenovirus”…

Me & R2I had an ABFAB time at the Denver Comic Con 2016!

That’s “Absolutely Fabulous” for those of you too young to remember the BBC show.

Overseen by the Denver-based Pop Culture Classroom, a non-profit organization whose aim is to use comics and other pop culture media to educate kids and inform the public, the con is held annually at the Colorado Convention Center, an edifice that puts the Jacob Javits Center here in New York to total shame, in downtown Denver. Incredibly yuuuge – it stretches over four city blocks – with many atriums letting in the sunlight of the Mile High City, the con never felt crowded, despite its 100,000+ attendance.

I was invited because of my connection to Wonder Woman, who was created by William Moulton Marston 75 years ago this year. I must admit to having some trepidation, because, to be completely honest, I didn’t think that my work on the Amazon Princess was remembered, and I had images of sitting alone and ignored for three days. To make it worse, I hadn’t thought to bring any samples of my work to put out on display, so my table was white and bare in comparison to my nearest neighbors, authors and artists whose work was exhibited in beautiful and multi-colored presentations.

(To be fair to myself, I actually have very little of my work here at home. Over the years I have given out 99% of my work to my daughter’s friends, to cousins and the children of friends for birthday, communion, and bar-or-bas mitzvah presents, and for Halloween treats.)

Getting Timey-Winy, DCC, 2016But those little fears disappeared immediately as I became entranced by everything at the convention. The first thing I saw when I entered the Exhibitors Hall was a “life-size” beat-up and dented X-Wing fighter, looking as if it had just returned from a rendezvous with the Imperial fleet. (I immediately took the above picture.) The next thing I saw were two Stormtroopers, and I handed my phone to the volunteer who was leading me to my table as I stepped between them; she obligingly snapped a photo.

I was, as my daughter had put it as she drove me to the airport, “with my people.”

I was on many panels, not all of them to do with “Women and Comics.” Pop Culture also features educational classes for kids and adults at the convention, and I was slated to lead “Creating a Four-Panel Comic,” which was for kids [I would say] from eight-years old and down. That experience is one of my most treasured memories!

When Alix was in elementary school I gave some “lectures” on creating a story for her English class, so I wasn’t at all nervous. I immediately involved the kids in the audience, not staying on the stage, but going into the audience and letting them talk into the microphone. The kids proved to be incredibly imaginative and involved. A young girl volunteered the superhero, named FlashDash for her super-speed. The villain was Lunchbox. This bad guy carries a lunchbox, and inside it are burritos. “Burritos?” I laughed along with audience, who were obviously enjoying themselves. “And what do the burritos do?”

“They explode,” said the young boy, who was about seven, and whose name I can’t remember, damn my menopausal memory!

“And when they explode, it smells like the worst fart ever! The smell will kill you!”

Well, I don’t know about you, but fart jokes crack me up. Just the mention of the word fart makes me go silly. So imagine the reaction of the audience and those within hearing distance – remember, me and the kids were using a microphone – when the young man said this. A gigantic Bwa-bwa-hah-hah! went up and echoed in Exhibitors Hall.

I didn’t want to embarrass the boy. “That is absolutely fantastic,” I said, still smiling and laughing a little. “Lunchbox uses the exploding burritos the way Hobgoblin uses his pumpkin bombs. That is so great.”

“So how does FlashDash defeat Lunchbos?” I asked. The creator of Lunchbox shot up his hand, and even though I really wanted to involve some other kids, everyone was looking at him, so I went with the flow.

Me & 2 Buddies, DCC, 2016FlashDash waves her cape super-fast and blows away the fart,” he said.

I’m tellin’ y’all, this kid is going to be a comics superstar in about 20 or 25 years, or even sooner!

Meanwhile, up on the podium, my artist, a really talented young guy named Colton, was drawing all of this out on an easel in four panels. We had three, so far.

“Okay,” I said, “So FlashDash, in the first panel, meets Lunchbox. The second panel shows Lunchbox throwing the burrito and it exploding.” Colton used wiggly lines to show the farts’s uh, “waves of stink.”

“The third panel has FlashDash waving her cape at super-speed, dispersing the fart cloud. So we have one more panel. What happens?”

A little girl, a very little girl, she must have been four years old, bashfully waved her hand, and I walked up to her. “FlashDash’s dragon uses his fire breath and burns up Lunchbox’s lunchbox,” she said softly. I’m telling y’all, this child was absolutely adorable.

“Oh, FlashDash has a pet dragon?” I asked her. She smiled shyly and nodded. I turned to Colton, who was already adding a little dragon hovering over FlashDash’s shoulder to the preceding panels. I said to the audience that this was an example of a writer and an artist “editing” their work, meaning changing it to make it better.

Then Colton drew the final panel, with the dragon’s fire breath melting the burrito-containing lunchbox.

DCC, 2016“And that’s the end of Lunchbox and his exploding fart burritos,” I said. “FlashDash and her pet dragon have saved the day.”

We weren’t able to photocopy the story, but many parents and kids came up to the podium and snapped photos of the “Four-Panel Comic.”

Yep, I had an AbFab time in Denver. I caught up with old friends – Andy Mangels, Barbara Randall Kesel, Timothy Truman, Trina Robbins, Peter David – and made new ones – Cat Staggs, Yannick Paquette, LJ Hachmeister, Joe Staton, Hannah Means Shannon (a.k.a. Hannah Menzies), Marguerite Sauvage, and Jeff Hendon and his wife.

I met so many terrific people, I could fill this whole column with their names alone. I met that at the convention, I met them at the hotel. I met Jae Lee on the ride back to the airport.

I sat on panels and signed autographs and took pictures with fans. Oh, yeah, remember how I talked about my white, bare table? I found Mile High Comics, and bought a bunch of my comics, including issues of Wonder Woman (including what I consider mine and George Pérez’s best work on the title, #46, “Chalk Drawings”), “Lois Lane: When It Rains, God Is Crying,” and “Legionnaires Three.” (I then gave them as a gift to my Exhibitors Hall neighbor, the aforementioned Jeff Herndon, an amazing illustrator in the Denver area, and his wife in exchange for a beautiful painting of Gail Godot as Wonder Woman. I wanted to pay for it, but he and his wife wouldn’t hear of it, so instead we did the “barter.”)

Comics. Celebrities. An X-Wing, Stormtroopers, and R2-D2. The TARDIS.

And farts.

It was a helluva’ weekend.

Mindy Newell: Post-Denver Blues

Hey, guys, I’m home.

I was going to tell y’all about my absolutely fabulous weekend at the Denver Comic Con, but besides bringing home great memories, super inspiration, and renewed zest to write a children’s book and some comics, I also brought home…

Something not so pleasant.

It started with a sore throat on Wednesday morning—my tonsils were swollen and it hurt to swallow, but I felt all right otherwise, so figured it was from the air conditioning and popped an Advil along with my tea and usual dosages of Vitamin C and D3 and all those anti-oxidant supplements. And I felt better by the afternoon.

But it didn’t go away. Not really. I felt okay enough to visit with Alix and Jeff and my little Meyer on Thursday night (and really ate too much of absolutely delicious home-made pizza), but I awoke on Friday morning with a sledgehammer working out a beat on my head and absolutely no desire to get up. And the rest of the weekend has been just as joyful

I don’t think it’s the flu, even though I’m totally knocked out and can barely drag my ass to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and every joint and muscle is aching and I’m coughing like poor, tubercular Alex Randall in last night’s penultimate episode of Outlander, Season Two, except that I’m not bringing up blood, thank God, and not even very much phlegm, which I actually wish I could because I can feel it in there weighing down my chest like an anvil and I want to get it out of my system. But I still don’t think it’s the flu because I don’t have a fever, and that’s pretty much the single symptom that rules in flu as a diagnosis and delineates it from “just a cold.”

At least I don’t think I do—I haven’t taken my temperature because my thermometer is somewhere in my laundry closet, and I’ve been too tired to get up from the couch to dig it out.

So I’ve just been taking Advil and drinking lots of water and grapefruit juice—‘cause I don’t like o.j.—and limeade and sucking on ice cubes. And yes, chicken soup and lentil soup and tomato soup.

The consensus is that I got sick from the plane because “everybody gets sick from the plane.” Only then why didn’t I actually get sick in Denver? (Yeah, yeah, I know, incubation periods and all that—it was cooking, in other words.)

Anyway, whatever it is, whether a summer cold or a mild flu or the dread “Airplane Adenovirus,” I feel like shit.

Plus, I can’t stop worrying that I’ve infected my almost 3 years-old grandson.

So next week I’ll tell you about my adventure in the Mile High City and all the great people, pros and fans, I met and about how it was so damn hot and humid I felt like I was still in New York City. Okay?

I’m going back to bed.

Mindy Newell: Star Trek’s Commodore Donald? I Can’t Even…

doomsday machine trump

The absolute shit that is coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth is just…

I can’t even.

I’m writing this on Thursday, when I should (finally) be packing, because my daughter is picking me up at 1:30 this afternoon for my flight to Denver and the Comic Con. But this column appears on Monday afternoon and I’ll still be in the Mile High City, so I got up early, made myself a cup of tea, and sat down to talk about how I’m looking forward to the convention, my first in years…

… but I put on Morning Joe (on MSNBC) and I’m sitting here with my mouth open and my political side spinning as I watch Joe and Mika and Willie and their panel and their guest report on and talk about the absolute shit that is coming out of the Republican nominee’s mouth.

This week Trump has:

(1) Said that President Obama has “something else in mind” concerning ISIS and terrorist attack, then saying “I’ll let people just try to figure out what I said” when questioned by the press as to exactly what he meant by that… and retweeting an article from the news organization Breitbart that Obama supports terrorists. In case you didn’t figure it out, Trump has accused the President of treasonous actions.

(2) Banned the Washington Post from covering his campaign because of “inaccurate reporting.” Which news organization is next? He’s already banished BuzzFeed, Politico, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, The Des Moines Register, and others.

(3) Tweeting “i told you so!” and “appreciate the congrats” and that he is the only one who can stop “them.” after the Orlando attack. (Yeah, that’s right, it’s all about him.)

(4) Said at a speech in Greensboro, North Carolina that “Iraq, crooked as hell. How about bringing baskets of money? Millions and millions of dollars and handing it out? I want to know, who are the soldiers that had that job because I think they’re living very well right now, whoever they may be.” (Yes, 115 U.S. soldiers were convicted of theft and bribery in Afghanistan and Iraq – but since the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, “2.5 million members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and related Reserve and National Guard units have been deployed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars,” according to Department of Defense data. You do the math. The man is insulting the thousands who were killed and the hundreds of thousands who will carry scars, physical and mental, from those wars for the rest of their lives.)

(5) Told his own Republican party to just “be quiet” if they can’t support it, saying that he’ll “go it alone.” In other words, butt out!

Actually, that’s exactly what a growing number of Republicans are now starting to do. I almost feel sorry for them, as Ryan and McConnell and House Republicans and Senate Republicans find themselves drawn into “The Doomsday Machine,” staring down into its monstrous maw like Commodore Matt Decker as his shuttle is drawn into the beast, like Captain James T. Kirk waiting to be beamed back to the Enterprise as the Constellation gets closer and closer to the beast:

Kirk: (on the Constellation) Beam me aboard.

Spock: (on the bridge of the Enterprise) Energize.

Kyle: (in the Transporter room) Bridge, it’s shorted out again.

Scott: (in the Jefferies tube) Och, what’s wrong with it?

Kirk: Gentlemen, beam me aboard.

Spock: We can’t Captain. Transporter is out again.

Spock: Mister Scott, twenty seconds to detonation.

Spock: Mister Scott?

Spock? Mister Scott…

Spock: Try inverse phasing.

Sulu: (on the bridge of the Enterprise) Sixty kilometers, fifty, forty…

Sulu: (voice heard on Kirk’s communicator) Thirty…

Kirk: Gentlemen, I suggest you beam me aboard.

An absolutely brilliant episode written by award-winning science fiction author Norman Spinrad. Of course Kirk is rescued at the very last second before the man-made Doomsday Machine is “killed.”

Trump is also “man-made,” by a Republican party that put power and control over everything else – including love of country. He is their Frankenstein monster, “The Doomsday Machine” that is now running amok and destroying the very thing that created him. And the Republicans have no script, no award-winning author to write the page on which the brilliant engineer jimmies the Jefferies tube and fixes the transporter to save the heroic captain at the very last second

I can’t even.

Mindy Newell: On The Road Again

Denver Comic ConMy parents were not the types to do “stay-cations.” In their lives together they travelled around the country and the globe by car, by cruise ship, or by jet, although they never did make it to China or India as a couple. My mom wanted to go there, because, I think, my dad had been stationed in the CBI (China-Burma-India) theater of operations during WWII, and he would claim he had had enough of Chinese food to last him the rest of his life. This explains why we are the only Jewish family I’ve ever met who never went to a Chinese restaurant on Christmas, but actually I think it was because he didn’t want to dredge up old memories, the rotten kind.

Anyway, I don’t remember where they were, but on one vacation they met Muhammad Ali, who was gracious enough to take a photo with them. (I wish I had that photo to post, but I have no idea where it is these days.) This was sometime in the early 70s, and the country was not yet out of Vietnam, so I was a bit surprised to find out that they admired Ali not just for his boxing, but for his stand against the war. This was because at that time I was still a rather bratty kid who thought her parents were two of those middle-aged “love it or leave it” types who swallowed every lie coming out of Washington.

That picture was my first inkling that my father and my mother were individuals, intelligent people able to see past the bullshit and form their own opinions. Did this mean they were going to go out and march against the war? No, they weren’t that radical. But that war sure pissed them off. (A decade later, I first learned of Eisenhower’s warning about this country’s “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address to Congress in a conversation with my dad shortly after they returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where they went to the newly opened Vietnam Memorial.)

Speaking of traveling, this weekend, Friday, June 17 through Sunday, June 19, I’ll be a guest at the Denver Comic Con, put on by the Pop Culture Classroom, a non-profit organization that was founded in 2010 as the Comic Book Classroom. Their aim is to enhance kids’ education and reading ability through the use of comic books and related media.

I really, really love their mission; I know it’s hard to believe for many of the younger fans, but once upon a time reading comics was not considered by any standard to be “cool.” If anything, it was generally thought of as being a sign of moronic ability, of the very opposite of intelligence, of an early-warning system to detect juvenile delinquency and a future that would definitely include time in the Big House. I know that my own parents, although proud of my early reading skills, were worried enough to consult with my “Uncle” Max – he wasn’t really my uncle, but our families were that close to warrant the moniker – who was a principal in the then-noted New York Public Schools System (yeah, hard to believe, huh?) and who told them not to worry, “the important thing was that I was reading, not only reading, but developing a real love of the written word.” And besides, how many 5-year olds could tell you that the Earth was “93,000,000 miles away” (thanks for those Editor’s Notes, Julie [Schwartz]) or could tell what the word invulnerable meant? Or that Metropolis and Gotham were actually synonyms for the word “city.” (I remember puzzling that out and then thinking it was funny and weird that Superman’s hometown was really just called “City” and that Batman’s turf was actually named “City City.”)

So come look for me in Denver – home to Peyton, brother of Eli – and say hi. I’ll have a table in Artist’s Alley (which is kind of surprising to me, to be honest, because I’m definitely not an artist; stick figures is what you’ll get from me, and not even good stick figures) and I’m on a bunch of panels, including one dedicated to Wonder Woman, who’s celebrating her 75th anniversary this year – damn, she looks good for her age! – and one called “Superstars of the 70s, 80s, & ‘90s.” which made me laugh, because I never thought of myself as a “superstar,” and then made me look in the mirror and wonder about a facelift – or at least Botox. And five more, including “Women in the Industry Today.”

Which is kind of sad, in a way, because at my very first convention, in Chicago, which is where I met BFF Kim Yale and her hubby, Johnny O., I was on a panel about “Women in Comics,” and that was 30 years ago. As pal Martha Thomases says, when is there going to be a panel about “Men in Comics?”

But don’t worry. I still have a lot to say.

Don’t I always?