Pop culture and other perspectives with an artistic P.O.V. By Mike Pascale.
All contents ©2012 Mike Pascale. Visual content ©2012 their respective owner(s).
While watching my valiant Seattle Seahawks team make an amazing, unheard-of comeback and nearly beat 56-to-1 odds to win their second road playoff game this season, I saw two current films: JACK REACHER on Saturday and GANGSTER SQUAD on Sunday (to drown my Seahawks sorrows).
While I’m not a big Tom Cruise fan, he does have that “hero” role down. To be under 5’7” and be the lead where almost all actors (and actresses) are taller than you are takes a ridiculous amount of self-confidence, and he exudes that in his roles. I rate JACK REACHER a “rent it”–not because it’s not worth seeing on a big screen, but mainly because you’ll want to pause and rewind several times afterwards to make notes of the plot cues in the beginning and study how Tom is photographed with taller co-stars to minimize the height differential (the Reacher character in the books is supposed be about 6’5”).
Also, look for the cameo of author Lee Child (he’s the police sergeant at the desk in the three shot who shrugs his shoulders early on. Great plot development, character studies and shot selection. Despite what some critics have said, this is NOT a clichéd action flick. There are plenty of welcome variations on the theme.
GANGSTER SQUAD I would rate “see it”. Worth the big-screen treatment if you dig old mob flicks. Both the best good guys and the worst bad guys dress well, wearing three-piece suits and fedoras. Great reconstruction of a bygone era–the cars and sets and late 40s LA locations are wonderful. Sean Penn makes a reprehensible (if not cartoonishly evil) villain you love to hate and can’t wait to see brought down, and Josh Brolin is perfectly cast as a rough-and-gruff former war hero-turned honest cop in a department of rotten apples. Ryan Gosling is his usual good-looking, whiny-voiced self and the rest of the squad is well-cast. If you don’t mind a few (mercifully brief) grisly mob-style torture scenes and a ridiculous amount of Tommy-gun bullets flying everywhere, you’ll have a good time.
Now to the more important news: COMIC’S BUYER’S GUIDE (known ubiquitously as CBG), has ceased publication after 42 years and 1,700 issues (technically 1699–argh!). More details and background on this ground-breaking, once-vital icon of the comics industry, officially “The World’s Longest-Running Magazine About Comics”, can be found on the Web (just search “Comics Buyer’s Guide cancelled” or “Krause CBG”). I just want to add some personal context.
If you’re old enough to remember the comics industry before the Web, you already know that CBG was *the* trade publication of the industry. All the major news and events were covered with the speed and efficiency of any weekly newspaper (the analysis and opinion of that news was usually the domain of CBG’s varied columnists, cartoonists and THE COMICS JOURNAL, Fantagraphics’ hypocritical competitor). Over the years it went from strictly an adzine to a folded tabloid newspaper to a large format (11”x12”) weekly newsprint magazine to a square-bound glossy monthly mag to a thin, stapled magazine the last few years (from 194+ pages down to 56, without a reduction in cover price).
It’s where I and thousands of others found out about our favorite creators’ birthdays, career changes and demises; where we were introduced to all kinds of characters, creations and publications large and small; shared milestones of history; bought and sold and traded numerous elements of our collections; read reviews of new and old comics and related stuff worthy and unworthy of adding to those collections (including several never-before found, seen or heard of); and read updates on important, shocking, horrific, useful, tragic, funny, game-changing and entertaining news stories in the industry and beyond (including several heated and passionate debates, lawsuits and arguments). It’s also where all the readers shared their knowledge, experience, advice and collections. In short, it was any comic fan’s lifeline to the industry and hobby.
Without CBG, I would not have met several friends and collaborators I’ve had over the years. Off the top of my head, I can think of well over a dozen industry pals and acquaintances I’ve met thru the magazine (including many of its WONDERFUL staff, like editors Maggie Thompson and Brent Frankenhoff and writer/author John Jackson Miller). Maggie is a legend in the industry, and also one its most respected historians and editors, along with her late husband Don, who was co-editor for a long time. In fact, Don’s review of my BRU-HED, AMERICA’S FAVORITE BLOCKHEAD #1 was his last published review (and yes, that made me feel eerie for years! Thankfully others have reviewed it since without any negative consequences). I was a nervous geek the first time I met them at a Chicago convention in the ‘80s, and although she knows me by name now, I confess to still having a twinge of nerves when I see Maggie, only because she has more knowledge in her pinky than I have in my hairy body and I’m self-conscious of showing my lack of same. But once we start talking, it fades and she always has some interesting tidbits and entertaining anecdotes to share.
When I first published the “Test-Market Ashcan Edition” of Bru in the early ’90s, I sent a copy to long-time columnist and industry giant Tony Isabella, who took the time to send me a typewritten constructive critique. (Five years later, one of his readers would mention the character in an unsolicited letter to his “Tony’s Tips” column; see below.) My NASTI: MONSTER HUNTER #1 was reviewed by one of their “retailer panel” of comic-shop owners, and I was interviewed by contributor (and pal) Jim Johnson for the mag. I’d later have the honor of meeting Tony in person at Mid-Ohio Con, and many other columnists/creators/staff over the years at various conventions, most of whom I continue to stay in contact with on Facebook and during my annual San Diego sojourns.
CAPTION: From an unknown to being mentioned in Tony Isabella’s column in the same sentence as Garfield–in under five years? Pinch me.
I may have not even met my friend Clifford Meth or developed a friendship with Gene and Adrienne Colan without CBG. A news item in the magazine regarding Cliff’s first “celebrity auction” to help Gene with some medical costs led me to contact him to offer my products and services. He took a liking to Bru and called me; he later contributed the forward to the trade paperback collection, THE COLLECTED BRU-HED, and we’ve continued to chat occasionally ever since.
While I was publishing, I spent thousands of dollars on advertising each year, most of it at CBG (or its former retailer-only publication, COMICS RETAILER). One of those campaigns involved four or six weekly Bru-Hed comic strips, which for some reason are still remembered! I just connected with someone on LinkedIn last year who mentioned them–15 years later!
One of the best “connections” was the Hercules of Hilarity, John Lustig of LAST KISS comics, with whom I have the humble honor of collaborating with every holiday for comics spoofs as regular readers here know.
I even contributed a couple times to the “Obligatory Fight Scene” feature where Jim Johnson and I would debate the merits of a current alternative comic. I never contributed to their cool feature, “10 Favorite Comics Covers”, despite being invited awhile ago. I’ll come back to that in a future blog. For now, though, I’ve included here a gallery of some of the best covers of the few issues I’ve saved from the 90s-up. (Before I moved cross-country, I gave away four boxes worth of past issues…in addition to being packed with poignancy, they were REALLY heavy.)
In short, any “career” I have in the comics biz is in a very large part due to COMICS BUYER’S GUIDE. I just wanted to get it on permanent record how much it meant to me and how much I’ll miss it.
Here’s a small gallery featuring a few of the glorious CBG covers over the years.
P.S.: Have any fond or favorite memories of or connections with Comics Buyer’s Guide? Please share below!