Monday, July 31, 2017

Another positive review for King Kirby play

Review: 'King Kirby' at Off the Quill, Performing at Greenbelt Arts Center

By
DC Metro Theater Arts
July 30, 2017
http://dcmetrotheaterarts.com/2017/07/30/review-king-kirby-greenbelt-arts-center/

Warren Bernard's collection of New Yorker ads continues

Preacher season 2 reviewed in The Express

They haven't put this online yet, but I wanted to get it out there so people in DC can pick up the paper on the evening commute.

A multitude of sins: 'Preacher' offers up some unholy terrors.
Marc Silver
Express (July 31, 2017): 19

Bob Batchelor on the birth of Spider-Man echoed in local 'King Kirby' play currently running

Coincidentally, a press release from Bob Batchelor came through today that ties in strongly with the play King Kirby which is currently running in Greenbelt. The paragraph where Goodman asks for more Westerns (or whatever is selling) is a recurring episode in the play, as is this characterization of Stan Lee. In his upcoming biography of Stan Lee, Batchelor writes about the creation of Marvel's first superhero character, and Jack Kirby's role in it. With his permission, here's info on his book and the excerpt (which, if you think it gives Lee too much credit, bring it up with Bob please).

Fifty-five years ago the Amazing Spider-Man debuted in a comic book series that faced cancellation for low sales. If it weren’t for a stream of fan letters and readers gobbling up the book, one of the world’s most iconic superheroes would have died an untimely death.

T​he story behind Spider-Man’s creation and appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 is a tale filled with intrigue, and more importantly, Stan Lee’s calculated risk. The famed editor and writer deliberately ignored his boss – publisher Martin Goodman – who rejected the character, because “people hate spiders.” Unable to get Spider-Man out of his head, Lee had an origin story printed in AF #15. The overwhelming response and extraordinary sales would transform Marvel from a publishing also-ran to the hippest, hottest publisher on the planet.

Below is a 1,500-word excerpt on Spider-Man’s creation by noted biographer and cultural historian Bob Batchelor, which is excerpted from his new book Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel (published September 15, 2017).

Batchelor, who teaches at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, is the author of more than 25 books, including Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel (Rowman & Littlefield, September 2017, adult trade, retail $22.95). Amazon: http://amzn.to/2q4lNYe

A lifelong comic book fan and noted media resource, he has been an editorial consultant for numerous outlets and been quoted in or on BBC Radio World Service, Today.com, Columbus Dispatch, msnbc.com, The Miami Herald, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Dallas Morning News, Taiwan News, Associated Press, The Guardian, and The Washington Post.

Spidey Saves the Day!
By Bob Batchelor


All lean muscles and tautness, a new superhero bursts from the page. Swinging right into the reader’s lap, the hero is masked, only alien-like curved eyes reveal human features, no mouth or nose is visible. His power is alarming: casually holding a ghoulish-looking criminal in one hand, while simultaneously swinging from a hair-thin cord high above the city streets. In the background, tiny figures stand on rooftops, looking on and pointing in what can only be considered outright astonishment.

The superhero is off-center, frozen in a moment, as if a panicked photographer snapped a series of frames. The image captures the speed, almost like flight, with the wind at his back. The hero’s deltoid ripples and leg muscles flex. Some mysterious webbing extends from his elbow to waist. Is this a man or creature from another world?

The answer is actually neither. Looking at the bright yellow dialogue boxes running down the left side of the page, the reader learns the shocking truth. This isn’t a grown man, older and hardened, like Batman or Superman, one an existential nightmare and the other a do-gooder alien. No, this hero is just a self-professed “timid teenager” named Peter Parker. The world, he exclaims, mocks the teen under the mask, but will “marvel” at his newfound “awesome might.”

It is August 1962. Spider-Man is born.

Spider-Man’s debut in a dying comic book called Amazing Fantasy happened because Stan Lee took a calculated risk. He trusted his instincts. Rolling the dice on a new character meant potentially wasting precious hours writing, penciling, and inking a title that might not sell. The business side of the industry constantly clashed with the creative, forcing fast scripting and artwork to go hand-in-hand.

In more than two decades toiling as a writer and editor, Lee watched genres spring to life, and then almost as quickly, readers would turn to something else. War stories gave way to romance titles, which might then ride a wave until monster comics became popular. In an era when a small group of publishers controlled the industry, they kept close watch over each other’s products in hopes of mimicking sales of hot titles or genres.

Lee calls Marvel’s publisher Martin Goodman, “One of the great imitators of all time.” Goodman dictated what Lee wrote after ferreting out tips and leads from golf matches and long lunches with other publishers. If he heard that westerns were selling for a competitor, Goodman would visit Lee, bellowing, “Stan, come up with some Westerns.”[1​] 

This versatility had been Lee’s strength, swiftly writing and plotting many different titles. He often used gimmicks and wordplay, like recycling the gunslinger Rawhide Kid in 1960 and making him into an outlaw or using alliteration, as in Millie the Model.

A conservative executive, Goodman rarely wanted change, which irked Lee. The writer bristled at his boss’s belittling beliefs, explaining, “He felt comics were really only read by very, very young children or stupid adults,” which meant “he didn’t want me to use words of more than two syllables if I could help it…Don’t play up characterization, don’t have too much dialogue, just have a lot of action.” Given the precarious state of publishing companies, which frequently went belly-up, and his long history with Goodman, Lee admits, “It was a job; I had to do what he told me.”[​2​]

Despite being distant relatives and longtime coworkers, the publisher and editor maintained a cool relationship. From Lee’s perspective, “Martin was good at what he did and made a lot of money, but he wasn’t ambitious. He wanted things to stay the way they were.”

Riding the wave of critical success and extraordinary sales of The Fantastic Four, Goodman gave Lee a simple directive: “Come up with some other superheroes.”[3​] The Fantastic Four, however, subtly shifted the relationship. Lee wielded greater authority. He used some of the profit to pay writers and editors more money, which then offloaded some of the pressure.

Launching Spider-Man, however, Lee did more than divert the energy of his staff. He actually defied Goodman.

For months, Lee grappled with the idea of a new superhero with realistic challenges that someone with superpowers would face living in the modern world. The new character would be “a teenager, with all the problems, hang-ups, and angst of any teenager.” Lee came up with the colorful “Spider-Man” name and envisioned a “hard-luck kid” both blessed and cursed by acquiring superhuman strength and the ability to cling to walls, just like a real-life spider.[4​]

Lee recalls pitching Goodman, embellishing the story of Spider-Man’s origin by claiming that he got the idea “watching a fly on the wall while I had been typing.”[​5​] He laid the character out in full: teen, orphan, angst, poor, intelligent, and other traits. Lee thought Spider-Man was a no-brainer, but to his surprise, Goodman hated it and forbade him from offering it as a standalone book.[6​]

The publisher had three complaints: “people hate spiders, so you can’t call a hero ‘Spider-Man’”; no teenager could be a hero “but only be a sidekick”; and a hero had to be heroic, not a pimply, unpopular kid. Irritated, Goodman asked Lee, “Didn’t [he] realize that people hate spiders?”[​7​] Given the litany of criticisms, Lee recalled, “Martin just wouldn’t let me do the book.”[8]

Realizing that he could not completely circumvent his boss, Lee made the executive decision to put Spider-Man on the cover of a series that had previously bombed, called Amazing Fantasy. Readers didn’t like AF, which featured thriller/fantasy stories by Lee and surreal art by Steve Ditko, Marvel’s go-to artist for styling the macabre, surreal, or Dali-esque. It seemed as if there were already two strikes against the teen wonder.

Despite these odds and his boss’s directive, Lee says that he couldn’t let the nerdy superhero go: “I couldn’t get Spider-Man out of my mind.”[9] He worked up a Spider-Man plot and handed it over to Marvel’s top artist, Jack Kirby. Lee figured that no one would care (or maybe even notice) a new character in the last issue of a series that would soon be discontinued.

With Spider-Man, however, Kirby missed the mark. His early sketches turned the teen bookworm into a mini-Superman with all-American good looks, like a budding astronaut or football star. Lee put Ditko on the title. His style was more suited for drawing an offbeat hero.

Ditko nailed Spider-Man, but not the cover art, forcing Lee to commission Kirby for the task, with Ditko inking. Lee could not have been happier with Ditko. He explained: “Steve did a totally brilliant job of bringing my new little arachnid hero to life.”[10] They finished the two-part story and ran it as the lead in AF #15. Revealing both the busy, all-hands state of the company and their low expectations, Lee recalled, “Then, we more or less forgot about him.”[11] As happy as Lee and Ditko were with the collaboration and outcome, there is no way they could have imagined that they were about to spin the comic book world onto a different axis.

The fateful day sales figures finally arrived. Goodman stormed into Lee’s office, as always awash in art boards, drawings, mockups, yellow legal pads, and memos littering the desk.

Goodman beamed, “Stan, remember that Spider-Man idea of yours that I liked so much? Why don’t we turn it into a series?”[​12]

If that wasn’t enough to knock Lee off-kilter, then came the real kicker: Spider-Man was not just a hit, the issue was in fact the fastest-selling comic book of the year, and maybe that decade. Lee recalls that AF skyrocketed to number one.[13]

The new character would be the keystone of Marvel’s superhero-based lineup. More importantly, the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man transformed Marvel from a company run by imitating trends into a hot commodity. In March 1963, The Amazing Spider-Man #1 burst onto newsstands.

Fans could not get enough of the teen hero, so Lee and Marvel pushed the limits. Spider-Man appeared in Strange Tales Annual #2 (September 1963), a 72-page crossover between him and the Human Torch. And in Tales to Astonish, which had moved from odd, macabre stories to superheroes, Spidey guest-starred in #57 (July 1964), which focused on Giant-Man and Wasp. When The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 appeared in 1964, with Lee dubbing himself and Ditko “the most talked about team in comics today,” it featured appearances by every Marvel hero, including Thor, Dr. Strange, Captain America, and the X-Men.

Spider-Man now stood at the center of a comic book empire. Stan Lee could not have written a better outcome, even if given the chance.

All this from a risky run in a dying comic book!

______________________________
_

[
​1​
] Mark Lacter, “Stan Lee Marvel Comics Always Searching for a New Story,” Inc., November 2009, 96.
[
​2​
] Don Thrasher, “Stan Lee’s Secret to Success: A Marvel-ous Imagination,” Dayton Daily News, January 21, 2006, sec. E.
[
​3​
] Quoted in ibid.
[
​4​
] Stan Lee and George Mair, Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002), 126–27.
[
​5​
] Ibid., 126.
[
​6​
] Roy Thomas, “Stan the Man and Roy the Boy: A Conversation between Stan Lee and Roy Thomas,” in Stan Lee Conversations, ed. Jeff McLaughlin (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007), 141.
[
​7​
] Lee and Mair, Excelsior!, 127.
[
​8​
] Thomas, “Stan the Man,” 141.
[
​9​
] Lee and Mair, Excelsior!, 127.
[
​10​
] Ibid., 128.
[
​11​
] Ibid., 128.
[
​12​
] Ibid., 128.
[
​13​
] Stan Lee, Peter David, and Colleen Doran, Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir (New York: Touchstone, 2015), n.p.

Disney imagineer obituary in the Post

Martin A. Sklar, Disney's first 'imagineer,' dies at 83 [in print as Walt Disney aide helped shape company's famed theme parks across globe].

Associated Press

Washington Post July 30 3017

online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/martin-a-sklar-disneys-first-imagineer-dies-at-83/2017/07/29/3bd60fe6-749f-11e7-9eac-d56bd5568db8_story.html

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Joshua Engle's Review of King Kirby

We both saw the show on opening night, and when I heard he was reviewing it, I asked him to let us know when his review appeared. I quite enjoyed the show too, especially the strong lead characters.


Friday, July 28, 2017

NOVA Con starts today

NOVA COMIC & GAMING CONVENTION
July 28-30, 2017 - Ritz-Carlton - Tysons Corner Galleria
1700 Tysons Blvd, McLean, VA 22102






https://www.novacomic-con.com/

It's a new Con, at $30 per day - https://www.novacomic-con.com/tickets

City Paper on Atomic Blonde; NPR Monkey See on Valerian

Atomic Blonde Is a Full-Throttle '80s Pastiche Action Flick

Though it gets bogged down by some of its plot and dialogue, "Atomic Blonde" delivers on action and fight scenes.

Jul 26, 2017
http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/arts/film-tv/blog/20970564/atomic-blonde-reviewed

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets'

Pop Culture Happy Hour

July 28, 2017
http://www.npr.org/2017/07/28/539780446/pop-culture-happy-hour-valerian-and-the-city-of-a-thousand-planets
https://ondemand.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/pchh/2017/07/20170728_pchh_pchh_360_valerian__-_final.mp3

The Post on Atomic Blonde

As the NY Times review noted, ""Atomic Blonde" is based on "The Coldest City," a darkly shadowed, minimalist graphic novel written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart."

The power of 'Atomic Blonde' isn't a girl thing [in print as It's not a girl thing: 'Blonde' stands (and kicks) apart].


Express July 28 2017, p. 20
online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2017/07/28/atomic-blondes-power-isnt-a-girl-thing/

'Atomic Blonde' looks sexy, but the story leaves much to be desired [in print as Sexy agent is as hot as nuclear winter].


Washington Post July 28 2017, p. Weekend 23
online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/movies/atomic-blonde-looks-sexy-but-the-story-leaves-much-to-be-desired/2017/07/27/8f554320-7207-11e7-8f39-eeb7d3a2d304_story.html 

The Post's obituary for June Foray

June Foray, versatile voice behind Rocky the Squirrel and countless others, dies at 99 [in print as Versatile voice brought Rocky Squirrel to Life]


Washington Post July 28 2017, p. B6

And here's the NY Times -

June Foray, Virtuoso of Cartoon Voices, Notably Rocky's, Dies at 99

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/27/arts/television/june-foray-prolific-voice-of-rocky-the-flying-squirrel-dies-at-99.html

Sept: Gaiman's Neverwhere on stage in DC

Rorschach Theatre: Neverwhere

September 2, 2017-October 1, 2017 | $20 - $45

Rorschach Theatre

Neverwhere

Adapted for the stage by Robert Kauzlaric from the novel by Neil Gaiman
Directed by Jenny McConnell Frederick

When Richard Mayhew stumbles upon an injured young woman on the streets of London, he has no idea that he has also stumbled upon the fantastical world of London Below. Sucked into a world of monsters, tricksters, beasts and angels, Richard learns that life is far more interesting than you can imagine … if you just know where to look. Neil Gaiman's heralded cult-classic novel returns to Rorschach Theatre in a vivid immersive experience.

Click here for a list of performance times and dates.


Venue

The Paul Sprenger Theatre
1333 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002 United States

Comic Riffs notes Jaffee fold-in

Baltimore Comic-Con's Ringo Awards have local nominees



BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - July 26, 2017 - The 2017 Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards are to be presented on the evening of Saturday, September 23, 2017 as part of the fan- and pro-favorite convention, The Baltimore Comic-ConThe Ringo Awards has completed the 2017 nomination process, which was inclusive of fans and comic book professionals alike, and both communities showed strong support, both in talking about us on their websites, blogs, and social media feeds, and by submitting their nominations.

Comic pros can navigate to our website to submit their vote.

Local creators nominated include:

* Best Cartoonist (Writer/Artist)
  • Steve Conley

* Best Writer
  • Tom King

* Best Cover Artist
  • Frank Cho
* Best Series
  • Vision, Marvel Comics (written by Tom King)

* Best Single Issue or Story
* Best Original Graphic Novel
  • March: Book III, Top Shelf Production
* Best Anthology
* Best Anthology
* Best Non-fiction Comic Work

A Chat with King Kirby director William Keith Cassidy


By Mike Rhode
Tonight a recent biographical play about comic book creator Jack Kirby will open for a three weekend run in Greenbelt, MD. Coincidentally, this is also the 100th anniversary year of Kirby's birth, and if you're a comic book fan, or love superhero movies, you should lift a glass to Kirby, and go see this play to learn more about him.
In 2014, comic book writer Fred Van Lente and his wife Crystal Skillman had a Kickstarter campaign to fund a staging of their “King Kirby” script.  At the time, they described the project as:
KING KIRBY is a play by the husband-and-wife team of New York Times bestselling comics writer Fred Van Lente and NYIT award-winning playwright Crystal Skillman about the life and times of Jack Kirby, the great comic book artist who created or co-created some of your favorite heroes on the page and screen, Captain America, the Avengers, Thor, Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Iron Man, Young Romance, the New Gods, Darkseid, The Demon… the list goes on and on.
From the Jewish ghetto of New York's Lower East Side to the battlefields of France to the Senate hearings of 1950s, this is a hysterical and heartbreaking story about a man who pours his quintessentially Twentieth Century life into his comics, only to make the fateful mistake that sends him into obscurity while his creations become known to every person on Earth.
Original 2014 production art by Ryan Dunlavey
A real-life "Adventures of Kavalier & Klay", King Kirby asks what happens when an artist doesn't own his own legacy? Can he ever get it back?
King Kirby has been a long-term passion project of Fred's; with Crystal's help, it's down on paper. Now, with your help, we'll bring this astounding true story to life on stage.
The play has been staged several times (in Seattle and NYC) and is now coming to Greenbelt, MD via Off the Quill and William Keith Cassidy’s vision. A few days before the premiere, I talked to Cassidy (who was my daughter’s high school theater teacher and is a friend of mine) about some specifics of his staging.

Mike Rhode: When you cast Lee and Kirby, did you look at their real-life counterparts? Was that an issue for you?

Rehearsal shot of Josh Mooney as Jack Kirby and Erik Harrison as Stan Lee
William Keith Cassidy: The nature of the play, and especially our production, is very theatrical so I didn’t feel I had to. Also, everyone, and especially Kirby himself, ages several years in the show. Kirby is on stage the whole time so there can be no makeup. It has to be done with acting. We have people in the cast playing four or five parts each, so I didn’t feel that I needed to find people that looked or sounded like them. With the exception of Stan Lee, because he’s the most recognizable. Erik Harrison had the look, and if you read his blog post, he talks about how he always came back to a smile, a grin and this vibrant, youthful energy that Stan Lee has. The one thing I did want physically is that I did want Jack Kirby and his wife Roz to be somewhat the same age. They look like they belong together. I cast a Jack and Roz who are both relatively young, but I could have cast them as older people. I didn’t want to cast one as really young and the other as really old; then they don’t look like they belong together. Whatever their aging is, they have to go together. The play all these lines about Kirby being short, but the actor isn’t and he has blond hair. I told him the other night, “I know you don’t look a thing like him, but by adapting his mannerisms, I think you look like Jack Kirby.”

MR: I have not read this play, so what time frame in Kirby and Lee’s lives is it set? Is it set at the start of the Marvel Age?

WKC: It’s pretty much Kirby’s whole life. It actually opens after he’s dead and there’s an auction of his work and Kirby is commenting on it as an ethereal figure. Then it immediately flashes back to him as a kid in the street gangs in New York City. It goes through his life. We don’t even get to Marvel until the last third of the play.

MR: How long does the play run then?

WKC: There’s no intermission and it’s about an hour and thirty-five minutes.

MR: So that’s a lot of work for Josh Mooney who’s playing Kirby…

WKC: Yes. There’s one scene between where he’s working for Max Fleischer and then going to work for Victor Fox, where he leaves the set. It’s the only time he leaves the stage. For four minutes, he’s not on stage. 

MR: Are there any other comic book people in it?

WKC: Joe Simon is a major character. The original production had Kirby and then only four other people. The actress who played Roz played all the females. The actor that played Simon played a bunch of people. I thought there were certain characters that were important enough to Jack’s life and recurred often enough to be their own actor. I didn’t want them to be ensemble people. My Simon, Lee and Roz  - those are the only roles they play.

MR: So this is a deep dive into comics for an average person – how much did you have to work to convince the theater that it would draw a wider audience?
 
WKC: I didn’t have to work that hard, actually. There was only one theater I wanted to take this to – Off the Quill. I knew some people there and we’d done some shows together. I’d seen a lot of their shows. Like I said, I wanted to have a very theatrical, stylized element and this theater is very good at that. My assistant director Patrick Mullen really handled all the staging, the transitions, and the movement pieces. He was the mover and shaker behind the stylized pieces, but I don’t think you have to have a strong knowledge of comic books. The more you know, the more you’ll appreciate it, but you can come in knowing nothing.

MR: I saw David Bar Katz's The History of Invulnerability about Superman creators Siegel and Shuster at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center years ago, and you didn’t necessarily have to be steeped in comics.

WKC: Right. There were things I didn’t know about Kirby. I didn’t know that he and Joe Simon pretty much created the romance comic books. That was something I learned coming into this.

MR: Is Kirby’s New York background a major part of his character?

WKC: Yes. I don’t know much he felt this at the time he did it, or if it was later while looking back, but the play includes his regret that he changed his name to Jack Kirby from Jacob Kurtzberg, because he was very proud of his Jewish heritage and background. I don’t think he wanted to be perceived as someone who was trying to hide that. There’s actually a dream sequence at the end where he and Stan Lee are in a confrontation. The playwrights use the dream sequence to have a scene where Jack can say all the things to Stan that maybe he never said. One of the things Stan says is, “C’mon, you were ashamed,” and Kirby replies that he wasn’t ashamed.

MR: Everybody who was Jewish in comic books at the time changed their name. It would be hard to find someone who didn’t.

WKC: There’s a funny scene where Stan Lee is a young kid and he’s writing the prose story in Captain America Comics (which was mandatory for cheaper postage rates), and Joe Simon says, “Who’s Stan Lee?” Lee says “That’s me, I changed my name just like Jack.” Jack says, “I changed my name to sound less Jewish ,” and Joe Simon tells Lee that his name sounds Chinese and he’s changed one minority for another.


MR: When did you start working on this?

WKC: We had several meetings in the spring and we had auditions a week or two later. So in April, but we really got into it in May.

MR: Does the scenery have any fantastic elements?

WKC: It’s very open. We’re using projectors because I really want to create the idea that everything’s a comic book page. The projections are serving a lot of purposes. They’re showing his artwork, which is number one for me.  When I read the play, it seemed the purpose of the play was to let everyone know what his contributions were, so the art had to be center. There are several scenes where there’s a transition from one time to another – it goes from 1961 to 1969, so we’re going to project and show all the Marvel characters he created. We have him drawing, and all the work around him on the walls and floors. We have two projectors on the walls, and one on the floor. We also wanted to use the projectors to show time and place as we cover a sixty-year span, and we use the projectors to show how his life influenced his art. There’s one scene during a street gang fight where they freeze, and it merges into a later Jack Kirby panel with a Viking battle scene that works really well. The theater is a black box with the audience ¾ of the way around the stage.

MR: You’ve cast your son, Brett Cassidy, in the play?

WKC: He’s young, but he reads a lot older on stage. He’s nineteen years old and he’s 6’ 7”. He’s playing most of the bosses. He plays Victor Fox, Martin Goodman, General Patton… he’s playing all the characters that are intimidating.

MR: Whether it was true or not in the real world, Kirby apparently always felt put upon by anybody he worked for, and that comes through in the play?

WKC: Oh, yeah. It’s one of the main themes. It’s one of the things that I responded to personally. Kirby had no problem fighting in a street gang, or fighting in the Army in France, but tried to avoid personal conflict. He’s also a product of the Depression and he doesn’t want to hurt his job. Stability is important to him.

MR: Does the play cover his DC years [when he created The Fourth World and the New Gods]?

WKC: No, when he leaves Marvel, the play skips 20 years. The way we’re staging it, we’re doing a transition and will see the DC years through the artwork projections, but it really picks up again in 1982.


MR: The court case against Marvel about Howard the Duck ownership that eventually led indirectly to the return of his original art?

WKC: Yes, he’s at a convention and he realizes someone is selling his original art. That leads into the dream sequence with Stan Lee. We just know he leaves because he’ll get full credit at DC and not argue with Stan Lee over who did what. The lack of financial rewards is touched on too. He’s at this convention and a fan asks him to sign original art, and Kirby asks how he got it. He also asks the fan about his New Gods for DC, and the fan says he couldn’t get into it.

MR: One of my academic friends, Charles Hatfield, has written a book arguing that the New Gods are Kirby’s true vision. And for the new Justice League movie, at least one of Kirby’s characters is a villain, and the New Gods might be the background for the whole Justice League film series… hopefully Kirby’s is getting some of the profits.

WKC: I hope so. I love [local author] Marc Tyler Nobleman’s movie “Batman and Bill” about Bill Finger’s role in Batman. I didn’t know his story at all. 

MR: It’s interesting that comic book history is now focusing on creators instead of just the characters. I hope you are catching a wave.

WKC: I think so. Anybody that likes good theater will like it. Anybody that likes comic books will like it. We’ve got two good built-in audiences. It’s a great cast. 


For more information about the genesis of the play, read these two articles -


‘King Kirby’ Takes The Stage: Fred Van Lente On His New Play About Jack Kirby’s Life [Interview]

by Patrick A. Reed,  June 19, 2014




“It’s not created by a machine – it’s art created by people” – An Interview with “King Kirby” Playwrights Crystal Skillman and Fred Van Lente.

by Reid Vanier, June 19, 2014

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Flugennock's Latest'n'Greatest: "Section 8 Smoker" (revised)


From DC's anarchist cartoonist, Mike Flugennock -




"Section 8 Smoker"
http://sinkers.org/stage/?p=2285

While it's been legal to possess and consume cannabis in DC, citizens here can still only do it in their private homes, which leaves many rental housing residents -- particularly tenants in Federally-subsidized Section 8 public housing -- in a rough spot.

Thanks to a budget "rider" introduced by Maryland Rep. Andy Harris a year or so ago as part of a budget bill to avoid a government shutdown, the District Of Columbia is unable to use any of its city budget to implement cannabis taxation/regulation laws, or to implement laws to allow for communal smoking in clubs, bars or caf├ęs and lift the public use ban.

This means that most of us in DC who live in rental housing are forced to either go to somebody else's house (basically, a "speakeasy") or take our chances in public, in a park or someplace, where people can smell it -- including the cops, who arrested 354 people last year for public smoking.

So, if you're a DC citizen who lives in rental housing and are forced to go to a friend's house or sneak around on the street because there's noplace to go to have a civilized smoke at happy hour, thank Md. Rep. Andy Harris.


Aug 4: Jason Reynolds on Spider-Man at Hooray for Books


Meet the Author: Jason Reynolds
Friday, August 4: 6:30 pm

Hooray for Books! is thrilled to host rock-star author Jason Reynolds for the first time ever! Jason will present and sign his new book, Miles Morales: Spider-Man. In this novel for ages 12+, Brooklyn Visions Academy student Miles Morales may not want to be a superhero, but he must come to terms with his identity as the new Spider Man and deal with a villainous teacher.

In addition to Miles Morales, we have special permission from the publisher of Ghost and All American Boys to sell the paperback editions before their respective official publication dates of August 29 and 30.

Can't make it to this event but want a signed and personalized copy? Just place your order by Tuesday, August 1. To order, call 703-548-4092 or email order@hooray4books.com.



Hooray for Books! | 1555 King St • Alexandria, VA 22314 | 703.548.4092

NPR on June Foray's death

Whatever The Character, June Foray's Voice Was Warmly Familiar

July 27, 2017
http://www.npr.org/2017/07/27/539723457/whatever-the-character-june-forays-voice-was-warmly-familiar

Ben Claassen illustrates bathroom article

In today's Express, Ben Claassen III illustrates an article on the National Mall's bathroom for Sadie Dingfelder. It's also online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2017/07/27/i-visited-all-59-bathrooms-on-the-mall-heres-where-to-go-when-you-have-to-go/


"Becoming Stan Lee" for "King Kirby" play

Comic Riffs on the death of June Foray

RIP, June Foray: 'First lady' of animation acting voiced 'Rocky and Bullwinkle' and 'Tweety' roles


Washington Post
Comic Riffs blog July 27 2017

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2017/07/27/rip-june-foray-first-lady-of-animation-acting-voiced-rocky-and-bullwinkle-and-tweety-roles/

Remembering Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson, the ace cartoonist from Arlington, passed away a year ago today from complications of Parkinson's disease. I still find myself thinking I need to stop in when I'm on his side of town. Take a look at some of his drawings and share a smile in his memory today.