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

Saturday, March 21, 2015

FREE Pix-C Weekly Web Comics Preview

In case you haven't been paying attention, Charlton Neo's Pix-C Weekly Web Comics site has just passed its first month of bringing you some of the best new and classic comic strips on the internet! (That's right. We said it!)

Don't believe us?

Not willing to risk as little as $1 a month as a Patreon sustaining supporter of Charlton Neo, Comicfix, and Pix-C to gain unlimited access to the Pix-C site?

Yeah, we thought you'd be skeptical (even thoigh we haven't let you down yet!). So, here...have a FREE 38-page preview of all nine Pix-C comic strips on us, also featuring creator bios and more!

Check it. Now!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

She’s Off to See the Wizard (World Convention)

By Barbara Kaalberg

Wizard World Madison (Wisconsin) was a hit! I haven't had a table at a convention for years, but when Wizard came to me and asked if I would be interested in being a guest at the first ever WW Madison, I jumped at the chance to promote Charlton Neo.   

I was in kind of a panic, however, because while I did have a great Neo banner and a couple of thousand Neo flyers to hand out, I hadn't done much of note in the last few years of my own to promote and I had an eight-foot corner table to fill! I scrounged around in my studio and came up with twenty-five years worth of comp copies for books I had worked on, around forty-five interiors of pages I hadn't sold to auction houses through the years, plus bits and bobs of this and that. I threw it all in with the Charlton banner and one of my own (for “The Empress of Inks”)...I even threw in a box of twenty-five years worth of Xerox copies of pencils that I had saved for no apparent reason. I ALWAYS use to make copies of the pencils before I started inking in case I did something stupid, like spill my coffee on the original pencils. Originally, I’d planned to toss the Xeroxes out but decided, instead, to throw them in a box and just put a sign on it that said, "So You Want To Be An Inker? FREE Copies of Pencils (minimum two per person) To Practice, Practice, Practice."

The traffic those free copies generated past my table was amazing! Several people thanked me profusely for the idea of giving the copies away. People paused to dig through my box of freebies and then browsed my table for sale items. It also gave me the chance to give my Charlton sales pitch. 

I did very, very well. The one thing I wish that I had more of was comics for little kids. I had some Barbie comics that I had done for Marvel back in the 90's, some The Mask from NOW Comics, some Godzilla from Dark Horse, Wonder Woman from DC (another big favorite!), and a few odds and ends.  The Barbie comics were gone within two hours on the first day. Little girls and adults both wanted them. People kept coming up to me and saying, "Someone told me you had Barbie comics. Do you have any left?"  The big thing I noticed was whole families turning out for the con, a lot dressed in family friendly cosplay, but the little ones were having a hard time finding stuff for themselves! Children’s comics, girls comics, funny animal comics, and humor comics would have flown off my table had I had them. This gives me great hopes for a future Charltoons book!

I also had a very, very positive response to the news that Charlton has re-booted under the Charlton Neo name. A lot of enthusiasm for non-traditional comics was expressed. I came home with only a handful of unsold comps and two pages of original art left. Very successful con. All it cost me was gas money and my time. I even got to sleep in my own bed that night.

© Barbara Kaalberg

Saturday, February 21, 2015

“Say, Mister, Could You Stake a Fellow American to a Meal?”

By Paul Kupperberg

I wrote this piece in September 2013 (slightly altered in this iteration), a kind of apology/plea for understanding as I kept coming to people with my hand out, asking them to support (i.e. spend money) Crazy 8 Press, the prose publishing endeavor with which I am involved (along with fellow Neo contributors Bob Greenberger and Michael Jan Friedman, and four other authors). Now, on top of Crazy 8 and a currently ongoing Kickstarter campaign for a new anthology, Pangaea, we can add Charlton Neo (in general) and Paul Kupperberg's Secret Romances (specifically), plus the Neo/ComicArt Patreon sustaining supporter campaign, and the Pix-C Weekly Web Comic site, and all of a sudden, I seemed to be in deep "sell" mode!

As has been widely discussed for several years now, the publishing industry has undergone a seismic shift in how it functions. The big publishing houses are all absorbing one another, these behemoths having adopted the Hollywood mentality of relying on blockbuster bestsellers over a wider and more diverse catalog of titles, and brick and mortar retail outlets are getting harder to find...and those that still exist are slowly giving over display space previously used for books for Kindle displays and to sell toys, games, and other specialty items. Mainstream comics, now almost exclusively the domain of superheroes, have never before been more reflective of their corporate roots, while the indie comics publishers take satisfaction in sales of only a few thousand copies.

Guys like me and my friends and colleagues involved in Charlton Neo and Crazy 8 Press never expected we would have to become our own publishers in order to be able to publish the work we wanted to create the way we created it, but circumstances have kind of forced our hands. And, believe me, none of us want to spend as much time as we're forced to badgering you nice people just to take a look at our wares, much less lay out your hard earned cash to buy it! We'd really rather be hunkered down in our little dens, writing and drawing and leaving the marketing to our publishers...except nowadays, we are our publishers...

“Say, Mister, Could You Stake a Fellow American to a Meal?”

That’s the line Humphrey Bogart (as down on his luck gold prospector Fred C. Dobbs) uses on the Man in the White Suit (played by director John Houston) he keeps accosting for a handout in the 1948 film classic, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Down and out in Mexico, Bogie inadvertently hits up the same guy for money, until, on his third trip to that same well, the Man in the White Suit says, “Such impudence never came my way. Early this afternoon I gave you money...while I was having my shoes polished I gave you more money...now you put the bite on me again. Do me a favor, will ya? Go occasionally to somebody else -- it's beginning to get tiresome.”

Bogie is humbly apologetic: “I never knowed it was you. I never looked at your face--I just looked at your hands and the money you gave me. Beg pardon, mister, I promise I'll never put the bite on you again,” and the Man generously lays one last peso on him--“This is the very last you get from me. Just to make sure you don't forget your promise, here's another peso"...the peso Dobbs uses to buy the lottery ticket that provides him and fellow prospectors Howard and Curtin with their grubstake.

These days, I feel a lot like Fred C. Dobbs. I keep coming up to you, over and over again, hat in hand, asking you for a couple of pesos...or, in my case, to buy my books/comic books and the books/comic books of my fellow writers involved in our own humble little attempt at mining gold out of the cold, hard mountains we call Crazy 8 Press and Charlton. But unlike Fred C. Dobbs, I’m trying awfully hard not to take advantage of your good will and generosity...and, also unlike the hapless prospector, if you do decide to drop that peso in my cup, you’re getting something in return beyond the warm glow of a good deed done: I hope you’ll find that you’ve exchanged your hard-earned cash for a damned good read, either by me or by fellow Crazy 8 inmates, Michael Jan Friedman, Aaron Rosenberg, Bob Greenberger, Russ Colchamiro, Glenn Hauman, Peter David, and Howard Weinstein, and fellow Neophytes Roger McKenzie, Mort Todd, and too many great and generous creators to list here.

Charlton Neo creators and Crazy 8 authors don’t take our readers for granted, of that I can assure you. I’ve been a writer in the public eye for almost four decades, during which I’ve attended I don’t know how many scores of conventions and book fairs, probably in the hundreds if I bothered to count, and never once has my reaction to a reader or fan who has approached me with something I’ve written to be signed or a hand to shake been anything but a grateful “thank you!” Just this past weekend, I was a guest at the Baltimore Comic-Con where one hyper-apologetic fan stopped me in my wanderings around the convention floor to tell me how much he’d enjoyed my work over the years, repeating how he hated to bother me, but would I mind signing his book...?

What I said to him was the honest truth: He had nothing to apologize for and not only was it not a bother, but I was happy and honored to do it. I know how I feel when I get to meet someone whose work I admire. I also know how it feels to have an admirer tell me what my work has meant to them. It is, quite simply, a win-win situation: One of us has met someone we admire; the other has had the satisfaction of hearing that what we’ve written has touched that reader.

Because without our readers, we’re just a bunch of weirdos hunched over our word processors and drawing boards in the basement, talking to no one.

So even if you don’t have a peso to spare at the moment but you’ve ever enjoyed anything I (or Mike or Aaron or Bob or Russ or the rest of us) have written, or if one of our stories has touched you or made a difference in your world, you can still do a solid for a fellow American by helping us spread the word about Charlton Neo, Pix-C, and Crazy 8 Press.

Share our blogs and websitex. Follow us on social media. Talk about us on Twitter; re-Tweet our Tweets. Mention us on Facebook, “Like” the our Facebook pages, “Share” the posts of Neo and Crazy 8 creators, or do whatever it is you do on Tumblr or whatever form of social media you kids are on these days. Tell your friends. Hell, tell your enemies!

And if you’re flush and can support us with your dollars to buy our books and comics, print or digital editions, let people know what you’ve read and what you think of it. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or better yet, write a quick review on Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com, or post it on your own blog or website. What’s better than a recommendation of a good read from a friend?

We’d like your money, sure, but we’re just as grateful for your moral support and your efforts at word of mouth to spread the word. Support us with the knowledge that the advantage of your support accrues not to some faceless behemoth of a corporate publisher but directly to the creators themselves!

Fred C. Dobbs may not have looked his benefactor in the face, but know full well that the Charlton and Crazy 8 creators do and appreciate everything you do for us, whether it’s buying our books or posting a link to our website. It takes a lot of time, energy, and sweat to write a book or create a comic book, and just as much to see it through to publication. Which reminds me of one last quote from Sierra Madre, this one spoken by grizzled old prospector Howard (Walter Houston):
A thousand men, say, go searchin' for gold. After six months, one of them's lucky: one out of a thousand. His find represents not only his own labor, but that of nine hundred and ninety-nine others to boot. That's six thousand months, five hundred years, scramblin' over a mountain, goin' hungry and thirsty. An ounce of gold, mister, is worth what it is because of the human labor that went into the findin' and the gettin' of it.” 

So, yeah, even if you’ve already handed over a peso or two (or three or four!) to me, I’ll be back in your face soon enough, asking for a handout...but in return, I’ll try my damnedest to entertain you. As will the rest of the Charlton Neo and Crazy 8 gangs, so I hope you’ll forgive our impudence.
© Paul Kupperberg

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Paul Kupperberg's Secret Romances #1 On Sale Now!

February 3, 2015

 “Happily Ever After” Ain’t What it Used to Be!
Following on the heels of the successful launch of The Charlton Arrow, Charlton Neo Media (under the direction of Editor-In-Chief Mort Todd, Executive Editor Paul Kupperberg, Managing Editor Roger McKenzie, and Assistant Editor Dan Johnson) is proud to present its newest title, Paul Kupperberg’s Secret Romances #1, the first issue of a two-issue miniseries,

With a cover by legendary artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (himself a veteran of the classic Charlton Comics romance comics line), Paul Kupperberg’s Secret Romances #1 is 36-page, full-color comic book featuring four comic and one text tale of love and romance in the 21st century, written by Paul Kupperberg, the Harvey, Eisner, and GLAAD Media Award nominated writer behind the Summer 2014 blockbuster “Death of Archie” story line and the young adult novel Kevin (Grossett & Dunlap), featuring the coming of age story of the first gay character in Archie Comics history:

“You Have the Right to Remain Smitten!”  Two cops, one squad car, and the proof absolute that familiarity breeds contempt. Or does it? Art by Pat and Tim Kennedy and Jeff Austin.
“The Man With A Copy of ‘The Catcher In The Rye’”  Before suitors could exchange photos on the internet, first meetings were fraught with anxiety...especially for a young woman who feels all first meetings are doomed. A text story, illustrated by Rob Kelly

“Cybermatch.com”  You don’t always get who you want, but sometimes you get who you need. An internet dating site provides Carl with a very different girl of his dreams. Art by P.D. Angel Gabriele
“Forget Me Not”  It’s never too late to find love, and the introduction of Rose and Darren leave the senior citizens feeling as though they’ve known one other forever. Art by Dærick Gröss Sr.
“Men Like Henry Bertram”  Judge and Mrs. Crowley are pillars of their 1950s era community who will stand for no deviations...certainly not the sort practiced by men like Henry Bertram. Art by Pat and Tim Kennedy and Bob Smith.

Paul Kupperberg’s Secret Romances #1 is not available in stores, only by mail order through our homepage http://morttodd.com/secrom1.html or from Amazon.com, $6.99 + shipping for the print edition at https://www.createspace.com/5259448, or $2.99 for the digital Kindle edition at http://amzn.to/1vq78Jd.

Be sure to visit the Charlton Neo website for all the latest news and information on Charlton Neo, Or follow us on Facebook (Facebook.com/groups/CharltonNeo/ ) and Twitter (@CharltonNeo).

E-Man: Appreciation and Inspiration

by Darren Goodhart

This all started while I was working on a new drawing featuring the character Liberty Belle. As most Charlton fans know, Liberty Belle made her first appearance in the back pages of E-Man (#5 to be exact) in her one-and-only appearance (so far) by writer Joe Gill and artist Steve Ditko. As I was working on the piece, it got me to thinking about all of the characters that appeared in the pages of E-Man, which led me to thinking about a “dream” project that I think most Charlton fans wouldve loved to see back in the day: an E-Man annual that would feature all of the characters who had appeared in the book.

Before I get too far ahead though, I have to admit, I was sort of a latecomer to Charlton Comics when I was a kid. My brother wasnt and I distinctly remember him getting copies of Charltons Hee-Haw comic, the Partridge Family book, the Bugaloos comic, and George Wildmans incredible work on Charltons run on Popeye. I, of course, was looking over those books and in particular loved Wildmans Popeye (even eventually teaching myself to draw Popeye by copying Wildmans work), but still I always hesitated buying anything from them for a couple of reasons; 1) I was pretty much concentrating on DC and Marvel comics, and 2) my Dad put a limit on how many comics I could buy in a week: two.
One week though, I was in the grocery store where I regularly bought my comics, and there wasnt really anything that was particularly appealing to me from the Big Two and I saw a couple of these E-Man comics from Charlton (#6 and #9). I flipped through the books and though the art was a little more cartoony than what I was used to, I thought “What the heck…” and picked them up.

Well, I absolutely loved them!  E-Man and his girlfriend Nova Kane were really cool and friendly characters and the stories by writer Nicola Cuti were just a lot of fun. I really started to love Joe Statons artwork the more I kept looking at it and I was just absolutely enchanted. On top of all of that, both issues featured back-up stories with this odd robot cab driver called Rog-2000, written by the aforementioned Mr. Cuti and drawn by another artist I had never heard of, John Byrne. Again, I was just enchanted as could be.

Now, I was always drawing when I was a kid and I started off by copying pictures out of comics in pencil on some really cheap paper that my Dad used to bring me. By the time Id picked up these copies of E-Man, I started to use a black Flair pen to ink my drawings and I was going further and coloring them with colored pencils. I started to create my own comics and one of the very first things I ever did was a little 9-page E-Man story with E-Man (flying solo) in a rematch with the Brain/Genius villain (sorry, the characters name escapes me) from E-Man #9. I was in the habit of starting a comics story and never really finishing it, but this one was different. I was just excited drawing this thing and I went on and actually completed it (and I wish like crazy that I still had it; Id certainly show it if I did).

Eventually, I managed to find more issues of E-Man over time, though some of them still escaped me. I didnt discover the back-ups featuring The Knight, Travis, and Liberty Belle until just a few years ago, thanks to the Diversions of the Groovy Kind blog. I look back now at that time in Charlton and comics history and there really wasnt anything like E-Man out there from anyone. Oh sure, you certainly had super-hero comics, but nothing like the tongue-in-cheek adventures of E-Man and Nova, and yet those stories also contained some great thrilling parts and some real poignant moments. The back-up stories were always trying something new and you think of the range of stories--the gritty adventure of super-agent Link Chain, The Knight, the light fantasy of the time-traveler Travis, broad super-heroics with the star-spangled Liberty Belle, the even broader adventures of Steve Ditkos silent crime fighter Killjoy, and the wacky situations faced by Rog-2000 faced...this was fun stuff!

As Ive gotten older, I find more inspiration from that original run of E-Man. There was a real go-for-broke attitude with that title and while it might seem quaint in comparison to the world-shattering, constantly character re-defining moments that we see in comics today, I dont think thats a bad thing at all. In fact, I think its just the thing we need a little more in our comics today.

Consider this a huge salute to Joe Staton, Nicola Cuti, John Byrne, Steve Ditko, Joe Gill, Tom Sutton, and Wayne Howard for the terrific work they provided on that original run. This inspired me at the age of 13 and its still inspiring me today at the age of 52...and Id bet that Im not the only one.
© Darren Goodhart