Tagged: Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind

Mike Gold Shuffles Off to Buffalo

“Shuffle Off To Buffalo” is a song that premiered in the 1933 movie 42nd Street, later to become a Broadway musical. Much, much later. The song was written by the legendary team of Al Dubin and Harry Warren, and the movie in which it was preformed was, very arguably, the most erotic movie Warner Bros. made while the Warner Bros. were still running the joint.

It is in that spirit that I announce that this is my last column for ComicMix. I’ve been here almost 12 years, and I have done nothing else (professionally) for such a long stretch. They say people with short attention spans are the most creative.

No, wait. “They” don’t say that. I do.

There are lots of reasons for my departure, the most significant of which is, quite frankly, I’ve been looking to leave for several years. Again, my short attention span: my professional mind wanders the same way my id does. When ComicMix chose to go in a different and largely unarticulated direction, I seized the opportunity to change my business url.

I shall be getting back to writing, and I will be expanding my podcast and publishing work. That’s what I do during those brief periods when I’m not being sarcastic. Maybe I’ll write that exposé about the comics industry; who knows?

 (Damn. I think I just caused a bunch of people to enjoy some serious insomnia.)

Adriane Nash, late of the ComicMix staff, is organizing a new website called Pop Culture Squad www.popculturesquad.com, when it goes up in a couple months) and she asked me to write and consult. That’s really cool: PCS’s scope goes well beyond our beloved world of comic book culture, and I’d like to swim in those waters for a while. Amusingly, a number of other people whose work occupies this space feel the same way. We’re not going to be getting the band together, Adriane is forming a new band. Think of it as Cream, with me playing the part of Ginger Baker. I’m very excited, which is a wonderful thing to behold but gross and icky to consider.

I will continue to do Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind, my weekly kickass on-demand rock ‘n’ blues Internet radio program on www.getthepointradio.com. I hit the ten-year mark next spring, which seems weird. People who judiciously wish to contact me can do so at mikegold@popculturesquad.com. Tell me Groucho sent you, and then go find your DeSoto keys.

Usually, in times like this the writer talks about how much he is grateful to work with such fine people. Well, yeah: running the columns here allowed me to exercise some muscles I hadn’t been using much for decades, and I have been privileged to work with many, many fine writers. The fact that most of them are also close friends made the whole enchilada all the more digestible. There are many others I wish to thank, and most of them know who they are. Of course, a few people think I’d wish to thank them, but are mistaken. I’m not going to cockblock my favorite hobby: provoking paranoia.

But I would like to single out one person: Brian Alvey, who cofounded this joint and moved on to reconquer the Internet still again. I learned a lot from Brian, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with him.

Saying next year will be a better year for all is to invite a deathmatch between the forces of karma and the gravity of cynicism. Have a happy holiday season, unless your name is Donald J. Trump. If it is, fry in hell, motherfucker. For the rest of us, all noble in comparison, I shall part with a stanza from Dubin and Warren:

I’ll go home and get my panties

You go home and get your scanties

And away we’ll go

Mmm-mmm-mmm

Off we’re gonna shuffle

Shuffle off to Buffalo

Mike Gold: The Guardian’s Daddy Issues

If you think working in the greater comic book conspiracy is all fun and games – well… there’s a lot of truth to that. For example, where else can you go to the movies, call it work and then take the ticket price off your taxes?

Last Thursday, I joined fellow ComicMixers Adriane Nash and Joe Corallo in the wildlands of Milford Connecticut (where the phrase “Milf” was coined) for the debut of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume Two. We went for the full movie monty: IMAX 3-D at a ticket price that would cause Uncle Scrooge to quit working for Disney. When I plop my ass down in a movie theater seat, I am hoping I’m not wasting my time and all that energy I spent looking for a parking place. In the case of next month’s Wonder Woman, I will plop my ass down in a movie theater seat praying I’m not wasting my time… but I digress.

I had no such concerns for GOTG2. All the cast, crew and management had to do is jack up the action slightly and change the soundtrack and write some new gags. If Looney Tunes could do it for nearly four decades, James Gunn could do it twice. If, after seeing the movie, you find yourself debating whether it was as good as the first, not as good as the first, or better than the first – you’re thinking too hard. To paraphrase Joel Hodgson and Josh Weinstein, “It’s just a show, you should really just relax.” If you’re going to go to a movie like this with a stick up your ass, you’ll never get past the vicious furball who runs around carrying ordinance bigger than he is, let alone the pithy-yet-cute jumping twig that steals every scene he’s in.

In other words, we had a great time watching a very funny movie with an exceptionally high body count. If that sort of thing bothers you, don’t take your kids. Anyway, they’ll have more fun seeing it behind your back.

GOTG2 even made fun of the mighty Marvel movie method. There are five inter-credits scenes (they should start running the closing credits at the beginning of GOTG3) and more cameos than you can count. While it is impossible to translate a comic book property to the big screen without making some changes, GOTG2 came remarkably close to the source materials while maintaining the continuity from the first movie as well as the other Marvel Studios flicks. In fact, they even managed to do a quick tribute to Jack Kirby’s original depiction of Ego The Living Planet – they didn’t have to, but it was a nice touch for those of us who remember.

Remarkably, this movie fits squarely into the current Marvel Studios trans-flick story arc, and does a lot to set up next year’s Avengers: Infinity War. You are probably aware that the GOTG leads are all in that one, but then again, so is everybody else. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ben Afflick in there somewhere.

And speaking of Ben Afflick, if that nightmare of a movie Batman v Superman degenerated into a story about heroes with severe mommy issues, then Guardians of the Galaxy Volume Two is about a hero with severe daddy issues. But unlike the aforementioned DC movie, Guardians makes it work without insulting the audience. Kurt Russell turns in a wonderful performance as god.

The soundtrack, built around the theory that obnoxious tunes from the 1970s sound much better forty years later, is different from the first film, as one might expect. What I did not expect is for them to include a tune I play about once a year on Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind: Lake Shore Drive, by Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah. It’s really a beautiful song about the remarkably calming major highway that separates the City of Chicago from the parkland that hugs the coast of Lake Michigan. Quite frankly, I would think Rocket “Raccoon” would hate it.

We had a swell time. What more could you want for the money? If you were expecting Citizen Kane Volume Two, you need to change your meds.

 

Ed Catto: Podcasts… and an Enduring Favorite

I’ve been driving a lot more since my move to the Finger Lakes and I’ve been trying to use my time wisely. For music, I catch up on Pete Fornatale’s Mixed Bag from WFUV and ComicMix’s own Mike Gold’s Weird Sounds Inside the Gold Mind from The Point Radio. Both offer great tunes and insightful, thoughtful commentary.

And for thoughtful discussion, I’ve been really enjoying John Siuntres’s Word Balloon Podcast. John’s an incredibly passionate interviewer with a deep knowledge of and respect for pop culture and comics. Each week, he sits down to have an extended conversation with a creator. John has the uncanny talents of getting people to open up (often a creator will say “I haven’t told anyone this before”) and for making the listener feel like he or she is part of it all too. When I listen to Word Balloon, I feel like I’m sitting right there with them, but just can’t get a word in edgewise.

Recent interviews have included:

  • Tom King – one of the industry’s hottest writers, talking about his recent work on the Vision and Batman, and all the while framing it against his real life as a husband a father of young kids.
  • Danny Fingeroth – talking about Spider-Man and Will Eisner Week. It was so compelling, that I’m now working with my local librarian on an Eisner Week event. (More on that soon!)
  • Rob Liefeld – a polarizing figure who provides great insight into his creation Deadpool and the box office success of the movie. No longer a “young punk creator,” Rob is now able to offer a unique perspective to his success and the marketplace’s wants and needs
  • Ryan Browne – on Image’s new Curse Words Normally, I have passed over this series, but the passionate discussion and insights on the Word Balloon Podcast got me excited enough to give it a try.
  • Paul Dini – providing great insights into his new animation work on Justice League Action and his Jingle Belle character.

I’ve been doing more writing, and I just finished my first article for TwoMorrow’s Back Issue! magazine. Editor Michael Eury asked me to write about the 80s comic series from DC called Thriller. Created by Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden, Thriller was one of those innovative series that DC launched during the excitement of non-traditional comics like Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns & Ronin, Barr and Boland’s Camelot 3000, and Howard Chaykin’s The Shadow. During my research, it was amazing to find out how many fans fondly remember Thriller too.

Maybe it was the tagline. Fans vividly remember how the series announced, “She has seven seconds to save the world!” This actually had a double meaning. On one hand, Trevor Von Eeden’s innovative page layouts pushed the reader along the page with a real sense of urgency. And we were all soon to find out that the main character had seven agents, called “seconds” that she guided on her Mission: Impossible-like adventures.

Maybe it was characters. Robert Loren Fleming packed Thriller with so many unique characters. Most series would build a story around one fresh new protagonist. Fleming had eight heroes, two villains and another half-dozen supporting characters that the reader was dying to learn more about. And that was just in the first story arc.

Maybe it was the creative risks the creators took. Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden were trying something new and different. They took risks on a very public stage. They didn’t play it safe. They gave it 110% and left it all onstage. We all can applaud that. And even after all these years, that’s just so very impressive.

And I was able to dig up some fantastic insights and track down the startling truth behind a secret Thriller rumor. Back Issue! #98, focusing on DC in the 80s, will be on sale this July, just in time for San Diego Comic-Con. It should be a lot of fun.

Marc Alan Fishman: Meetings With Remarkable Men

“I had a lovely brunch with Jesus Christ.
He said, “two words about inanity: fundamental Christianity,” yeah.
The food was very nice.
But then He had to go and die for my sins and stick my ass with the check.”

Just before 2016 died a fiery death, Unshaven Comics broke bread with ComicMix EIC Mike Gold and Living Legend John Ostrander. It wasn’t our first meal together, and assuredly it’s nowhere close to the last. We met for no better reason than to share a meal and a joyous time. Little did Mike know I was going to just go ahead and record the whole evening in my mind, and use it for this week’s article. I’m coy, don’t you know.

As with many interactions with Gold, barbecue was involved. We wound up at a north suburban Chicago joint with walls adorned in celebrity photos and the wafting aroma of wood-fired Q, as is often the case in the company of great and powerful comic book men.

What I love, perhaps more than anything else about these meals, is how quickly we nerd out. Barely a passing “Hello, how’s so and so” was muttered before the three Unshavens and the two greybeards (can I get away with that? I’ll try it) landed on the minutiae of our beloved pulp heroes and villains. Before we could even be seated we’d begun to ramble on about Supergirl, Suicide Squad, Arrow, Amanda Waller, Avengers: Infinity War, and the Smallville version of Martian Manhunter.

I bowed before the avatar.
He said, “the problem’s clear to me: you never got over Morrissey,” yeah.
I said “well, right you are!”
“It’s so much harder to be underfed than under-understood,” he said.

After we were seated, the conversation veered towards the political. Again, folks in-the-know of our trusted EIC wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. It’s likely not a surprise either, that nary a single point made was in favor of our soon-to-be Reality-Judge-In-Chief. We lamented on the state of the cabinet (“…akin to the Legion of Doom, but likely far more evil than the pulpy counterparts”). We chortled about the two party system (“…it doesn’t work, but then again, neither does anything else”). We commiserated on the power of social media (“…there’s no way in my day folks could assemble as fast”). In between bites of pulled pork, ribs, chicken, and brisket, John and Mike gave me the moment of the evening.

I’m not certain who originated the point, but someone on the Unshaven side of the table asked of our elders if they still had hope – that with enough spirited activism in place our country wouldn’t end up like the fire-pits of Apokolips. Mike and John each paused for a moment and delivered a Chicago-esque Siskel-Ebert take. I won’t tell you who said what (somethings are better left to be discovered), but Gold and Ostrander took different answers. Backed either by the eternal optimism stolen from the 60s that sparked their own original rebellious natures, or rebuked because of the sage wisdom of seeing the world rise and fall enough to believe that pessimism finally stole the day. It was sobering, prophetic, and amazing; and the moment fell as our last entrée plate was taken away.

I went to see KIP WINGER!
He said, “in my day we knew how to party; bands today, c’mon, not hardly.”
He had a back-up singer (doo doo doo doo).
He said, “the metal scene is a disgrace, but I ain’t got no dog in that race!”

When the moment passed, the conversation moved from the sobering to the cynical. The careers of Andy Dick, Rob Schneider, and David Spade were compared and picked over. And true to form, Mike Gold had a personal connection and a story about one of them — likely the other two as well, but by then the server was eyeing our booth for the still-unpaid-bill.

Unshaven picked up the tab (and was sure to extort our dinner guests for future favors, the true way of the comic book business), and the long Jewish Goodbyes began. Thirty minutes later, we parted ways, and the evening ended as brightly as it’d began.

Mike turned to John. “You know, I was just reading a list of the worst movies of 2016, and Suicide Squad was in the top five!” John snickered immediately. “Yeah, well, it made 750 million bucks, so I don’t give a damn.”

Damn straight, John.

Tip of the hat to Harvey Danger’s “Meetings with Remarkable Men (Show Me A Hero)” for the lyrical inspiration this week. If Mike ever lets me program my own guest set on “Weird Sounds Inside the Gold Mind”, that will be how I kick it off.

Mike Gold: Archie Is Too Cool For Words

ramones wide

Lately, my Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind kickass rock and blues Internet radio show has spilled over into my ComicMix column. But it’s hard for me to restrain myself, and besides, self-restraint isn’t exactly my long suit.

Since every living person, as well as the estates of many of the dead, makes all kinds of “big” announcements at SDCC, the smart people (Hi, Martha!) make their big announcements the week before the show. They’ll get better exposure in the online comics news sites, and this year they avoid having to compete for attention with a 70-year old Creamsicle media hog with severe bigotry issues.

Ramones & ArchieSo our friends at Archie Comics cleverly chose last week to announce their latest bizarre crossover, Archie Meets The Ramones. This past decade or so, Archie Comics (as opposed to the character, Archie Andrews) have been the most innovative and risk-taking of the Original Comics Publishers. Archie has methodically testing new concepts, new interpretations of their characters, super and non, and new ways of running their company to provide the revenue to launch such projects. I think I read all of their new-material comics save their Sonic the Hedgehog line, and I like what they’re doing.

They’ve done unusual crossovers before – Archie Meets The Punisher probably is the one best-known to the ComicMix audience. They’ve done rock’n’roll based crossovers before. But linking up with The Ramones is a whole ‘nother matter. The Ramones were part of the vanguard of the punk rock movement that they, in fact, started back in 1974. It was and remains as exciting and as vital to the form as the blues/folk/hippie rock from the previous decade. One might not think the Ramones to be a good fit with the Riverdale crew, and I highly suspect that previous (and older) management teams might have felt the same way.

Riskier still is the fact that almost all of the original Ramones are dead. They ran until 1996. Joey Ramone died in 2001, Dee Dee Ramone died in 2002, Johnny Ramone died in 2004, and Tommy Ramone died in 2014. Two important notes: First, the “Ramone” surname was contrived; they were no more related to each other than were the Doobie Brothers. Second, they were not the most doomed band in rock history. That privilege goes to Beatles protégés Badfinger; I mean them no disrespect by avoiding the specifics. Wiki’s got them just fine.

Let us not be confused by the fact that one of Archie Comics’ more popular titles is called Afterlife With Archie. Evidently, Riverdale’s typical teen-agers indulge in some serious time-travel. Comics fans get that. Rock fans get that. Your grandparents; probably not. They’ve been working on understanding Doctor Who since 1963.

Archie Meets The Ramones is a very, very clever concept. And it sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ll see on October 5th.

The Ramones, The Punisher, KISS, Predator, Glee, Sharknado… Where does Archie go for its next unlikely team-up? Way back in the mid-1980s I whimsically suggested to then-publisher Michael Silberkleit we do a Betty and Veronica / American Flagg! mini-series. He immediately agreed; I suspect he was more familiar with Flagg!’s sales than with its content. But I can’t tell you how much I wanted to see how far I could push that one.

Sigh. Maturity sucks.

So, next time I think Archie and the band should go back in time once again and team-up with the MC5. I’m dying to see what Wayne Kramer www.waynekramer.com would say to Forsythe P. Jones – and vice versa. Maybe Brian Bendis can get a waiver from Marvel; his dialogue skills would work well here. Maybe John Sinclair could offer Juggie a… cigarette.

Yeah. Google that, chillen!