You’ve caught me at a busy time. I’m in the middle of two days of recording three podcasts, writing an article, scheduling social media and arranging interviews.
But, Dan, isn’t this supposed to be the column where you talk about what you’re doing when you’re not working?
It sure is, disembodied reader stand-in voice!
This is what I do for fun. I run my own comics news site.
You may recall I wrote a column about comics for The Press for 2½ years, from June 2015 to January of last year. It was a lot of fun, and something I enjoyed doing very much. But I was heading into a period when my job duties were going to be changing, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to devote the focus to the column that I wanted.
But as the saying goes, you can take the nerd out of the comic shop, but you can’t take the comic shop out of the nerd. Comics journalism was something I was only ever going to want to do more of.
I had opted to take some family leave in January 2018 — my daughter, Savannah, was born six months prior — and during that time, I taught myself WordPress and some basic podcast editing. It wasn’t long before I had wmqcomics.com (the WMQ stands for “Wednesday Morning Quarterback,” a nod to the old Press column) up and running.
The site offers, as its tagline says, “comics news, previews, reviews, interviews and plain ol’ views.” We cover industry trends and conventions, upcoming books, recommend stuff to read, etc. A team of writers generates original content, and we produce a weekly podcast, WMQ&A, where my cohost and longtime best friend, Matthew Lazorwitz, and I interview creators for books from Marvel, DC and beyond.
On Feb. 18, 1985, Atlantic Records released Phil Collins’ third solo album, “No Jacket Required.”
So when I’m not sitting in front of my computer at work, I’m sitting in front of my computer at home. Despite having a desk in the basement, my office is the kitchen table.
You’ll often find me with a plate of food to one side of me, my Microsoft Surface Laptop on the other, and my now-22-month-old daughter interrupting me at regular intervals for food, crayons or, if I’m really lucky, just to smile at me.
Over the past year and change, the site has gotten some notice, and we’ve sought to stay active in the local comics community and online. We’ve participated in Level Up Entertainment’s Free Comic Book Day and Halloween ComicFest events at the Hamilton Mall. We hosted some programming at the Cape May County Library’s Cape Con event last summer, and we plan to return this year. We participated last fall in a crossover of sorts with about a half-dozen other comics podcasts.
All of which brings us to this month, probably the busiest in the history of the site. Matt and I were asked by the organizers of Camden Comic Con — April 27 at Rutgers University — to host their big “Marvel Legends” panel, which will feature four of the most influential writers and artists of the ‘70s through the ‘90s. Gerry Conway co-created the Punisher and wrote the classic Spider-Man story in which the hero’s longtime girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, dies. Larry Hama wrote the literal book on G.I. Joe. And Walter and Louise Simonson between them have written and drawn beloved runs on books like “The Mighty Thor,” “The New Mutants,” “X-Factor” and “Power Pack.”
Thunderstorms raged outside the Newark airport terminals the Friday before St. Patrick’s Day…
In case it’s unclear, this is a big deal.
The goal, of course, is to keep growing from here, hopefully with a side of revenue. Even without that, though, running the site scratches a deep itch. It allows me to be an expert in something I’ve been passionate about since I was 13, and to connect with people with whom I otherwise wouldn’t have connected.
Plus my office has a cute baby in it.