Sunday, December 23, 2007

Planet Comic Book Radio episodes #4 & 5 up on the website

I've negleted to mention this before but my radio show now has it's own dedicated website:PlanetComicBookRadio.Com. While still found on the Perspective Radio internet podcast, having our own site for the radio show is something I've wanted since we started. Now you can listen to any of our previous episodes (5 of them as of this post). We also have profiles, polls, and soon, reviews of comics and comic's-derived media!

Last week, 12-18-07, we recorded Episode #5, the Podcast Before Christmas!
My guest was Alan Rutledge, a comic dealer who specializes in back issues, particularly from the Silver and Bronze Ages of comics (my favorites!). Alan is an old friend of mine, I've been buying from him for over 5 years. He has a booth at a local show called Frank & Son Collectible Show, kind of like an indoor swap meet for comic books/toys/manga/anime/sports collectibles, etc. It's open on wednesday evening and all day saturday.

Alan's appearance allowed me to brind a new type of guest on the show. Not a comic creator or author of a book relating to comics, but a vendor. And being a back issue dealer, that opened up the topic to interesting aspects of comic books. We talked about the grading scales for comics and how the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide sets the standard for the whole industry. We also talked about the various eras of comics and the market forces that led to the creation of the Direct Market. In the interest of trying to create a fun show, I also asked Alan to grade some comics, live on the podcast! I handed him my copies of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #13 & 21, ROM #1 and even slipped in a copy of the very first EL MUERTO comic book from 1998!

It was the photocopied, b&w NUMERO UNO EDITION. I think I made a total of 300 or 400 of those babies, and to this day only have about 5 of them myself!

Also on the show, in keeping with the Holiday Season, I performed the first ever recital of my El Muerto Christmas poem, THE NIGHT BEFORE NAVIDAD! (The astute JAVZILLA readers will remember the poem from last year...I've slightly edited the poem to reflect the final version I read on the show) I'll be honest, I was a little nervous about reciting the poem, my fear being that I would muck it up! But it came out good, and again, I'm always looking for ways to make the show fresh and original and fun.

Alan was in-studio, which is always nice because it really makes it feel like he and I are just talking like we do at his booth. Two guys chatting about comics!

On Episode #4, 12-11-07, I had the oppurtunity to interview Michael Aushenker, an L.A.-based cartoonist who's been publishing his own books for over a dozen years. Mike's also been a great friend of mine for about 10 years, and in fact I remember telling him about my soon-to-debut comic book EL MUERTO when I was introduced to him by another friend of mine (and future guest), Rafael Navarro. Mike's most well-known character is EL GATO, CRIME MANGLER, an explosively hilarious book that's half Three Stooges madcap comedy and half slam-bang superhero farce.

Mike and I have collaborated over the years, contributing artwork in the form of short stories or pin-ups to one another's books. Mike also contributed an EL Muerto painting to the Galeria del Muerto found on the DVD special features to THE DEAD ONE.
His interview on my show gives you a pretty good idea of the man's work over the last 15 years. He's currently a contributing writer to BACK ISSUE magazine, published by Two Morrows.

Mike was another smooth and easy interview to do. He was also in-studio so again, it was just like me and him sitting around talking about comics! Of course, I have to make sure I keep somewhat to a format. I do want people listening to gain a clear picture of the work my guests do. But as long as I can conduct the interviews in a conversational setting, I'll be happy with the final product.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bill Mantlo/Rom, Spaceknight benefit auction on Ebay

A couple of posts back I mentioned that I had contributed some artwork to a special gallery show. Floating World Comics (Portland, OR) hosted a show with artwork featuring the 1980s Marvel Comics cult classic, ROM, SPACEKNIGHT. With over 100 artists contributing all-new images, this event marked the largest collection of Rom artwork ever!

The person for whom this show was created for is Bill Mantlo, the original writer of Rom and scores of other Marvel Comics in the 70s & 80s. Bill was the victim of a hit & run accident back in the 90s as he was rollerblading in New York. He suffered a major head trauma and has never been fully functional again. His brother Mike has been his caretaker ever since. This auction will be used to raise money to aid in Bill's care. Jason Leivian, the owner of Floating World Comics, created the idea for the gallery show out of his sheer love for the work of Bill Mantlo, particulary Rom, Spaceknight. Rom was a toy robot action figure that Bill was able to turn into a 70+ issue Marvel property!

So when I found out about this event I absolutely had to submit a piece. Now that the gallery show is over, Jason is putting all the pieces on Ebay to allow everybody to purchase the artwork. Looking at some of the pieces, I am amazed by the variety of work. Even Walt Simonson created a piece, and it's a beauty. It's getting some really good bids, too. Bill Mantlo is going to directly benefit from his creation. Not the ideal circumstances, of course, but any comfort that can be provided to the man is worth pursuing.

My first exposure to Bill's work was in 1975, with Marvel Team-Up #39. The story opened with Spider-Man talking to a young Puerto Rican kid on a rooftop. The boy was tending to his pigeons when an assassin's, meant for Spider-Man, stikes one of the birds. As a young Mexican-American kid myself, I appreciated the little bits of Spanish that Bill worked into the boy's dialogue. Bill continued for another year or so on that book but worked on numerous characters throughout his career. He created the story for The Human Fly, the real-life Canadian stuntman who approached Marvel with idea of creating a comic book series based on his exploits. Bill's idea was that the Fly was involved in a fatal car accident that killed his wife and children, leaving him a cripple. But through sheer willpower, he eventually made himself walk again. He decided to adopt the identity of the Human Fly as a means of inspiring others like himself to walk again, to live again.

Maybe we'll have a Human Fly benefit show one day.

In the meantime, please check out the Rom artwork at Floating World Comic's Ebay sellers page. My original inked drawing is up at auction, which also inlcudes an 11x17 color print. Whichever artwork you buy is fine, because you'll be getting a unique piece of Rom art and most important, Bill Mantlo will be recieving some extra help this Holiday Season.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good Knight.

Friday, December 07, 2007

MY SEVENTIES SHOW podcast episode now available!

My special edition podcast, MY SEVENTIES SHOW, is now available to listen to at PERSPECTIVE RADIO.COM. Recorded live on Tuesday, Dec. 4, this episode was especially fun for me to put together. A total flashback, it also allowed me to focus on two current projects from a pair of gents who grew up with similiar passions as I did back in the idyllic 1970s.

Back in my early days, I would look forward to spending saturday afternoons in the park drinking a 7-11 Slurpee and reading comics. For about one buck and change, I could get a couple of 25¢ comics, a Slurpee and a Zero candy bar and spend time with the superheroes.I swear, I cannot tell you how much, to this day, I associate the taste of a cola Slurpee and a Zero bar to such a valued and treasured time in my life!

Then there were the hours spent playing with my MEGO 8" action figures! THE WORLD'S GREATEST TOYS they were called, and rightly so! 8" fully posable figures with fabric costumes, these are legendary toys for a whole generation of us graying, overgrown kids. I was completley fortunate and spoiled as kid, because I had a pretty good collection of these toys. One year, and it's my all-time favorite Christmas memory (um, other than the time with Mom, Dad and the siblings!), I recieved not only the fabled Joker Van, but several other characters alongside that: Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Green Arrow and probably one or two others. Today, I've got very few of those originals left, but the priceless memories keep me warm at night!

So, to indulge myself, and entertain my radio audience of course, I concocted a special retro show that touched on these ancient memories. My first guest, Paul Merolle, runs his own company called POP FUN MERCHANDISING, which lovingly produces TOON TUMBLERS. These are collectable glasses featuring colorful images of Marvel superheroes, using the iconic imagery all recognize. Paul had been an enthusiastic collector of superhero drinking glasses and 7-11 Slurpee cups, so it's very cool that he turned that passion into an eventual business. I actually heard of Paul months prior when a Google search for "7-11 superhero Slurpee cups" turned up an article he wrote some years ago for the Collector's Glass website. After finding out about his company, I actually ordered the stunning SPIDER-MAN NEW YORK COMIC-CON exlcusive frosted tumbler. I tell you, slap a Steve Ditko Spidey image on a product and you got me hooked!

Really though, these TUMBLERS are very nice collectables, and I'd recommend getting these as gifts for any Marvel Comics fan this Christmas. PopFun carries a nice variety featuring characters like the Punisher, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, among others. They even have a Holiday themed glass!

My second guest, and my first in-studio guest at that, was the bombastic Benjamin Holcomb, author of the new hardcover book MEGO 8" ACTION FIGURES:THE WORLD'S GREATEST TOYS!. When I first heard of this book months ago, I knew I had to have it. And when my own radio show came about, I thought it would be a perfect subject for a show. When I found out that Benjamin lived in the area, I emailed him and offered him a spot on the show. He immediately agreed, to my everlasting gratitude. Then after contacting Paul I was able to put together my first special edition episode, MY SEVENTIES SHOW.

Benjamin and I hit it off immediately, as our previous email exchanges were truly a meeting of the geeks! His book, published by Two Morrows (among their many publications is my favorite magazine THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR) has just been published and at over 250 full-color pages, is truly a milestone in Mego fandom! Literally packed with info and trivia on the Mego super-hero line, Benjamin's book is both a loving tribute to a bygone era and an exhaustive report on the production, marketing and art of the Mego dolls.

As Benjamin was in the studio, I was presented with a new dynamic as far as interviewing a guest. We literally were sitting side by side browsing through the book, often starting a topic based on the page we were looking at! I'm trying to conduct my show with as free-flowing spontaneity as possible, and I think the interviews demonstrate that. While I did indeed have some notes and questions to refer to, I let Benjamin's and my own enthusiasm run the interview.

One of my favorite parts of the book are the two-page spreads showcasing 360 degree turns of each figure! It's like having the figure there in front of you. And buying the book is a fraction of the amount of money it would cost to buy one of these figures in any decent shape!

Benjamin actually sat in on my phone interview with Paul, as he himself was interested in the Toon Tumblers! I'm telling you, those of us lucky enough to have grown up in the 70s were completely spoiled and brainwashed by the sheer magnitude of magical toys, trinkets and all-around coolness that shaped our childhoods. After the interview, the show ended and I was finally able to get my Mego book signed! One of the advantages of hosting your own show is inviting in guests under journalistic pretenses and then hitting them up for fanboy autograph!

I took Benjamin to a local Mexican 'mom & pop' eatery and he indulged in the best taquitos he's ever had! We caught up on one another's back story. Apparently, Benjamin came across my EL MUERTO comic book back in 2001 or so. I was attending the Alternative Press Expo (APE) with a friend of mine dressed as El MUERTO and Benjamin had seen my booth and early comics! At dinner I gave him some signed copies of the Muerto comics and a movie poster. He's a real energetic guy with a great sense of fun and creativity. I'm invited over to his place to check out some of his primo Mego collection in person! After I visit him, unless I have to sign a disclosure, I'll tell you all how that went!

My sincere thanks go to Paul and Benjamin for enthusiastically sharing their passion with me, as they really made MY SEVENTIES SHOW possible. I wish the best to them and their current projects. Remember to listen to the show atPERSPECTIVE RADIO.COM.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

ROM, SpaceKnight art show in Portland

Here's my contribution to tonight's art show dedicated to comic book writer Bill Mantlo, ROM, SPACENIGHT. Organized by Jason Leivian of FLOATING WORLD COMICS, the show features over 100 artists/cartooonists/designers from around the world.

The show is a benefit for Bill Mantlo, the original writer of ROM, and 100s of other classic comic book stories throughout the 70s and 80s. Bill suffered a severe head trauma back in the 90s and has been cared for by his brother Michael. All proceeds from the show will be sent to Michael Mantlo to assist in Bill's care.

The show will run for a few weeks. For more info, please go to Floating World's website linked above.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Comics virtuoso MORT TODD interviewed at PCBR

Last week (Tuesday, Nov. 27) I had the pleasure of interviewing Mort Todd for my radio show, PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO. This was what I called a 'career-spanning' interview, and a one-hour show could only scratch the surface! Listen to the interview here!

Mort Todd, while only in his early 20s, was the Editor-in-Chief of CRACKED Magazine. From there, it's been a very diversified career in comics including publishing his own mag, MONSTERS ATTACK, launching the MARVEL MUSIC line of comics over at the House of Ideas, working with such greats as Dan Clowes on various projects and with comics legend Steve Ditko on pitching Ditko's objectivist hero MR. A as a television series! Other things Mort has worked on include the comic strip versions of SPEED RACER and RAT FINK, independent filmmaking and rock & roll posters and album covers. Mort's creator-owned works include BAT LADY and MOLLY THE MODEL, the first interactive strip.

Among Mort's current works are SADISTIK, his adaptation of the European cult classic photo-comic, KILLING. Mort is a producer of the SADISTIK documentary, DIABOLIKAL SUPER CRIMINAL. The film had it's world premire last month in Italy and Mort is currently involved with the distribution phase of the film. All the while continuing to produce new comics and photonovels based on this phenom.

I met Mort through an interesting Ebay transaction. I had seen some copies of Marvel Comics' BOOK OF THE DEAD and CURSE OF THE WEIRD listed. These comics were edited by Mort in the 90s and featured rare, 1950s pre-Code horror comics from icons such as Wolverton, Ditko, Everett, Heath and Orlando. Well, one of the issues reprinted a very rare story. The first appearance of The Zombie, Simon Garth. Created by artist Bill Everett and writer Stan Lee! Well, I ordered the books and a few weeks later I received the package. Only problem was, the issue with the Zombie was missing! I wrote the seller, explaining that the book was missing from the package. Soon, I received the comic in the mail. I thanked the seller and explained that normally I wouldn't have fussed too much, but I had really wanted that issue! I went on about how much I loved the old Marvel artists and also shared that I was a publisher of my own book.

At that point Mort told me about his own love for the classic comics and that he was in fact a comic creator himself. We immediately hit if off and exchanged packages of our own comics. Eventually, we got along so good that back in 2005, when we hosted our first panel to show the teaser trailer for the EL MUERTO film, I asked Mort if he could moderate the panel!

And that led to me actually working with Mort on a project. When it was decided that we would be including an EL Muerto comic book with the DVD release of EL MUERTO, I knew I wanted to work with Mort on it. He had often told me about wanting to work with me on a project anyways, so this was ideal. I wrote the story and did rough layouts while Mort handled the finished art with his inking and digital coloring. He also lettered the book and handled production. With all his years of experience, and his much faster production speed, he really made the book happen. I learned some things from him that helped improve my writing and layout choices. Mort's mantra was too make the book a lot more contemporary-looking, and I really applaud the final choices that were made.

When it came time to plan my first episodes on PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO, I knew Mort was one creator I definitely wanted to interview. I've heard the playback of the show and I think it came out really good. Certainly there is a lot of information on the man's interesting career. And I feel that I'm getting into the groove of this interview stuff! When I think too much about what I'm going to say, I feel that I tend to stumble around a bit. It's when I start talking in a more rapid rire, spontaneous manner that I'm satisfied I'm putting on a good show. But every step I take to get to that point is good. You only get better and something you do regularly, and everything anyone does always sounds/looks rougher in the beginning.