Thursday, August 21, 2014

Connecticut ComiCONN 2014 - Part II: Panels!

     One of my favorite parts of any comic book convention is always the Panels. Here, we often get to see the top writers/artists/editors in their respective crafts share real experiences, ideas, and sometimes, new stuff in the Nerd Kingdom.

     I believe this is the first year that Connecticut ComiCONN had any panels, but these were some of the best panels I have been to in my many years of comic con panel-hopping.

     The first panel we attended was the Charlton Comics Panel (yes I am a geek about geekdom, and love the old stories about this "great" business). Charlton was a comic book company that was based right here in Connecticut, over in Derby.

      The panel consisted of Paul Kupperberg, who is the guy doing all those wild and amazing things you've been hearing about over at Archie Comics; illustration GOD Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez; Frank McLaughlin, creator of Judo Master; the great Iron Man artist among other things, Bob Layton; and my hero, comic book writer, editor, and general sequential art sifu Dennis O'Neil.

      Silver Age comic book history as told by the men who were there. Tales of cheap editors, dirty deals, and a bunch of guys completely without adult supervision, free to create and develop great characters that are still around to this day. One of those characters happens to be one of my favorite characters of all time, the Question, created by the great Steve Ditko and revisited by Denny in the 80s.

(From left to right: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Frank McLaughlin, Paul Kupperberg, Dennis O'Neil, and Bob Layton)

I finally got to attend one of Arlen Schumer's Panels -- This one was calleed"Art and Comic Book Art," and yes, this man is one heck of a public speaker and he knows art and comic books like nobody else. He entertained and he enthralled as he shared his knowledge and ideas about the various connections between fine are at the greatest comic book art -- and there are many. When the revised edition of his book, the Silver Age of Comic Book Art, comes out, I'll be raving about it.

Moments before Arlen Schumer testified about art and comics. None walked away unchanged.

Then, I got to see Dennis O'Neil and Danny Fingeroth deliver a "
writing for comics" panel -- not a lot of new territory, but listening to masters speak is always a thrill. Many years ago, I took just such a class from Denny at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Danny was the editor of the entire Spider-Man group back in the 80s, which for Spidey fans was an "amazing" time for the character. The term "Amazing Eighties" was not my coinage. It's out there.

      (Denny O'Neil and Danny Fingeroth)           

     Denny O'Neill and I have history. The man, together with Neal Adams, changed my life and outlook on everything at the ripe old age of eight years old when I read the "Green Lantern/Green Arrow" series. It was at that moment I became an anarchist, and that made all the difference. Mix that with Captain America and you get a PATRIOTIC anarchist, so there.
      Anyway I grew up and years later took a class with this maker of heroes, where he got to know me as that pain in the ass who never shut up (ask Mark Mazz over at Atlas Unleashed). Now, years later, it was great seeing him again.
      Of course, most of my writing involves little more than arguing with people on the internet about the nature and function of government in a free society, but hey, the structure of a good argument isn't that different from the structure of a good story, and I learned that from a true master of the art.

Denny and me. Can I be your sidekick?

Next: Art and Celebrities!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Connecticut ComiCONN 2014 - Cosplay Edition!

     Over the weekend of August 15-17, I went to the Connecticut ComiCONN, which was held at the Webster Arena in Bridgeport, CT. What started as a relatively small con a few years ago has grown into what I would call a great con. Big enough to draw great cosplay, comic book talent, and some celebrities from geekdom, yet small enough to have that intimate feeling that reminded me of the "good old days." Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those nerds who laments the fact that all his little darlings are now mainstream. I LOVE seeing the Captain America shield being worn at the guy in line with me at the bank, I love the young lady with the big S on her chest at the supermarket.

All that being said, the big cons like NYCC are almost TOO crazy and too packed, and well...NOT ENOUGH COMICS, at least as a percentage. This one is beautiful, almost exclusively comic book and comic book related subject matter.

Without further ado, here are some photos taken by my wife over at Fashion and Action blog:

My favorite, this gorgeous vintage Captain America genderswap, done by Jaycee Cosplay

Celebrity cosplayer ECHOEndless as Wonder Woman. Look at the detail on that costume.

ECHOEndless as She-Hulk and her friend as Medusa, both from the Fantastic Four versions of the characters.

Here is ECHOEndless as Tarantula, some Carnage dude, and the author.

A sweet classic Green Arrow

...and of course, a more updated, Arrow version of the character.

A fun Ghost Rider.

 This guy was more than meets the eye.

 A heavily armored Batman


 I see "V" people.

Another favorite, an absolutely stunning Zatanna

A whole group doing Guardians of the Galaxy!

Two lovely Zombie Disney Princesses

 I am loving the growing number of Lady Lokis I have been seeing.

Definitely one of the best Ultron cosplays I have seen.

   That was all we got pics of, in that we were really there to shop and meet writers and artists. Next up, the Panels!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Great Freemasons: Albert T. Reid (August 12, 1872 - November 26, 1958)

Albert T. Reid (August 12, 1872 - November 26, 1958)
Cartoonist: Born: August 12, 1873, Concordia, Kansas. Died: November 26, 1958, New York City.
On September 11, 1896, Albert Turner Reid sold his first political cartoon to the Topeka Mail and Breeze. A Cloud County native, Reid longed to pursue an artistic career. After this first cartoon, his work began to appear regularly in the Kansas City Journal, Kansas City Star, Chicago Record, and the New York Herald as well as several national magazines including the Saturday Evening Post.

(32° AASR (SJ))

Photograph of Albert T. Reid at his easel

"The Mail Must Go Through"
Oil on canvas - removed from post office and moved to Olathe City Library.

Here are a couple of his political cartoons:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Love -- and Black Metal -- will keep us together...

Great Freemasons: Edmund Randolph (August 10, 1753 – September 12, 1813)

The general object was to provide a cure for the evils under which the United States labored; that in tracing these evils, to their origin, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy."
Edmund Randolph in describing the purpose of the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

Edmund Jennings Randolph (August 10, 1753 – September 12, 1813) was an American attorney, the seventh Governor of Virginia, the second Secretary of State, and the first United States Attorney General.

"The Senate will be more likely to corrupt than the House of Representatives, and should therefore have less to do with money matters.

(Grandmaster of the Virginias)

Old Economy Steve

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Great Freemasons: Nathaniel Pitt Langford (1832–1911)

Judge, then, what must have been our astonishment, as we entered the basin at mid-afternoon of our second day's travel, to see in the clear sunlight, at no great distance, an immense volume of clear, sparkling water projected into the air to the height of one hundred and twenty-five feet. 'Geysers! Geysers!' exclaimed one of our company.” - Nathaniel P. Langford, upon seeing Old Faithful.

Nathaniel Pitt Langford (1832–1911) was an explorer, businessman, bureaucrat, vigilante and historian from Saint Paul, Minnesota who played an important role in the early years of the Montana gold fields, territorial government and the creation of Yellowstone National Park.

“When the company, of which I was one, entered what is now Montana - then Dakota — a single settlement known by the name of Grasshopper (now Bannack) was the only abode of the white man in the southern part of the Territory. Our journey from Minnesota, over 1,400 miles, by a route never before traveled, and with the slow conveyance of ox trains, was of long duration and tedious (It was one of the Fisk expeditions). It was a clear September twilight when we camped on the western side of the range of the Rocky Mountains where they are crossed by the Mullan Road. The labors of the day over, three of our number, a brother named Charlton, another, whose name I have forgotten, and myself, the only three Master Masons in the company, impressed with the grandeur of the mountain scenery and the mild beauty of the evening, ascended the mountain to its summit, and there, in imitation of our ancient brethren, opened and closed an informal lodge of Master Masons. I had listened to the solemn ritual of Masonry a hundred times, but never when it im­pressed so seriously as upon this occasion; such also was the experience of my companions... Never was the fraternal clasp more cordial than when in the glory of that beautiful evening, we opened and closed the first Lodge ever assembled in Montana...” Mullan Pass Historical Site
That meeting in the Rockies has been commemorated for many years by an annual session on the site. It is also pictured in a painting by Olaf Seltzer that is on display in the Masonic Grand Lodge Library.
Masonry’s next step, in what was to be Montana, occurred in November that same year of 1862. William Bell died in the gold camp of Bannack in southwest Montana. Before his death he asked for a Masonic funeral. At first this request was believed to be impossible, but an attempt was made. A notice was sent out for all Masons to gather at the cabin of C.J. Miller. To everyone’s surprise, so many Masons responded that they had to move to a larger cabin. Preparations were made for the funeral, but before they disbanded, someone brought up the notion of forming a lodge. This was received favorably, with the decision to take up the move later. Langford presided at the funeral the next day. Langford, again in his report to the 1867 Grand Lodge, explained what happened next:
“From this moment Masonic History commenced its lofty career in Montana. Other law-loving people, who, though not members of the Order, possessed the first and highest preparations to become so, united with our brethren in organized force to van­quish crime and drive it from our borders.”

(At present I am not sure of his original lodge, but he was Grandmaster of Montana)