Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Live, From Secaucus, It's...The Charlton Comics: Past, Present & Future Panel!

Due to the peculiarities of Blogspot, it's a pain-in-the-tuchus to post audio files, so I've put up the audio of the Charlton Comics Past, Present, and Future Panel at the East Coast Comicon (April 16-17) at the New Jersey Meadowlands on my website, PaulKupperberg.com. So, sit back, relax, and listen to Mort Todd, Jackie Zbuska, Keith Larsen, Karl Wildman, and myself discuss one of our favorite topics: Charlton Comics.
From Left to Right: Keith Larsen, Paul Kupperberg, Mort Todd, Jackie Zbuska, Karl Wildman,
and a rare Charlton Comics cardboard box!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Kissable Comics

By Shane O’Shaughnessy

Aloha, romance revelers! Shane “Sweet Somethings” O’Shaughnessy here for the first time to bring the love to the Charlton Neo blog with reviews of that oft forgotten genre that flirted with the comics market for forty years! I’m going to sling you the salacious stories straight outta the pages of Charlton’s line of romance comics that I continue to ravish, er, collect for your pleasure! We’ll experience tales of woe and woo, worry and wrongdoing, double-crossing double dates, all for that final kiss firmly planted in every last panel! From the 40’s thru to its last breathy gasp in the 80’s, Charlton supplied so many saucy strips that we’ll have no trouble keeping it up for a long time!

For our first installment, I’ve decided to pick one from a pile of recent acquisitions, Sweethearts #60 from June 1961. The early 60s comics maintained the clean-cut boys and doting darlings that was prevalent in romance comics since the 40s, not yet getting into the “swinger” scenes that would dominate the stories in later issues. Typically, the men were all well-dressed businessmen with an eye on the prize of some lucrative job and the women generally grappled with the idea that independence and singlehood as a burden that must be remedied ASAP. (It’s here that I’d like to put forth that I do not support nor agree with these antiquated heteronormative ideologies when it comes to actual real-life relationships but am able to view such simplistic storytelling with a healthy heap of humor as a bizarre artifact of a past that I’m glad we have culturally grown out of. That, and because if I did, I wouldn’t be married to an incredibly talented lady who makes twice as much as I do which allows me time to write these silly blogs!)

According to the fine folks at Comicbookplus.com (where you can read this particular issue for yourself), this issue is attributed to “Va-va-voom!” Vince Colletta and his team of apes, giving us four whopping tales of whimsy, “Love Me Forever,” “Sacrifice for Love,” “Crescendo,” and “The Way to a Man’s Heart.” Guessing by the titles, the first is about vampires, the second about Satanists, the third about the amours of Beethoven, and the last is some sort of Fantastic Voyage deal. Let’s find out!

After a cover featuring a goopy-eyed woman clutching a “Dear Anne” letter, we find the inside cover that hosts two ads, one for a voice recorder that etches into vinyl (which I know more than a few underground artists who would destroy their laptop for) and an ad for a 4-piece matched set of luggage! This knowledge will prove important later as the products find their way into the stories! It makes me wonder if the writing process for these tales was simply about finding ways to incorporate their advertiser’s products into a narrative… probably.

Following a banner promising us that “Charlton Comics Gives You More!” we head into our first short, “Sacrifice for Love!” We are greeted with a splash of a shifty-eyed middle-aged man casually strolling by our kissing couple while thinking to himself how amazing “Young Marsh,” our finely-suited hunk, is doing for himself, noting that the young’n is making more than he is. We never see this guy again and can only assume that he goes home and cries himself to a cold, bitter sleep.

Through a poorly placed narrative box, we learn from our heroine that she and Greg were "hayseeds" from upstate New York, that they’re both college educated, and she’s given up on anything she’s learned and her diploma to be married to him as he pursues that cheeriest of jobs, an ad executive! Following the slimy trail of other ad execs before him, Greg tells his wife that she’s got to be the grease in the wheel to get him a promotion by landing a deal with scum-of-the-earth, Anton Rupel. Greg really hates this guy, nearly frothing at the mouth as he calls him a “cannibal.” Our still-nameless heroine suggest that, uh, maybe he should let one of the others at his office take the account since he loathes Rupel so much, to which he replies that he would “scalp” them! In short, Greg is terrifying.

When she tries to speak, he shuts her up by kissing her next panel. Trust me when I say this is a sorry theme that runs through a lot of romance comics as it is usually followed, this time included, when they say, “I didn’t care! Being in his arms was worth it…” Hey, maybe she gets a kick out of it? Maybe this is why they’re married: they’re cons who know how to chump rich weirdoes out of their money? They probably leave a trail of broken men, like the one on the splash page, in their wake! Perhaps she was about to say, “Greg, what if I… laced his drink with arsenic?” Reading as many romance comics as I have, my mind likes to fill in the details that I’m sure the writers were hinting at.
The next scene is the party at Greg’s company president’s house where Rupel directly propositions our heroine while Greg leers on in the background. Baiting the obnoxious pervert, she sets up a dinner date over at her and Greg’s place the following evening. “I made a conquest...” she gloats to herself while her husband gushes with gruesome glee!

But alas, dear reader, it’s that point in the story where our heroine’s pesky conscience pops in and she begins to doubt the plan in play. What if this ruse just turns them into horrible people? What if they’re already horrible people? Greg brandishes her name, Edie, for the first time in this story as he admonishes her for her disgusting display of last minute morality!

Through the tried-and-true method that every American lad knows, Greg places his face uncomfortably close to Edie’s and convinces her that everything is all right. All is not right as Edie stays awake all night thinking of how much happier Greg would be back in their “village” in Upper New York (because at anywhere not the City in New York you can still buy torches for the bimonthly witch hunt) working for his dad’s firm but he’s too stubborn and fetishisticly entwined with the human wart, Rupel.

The next morning, Edie pops one of her Floozie’s Little Helpers and gussies up their house, making sure their wonder-box, a tape recorder, gets center stage because “…it helped amuse guests when parties got dull!” Generally less questions were brought up afterwards with a tape recorder than Greg’s party favor of lining the house with plastic and bringing out his hatchet. We find Edie hunched over the box as Greg stands near the blinds, shoulders stiff with his arms at his side, twitching hands hidden from view, muttering how much of a “worm” Rupel is. Slyly, Edie eggs him on, asking him what in particular Greg loathes about the giant pus-sack, which leads to one of the angriest panels I’ve found in a romance comic...

Patrick Bateman, I mean, Greg continues his tirade according to Edie’s narration as she cleverly manipulates the recorder with her dirty dexterous hands. Greg admits that he’d tell the slime ball what he felt “if he wasn’t important to the firm!” But his smoldering is interrupted by the fat man arriving to stink up their house with his putrid musk. Greg puts on his best host mask and suggests that Edie turn on the recorder so they can listen to the swank dance music they’ve pirated from the radio. Or maybe they have some sort of jug band they’re a part of, being hayseeds and all. Yet instead of the backwoods twang of banjo finger picking, Rupel is slapped in the face with Greg’s vitriol from the panel above! Rupel is aghast and scurries back to his sweaty money pit without a word.

Greg’s life is shattered! There goes years of hard sniping to get where he is! There goes the swank apartment and the maids doting on their every need! There goes the diamonds and the furs! Edie has left him a shell of his former self! “Did you hate this life that much, Edie? Or is it me you hate?” Greg pleads with the mischievous imp he once called wife! She responds by telling him that she didn’t want anyone else to destroy his life, so that’s why she had to do it herself! The comic ends with a perplexing sentiment…
And so, our psychotic couple’s tale gives us the heartwarming moral: Destroy everything with the fire of love!

Stay tuned for the rising action of "Crescendo!" in the next Kissable Comics!
 © Shane O’Shaughnessy

Friday, October 16, 2015

Support Your Local Filmmakers, or, Charlton Comics: The Movie

Filmmakers Jackie Zbuska, Jude Breidenbach, and Keith Larsen 
with Judomaster master Frank McLaughlin.
It's pretty remarkable when you stop to think of it: it's been just a little over a year, in August of 2014, since filmmakers Keith Larsen and Jackie Zbuska cornered me at my table at the Connecticut ComiCONN and started gushing about the panel I had moderated the day before. Needing a place to rest their convention-weary tootsies, Jackie and Keith settled into seats at the back of the room where I was speaking with guests Denny O'Neil, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Frank McLaughlin, and Bob Layton about our long-ago shared experiences at the defunct Charlton Comics, formerly of Derby, Connecticut.

The upshot of their gushing (and, I add modestly, it was a great panel, especially if the reaction I was receiving was any indication) was that they wanted to make a documentary about Charlton Comics, the whole kit and kaboodle, from its start behind bars to its offices in a bowling alley to its slow, lingering death and recent resurrection. Would I be interested in helping, either by being interviewed or introducing them to people to be interviewed...whatever.
Joe Staton tries to remember the formula to E-Man's success

Sure, I said. Be happy to do what I can. And then I expected never to hear from them again. I mean, I get hit up several times a month by email or at conventions to take part in some grand scheme--a book, a movie, a start-up something or other--and they never, I repeat never, come to fruition.
Interviewing the legendary Neal Adams at the
2015 Connecticut ComiCONN

Shows what I knew about these guys.

One year later, Jackie and Keith are friends and I've become somewhat involved in Charlton Comics: The Movie, from being interviewed for the film's trailer (near the site of the old Charlton Publications factory and offices) to moderating the panel that featured the world premiere of said trailer at the 2015 Connecticut ComiCONN (which becomes TerrifiCon in 2016) to traveling to Rhode Island with them next month (Sunday, November 8) for the Charlton Comics: The Movie panel at RI Comic Con (at 12:15 pm)...
Denny "Sergius O'Shaughnessy" O'Neil on camera

...And did I mention the new Indigogo fundraising campaign that just launched? You can check it out here, including the aforementioned trailer...and while you're there, please, please, please contribute to help make the dream of Charlton Comics: The Movie a reality. And I'm not just talking about the dream of my one chance for stardom ("I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Larsen!"), but of the chance to tell a story about the comic book industry that we only thought we knew! The stories that producer and ace researcher Jackie has been uncovering are unbelievable...and those are just the ones that she can tell!
Artist Joe Sinnott reminiscences

Sure, the perks being offered to contributors are really cool, but what's even cooler's the opportunity to be a part of history in the making.
Jackie and Keith with Charlton alumnus Bob Layton

Make mine Charlton Comics: The Movie!
Mort Todd, Roy Thomas, Paul Kupperberg, TJ Ford, Keith Larsen,
and Jackie Zbuska at the 2015 Charlton Comics: Past,
 Present & Future panel at CT ComiCONN

Sunday, August 16, 2015

2015 Charlton Comics Panel with special guest Roy Thomas

TC Ford, Roy Thomas, Mort Todd, and Paul Kupperberg. Photo by Charlie Hunt
At 3:00pm on Saturday, August 15 I had the pleasure of sitting down for almost an hour and a half with Roy Thomas, Mort Todd, TC Ford, and filmmakers Keith Larsen and Jackie Zbuska for the 2015 Connecticut ComiCONN Charlton Comics panel. We talked Charlton past, present, and future, and premiered the teaser trailer for the epic Charlton Comics: The Movie documentary!

You can check out the trailer at Charlton Comics: The Movie and hear the panel, posted on my website, PaulKupperberg.com (this because of the rigors Blogger puts you through to post audio files here).

Friday, May 1, 2015

Celebrate Free Comic Book Day 2015 With Charlton Neo

By Dan Johnson

Attention Neophytes! Saturday, May 2 is Free Comic Book Day and Charlton Neo Comics is getting ready to celebrate this most joyous (and geeky) of all days. First off, starting at midnight on May 2 and until midnight May 3, we are granting free access to all of the Pix-C web comics! This is your chance to sample our strips and also learn how you can  become a sponsor so you can get access to new installments every week.

Second, several of Charlton Neo’s creators and supporters will be guests at Free Comic Book Day Events around the country. You can come out and talk comics with the following individuals at the following locations:

Paul Kupperberg- Heroes Comics & Cards, 197 Westport Ave., Norwalk CT 06851. For more information, visit: http://heroescomicsandcards.com/

Dan Johnson and Rick Davis- Comics Conspiracy, 108 North St., Asheboro, NC 27203. For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Comic-Conspiracy/112017175493040?ref=bookmarks

Rodney Bennett- The Comic Dimension, 2823 Spring Garden St., Suite E, Greensboro, NC, 27403. For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/thecomicdimension

William Boyer- Classic Comics, 169 Lowes Foods Dr., Lewisville, NC 27023.

Brian Morris- The Danville Public Library, in cooperation with Villains Con, 319 N. Vermilion St., Danville, Illinois 61832. For more information, visit: http://www.danville.lib.il.us/

Daniel Gorman- Heroic Adventures Comics and Pop Culture Store. Located at 126 Gnau Ave. SW, Massillon, Ohio 44646. For more information, visit: http://www.heroicadventurescomics.com/

Friday, April 10, 2015

Roger McKenzie: The Devil He Knows

Interview by Dan Johnson

Charlton Neo’s Roger McKenzie Talks About Netflix’s Daredevil

The big event for comic book fans this weekend is the premiere of Netflix’s Daredevil. The Man Without Fear, whose show is the first step towards The Defenders mini-series on Netflix, has had a number of talented writers and artists weaving his tales for over fifty years now. A few of them gathered recently in Hollywood to celebrate the premiere of the series, including our very own Roger McKenzie. Between his writing for comics and hobnobbing with the Hollywood Elite, Roger sat down for a quick interview to discuss his take on Daredevil and also give us the inside scoop on his upcoming projects for Charlton Neo Comics.

Dan Johnson: First off, congratulations on getting the invite to the Hollywood premiere for Daredevil. What did you think when you got that invitation?

Roger McKenzie: “Who? Me?” David Bogart, Senior Vice President of Operations & Procurement, Publishing, Marvel Entertainment, LLC called me a week or so before the premiere with a most kind invite! So he really got the ball rolling. So he’s to blame. I’d be planning to watch Daredevil here at home, never imagining I’d be seeing him on the Big Screen in Hollywood!

Johnson: You mentioned your wife, Tami, couldn’t attend the event, so you went with Charlton Neo Publisher Mort Todd. From there you arranged a meeting of the West Coast Charlton Neo Crew. Who all did you see while in California?

McKenzie: Mort and I had a great dinner with Arrowhead and ACP Publisher, William Mull (who graciously picked me and Mort up from LAX!). There was also my longtime friend, Kevin VanHook and man-about-town Daerick Gross, Sr., the amazing artist on our brand new Knightingales comic!

Johnson: Excellent! I want to ask you about Knightingales later. First, tell us about the trip to Hollywood and premiere. They gave you the full red carpet treatment, right?

McKenzie: The trip was fine and fortunately I DIDN’T trip as I shambled my way along the red carpet looking for spare change…

Johnson: And you were able to meet Charlie Cox, the actor playing Daredevil. What was your impression of him on the screen and in person? Does he live up to the persona of the Man Without Fear?

McKenzie: On screen, Charlie captured the essence of Matt Murdock/Daredevil perfectly. Off screen he’s charming, gracious, and even mugged for a few photos with the likes of me! Hopefully that won’t affect his career too negatively…

Johnson: Who else did you meet from the show at this event?

McKenzie: Besides Charlie, I met Skylar Gaertner who portrayed young Matt Murdock, and, from Marvel, Joe Quesada and Jeff Loeb!

Johnson: I know you can’t give anything away, but what was your impression of the episodes you saw? Is this series going to be true to the comics?

McKenzie: We got to see the first two episodes. They were both very true to the spirit of the comics. I think fans of Daredevil will be very happy with the direction the series is heading as well as the characterization. There’s enough of a “back story” to establish the characters and keep it interesting without bogging down the storyline, and just the right amount of Daredevil action. The stories are character-driven. I like that. A lot.

Johnson: I know movies and television shows always take bits and pieces from the various incarnations of superheroes. Was there anything on the screen that you saw that you could point to and say, “That’s mine. That line is one I wrote or that action is what I would have that character make.”?

McKenzie: No specific lines of dialogue particularly jumped out at me as mine from the comic book scripts. Lots of actions tho, that I would (and did) have the characters make.

Johnson: In spite of the trip to the West Coast, you still kept busy with your work for Charlton Neo. You have some big projects coming up. First off, there is the reboot of Yellowjacket. Tell us about that.

McKenzie: The original Charlton Comics first comic book was Yellowjacket, an anthology of superhero and horror stories launched September 1944. Artist Rodney Bennett and I have dusted off the old character, modernized him some while at the same time trying to very much keep the “Old School” magic that made comic books fun. If you want dark, grim, violent and depressing comic book superheroes, then don’t waste your time on Yellowjacket. If, on the other hand, you’d like your heroes to be…well…heroes again, then you just might like the new Yellowjacket! Rodney and I are working on the first adventure now. And if will appear either in the pages of The Charlton Arrow or as a weekly PIX-C Sunday Funnies webcomic!

Johnson: And then there is Knightingales, which you mentioned. Tell us about that.

McKenzie: Here’s our tagline: “First do no harm. Then try to survive. Nurses Cynthia Doyle and Betsy Crane--Knightingales in a world gone horribly wrong...” Artist Daerick Gross, Sr. and I will be debuting Knightingales as a weekly PIX-C Sunday strip beginning 4/12/15!

Johnson: Sounds great! So that is something else Arrowheads can look forward to this weekend. And finally, when do you think you’ll be invited to your first Hollywood premiere for a Charlton Neo adaptation?

McKenzie: Any minute now!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Jay and Eddie’s March 28, 2015 Comic Book Show

By Dan Johnson

The 2015 Con Season officially kicked off for me on Saturday, March 28. On that day, I attended Jay and Eddie’s Comic Book Show at the Winston-Salem Hotel and Spa in Winston-Salem, NC. The show was a one-day event that ran from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM. In spite of some initial confusion in locating the hotel, the day was a blast.


Joining me at the con were two of my Charlton Neo collaborator, Rodney Bennett (who is working with me on the reboots of Gunmaster and Rocky Jones) and Will Boyer (who is working with me on Hip Hop for Pix-C). The Charlton Neo Crew was given the best seat in the house, next to actress Amber Dawn Fox, who recently played Officer Bello on season five of The Walking Dead. Being a fan of the show, but not having seen this past season, I did my best to avoid spoilers. Amber seems like a very nice young lady (as you can tell from the photos I have included, she has great taste in reading material). I hope her character made it out of this season alive (although I know how this show rolls and anyone could become lunch on the run for a zombie at any moment).

The seats we had were also pretty sweet as we were right across from a dealer who had some nice $2.00 Silver Age and Bronze Age books for sale. I was able to pick up a few comics I had been looking for thanks to this gent, including two Silver Age Charlton comics, Fightin’ Air Force #29 and Fightin’ Marines #54.


I really wanted to explore the show more, but getting across the aisle was the best I could do for the most part since we had a pretty steady stream of patrons come by our tables in the six hours we were at the show. In that time, I talked to anyone and everyone that came by about Charlton Neo, as well as The Flash television series, Avengers: Age of Ultron and the comic books I had found earlier at the show. We even had a couple of writers who expressed an interest in working with Charlton Neo and I discussed what we were looking for at this time. These folks must have liked what they heard because I got submissions from both of them just a few days after the show.

I also had some friends stop by the table to chat for a while, including my friend Kevin C. Hunt, who you can see dressed up as Doctor Doom. Indeed, Kevin snapped a number of the photos that accompany this review and I’m grateful he was able to help us capture some moments from this show.

Rodney took some commissions and knocked them out of the park (as you can see from the photos). The one of War Machine was for Robert Muhammad, a gentleman that Rodney and I have both met at various local cons over the past few years. Robert is also one of our newest members at the Charlton Neo Comics Facebook Page.

After the show wrapped up, Rodney, Will and I headed over to a nearby Pizza Hut where we discussed plans for our various Charlton Neo projects. Rodney and I have a great story arc mapped out for Gunmaster and we discussed what we wanted to do with this character and concept. Also, Will and I plotted out Hip Hop’s destiny, including a rival we will be introducing into the strip and a potential love interest. So, all in all, the day was fun and productive. And really, you can’t ask for anything better of a comic book show than that, can you?
© Dan Johnson