I’m thrilled for the Black Panther’s cinematic success. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s just another a Marvel superhero movie that happens to be about an African superhero. This phenomenon is a great adventure and so much more. It includes the success of a positive message and of a black director and of a mostly black cast. Black Panther explores tough topics including, but not limited to, nationalism, isolationism, the black experience in the US, and the black experience internationally.
This movie quickly went from an event to a celebration. It’s a celebration for the African American Community. The Sunday New York Times had an opinion piece on how it’s a celebration for the Black Nerd Community. On NPR, I’ve heard Jamie Broadnax, the insightful genius behind the Black Girl Nerds podcast, speak about what it means to her. I’ve also read her comments in the New York Times Magazine. The Black Panther movie really is a win for all comic nerds, proving that the stuff they like, when done right, can traverse media to entertain and inspire people a global scale.
The opening weekend box office tallies verified that Black Panther is a big deal. There’s one more success in all this. It’s a more personal, and smaller, celebration in comparison. But I’m still elated and inspired by this particular one.
Right before going to the theater, I was remembering Jack Kirby’s second round of Black Panther adventures. The great artist Kirby co-created the Black Panther. I’m a big fan of the man’s artwork, creativity and work ethic. But in 1977, when Kirby returned to Marvel Comics after a creatively explosive sojourn at the competition, one of the many projects he churned out was a new Black Panther comic series.
It was so disappointing to me. Oh, sure, the series was grand and boisterous, like any good adventure should be. But was just too silly and too goofy. I still cringe at the Black Musketeers, a thankfully forgotten concept. At that time, my little gang of comic book pals and I all thought is was absurd. A big part of the letdown was that we were comparing and contrasting this new Kirby comic to the previous Black Panther comic series. That one had blown our collective minds.
Let me set the stage. The Bronze Age version of Marvel’s Jungle Action debuted in 1972. Marvel used this comic to reprint old jungle comic stories like Tharn, The Magnificent, a second-rate jungle lord and two curvaceous jungle queens, Lorna and Jann. These stories, from a simpler time, didn’t have much to do with the real Africa, or the real world, but they were as enjoyable as they were innocuous. Through the lens of adulthood, their innocence is soured by the unintentional racism baked into many of the adventures.
After a short time, the old Tarzan knock-off reprints were gone and Jungle Action showcased new adventures of the Black Panther! I knew that character. I liked that guy. I was excited for this change.
It seemed to me that, T’Challa, the Black Panther, tended to crop up in other Marvel heroes’ comics. I remembered how he helped Captain America thrash some bad guys in issue #100, and how he seemed to be Daredevil’s buddy in an issue of The Avengers.
Jungle Action comics, now with Black Panther adventures, were something different. They weren’t silly and they weren’t innocuous. It was as if an unspoken covenant was forged between the writer and reader. I could imagine the writer saying, “I’m going to take this very seriously, and work really, really hard on this story. If you come along for the ride, it’s gonna be a little more work, but I think it will be worth it.”
Every panel of these new Black Panther stories were overstuffed with glorious descriptions, insightful dialog and storytelling that bordered on poetry. There was a lot going on. There was a lot to remember. You had to pay attention to this one. Each issue would take longer to read than other comics. I’d buy a stack of comics, but I soon learned to save Jungle Action for last because I had to take my time with it.
Jungle Action’s abrupt change came about because the proofreader, Don McGregor, thought readers deserved better. Marvel promoted him to writer and he was off to the races. McGregor soon proved himself to be a superior writer who would go on to build a career with a long list of impressive accomplishments. Don is a romantic with passion for so many things in life. He’s a prince of a guy and one can find so much to admire about both his life and career.
Like so many comic characters, the Black Panther is a crazy quilt of various creators’ contributions over the years. The movie makers had the luxury of cherry picking the best parts and ignoring the rest. But it’s easy to see that so much of this movie is directly attributable to what Don McGregor, and his artistic collaborators, created. Make no mistake, the fingerprints of other talented creators are on screen. But for me, Black Panther seemed like a Don McGregor movie.
One of my favorite parts of this movies’ triumphant box office debut is the celebration of Don McGregor. Life can be tough. But once in a while, a sweet guy who writes with passion gets his time in the spotlight so we can all pause to say, “Wow, thanks a lot. You did a really good job.” Here’s to Don McGregor.
I’m going to celebrate all the successes from Black Panther. And I’m going to keep going until Halloween. Any kids in Black Panther costumes get double treats!
Last week we told you about two upcoming collections of Don McGregor and Thomas Yeates’ Zorro newspaper strips as part of a broader profile of Tom’s recent work. As it happens, this week will see the rerelease of Zorro – The Dailies and Sundays (The Second Year) Collector’s Edition, reprinting all the daily and Sunday strips from the 1999 newspaper comic strips’ second year… and, through the website below, autographed by Tom Yeates.
Also for the first time, the entire two years of their Zorro newspaper strip are collected in Zorro – The Complete Dailies and Sundays. This latter hardcover edition will be limited to only 50 copies and will be signed by all Don McGregor, Tod Smith and Thomas Yeates.
Zorro was introduced as a revolutionary character for old California in pulp adventures by Johnston McCulley. Following a critically acclaimed comic series from Topps, the Zorro newspaper strip debuted in 1999 and was written by Don McGregor and drawn by Tod Smith, Thomas Yeates and Rick Magyar. The strip appeared in major newspapers across North America. The series was clearly a labor of love for these creators, all the while paying homage to past creators while still offering fresh and exciting new adventures.
A few years ago when I had the honor to moderate the Joe Kubert panel at New York Comic Con, I was pleasantly surprised by how many great stories one of the panelists shared.
These tales were spun by Thomas Yeates, one of the first graduates of the Kubert School. Yeates has enjoyed an extraordinary career, drawing iconic characters iconic from Tarzan to Swamp Thing, Conan to Captain Action and even Dracula. And there are so many more.
I still enjoy his brilliant work each weekend when I pick up the Sunday paper and read Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant.
Recently, I caught up with Thomas Yeates and chatted about his recent efforts.
Ed Catto: You’ve been illustrating the Prince Valiant weekly comic strip for some time now. How’s it all going?
Thomas Yeates: Basically it’s great; I’m very fortunate to have landed this job. Particularly working with writer Mark Schultz, who likes hearing my story ideas, which makes it a lot more fun.
EC: What are some the challenges you find as opposed to traditional comics or illustrations?
TY: The main problem is the reproduction. I’ve had to limit the line work to accommodate a weird registration problem that we see today. Comic books have much better printing. The format differs from paper to paper, but I’ve been able to deal with that.
EC: The longevity of Prince Valiant is astounding. Why do you think it endures?
TY: Well the main credit for that goes to Hal Foster who created, wrote and illustrated this Sunday only strip. And, of course, the hard work of those who followed Foster. He set the bar so incredibly high that all of us who’ve continued the strip have tried our best to maintain that level of quality. At least that’s what I think.
EC: Who’s your favorite character in the Prince Valiant cast?
TY: Val himself. His wife Aleta is wonderful too. It’s much better when there are women in action adventure stories. And of course Gawain is always a kick.
EC: I’ve heard rumors that your mini-series, Tarzan: The Beckoning, first published by Malibu in the 90s, is going to be reprinted. Can you tell me more about that?
TY: Yes. We just finished working on that for about nine months, Dark Horse, two assistants and myself. We fixed the coloring, I added a little new art and tweaked the story. There were production problems in the original version so the new collection will be much better, including pages put back in order that were out of order in the Malibu version. I think it will be out in the fall.
EC: One of the issues Tarzan: The Beckoning dealt with was the slaughter of elephants and the ivory trade. We see that countries and organizations are still struggling with this issue, as evidenced by the crushing and burning of ivory. Do you keep up with the issue and what insights might you have?
TY: That’s a terrible situation. “When will we ever learn?” as the song says. Yes, it’s ironic that just when The Beckoning is being reprinted with its fight against the ivory trade theme we find elephants being slaughtered for their tusks again, just like when I originally created the story some 24 years ago. Yes, I follow the issue and had input from various experts back when I wrote it. One of them, from the Environment Investigation Agency, came back and contributed an update on the situation for the new Dark Horse edition.
EC: In The Beckoning, your version of Tarzan’s wife Jane was exceedingly lovely. Can you tell me a little bit about how you envision these characters?
TY: Well I was quite taken by Maureen O’Sullivan who played Jane in the Weissmuller films of the 1930s so she was my inspiration there. Plus Burroughs descriptions of Jane, and Russ Manning always gave her such beauty and dignity and I wanted to maintain that.
EC: I also seem to recall that you snuck a few of your other characters into that mini-series. Is that correct?
TY: Yes, I do that sometimes to keep myself amused. In the crowd scenes there are environmental activist friends I knew then and The Timespirits as well.
EC: Will you be at San Diego Comic-Con again this year?
EC: What keeps you coming back every year?
TY: Good question. Why the hell do I keep going? Recently because my daughter Olivia likes to go with me.
By the way I should mention there’s a new reprint of all the Zorro newspaper strips I did with Don McGregor and Tod Smith coming out from a German publisher <at that same time>, including an English language version.
EC: Yes, Uwe Weber filled me in. The German independent publisher “Classic Heroes” Is launching two exclusive Zorro-Dailies Editions in July 2016. The books will be available only thru direct orders at zorrodailies.com or classicheroes.de . He also explained that fans can find the complete information on these two beautiful books, and all the various projects on the ThomasYeates.com site. EC: What keeps you going as an artist every day?
TY: What keeps me going as an artist every day is another good question, Ed. I have to make a living and this is what I know how to do. A great script is always inspiring too. I’m still trying to figure out how the great artists I love, like Foster, did it. Sometimes that challenge keeps me going.
EC: Ha! I think there’s a lot of us who to try figure out how you do it, Thomas! Thanks so much for your time and insights.
(Editor’s Note: Prince Valiant by Mark Schultz and Thomas Yeates, is available online along with over 100 other current and vintage King Features comic strips – The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, Popeye, Flash Gordon, Buz Sawyer, Johnny Hazard, Zippy The Pinhead and a slew of others at www.comicskingdom.com. Tell ‘em ComicMix sent you, and then ask yourself why you’re talking to your computer.)
I’m back, ladies and gents, with more SDCC coverage! If you missed Part I(the con floor) or Part II (the Her Universe Fashion Show), don’t forget to check ‘em out. And now, on to Part III – party tiiiiiime!
So it’s no secret that I love a good party. And SDCC isn’t a bad place to find one. If you look (and there are some handy party guides put out ahead of each con by more enterprising souls than me to get you started, like this one from Variety and this one from The Hollywood Reporter), you can find events ranging from casual to fancy to star studded galas, and from free events to paid ticketed events.
Your party mileage may vary depending on what you’re looking for; but if you’re like me and like to have a couple of events per night on your radar (nothing worse than ending up at a lame party and not knowing where else to go for a good time when you’re all ready for a fun night), then it’s a good idea to have at least two to three places in mind per night (although it could actually be a good thing if you don’t get to them all – it might mean you were having so much fun at the first one that you didn’t want to leave; and that’s way better than making it to All The Parties).
As a side note before I move on: of course, a lot of the parties listed that feature A-list celebrities or whatever are going to be invite or RSVP-only; but honestly, in my experience of having been to everything from those parties to the come-on-in, it’s-free-for-everyone parties, it’s not celebs that make the fun. Those parties can be awesome; or they can end up being badly organized, long-wait-outside kind of things; and who wants that when you’re looking to get your dance or drink on? So if you end up invited or on the list for those parties, by all means give it a whirl; but if you don’t land an invite to something like that, don’t stress or feel like you’re missing out on life. There’s plenty to do at night for any con-goer.
And as a tip to organizers doing the celebrity-style parties – the most fun I’ve had at those are the ones where you don’t have to wait forever to get in, and where you can actually chat with the other guests, no matter who they are, or where it’s more about everyone dancing and having a good time than whether you’re standing next to so-and-so. The least fun are the ones where if you aren’t an A-list celebrity, you feel like you’re kind of just there, even if you were invited and on the list and everything. Totally lame; so try to strike a balance where everyone feels like they’re welcome and it’s their party. I’ve seen it done right many times, so I know it’s possible! Oh, and for heaven’s sake, don’t tell a press person (or any person) they’re on the list for a party you invited them to and then forget to add them. Trust me – it happened to me; and after wasting precious party time standing in line for a party we won’t see when we could be elsewhere, reporting and/or having a blast, reporters do not forget that shit. Ever.
Anyway; this year, I started poking around the party lists and invites fairly well ahead of time and by the time the Con rolled around, I had my party schedule together. I aimed for a balance of drinks-and-chats vs. club-like, casual vs. fancy, and free vs. ticketed or RSVP events; because hey – I like variety! Some of the potentials dropped off the schedule because I never made it to them, mostly because there’s only so much time in a night (and I heard that the aforementioned list-SNAFU party I also missed turned out to be pretty lame, so no loss there!), but here’s the round-up of the ones I hit, which were hella fun.
The Event: J!NX PRESENTS: Gabe Eltaeb’s Second Annual Comic Kickoff Fundraiser
Where I Found It: I knew about this one in advance because my friend and I stumbled on it last year in the course of meeting up to get dinner. It had a fun casual vibe, so I checked with the J!NX folks to see if they were hosting it again this year, and lo-and-behold they were! But if you don’t know the folks at J!NX, no worries, because this event was also listed on Facebook.
Open To: Anyone! I RSVP’d on Facebook.
The Experience: Like last year, this was held at BASIC Urban Kitchen & Bar. The pizza there is good, and there’s a bar area as well as a more restaurant-like area with tables. The get-together is actually a benefit for The Hero Initiative, which helps comics creators in need, so it’s for a good cause. This year it was sponsored by Razer, Dark Horse Comics, and Loot Crate, and had raffle prizes that included hand-drawn sketches donated by guest artists, Razer Gaming Accessories donated by Razer, and Loot Crates and free subscriptions donated by Loot Crate. The guest artists on hand were Gabe Eltaeb (Star Wars, Green Lantern Corps), Jim Calafiore (Exiles, Aquaman), Carlos D’Anda (Star Wars, Deathblow), Todd Nauck (Young Justice, Nightcrawler), Eddie Nunez (Fanboys vs. Zombies, Ben 10), and Doug Wheatley (Star Wars, Blade: The Vampire Hunter).
As with last year, the vibe was again casual and cool. It was, again, a good place to have dinner with a friend, and more. Although I didn’t opt to participate in the raffle, there were some great pieces available, as well as the merchandise prizes. It was awesome to be able to be in amongst the party while still able to sit down and grab a bite to eat after the hecticness of Preview Night. All-in-all, it was a perfect, relaxed way to do something fun while still easing into the Comic-Con mood on the first night.
But of course, it wasn’t all I did that night. I soon headed over to my next event of the evening…
The Event:Wooden Wisdom (Elijah Wood & Zach Cowie DJ Set) at Bang Bang
Where I Found It: Twitter. I came across this purely by accident on my Twitter feed. Not knowing (as I do now) that Elijah Wood has been into DJing for a long time, my main thought was, “this is the weirdest evening event I’ve encountered at Comic-Con. I must go.” Given that tickets were only $15 when I looked it up, and after learning the venue had a bathroom devoted to Ryan Gosling, I was totally sold. I had to see this.
Open To: Anyone who wants to pay between $5-25 to go to a club and dance the night away with a hobbit co-helming the turntables!
The Experience: The website said the club closed at midnight on Wednesdays, and listed Wooden Wisdom as going on at 10, so I headed over around 10:30 to see what it was all about. As it turned out, for Comic-Con week the club was open until 2, and Wooden Wisdom was starting at midnight (that’s more like it!). That was perfect since I’d wanted to see a few friends for drinks first – so I got my stamp and headed to the Marriott for a drink, heading back to the club a little after midnight for the main event. I was prepared for anything – crowds, no crowds, terrible music, awesome music – and was pleasantly surprised to discover that (other than a sticky floor) this was a rockin’ experience.
Wooden Wisdom is good, you guys! Like, I-wish-they-hadn’t-had-to-go-in-two-hours, I-could-have-danced-a-lot-more good. Both Elijah Wood and Zach Cowrie were awesome up there. Plus, the weird bathroom didn’t disappoint (if you don’t mind a life-sized Ryan Gosling staring at you while you use the facilities); the bartender was extra-nice; I met a couple of new friends on the dance floor; and the giant disco ball and lighting was also pretty darned cool. And, I mean, there was the whole Elijah Wood is DJing (and havin’ a drink) a few feet away thing going on. That was fun. And a kick-ass way to start off the con weekend! I didn’t leave until they pushed us out the door.
Where I Found It: Long story short, I know a guy. Sometimes it does help to have those connections, and this year, I checked in with a friend who had, last year, hosted several Comic-Con panels and an associated rockin’ Robot Rendezvous Party, complete with technological demonstrations and special guest Brent Spiner, to see what he was up to this year. As it turned out, this year he was all about virtual reality, and was planning three panels, including a “Building the Holodeck” panel and an associated “VR Lounge” party. After last year? I was so there!
Open To: Everyone, with a ticket purchase via EventBrite. Even though I know a guy, you don’t have to in order to attend his parties.
The Experience: Like last year, it was geeky-cool, and a place to play as well as eat or drink. Held at the Stone Brewing Tap Room, the party featured complimentary appetizers and three different VR demonstrations. I got to try out two of the three before having to run off (I wanted to stay the whole time, but I couldn’t miss the Her Universe Fashion Show!) and they were super cool. For one, from the Emblematic Group, you put on some tech gear (a bag, headphones, and a viewing thing) and could walk around a room in the pub, while experiencing the room as a replica of the Star Trek: Next Generation bridge. It was pretty cool; and you could even sit down in chairs that now looked like holodeck chairs. (Or you could walk around looking like a badass Red Son Super(wo)man in a cape, like my friend Amy.)
The next, from Qualcomm, was Vuforia, which is essentially a modern-day, VR View-Master (man, I loved my View-Master), and is super-cool. The way it works is that by looking at a reel while using the viewer, you can enter the “experience” on that reel, and look around a VR version of different scenes. I looked at a space one, and it was super cool (and if you look down, it will say on the “floor” what experience you are in). You can also look around and see different reels within the reel you are in; and if you click on one of those, can jump into another experience. Let me tell you…it is neeeeeaat. I definitely want one; at the very least for my little nephew and nieces, if not also for myself! The third experience, which I didn’t have time to try but also looked rad, was NASA’sPhobos Hopper project. If only I’d had a little more time to play! But even though I had to dash, it was a super-cool party.
Where I Found It: On the website, word-of-mouth, and in the party round-ups. Even though this was my third year attending Nerd HQ (which, if you haven’t encountered it, is an amazing all-weekend event started by actor Zac Levi to benefit the important charity Operation Smile, and which I will cover in much more detail in another column), and I’d heard of the parties before, I hadn’t managed to make it to one in the other years. This year, I bookmarked the Nerd HQ party as the next place I’d hit on Thursday if there was time. As it turned out, dinner didn’t wrap until midnight, and I was already super tired after a busy day at the con; but I did swing by Nerd HQ with someone else from the dinner to see what the party was all about in this year’s new setting, The New Children’s Museum.
Open To: Anyone who has registered for Nerd HQ (which is free)
The Experience: This party is funnnnn, y’all. Remember how I was talking about celebrity parties that strike a balance and make everyone feel like it’s their party? Nerd HQ does it right! Even though it’s a draw to know that Zac Levi (and possibly famous friends) are going to be there, hosting the party, interacting with the crowd, etc., the party is still, first and foremost, a party with a bunch of nerrrrds. Albeit a party with Zac Levi and a Wookie on stage. On Thursday around midnight, there was no wait to get in – they just scanned our RFID bracelets, and in we went. The setting this year was pretty good, with a dance floor area set in front of a raised platform where the DJ and Zac and friends could hang out, and they had a really fun mix of music, and great lighting, to set the mood. Zac was totally into the party, singing, dancing, and saying hello to people in the crowd. There was a good crowd, clearly having a great time dancing and chilling, and there were also two bars (indoor and out on the patio) for drinks, although I didn’t get a drink Thursday, since I was just swinging by to scope the scene before dropping like a dead thing into my bed, to prepare for…
The Event: The Fashionably Nerdy Cocktail Hour
Where I Found It: Facebook, and friends mentioning it.
Open To: Everyone! I RSVP’d on Facebook.
The Experience: This was Fashionably Nerdy’s first year hosting this event; but from the minute I saw it, I was excited to attend. As you can probably tell from my coverage of the Her Universe Fashion Show and more, I am all about nerd and geek fashion for women; and the ladies hosting this party are, too! So it was a total match. The event was hosted at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Grand Lobby Bar, and advertised as a way to meet the Fashionably Nerdy team and some great geek chic designers. Swag bags were promised for the first attendees, along with a raffle, and prizes for the best-dressed. Press commitments elsewhere kept me from arriving when it started, so I didn’t land a swag bag, but their list of designers and prizes was very impressive!
Given that this was a fashion party, I dressed in my geek best with the Loki dress from the Her Universe Hot Topic line, designed by the winners of last year’s SDCC Her Universe Fashion Show. I swung by after the party had been going for an hour, and the place was pretty packed! I somehow immediately honed in on and met the Fashionably Nerdy gals (it’s like a geek fashionista sixth sense!) and chatted with them, as well as with some of their friends, one of whom is a designer who had made one of the great geek dresses being worn, and had actually been one of the Fashion Show models as well. We all bonded over our shared love of geek fashion, and kept running into each other for the rest of the weekend after that, which was fun. Yay, new friends!
Speaking of the Fashion Show, the Loki dress a good choice of attire, because I got many compliments! Despite the fact that the line was on my radar from the get-go, several people at the party had never seen the dress and wanted to know where I got it. I was happy to be able to tell them Ashley Eckstein had just announced that the sold-out line is coming back; and this was clearly the right crowd to be interested in news like that. After I met a few folks, I settled in for some food and drink, because whoo, I was starving! Over shrimp tacos I made friends with other like-minded geeks, chatting about, e.g., some of the difficulties and discrimination we’d encountered as women who are into video gaming; and the fun we have in sneaking geek couture into our daily work wardrobes. As the event wound down, I was happy to unexpectedly get one of the cute prizes they were handing out to some attendees – a great glittery Flash hairclip from Accessories by Nerd Girl Britt that I’ll surely wear somewhere. All-in-all, it was a really fun event! I hope to go again next year, and have been assured that planning is already in the works! As this year’s event wrapped up, I headed over to…
Where I Found It: Ah, I have been a Sherlockian for yea, these many years, and had many friends (particularly from the yearly NYC BSI Weekend, and from my personal scion group, The Red Circle of DC) who were going to this party! So I heard about it from several folks.
Open To: Everyone who buys a ticket! Although this one always seems to sell out pretty fast.
The Experience: This was an all-around great party in a great setting, put together by The Baker Street Babes, Being Geek Chic, The Nerdy Girlie, SherlockDC, and more. Held on the 9th floor of the San Diego Public Library, the room had a glassed-in view of PETCO Park and downtown San Diego (which was especially cool when we unexpectedly partook second-hand in the Star Wars Celebration fireworks!), as well as a patio outside. There was a great spread of food (both hot food and a fruit and cheese table), and a cash bar. Everyone who went got a cool swag bag with Sherlockian-themed items like exclusive prints and Sherlock-themed tea. There was also an impressive raffle with lots of themed prizes, as well as a selection of merchandise to browse.
One of my favorite bits was a photo booth where you could get a set of four pictures done in quick succession, with silly props supplied for you. My friend Lacy and I had a total blast with that. It was also cool to run into great friends from the BSI, like Les Klinger of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes and Curtis Armstrong of Supernatural and King of the Nerds. And, of course, any party where you walk in and Steven Moffat is hanging out doing a Q&A is pretty darned cool. Really, this party wasn’t missing any ingredients of success; and a good time was had by all. Which brings me to the final party night…
The Event: The Nerd HQ Nerd Army Party
Where I Found It: See above. I was determined to actually have time to hang out at this party Saturday night, after being too tired to stay long on Thursday.
Open To: All registered Nerd HQ attendees
The Experience: The vibe and setting was similar to Thursday, although there was a line to get in. Still, it moved fairly quickly (unlike most party lines) and soon I was nerding out inside with the rest of the Nerd Army. At first, I’ll admit I was a little cranky, because I really, really wanted a water and could not figure out how to efficiently obtain one. After waiting in a long bar line, realizing near the front that I had to buy tickets in a separate line for drinks, and then buying those and getting back in the bar line, I was a bit frustrated – and I definitely think that process needs to be streamlined (why did there need to be drink tickets at all?) and clarified for next year (at the very least a complimentary water station, or a separate line for just water, would probably work wonders).
But once I got some water in me, I was more than happy to party like the rest of the crowd. And also, to take a couple of pictures with their free photo set-ups, which were still available during the night-time fun. (Fun side note: I pinned one copy of my party picture to the photo clotheslines just for fun; and the next day, a friend who I didn’t actually get to see in person the whole contweeted it at me, all, “found you!” Haha! Friends seeing friends via Nerd HQ.) The dance floor was a good time; I got into the crowd for a time, and actually ran into and said hi to Zac as he was making his way back to the raised area after he’d been dancing in the middle of the crowd for a long while; and when I took a break from dancing, I ended up meeting and hardcore nerding out with a new friend in conversation on the sidelines of the dance floor. And although I personally didn’t run into any of the other celebs who might have been there, I know that, e.g., Yvonne Strahovski was there at least one of the nights; so you never know who you might see at Nerd HQ! And either way, it’s a hoppin’ party!
But eventually, I needed to slow it down a little; so I headed over to my last party of the weekend…
The Event: SlamCon
Where I Found It: Twitter. You have to follow @Slam_Con on Twitter to find out the location of this party each year. On the day of, they tweet the location a few hours before (they tweeted it at 5, and the party started at 8, this year).
Open To: Everyone! And you never know who you might see there, from friends to celebs to who-all-knows. Last year half the cast of Supernatural apparently showed up.
The Experience: SlamCon is another example of a good way to mix some celebrities or con guests with con-goers without it feeling weird. Although the venue and feel might change a little from year to year, this party, organized by Todd Stashwick, Dennis Calero, Brea Grant, and Deric Hughes, is a great way to hang out, have some drinks, and wrap up a con weekend. This year, the event was at the Hilton Bayfront Pool Club; but then moved to the Odysea because the crowd got so big.
Although, alas, I headed over pretty late and missed a fair bit of it, as well as Deric, who I would have loved to catch up with, even just walking in I ran into the awesome Brandon Auman, writer for the current fantastic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show on Nickelodeon (and funnily enough, earlier had run into the just-as-awesome Greg Cipes, voice of Michelangelo, out on the street – Turtle Power and Turtle friends!) and was introduced to another writer for the show. And I also got to say hi and thanks for organizing to Todd Stashwick, who is a delightful human being (and a great actor!). And I ran into one of the great Fashionably Nerdy gals again, too! So even though I didn’t get to stay too long, it was nice to go and see some old friends or meet new ones! And next year…well, I’m definitely going to try to get there sooner!
With the possible exception of the Black Panther, no other black franchise has garnered as much “it’s going to be a major movie or TV show” hype within the fan rumor mill than Static Shock. Finally the Black Panther is going to happen. As for Static Shock … kinda.
In 2018 the Black Panther movie will be released from what is now the best superhero moviemaker bar none, Marvel Studios. Static will make his way to the Internet as part of Warner Bros’ Digital arm later this year.
I find that rather disappointing.
More than any other black property, Static pretty much already owns the Internet. The massive amount of love Static has on the net is nothing short of extraordinary. In the 22 years since Static burst on the scene the admiration for the character has only grown and at no point shows signs of waiving.
That’s simply remarkable and considering the half of a half ass way Warner Bros. has “supported” the franchise. Unbelievable. I will concede, on one hand it makes perfect sense to exploit the immense allure Static enjoys on the net.
On the other hand, Static is the only African American superhero with the overwhelming popularity created by African Americans and boy would it be nice to see him with a couple zillion dollars budget on the big screen or just a billion dollar budget on television.
Two white guys, Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan created Blade and I’m happy to say, Marv’s like family. I said as much to a sold out crowd at The Magic Johnson Theater on Blade’s opening night. When his name appeared in the credits, I could not control myself (story of my life). I leaped up and clapped like a maniac.
“What you clapping for?” Said a rather large black guy who was not amused at my outburst. Imagine that, someone pissed in a black theater over a loud outburst! Silly me, I should have remembered to only shout out during the movie.
“I know him.” I said, while eyeing the exits.
“Yeah? Is he a brother?” He retorted. Then I realized everybody black was now paying attention and except for a white girl some idiot had brought with him, everybody was black. Shit, I had to think fast…
“Yeah.” I said trying to sound hard. “He’s my brother.”
Big smile from the big guy and cheers from the audience. I sat down and my date put her arm around me. “Yo, white girl, what you doing?” I said as I took her arm from around my neck and whispered, “Hey, here’s some cash, take a cab back to my place.”
Todd McFarlane created Spawn…Oh! Some of y’all didn’t know Spawn was black? Yep. Al Simmons, Todd’s black pal, was the real life inspiration for Al Simmons a.k.a. Spawn. I guess that means Spawn is no longer in the running for the Tea Party’s favorite comic book character.
Todd’s a friend, and as far as I know still white. Cyborg is another character from my brother Marv and George Pérez. George’s a great guy also a friend and he’s Latino. That’s close, but not black.
Luke Cage was created by Archie Goodwin and John Romita Sr. Both white guys, both part of comic book, each a dear friend. Archie gave me my first professional job in comics and when I met John I quickly forgot how I planed to kidnap him and hold him until Marvel brought back Gwen Stacy, my second love after Laurie Partridge.
So, I had a thing for white girls! Get over it. I did!
Archie died in 1998, leaving a comic book legacy that will stand forever. He’s still widely regarded as the best-loved comic book editor, ever.
Sabre was created by Don McGregor and Paul Gulacy. Both white guys … sort of. Don’s so cool he could be black.
Don means the world to me so much so I’d take a bullet for him. He’s a wonderful writer (one of the best) and just as wonderful a person. I’ve never met Paul but he’s on a very short list of artist I wanted to draw like at one time.
There’s a few more famous black superheroes but trust me all were created by white guys, the grand daddy of them all, the Black Panther having sprung from the two coolest white boys, nah, scratch that, the two coolest creators in comic book history, period.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Stan was and still is the man and Jack will always be the king. Stan and I used to have lunch a couple times a week. His office at Marvel productions a floor above mine at Showtime in the Westwood Los Angeles office tower at which both companies were housed. I became friends with Jack a few years before the king of comics left the building forever. Sad, sad day.
Unless one of those fantastic creators are hiding a past which includes a white sheet and a southern drawl, African Americans had no better friend in comics. Much like those in Hollywood who dared create movies and TV shows around black people that were not bellboys, slaves or servants these men fought our fight before we were allowed on the battlefield.
Imagine the sheer balls it took Columbia Pictures to green light and then distribute the ground braking film, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? That film, a love story about a black man and white women, is still not shown in certain parts of the south. Released in 1967 during the height of the C=civil rights movement more than a few death threats were issued.
Now, imagine its 1966 a year after the assassination of Malcolm X. There’s another side emerging from the civil rights movement. The Reverend Martin Luther King’s non-violent approach was being challenged by those who cultivated Malcolm’s original “by any means necessary” doctrine.
No group was more ready to go to war against there oppressors than the Black Panther Party.
With that as a back drop Stan and Jack create the Black Panther in 19stillhanganiggerincertainpartsofAmerica66. That takes the kind of balls reserved for those few men and women with a sense of purpose, a goal, and selfless heart.
In a very real way the sons of Stan and Jack created Static Shock. Co-created by my former Milestone Media partners and I a great deal of our inspiration was the Black Panther, Luke Cage and Stan and Gene Colan’s Falcon. As a kid seeing those Black superheroes I have no doubt they brought us where we are today, African American comic book creators.
Static Shock may not be as well known as those black heroes but without a doubt it’s the most well known black superhero created by black people. It’s time that black kids see fully what they are capable of.
Any positive black face on television or in a film is important but we all know people of color are still the stuff of, “wow there’s a black (fill in the blank)” or “the (ditto) now has a black (ditto, ditto).”
Shock and awe still accompany way too many occurrences in America when a person of color is placed in a station denied until then. Kids of color need for those occurrences to become as commonplace as images of the black thug, lazy welfare mom or absent father.
That, my friends is my long-winded reason I find a live action Static Shock debuting on the net rather disappointing. The most successful black superhero created by black people will be seen in media outlets where black kids have less access than any other group.
Not a whole lot of MacBooks in the hood. Hell, not a whole lot of any book or computers. If there is a computer the odds are it’s the family computer. Everyone having their own is about as realistic as Ted Cruz giving a fuck about poor people.
Why Warner Bros. Consumer Products never made Static Shock toys when the cartoon was a mega hit is just as curious to me as to why Static has never been a movie or why a live action version can’t be on television.
Speaking of the live action version, there’s been a pretty hot rumor flying around that Jaden Smith will be playing Static Shock. People are losing their damn minds, clearly hating on the kid because of his off screen antics or secondly saying he can’t act and he will kill the show.
Bullshit. Jaden Smith will do fine.
Reggie Hudlin is the show runner and a better person to spearhead Static I can’t think of. If Jaden sucked (he does not) there is no way he would have that gig, Will Smith or not, Reggie wouldn’t cast someone not right.
I’m amazed people who call themselves fans of Static want that kid to fail.
Newsflash, fan boys and girls. If he fails so does Static.
I know a bit about Static.
Trust me, I should know, I’m not just a co-creator I’m the lead creator having created the Static Universe as part of the Milestone Dakota Universe. Static’s world is based on life and family growing up.
Despite what you’ve read as few so-called entertainment “journalists” do any background vettes Static’s my baby. Funny, an entire lying myth has been created, a lie, based upon lazy journalism printed somewhere else and copied over and over has now become reality to most.
That “reality” doesn’t make it true.
I’m the lead creator of Static Shock. I based him on my family and my life. That’s the truth. A lie may prevent most from knowing but like global warming the truth won’t go away and neither will I.
Jaden Smith is a good actor his personal life doesn’t make him a bad actor.
That’s also the truth. Hating him for no other reason except his idiosyncrasies is the stuff of simpleminded fools. He’s not playing himself, he’s playing Virgil Hawkins, A role he was born to play, in my opinion.
The problem with Jaden isn’t his off screen antics or his haters. The problem is a great many kids he was created for won’t be able to see him until some genius at the WB realizes just how important Static is.