Monday, March 22, 2021

Virtual visit verdict

Well, a verdict, anyway: thumb’s up (whether the Zoom icon or your actual flesh-and-blood digit). 

In the shell-shocked early months of COVID-19, schools struggled simply to educate their students under difficult new conditions that felt sudden though epidemiologists (among others) knew such a situation was coming. 

Understandably for many schools, booking optional enrichment like author visits was not a priority—or, in some cases, a possibility. 

A year later, as the pandemic still rages, schools in general seem more open to the idea of piping in an author talk via the internet. (Granted, Skype author visits have existed almost as long as Skype has, but commonly as a backup, not the first choice.)

During COVID-19, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with students in a range of locales, from New Mexico to Hong Kong. While I am eager to return to in-person gatherings, I’ve found a lot to love about virtual visits and imagine they’ll remain a part of my portfolio past mass vaccination. 

Feedback on November presentations I gave for Michigan students in grades 1-6 (rescheduled as virtual after the virus torpedoed the originally planned in-person visit) helps explain why:

  • “Wonderful virtual presentation! Even from a distance, the author was able to connect and engage my class! Fantastic opportunity!”—teacher in New Buffalo, MI
  • “The opportunity to do something different was appreciated.”—teacher at F.C. Reed Middle School, Bridgman, MI
  • “The virtual author visit…was very cool. The students were excited to meet Marc Nobleman and were intrigued by his stories and how much time and effort went into creating his works. Definitely worth the time!”—Principal Patrick Zuccala, Three Oaks Elementary, Three Oaks, MI

Thanks again to the Tri-County Reading Council and a generous grant from the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians for making this experience a (virtual) reality.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

"Zack Snyder's Justice League" creator credits

I'm not here to weigh in on this four-hour grimdark Justice League (though I kind of just did) except in three non-spoiler ways:

  1. On one level I think it's great that the voices of fans carry so much weight and helped get this movie made. At the same time I hope if this film is a success, it doesn't further prioritize commerce over art.
  2. I was disappointed (but of course not surprised) that we did not get to see a backup team of Lois Lane, Commissioner Gordon, Mera, Iris West, Silas Stone, and the ghost of Steve Trevor, with Alfred as Oracle. 
  3. As always with DC movies, I'm almost as interested in the creator credits as the film itself. Here they are for ZSJL:


  2. Similarly, three other names should be in the Wonder Woman credit line: Elizabeth Holloway Marston, Olive Byrne, and H.G. Peter. That's a Finger-level injustice that should be corrected.
  3. Aquaman and Cyborg both receive creator credit in comic books that those characters headline, but not here. Aquaman was created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger (though for some reason only Norris is in the official credit line). Cyborg was created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez. All four of those creator names are on the "Special Thanks" list, but I don't know why they weren't credited specifically for their characters the way the creators of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were. 
  4. I also don't know why there is a huge gap between the credits for Justice League of America, Batman, and Wonder Woman and the credit for Fourth World. Yes, the former three are household names, but I don't recall such odd spacing in other DC film credits.
  5. So nice to see the names Jerry Robinson (co-creator of Dick Grayson/Robin and the Joker) and Carmine Infantino (co-creator of Barry Allen/Flash), both of whom were heroes of my Bill Finger research and neither of whom are officially credited in print.
  6. In print, the awkward "By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family" line immediately follows "Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster." In this film, Superman is the only character whose creators are listed in the opening credits, and while I don't like the "arrangement" line, it seems even weirder so removed from its usual partner.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Comic book pages/panels that have stayed with me

Here are some of the comic book pages that lodged in my head when I was young (or sometimes simply younger) and have not left. I'm arbitrarily ending with the early 2000s.

Why these? Sometimes because of the words (if so, I've indicated), sometimes the art, sometimes both. Sometimes just one panel on the page. Though these are some of my favorite moments, not all of these are necessarily my favorite stories, nor are they all iconic stories.

If any more float to the surface of my nostalgia, I will add them.

Bold = last page of the story (added pressure to be memorable!).

Justice League of America #144, 1977
writer Steve Englehart, penciler Dick Dillin

The Brave and the Bold #145, 1978
writer Bob Kanigher, penciler Jim Aparo
The Phantom Stranger loses his hat! First time?

Showcase #100, 1978
writers Paul Levitz and Paul Kupperberg, penciler Joe Staton

Showcase #100

Super Friends #25, 1979
writer E. Nelson Bridwell, penciler Ramona Fradon

Super Friends #28, 1979
writer E. Nelson Bridwell, penciler Ramona Fradon

Justice League of America #200, 1981
writer Gerry Conway, penciler Pat Broderick

Justice League of America #200
penciler George Pérez

DC Special Series #27: Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk, 1981
writer Len Wein, penciler José Luis García-López

World's Finest #269, 1981
writer Gerry Conway, penciler Rich Buckler

The Brave and the Bold #192, 1982
writer Mike W. Barr, penciler Jim Aparo
the flashlight/x-ray vision panel

The Brave and the Bold #196, 1982
writer Bob Kanigher, penciler Jim Aparo

The Brave and the Bold #196

The Flash #327, 1983
writer Cary Bates, penciler Carmine Infantino
"This is my decision."

Justice League of America Annual #1, 1983
writers Paul Levitz and Len Wein, penciler Rick Hoberg

Justice League of America #223, 1983
writer Gerry Conway, penciler Chuck Patton
"The end, reptile."

Justice League of America #223

Crisis on Infinite Earths #2, 1985
writer Marv Wolfman, penciler George Pérez
"Dear God—what is happening?"

Crisis on Infinite Earths #5

Crisis on Infinite Earths #7
"But we...but we had a casualty."

Crisis on Infinite Earths #7
"And I grieve."

Superman Annual #11, 1985
writer Alan Moore, penciler Dave Gibbons

Superman Annual #11

Superman Annual #11

DC Comics Presents #85, 1985
writer Alan Moore, penciler Rick Veitch
"The Man of Tomorrow is heading south to die."

Batman #405 (Year One), 1987
writer Frank Miller, penciler Dave Mazzucchelli
"You have eaten well."

World's Finest #3, 1990
writer Dave Gibbons, artists Steve Rude and Karl Kesel

World's Finest #3, 1990

World's Finest #3, 1990
(see similar Aquaman pose in Aquaman: Time & Tide #1, below)

The Flash #54, 1991
writer William Messner-Loebs, penciler Greg LaRocque
"I can't fly. I'm just a guy who runs fast."

Aquaman: Time & Tide #1, 1993
writer Peter David, penciler Kirk Jarvinen
(see similar Superman pose in World's Finest #3, above)

The Batman Adventures Holiday Special #1, 1994
writers Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, penciler Bruce Timm

Batman Annual #18, 1995
writer Doug Moench, penciler Frederico Cueva
(who says comics aren't educational?)

The Flash #107, 1995
writer Mark Waid, penciler Oscar Jimenez

Green Arrow #100, 1995
writer Chuck Dixon, penciler Jim Aparo

Justice League: A Midsummer's Nightmare #2, 1996
writers Mark Waid and Fabian Nicieza, penciler Darick Robertson

Justice League: A Midsummer's Nightmare #2

JLA #3, 1996
writer Grant Morrison, penciler Howard Porter
"I know your secret."

Nightwing Annual #1, 1996
writer Devin Grayson, penciler Greg Land

JLA #6, 1997
writer Grant Morrison, penciler Howard Porter

JLA #21, 1998
writer Mark Waid, penciler Arnie Jorgensen

JLA in Crisis: Secret Files & Origins, 1998
"Origin Story: The Flash's Infinite Crises"
writer Tom Peyer, penciler Rags Morales
"It's called the human condition, my friend...
and I don't get it either."

JLA Showcase 80-Page Giant, 1999
"Communications Error"
writer Dwayne McDuffie, penciler Gordon Purcell

Superman: War of the Worlds, 1999
writer Roy Thomas, penciler Michael Lark

The Titans #14, 2000
writer Devin Grayson and Brian K. Vaughan, penciler Cully Hamner

The Titans #14
"Thank you, fearless leader."

Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity #3, 2003
writer/penciler Matt Wagner

Aquaman #13, 2003
writer John Ostrander, penciler Jim Fern