Tagged: Marc Alan Fishman

Dennis O’Neil: Giants

O'Neil Art 130411The latest issue of Roy Thomas’s fine magazine Alter-Ego arrived in today’s mail. This one was dedicated to the late Joe Kubert, who died some seven months ago. It arrives a couple of days after I learned of the passing of Joe’s contemporary (and my ex-boss) Carmine Infantino. The synchronicity is odd and painful. These two men were excellent artist/storytellers and quite a bit more and they were among the first of their kind; they helped invent comic books.

Years back, when I was chipper and unbald and fanzine folk began asking to interview me, I was flattered and – sure, always happy to open my gob. And so I did. But I wondered: shouldn’t these young journalists be talking to the older guys, the ones who were there at the beginning? Because most of them were already past youth and, as novelist Samuel R. Delany observed at the time, comics were still new enough for interested parties to read almost everything that had been published. Wasn’t this an unparalleled opportunity? Didn’t the happy coincidence of accessible talent and available work provide a chance to really examine, closely, the emergence and evolution of an art form? Because, for obvious reasons, this ideal coincidence wouldn’t be in effect forever. Wasn’t a lot of interesting and potentially valuable information in danger of being lost?

Well, maybe some was lost, or will yet be lost, but probably not as much as I feared. There were interviews that I knew nothing about and a lot of the pioneers still had plenty of talk left in them. And communication was about to boom: the quaint mimeoed and hectographed fanzines were giving way to stuff produced by slicker technologies and those, in turn, were in the shadow of forthcoming electronica, an example of which is before you at this instant. Scholars and hobbyists alike are continuing to investigate and document comics and please allow me a modest hurray.

It seems safe to say that comics are the most documented art form in history (though cinema may have some claim to that honor.) We have large amounts of what. Now, how about some more why? There are, I hereby aver, correspondences between the evolution of comics, particularly superhero comics, and that of mythology/religion. A properly focused exploration into one might reveal something about the others and, storytelling being one of mankind’s primary activities, this revelation could help us discover meanings that have so far eluded us. Another possibility: the influence cartooning in general and comics in particular has had on journalism.

Does anyone sniff a term paper? A thesis, even? Or have such papers already been written? Could be, I guess.

Meanwhile: we have lost two of our founders, and in our usual helplessness, we can do no more than mourn, and we should.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


Martha Thomases, Don Draper & John Constantine

Thomases Art 130405Mad Men starts its sixth season this weekend. I won’t be able to see it because I’m out of the country, but my cat sitter has strict instructions to set the DVR, so I expect to be up to speed anon.

I am psyched.

The last season ended in 1967. I’m not sure whether this new season will pick up immediately after the last one left off, or if it will jump forward a year or two. In any case, the late 1960s were a time when any average Tuesday had more drama and conflict and human interest than all of the 1980s combined.

The advertising for this new season, at least as seen in the posters in the subway, hint at some of the challenges we can expect to see. Buttoned-up Don Draper versus a chaotic world.

To me, it looks like a Vertigo cover, circa 1998.

Which brings me around to comics, and the points I want to make this week. For as long as I can remember (which doesn’t include the late 1960s, by the way, because that’s what the late 1960s were like for me), comics fans have bemoaned the fact that comics don’t advertise. If only comics reached out to people the way books/movies/television do, we’d have a mainstream medium.

I don’t think it would make any difference. Comic companies don’t know how to advertise.

Let’s look at an ad for an upcoming series I anticipate eagerly, the new Constantine, written by Jeff Lemire, with art by Ray Fawkes and Renato Cuedes. John Constantine is one of my favorite characters.

The ad shows Constantine sitting in a graveyard, slouched against a tombstone with his name on it, smoking a cigarette. There is a vase of red roses at his feet. Zombie hands are reaching for him, and there is a drooling zombie behind him. A skull rises from a grave to his left. There is a logo above his head, and above that is the line, “Playing with magic always comes with a price…”

It’s a terrible ad.

If you didn’t know anything about the character, or the creative team, what would this tell you? It seems to depict a guy who is so lackadaisical about the undead that he can relax with a smoke. Where is the tension? Where is the drama?

What’s in it for me?

The best advertising suggests a benefit for the consumer. It elicits an emotional response (and if you don’t believe me, watch any episode of Mad Men in which Don Draper explains things to the client). Perhaps my dishes will be cleaner, my vacation more glamorous, my beer-drinking nights more fun. Successful advertising for entertainment promises me emotional highs and lows, laughter and/or tears. It promises me that I will experience something I’ve never had before.

Perhaps DC assumes that, since the ad is running in their books, the reader knows who the character is, and what the creative team can do. Perhaps they think this information is enough to motivate someone already familiar with the work.

After all, the Mad Men poster I praised earlier is just a picture of Jon Hamm walking down a city street. In this case, however, the average media consumer knows about the show, and even if that person doesn’t watch it, Jon Hamm is regularly in movies and other television shows, reaching an audience outside the show’s usual demographics. By using a master of advertising illustration from the same era as the show, the ad evokes the time period. The composition implies a tension that is at odds with the soft colors of the background.

My curiosity is piqued. I can’t wait. Anticipation achieved.

The DC ad does none of this. And until our industry learns how advertising works (and, no, this doesn’t count), we don’t deserve nice things.

Saturday: Marc Alan Fishman

Sunday: John Ostrander


Dennis O’Neil: Honor

O…if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things

The quote above is from Raymond Chandler’s superb essay, The Simple Art of Murder. If you’ve never read it, do yourself a huge favor and do so, right now. Google the title and read Chandler’s prose and then come back to me. I’ll wait.

Hi. You’ve finished reading Chandler and here you are, and yes, you owe me one.

But now I want to bollix the discourse by disagreeing with Chandler. I agree with almost everything Chandler writes in the essay – almost, but not all. “...if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things”? Um, no. But it’s a qualified no. If we’re discussing a fictional man, then okay, let Chandler’s claim stand. I think most writers and critics and teachers would agree that consistent behavior is a constant – in fiction. But does it apply to real life? Maybe not. The engines that run we noble humans are deep and complicated, and the rules they follow, if any, aren’t easily visible. Ol’ Charlie there, he can be a Fearless Fosdick in one situation and a whimpering poltroon in another and does even Charlie know why?

The event in which I participated last week might prompt these musings. It was held in SoHo, my old stomping grounds, and it ostensibly celebrated…well, maybe “celebrated” isn’t the right word: Let’s say that the event recognized the 148th birthday of Dr. Fredric Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent and big kahuna among the witch hunters of the early 1950s. His book, and the congressional hearings of Senator Estes Kefauver, with the approval of a sub-posse of clergy and editorialists, decimated the comic book business, put hundreds of decent citizens out of work and, arguably, lamed an art form.

Boo and hiss, Dr. W., you stinky old psychiatrist.

We comic book guys have tended to demonize Wertham for sixty-plus years. But last week’s give-and-take yielded information about Wertham that may have been new to many in the room. He fought for public school integration. He provided psychiatric care for residents of Harlem for a quarter a session, or a dime. He seemed to be a decent and useful professional. Until he wandered into comic book land.

Carol Tilley, a librarian at the University of Illinois, was one of my co-panelists in SoHo. Ms Tilley performed the useful, and much overdue, task of actually digging into Wertham’s papers. She discovered that Wertham faked much of the “research” he used to bolster his accusations. So…this successful and respected and charitable man of science cooked the books. A couple of columns ago, I speculated on his possible motives and reached no conclusion, and although the SoHo event was interesting and informative, no conclusion was reached there, either.

We can call Dr. Fredric Wertham a man of honor. He just wasn’t a consistent one. Maybe he should have been fictional.

Friday: Martha Thomases

Saturday: Marc Alan Fishman


Mike Gold: The Lenticular Corridor

Gold Art 130403Well, this is fun.

As I type these words – 20 hours prior to posting – ComicMix is in the following situation. Glenn Hauman is about to board a plane taking him from WonderCon to San Francisco to Newark, New Jersey. We should see him sometime late next year. Martha Thomases and Arthur Tebbel are wandering around Japan hoping the whole North Korea is-gonna-nuke-us thing is a joke. Bob Greenberger is somewhere vaguely north of the White House staring at boxes and wondering how he got so old so fast. Adriane Nash is floating around North Haven Connecticut holding a candle. Vinnie Bartilucci is in Who Heaven studying the 50th anniversary show read-through photos pixel by pixel. Marc Alan Fishman is trying to come up with a way to spend more time with his son Bennett without having to go to Japan. Some of the above are planning on this weekend’s MoCCA Arts Fest.

That leaves me here at ComicMix Central. Always a dangerous thing.

And then my iMac started acting up.


I’ve had more than 29 years of experience with all things Macintosh, so I should be able to fix things while Wizardboy Hauman is on the Left Coast. And, while I’m at it, I should be able to shoot down flying monkeys with my psionic death rays.

Turns out that psionic death rays thing might have been easier to pull off. I’ve spent 24 hour doing PRAM zaps and SMC resets, swapping cables, connecting and disconnecting USB cables (2.0 and 3.0), connecting and disconnecting USB devices, fussing with Bluetooth and WiFi, blowing off sundry start-up apps and rebooting like a cobbler on meth. And I still get five copies of the “You’ve got a USB device that’s draining too much power, asshole” error messages cascading across my screen on the average of every 20 seconds.

OK. Every once in a while computers, cars, and human beings break down and I’m way, way past my due. When Adriane isn’t wandering around New Haven county, we’ve got a zillion machines here including iPads and iBooks and iBalls. Unfortunately, Adriane is wandering around New Haven county with some of the above equipment, so I can’t boot my machine as a target disk.

Which means, in English, that I can’t do squat until I’ve fixed it. I’ve got to post Michael Davis’s Tuesday afternoon column (this wouldn’t have been a problem if I got the column on time, as opposed to just past midnight Monday morning; Michael’s got an excuse and it’ll probably be next week’s column) and I’ve got to write and post my column and do all kinds of other important stuff. I can do a lot of this on my iPad and I have, but in order to edit art and post properly, I need that iMac.

And then, literally 55 minutes before Michael’s column is to go up, I find it. Well, maybe not “it” but something that, if disabled, seems to cure about 90% of the problem. That’ll do… and maybe that other 10% will disappear when I reboot.

Or maybe the iMac will go Nagasaki on me: that’s how computers, cars and human beings tell us they want to be replaced.

But at least I’ve got a column out of it.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases


Martha Thomases: Not For Kids Anymore

Thomases Art 130329As Blondie says, “Dreaming is free.”

Which is lucky for me, because I have a rather frantic week, and not a lot of original ideas for a column. Sure, I could write about the John Stewart scandal (or non-scandal, depending on which rumor you believe,), but I am late to that party. I could write about some obscure book that deserves more attention, but I am behind in my reading.

My sub-conscious came through for me.

Last night, I had one of my recurring dreams in which I still work for DC. Sometimes in these dreams I no longer work for DC, but sneak into an office and pretend I do. And sometimes, I even wear clothes. I can’t remember which of these scenarios was at play this time, but I remember getting a memo from Jenette Kahn about some new publishing initiative.

In my dream, I ran to my son, the genius writer, about the opportunity this afforded us. We had two ideas worth pursuing.

The first, and more interesting, was a graphic novel about an upper-middle-class teenage white girl in Georgia in the 1980s who is, unbeknownst to her or anyone else, the reincarnation of Mohammed Ali. I don’t think we should let the fact that Ali is still alive get in the way of the fact that this would be awesome.

However, since my subconscious apparently has no literary taste, in my dream I urged we concentrate our attention on an on-going series, The Legion of Jimmy Olsen. It would be like the Legion of Super-Heroes, but set in the present, not the future, and feature all the different characters Jimmy has morphed into over the years. You would have your Turtle Boy, your giant, your caveman Beatle, even your girl.

All at the same time.

I would buy that series in a heartbeat. Wouldn’t you?

The New 52 doesn’t have a lot of Jimmy in it. There isn’t even much Lois Lane. They show up to take pictures or report on some Superman exploit or another, but that’s about it. Grant Morrison had Jimmy doing a bit more, as a friend to Clark.

Even Grant couldn’t work in any Turtle Boy.

As the comics audience has aged, publishers have tried to respond with more mature offerings. They don’t think their readers need a character like Jimmy with whom to identify. Today’s superhero reader, they think, needs stories where the universe is at stake every single issue.

This is a shame, because we could use somewhat less constant cosmic apocalypse, and a bit more whimsy.

And gorillas.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Dennis O’Neil: Resurrection

O'Neil Art 130328Spring is sprung

The grass is riz

I wonder where the boidies is…

Ah. Spring.

No matter that if you live in the midwest there may be snow on the ground, and if there isn’t, there was recently. It is, dammit, spring! What you gonna believe, Skippy – your eyes or the calendar?

And to herald spring, here comes one of my favorite holidays – Easter. You know the story: humanity’s savior gets crucified, chills in a tomb for three days, comes out and starts a religion. If you’re into comparative mythology. you can find that similar things happened to earlier deities, including Adonis, Osiris, and Mithra. The myths, and their attendant holidays, celebrate something real – the emotions,including hope, that we desperate humans experience when the long gloom of winter goes away and life returns to the Earth. Our ancestors tended to give phenomena they didn’t understand names and identities. Maybe that tendency still exists in their descendants.

Do we feel that you can’t keep a good god down?

Then what about comic book characters? They seem to have difficulty staying dead, too. I have personally participated in the demise of four that I can immediately remember, all of whom popped out of the afterlife in one form or another, and they’re only a few entries in a rather long list that includes some of the biggies: Superman, Captain America, Robin the Boy/Teen Wonder version two. And then there are the lesser but still prominent characters, including Cap America’s young pal Bucky, Elektra, and one of my personal favorite supporting cast members, Batman’s butler Alfred. (Full disclosure: Alfred wasn’t really dead, only, you know, deadish. For two years.)

And why do I feel compelled to include a spear-carrier who died and stayed dead? We’re talking Larry Lance, the detective husband of the original Black Canary. We gave him a one panel funeral in Justice League of America, sent his widow off to another universe and sweet love with Green Arrow, and forgot about him. Maybe I’ve given Larry a paragraph as a service to serious trivia freaks.

But Larry wasn’t even a superheroes and superheroes who die are our subject, so back to them. DC Comics has recently killed two prominent costumed good guys and raised a bit of a stink in the doing. The (late) characters are (were?) yet another incarnation of Batman’s youthful sidekick, Robin, and, evidently, John Stewart, the African American Green Lantern. What’s notable about the Robin is that he is (was) the first of his ilk who was Batman’s biological son. John Stewart? The stakes are a bit higher: he was one of the earliest of comics’ superdoers who wasn’t a white guy and for a time, he was pretty much the only Green Lantern in the DC Universe. I’d say that as fictional beings go, he’ll be missed. (The Robin? No idea.)

But will John (and Robin?) stay deceased? Well, they’re not gods, not exactly (though they are first cousins to the mythological deities). Will they return? History may be nodding its head yes, but I’ll content myself with a shrug.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


Martha Thomases: Getting The Chair

Thomases Art 130322Although my cable company provides me with hundreds of channels, there are still occasional day parts during which it is impossible to see an episode of Law & Order. Even if I broaden my parameters to include the one with the sex and the one with better writing, there are precious moments when neither Tamara Tunie nor Leslie Hendrix is being a tough-talking, no-nonsense medical examiner.

It’s not that I think it’s a great show, although I do kind of like it. I think Vincent D’Onofrio is brilliant, and not only because he did both this and this. I like the fact that someone who played a murderer in an early episode can be a criminal, or even an assistant district attorney in a later episode. I like seeing almost every working actor in New York get at least a few minutes of screen time… and a paycheck.

But mostly, I like how predictable it is.

The original show (which I’ve heard is referred to as “The Mothership”) was originally formatted quite strictly. At the time, the syndication business favored half-hour programs, so the idea was to run the series on broadcast as an hour-long drama, and syndicate it as two half-hours – Law and Order. I’ve never heard of that happening. All the re-runs I watch last the full hour.

And they all follow a fairly predictable pattern. There’s a murder, and the police first identify a suspect, who turns out to be a false start. Then they find the real killer and arrest him/her. After that, the lawyers take over. In addition to the murder, the suspect probably has another ax to grind. Maybe this person is a rabid environmentalist, or anti-abortion, or can’t get the affection of mommy or daddy. There is angst. Deals are offered. Deals are rejected. The trial takes place. Usually, the prosecution wins. When they don’t, it’s clear the jury was bamboozled.

All is right with the world.

The two spin-offs don’t separate the cops from the lawyers with quite the same egalitarian rigidity. In fact, both concentrate more on the police, to the point that there are hardly any lawyers at all in CI. This is fine by me.

The sexual politics of these shows are terrible. The male lawyers do all the work. With the exception of Kathryn Erbe and Mariska Hargity, the lead cops are men. (Sidenote: Kathryn Erbe’s partnership with D’Onofrio might be the most feminist ideal on all of television.)

I like to have the shows on while I work. It’s a way to tell time without looking at a clock. It’s entertaining if I pay attention, but not so distracting that it interrupts a run of productivity.

It would be a service to freelance writers everywhere is there was a cable station exclusively devoted to the various shows. Combined, they’ve been on the air for about 40 seasons, more than enough to fill a schedule. They could add in tie-ins, like Homicide: Life on the Streets (a much better show) and Oz, which both share a few cast members and a co-creator.

The biggest problem will be that the demographics are probably too old to attract quality advertising, and ads for catheters supplies are disgusting.

Which brings me to comics.

I love the comics I read as a kid. I even love the comics I read in the 1980s. There are comics I enjoy today, but I rarely have that sense of discovery and wonder I had back then. But I don’t really expect to be knocked out in the same way. I’m older. I’ve seen those tricks before. It’s difficult to invent something I haven’t already seen.

Some friends lament the fact that today’s titles aren’t like the older stuff with which we fell in love. And I get it. I’d like to be young again, too. I’d like to be a desirable demographic.

But I can reread the comics of my youth any time I want, and I do.

Please don’t put these ads in my comics.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Dennis O’Neil: Touch

O'Neil Art 130321Young and mostly silent Jake, the enigmatic hero of the television program Touch, doesn’t look ancient. Nor does he look particularly Greek. But ah – might he be a reincarnation of Pythagoras? Or at least a fictional character inspired by Pythagoras?


Okay, for you hordes of non-philosophy majors pit there: Pythagoras was probably the first guy who called himself a “philosopher.” He lived about 2500 years ago and he taught that all things were connected, that what he called the One was at the base of everything and that this One expressed itself in numbers. Or such is my admittedly sketchy understanding of Py’s riff.

And Jake? Well, Jake is this kid, about ten, who doesn’t speak but writes or otherwise communicates numbers to his father and eventually, after exciting adventures, Jake’s numbers tie diverse things/people/events together and provide the solution to that episode’s problem.

How does Jake manage his feats? Well…in short, he seems to be a superhero. No costume, no flamboyant displays of abnormal prowess. But we know that Jake has some kind of metahuman ability – he’s a mutant, maybe? – and that there are others like him, and finally that some person or organization has dispatched a geeky assassin to exterminate them.

Though there are echoes of earlier superhero sagas here – Watchmen and the X-Men titles come immediately to mind – Touch is a novel iteration of the superhero concept, and as original as anything in our story-saturated culture is likely to be. That it’s also well-written and acted is a nice bonus.

But what really pleases me about it is what I understand to be its central metaphor. Unlike most of our televised mind-gum, Touch is not extolling the essentiality of family, though Jake’s relationship to his father is important, nor does it glorify the Individual, nor assure us that right makes might, which is why the good guys inevitably out-bash the bad guys. Instead, it displays a notion common to ol’ Py and modern quantum physicists – the Higgs boson crowd – and Buddhists and feel free to add some examples of your own. That notion: everything is connected.

Which is obvious when you think about it, despite the political howls when our current president observed that, sorry, nobody accomplishes anything without some kind of help. You wouldn’t be reading this without the biosphere and the biosphere depends of interaction of gravity with mass and particle and millions of years ago a lobe fish crawled onto land and began the evolutionary journey toward becoming Justin Bieber and and and…and some thirteen-point-seven billion years ago the Big Bang happened and here we are, watching teevee, and passing the popcorn.

I doubt that Touch’s creators are in the business of teaching us cosmology. Their job is to entertain, and in my living room, they do. But they do so without lading on dramatic tropes whose overuse has given them cliché status, and since you and I are united, maybe you’ll join me in being grateful to them.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


Martha Thomases: Respect!

Martha Thomases: Respect!

Thomases Art 130308Instead of having a calendar, I have a newspaper (kids: ask your parents). If it’s Tuesday, it’s Science Times. Wednesday it’s Dining. Thursday, my favorite, has Style and Home. Friday is two Arts sections. Saturday is Charles Blow.

And Monday shines a spotlight on the commerce in media in the business section.

This is great for me, because I write this column on Tuesday. This week, there was a discussion of the new Disney film, Oz the Great and Powerful, opening this weekend.  It’s a big gamble for Disney, investing in characters they don’t own, at a time when many expensive fantasy films have not performed to expectations (I’m looking at you, Jack the Giant Slayer).

Hollywood is always looking for the next big thing. At the same time, the people making the financial decisions can be very conservative, especially when we’re talking big-budget special effects. So I guess what I mean is, Hollywood is always looking for the next big sure thing.

The problem is that money people are not always good judges about what the public will like. If it was only a question of appealing to the lowest common denominator, that would be simple, and the multiplex would play all Twilight all the time. That might bring in a steady rate of return, but eventually, the public would get bored and want to see something else. And that something else might cost a lot less than Twilight, and, while that movie not make Twilight money, would make a much more for each dollar invested.

This is why the movie companies look for ideas in other media. This is why they adapt stories from novels, or television shows, or even comic books.

Which brings me to the other story in Monday’s paper. David Carr wrote about The Walking Dead, and how it is more successful on cable’s AMC than many shows on the broadcast networks.

I haven’t been reading the comic, although Robert Kirkman is one of my son’s favorite writers. Still, I’m not surprised the show is so successful. Through dozens of issues, Kirkman wrote characters that appealed to people, that engaged them in a story. Other comics have spawned successful series on television, including Superman (with and without Lois in the title), Superboy, Flash, the Incredible Hulk and Green Arrow.

Comics have been less consistently successful as movies, and I think that’s because the producers do not have to rely as much on character. They seem to think a few good fight scenes will make up for ridiculous plots and people. Look at the difference in the way the Hulk was portrayed on television and on screen right up until The Avengers.

I think the difference is that Joss Whedon understands comics and why they are appealing. He’s actually written them. He has respect for the idea that the action flows from the character, not the other way around. He knows how to tell a character that has proven herself.

Which brings me to this week’s other hot topic. My old pal, Jerry Ordway, wrote a blog post about how difficult it is for comic creators of a certain age to get work. Jerry worked on the death and return of Superman story lines, the bestselling comics of all time. He continues to do work of excellent quality, but because he’s not the flavor of the month, he can’t get any assignments.

Other mass-market entertainment doesn’t play by these rules. Yes, it’s smart to always be scouting hot young talent, because it’s hot and it’s young. Even so, booksellers always want the next Stephen King book, or John Grisham, or J. K. Rowlings, and iTunes pushes Elvis Costello and Judy Collins. Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg still make movies.

The market appreciates proven talent because, well, it’s been proven. It would be great if comic book companies appreciated it too.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Dennis O’Neil: A Comic Book Convention… About Comic Books?

O'Neil Art 130307…wind down through the labyrinthine passage to the farthest depth of the cavern and there find a wire, and from the wire will come a spark, and from the spark a flame and from the flame a light that will illuminate the truth…

Well, sometime, maybe. But not today. Today is for blobbing – or, if you prefer a slightly classier and more contemporary work that I learned just this afternoon, chillaxing. Yesterday was the ordeal of being pulled for hours through a tube that’s a teeny bit narrower than I am while breathing sulfur or, as some would call it, airline travel.

I’ve been doing it pretty regularly for almost half-a-century and so you’d think I’d be used to it by now. Okay, I’m resigned to it, but that’s not exactly the same as being used to it.

The occasion, this brisk and, in some areas, snowy March, was a visit to a comics convention in a city I have fond memories of, Seattle. Now, some of you who are my age and have retained the ability to read and thus are reading this, may recall the early fanzines: generally produced on mimeograph machines on cheapish paper; these were not slick and often not very professional, but they had the charm of work done for the love of it, with no hope of gain other than the satisfaction of indulging in a cherished hobby. These publications often featured “convention reports,” accounts of visits to science fiction or comic book gatherings, written by the zine’s publisher or one of that person’s friends. About those conventions: some fans, a professional or two, maybe a movie, maybe – a real treat! – a reel of outtakes from film or television. And maybe…even the appearance of an actor from film or tv. (The first con I attended featured Buster Crabbe.)

Them days is gone forever, Clem. Any convention report would have to be quite lengthy to do justice to its subject. There were, give or take, 75,000 attendees in Seattle and a whole roster of show biz celebrities topped by Patrick Stewart or, as those of you adverse to reading credits might know him, Jean Luc Picard, captain of the starship Enterprise. This mammoth gathering is not the biggest convention – the ones held in New York City and San Diego are bigger – but its still pretty awesome and, I was told, has doubled in size since last year, so…watch your backs, New York and San Diego!

What can I bitch about? Not much. The accommodations bordered on luxurious and everyone we encountered – I’m talking everyone – was friendly and courteous.

What did I like? Well, let’s skip the women – hordes of lovely human beings in costumes, many with interesting tattoos and didn’t my dirty old man merit badge almost burn a hole through my vest! Let’s skip them and remark on how the idea of a convocation devoted to good ol’ comic books didn’t seem to be lost among all the show biz glitter and bling.

Yeah, I’d go back, even if I had to be pulled through a tube while breathing sulfur.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman