Fri, 16 September 2011
Finally, a fangirl has crashed the clubhouse! I’m Erika Peterman, co-founder of Girls-Gone-Geek.com, and the woman behind the high-pitched voice you’ll hear on this lively episode.
Long before I officially met Dwight, Swain and Adrian, a mutual friend suggested I check out the Sidebar podcast. At the time, I was sampling a truckload of comics-related podcasts for education as much as entertainment, and frankly, only a handful held my interest. But when I heard these guys, I was not only impressed by their depth of knowledge but also struck by how much fun they were having. I instantly felt like I knew them, and I was kinda mad that I wasn’t in the room. It was a bit like eavesdropping on the cool kids’ conversation in the cafeteria and desperately wanting to join in.
So when they invited me to be part of the “Run for Your Life” installment during Dragon*Con, I was thrilled — and a little nervous. I mean,these three really know what they're talking about, and I didn't want to come off like a seventh-grader among Ph.D. candidates. However, recording this episode turned out to be one of the highlights of my weekend. It was just as much fun as I'd imagined when I discovered Sidebar a year ago.
Our task was to discuss a series whose run we enjoyed from beginning to end. My pick was Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly's New York Four/NewYork Five miniseries, an absorbing story about a group of young women in their freshman year at NYU. Wood's writing and Kelly's art are so perfect for each other, which makes for a deeply satisfying read. When people ask me for suggestions of good comics, this is always near the top of the list.
The others chose books I never would have considered but am now eager to read. I only knew Micronauts as old-school action figures, but Dwight totally sold it as a complex, exciting series that still holds up. Who knew that a toy could inspire a comic that touches on heavy-duty topics like genetic engineering? Next, Swain put the spotlight on Dave McKean's Cages, a graphic novel with hauntingly beautiful illustrations. The book's themes of creativity and inspiration are very close to home. Finally, Adrian convinced me that I need to get up on some Jack Kirby, immediately. That's a real gap in my education, and Adrian's passionate commentary on Kirby's classic New Gods epic was mighty compelling — as was the eye-popping art.
I hope you enjoy listening to this installment as much as I enjoyed being part of it. And many thanks to my brothers in geek for inviting me to share the Sidebar microphones!
Mon, 12 September 2011
American Flagg, The Rocketeer, Jon Sable Freelance. Those were just a few of the titles I cut my teeth on as a young comics reader. Amongst many others, they were indicative of the new wave of American comic books in the early 1980s. There was a palpable excitement in the air as scores of great books hit the shelves.
New things were also going down behind the scenes. Royalties and incentives were finally being paid for the first time ever. Independent publishers began wooing seasoned creators away from the Big Two with opportunities to tell the types of stories they'd always wanted to tell. And one of those creators was Mike Grell.
I actually found Mike (or maybe he found me) in the mid '70s on The Warlord at DC Comics. Warlord was a Verne-esque tale about a modern-day Air Force pilot "lost in a lost world". I was also quite fond of Mike's work on Legion of Super-Heroes from a few years earlier. Super-powered teens in the 30th century? What was not to like?!
Later, I was floored to find out those Legion stories had been written by a then-teenage Jim Shooter (he started writing them when he was twelve). To paraphrase Mike from today's panel audio, Legion of Super-Heroes was a book aimed at young readers that was being written by (at the time) a very young reader.
After Warlord and Legion, I pretty much checked out everything the guy did — the aforementioned Jon Sable, Starslayer, Green Arrow - The Longbow Hunters and even some of his rare Marvel work.
Moving forward, our hometown convention, Dragon*Con, brought Mike to Atlanta this year as a special guest. I had the pleasure of moderating a panel with him. Grell was funny and in great spirits, and the crowd was full of enthusiastic fans.
All of the above was covered in the sit-down, but we also got an ear full on the writer-artist's background, how he broke into the business, and the scoop on his latest project, The Pilgrim (with writer, Mark Ryan). Good times.
Thanks to Mike for his candor and humor, thanks to the crowd for being all kinds of awesome, and thanks to the promoters of Dragon*Con for having me as a moderator.