ComicCon@Home: Bob’s Friday 7/23/2021 Panels reviewed

This is part 1 of my Blog about ComicCon@Home 2021 video panels, which will cover panels that originally aired on Friday, July 23rd, 2021 but that can be streamed at ANY time after their original air-time.

As I have mentioned in previous Blogs about pre-recorded “@Home” panels, one of the best things is being able to see multiple panels when they’re scheduled at the same time.  At the “in person con” when there are multiple things I want to see scheduled up against each other and I have to pick just one of them to attend.

You can find the entire panel schedule here:
https://www.comic-con.org/cci/programming-schedule
(You may need to use the arrows directly under the word ‘Schedule’ to set focus to July 22-25, 2021)
The full list shows the tremendous variety of selections available. Even if there is nothing I talk about here that interests you, there should be something on the full schedule that will interest every fan of pop culture/movies/comics.

I enjoyed the panels from Friday a LOT!

Bob’s Recommended “Must See” Panels from Friday 7/23/2021:

  • Max Allan Collins–Three Hard Cases: Ms. Tree, Mike Hammer & Nolan!
  • Stan Lee, Marvel, and Rolling Stone: 50th Anniversary
  • Hermes Press Frank Thorne Memorial Panel
  • Scott Shaw! Oddball Comics: The Batman Edition

More detailed information/reviews/links can be found below.

Friday 11am: Past is Prologue: The Fascinating New Comic Creator Bios

https://www.eventeny.com/events/comicconhome-1456/?action=schedule-item&action_ops%5Bitem_id%5D=6931

Panel Description: Even though there are so many incredible comics being published today, fan culture is enthralled with the triumphs and trials of past comic creators and publishers. Join Ed Catto (Agendae) for a robust conversation with authors Danny Fingeroth (A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee), Bret Dakin (American Daredevil; Comics, Communism and the Battles of Lev Gleason), Jennifer DeRoss (Forgotten All-Star: A Biography of Gardner Fox), and Ken Quattro (Invisible Men: Black Artists from the Golden Age of Comics) on their recent comic creator bios.

A pretty good conversation between writers of “creator biography” books, but I’ll admit that listening to this kind of conversation won’t be up everyone’s alley, but it’s fascinating for people who want to learn more about “behind the scenes” comic book history .  Danny Fingeroth is always someone I enjoy listening too.  He briefly touched on some of the vitriol he gets from Kirby fanatics who take exception with him writing about Stan Lee and not demonizing him.  Bret Dakin is the great-nephew of Lev Gleason and touched on a lot of information I was totally unaware of about Lev that has got his bio on my “must read list”.

RECOMMENDED?  7/10.

Friday 12pm: Max Allan Collins–Three Hard Cases: Ms. Tree, Mike Hammer & Nolan!

Panel Description: In this special discussion, Forbidden Planet TV’s Andrew Sumner sits down with SDCC Inkpot Award-winning comics writer/novelist/movie director Max Allan Collins (Quarry’s War, Road To Perdition) to discuss his various ongoing crime comics & crime novels for Titan: Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, career criminal Nolan and unstoppable female private eye Ms. Tree, all of whom are returning with all-new uncensored adventures in 2021!

If you’re a fan of Crime/Detective fiction I would hope you know who Max Allan Collins is.  If you’re not familiar with his work and creations and like the crime genre (perhaps from reading Ed Brubaker’s Criminal) do yourself a favor and watch this panel and check out Collins’ body of work, including my personal favorite of his, Ms. Tree  who was one of the earliest indie comics characters I fell in love with in Eclipse Magazine #1 in 1981, also one of my earliest intros to the crime/detective genre.

RECOMMENDED?  8/10.  If you like crime/detective fiction you should watch this panel.

Friday 12pm: Stan Sakai and the Usagi Chronicles

Panel Description: An early look at Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles—The legend, Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo) joins the cast and creators of this all-new Netflix animated series based on the world-renowned comic book series, Usagi Yojimbo. Terry Kalagian (Gaumont, EVP, creative content, US) hosts this fun discussion with the artists behind the scenes as well as the voice talent who bring these exciting new characters to life!

This seemed to be targeted at people totally unaware of Usagi comics, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s good to introduce the character to new people.  The tone of the panel from the “Hollywood” people was off-putting to me as a fan of the comics, but I chalk that up as me not being the target audience (including the fact that it has been engineered to appeal to a young audience).  Any successful animation/TV project must pull in 10x-100x viewers than there are readers of an indie comic so it’s not surprising that it has been re-engineered to appeal to a standard cartoon/anime audience.    Also not a fan of the 3D animation character designs or the changed setting, but again, I chalk it up as “I’m not the target audience”.  At no point was there anything displayed that caught my interest.  That doesn’t make this bad, it just makes it something I’m totally uninterested in. 

RECOMMENDED?  5/10.  Doesn’t feel at all like the comic (too many changes) and thus not my cup of tea, but give the panel a watch and see if it looks good to you.

Friday 1pm: Stan Lee, Marvel, and Rolling Stone: 50th Anniversary

Panel Description: Fifty years ago, a Herb Trimpe-drawn Hulk graced the coveted cover of the hip Rolling Stone magazine’s September 16, 1971 issue. The issue featured an insider’s POV article about Stan Lee and Marvel by Lee’s former assistant, Robin Green (successor to Fabulous Flo Steinberg), who went on to great success as writer/producer for The Sopranos and other landmark TV series. Looking back at the article’s creation and historical significance are Robin Green (The Sopranos), Roy Thomas (first Marvel EIC after Stan Lee), and former Marvel bullpenners Linda Fite (Claws of the Cat), Jean Thomas (Night Nurse), and Mimi Gold (Black Widow). Danny Fingeroth (A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee) moderates.

An amazing array of people who were “in the thick of things” at Marvel in the early 70s reminisce about Marvel at that time, with the Rolling Stone article as a jumping off point, but going on to talk about Marvel and the creators of that time in general.  Very entertaining for fans of Marvel behind-the-scenes history straight from the mouths of the people who were there.

RECOMMENDED?  10/10.  Must watch for fans of Marvel comics.

Friday 3pm: Graphic Novels Lost and Found

Panel Description: Some of the greatest creators in comics produced masterpieces that took decades or more to see the light of day. Hear how Harvey Kurtzman’s Marley’s Ghost, Barry Windsor-Smith’s Monsters, Dave Sim’s The Strange Death of Alex Raymond, and a never-before-known work spanning from the earliest days of comics to the 1970s found their way into print despite incredible adversity. Panelists Gary Groth (Fantagraphics), New Yorker cartoonist Shannon Wheeler (Marley’s Ghost), artist Carson Grubaugh (The Strange Death of Alex Raymond), and Sean Michael Robinson (Living the Line) share stories with moderator Rob Salkowitz (Forbes, University of Washington).

Wally’s Gang by Frank Johnson

Opens up with a fascinating piece on a guy named Frank Johnson who drew comics just for himself in a series of notebooks… like 1800 pages of comics created from 1928 to 1976. They aren’t “pro level” but are comparable to most of what I’ve seen from the 1930s & 1940s PLUS similar to what we see as web-comics and small press today.  I’m fascinated that this guy created all this stuff and never told anyone about it.  His wife found them after he passed away in 1978.  She’s also dead now…. the 900 “best” pages to be published by Fantagraphics in 2 volumes  next year.

This was followed by segments on the Graphic novel Harvey Kurtzman created but never published called “Marley’s Ghost”, then a lot of info on the soon to be released “The Strange Death of Alex Raymond” by Dave Sim & a few collaborators, and finally a segment on “Monsters” by Barry Windsor Smith, which Gary Growth says could be “a master class in word balloon placement”… maybe this would leave someone scratching their head as faint praise, but I think it is high praise indeed.  I have Monsters and am moving it to the top of my “to read” pile after listening to this segment.

RECOMMENDED?  7/10.

Friday 3pm: Neurotic Superheroes and the Writers Who Love Them

Panel Description: Ever since the dawn of Marvel’s “superheroes with real problems,” costumed adventurers have let their psychological damage show, but who scripts these stories and why? What underlies Spider-Man’s angst, Captain America’s survivor guilt, Jessica Jones and Tony Stark’s alcohol problems, and the other mental challenges that vex modern superheroes? Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology; The Joker Psychology) and Danny Fingeroth (A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee) explore the thinking behind the tales of the most neurotic heroes and villains with writers Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man), Bryan Q Miller (Smallville), Louise Simonson (X-Factor), and Marv Wolfman (Teen Titans).

Langley was the primary moderator and early on the more extroverted panelists seemed to run on with much more verbiage than the others (Bendis & Miller, I’m talking about you guys).  Langley caught on to this and went out of his way to include others by about 25 minutes in, though Louise Simonson got mostly overlooked until they got up to X-Men/X-Factor.

Heroes discussed: Batman, Superman, Spider-Man (with Bendis turning the focus to his “Ultimate Universe” versions before being pulled back to the “original”), Fantastic Four (Langley pulls in Marv Wolfman, but when Marv doesn’t support his premise he quickly moves on to something else), Captain America (very briefly), Iron Man, Daredevil (Marv talks about how people who came after him did a better job with Bullseye), New Teen Titans, Original X-Men/Original X-Factor, The Shocker (?!?!), Jessica Jones, Lego Batman.

RECOMMENDED?  8/10. Overall good discussion.  I learned that Bendis now gets on my last nerve with his multiple “Naomi, coming to the CW” shout-outs.

Friday 5pm: Scott Shaw! Oddball Comics: The Batman Edition

Panel Description: Scott Shaw! (notorious cartoonist for comics, animation, and advertising) presents his first Oddball Comics show that focuses entirely on one character, the Caped Crusader. Not only will you meet the Robot Batman, the Rainbow Batman, Bat-Hulk, and many more incarnations of the world’s greatest monster-battler, er, detective, you’ll also be hypnotized by the publishing phenomenon referred to as the “Robin-In-The-Corner Covers.” Holy Bill Finger, Batman!!!

Scott started off a bit rough but got into a groove riffing on the covers after about 4 minutes or so.  A lot of crazy Batman covers that are always fun to look at, including a bunch that have not been in previous Oddball comics shows.  Entertaining for anyone who likes to see zany comic book covers, including a section on the always fun “Robin in the corner” covers.  And what Oddball Batman presentation would be complete without the infamous “Bat-a-Whang” panel from Batman: Damned #1.

And, just because we love it, Shaw! ends the presentation with our favorite Rifleman “Got Wood?” cover.

RECOMMENDED?  9/10. Highly recommended for people who love seeing crazy vintage comic art.

Friday 5pm: Hermes Press Frank Thorne Memorial Panel

Panel Description: Come and celebrate the life and art of one of the Silver and Bronze Age’s finest artists who was one of the primary advocates of erotic comic book storytelling: Frank Thorne. The panel, moderated by publisher Daniel Herman (Silver Age the Second Generation of Comic Book Artists), will feature Brian Peck (Frank Thorne’s Ghita an Erotic Treasury, Volumes 1 and 2), who will talk about Thorne’s work as well as his wit and humor; Howard Davis (Frank Thorne’s Battling Beauties) who will reminisce about his over fifty-year relationship with Thorne; Gary Groth (president, Fantagraphics) who will talk about Thorne’s career from his perspective of having published numerous stories by the artist as well as having conducted an extensive interview with him in The Comics Journal; and Zaddick Longenbach (Thorne’s art dealer) who will speak about his many years representing the artist’s work. The panel will feature a brief video biography created exclusively for the panel featuring numerous examples of original artwork.

Frank Thorne had a long career in comics (he passed away very recently, on March 7, 2021)  and is known by most as an early artist on Red Sonja at Marvel.  A bit later he created his own version of the female warrior with a sword, unhindered by the comics code, called Ghita of Alizarr.  Some people may dismiss him because of the racy/erotic nature of a lot of his later work, but he was a consummate artist and very skilled at his craft.  He wrote, penciled, inked, and lettered the pages, coloring them himself if there was color.  He was fully responsible for every aspect of his creator-owned comics.

This is not done in panel format, but rather as 4 self-contained interviews conducted by Daniel Herman with each of the four featured guests.  The editing is a bit choppy, with each segment generally ending abruptly and transitioning to the next, but the content offers some great insights into Thorne & his work from a variety of different viewpoints: the fan, a friend, a publisher, and an art agent.

RECOMMENDED?  8/10.  Highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn about Thorne and his art.

Friday 7pm: ComiXology Presents the 33rd Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

https://www.eventeny.com/events/comicconhome-1456/?action=schedule-item&action_ops[item_id]=7322

Panel Description: The “Oscars” of the comics industry honor comics creators and their works in 33 categories, including the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. Your host for the evening is Phil LaMarr, the actor/voice actor/comedian known for roles in animated series including Green Lantern/John Stewart and Ed Reiss in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, Hermes Conrad in Futurama, and the title characters on both Samurai Jack and Static Shock. His film and TV acting credits include Pulp Fiction, Free Enterprise, Veep, Get Shorty, and Supergirl. Sergio Aragonés will be announcing this year’s Hall of Fame recipients. Also being presented: the 2021 Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award and the Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award.

I think the type of panel really makes a difference on how it comes across as a pre-recorded video.
I’m totally cool with watching a recorded Zoom call with a bunch of people talking about comics.
BUT… the Eisner Awards are terrible as a pre-recorded video.  No acceptance speeches, no interspersed little bits & pieces of entertainment that we would get from the MCs at the live show…  This recorded panel is mostly listening to Phil LaMarr read a list of nominees & winners while fuzzily green-screened onto a ComicCon background…. The highlight was the section hosted by Sergio Aragones on Hall of Fame inductees (at 45 minutes into the panel) since these did include acceptance from the honorees (or a surrogate for posthumous awards).

RECOMMENDED?  5/10.  Other than the Hall of Fame segment at ~45:00, I feel like interested people are far better off just reading the nominees & winners list on a comics news site.

Opinion piece by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com)
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics