Traditions of baseball, comic books, and film

I lost a dollar this week. A blogger I know bet that no one would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and regrettably, he was right. Even allowing the “punishment” of those who allegedly took performance-enhancing drugs, there were plenty of qualified candidates (starting pitcher Jack Morris, the totally undervalued reliever Lee Smith, for two). This was an unfortunate outcome, and not so incidentally, will be lousy for tourism in Cooperstown this year.

Now, ironically, baseball will be expanding its drug-testing program.
To my surprise, I was quite sad to read that Comics Buyer’s Guide is folding in March. The usual reasons were stated: “decline in advertising and free content online.”

CBG was “started by Alan Light as The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom [in 1971], publishing monthly at first, then twice a month, then weekly…” By the time the newsprint magazine was acquired by Krause Publications in 1983 and changed its name, it had become the bible of the industry. It was like Variety was for entertainment, or Billboard for music. Especially under Krause, the level of professionalism increased tremendously.

I started collecting comics in 1972, and when the Crystal Cave comic book store opened c. 1975 in New Paltz, I would buy the publication, scouring the ads for the best prices in back issue comics. That’s also where I first saw the classic comic renderings by my friend-to-be, Fred Hembeck.

When I started working at FantaCo in 1980, and we started publishing comic-book related material, including material by Hembeck, we would dutifully mail our press releases to Don and Maggie Thompson. Sometimes they would use it, but often they would not. This was discouraging to some in the store, but it made me more determined to keep sending more and more info to them. Eventually, we became so “legitimate” that they would almost always report on our publication schedule. Indeed, I think that’s generally a lesson in dealing with the media: keep trying.

There was a lovely editorial written by Michael T. Gilbert shortly after Raoul Vezina, the artist who worked at FantaCo, had died in late 1983. I have that somewhere in the attic.

I hadn’t read CBG regularly since 1994, when I sold my collection, but I would usually buy a copy on Free Comic Book Day each May, if a copy could be found, just to check out what was new. It won’t be around for the next FCBD, though.

Mark Evanier has his own recollections.
I start my quixotic attempt to see most of the films nominated for an Academy Award in the major categories. I’ve seen three of the nine nominees for best picture: Argo, Les Miserables and Lincoln. Beasts of the Southern Wild came and went, and I don’t know if Life of Pi is still around.

Almost certainly, the next film we’ll see will be Silver Linings Playbook, which would take the count of best actor, best supporting actor, and best supporting actress nominations I will have seen from two to three each; best director from one to two; and best actress from zero to one.

5 thoughts on “Traditions of baseball, comic books, and film”

  1. Having seen two nominations for Best Picture, I am feeling way ahead of the game this year. Not sure what happened as I aged, but it’s been a long time since I was well versed in the Oscar “worthy”.


  2. We saw Life of Pi (not in 3D, though) and it was marvelous. All three actors who played Pi at various ages were marvelous.

    Silver Linings Playbook was a truly human, interesting take on the tricky subject of mental disorders, espec. anger management. Jennifer Lawrence showed a vulnerable, funny side… and Bradley Cooper was a revelation. I had written him off as a twink and I’m glad to say he is much more substantial than I first thought. DeNiro deserves a supporting Oscar.

    Argo, phenomenal, and Affleck deserved a director nod; also, John Goodman was wonderful – but cursed for doing too many good films in the same year, so no nomination. Lincoln was sold out at every showing… But the most neglected film, in Oscar terms, was Flight. Denzel Washington is truly a master of the craft, but I am disappointed that his nominations tend to come for deeply flawed, angry characters (drunk and drugs in Flight, big bad corrupt cop in Training Day). His turn in The Bone Collector was excellent but ignored, and he was a paraplegic detective, a great role, a true challenge.

    I am ignoring Les Miz altogether. The singing I’ve heard is just awful, and I don’t like to pay money to cringe!! Amy


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