Tagged: Marc Alan Fishman

Marc Alan Fishman’s Geek Year Resolutions

fishman-art-140104-150x192-8323952While many of you were out toasting the New Year with friends and acquaintances – perhaps a bit tipsy from the festivities and calamity – I was spending my NYE at home with the wife and kiddo. Wifey and I recently came down with a crappy bug (of which I was the first recipient, on my birthday to boot), and did not feel it smart to venture outside the containment field of our suburban enclave. I was all set and ready to throw myself a pity party, but Michael Davis not only took that cake this week… bitch cooked it up from scratch, decorated it, and served it with ice cream.

I thought it might be nice for me to spare you all a post of malaise and doldrums, and opt instead to look to the coming new year, and make some resolutions for myself. But not the typical “I need to lose weight” (I do), or “I need to quit cigarettes” (I don’t). I’m going to use my column inches today to make some geek year resolutions; things I need to do or stop doing to be a better geek in 2014.

Become a Whovian. Well, as many read some time ago I gave in and watched “The Day of the Doctor.. I also recently have partaken of a few choice episodes, as well as the most recent Christmas Special. That allows me now to start fresh and new with whatever Capaldi’s Who will be. Now, I’ll be honest… a cursory Googling did not tell me when the new series will start, but I’m simply resolving in 2014 to watch more Who. Thanks largely to a DVR and BBC America, that shouldn’t be a problem. This will also mean at conventions I’ll be more apt to draw my patented Domos (note that they are NOT actually patented by me, nor should you think they are…) in the guise of all the various Doctors of yore. And maybe a Weeping Angel Domo. Ooh! And a Dalek Domo. That outta’ be a larf.

Start A Wrestling Podcast. One of my friends in the Indie Comic Industry (we don’t have an acronym yet, but who wouldn’t like the ICI?) recently posted on a random wrestling tweet I made that he and I should do a wrestling podcast. I’ll be honest. As soon as I saw that response, I was half-planning it already. I know there’s few wrestling fans here at the ‘Mix, but I can’t not let my freak-flag fly. In 2013, I became a full-fledged re-upped wrestling fan. I purchased a single pay-per-view (it was enough), and I’ve since relegated two evenings a week to watching the product. I spent at least some time every day reading the dirt sheets (online rumor mills), and formulating my ever-so-important opinions. Knowing that I have a great gaggle of pals on the internet (who live semi-local to me) means I can finally make that excuse to learn how to Skype in guests from my home computer, and launch my own wrestling podcast. All I’ll need? A catchy name. The front-runner for now… “Let’s Go Wrestling! Wrestling Sucks!”

Get Back to the Shop. I admit it, everyone. I gave up buying weekly comics. It wasn’t a logistic or financial decision either. It was one grown from malaise. Too many predictable beats from the big two… and too little knowledge about the “not big two” to know what to buy, and what not to try. In the end, I opted to read someone else’s books, and even then… not with any rhyme or reason. Over at MichaelDavisWorld, my review column enjoyed my new approach to “read anything,” but on a personal level, I lost the personal connection I had to my favorite characters. So, in 2014, I’m vowing to find my passion for the medium I create in to become a reader once again. And while I’m likely to continue to stray away from much of the Big Two’s offerings… I don’t think I’ll be missed. Instead, I’ll be making a more concerted effort to seek the stronger smaller-press books that are made by those I might dare to say work even harder than those who are enjoying tenure on prestigious titles.

Give Up Worthless Gaming. Candy Crush Saga and Tetris have a place. They belong on my phone, to be dusted off when I’m in those rare waiting rooms where I have no choice but to distract myself with said phone. I’ve lost perhaps whole days worth of my time to the crushing of digital candies… all for what? Unlocking the next level that frustrates me until I tell myself it’s OK to drop a buck to buy the cheat to win. I’ve only done it a handful of times, but frankly? That’s handful too many. Instead, I’ll resolve to fill my time with more creative endeavors. Just as I can “zone out” whilst swapping striped and wrapped tokens, I can do much the same flatting or inking my work. This leads me to the big one:

Publish Two New Issues and Start The Next Series for Unshaven Comics. In 2013, Unshaven Comics was able to produce only one new issue. Granted we still crushed our sales records, but it almost felt like a hollow victory. The key here is that we (Unshavens…) have only two issues left to produce for our first real mini-series. “The Curse of the Dreadnuts” when finished, will immediately be ready to pull together into our first real graphic novel. Pair that with a foreword by Mike Gold, and an afterward by John Ostrander (see how I’m beginning to beg already!) and a gallery of pin-ups from appropriate friends? We’ll have ourselves a real piece of work that we just might find a way to get into those aforementioned local comic shops. Dare we to dream of a world where the Samurnauts are a known name without our siren’s song of “Excuse me! Can I tell you about my comic book?”

A boy can dream. A boy can dream. Be well, my friends and fans (c’mon, I’ve got to have a few by now, right?). Cheers to a nerdy new year.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

TUESDAY MORNING: Jen Krueger

 

Martha Thomases: Saving Mr. Disney

Thomases Art 140103Like so many kids of my generation, Walt Disney was my baby-sitter when I was a kid. “Uncle” Walt sometimes showed up on The Mickey Mouse Club. He was the genial host of The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights. He was the bestower of Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy, Goofy and all those amazing cartoons.

Alas, I grew up, as kids tend to do. I learned more about Disney, the man and the business. The business was well-known for its penny-pinching, and Walt, personally, was a right-wing, union-busting anti-Semite. These are not the kind of institutions I tend to support.

And yet ….

The reason for these musings is that I just saw Saving Mr. Banks, a lovely movie about the making of Mary Poppins.  And it is a lovely movie, even though it is almost surely inaccurate. It stars Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks as P. L. Travers, the writer of the Poppins books, and Uncle Walt. The biggest problem most people seem to have with the movie is that it whitewashes Disney.

The story the movie tells concerns the tensions between Travers and Disney over the kind of movie to make, based on the books. I didn’t read the books as a child, but I did read them aloud to my son when he was a boy, and they are both lovely and quite different from the film. I don’t care, I enjoy them both. Similarly, I like both the Disney Peter Pan and the book, which, again, is quite different. In both cases, one is entertained and uplifted by the various stories in the various media.

My favorite part about the movie (besides B.J. Novak is that it is about a relationship between a man and a woman that is not even slightly romantic nor sexual, but still emotional and involving and affecting. Hanks is not the least bit like the Walt Disney I remember, and I don’t really care. The character works in the story, which is what I want from my cinematic experience.

It made me think about my feelings for Disney. On the one hand, his politics were, reportedly, terrible, and his business policies hurtful to a lot of hardworking creative people. On the other hand, he made some of my favorite films. On the third hand, he was a human being with a family he loved who loved him, and the same kinds of human insecurities and failings as the rest of us. These contradictions are what make each of us interesting, each of us a worthy star of our own life story.

None of this is to say that, Constant Reader, will necessarily like this movie. I’m not even sure I can say it’s great art. It made me think about art and commerce and families and the love and respect we owe each other despite (sometimes because of) our sins.

Together with my senior discount, it was well worth the afternoon.

SATURDAY MORNING: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY MORNING: John Ostrander

MONDAY MORNING: Mindy Newell

 

Dennis O’Neil: Robber Barons, Then and Now

oneil-art-140102-150x96-8313542Where have you gone, Mr. Potter? Oh – I see. You’re over there with your chums Goldfinger, Scrooge and his pseudo-doppelganger, Scrooge McDuck and, oh look! It’s Uncle Pennybags, stepping away from the Monopoly board. And what’s causing that breeze?. Somebody left the portal between fiction and history open and look who’s coming through! People who at one time actually existed: John Jacob Astor, Andrew Carnegie, Jay Gould, John D. Rockefeller… on goes the list.

That last bunch, the ones who had birth certificates, are sometimes labeled “robber barons” and now you’ll allow me to quote from the invaluable Wikipedia: “In social criticism and economic literature, Robber barons became a derogatory term applied to… powerful 19th century businessmen,,, who used what were considered to be exploitative practices to amass their wealth. These practices included exerting control over national resources, accruing high levels of government influence, paying extremely low wages, squashing competition by acquiring competitors in order to create monopolies and eventually raise prices, and schemes to sell stock at inflated prices to unsuspecting investors in a manner which would eventually destroy the company for which the stock was issued and impoverish investors.”

But really. Were these guys actually so bad? Did they deserve to have writers of both fiction and non-fiction portray them as ruthless greed-heads? Is the stereotype justified?

I’m afraid so.

According research reported by psychologist Daniel Goleman “condescending or dismissive behavior… suggest, to a surprisingly accurate extent, the social distance between those with greater power and those with less — a distance that goes beyond the realm of interpersonal interactions and may exacerbate the soaring inequality in the United States… In 2008, social psychologists from the University of Amsterdam and the University of California, Berkeley, studied pairs of strangers telling one another about difficulties they had been through, like a divorce or death of a loved one. The researchers found that the differential expressed itself in the playing down of suffering. The more powerful were less compassionate toward the hardships described by the less powerful

In politics, readily dismissing inconvenient people can easily extend to dismissing inconvenient truths about them. The insistence by some House Republicans in Congress on cutting financing for food stamps and impeding the implementation of Obamacare, which would allow patients, including those with pre-existing health conditions, to obtain and pay for insurance coverage, may stem in part from the empathy gap. As political scientists have noted, redistricting and gerrymandering have led to the creation of more and more safe districts, in which elected officials dont even have to encounter many voters from the rival party, much less empathize with them.

So ol’ Captain Leftie is doing the Mother Teresa tap dance? Not guilty. Around these parts, all morality derives from the desired survival of the race. Huggy love is fine but in the end breathing is what’s important and the Old Ones who lived long enough to pass on genes learned the value of cooperation, a value that seems to be vanishing from our 21st. century grouches.

I didn’t build the house I’m sitting in and don’t even get me started about computers.

And no, I don’t believe the poor deserve their lot, especially not the children.

Something else… Oh yeah – happy new year.

FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY MORNING: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY MORNING: John Ostrander

 

Martha Thomases: Girls Talk

thomases-art-131227-150x206-8794712Hey, 2013! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. Aside from my personal losses, I thought it was a pretty good year for comics. Not so much in terms of quality (we all have our own opinions and tastes, and often, it takes time to recognize the great books), but in terms of variety. It’s been a great year for people who like to read graphic stories about all kinds of different subjects, told in all kinds of different styles.

And it’s been a great year for the industry.

This is the year that the industry reached critical mass in terms of the participation of women. Yeah, the executive positions are still held overwhelmingly by men, and that has to change. Yeah, most of the mainstream books, and even most of the books from the so-called indie press, are written and drawn by men.

That said, the proportions are changing. There is more work by women out there. More important, there are more women in the audience, looking for (and buying) books that speak to them. At some of the conventions I attended this year, it seemed as if at least half the people who walked by the ComicMix booth were female.

These women weren’t necessarily at the show because their boyfriends / husbands / brothers / fathers were fans. More often, they were fans themselves, dragging along the significant men in their lives. They loved comics (or animation, or cosplay or steampunk or fantasy) for the same reasons as all fans – because we love the creativity and imagination of the media.

Duh!

This is a huge change from the first conventions I worked nearly 25 years ago, when a woman (the wife of a prominent writer) told me that a man had once followed her into the ladies room and crawled under the stall because he didn’t believe a woman was at the show. However, there is still an attitude present that if a woman is at a comic book convention (or office), she is there for the amusement or education of the men who belong there.

Which is why this happens. If you read the link, you’ll see it is the first-person account of a woman who was sexually harassed while participating in a panel at a comics convention. The offending party was identified as writer Scott Lobdell.

I’ve been to a lot of conventions, of all kinds. Besides comics, I’ve been to book conventions, library conventions, licensing shows and shopping center conventions. Even at the latter, which had more than its share of booth babes, I’ve never seen that kind of unprofessional disrespect in a public setting as part of the convention programming.

Here’s my horrible comic convention story. It’s about 20 years old, from the time I was working at DC. We were at a show, and one of the marketing guys was entertaining a group of people, all men, with his stories. The people were freelancers, editorial staff, maybe a retailer or two. As I walked past, he made some remark about my body, which tied into the story he had just told. I stopped (because I heard my name mentioned) and gave him a look. The look. Everyone who had been listening to him walked away sheepishly.

Now we have the Internet, which works even better. Scott Lobdell isn’t someone I know. We may have met, but not in any kind of memorable setting. He never particularly offended me until he ruined Starfire, but I didn’t particularly think he was more of a stupid rube than anyone else in the business. He still might not be.

Here’s what’s different: We’re talking about it. We use the Internet to share our experiences and gather our strength. We inspire our allies (such as Mark Waid, in the comments on the ComicsBeat link) to stand with us.

With luck, we also change the Lobdells of the world. Look, I’ve said some stupid crap in my time. I’ve tried to make a joke and hurt someone’s feelings in the process. I’ve been unaware of my position of privilege and spoken in an insensitive manner. What’s different is that I’ve learned from the process (I hope). I don’t say, “I’m sorry if you were offended.” I say, “I’m sorry I offended you. I spoke poorly and thoughtlessly. I did not express myself well.” That way, the mistake is clearly mine. In the best case, I learn how another people hears my words and how they think. It’s not only good politics, but it’s an aid for good writing.

It is my sense that there are parallel stories and alliances going on within other fan communities, including those for people of color, the LGBTQ community, and more. I hope their stories get told in a way that I get to hear them.

Happy New Year. Here’s to better days.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

 

Martha Thomases: The Twelve Flicks of Christmas

Thomases Art 131220When I had to go to work in an office everyday, I would try to save up my vacation days so I could take off the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Ostensibly, I did this because my kid had no school and needed daytime attention.

But, really, I did it because I wanted to go to the movies.

The holiday season usually sees a flood of new releases, either to amuse those home-bound kids or to qualify for the Academy Awards. A lot of the Oscar-bait is scheduled for nation-wide release when the awards will actually be presented, and they just open in a few theaters to get by the rules. Since a lot of Academy members live in New York, we luck out.

There are altogether too many Jews in my borough for me to indulge the traditional Reform observance of Christmas (Chinese food and a movie), but I hope to celebrate the end of the year with my people (by which I mean, movie geeks).

Here’s what I’m anticipating most.

Inside Llewyn Davis Not since Bruce Springsteen teamed up with Pete Seeger has a project seemed so much like it was designed specifically for me. The Coen Brothers explore the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 1960s. I expect it to be my neighborhood, my music, my sense of humor and my reasons for moving here. And then I expect to be sad because none of this is cool anymore.

American Hustle I’m not a huge David O. Russell fan, but I like a movie with a lot of cute guys in it, even when they have bad hair, bad clothes and bodies fattened for art. However …

Out of the Furnace, which isn’t supposed to be as good, is also on my list because it’s Christian Bale being his cute self, along with a set of very very masculine, serious co-stars. Come to Mama, boys.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire I’m late to this. It’s been out for a month, and I still haven’t gone. Loved the books (although I thought the last one had a weak ending), loved the previous movies, love the clothes and love Jennifer Lawrence and Elizabeth Banks. I wish the two would remake Thelma & Louise.

Saving Mr. Banks My husband and I were both huge fans of Walt Disney (politics aside) and Mary Poppins. John liked to opine that without Mary Poppins there would be no Star Wars. I read the Travers books to my son, and they are big fun, so I see no reason not to sob like a baby through this entire film.

Frozen See above about Disney. We would often observe that, unlike so many filmmakers who went for a kids’ audience, Disney (as a studio) tended to have much better scripts. This looks like it follows in the path of what I think of as the Broadway musical animated movies (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) and that’s a good thing.The Wolf of Wall Street Martin Scorsese is one of my all-time favorites. In this film, he seems to be treating Wall Street traders as if they are gangsters involved in organized crime. Sounds right to me.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues How much did you love the first one? Not as much as I did. When I go to SDCC, I try to walk around the park near the water, looking for roving bands of news teams.

Kill Your Darlings The first famous author I ever met was Allen Ginsberg. He had given a poetry reading at a nearby university, and came to our commune for dinner. Since I was just a girl, he ignored me just about completely. Still, I’m eager to see him portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe, because it’s about as far from Harry Potter as one can get.

Her  I really like Spike Jonze movies. Because of him, sometimes I wander around muttering, “Malkovich Malkovich Malcovich.” So I’m curious to see what his future is like.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Sadly, this will now seem like an elegy. A friend of mine who has to go to film festivals as part of her job saw this a few times back in the spring and said it was always fantastic. And it has Idris Elba. Yowza.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty I have no intellectual defense for wanting to see this. I like Ben Stiller. Sue me.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

Martha Thomases: Love Your Friendly Neighborhood Comics Shop

thomases-art-131213-150x120-4698758Have I mentioned lately how much I like comic book stores? Even as more and more of my friends buy their comics digitally (and I buy more of my prose books digitally), I still like to get my comics in hard copy. I like to get them on Wednesdays when I can. I like to get a big stack and find a comfy chair.

And yet this morning, when I woke up with an uncharacteristic and bewildering tummy ache, I didn’t reach for a pile of singles to take with my to the bathroom, or to my comfy chair. Instead, I wanted to read original graphic novels.

So I was interested to read a conversation among comic shop retailers about how they like original graphic novels – or OGNs, as they call them.

If I might over-simplify, most don’t. I mean, they like them, but most of their business comes from customers like me, who buy single issues month after month. Some say that, even among their regular customers, the higher-priced items are bought online where the customer can get a bigger discount (often bigger than retailers gets from their distributors).

I get this. Stores find their customer base and then do their best to serve that base, providing the products they want and, with luck, also providing products they don’t know about but will love when they see them. A great store will look for ways to broaden its base, attracting more and more customers over time.

Perhaps I am inferring more than is intended, but I also sense that some of the retailers are saying that since OGNs don’t do well for them, that it is a waste of time for publishers to print them. And that kind of thinking makes me crazy.

When I worked at DC Comics in the 1990s, the marketing department spent a lot of time, money and effort working with the direct market. This makes sense, because it represented something like 85% of our sales. At the same time, to satisfy this market, we would often delay shipping books to other markets (that is, bookstores) so that comic book shops could have a month to six weeks to exclusively offer the product.

And this made me nuts.

I’d like to say it made me nuts for altruistic reasons, that I favored a free market or equal opportunity or something. Instead, my ire was selfish. It was hard to get critical attention for a book that wasn’t available in a bookstore.

Leaving the plight of publicists aside, however, there are lots of other reasons for publishers to offer OGNs. Comic book stores no longer serve every possible customer for graphic story. One retailer mentions Paul Pope’s Battling Boy, saying its a best seller for him, but not doing nearly as well as most collections. And yet, the longest line I saw at the Book Expo trade show this year was for Pope’s autograph, primarily booksellers and librarians.

Those markets also move a lot of books, frequently to an audience that wouldn’t go to a comic book store. Artists and writers (and publishers and publicists) should be encouraged to make money in every possible market available to them.

Which brings me to what I read today. I don’t think any of these are designed to be direct market bestsellers, but I bet they each have a sizable potential readership.

Rick Geary’s Madison Square Tragedy is the story of the murder of Sanford White by Henry Thaw, a story I was familiar with mostly because of Ragtime. Geary’s storytelling is straight-forward, full of detail that brings New York City in the early 1900s to life. With very few words but a deft use of faces and body language, he conveys the tensions among the high society of the time.

And then I reached for Harvey Pekar’s last book, Yiddishkeit, which is two years old but I’m just getting to it now. It’s a history of Yiddish culture going back to the Middle Ages, but my favorite parts are set in New York from the late 1800s to the present. There’s some chronological overlap with Geary’s book, but I don’t think any of the players knew each other. My knowledge of Yiddish comes from Lenny Bruce, Philip Roth, Sholom Alecheim and Isaac Bashevis Singer (whom Pekar loathes), but I loved this book. It reminded me that my people have a long tradition of fighting for social justice while arguing amongst themselves.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my tummy is better but it’s snowing out and that comfy chair is calling. I’m going to check out the highly recommended Cursed Pirate Girl. With luck, I’ll also have a cat in my lap.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

Martha Thomases: The Pesky Dreams Stuff

Thomases Art 131206The dame walked into my office just before closing. An older woman, dressed like every other woman in this city in a black leather jacket and black pants. You wouldn’t look twice at her unless you were allergic to cats, because she was covered with cat hair.

“I require your services, Mr. Spade,” she said, a trace of the midwest in her voice. “I’ve lost something very precious. Perhaps it was stolen. In any case, I must have it returned to me. I’ll pay you anything if you can find it.”

I looked here up and down, paying attention this time. Did she have money to spend? “Tell me about the case,” I said, motioning to the chair across from my desk. “Let’s start out with your name.”

“Thank you. I just don’t know what to do.” With this, she wiped a tear away from her eye, using the sleeve of her jacket.

I handed her my handkerchief and waited while she pulled herself together. After a few minutes, she took a deep breath and spoke. “My name is Martha Thomases. That’s ‘Thomases’ with an e-s on the end. Like it’s plural.” She said this as if it was something she had said a million times before.

“My story. I can’t find it anywhere. I think it’s stolen.”

“Can you give me a description,” I said, taking out my notebook.

“It’s been with me since I was a child,” she said, as if that give me any idea what she was talking about. “I really must have it back.”

I looked at her with the pen in my hand. “A description,” I said. “What is it like? When did you last see it?”

“Well,” she said. “I don’t know that it has value to anyone but myself. It’s a story about a girl who grows up, her relationships with other people, the things she has to do to get ahead.”

“That’s describes a lot of people’s stories,” I said, still not writing anything down. “How would I recognize yours?”

“It’s mine,” she said, as if that gave me any clues. She saw my stare, and stammered, “Usually there is something about fathers in it.”

“That gives me something. Anything else?”

“And there’s super-powers,” she said. “Someone will be able to fly or read minds or something. And there will be capes. Dark blue capes.” She tried to repress a shudder of pleasure at the memory, but couldn’t keep the smile from her lips.

Why hadn’t she told me that first. “Now we’re getting somewhere,” I said. “When did you last see it?”

“Just the other night,” she said, crossing her legs. It might have been a sexy movie if she hadn’t been wearing sneakers. “We stayed up late with a bottle of wine. In the morning, there was no trace.”

“Perhaps your story left?” I said, trying to be diplomatic.

“No, never,” she said. “We’ve been together more than 55 years. Someone must have stolen my story.”

“Who would do that?” I said. “Do you have a list?”

“There’s a lot of writers out there who need stories,” she said. “I just don’t know who would take mine. What good would that do them? It’s my story.”

I stood and put out my hand for her to shake. “Let me make some calls,” I said. “I’ll get back to you with an estimate, and we can proceed from there.

She walked away, and I watched her go. Not a bad caboose, but she was old enough to be my mother. What did a woman her age need with a story, anyway?

Still, a job is a job. I made a few calls that afternoon, but they didn’t tell me much. I was going to have to go out on the street. I put on my coat and headed for the bookstore. They’ve got a lot of stories there. Maybe someone heard something.

I went up to the clerk at the information desk. “I’m looking for a story,” I said. “Something with capes. Flying. Maybe a father.” I didn’t want to give away too much.

The clerk pushed a few buttons, and a long list appeared on her monitor. “You want the graphic novel section,” she said to me, pointing to an aisle at the back of the store.

I walked back, looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t followed. I wasn’t prepared for what I found. Shelves reaching to the ceiling, filled with books that had spandex-clad characters with capes on the cover. I picked up a few that had dames on the cover, but there were so many I couldn’t tell if any of them came from my client.

I went back to the clerk. “These are all the same story,” I said. “How am I supposed to tell them apart?”

“Not at all,” she said. “All of the stories are different. Every writer takes the elements and makes them his or her own. It’s like meatloaf. Everybody makes it differently, and everybody makes it the best.”

I went back to my office, no closer to the truth than when I left. As I unlocked my door, I saw a package on the floor. I took it to my desk and unwrapped it. It was a statue of some stupid black bird from the Thomases dame. I picked it up, and saw an envelope underneath. Inside was a check and a note. “Dear Mr. Spade,” it said. “I’m sorry to have wasted your time. I just needed a walk to clear my head and my story came back to me. It is the stuff that dreams are made of. So easy to misplace. Thank you so much for your time.”

I’ll say you’re welcome when the check clears.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

Martha Thomases: Doctor Who and Something… Joyful!

Thomases Art 131129It was Saturday morning and I was at the Union Square Green Market buying dried black beans for soup. It was a beautiful clear cold day, the kind that makes me even more chatty with the people selling the goodies (and, yes, I consider black beans to be goodies. Sue me.). The lovely young woman who took my money commented about being outside all day.

“But there’s Doctor Who!” I said.

She looked at me with scorn.

“I have to watch,” I said defensively. “I need to be able to talk to my son.”

“You’re a good person,” she said. I interpreted this to mean that I was subjecting myself to something tiresome in order to be a good parent.

I came late to Doctor Who. I mean, I had heard of it but never felt any great need to see it. I thought it might be like Thomas, the Tank Engine, a perfectly fine BBC show for children that I also didn’t want to watch. A character with a colorful scarf did not seem compelling enough to me.

Years went by. My son and I bonded over various media, including the television ventures of Joss Whedon, Homicide: Life on the Street, and assorted, other, coolstuff .

So when he said I’d like Doctor Who, I listened. But first, I whined. “It’s been on forever,” I said. “I don’t have time to watch decades worth of a series.

“You only need the new stuff,” he said. “It’s all on Netflix. It’s easy.”

So I started. The first episode I saw didn’t thrill me. I mean, it was fine, but didn’t seem to be the kind of thing to inspire a cult. My son said, “Give it time. Lots of people don’t like Christopher Eccleston.”

But he wasn’t the problem. I thought he looked a bit like Jason Statham, and I amused myself by imagining what the program would be like if Jason were The Doctor. Fucking awesome is what it would be.

So I was enjoying Eccleston, but it was David Tennant who won my heart. That is a cute guy. And, as I was relaxing into the show more, it grew on me. I liked his relationships with the various companions, women who were his friends, nothing more and, more important, nothing less. I liked that they were not, for the most part, conventionally beautiful. Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler was dressed to look like she still had some baby fat, Freema Agyeman’s Martha Jones is (you should pardon the expression) black, and Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble was definitely pudgy and had rather coarse features (please note I think these some are beautiful, but my point is simply that they don’t meet Hollywood standards). They were, like most of us at first glance, ordinary. And, as we watched them interact with The Doctor, they revealed themselves to be, like most of us, extraordinary.

Matt Smith is no David Tennant, but he grew on me. I felt the writing for his character got dicey at times, with some of the gags forced, and his resemblance to Stan Laurel was, at times, distracting. But I loved the Ponds. Through them, I grew to like Smith.

I enjoyed “The Day of the Doctor.” It was fun. I suspect I missed a few Easter eggs, since my knowledge of the older versions of the show is limited to the newer episodes, which I know makes me much less cool. However, I have loved John Hurt since he was Caligula, so that was pretty much great.

Before I left with my black beans, I said to the woman, “The thing about Doctor Who is that, no matter how dangerous the situation, no matter how dire the circumstances, the characters are always happy to see each other. They always find something joyful.”

“Maybe,” she said, “I need to look at it again.”

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostreander

 

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Tweeks Get Their Whovian Geek On For The 50th

Doctor-Who-The-50th-Anniversary-Wallpaper-doctor-who-35308700-1920-1080The Tweeks enjoyed the Day of the Doctor in Los Angeles and today recap the Dr. Who 50th Anniversary, giving us their review and reactions.

And yes, they  manage to keep their squeeing over both their Doctors being onscreen at once to a minimum.

***Spoilers Alert!***

The Tweeks will return Tuesday morning with their special Hunger Games: Catching Fire review!

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

 

 

Dennis O’Neil: Men of their Hour

oneil-art-131128-121x225-7575123Is Hourman Lance Armstrong’s patron superhero? Does Jose Conseco cherish his copy of All-Star Comics #1, featuring Hourman? Did Alex Rodriguez have his own special version of the Miraclo pill, Hourman’s after dinner mint of choice?

Ah yes, Hourman: one of the second (or third) string superheroes created just as the nation was edging into World War Two and decades before the athletes named above and other sports stars were accused of using steroids to enhance performance.

Hourman is not a character who has ever occupied much of my attention. I’ve been aware of him for a long time, and that could mean that I encountered him when I was very, very young, or that I came across him when I was working for DC Comics. I may have even considered reviving him. I wouldn’t put it past me, the editor who, quite briefly, resurrected the original Vigilante, because I remembered liking him when, again, I was very, very young, and Air Wave because I thought I could give him a quirky spin. (These were not my most glorious moments as a DC employee, these flings with yesteryear.) But now, there he is, camping in my psyche – Hourman is back (should we rejoice?) thanks to our brethren in videoland, who are planning an Hourman television show. If the news item I read was accurate, they have ideas for a fresh take on the man of the hour.

The original Hour-Man (he later lost the hyphen) was Rex Tyler who, while working as a research scientist, discovered a drug that would give him super strength and super speed but only, darn it, for an hour. He made two decisions: he would limit trials of the drug, dubbed Miraclo, to himself, presumably to spare innocents possible side-effects, and he would use his awesome but temporary powers for good. As origin gimmicks go, this isn’t bad: it’s novel, and it builds into the premise the venerable ticking clock plot trope. And in the innocent forties, readers probably weren’t bothered by the notion that problems could be solved by swallowing something; anyone who’s ever struggled with addiction knows that the notion is dangerous. To their credit, later writers acknowledged this danger and gave Hourman a druggie’s woes.

The television Hourman’s power will be a form of prophecy. He will be able to see into the future – but, alas, only a single hour into the future. Extremely useful at the race track, but not much good at questions of geopolitics. But it might facilitate some interesting storytelling, especially if the writers are allowed to do heavy character stuff. How would being able to glimpse the future twist a man’s psyche? Would the man become addicted to the facilitating drug and/or the powers it gives him? In popular fiction, it’s always the recipe that matters most, not the ingredients. The Hourman show, if it ever gets onto a television screen near you, might be worth – yes! – an hour of your time.

Meanwhile, you can watch a game.

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: The Tweaks!

FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY MORNING: Marc Alan Fishman