Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Show Week Crazy!!

Over the last few years, things have gone so smoothly for us preparing for the Olympia Comics Festival that I had allowed myself to think maybe we finally had it licked. Not so. This whole week has been a hot mess of show prep craziness, mostly involving trying to get student books printed and bound.

On top of that, I’ve had several other deadlines crashing in on me at the same time, so the column that was scheduled for Tuesday is only going up today. But by God, even if it’s not timely, it’s still HERE, damn it. I cling to that.

So I didn’t really have a lot of time to read things or watch things in order to write them up in this space. I do have some cool stuff to share, though.

For one thing, I got to do another couple of episodes of Radio Vs. The Martians.

The first one was a discussion of the first Conan movie.

Spoiler – I don’t much like the movie and never have. But the episode was still a lot of fun to do. Check it out here.

The second one was even more enjoyable to do — it’s what the guys call a “Fun Size” episode. Basically Mike and Casey decided that all the time we spend goofing off and gossiping about nerd stuff was too good to just dump, so they started cutting it together into a second episode to go up the last week of the month. This time we talked about all sorts of things, but mostly it was Mike and I taking turns explaining to Casey about how awesomely demented Steve Gerber’s Defenders run was, from the Headmen…

…to the Elf With a Gun…

…to one of my favorite character moments ever in the entire history of the Hulk.

It’s a pity it’s audio only, because Casey’s increasingly bewildered face was half the fun. Anyway, you can check it out here.

And if you have never experienced the wonder that is the Gerber-era Defenders, well, the Essentials have the whole run in volume two and volume three. Or there’s the Masterworks hardcovers, but those are pretty expen$$$ive.

But you really should read it in any case, even if you are not a comics fan.

Because it’s just too much fun.

That’s really all I have for you, because my week has been too consumed with producing student books to even consider much of anything else. Well, that and I turned in the final draft on the ‘weird Western’ novel to the publisher as well, but I can’t really talk about that project yet. I hope to have news on it for you all soon.

Mostly, though, it’s been all about this stuff.

The kids really killed it this time out. Probably the thing that made me the happiest and proudest, though, was that the collaborative round-robin novel project Sophia, Teya, Willow, and Coop hatched over pizza after LAST year’s Olympia show actually came to fruition. They met weekly all last summer to work out the characters and plot, then buckled down and wrote it, alternating chapters, throughout this school year.

On. Their. Own. Not in school. Not for a grade. Just for the sheer joy of doing it.

The least I could do was get it in print for them. Come see us at the show tomorrow– Saturday, the third of June, 11am to 4pm — and get your own copy. The Festival is at the Olympia Center, close to the water. Directions here. And more about the Festival itself here.

Lots of other cool folks will be there as well, as you can see from the poster.

Of those folks. I especially wanted to mention Chelsea Baker and her new project, True Stories of a Fictional Girl.

The reason is that we heard about it when Chelsea was still at the idea stage, when she was just talking it out to us when Julie and I gave her a lift home from Short Run a few years ago. So I’m delighted that not only did she do the comic, but it’s now reached #2…. and apparently it was successful enough that she was able to spring for color covers as well.

And that’s really all I’ve got for today. Back next week with the festival report, and other cool stuff, probably.


  1. Hal

    Man, the Steve Gerber Defenders is great. Hilarious, absurd, oddly touching, and as brilliantly satirical (not to mention accurate) about Seventies America as early M*A*S*H (even though that series was set during the Korean police action). Oh, and it was great fun! Not-so-recently I was really disappointed to read dismissive comments about Gerber-Defenders; although it mostly appeared to be due to The Defenders coming from the Seventies which is… depressing. I really can’t understand the inability to appreciate or enjoy books, movies, music, et cetera from earlier eras it is, well, D-U-M, dumb. It reminds me of someone writing of Marvel’s Avengers (as opposed to the Steed/Catherine Gale/Emma Peel/Tara King Avengers) that it was “as good a movie” as he had ever seen, which is pretty sad as it suggests he hadn’t seen many films at all, not that Avengers was terrible but *come on*! That really stuck in my mind, sure there’s good stuff around *now* but there’s so much *great* older material – much of which is now easily available that it’s ridiculous to be so conservative and narrow (and self-righteous at times). It feels somehow symbolic of the present day unwillingness of many people to learn from the good of the past while amplifying the worst. *ahem* All hail the Universal Church of Truth, “We are all bozos!”! (Having not heard the Firesign Theatre, I did not get the sly reference in the title “I Think We’re All Bozos In This Book!”)
    Only owning the Gerber run in Essential form, I am unfamiliar with it in color but Sal Buscema’s art really pops in your scans moreso than in black and white. His Hulk is always excellent (oh, and the fate of poor Bambi is awful!).
    I like the look of The Tale of Raptor, s/he’s a cute and well-drawn fellow. Talented student.
    P.S. I was reading the 1991 book Fine Art of Murder a couple of days ago and happened upon a piece on the Hardman books by Ralph Dennis, I am unaware if you are familiar with them but they would appear to be right up your alley complete with marvelously lurid covers. Alas, they seem to be expensive but perhaps you might luck into low-priced copies when bookscouting? I doubt these tomes are unknown to you, I am likely trying to educate my grandmother in the suckling of oeufs…

  2. Jeff Nettleton

    Best Hulk ever, in Defenders. I couldn’t stand his regular stories; but, loved Gerber’s. Hulk was awesome with Smart-friend Magician, Bird-Nose and the others. Elf with a Gun was dementedly brilliant, though the way it was later wrapped up left much to be desired.

    I don’t mind the original Conan movie, for what it is, even if it isn’t much of a Conan movie. It’s still better than most sword & sorcery that preceded it and followed its box office success, for several years (with some exceptions). It does kind of have fits and starts, though, although several of John Millius’ movies have that issue. Crom knows it’s better than Conan the Destroyer. I’m surprised they didn’t give Tracy Walter a dog in that thing, as much as he acts like Shaggy, from Scooby Doo.

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