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HE WRITES MORE THAN CHEESE DIP JOKES

[Comic Books and Other Necessities of Life]

I’ve been a faithful weekly reader of THE COMICS BUYER’S GUIDE now for more than a decade. The highlight of each week’s paper is the collection of columnists, notably Peter David, Heidi McDonald, and Andrew Smith, the man known affectionately as Captain Comics. At one point, Mark Evanier wrote a column called “P.O.V.,” and it competed with Peter David’s “But I Digress” for most entertaining reading material each week. Even when Evanier would go off on a tangent to talk about some Broadway play or a relatively obscure (to today’s audience) Silver Age comic or artist, it was a column worth reading.

Furthermore, as a columnist, myself, I enjoy reading other columns that are written as smoothly and eloquently as I wish I could write. To write with such clarity, reasoning, humor, and logic is a gift. Mark Evanier has all that and more.

Despite having read every one of those columns in their original publications, I picked up a copy of the first collection of “P.O.V.” from TwoMorrows Publishing, COMIC BOOKS AND OTHER NECESSITIES OF LIFE. It collects more than 30 of those columns, all of which were just as interesting the second time around, especially in those rare cases where I didn’t remember them. The $12.95 collection is at times autobiographical, historical, informational, and opinionated.

It’s as much a journey through time for Evanier as it is an opinion column. Take, for example, the series of comics presented in the book of his adventures with the local comic book collecting club. In a way they are historical, exemplifying the fanboy giddiness of the time and what news then occupied “fandom’s” mind, if such a loose aggregation of fans could truly be collected under one label. In a way, it’s also autobiographical, focusing on the experiences of one fan and the people he was surrounded by. It’s not always pretty, but even then Evanier pulls a joke or two out of it.

There’s more to it than just that. In a new introduction, Evanier traces the history of the column up to and including its unfortunately abrupt demise. In the rest of the book, he reminisces over the King of Comics, Jack Kirby, as well as other formative professionals from the past, like Mike Sekowsky, Carl Barks, Chase Craig, and John Buscema. He discusses the Comics Code Authority at great length in a three-part column in the middle of the book. He discusses the problems of creative types on deadline, bootleg Groo statues, and Alex Ross’ Oscars poster.

It’s a great variety of material that’s always entertaining, even for topics which you might not otherwise flock to. Clocking in at just under 200 pages and including new illustrations by Sergio Aragones, this is a book that’s a joy to read and would make for inspired summer reading for any comic fan.

If you like this book, there’s the inevitable sequel coming out in June. This one’s titled WERTHAM WAS RIGHT! and will include more Aragones illustrations, a discussion of Fredric Wertham, and looks back at Bob Kane and Gil Kane. That’s a pretty good start. It runs another 200 pages for $13.

Evanier also recently revamped his must-read blogger. You can read it at NewsFromME.com. There’s a lot more political material in there right now than usual, but I’m sure it’ll settle back down over time.

SUPERHEROES ON DVD

Over at the terrific Home Theater Forum web site, a chat was held last week with a rep from Warner Bros. home video. He answered a lot of questions about future DVD releases, including a bunch about superheroes on DVD, most notably BATMAN ANIMATED and the SUPERMAN movies. I’d suggest taking a read through the log if you want to see what’s coming to your home theater in the next year or so.

Sadly, THE FLASH TV series is not under consideration at the moment. Too bad. It’s the best live action television superhero show ever made.

In happier news, albeit completely off-topic, The Marx Brothers are finally going to get their just due on DVD in 2004. That makes me very happy.

LETTERING TIP

Larry Young points to this web site for those of you looking for a tutorial on how to use Fontographer to create your own lettering font. It looks so easy, doesn’t it?

It’s not. But this is definitely the best help I’ve seen thus far.

(In the meantime, did you download Larry’s font?)

WRITING TIP

If your scene begins with a person walking through a door and ends with a person walking out a door, your scene probably starts too early and ends too late. (MOONLIGHTING was the exception.) Cut to the drama. Bring the reader into the scene as late as possible, and get out after the drama is done. We don’t need niceties such as characters saying hello to each other for a panel, unless it’s some mega-important meeting where every note is dramatic, including the opening salutations.

PIPELINE IN CON SEASON

I am now officially attending Wizard World: Chicago. Plane and hotel reservations have been made. I’ll be there all three nights.

San Diego is already booked, and I’ll be there for every night plus Preview Night.

Philadelphia is looking slightly iffy now, since my five year class reunion for college is set up for the same weekend. Some decisions need to be made in the next few weeks.

The Small Press EXPO and the Baltimore Con this fall is always a possibility, but no decision has been made on it so far. I’m going to try to get through the summer first, thanks.

RADIO PIPELINE

Those of you who were up insanely late on Easter Sunday night, or woke up really early the next morning, might have caught my voice on the radio. I did an interview with a syndicated show called “Sci Fi Overdrive,” a weekly four hour radio gab fest dedicated to science fiction, comics, anime, and everything else you’d associate with that group. I was on for the fourth hour last week to talk a little about Free Comic Book Day, but the discussion quickly went all over the place.

If you missed it — and I’ll assume you did — you can find the entire interview on-line in either MP3 format or streaming audio. Just go to their web site and check out the archives. There are plenty of other great hours archived there, as well. I had quite a bit of fun listening to a few of them before appearing on the show. Those of you who followed the Michael Medved story a couple of weeks ago might want to check out their interview with him at the time.

I had a lot of fun on the show and think I used my best radio type voice. You can judge for yourself.

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY

Speaking of which, don’t forget that this coming Saturday is the one day a year that the entire industry agrees on something and gives out a ton of free comics. Up for grabs this year includes the debut of Dark Horse’s Rocket line of comics and the return of the Duck comics from Gemstone. Stop by your local participating comic shop on Saturday. Bring a kid. Bring your cousin or your nephew or niece. Bring the neighborhood down with you. Grab some great reading material and introduce someone new to the world of comics. Remind them that they still do exist and that they’re relatively easy to get to. The comics world hasn’t ended yet.

Only after that will I give you permission to go see X2 at the local Cineplex. And don’t forget that if you bought the X-MEN 1.5 DVD, you already have your free ticket to the movie in that box.

If you’re in the New York City area, the New York Post is including a copy of ULTIMATE X-MEN #2 in an edition this week. I think it’s Thursday’s paper. They’ve been advertising for it fairly heavily in the past couple of days. There’s a great full color quarter page early in each edition announcing the free comic.

PIPELINE AND A HALF

The friendly gang over on the Pipeline message board has banded together to ensure that there’s still an opinion column to read on those Fridays when Pipeline Previews doesn’t hit. They take a round robin format and a different person writes a column exclusive to the message board. They’ve been lively and informative so far, focusing on everything from Wonder Woman jokes to comics set in high school. Keep an eye out for those and follow the instructions after each column to see how you can join in the fun.

This is also a good way to check out the new message board server. Go ahead and breeze through. It’s never been faster.

PIPELINE PREVIEWS THIS WEEK

This Friday sees the latest edition of Pipeline Previews. For the first time in months, I’m very excited about some of the amazing products hitting shops in a couple of months. Keith Giffen’s JUSTICE LEAGUE returns. THE FAR SIDE is collected in its entirety, Mark Waid “Ultimatizes” Superman (maybe), EMPIRE returns, a Mary Jane novel comes out from Marvel, and more mystery and wonderment. Plus, what item in PREVIEWS this month has an asking price of nearly $6,000? Come back on Friday to find out.

Various and Sundry has been updated all week with the mandatory look at the week’s DVD releases, reviews of the FAMILY GUY DVD set and the new movie, IDENTITY, plus lots of American Idol and Survivor talk, more television network stupidity, and a lot of information on upcoming Warner Bros. DVDs.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

Nearly 500 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They’re sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns or so are still available at the Original Pipeline page.

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