To My Friend by Jerry Whitworth
When I was a kid, for the most part, I was the only person I knew really into comics. Occasionally, I’d run into someone else who read them but it was a fairly solitary existence. My world changed in 2003 when I bought my first computer. I worked at a retail store and rather than a Christmas bonus, they gave you a slip you could use to get 10% off any one item in the store. I used mine for a computer I put on layaway and had a family member help me bring it home because my parents didn’t have a car at the time. Getting online, I found a horde of websites about comic book knowledge like DCU Guide, DC Cosmic Teams, Heroic Images, and the Captain’s Unofficial Justice League Homepage. These sites gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of comics without buying longbox after longbox of comics as I had before. At some point, I befriended Jason Kirk of the Captain’s site and I became a contributor from character profiles to his listing of cinematic appearances of characters to desktop wallpapers. I produced so many background images, Jason made a mini-site called the JLA Desktop and, to supplement it, I created a Yahoo! group called the JLA Micro Desktop. It was through this group I met Glenn Walker. While the group was primarily about images, we also had debates about current comics and past comics. In my thorough research of the medium, people viewed me as some sort of comic historian and thought I was twice my age. Glenn was a frequent contributor to our discussions and he became one of my first online friends before things like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter existed. Over the course of running the group, JLA/Avengers began publication and I decided to host a tournament on the group. People would secretly vote among match-ups I set up and I announced the winner via stories I wrote about the fight. While I was published before for two essays I wrote about my life growing up in Philadelphia and had character profiles on the Captain’s site, these stories I told about these bouts were my first fictional tales that I shared with anyone. Everyone was a fan of these short stories but perhaps none more so than Glenn. He loved them. He wanted more of them. He wanted me to write for a living so he could read these stories that came out of my head. He may have been the biggest advocate I ever had in my life to write.
Back in 2015, creator Jeff Martin (HEAT: The Space Age of Pro Wrestling, Wrestlemon) was asked to pitch a comic to a music magazine. Listening to one of his favorite bands Gwar, the song “Where is Zog?” played which planted the seed for what became his webcomic Where is Zog? on HeavyMetal.com. The series features aliens Grum and Zill marooned on an unfamiliar world in search of the mysterious Zog. Despite its science fiction-based premise, the piece is best described as a dark comedy as Grum and Zill race from life-threatening situation to life-threatening situation with comical gore and death. A running gag of the work is the different interpretations of what a zog is to the different cultures of the alien world (which undoubtedly is a nod to the reader themselves who have little idea what the Zog the story centers around is in fact). Admittedly, I’m not really the target audience for this piece. I have little idea about Gwar where in doing research into the band and its expansive mythology, only more questions seemed to emerge (it should be noted, Martin would eventually get to contribute to a Gwar comic in the final issue of Dynamite’s GWAR: Orgasmageddon mini-series). And while there are space-based science fiction and dark comedies I enjoy, it’s slightly out of my wheelhouse. Still, I found the work to be inventive and entertaining albeit difficult to encapsulate what it is. Spending a few days considering it, I would likely qualify it as if someone took a PG-13 version of the original Heavy Metal (1981) animated film short “So Beautiful and So Dangerous” and stuck it in a blender with Undertale, 2011 ThunderCats, and Rick and Morty and you’d have some idea what you’re in for regarding Where is Zog? It’s an ongoing journey that is yet resolved where Grum and Zill’s misadventures seem to stack upon themselves more danger which, seemingly, will result in an entire planet uniting to get rid of them. You can own Where is Zog? in print via its Kickstarter which ends November 9th and should ship by the end of the year.
Creepypastas, or horror-based urban legends from the internet, have grown in popularity in recent years with the likes of Slender Man, Candle Cove, and Jeff the Killer entering the mainstream. However, one of the earliest creepypastas is making a resurgence on the printed page. The Polybius legend is of an arcade cabinet video game called Polybius distributed by mysterious men in black to a handful of arcades in the Portland, Oregon area in 1981. These machines acted as part of a psychological experiment, one that made players addicted to it, induced various psychological affects (amnesia, night terrors, sleepwalking, depression, seizures, hallucinations, etc), and led to some committing suicide before the game disappeared a mere month after debuting. As with the other noted creepypastas, there are people out there who believe in the existence of this game (which some attribute to the early version of the 1981 Atari game Tempest which reportedly gave a player a migraine in Portland). The phenomenon surrounding Polybius even led to the development of a documentary from Todd Luoto, Jon Frechette, and Dylan Reiff that, due to lack of funds, culminated into a currently ongoing seven-part podcast series centering around Bobby Feldstein who claims the game was real and played a part in his supposed abduction (as well as the abduction of at least one other child). About six months ago, a crowdfunding effort would begin to produce the first issue of a comic book based on the legend of Polybius. Titled Polybius Dreams, Ben Grisanti, Keith Grachow, and Ester Salguero through Grisanti’s Hypnotic Dog Comics recently published its first issue and are currently crowdfunding for its second chapter of the four part series. Following a trio of lovable losers in Patrick, Paul, and Michael in 1986 Autumn Hill, NY, a mysterious new game called Polybius arrives in the small town’s arcade followed by the deaths of several youths. Friends with the arcade’s co-owner, the trio are given the opportunity to play the new addictive game after hours thus pulling them into the suspenseful mystery.
Wrestlemon: Gotta Review ‘Em All by Jerry Whitworth
Known primarily for his webcomic HEAT: The Space Age of Pro Wrestling (fusing pro wrestling and science fiction), cartoonist Jeff Martin is combining together elements of pro wrestling with another genre in battle monsters. Wrestlemon (2017) parodies the popular Nintendo property of Pokémon (short for Pocket Monsters) while also parodying pro wrestling with allusions to lucha libre in its featured monsters and homages for the likes of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, John Cena, Demolition, Ultimate Warrior, and more. The plot revolves around rookie trainer Jacey and her Wrestlemon Technico (after the lucha libre term “tecnico” meaning technician and referring to a babyface or hero) as they begin their path toward competition in the world of Wrestlemon. In their way is Jacey’s rival Thad and his Wrestlemon Roodo (after the lucha libre term “rudo” meaning rough and referring to a heel or villain) as Thad struggles to escape the shadow of his legendary father and his Wrestlemon Flaireon. All paths lead to a Wrestlemon gym where Jacey and Thad must prove their worth as trainers and their Wrestlemon demonstrate the ability to overcome in such a highly competitive environment.
Top 10: Favorite Articles at CAC by Jerry Whitworth
Hey Stranger Rangers, I told you I’d be back and here we are. As I said in my last post, ComicArtCommunity.com and I have parted ways and over my five year career with the site, a few of my 267 articles have stood out. Previously we covered the most popular articles on CAC where now we’ll examine my favorite. The criteria for my favorite articles largely encompass one prevalent component: hard work. While I tend to invest a lot of time and energy into many of the pieces I write, some I have really needed to pore over and research. As such, many of these projects I’ve needed to care a great deal about in order to bring to completion (as I assure you, not every article I begin crosses the finish line). Of course, some of the most popular articles were also my favorite (like “Destroy All Monsters! Tokusatsu in America”) but for the sake of this list, there will be no repeats. Without further ado, my favorite articles I’ve crafted for CAC.
Posted in Comics, Movies, Shameless Plugs, Wrestling
Tagged Anime, Captain Marvel, Comic Books, comics, Jerry Whitworth, Martian Manhunter, Marvel Studios, Top 10, Wrestling
Top 10: Most Popular Articles at CAC by Jerry Whitworth
Hello Nerdfect Nation, this is your intrepid co-host Jerry Whitworth back with a new article. Its been a while, I know, but there’s been an important development in my life. As many of our listeners know, I’ve worked for ComicArtCommunity.com for five years but, sadly, we’ve recently parted company. No hard feelings, they’re still a great site and resource but it was time to move on. At this time, I don’t know where I’ll end up, but for now, I thought it would be fun for a small retrospective. I’ve produced 267 articles for CAC (not including the biography I wrote for the Al Rio Tribute Art Book Volume One), which is roughly on average an article a week for my time there, and certain pieces of work stand out from the rest. Thus, I will produce two Top 10 lists: first, my most popular articles and second, my favorite. Based on the number of views and unique visits, the following are the ten most popular articles I have written for CAC. Enjoy.
Top 10: Indie Cruiserweights for the GCS by Jerry Whitworth
Announced in just the last few weeks, the WWE Network will be hosting the Global Cruiserweight Series, a tournament of wrestlers at or below 205 lbs. beginning July 13th. Featuring 32 entrants from around the world, the event will span ten weeks. Obviously, the combined WWE and NXT roster lacks the pool necessary to fill all 32 slots which means the GCS will be groundbreaking in bringing in freelance, independent performers for a tournament (reminiscent of the Super J Cup and Best of the Super Juniors). WWE will likely supply about fifteen entries, namely Stardust, Kalisto, Neville, Xavier Woods, Tyler Breeze, Austin Aries, Manny Andrade, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, Chad Gable, Enzo Amore, Rich Swann, Christopher Girard, and Johnny Gargano. Thus, the company will require nearly twenty outside wrestlers to fill tourney blocks. There are, of course, limitations. It’s unlikely WWE will be able to secure talent from companies like NJPW, TNA, ROH, and CMLL which are arguably its biggest pro wrestling competitors (albeit distant competitors). However, promotions like Evolve and Chikara could likely supply performers and there may even be a chance of bringing in AAA (who supplies much of Lucha Underground’s roster) as the Mexican promotion is in documented financial problems of late (though, LU agreements might cause issues for making this happen as LU reportedly met with WWE previously to seemingly toxic results). Should AAA (the third biggest wrestling promotion on the planet) become a viable option, this could mean the addition of the likes of Rey Mysterio Jr, Fénix, Pentagón Jr, Drago, El Hijo del Fantasma (King Cuerno on LU), Aero Star, Jack Evans, and Angélico. Lets then take a look at what wrestlers could likely emerge in the GCS.
The Long Road: When a Roster Falls by Jerry Whitworth
Looking at the WWE’s roster right now is like that scene in Gone with the Wind (1939) with the train yard where hundreds of injured soldiers from the Battle of Atlanta are sprawled out on the ground. While certainly not that dramatic, the likes of John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Sting, Wade Barrett, and more are out with far reaching consequences in any of WWE’s long term narratives. Likely there is no time in WWE’s history where the company has experienced such loss coming at a time when WWE is in such dire straights (as TV ratings continue to fall, attendance for live events declines, and the WWE Network may still cost more to produce than what it earns back). There may even be a good chance some of the injuries could have arose over talent trying to help turn the company around or try to ascend in status within the WWE as company head Vince McMahon perceives the roster lacks ambition (or, a desire to grab the “brass ring”). However, this isn’t the first time WWE’s head was on the chopping block. In the late ’80s/early ’90s, the company saw a similar decline as rival WCW tried to take over the number one position in the industry with the so-called Monday Night Wars only to inspire and motivate WWE to improve and overcome. While certainly there were injuries (the company’s star “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had his neck broken taking him out of the game for three months near the height of his career and ultimately led to his early retirement), there’s been no where near the degree experienced today. Such begs the question, what’s changed?
Wrestling Streaming: The World in the Comfort of Your Home by Jerry Whitworth
In 2014, the wrestling world took a major step into the future. WWE, the world leader in professional wrestling entertainment with a library including the likes of WCW, ECW, AWA, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Stampede, and more founded the WWE Network. A streaming service for $9.99 a month that will gradually make its vast intellectually owned content available instantly anywhere in the world with an internet connection, the Network was a major undertaking that has placed a great financial burden on the company already undergoing tough times in recent years. Of course, this advent in technology has inspired other companies to follow suit although, interestingly enough, the company’s closest North American competitors have yet to get in line. TNA, formed to fill the vacuum left by the loss of WCW, tried to dip its toe into streaming in an arrangement with YouTube in 2013 with TNA Wrestling Plus for $4.99 a month only to be all but abandoned within two months. Today, TNA has started posting its earliest pay-per-view programs as the Asylum Years for free on YouTube Thursday nights (which started December of last year). It should be noted, WWE entered into a similar agreement to that between TNA and YouTube with the latter’s competitor Hulu Plus in 2012 which continues today despite the formation of the WWE Network (likely, some contractual obligation exists necessitating this duality though Hulu Plus does not air WWE events which are included as part of membership of the Network). As for the United States’ third largest promotion Ring of Honor, for some time they’ve offered their latest weekly television episode streaming for free online and made a portion of their library available on demand on their website for $7.99 a month. Although TNA and ROH at this point don’t seem to be trying to offer their own version of the WWE Network, independent US promotions have been more accepting of the transition.
Posted in Wrestling
Tagged AAA, AAW, AJPW, Beyond, Chikara, CMLL, CZW, Evolve, GFW, House of Hardcore, Jerry Whitworth, Lucha Underground, NJPW, PWG, Ring of Honor, Shimmer, TNA, WWE, WWE Network
Mirror, Mirror: What If WWE Didn’t Win? by Jerry Whitworth
About a week ago, I discussed in detail my history with pro wrestling. Therein, I spoke on 2001 being a terrible year for wrestling fans. AOL Time Warner had sold WCW to WWE as ECW, after losing its TV deal with TNN, would likewise sell out to WWE. What’s interesting about these events is that TV deals were at the root of both downfalls. For WCW, Eric Bischoff had secured funding to buy the company but wouldn’t sign the deal unless TNT and TBS agreed to continue airing Nitro and Thunder, respectively. Reportedly, that sticking point lead AOL Time Warner to sell WCW to WWE for a ridiculously low price (as several WCW personalities claimed they could have bought it themselves for the price sold). As for ECW, it was a company on the rise that was abandoned by TNN after airing the promotion for a year and that was troubled by its past use of adult content to find another network. Now, it’s important to note, neither WCW or ECW had bad ratings. At the height of Nitro, it was one of the highest rated shows on TV and even when it fell, it was still a huge draw for TNT. It just lost money because of poor management within the company (part of which stemmed from its parent company being unfamiliar with the industry it was invested into). All of these details considered, if some circumstances would have been amended, both companies could have easily survived and likely thrived. For example, if Bischoff won his battle to buy WCW, it either could have had the arrangement to remain on the AOL Time Warner channels or he could have moved to another station (like, perhaps, TNN which was looking to drop ECW when it saw how much wrestling could draw for the station). Also, what if ECW either remained on TNN or moved to another network (say, perhaps, MTV, which got into the wrestling game in 2001 with WWF Tough Enough and later Wrestling Society X). Lets take a look at what could have been.
Considering the popularity of my introductory post to the Nerdfect Nation, I thought I’d speak on my history with pro wrestling considering it’s such a huge aspect of our content and coverage. I first came into contact with the WWF in its auxiliary ventures, receiving some of the LJN action figures as a youth (an eight-inch rubber Hulk Hogan and some of the thumb wrestlers), watching Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling on TV, playing WWF WrestleMania on the NES, and getting my face painted like the Ultimate Warrior because everyone else was doing it (I always wanted to get a Tonka Wrestling Buddy but they alluded me). The earliest aspect of an actual wrestling program I can recall is my dad leaving it on one night when he fell asleep and I saw Papa Shango put a voodoo curse on Mean Gene Okerlund in 1992 on Superstars which terrified me. I would, however, come back to the product later where I became a big fan of Hakushi (as I was seemingly born into an interest in Eastern martial arts thanks to my father) and where I was introduced to wrestlers like the “Portuguese Man O’ War” Aldo Montoya, 1-2-3 Kid, and Tatanka all of whom in which I also became a fan. A casual viewer at best, Hakushi seemed to appear less as my interest grew in the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. I officially wouldn’t became a fan of wrestling, however, until WrestleMania XII in 1996.
Posted in Bios & Introductions, Wrestling
Tagged Chikara, ECW, Jerry Whitworth, Kaiju Big Battel, Lucha Underground, New Japan, WCW, Wrestling, WWE, WWF
Pleased To Meet You, Hope You Guess My Name by Jerry Whitworth
For my first post on the new Nerdfect Strangers website, I thought I would reveal a little bit about myself. I was born in Philadelphia in the early 1980s and, as most kids at that time, was big into cartoons and action figures. In first grade, I performed poorly in English and my teacher told my mother she was going to hold me back to repeat first grade because of it. Due to my interests which seemed to center around superheroes (my favorite toys were the Super Powers line and favorite cartoon Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends), my mom began to purchase comic books from the corner store at 3 for $1. I would read the books enthusiastically as my mom helped me practice for spelling tests and my grade in English shot up enough to pass. From there I became a huge fan of comics, first with the 3 for $1 DC titles and the Marvel comics generally starring Spider-Man from the supermarket and convenience stores at a $1 an issue. This opened the door to Wizard Magazine, comic stores, comic conventions, and so on. At my local comic shop Ontario St. Comics, I frequently raided their 3 for $1 bins amassing a large Bronze Age collection (including complete runs on Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe and Rom: Spaceknight). By the time I was in high school, however, my interest in comics waned (the content became darker and I found new interest in anime, pro wrestling, and RPGs, both turned-based video games and traditional pen-and-paper). Still, I kept up with Wizard because I felt it let me sample a little bit of everything going on in comics without the investment of time and money. However, it would be Wizard which brought me back to comics and gave me my opportunity to be a comic journalist.