In my epic journey (well, after about 12 years or so, I get to call it that) searching for clues to Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson’s extraordinary life and work I’ve come across some incredibly talented people with accompanying rapier wits. I have naturally longed to get us all around the proverbial table. I have a genetic propensity from both sides of my family for gathering groups to sit around a dining table partaking of huge repasts and drinking copious amounts of vino veritas all the while encouraging the tossing of bon mots about everything from the latest political insanity to the newest movie, book, song, artiste, etc. There have been wonderful moments in my dining room with the exception of those occasional events where someone has dramatically exited in high dudgeon or various pieces of crockery or glassware ended up in shards. As the resident Southern Belle whose dishes are my dowery I do not look kindly on the latter.

© respective holders. From Moongem Comics blog.

At times the various social media that we participate in can be similar to a big dinner party. Recently one of my favorite artists, Batton Lash, he of Supernatural Law posted a video from YouTube put together by Eric Powell, of Goon comics about the sad state of the comic book industry. As Batton so aptly put it, the video was not for children or the namby-pamby. I can’t post a link because it has been removed but you might be able to see it here on ComicsAlliance. And I’ll repeat Batton’s admonition–it is not for the squeamish. It is a fairly graphic depiction of what I assume is Powell’s point of view of what happens in the comic book industry to the truly creative. Fortunately I cannot comment on the insider politics and people because my only knowledge of insider comic book politics is from the 1930’s. Although I had a namby-pamby reaction to the crudity of the message and in all honesty I’m too much of a girl to read the beautifully drawn but very scary Goon on a regular basis I thought the video was quite provocative as it was meant to be and it certainly got people thinking and talking.

It reminded me that the Major, one of the founding fathers of the industry, had a very strong vision for comics and that the man’s entire life was a constant hum of creativity. If he were alive today I’m pretty sure he’d be the first one to come up with new ideas for comic books. The corporate comics world feeds a lot of people and thank goodness for that but it never hurts to refresh the creative well and it can help their bottom line as well. One need go no further than the medium of film and the periodic influx from independent filmmakers that revitalizes that industry. Perhaps the comic book industry could use more opportunity and economic platforms for independents to be able to bring fresh ideas to the table. DC’s Vertigo imprint and Archie’s new story themes and gay character is a good example of what is possible but there could be a whole lot more. All you have to do to get a picture of the tremendous amount of talent out there is show up for the annual MoCCA Festival (this year’s is April 9-10). It’s awe-inspiring and cheering to see an entire armory full of creator owned comic books.

The Major’s ideas for comic books developed over the years from his very first publishing efforts syndicating comics for newspapers in 1925 to the comic books themselves in 1934–New Fun, Adventure and Detective Comics. MWN clearly thought about encouraging the public to read and think by publishing strips of Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers, Ivanhoe and even works from Edgar Allan Poe and Emile Zola along with the usual fare. Later when he began the comic books he once again published Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers, IvanhoeShe by Rider Haggard and discussions of history like the Battle of Hastings in Magic Crystal of History in the very same comic books as Slam Bradley and Federal Men. Aunt Toni and uncle Douglas firmly believed that MWN had a vision of providing some intellectual meat along with the trifles and from everything I’ve pieced together that appears to be true. So it seems fitting to encourage thoughtful discourse in honor of those early ideals for comic books as envisioned by the Major. It’s my firm belief that it’s important to know your history whether it’s your personal history, history of your people or your particular field because it gives you a strong foundation to stand on and from which you can soar.

© respective holders. From Jon Berk Collection.

If I were Robert Redford I’d start my own Sundance for Comics. With that in mind I’ve asked some of the scholars and gentlemen who write, teach, talk and create comics to make their thoughts known and start some lively conversation in an old-fashioned salon on the Major’s Fan Page on Facebook. We’ll be talking about various aspects of comics from a somewhat more thoughtful point of view than just how much we all love comics or to show off our knowledge of minutiae. If there are any ladies who have written about comics and want to join in, you know where to find me.

Our first guest is Terrance Griep. I’m going to let Terrance speak for himself because I love the way he writes. He’s been sharing his wonderful missives about comics and super heroes with me for a while and besides being very smart he makes me laugh out loud. I don’t think there is any way I can explain Terrance adequately so I’ll let him introduce himself. Here’s Terrance in his own words and then jump on over to the Major’s Fan Page and click on to Discussions where Terrance’s very funny and brilliant thoughts will be available. Chime in, use your wits and chat away but by all means remember this is a salon not a saloon. You can be provocative but no smashing glassware. If you’re like me and new to all this you’ll enjoy listening and learning and by all means ask a thoughtful question. Let’s all have More Fun!

May I introduce the fabulous Mr Griep to you all:

“Prism Comics is a non-profit organization that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) creators, stories, characters, and readers in the comics industry.

During the day, Terrance Griep drudges as a mild-mannered reporter, kind’a: he’s written nonfiction for magazines ranging from The Advocate to Star Trek Monthly. For them (and others), he’s interviewed such pop culture luminaries as Cliver Barker, John Waters, and ex-NFLer, Esera Tuaolo. Terrance writes comic books, as well, contributing to the canons of DC’s Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and, most often, Scooby-Doo. Further, he’s written for Image Comics and myriad other companies. He also co-hosts a Minneapolis-based current events television program called The Spectator.

After sunset, Terrance assumes the persona of professional wrestling heel, Tommy “The SpiderBaby” Saturday, whose misadventures have been chronicled by Out Magazine, Wrestling Now and Then, The Outfield Magazine, Jazma Online, and City Pages Weekly, which named him Wrestler of the Year for 2009.

His only hobby is sleeping.”

The Amazing Mr. Griep aka The SpiderBaby.

Editor’s note: See what I mean! See you over on the Fan Page. Here’s your click.