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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hey, kids! COMICS!

My love of comic books rivals my love of rock 'n' roll; I wish there were an Adventures Of Joan Jett comic book to reference here, but there ain't no such.  (Though one time a few years ago on This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Dana and I each decided to have a featured act that week--I featured Joan Jett, and Dana featured The Zombies--and we billed it as Joan Jett Versus The Zombies! We further noted that hell YEAH we'd go see that flick if someone ever created it!)

Almost all of the comics-related posts thus far on Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) have been about comics of the past:  Comic Book Retroviews has examined a couple of mid-'60s comic books (Batman # 180 and Superboy # 129), I went on at great length about the comics I bought in the '60s throughout Singers, Superheroes, And Songs On The Radio, I did a two-part post on the Silver Age Plastic Man, and reprinted an Amazing Heroes article I wrote in the '80s, which itself discussed Obscure DC Comics characters from the past.  My three-part post on My Two Batmen did mention the contemporary take on the character, but was dismissive of it.  Even my two posted attempts at superhero fiction, The Undersea World Of Mr. Freeze and ETERNITY MAN!, were rooted in comics of the past:  the former was an attempt to write a Bronze Age-era pulp story (a story which I first envisioned as a teen in the '70s), and the latter, while ostensibly original, drew its initial inspiration from a Captain Marvel story idea I had (also in the '70s).  (And that old Captain Marvel idea will be discussed in a near-future installment of The Notebook Notions.)

But I still read comics, and I still buy a big ol' stack of 'em each week at Comix Zone in North Syracuse.  Over the next two or three days, I just want to mention a few current, recent, and near-future comics that I've enjoyed, or expect to enjoy soon.


I'm very much looking forward to Captain Kid, a new book published by Aftershock Comics, with a debut issue set to hit the shelves next week (July 27th).  I've had this on reserve at Comix Zone since it was announced.  I was lured and reeled in by its concept and its creators.  I mentioned the original Captain Marvel above, a character many of you know as "Shazam," but he'll always be Cap to me.  Captain Marvel was the ultimate superhero wish-fulfillment fantasy:  a little kid named Billy Batson is granted the power to transform at will into the World's Mightiest Mortal, simply by uttering the magic word, "SHAZAM!" Yeah, I was hooked on that from the get-go, and Captain Marvel remains second only to The Batman on my list of all-time superhero faves.  An early pitch for a forthcoming Shazam! feature film compared it to the movie Big, but with superheroes.

Captain Kid turns the concept around.  As its press release hypes:  Chris Vargas is a middle-aged man with a hacking cough, an obsolete job, and a bombastic secret: whenever he likes, he can transform into the teenage superhero CAPTAIN KID! In this, his first recorded adventure, he encounters Helea, a mystery woman who knows more about him than he does, and Halliday, a mad businessman with a catastrophic weapon!

Yep.  My kinda book.

Still, a concept's only as good as the folks charged with the task of its execution.  Captain Kid is written by Mark Waid and Tom Peyer, so they should just go ahead and take my money right now.  I have tenuous connections to both writers:  Mark Waid was briefly my editor at Amazing Heroes (though I doubt he remembers me at all, since we never met, and since I was a pretty minor cog in that minor operation); I have met Tom in passing a few times--he's from Syracuse, we have mutual friends through The Syracuse New Times, we play on the same (sporadically-convened) trivia team, and he's been a fan of The Flashcubes for as long as I have--and he once worked at the same day care center as my lovely wife Brenda, years and years ago.

While you can be damned sure I'll try to figure out a way to attribute their success to their single degree of separation from, y'know...me, I guess it's possible that Waid and Peyer earned their reps just by being terrific writers.  Waid is very well-known among comics fans, with a long resume that includes just about every big-name character at DC and Marvel, from Spider-Man to The Justice League of America, Daredevil, my all-time favorite run on The Flash, and his blockbuster DC work Kingdom Come; he's worked for many other publishers as well, and has created a vast and impressive body of work.  But, for all that, even Waid has never topped Tom Peyer's work on Hourman, a brilliant late '90s DC series that is long overdue for some trade book reprint love.  (In addition to his own extensive 'n' cool comics resume, Peyer also collaborated with writer Hart Seely on O Holy Cow!, a subversively clever compilation of Phil Rizzuto quotes recast as poetry.  Beat that, Ernie Bushmiller!)

I'm one of the (relative) few who is more likely to buy a comic book based on its writers more than its artists, but Wilfredo Torres' artwork on Captain Kid looks likely to be worthy of whatever Waid and Peyer write.  As stated above:  I'm really forward to this.

The only other forthcoming comic book that inspires a comparable level of breathless anticipation outta me is Archie Meets Ramones, a one-shot announced last year, and recently given an October release date.  The regular, ongoing Archie comic book (written by...oh, Mark Waid!) may be my favorite current comic book, a reboot of the classic strip presented in a more realistic style of art and storytelling.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with Archie Meets Ramones, but I'm gonna love that, too.  Dig the official sugar-sugar Carbona hype here: 

Archie. Jughead. Betty & Veronica. Reggie. The Archies.

Joey. Tommy. Johnny. Dee Dee. Ramones.

The next must-read crossover from Archie Comics debuts in October as The Archies find themselves stuck in 1970s New York City — and face to face with the Ramones!

The oversized one-shot issue debuts on October 5th from the best-selling creative team of co-writers Alex Segura (ARCHIE MEETS KISS) and Matthew Rosenberg (We Can Never Go Home) with jaw-dropping art by Gisele Lagace (“Occupy Riverdale”) and colorist Shouri and variant covers from Veronica Fish, Francesco Francavilla, and Dan Parent!

No stranger to musical crossover comics, co-writer Alex Segura’s passion for music and comic books made writing ARCHIE MEETS RAMONES a no-brainer, “My comic fandom always ran parallel to an obsession with music, so having the chance to merge them for this project has been amazing. Not only are Matt and Gisele amazing collaborators – they’re wonderful people and friends. This is the project we’ve been waiting years to do, and I hope it makes Archie and Ramones fans happy.”

“When I was growing up Archie ignited my lifelong love for comics and Ramones are what made me fall in love with punk. As an adult, it’s a dream come true to be able to smash these two things together,” added co-writer Matthew Rosenberg.

As both a musician and comic artist, Gisele Lagace calls getting to draw ARCHIE MEETS RAMONES a dream project come true. “I’m giving this my all, Ramones style, to make sure fans of both Archie and Ramones dig the results.”

I never buy multiple copies of a single comic book.  Variant covers are for collectors--I'm a reader, dammit, a reader!  But I'm not gonna be able to resist getting all four of these cover variations for Archie Meets Ramones.  Again:  just take my money awready.  TAKE IT, I said!  More comics talk tomorrow.

This one's not from Archie Meets Ramones, but instead from the CD box Weird Tales Of The Ramones