Hey Everyone! It’s Andy Larson here as always. Your loyal GotS Host with the Most rounding out our coverage of SDCC 2020 aka the Year that everyone got to attend the most famous Comic Con in the world because COVID made folks rethink the entire notion of massive social gatherings. So again we got SDCC@Home which if you listened to our podcast this week, you should have gotten a lot of great highlights from this year’s event given we covered all of the days.
Of course there were some things that even our podcast didn’t get to cover, so I thought I’d take today’s article to highlight a couple last minute items that I thought were of interest to those folks that in particular follow my batch of articles here at Gotstratosphere.
Star Wars Adventures Relaunch
As many of you that follow my articles know, this year has been knee deep in Star Wars around the Larson House, as my kids have become more obsessed with the property that I could have thought was possible in my wildest dreams. That’s why I was particular happy to hear the news that Disney and IDW was relaunching their Star Wars comic line aimed specifically at children and young adults entitled “Star Wars Adventures”.
I’m not sure why it’s being called a “relaunch” given the series has been running successfully as a monthly book since 2017, but perhaps it’s being given new focus with the brand new creators they have gotten lined up for it. Or else, Disney is taking the “Marvel” approach to comics in every couple of years starting over with issue #1 as to attract new readers. I’ll say it again, if you didn’t make issue numbers such a prominent thing in comics, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but I digress.
I can say that the relaunch worked for us, because after buying the first 10 or so issues, I did fall off this series. But now that my kids are in full on Star Wars mode and we have this opportunity to start fresh, they are extremely excited to start shelling out their chore money for more adventures from a Galaxy Far, Far Away.
In closing as a follow up from the podcast this week, I did want to post a picture of the awesome Francesco Francavilla cover that will be coming out with the Star Wars Adventures one shot this Halloween entitled Shadow of Vader’s Castle. Man, I don’t care what Stew says, I love this guy’s art!
New Mst3k Short
As a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, there was any earth shattering revelations from SDCC 2020 such as a brand new season of the show or something. However, we did get some interesting news that show creator, Joel Hodgson, is attempting to fund raise money to help the Minneapolis-based Native American youth organization MIGIZI, which saw its main facility burned during the anti-racism protests earlier this summer.
In order to sweeten the pot a bit, Joel has enlisted fellow MST3k alumni, Bill Corbett, who played Crow T. Robot during the Sci-Fi Channel seasons as well as his extensive work on RiffTrax, and J. Elvis Weinstein, who was the original voice of Tom Servo during the show’s first season as well as played Dr. Erhardt, one of the original Mads. The three pledged to film a brand new MST3k short with silhouettes, bots, and everything if the goal of $10,000 could be reached, with a second if $20,000 was met. I’m happy to report that as of the time of this article, the MSTies came out in force for this worthy cause and both goals were absolutely clobbered!
As such, not only did we get that sanctification of doing some right for those in need, but we will be rewarded with some brand new riffs on the shorts including “A Busy Day at the County Fair” which will be posted on the official MST3k website. This is a real treat for fans given this is a Host/Bots pairing that we have yet to see, as Bill has never worked as Crow along side Joel and J. Elvis.
If you are late to the party but still want to contribute, please visit this website to donate!
For those of you that listen to the podcast, it should be no surprise that I have fully embraced the future of comics (and other print for that matter), and really have become a discipline of the digital. Armed with my Comixology subscription and my faithful tablet, I’ve digested so many comics both old and new with over the past couple of years this way, that it definitely my preferred reading method.
As such I’m always on the look out for great new books that are available only in this way, and often times it’s the annual Eisner awards that give me a clue as to which ones I might have missed that I need to put on the top of my read pile. This year was no exception as I’ll be checking out Afterlift from Chip Zdarsky and acclaimed artist Jason Loo.
As described by good old Chip himself, this 5 issue story is something like a modern retelling of the classic Greek myths about traveling into the Underworld of Death and having to pay Charon the Ferryman to sail you across the River Styx. The twist with this book is that instead of a boat, it’s a Lyft style ride sharing car being pursued by hell spawned bounty hunters, demons, and all kinds Mad Max-esque rejects from the life beyond.
I will say that I have picked up the first issue as a result, and find it a delightfully mad cap mix of Death Race 2000 and Dante’s Inferno. I can already see that Chip’s wonderful insights into the human condition such as dealing with the notions of mortality, loss, and forgiveness already shining through and his main protagonist in the driver, Janice, really is a super interesting character to follow on this journey of what I can only call “spiritual enlightenment…zero to sixty”.
Despite being released last year, I once again thank the Eisner’s for giving me a clue about some terrific comics that I might have missed otherwise.
Louise Simonson’s Power Pack
Speaking of the Eisner’s, out of all of the Hall of Fame inductees for the class of 2020, the one that stood out the most for me personally, was comic book writer Louise Simonson. As mentioned on the podcast, I’ve been a pretty huge fan of her work for some time such as her runs on X-Factor and Superman, leading up to the famous “Death”.
However, what his induction has done for me, is make me fully realize that I have not read arguably one of our most famous creations in the Marvel Universe in The Power Pack. That sounds weird given I was pretty much the target audience for this book when it was being released back in the mid 80s given the characters were kids like me. Plus the book prided itself in dealing with subjects that genuinely affected children such as bullying, runaways, homelessness, death of parents, and dealing with those that had drug addictions.
But I can remember seeing this book on the newsstands and seeing all the child characters, and immediately saying in my mind “Oh that’s just a kiddie book”, even at 8 years old. Heck, I was a kiddie, but even then I didn’t want to have anything to do with comic that starred children because I thought it was too “young” for me. It turns out I was completely wrong as it was I pretty serious book dealing with pretty serious topics. Heck, in 1984, they released a special one shot issue that dealt directly with the topic of sexual abuse among children, and that’s definitely one of the most serious subjects out there.
Running for 62 issues with Louise writing pretty much the majority of them up to issue 41, there’s been some recent re-interest in the series as a possible show on Disney+ given it’s a Marvel property specifically again aimed at children. As such, some of the back issues have started to go up in price recently. Luckily for me, I have a buddy that is willing to mail me a copy of his Power Pack Omnibus, so don’t be surprised that once I get it, a read pile of the adventures of Alex, Julie, Jack and Katie Power might be just around the corner!
And that’s it! This article coupled with the our tremendous coverage via the podcast this week should give our fans highlights of everything we at least feel is worthy enough to report. So in closing I did want to provide some final thoughts on the whole experiment that was SDCC @Home.
I mean the SDCC folks sure had a challenge on their hands when COVID reared its ugly head, but I think the decision to hold virtual events and open the Con up to the general public in such an inclusive, professional way should give a lot of other show runners confidence that even in these difficult times, there are still ways to get the comic and pop culture fan bases galvanized for the upcoming releases and more importantly sell out those almighty dollars when they do finally see the light of day.
Does this whole experience compete with actually going to a con? No, not in the least. There aren’t the waves of cosplayers, the circus type atmosphere of getting to rub elbows and shake hands with fans from all walks of life, the deals on cheap trades and back issues, the personal one on one interviews with creators, and so much more than the Con experience provides first hand for those that go there personally. But in this year of 2020, when so much of that stuff isn’t possible, I think this online event did give us all a little hope that sooner or later, things will be better and that we can once again sit around and debate whether the Snyder cut is the best thing since sliced bread instead of worrying whether we will come down with a life threatening virus.
And as someone that had multiple Cons on his calendar this year, I can say that I’m hoping that NYCC takes a similar approach with their Con instead of holding it in person. Sure, I would have definitely would have liked to flaunt my press pass at NYCC as I would have done the same at 3 Rivers Con, Terrific Con, and Baltimore Comic Con. But that is just a pipe dream now. We have to live in the reality that we probably won’t see a Comic Con in person until late 2021 at the very earliest.
So I say to those Cons, get off the pot already and take a cue from SDCC and organize an online event. I will say that if there are any out there looking for volunteers to hold some online panels, I will throw my hat into the ring to host one. Free of charge. I can’t speak for the rest of the Ghosts of the Stratosphere, but if it will help to have community support like this, I’m game!
But until those other Cons step up and organize, here are some past recaps that our show has done of previous Comic Cons that we have been lucky enough to attend. Again it might not be the same as actually going there for some of you, but we got some great interviews with some great comic book talents. So click on the links below, close your eyes, and imagine you are in that Deadpool or Harley Quinn costume walking around those Con alleys when you happen to hear the Ghosts of the Stratosphere in the distance talking to these terrific creators about the stuff comic dreams are made of!