Tag Archives: Comics

A Crafty Avengers-Themed Birthday Surprise

First things first: Tomorrow is the Northeast Ohio Arthritis Foundation’s annual Fall fundraiser L’Amour du Vin and I have a giveaway winner to announce for it.

After removing one pingback and placing the entries in Random.org, we have a winner:

Congratulations to entry #14 – Katie K. Email me at clueintocleveland (at) gmail (dot) and I’ll let you know how to redeem your tickets for tomorrow night’s event.

If you still need to purchase tickets for Lorain County’s premier wine and food tasting event, get them before it’s too late. L’Amour du Vin will take place tomorrow night from 6-9pm at the Avon Oaks Country Club. General admission is $60; $90 for the VIP Lounge. Learn more and purchase tickets at http://lamourduvin2012.eventbrite.com.

Now onto today’s primary business:

Cheers to you, Scott – Happy 30th!

Behind most of the photos taken on this blog is a fantastically silly, sweet, not-so-subtle and all-around swell guy: the one and only Scott T. Hicken.  And today’s a day of celebration in our household because Scott turns 30 (I know, I’m robbing the cradle).

All Scott wanted for his birthday this year was the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One Collector’s Set, complete with the briefcase and Teseract cube from Avengers. But then this happened, leading to a change in packaging and release date tentatively scheduled for Spring 2013.

Birthday Fail!

So I got crafty:

Take one and a half shoeboxes, some electrical tape and a pair of scissors…

…print out a couple of S.H.I.E.L.D. logos…

…glue it all together and – voila – my (very) makeshift take on the Avengers briefcase:

Add in a few gifts and a note from Scott’s favorite no longer deceased S.H.I.E.L.D. agent about a certain cosmic cube…

…and you have one mostly salvaged birthday.

The only thing that’ll make it better is when the full collector’s set does come out and Scott gets his actual birthday gift. In the meantime, we’ll be watching the Avengers Blu-ray that Amazon kindly sent to everyone who pre-ordered the collector’s set (EXCELLENT customer service move, by the way, Amazon!).

Happy birthday, Scott!

Among many, many other things, thanks for sharing your love of comic books with me and getting me back into something I was obsessed with as a kid.  And thanks for always putting up with this blog and me in general.

At the risk of crossing my Marvel film references, you’re my own Mr. Fantastic.

(Feel free to send your birthday wishes to Scott on Twitter @Husbanonymous.)

CLE Reads: Harvey Pekar's Cleveland

Even Chloe likes to curl up with a good book

Growing up, I always looked forward to September because it meant one thing: back to school (I was am a nerd). And besides seeing my friends and picking out supplies, I loved going back to school because with the new year I got a new reading list for English class (even bigger nerd).

As soon as I’d get home with those books in my hands, I’d read through them as quickly as possible even though most of the assigned reading wouldn’t be covered for months. Nothing could relax me after a day of school as well as it could.

Somewhere along the line, though, I stopped making as much time to read and without this escape my stress levels went up. Because I could use some relaxation in my life right now, I’ve decided to start a new project on my blog.

Cleveland has many interesting authors that call this city home and in an attempt to not just destress but also learn more about their work, I’m going to be reading and then blogging about a different Cleveland book each month.

When Scott first gifted me a few weeks ago with this month’s book, I immediately knew it had to be the “CLE Read” I started things off with. Written by one of my favorite Clevelanders and one of comics’ finest writers, it had been on my to-read lists for months.

Harvey Pekar (Image source: Wikimedia Commons, author: Davidkphoto)

A couple years back on July 12, 2010, the world of comics and Cleveland lost one of its greatest. Since 1976 when he published the first issue of American Splendor, Harvey Pekar became a pioneer of autobiographical comics.

He wrote about everyday life in the Midwest as a working-class man. It may have often been disgruntled and curmudgeonly, but it was always honest.

And in 1994, he co-authored Our Cancer Year with his wife Joyce Brabner, which chronicled his struggle to overcome cancer and won the Harvey Award for best original graphic novel.

Pekar was also a lifelong resident of Cleveland – a city that seemed to have been perfectly made for him (or was it the other way around?). Go watch Bourdain’s Cleveland episode and you’ll see “Our Man” (I also recommend reading Bourdain’s The Original tribute).

This April, two years after his death, Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland was published. One of the works he was busy with before his death, this uncompromising graphic novel is a look at the city’s history – starting with its settlement in the late 18th century through the 1960s.

Not one to shy away from the city’s ugly side, Pekar covers things like the city’s race riots, economic downfall and even the reluctance at its founding for people to settle here (an interesting echo of residents’ flight from the city proper over a century later).

However, mixed within this are retellings of some of the city’s accomplishments and bright moments. As he writes at one point in response to people who avoid Cleveland: “This is a shame, as Cleveland has more things to recommend it than most cities its size: an outstanding art museum, a world-class orchestra, top notch hospitals, attractive parks, major league sports.”

Page from Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland (Image source: topshelfcomix.com, illustrated by Joseph Remnant)

In the vein of his other autobiographical works for which he’s so critically acclaimed, Cleveland intertwines stories of Harvey Pekar’s life within his history of the city.  And just like Cleveland, Pekar’s life was marked by ups, downs and the mundane. From memories of living in Coventry to his two divorces before marrying Brabner, I love the eloquent matter-of-factness found in both the good and the bad.

My favorite part about the book though is that it offers a glimpse into Pekar’s life at the end.  His sudden death came as a surprise and reading about each day’s routine of gardening, listening to the Diane Rehm show and working on a few of the writing projects he had going on helps say goodbye. He also dedicates a beautifully-drawn full page to the Cleveland Public Library where he spends his day and which he pointedly observes was “built in an era when Cleveland businessmen had plenty of money and were willing to spend it on the public.”

Cleveland ends with Pekar ruminating on what’s going to happen next with the city. He references the Medical Mart which at the time of his death had still not broken ground.  And even though it’s tinged with skepticism, his last words hold an air of optimism and hope.

At 120 pages, Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland is a short read but one you can go back to everytime you find yourself missing Pekar or wanting a straightforward perspective about our city. It’s also bookended by an introduction from Alan Moore, the legendary writer of Watchmen and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and a tribute by Jimi Izrael, a legend in his own right as the Harvey Pekar scholar.

While Pekar’s most well-known for collaborating with artists like Robert Crumb, Gerry Shamray, and Joe Zabel, he selected Joseph Remnant to illustrate Cleveland. Remnant had illustrated stories for SMITH Magazine’s PEKAR PROJECT and although he’s from LA, was clearly thorough in his research for his illustrations.  He captures Pekar and historic figures pretty dead-on and the final 3-panel page of Tower City in a snowstorm sums up how I’d like to remember Cleveland if I had to move away.

“Yeah, had plenty of good days…” – opening words of Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland was co-published by Zip Comics and Top Shelf. Scott picked up my copy at Comics Are Go, though you could probably find or order it from many of the area’s local comic shops and bookstores like Visible Voice or Mac’s Backs-Books (which even has its own cameo in the book). You can also order it online from Top Shelf.

***

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’ll be back each month with another CLE Read. October’s read will be the recently released mystery novel Whiskey Island by Les Roberts. 

If you’ve read or are interested in reading one of these books, leave a comment or send me an email at clueintocleveland (at) gmail (dot) com.  Same goes if you have a suggestion for a Cleveland book I should clue into.

Comic-Con Guest Blogging at The Creation of Adam

 

For those of you who know me outside of my blog, you’ll know that in addition to my love of Cleveland, there are a handful of other hobbies that I’m passionate about.  Probably at the top of this list, though, is my love of comic books and graphic novels. Scott and I have our Wednesday ritual of picking up the new releases from ASTOUND! in Westlake.  At antique stores and flea markets, we usually end up sorting through the piles of old comics.  And the majority of my office at home is filled with my collection of Incredible Hulk and She-Hulk toys, as well as my Marvel Mighty Muggs. 

Although I was previously able to combine my love of Cleveland and comics into a post on Free Comic Book Day, I knew that when I traveled to the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, a post about our convention roadtrip would probably not have a relevant home on Clue Into Cleveland.  However, thanks to my friend Adam, who kindly offered me the chance to guest blog on his site, I was able to finally find a home for my review of C2E2.

And so you can now check out my post – Comic-Con, C2E2 and Joe Quesada’s Nerd Rock – on his site The Creation of Adam. In addition to my post, you’ll find Adam’s perspective on all things pop culture and entertainment.

Comics in CLE: Drawing Them Together

A store locator for Free Comic Book Day can be found at www.freecomicbookday.com.

The first Saturday of May is a national holiday for comic fans.  Free Comic Book Day is the one day during the year when participating comic book shops the world over give away free comic books to anyone who visits their stores.

It’s a day to celebrate the independent comic shops in your area and the communities of comic book fans they unite.  From mainstream publishers to independent comics, a large variety of comic books are offered. When Free Comic Book Day rolls around, I’ll be at ASTOUND! Comics’ event at the Westlake Porter Public Library [updated with details for 2011 Free Comic Book Day event].  The knowledge of the guys at ASTOUND!, as well as their selection of individual issues, graphic novels and trade paperbacks has never disappointed Scott and me since we started shopping there a couple of years ago.

In honor of Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day, I figured I’d take a look at a few ways the world of comics meets the City of Cleveland. From characters found in mainstream books by Marvel and DC, to the Sunday strips and underground comics, there are many ways that Cleveland connects with comic fans.

True Believers can get their fictional Cleveland fix by reading Marvel’s Howard the Duck. Originally hailing from Duckworld – a planet in an alternate dimension that strongly resembles Earth, Howard lands in Cleveland after battling a demon focused on collapsing all of the universes into one.  Although Howard may not be too thrilled about it, he has since made his home here. And although the portrayal of Cleveland in the Marvel comic book is highly fictionalized, mentions of familiar sites – such as Case Western, Hopkins International Airport, the Cuyahoga River and the downtown Justice Center – make the occasional appearance.

Siegel's house at 10622 Kimberley Ave.

On the other hand, Cleveland finds a very real place in the DC Nation.  Superman, the Man of Steel himself, was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster in 1932 when they were both living in Cleveland.  Although the ownership of Superman has led to numerous disputes between DC Comics and the Siegel and Shuster families, there is no denying the character had its birth in Siegel’s Cleveland home near the intersection of East 105th Street and St. Clair Avenue. The nonprofit Siegel and Shuster Society raised funds to fix the roof and make other repairs to the home.  And last year during the Screaming Tiki Con, a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated the restoration.  As a private residence, it’s not a museum to visit; however, visitors can stop by the house and see the newly installed fence with a Superman logo and plaque to commemorate the comic book history that happened there.

The Sunday comics find their home in the Cleve through cartoonist Bill Watterson — Clevelander and creator of the influential Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.  For the uninitiated, Calvin and Hobbes is set in an unnamed Midwestern suburb and follows the imaginative adventures of a boy named Calvin and his trusty tiger Hobbes. In addition to smart and engaging storytelling, Watterson told these tales in a redesigned Sunday format that permitted more panel flexibility. After a 10-year run, Watterson ended the strip in 1995 saying he did what he could “within the constraints of daily deadlines and small panels.”  Watterson continues to live in the Cleveland area, having originally moved to Chagrin Falls when he was six years old (the same age as Calvin). Although he usually keeps out of the public eye,  Watterson recently granted a very rare interview (believed to be the first since 1989) to the Cleveland Plain Dealer marking the 15th anniversary of the end of Calvin and Hobbes.

The graphic novel Harvey Pekar's CLEVELAND will be out next summer.

Another more visible comic legend also made his home in Cleveland.   Underground comic hero Harvey Pekar lived on the Eastside in Cleveland Heights. His autobiographical American Splendor series (made into the movie of the same name) traces Pekar’s everyday life in Cleveland.  And it was his philosophy ‘comics are words and pictures. You can do anything with words and pictures’ that makes his stories about the mundane a fresh alternative to typical mainstream fantasy and genre books.  Taking the Cleveland connection even further, it was recently announced that Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND will be available in Summer of 2011.  This 120+ page graphic novel written by Pekar will incorporate moments from Cleveland history like the Indians’ 1948 World Series win and the burning river into his usual autobiographical fare.

Whether it’s mainstream comics, independent storytelling or the Sunday funny pages, there’s a bit of Cleveland to be found in it all.   And with Free Comic Book Day, local comic book stores are giving the opportunity to explore more of it.

 

Comics 411:

Free Comic Book Day
Comic Book Store Locator
Free Comic Books Available on FCBD

ASTOUND! Comics
Location and Hours

Siegel and Shuster Society
SupermanLand
Siegel and Shuster on Facebook

Harvey Pekar
Who is Harvey Pekar? – WKSU 89.7
Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND