Tagged: Will Eisner

Eisner Award Nominees For 2019 Announced!

The Eisner Award nominees have been announced! Congratulations to every single person and publisher that received these prestigious nominations!

As per the SDCC website, “Voting for the awards is held online, and the ballot will be available at www.eisnervote.com. All professionals in the comic book industry are eligible to vote. The deadline for voting is June 14. The results of the voting will be announced in a gala awards ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 19 at a gala awards ceremony at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. Jackie Estrada is the Eisner Awards Administrator.”

If you are a comic book industry professional, please make it a point to vote in these awards. Every vote counts! Voting opens on Monday, April 29th.

Here’s the list of every category with their respective nominations below:


Mike Gold: Mutt & Jeff & Marcia & Me

Do you remember the name of the first comic book you ever experienced? I do. It was a copy of DC Comics’ Mutt and Jeff, one of the very first daily newspaper comic strips and purportedly the first to be anthologized in what we today consider the comic book format. It was made as a subscription inducement giveaway.

This happened to me sometime around late 1953 or early 1954, when I was three years old. Okay, I was precocious (a synonym for “obnoxious”) but hardly anybody was that precocious. No, the comic book was read to me by my sister. Being almost seven years older, and much to her understandable chagrin, she was pressed into service as my babysitter. That certainly pegs her as precocious as well.

Marcia picked up a comic book from her stack, Mutt & Jeff #34, March 1952, and proceeded to read it to me. My sister had taste: that issue sported a cover by the legendary Shelly Mayer. Being only slightly out of toddlerhood, I learned how to recognize the shapes of the word “Mutt” and the word “Jeff.” DC ran the daily strips in two-page spreads, each one carrying the “Mutt and Jeff” logo. Page after page of them.

Proud of my achievement, I pointed to each logo and shouted, “Mutt and Jeff” over and over and over. For some reason, my sister/babysitter did not murder me on the spot.

What Marcia couldn’t have known at the time was that she had opened Pandora’s Box.

That initial experience led me to discover the comics in the newspapers, and over the next two years, those comic strips taught me how to read. This is actually quite bizarre as our paper of choice carried Pogo, Li’l Abner and Abbie ‘n’ Slats, and they didn’t quite speak English, at least not as we spoke it in the Midwest.

The newspaper strips led to my discovering comic books on my own – initially by finding Marcia’s own four-color stash, later by coercing my parents to buy me a comic book or two at the neighborhood drug store.

Of course, my love of comics led to many friendships and, ultimately, to comics fandom. A piece in the paper led me to fanzines, which led me to the conventions and then to advising comic shop retailers and organizing comic book conventions, and then to the first of two tenures at DC Comics, the co-creation of First Comics with Rick Obadiah … and to ComicMix with Glenn Hauman. With a whole lotta other stuff thrown in; allow me some modesty, okay?

Last weekend, I left the Chicago Wizard World show a day early to go to Detroit. Marcia Judith Gold Bashara had died at the age of 73, due to heart problems. I was fortunate enough to see her one last time on my way to the convention, spending a day with Marcia, her husband and my friend of 53 years Salem, and my wonderful nieces Heidi and Cheri.

Yeah, it’s really tough to type these words.

I used to tell people – usually, people writing articles about comics – that we comics people who were born during the baby boom and Fred Wertham’s anti-comics crusade decided to get into the racket as revenge for our parents’ tossing out our comics sometime in the mid-1960s.

And there’s some truth to that, but if not for my sister Marcia’s sharing her enjoyment of the comic book medium, I might not have had any comic books for my parents to toss.

For the record: about 15 years ago, I returned the favor by introducing Marcia to Will Eisner’s graphic novels. She absolutely loved them.

•     •     •     •     •

A tip of the hat to the many, many people who consoled me at Wizard World and to my fellow ComicMixers who helped pick up my load. And, most of all, to Maggie Thompson for consistently being there with her advice, her intelligence, her wit, and her charm. Which actually means “to Maggie Thompson for being Maggie Thompson.”





Ed Catto: Dare2Draw with Eisner & Kirby

Dare2Draw is one of those cool events that I never want to miss and am always so happy after attending.

Founded by Charles David Chenet (now its Executive Director), Dare2Draw may seem like a comics-drawing class at first glance but it’s really so much more. In fact, this Saturday’s event will be celebrating the works and legacies of comic pioneers Will Eisner and Jack Kirby and celebrating their Centennial mark in the sequential arts.

Chenet describes this long-running organization as a mentoring, supportive and networking organization for artists of all levels. Dare2Draw is also designed to cultivate the awareness of and appreciation for the study of sequential art, and to the “furtherance and preservation of the comic book medium’s contributions to literacy, art, and culture, through outreach programs, events, and projects.”

I find these events to be invigorating. They are part drawing class, part lecture, part support group… and all fun.

For this upcoming event, Chenet will be bringing Dare2Draw back to the Art Students League of New York. It is a location with a historical importance.

“The Dare2Draw returns to The Art Students League for a very special event to celebrate where Will Eisner got his start and went on to lay down the foundation for the graphic novel,” said Chenet. “We will also be celebrating the work of Jack Kirby, who was able to revolutionize comics, without having a formal art education. Dare2Draw will be celebrating both of these pioneers in the industry of comics, helping to celebrate their centennial mark in the sequential arts.”

“We have invited Kyle Baker, whose irreverent spirit and boundless talent continue to push the art form, now and into the future. Kyle has earned eight Will Eisner awards and many others,” added Chenet.

In fact, Kyle Baker is a winner of not only eight Eisner Awards, but also five Harvey Awards and five Glyph Comics Awards. He’s planning to share his reflections on Will & Jack’s contributions and what the future of the sequential arts “comics” might hold.

Representing the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center will be Rand Hoppe. He’s a tireless advocate of Jack Kirby and will be exploring the artist’s accomplishments and legacy, and how it all relates to today’s artists.

“Both these men will help us explore the contributions – Kyle, from the perspective of an artist and a peer of Will Eisner, and Rand as a curator of the Kirby legacy,” said Chenet.

You know these events are headed in the right direction as they are attracting sponsors. Of note: Brooklyn Brewery is supplying the beer.

This event will be hosted by Simon Fraser and Edie Nugent. It runs from 5:30 to 9:30 pm and the Art Students League is located at 215 West 57th Street in New York City. Have fun and post your art if you go!

•     •     •     •     •

Credit Given where credit’s due: I really must credit the creative in this week’s column. Will Eisner’s work appears via the courtesy of Will Eisner Studios, Inc. Jack Kirby’s creative provided courtesy of The Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center.

Mike Gold: There’s No Business Like…

For some odd reason, over the past several decades many a wannabe comics creator has consulted me for advice. That’s quite nice; it makes me feel like I might know something. Of course, that also means I’ve been around the block so many times I’m prone to tripping over my own tracks. That’s the yin and yang of life.

No matter who the victim wannabe is, be that person a writer wannabe, an artist wannabe, or in extremely rare and unusual cases an editor wannabe, there are several chunks of hot glowing wisdom that I try to impart. Now you, if you’re a wannabe or you’re simply comics-curious, get to experience some of these radiant pearls without having to suffer through what I alone like to think of as “my sense of humor.”

I shall start with the most important lesson of them all. It is absolutely true for everybody, although some might find it daunting. “For every truly great guitar player with a contract and an entourage, there are well over 1,000 guitar players who are even better who never make it out of the garage.”

Even though truer words were never spoken, you might be wondering what the hell that has to do with producing comic book stories. Well… everything. The business of comics is show business. Admittedly, comics creators get less money than our performing counterparts, and we get less cocaine and cars and hardly any nookie, but we are in show business nonetheless.

Assuming you haven’t just decided to switch your major and wiki “hedge funds,” I shall drop the definition into your lap. You want to get in to the comics business, editorially speaking. Well, so do a zillion other people – and that’s growing as the medium achieves greater public acceptance. Let’s say you want to be a writer. For every Neil Gaiman out there, we’ve got a thousand people who aren’t in the racket, would like to be, and are better writers than my friend Neil Gaiman (sorry, pal).

O.K., there probably is nobody faster than Neil and that’s important, but we’ll leave that aside. On a planet with 7.5 billion human beings on it right now and births outnumbering deaths by more than two-to-one, there’s got to be at least 1,000 writers who are better than just about anybody we’ve seen thus far.

In order to get in the front door, you may ask, do you have to be better than the best? Well, that would be great and we can always use another bright, shiny beacon, but no – you don’t have to be better than the best. But you damn well better be more than half as good as the best to get noticed.

Yeah, there are schools that purport to teach you how to write (or draw, but not edit), but there are no schools that will teach you how to think. Most are incapable of teaching you how to be creative, but if you excel at the basic techniques and take creative chances and polish your work as though it was the Hope Diamond and work hard and eat your veggies, you’ll have a damn good shot.

If I had a dollar for every time I looked through an artist’s portfolio and offered some words of alleged wisdom only to be told that the wannabe’s work was better than, say, the two or three worst artists available, I’d have enough cash on hand to get somebody from Lenexa Kansas to drive out some Zarda’s barbecue to me here in Connecticut. The fact is, we’ve already got those “lousy” artists. Why would we need more?

Besides, that lesser talent might have been saving our deadline ass for years and years. Sometimes you just need the damn job finished, and I’ll bet you any long-term D-lister you care to mention has paid his or her dues and deserves the respect and the work.

Or not. There are assholes out there. I said this was show business.

So what do you do? After you’ve studied the masters who have written brilliant books on the subject – start with every prose-and-pictures instructional written by Will Eisner and Scott McCloud – and you’ve started producing and polishing and redoing everything and make it better, take copies of a few pages to your friendly neighborhood comic book store at some time when conversation is available (as opposed to, say, Free Comic Book Day) and show it around. Listen to what the clerks and your fellow fans have to say. And by “listen” I mean “pay complete attention, don’t be defensive and don’t be a dick.”

Then you take your pages back and redo them with all the additional knowledge you’ve just acquired. Eventually – and it’ll take a while – you’ll get good enough that you can put it online or work with one of the smaller “independent” publishers or even self-publish. And then you listen some more. And redo it some more. Then you might have something worthy of showing a comics editor or a comics bureaucrat (there’s a difference) or a friendly writer or artist, and… you’ll get some more advice.

Continue along that path, even though there are 1,000 wannabes behind you. Do not get off that path. No, you do not suck (probably; hey, a few do). Persevere. You are on your own personal lifequest. A jihad, if you will. You only lose if you quit before getting to the finish line.

There’s more stuff I will probably get around to saying in the future, and many of my comrade columnists here at ComicMix with names like “O’Neil,” “Newell,” and “Ostrander” have given out some great advice. Marc Fishman, who occupies this space every Saturday, has been on this quest for a while and is nearing that bright light of success – and he’s been sharing every step of the way with our readers.

One more thing.

Don’t give up.



Dennis O’Neil, Will Eisner and The Spirit

So here we are on the verge of spring again and it is time for Will Eisner Week, our annual recognition of comic book excellence, one I’m always happy to participate in. Anyone unfamiliar with Will’s stuff should remedy that post haste, either at your local comics shop or – I’m afraid this is virtually unavoidable – by aiming your computer at the, yes, folks at Amazon.

My personal, and much valued, acquaintance with Will began when friends stopped by my SoHo pig sty of a bachelor pad – the styness was my fault, not the apartment’s – on the way to hear him lecture in nearby TriBeCa. I knew who he was, of course: it would have been hard to be in the comic book biz back then, in, I’m guessing, the 80s, and not be aware of Will’s signature creation, The Spirit.

I first met The Spirit – and isn’t that a splendid first name? – when I was much, much younger, living with my parents in St. Louis, and, during summer afternoons with other future bibliophiles, trading comics. I probably remember The Spirit mostly because I didn’t quite get him, not the way I got Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and the legion of costumed good guys in the comics before educators and editorialists and just possibly the odd psychiatrist or two convinced large portions of the citizenry that these colorful vilenesses were shoveling our innocent youth into hell.

That unhappy time was still in the future. My problems with The Spirit were of a different nature. They had to do with Denny Colt himself. He bopped around a city fighting crime, but he wasn’t a policeman and he wasn’t exactly anything else. He didn’t have a costume (which was somehow, in comics, a license to engage evil) like Batman and others; he had a mask, sure, and gloves, but the rest of his clothing? A suit, a hat and – this galls me – a tie. His garb was a lot like that of – this galls me more – our current president. And he had no special powers like Superman (though I wouldn’t have wanted to be on the receiving end of a Denny Colt punch.)  So what was with him? Didn’t know. Back to Batman – him I got, at least kind of.

Flash forward to 1966, and join me in a gungy tenement on Manhattan’s Lower East Side reading the Sunday Herald Tribune. What I’m looking at is something special – a new Spirit story, the first in 14 years, written and illustrated for the Trib by Will Eisner. I am being knocked out and when I drop the paper I am a Spirit fan, thereafter on the lookout for any Spirit reprints I’m lucky enough to find. (There began to be a lot of them about then.

Jump ahead another few years and I’m doing a cabe tv show with Eisner, who I now know… a little. While I’m blathering, Marifran is standing off-camera with Will, whom she is meeting for the first time. When I join them, my gracious wife tells me that Mr. Eisner is coming to dinner. He does and Will and I spend an evening talking and Mari’s cooking convinces our guest that vegetarian food can be pretty tasty, When, at evening’s end Will gets into a cab and we have a new friend.

I am very proud of that.


Auburn to Celebrate Will Eisner Week

Our pal and ComicMix columnist Ed Catto (also the nicest guy in the Atlantic Northeast) is up to something. Check out this press release!

Explore the life and work of Will Eisner with Auburn, N.Y.’s Seymour Library on Monday March 6th with a panel presentation/film screening and on Tuesday, March 7th with a documentary at Auburn Public Theater.

Will Eisner (1917-2005) was a trailblazer in the comic book world, showing the public that comics could be a genuine form of literature and popularizing the term graphic novel. His landmark comic series The Spirit (1940-1952) was noted for its expressive artwork and experiments in content and form. This year marks the centennial of Will Eisner’s birth.

Geek Culture expert Ed Catto will host a panel on Will Eisner: Celebrating Graphic Novels: An Appreciation of Comics as Literature at Seymour Library on Monday, March 6th at 6:30 pm. The panel will provide an overview of Eisner’s work and highlight other graphic novels that demonstrate the enduring power of Eisner’s convictions. There will be a screening of the 2008 film adaptation of Eisner’s The Spirit, after the panel.

The documentary Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist will be held at the Auburn Public Theater on Tuesday, March 7th at 7 pm.  Ed Catto will introduce the documentary.

Industry support for this event has been strong:

  • Dynamite Entertainment is donating comics and a hardcover collection of their recent Spirit series as giveaways to attendees
  • Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con (June 24th-June 25th) will randomly give away tickets during both events
  • Paul Levitz, author of Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel will be donating a signed copy of this recent book to Auburn’s Seymour Library

Ed Catto is a marketing strategist and speaks frequently on Geek Culture and Comic Book History.

“Auburn, N.Y. has a rich, but checkered comic history. In 1948 Auburn held a comic book burning, as part of the anti-comics hysteria of the day. But by the seventies, one of the first comic shops was established in Auburn,” said Catto.

More information about Will Eisner Week in Auburn can be found at the  Seymour Library website: www.seymourlibrary.org.

Ed Catto: Planning for Geek

There’s a big year ahead in Geek Culture with lots to look forward to. Upon reflection, I feel like should have more clearly defined plans.

Cosplayers are the best at looking ahead and especially planning their convention attendance. The inherent creativity and creation of cosplay demands disciplined convention selection and scheduling. Cosplay entails developing elaborate timelines so that cosplayers have the necessary time to envision, plan, purchase materials and sew and/or assemble their cosplay costumes. And of course, so many cosplayers create multiple costumes. The finished products are impressive, and the work it takes to get there is impressive.

I’d like to attend several conventions this year and have my favorites. But in general, I find myself really looking forward to the smaller ones. That might be just because I’ve had so many great experiences at the big ones. And as a very impatient guy, I hate waiting in lines but I kind of like those big crowds at big shows.

But I think there’s something else going on.

There are many small shows that are very professionally run. They serve as a counterbalance to the chaotic frenzy of the larger comic-cons. Maybe their growth is part of the emerging “shop local” or “homegrown” trends. So, for me, shows like Ithacon, NJ Comic Expo, Salt City Comic-Con and Awesome Con are all on the radar this year.

There also bog two centennial birthdays to celebrate this year.

March marks the annual Will Eisner Week. Danny Fingeroth and The Eisner Foundation organize of series events nationwide at Comic Shops and libraries. I’d like to get one going locally, in fact. I never tire of Eisner’s work and we can all continue to argue about the validity or obsolescence of the term “graphic novel.”

Jack Kirby, the King of Comics, was born 100 years ago too. The more we understand the vast tapestry of comic creators, the more we can appreciate the many creators who contributed to comics. In fact, sometimes I’m surprised when speaking to industry professionals or historians, and they’ll casually categorize Kirby as a creator, just like any other.  That’s probably a rational way to approach the man and his work, but…

I was part of the generation that was taught to revere all his work. We believed all the hype. “Don’t ask: Just Buy It!” was a command we eagerly obeyed.

One event I’m looking forward to is the clever Kirby-themed issue of Back Issue! just announced, even though it’s not scheduled for publication until 2018. Back Issue! #104 is all about “The Fourth World After Kirby,” and the articles will be focusing on all the series and creators that followed in Kirby’s huge footsteps.

And there’s one other artist that I’m definitely going to have to learn about this year.

Two weeks ago, Disney and Warner Brothers artist Tyrus Wong died at the age of 106. The New York Times reported his passing on the front page. As a Chinese American, Wong suffered great hardships and bias throughout his life, but somehow he managed to become the guiding creative force behind Disney’s Bambi. He worked in the Warner Bros animation division for years after that.  His artistic vision was so great that he even contributed to live action films like Rebel Without A Cause and The Sands of Iwo Jima.

Wong has been given overdue credit, most notably in major exhibition at the Disney Family Museum and in a documentary called Tyrus. But most of his life seemed defined by enduring racial prejudice while producing incredible artwork. I’m looking forward to learning more about this fascinating artist.

These are my shoot-from-hip plans for Geek Culture in 2017. What are yours?

Martha Thomases: The Living Supergirl

When I’m lonely, I read.

I read at other times, of course. But books, unlike humans, are always there for me. Books don’t move away, die, or vote for Trump.

I bring this up because it’s part of my New Year’s resolution.

All of us, no matter who we might be, occasionally feel like we don’t fit in. We aren’t cool enough, or we have a funny name. We might be too fat or too thin, too tall or too short, too rich or too poor. We could be too dark or too fair. We might speak differently than other people. We might be too butch or too femme, too queer or too straight, too old or too young. We might be too nerdy or too much of a jock. We might feel so different from everybody else that we don’t even have the words to describe all the ways in which we feel different.

There is no doubt in my mind that this has been true throughout recorded human history. However, modern technology makes it easier to track this phenomenon and quantify its dangers.

At the same time, there are ever newer and more technologically advanced ways to bully the kids who are most vulnerable.

When I was a girl, I often felt like the odd person out. I was too much in my head, worrying about how I appeared to other people, if they could see through me and knew what a sham I really was. At the same time, I felt like no one saw the real me, and I might go through life without ever being loved or accepted.

Naturally, I loved Supergirl.

The Supergirl of my youth was not the glamorous character you see on The CW every week. She was a girl with mousy brown braids (like mine!) who lived in an orphanage, with no one to confide in but her cat and her robot double hidden in a tree. When her cousin, Superman, finally revealed her existence to the world and she was applauded, I felt like that applause was a little bit for me.

Later, I would find other comics and books that seemed to understand what I was going through. Whether it was J. D. Salinger or Ray Bradbury or Will Eisner or Trina Robbins or David Sedaris or Caitlan Moran – among many others – I found company in books.

Still, it was Supergirl who really understood me.

Teaching children the value of reading is a wonderful thing. It’s a tool they can use to get them through their entire lives.

I don’t mean “value” in terms of money or career potential, although I am in favor of both cash and jobs. I mean that the entertainment, comfort and contentment that curling up with a book is even more valuable than dollars. Somewhere in the world, there is a novel or a series of personal essays that articulates how we feel. When we find that book, we feel understood.

I resolve to share my love of reading with kids who really need it.

So, how will I carry out this resolution? It would be lovely if each of us had the time and resources to reach out to as many young people as possible and teach them how much pleasure they can get from reading. Alas, that is not always true. Still, there are lots of other things we can do.

Do you have a few free hours? You could volunteer at your local library. What better way to share a love of reading than by directly modeling it in your own community.

Pressed for time and space? You can give your old books to charities that will distribute them to where they are most needed.

For better or worse, the books that are the most comforting to children and young adults are most likely to be the ones targeted by free speech antagonists. If I were the kind of person to believe in convoluted conspiracies, I might think that those in charge don’t want a citizenry that is self-confident, engaged and able to think for themselves. In any case, it is important for people all over the world to find those books that speak to them. Therefore, I’m going to continue to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. They’ve done good work for decades, but in the past few years, they’ve really upped their game in terms of making graphic novels available for schools.

In 2017, I resolve to do more of this. I urge you to consider doing the same.

Martha Thomases: Gifts For People With Brains


I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday, and that your conversations with your friends and family were both peaceful and joyous. In my experience, the tryptophan in the turkey makes everyone so sleepy that noisy arguments require too much energy.

Today, Black Friday, is the official start of the holiday shopping season. With luck you are still enjoying the warm glow of gratitude from yesterday’s holiday, and we can use these emotions to consider your holiday shopping list.

I, for one, am grateful to live in a country that defends freedom of speech. Even hate speech. I don’t like neo-Nazis or what they say (and for even more video, check out this link). However, we know who a bunch of these people are now, and we can defend ourselves https://www.splcenter.org.

stuck-rubber-babyYou know another great thing about Nazis? They make excellent bad guys. A book or movie can have the most conflicted protagonist imaginable, but when he or she is fighting Nazis, you know who is the hero. It’s one of my favorite things about Inglourious Basterds, which remains an excellent gift.

If you like your Nazis even more vile, consider the Nazi vampires in The Strain. There are also some excellent choices if you want your Nazis impotent and hilarious. In fact, while The Producers has the most Hitler of any of Mel Brooks’ movies, you can find at least one cutting reference in everything he does.

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. If you have friends or family who are ignorant about what could happen here, let me help you. There are some lovely graphic novels — award winners all — that you can share. Luckily, they are so entertaining that the recipients won’t feel like they’re getting lectured.

The third and final volume of March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin ad Nate Powell, just won the National Book Award. Previous prizewinners include A Catcher in the Rye and Profiles in Courage. The March trilogy tells the story of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s from the perspective of Congressman Lewis. We will need to emulate his courage and grace in these next years.

will-eisner-the-plotpxmI will also and continually recommend Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse. Aside from being a beautiful and engrossing story, it illuminates what I consider to be a most important truth — that we fight best against hate when we fight together as allies.

If you are afraid of other (but related) forms of hate infecting your loved one, you might consider the last book by the legendary Will Eisner, The Plot. His co-author is Umberto Eco, so your recipient will feel flattered that you chose a gift with such a fine literary pedigree.

And for that Baby Boomer relative who thinks he’s still hip (but is, instead, growing more narrow-minded by the day), there is The Fifth Beatle by Vivek Tiwary, Andrew Robinson and Kyle Baker. It is so colorful and fun that it can be easy to overlook how masterfully it protests homophobia and anti-Semitism.

Once you start looking for gifts like these, I’m sure you’ll find a lot of other things that will open hearts and minds. Please feel free to share them in the comments. We all need more and more and more.

Joe Corallo: The Ray of Light


Freedom_Fighters_0001It’s been brought to my attention that CW Seed (the CW’s digital content hub) will be airing a new animated DC Entertainment series, Freedom Fighters: The Ray, in 2017. What makes the announcement of this new series extra newsworthy is that The Ray himself gay and would be the first gay superhero to be the lead in his own TV series. Pretty neat, right?

Before I discuss the impact the first gay superhero to lead his own TV series has on me, I’d like to talk a little about who The Ray is, since there is a good chance you are unfamiliar with this character. Hell, I was only vaguely aware of this character myself.

The Ray was original conceived by Golden Age artist Lou Fine and premiered in issue #14 of Smash Comics, part of Quality Comics’ lineup. Lou Fine worked on other characters at Quality Comics including The Black Condor, Doll Man, and Uncle Sam. Ironically, one of his most well-known contributions to comics is likely his work on The Spirit comic strips, which at the time he went uncredited as he was a ghost-artist for Will Eisner.

Eventually DC Comics acquired Quality Comics and took all of the previously mentioned characters as well as others including Phantom Lady and put them all in their own superhero team, the Freedom Fighters. Since then, a few different other people have been a hero under the banner of The Ray. Most of which have a nearly identical skill set including light absorption and manipulation as well as flight.

The version of The Ray being used in this animated series is Ray Terrill. In the comics this was the identity of the second person to call themselves The Ray, and also the son of the original The Ray, Lanford Terrill. However, that version of The Ray was never revealed to be gay.

This version is based on The Ray from Grant Morrison’s Multiversity. In it, one of the alternate world’s depicted had the Freedom Fighters, but they were slightly altered to make them a more diverse group. In doing so, Grant decided to make this Ray gay.

I’ve talked before about how making characters like Iceman or Green Lantern gay is difficult as they are such thoroughly established characters that people have already made their minds up on that it could easily be dismissed, even by the next creative team tackling the characters. Similar to what George Takei was calling for in Star Trek: Beyond, I want to see new characters being created that better reflect diversity rather than retconning previously established characters.

Smash14In a situation like this one I think this actually a pretty good way to meet halfway. DC Entertainment is able to use a character that doesn’t get much use to begin with and help make its comics and now TV shows more diverse. No offense to the late great Lou Fine, but the kids these days found out about The Ray just last week when CW Seed got their announcement of this new series out there. This is the kind of recycling I think we can all agree on. Okay, maybe not all of us.

Keep an eye out for Freedom Fighters: The Ray as we enter into 2017 on CW Seed. Make no mistake that this is a big deal to many queer kids and young adults eager for more content that better reflects their own lives. Hell, it’s important to some of the old timers too. And if this animated series goes over well, you’ll be seeing The Ray in live action form too.

Let’s not forget that the Freedom Fighters will also be in this show. I don’t know about all of you, but I could really go for some Phantom Lady action on the small screen. Her Golden Age adventures have been reprinted in the Roy Thomas Presents Classics. They might be out of print by now, but you can still find them in some comic shops and online at suggested retail. I think they’re a lot of fun to read.

The Ray, on the other hand, is quite difficult to find in reprinted collections. As a result, I really have very little idea of what to expect from this animated series. Though I am curious to read some old stories with The Ray, it may work out better for me and general audiences coming into this animated series with no preconceived notions and watching the development of the first openly gay superhero leading a TV series from the ground floor. If enough people feel the same way, we might see this kind of representation move forward faster than a ray of light.