Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Video - NYCC 2014 Panel "Granddaughters of the Comic Book Revolution: The Golden Age Lives!"

This fall has been rather eventful for me, convention wise. Last month I spoke at Wizard World Nashville about romance comics and my grandfather, Golden Age creator and artist, Mart Nodell. When I was asked to be on a panel at the New York City Comic Con along with other comic book grandkids in a panel titled "Granddaughters of the Comic Book Revolution: The Golden Age Lives!" I was pretty bummed that I wasn't going to be able to attend. Luckily, Travis Langley (panel moderator) graciously arranged for me to participate in the panel via Skype where I joined the other wonderful and affable panelists, Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson, Chelle Mayer, and Athena Finger in a lively discussion about our grandfathers and our own work in the comic book industry. Thankfully, audience member, Lawrence Brenner was kind enough to film the panel, and I've put the first part here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

If you'd like to watch all four parts on YouTube they can be found at the following links: part onepart twopart three, and part four!

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Unlikely Romance - "I Married a Ghost" from The Witching Hour #15 (June/July 1971)

Cover art by Nick Cardy
The Witching Hour #15
(June/July 1971)

October is upon us! And that can mean only one thing -- it's time for a good ghost story! This evening, I have for you "I Married a Ghost" from The Witching Hour #15 (June/July 1971). This story is a little outside the realm of romance comic books, but I think you'll agree that it definitely has romance comic book elements to it; and, with good reason. Not only was the cover of the issue illustrated by Sequential Crush favorite Nick Cardy, the interior art chores for the featured story were completed by Art Saaf -- a frequent romance comic book contributor. The story, written by "Al Case" (a pseudonym of Murray Boltinoff) also has a flair for the romantic. Though "I Married a Ghost" isn't a typical romance story, I think you'll enjoy the subtle touches you may recognize from the romance comics, along with its hefty dose of spooky horror tropes!

The story begins with a car crash, a theme used often in romance comics. On the splash page, Jennifer and Gil are introduced by Mordred, one of the witch narrators from The Witching Hour series. The couple is shown taking a drive the night before their wedding. Jennifer is scared the meeting will incur bad luck, but Gil chalks her fears up to silly superstitions. 

Unfortunately, fate is cruel and and it turns out Gil is wrong. Dead wrong. While he survives the crash, poor Jennifer does not. Gil however, can sense her presence after she is declared deceased and exclaims to his friend, "Jack, she's still alive! Can't you almost see her spirit?"

Though we readers along with Gil can see Jennifer's ghostly form, Jack cannot, and is rightfully spooked when he is sent by Gil to fetch a bouquet. Gil is going to marry Jennifer -- alive or not!

Jack goes along with Gil's grief-stricken demands, and handsomely compensates a none too happy justice of the peace for his troubles. And with that, Gil and Jennifer become husband and "wife." After the ceremony, Gil insists on carrying his new bride over the threshold of the house he bought for them on Thunder Hill.

By the end of the week, Jack has made an appointment with a psychiatrist for Gil. When Jack goes to pick up his friend to try to get him to the city to see the doctor, Gil lets him know that he is busy working on something. As Gil leads Jack into his studio to show him the painting of Jennifer he's been working on, they pass by the dining room table which hasn't been cleared. Gil apologizes for the mess and says that Jennifer hasn't yet had time to clean up breakfast. Jack is taken aback when he realizes that both settings have been used! Jack wonders -- has he descended into madness along with Gil?

Gil is aware that everyone in town thinks he's a nut. He keeps the shades drawn to prevent prying eyes, and his trips into town for groceries are unpleasant to say the least. After a violent attack on a mouthy townsperson, Jack grows increasingly worried over his friend. The morning after Gil's outburst, Jack goes to Gil's house to check on him. Upon entering, Jack is overwhelmed by gas. When he finds Gil strewn about on the bed, he finds that he has arrived just in the nick of time.

When Gil comes to, Jack inquires why he turned the gas jet on in the first place. Gil can only answer that he has no recollection of it. As Jack passes by the jet on his way back from calling the doctor, he feels a cool breeze and gets a faint whiff of Jennifer's perfume. He also sees a piece of torn gossamer-like cloth by the jet.

Finally, the doctor arrives to cart Gil off to treatment and help him realize that Jennifer is really dead. As the story ends and Gil is safe in the care of a doctor, we are left wondering -- will Jack be able to return to reality, or will he too be sucked in to Jennifer's otherworldly charms?

Bonus! The splash page of the issue features the three witches of the series, Cynthia, Mildred, and Mordred introducing the stories that ensue. This panel from the splash featuring witch Cynthia, gives a nod to the social climate of the time, and is reminiscent of the themes and language of romance comics in the 1970s! Just another reason this issue of The Witching Hour is worthy of the moniker, "Unlikely Romance!"

Cynthia the witch does her own thing!
For more The Witching Hour with a story also illustrated by a romance comic book artist (Lee Elias) check out this post over at Detective Comics' Pages of Fear!

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Green Lantern, Romance Comics, and a Few Thoughts on Wizard World Nashville!

Danny Fingeroth and I after the panel!
Wizard World Nashville 2014
(photo by James L. Carey)

I'm back from Wizard World Nashville! Ok -- not really "back" per se since I live in the Music City, but the convention is over and it's "back" to things as usual. A big thank you to those that came out to the convention and listened to me speak with Danny Fingeroth! The panel went really well and was great fun. I think this was the first time I spoke at length in one panel about both my grandfather's contributions to the industry, as well as my own endeavors -- but hopefully not my last!

A couple of the images I used in my presentation.
I had a fun time connecting the dots between my passion
for romance comics and my family history!

Overall, the convention was a good time. As one of the newer Wizard shows, it still has some growing to do, but it did seem larger than last year. It was also noticeably laid out better, with Artist Alley more centrally located. The lack of actual comic book dealers was disappointing, but I was prepared for it based on last year's rather poor selection. I do hope that the show continues to grow, especially in the actual arena of comic books!

Did any of you attend? Will you be going to any other upcoming conventions anywhere? Feel free to share! For more updates about things like convention appearances and talks, sign up for the Sequential Crush email newsletter here!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hey Y'all! Come See Me at Wizard World Nashville!

Hey there! If you are in the Nashville area and attending Wizard World this weekend, I'd like to invite you to come see my panel with Danny Fingeroth Saturday morning! I'd love to see you! And if you do come, be sure to say hello after! See more of the show's programming schedule here, and get a glimpse at what I'll be speaking about below. As always, thank you for your support!

Not only is Jacque Nodell the creator of the Sequential Crush blog, which “tells all” about the history of romance comics (be on the lookout for her upcoming book on the topic!), she’s also the granddaughter of Martin Nodell, creator of the original GREEN LANTERN! Join Jacque and moderator Danny Fingeroth (Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us About Ourselves and Our Society; Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics and the Creation of the Superhero) as they discuss the amazing world of romance comics as well as her grandfather’s amazing career, in which he created Green Lantern (with Batman co-creator Bill Finger), drew Captain America for Stan Lee, and was in on the birth of the Pillsbury Dough Boy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Romance In Memoriam - Celebrating Stan Goldberg

A few days ago, on August 31st, we lost another comic book great -- Stan Goldberg. He was 82 years old. Stan had an extensive career both penciling and coloring, and is primarily known for his work on teen humor titles such as Millie the Model, Patsy Walker, Swing with Scooter, and Archie. Let's take a minute today to remember Stan and his art!

 Cover art by Sal Buscema

Though Stan's work on the teen titles is plentiful, his work on the romance comics is much rarer. The story I have for you today, "How Do I Love Thee?" originally presented in Our Love Story #12 (August 1972) is actually the only romance story of his that I could think of off the top of my head. Written by Stan Lee and inked by Frank Giacoia, Stan Goldberg's pencils tell a simple story that asks the question, how do you know when you've met the one? Stan Goldberg answered with whimsy and a hefty dose of romantic fun.

Connie is torn up over breaking up with boyfriend, Bennett. Things were great -- until he asked her to marry him, that is. She then promptly freaked and made a break for it. Her pain over the split is relatable. Maybe she was too hasty in canning him? Maybe, it was all a big mistake! Connie's friend from work, Daphne, volunteers to set Connie up with her boyfriend's new singing partner to help forget the whole thing.

So Daphne takes Connie to the recording studio, and Connie is totally smitten with the "outtasite" Jeff. And who can blame her, with that fringed jacket and everything?! Wowzas!

The two lovebirds really hit it off, but when Jeff pops the question, Connie just can't even. After breaking things off with Jeff, Connie feels terrible and like something is truly wrong with her. The next day, Daphne apologizes for her bad matchmaking skills, but Connie replies, "It's my fault, Daphne! Maybe I don't know what I want!"

But Connie doesn't stay down in the dumps for long, for low and behold, who is that man in the office? What sort of office do they work in you ask? No clue. Clearly an office that allows the wearing of hotpants. But I digress... the mystery man is a romance writer!

Connie makes her move (which most certainly was frowned upon in dating advice just a few years prior) and the two find a nice quiet spot to begin their romance.

The two prove to be a match, and the rest, as they say, is a perfect mingling of polyester and dacron. Err.. I mean, heart and soul!

I enjoyed this short and sweet story quite a bit. No doubt imbued with that special Goldberg touch, Connie is depicted as confident, and yet, she is drawn with just enough vulnerability to make her love troubles believable. She sticks up for what she wants, and is bold about doing so.

Thank you, Mr. Goldberg, for all you have given us comic book fans. We won't forget you!

For more in depth information about Stan Goldberg and some great photographs, take a look at Michael Vassallo's Timely-Atlas-Comics memorial post here

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