Monthly Archives: September 2008

Still on Honeymoon: Baltimore Comic-Con Remains Great

I will effort to do a more in-depth con report when I get back from the honeymoon. But honestly, the con can be summed up quite simply. It’s nice to see friends. And that’s what Baltimore Comic-Con is about for me. I had not made it to Baltimore since 2003, and yet when I ran into Love and Capes creator Thom Zahler it was like we had just talked yesterday.

That’s the kind of con Marc Nathan runs–a fun one for both fans and families. In talking with another friend we agreed that Baltimore ranks right up there with Charlotte’s Heroes Con as our two favorite cons to attend. One of my favorite family sights? The mom in a costume with a small toddler dressed as DC’s Flash–and the kid was on a children’s harness (yea, Flash was on a leash…)

For official con reports, you would do well to visit CBR and Newsarama (for example, Vaneta Rogers’ on-the-spot interview with Dan Slott regarding his new gig writing The Mighty Avengers).

Baltimore Comic-Con: Yep, I’m Going… As Part of My Honeymoon

When I first met Baltimore Comic-Con Big Cheese Marc Nathan a few years back, at Heroes Con, he and I spent a good part of the night discussing baseball. Nathan spent a number of years working PR for the Baltimore Orioles organization–the man knows baseball almost as well as he understands the comic book industry. So when I read this week that Jim Lee was going to be throwing out the first ball at tomorrow night’s Orioles game, I was not too surprised. And with any luck, I’ll get to see that first pitch tomorrow night. After missing the con for a few years, I’m happy to report I am making it this year. The con is kicking off my delayed honeymoon–and this was my incredible wife’s idea. No I am not joking. I am merely a lucky man who married beyond what he deserves (and who is grateful for it).

Here are the official details on the panels for the con.

Continue reading Baltimore Comic-Con: Yep, I’m Going… As Part of My Honeymoon

Baltimore Comic-Con: Yep, I’m Going… As Part of My Honeymoon

When I first met Baltimore Comic-Con Big Cheese Marc Nathan a few years back, at Heroes Con, he and I spent a good part of the night discussing baseball. Nathan spent a number of years working PR for the Baltimore Orioles organization–the man knows baseball almost as well as he understands the comic book industry. So when I read this week that Jim Lee was going to be throwing out the first ball at tomorrow night’s Orioles game, I was not too surprised. And with any luck, I’ll get to see that first pitch tomorrow night. After missing the con for a few years, I’m happy to report I am making it this year. The con is kicking off my delayed honeymoon–and this was my incredible wife’s idea. No I am not joking. I am merely a lucky man who married beyond what he deserves (and who is grateful for it).

Here are the official details on the panels for the con.

Continue reading Baltimore Comic-Con: Yep, I’m Going… As Part of My Honeymoon

Three Questions for Dean Haspiel

Few storytellers have as rich a career as Dean Haspiel has experienced before his 40s. As unique as his career may be, his current creative efforts are even more intense and busy. How busy? The guy has five different links for his myriad projects. Here’s his offical bio at present (I’m sure he’ll add another project sometime soon, though…in addition to the Marvel upcoming work he discusses in this interview): “Dean Haspiel is the creator of the Eisner Award nominated, BILLY DOGMA, and the webcomix collective, ACT-I-VATE, and the editor of Smith Magazine’s NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOR anthology. He has drawn superheroes for Marvel and DC Comics and Pulitzer Prize winning, Michael Chabon’s THE ESCAPIST. Best known for his collaborations with Harvey Pekar on AMERICAN SPLENDOR and THE QUITTER, this Fall will see the release of THE ALCOHOLIC [Vertigo] {To be exact, THE ALCOHOLIC goes on sale this Wednesday, September 24}, his original graphic novel collaboration with author Jonathan Ames, and MO & JO, a children’s comic book collaboration with underground legend, Jay Lynch, for Francoise Mouly’s TOON BOOKS series from Raw Jr. This summer Dean launched STREET CODE, a new webcomic series for Zuda.

Dean is a founding member of DEEP6 Studios in Gowanus, Brooklyn.”

I have had the good fortune to interview Haspiel in the past. And, over the years, I’ve seen Haspiel’s popularity substantially grow (as well it should) . As I already stressed, he’s a busy man–and always highly in demand on various fronts. So, when I contacted him recently for an email interview, I was grateful for any time he could spare. I could honestly get a one-question interview with Haspiel and be happy. Fortunately, he spared the time to answer three questions. And we covered a lot of ground with those three questions.

Continue reading Three Questions for Dean Haspiel

Keith Dallas on The Flash Companion

Keith Dallas and I have some great history, having worked together at Silverbulletcomicbooks.com (now ComicsBulletin.com) for a few years. Dallas was (and is) one of the nicest guys I’ve met in my travels through the comic book journalism dog and pony show. I consider myself fortunate to have get to do some mild copy-editing (once Dallas writes or edits something, there’s not much to edit to be honest) on his new book, The Flash Companion. Described by publisher TwoMorrows Publishing as detailing “the publication histories of the four heroes who have individually earned the right to be declared DC Comics’ “Fastest Man Alive”: Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West, and Bart Allen. With articles about legendary creators SHELLY MAYER, GARDNER FOX, E.E. HIBBARD, JULIUS SCHWARTZ, ROBERT KANIGHER, JOHN BROOME, ROSS ANDRU, IRV NOVICK and all new interviews of HARRY LAMPERT, CARMINE INFANTINO, CARY BATES, ALEX SAVIUK, MIKE W. BARR, MARV WOLFMAN, MIKE BARON, JACKSON GUICE, MARK WAID, SCOTT KOLINS, among others, THE FLASH COMPANION recounts the scarlet speedster’s evolution from the Golden Age to the 21st century. Also featured are “lost covers,” never before published commission pieces by Flash artists throughout the decades, a ROGUES GALLERY detailing The Flash’s most famous foes, a tribute to late artist MIKE WIERINGO by Mark Waid, a look at the speedster’s 1990s TV show, and “Flash facts” detailing pivotal moments in Flash history.” I was really excited to get a chance to interview my old pal, Keith, and I hope you enjoy our email exchange.

Tim O’Shea: In listening to the TwoMorrows podcast interview, I was interested to hear that, while the book covers Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West and Bart Allen as well as the Rogues Gallery, you admit there was some of the book that had to be edited out for space. How did you go about deciding what ended up in the book and what was the hardest aspect to trim out of the book?

Keith Dallas: When I pitched The Flash Companion to John Morrow [TwoMorrows’ publisher], I gave him a detailed outline of all the Flash material (articles, interviews, sidebars) that I wanted the book to include. When you think about the publication history of The Flash, there is a lot of “no-brainer” material, like spotlights on Carmine Infantino, John Broome, Julius Schwartz, Cary Bates, Mark Waid, etc., etc.

Continue reading Keith Dallas on The Flash Companion

Um, I Forgot to Mention

While I mentioned my impending marriage in passing a few times in the past several months, I just realized I forgot to announce when it happened. Yep, I got married last month. Sorry for not mentioning it earlier.

So while I’m well overdue for getting this blog back on a more frequent posting schedule–I still have some commitments (family and professionally) that require my attention at present. I do hope to have a new interview posted in the next few days. I also hope to get a more regular pattern of posting entries–starting in October. Thanks for your patience and interest.

RIP Robert Giroux

It was with sadness that I read about the passing of editor Robert Giroux at the age of 94.

Giroux was the Giroux in the publishing house of Farrar Straus Giroux.

Here is an obit from the New York Times.

Consider this one sentence from his company’s tribute to him:

Mr. Giroux’s authors included Hannah Arendt, John Berryman, Elizabeth Bishop, T.S. Eliot, Seamus Heaney, Paul Horgan, Jack Kerouac, Madeleine L’Engle, Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel, Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Bernard Malamud, Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, George Orwell, Xavier Rynne, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Derek Walcott, and Edmund Wilson.”

Now that’s just amazing. As a fellow who studied and admired Berryman and Percy in college, those names alone impressed me.

Thanks for some fine reading, Mr. Giroux.

Frank Conniff on Cinematic Titanic, Cartoon Dump

To be able to score another interview with one of the Cinematic Titanic crew after having the good fortune to interview Mary Jo Pehl was not something I had expected. But right after Pehl expressed interest, so did Frank Conniff. Conniff, another original MST3K cast member and writer, was best known as TV’s Frank on the show. After MST3K ended, Conniff diversified into various TV projects, including work on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and Invader Zim. In addition to his current involvement with Cinematic Titanic, he serves as host and performer for Cartoon Dump, a monthly show at Hollywood’s Steve Allen Theatre that aims to feature “live comedy, great music and hilariously bad animation“. We got to talk about both new projects briefly this week. My thanks to Conniff for his time, and to Josh Opitz for arranging both Cinematic Titanic interviews.

Tim O’Shea: You recently wrote about Skidoo (the Otto Preminger film with Groucho Marx as a gangster named “God”). I have seen the film as well and I wonder would that be a film that the Cinematic Titanic gang might like to tackle? Or is it just so weird on its own merits that to mock it would dilute the potency of its sheer badness?

Frank Conniff: I don’t think we could ever get the rights to “Skidoo.”

On the one hand, it would be a fun film to riff on, but on the other hand, it is, as you say, bad on its own merits and maybe it doesn’t need the Cinematic Titanic treatment to be enjoyed.

Continue reading Frank Conniff on Cinematic Titanic, Cartoon Dump

Mary Jo Pehl on Cinematic Titanic

As a person who could be sent into near convulsions from laughing at the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 shows, a few months ago when I heard about Cinematic Titanic (which features the creator and original MST3K cast executing what they characterize as “Movie Riffing 2.0”) I looked into it with some skepticism. But almost immediately after playing a Cinematic Titanic teaser at YouTube I was laughing uncontrollably just like old times. I was recently fortunate enough to interview one of the crew, Mary Jo Pehl. This interview was conducted prior to the August 7 release of Cinematic Titanic’s riffing of The Wasp Woman.

Before diving into the interview, here’s the official take on Cinematic Titanic: “Cinematic Titanic is a feature length movie riffing show and is an artist owned and operated venture created by Joel Hodgson, the creator of the Peabody award-winning Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Cinematic Titanic features the original cast and writers of MST3K, which is Hodgson (Joel Robinson), Trace Beaulieu (Crow), and J. Elvis Weinstein (Tom Servo). Filling out the ensemble is Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester) and Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank). Cinematic Titanic’s focus is to riff on the movies we love, which are ‘the unfathomable’, ‘the horribly great’, and the just plain ‘cheesy’ movies from the past.”

And now for the official word on Pehl: “Writer, actor, raconteur, bon vivant and former Mystery Science Theater 3000 writer, Mary Jo Pehl’s work ranges from television to theater, national radio to regional magazines. Her hilarious and thoughtful takes on life have delighted audiences in print and stage.” My thanks to Pehl for her time.

Tim O’Shea: For a collaborative comedic effort like Cinematic Titanic how hard was it for you to get back into the rhythm and dynamics that had been polished during MST3K? Or is it like riding a bike, and everything just fell back into place?

Mary Jo Pehl: It was kind of surprising how easily we fell back into it. I hadn’t realized that it was in my blood! Not only that, I had recently worked with a couple of guys here in Austin who do an homage to MST3K called Master Pancake Theater. They invited me to riff live with them, so I got a little experience actually riffing live on the films and not just writing the jokes. It was good training to actually being in front of the movie.

Continue reading Mary Jo Pehl on Cinematic Titanic