Thursday , February 22 2024
Mark Evanier's latest ace collection of comics and pop culture essays. . .

Superheroes in My Pants

Mark Evanier‘s newest collection of essays and reminiscences, Superheroes in My Pants (the Sergio Aragones cover does a swell job illustrating this title) is both dedicated to and packed with front and back recollections of Julius Schwartz. With good reason: the DC editor was arguably the foremost initiator of the superhero comics revival through his shepherding of the Silver Age Flash, Green Lantern and Justice League revamps (t’was the latter which sparked the Marvel Comics line of costumed characters). Without Schwartz, Evanier’s pants would doubtless be much less crowded.

Evanier’s initial take – which originally spanned five entries of his PoV column (first published in The Comics Buyer’s Guide, before the paper foolishly haggled its star columnist off its pages in 2002) – follows his usual approach: a historical overview of the subject’s career laced with pithy anecdotes both from the writer’s own career in comics and the memories of his peers. With Pants, the third collection of columns following Comic Books and Other Necessities of Life and Wertham Was Right! (all from TwoMorrows Publishing), Evanier maintains his title as comic fandom’s foremost raconteur.
Among the other topics tackled in this outing: comic book conventions and the foibles of fans (a funny piece on dining at conventions which will be familiar to anyone who’s ever been in a con group attempting to gather for lunch), appreciations of artists ranging from Superman main man Curt Swan to Gary Trudeau, several considerations – positive and negative – of the Magic Kingdom, columns co-starring his regular collaborator Aragones, plus a common-sense reflection on why most of today’s superhero comics don’t work for him. He also includes a three-part warning piece on Unfinanced Entrepreneurs, those figures on the fringe of most creative communities who have a knack for pulling both writers and artists into fiscally dubious projects, that I half wish my alter ego Wilson Barbers had read before getting talked into crafting a still un-optioned movie script. But if he had, he probably wouldn’t have heeded Evanier’s advice, anyway.
If this third volume falls down, it’s in the relative paucity of stories from the writer’s comic club youth that made Necessities such a treat. (He has a canny knack for recreating boy behavior, though perhaps you could argue that he continues that tradition by describing older fanboys in action – but it’s not quite the same.) Too, a report from the 1996 San Diego Con comes across as slighter than the rest of the book because it’s not much different from con reports any number of Internet reporters could have produced today (though he does include a sharp appreciation of Mad caricaturist Mort Drucker in the middle of the piece). But these are minor grumbles. Superheroes in My Pants remains an addictive read: a clear-eyed look at the comics industry and fandom from Both Sides Now – with an occasional side glance at such pertinent pop culture topics as the force of nature that is Julie Newmar. Don’t know how many more books Mark’ll be able to get out of his finite run of newsprint columns, but I know I’ll buy ’em all.

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

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