Saturday, January 20, 2018

Michael Kingston at C2E2 2017

Like a lot of wrestling and comics fans, Michael Kingston was not happy with the wrestling comics that were produced.  Michael didn't just complain online.  He did something about it.  He created his own wrestling comic.
Headlocked was the result.  In Headlocked, Mike Hartmann is a young theater major who drops out of school to pursue his dream of becoming a pro wrestler
The wrestling community (wrestlers and fans) have heaped praise on Headlocked.  Jerry "The King" Lawler loved it so much, he signed on as the permanent cover artist.  Many other wrestlers have contributed, including Rob Van Dam, Hurricane Helms, Ken Anderson, Christopher Daniels, Booker T, John Morrison, AJ Styles and Tony Atlas.  The full list would make a great wrestling company roster.  With the ever increasing popularity, I am certain many more wrestlers will be jumping on board.
My latest update interview with Michael can be found at On the Beat With Michael Kingston at C2E2 2017.  It's always a pleasure talking to Michael.  He is a real wrestling fan and a talented guy.  He also happens to be a really nice guy.  That's why he has been a success and why so many wrestlers are getting involved in the Headlocked series.
Obviously, I am a wrestling fan who likes comics.  Being a wrestling fan helps, but it is not necessary to enjoy Headlocked.  The comic is well-written, the artwork is outstanding and the story is an interesting one.  I look forward to talking to Michael again and to seeing the bright future of Headlocked.
Check out HeadlockedComic.com for more info, including their online store.  You can also follow Headlocked Comic on Facebook for updates and news.  Also, if you see a Headlocked booth at a comic con, chances are you will also see one or more wrestling legends promoting or just hanging out.  It really is one fo the most active and fun booths at any comic con.
Michael Kingston and me in Chicago, IL-April 2017.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Cigars, Scars and Superstars With Terri Runnels

Terri Runnels broke into wrestling in the late 1980's.  She went on to become one of the most popular stars in the business.  She retired as an active performer in 2004, but she is still making appearances at events and comic cons.
I first met Terri at Wizard World in 2008.  I have had the pleasure of interviewing Terri several times since then and she is always a sweetheart.  She even did a promo for Johngy's Beat (see left column).  Terri was also one of the first celebrities to call me Jay Leno.
Recently, Terri announced that she was starting a podcast.  Cigars, Scars and Superstars debuts on January 23.  Terri will be joined by Matt Koon and Corey Forman.  Cigars, Scars and Superstars promises to discuss wrestling, but also other topics, like current events.  She will be reviving her advice column, too!  This sounds like a lot of good listening and I will be sure to check it out.
I wish my friend Terri a lot of luck.  I'm sure she will be her usual entertaining self.  She always has fun stories whenever I see her and I'm sure she'll delight her audience.
You can get more info and updates on the Cigars, Scars and Superstars Facebook page.  Of course, you can also follow the she-devil on twitter @TheTerriRunnels.  Lastly, you can get all of the Terri-related shirts at Pro Wrestling Tees.
Terri Runnels and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2008.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Cards That Never Were: Peter McDuffe 1972-73 & 1976-77 Topps

Cards That Never Were is a recurring series in which I create virtual trading cards for players missed in various sets.  It is a concept I borrowed from too many to list, but I appreciate all of them.
Goalie Peter McDuffe debuted in the 1971-72 NHL season with the St. Louis Blues.  He was traded to the New York Rangers and played two seasons with them, before being claimed by the Kansas City Scouts in the 1974 NHL Expansion Draft.  He played one season with the Scouts, before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings, for whom he played 4 games in the 1975-76 season.  He spent a few years in the minors, but never returned to the NHL.
McDuffe's first card was a 1971-72 OPC, which was actually a pre-rookie card.  I don't think that happened too often back then.  His next card was a 1974-75 card, followed by a 1975-76 card.  That left gaps for 1972-73, 1973-74 and 1976-77.  I was able to fill two of those gaps.  I am still looking for a decent picture of McDuffe with the Rangers for a 1973-74 card.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Genius Lanny Poffo: The Smartest Man in Comics!

Lanny Poffo was a favorite of mine from my early years following wrestling.  Many years later, as an adult, I had the honor of interviewing Lanny for a story in Lerner Newspapers.  Lanny could not have been nicer and I am proud to say we became friends.
Lanny enjoyed success as fan favorite "Leaping" Lanny, the Poet Laureate of the WWF and later as "The Genius," a heel character.  The WWF never revealed Lanny as Randy Savage's brother, although occasionally the announcers hinted at it.
Lanny's match with Hulk Hogan is always remembered fondly by all, because it was a fantastic match which really showcased Lanny's in-ring ability.  On the other hand, The Genius really allowed Lanny to shine outside of the ring.
Despite all of the wrestling books out there, Lanny's story has never been fully told until now.  The Genius Lanny Poffo - Wrestling's Smartest Man! is the comic biography of Lanny written by my friend John Crowther.  Through in-depth interviews and conversations, John brings Lanny's story to life.
A wrestling historian and writer, John has previously published comic biographies of The Killer Bees, Nikolai Volkoff and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, with more definitely in the works.  The series is illustrated by Randolph Dixon and Alan McMillian, with colors by Andrew Pate.
Fans can also get involved through a Kickstarter campaign to support the effort.  As always, any donation is appreciated and there are rewards that go with different levels of donations, one of which is a personal poem written by Lanny.  How cool is that?
I am so excited about the Lanny Poffo comic biography and the whole series, too.  This is such a unique concept.  Wrestling easily lends itself to comics and nothing like this has ever been done in this complete style.  I also have to add that John and his crew have skipped the usual beginner mistakes.  The comics produced so far have exceeded expectations on every level.
I hope to meet John someday soon (perhaps at a comic con?).  Oddly, I have met the all of wrestlers he has in his series, but I have not met him.  We need to change that.
You can find more info and (hopefully) make a pledge at The Genius Lanny Poffo - Wrestling's Smartest Man! on Kickstarter.  You can also get news and updates on the Squared Circle Comics Facebook page.  Remember though, the only way to guarantee you will get a copy is to pre-order from Kickstarter.
Lanny Poffo and me in Kokomo, IN-October 2007.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Introducing the "Or Else" Podcast

It was bittersweet to watch Resistance Pro Wrestling shut down.  I made a lot of great friends there and had so many fun memories.  There were just too many twists and turns in the RPro story.  By the end, it really wasn't what it intended to be.
Fortunately, out of the ashes comes The Resistance, which promises a new beginning.  There will be some familiar faces, but plenty of new ones.  Best of all, there is a whole new mindset.  The Resistance debuts Saturday, February 17 with "Chapter 1: Creation" in Summit, IL.
The RPro story is one that has been told in bits and pieces, but never in the entirety and never by someone who was involved from the beginning.  There is nobody more qualified to tell that story than my bud Tommy Else, who won his place in RPro via an audition.
What was intended as a one-off turned into a permanent spot for Tommy, who was renamed "Eric St. Vaughn."  Tommy (or ESV) went from being a manager (or bodyguard/trainer) in D'Arcy's Dynasty faction to winning the RPro tag titles (with Brady Pierce) as Body Magic, a gimmick that was over huge with the fans.  ESV even made a shakeweight a popular feature at the shows.  ESV also got 40,000 views on one of our interviews on YouTube (and just under 40K on two others).  It's no stretch to say that Tommy was one of (if not the) most popular wrestler in RPro.
With the closing of RPro, Tommy has started the "Or Else" podcast, with the initial goal of telling the RPro story, which is essentially the Tommy Else Story, as the two go hand-in-hand.  I am happy and proud to announce that I will join him on the first several podcasts.
I started covering RPro from their debut.  I saw it all, including the rise of Tommy and the eventual fall of RPro.  We plan on discussing it all.  We won't be slinging dirt, but we will be honest and open in telling the parallel stories of Tommy and RPro (with a little Johngy thrown in).
The first episode is "Raven Goes to the Magic Shop" starts with Tommy's entrance into RPro and continues with his first few shows.  One of the highlights (as the title suggests) is a story about him driving Raven to a magic shop on the way to an RPro show.
In late breaking news, I heard from a very reliable source that there will be some other surprise guests from RPro's past, who will make guest appearances on the "Or Else" podcast.  This keeps getting better.
Check out the "Or Else" Podcast on Soundcloud.  The first podcast serves as an introduction by Tommy.  I joined Tommy Episode 1: Raven Goes To The Magic Shop.  I hope you enjoy it.  Feel free to send any questions you might have.
Toomy Else and me in Willowbrook, IL-April 2013.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Friendly Encounters: Brian Baschnagel and Scott Bridges

This is a weekly series featuring friends who have met celebrities.

In the theme from tv's Cheers, they sing, "Don't you want to go where everybody knows your name and you're always glad you came."  When I visit my dad in Griffith, Indiana, that place is Bridges' Scoreboard.
Scoreboard has your usual sports bar amenities (several big screens, standard bar fare, etc), but it has the intangibles that make it special.  Owners Scott and Jeff Bridges are usually on hand.  The wait staff is friendly and attentive.  The patrons are familiar faces.  It's a place where you always feel welcome.  It's a place which is lively, without being unbearable.
One thing I really enjoy is when they have a player appearance.  Recently, they have had former Chicago Bears wide receiver Brian Baschnagel.  I wrote about the evening on the Patch at On the Beat With Brian Baschnagel at Bridges' Scoreboard.
One of the cool parts is that it is such a casual environment, unlike a major sports convention.  You actually get to spend time with the athlete.  It's almost like Baschnagel popped in to your house to watch the game with you.
Bridges' Scoreboard is a fun place to watch a sporting event.  You can check out their menu, learn about their special events (including more player appearances) and get any other relevant info on the Bridges' Scoreboard Facebook page.
Scott Bridges and Brian Bacshnagel in Griffith, IN-October 2017.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Celebrity Jersey Cards #357

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a regular series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebs wearing sports jerseys.  Today, I am in a "New York State of Mind."

Ashley Dupre rose to fame (or infamy) through a scandal involving Eliot Spitzer, then Governor of New York.  She since has worked hard to leave that all behind and forge a new career.  She has done some singing and acting.  Although she is wearing a #6 Mark Sanchez jersey, I see her more as a wide receiver, because of her ability to dodge and maneuver through life.  She gets extra points for having a football on her Celebrity Jersey Card.
Velvet Sky has appeared on many previous Celebrity Jersey Cards because of her popular NFVel posters.  It's no secret that Velvet is one of my favorite woman wrestlers.  She was even kind enough to do a promo for my site (see left column).  The Giants might have had a better year if Velvet was running routes for Eli.  At least they would have been more entertaining.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Happy Birthday Scott!!

Today I celebrate the birthday of my brother-in-law Scott.  Although he is in Florida, while I am freezing in Chicago, I will still send him my best wishes for a great birthday!
Scott has been a mentor, advisor, friend and brother to me.  He's always willing to help, but he's also always up to beat me at anything.  (At least I own one bowling victory over him).
Last year, Jean and Scott graciously opened their Florida place to my dad and me and we attended a couple Spring Training games while we were there.  One of the coolest parts for me was standing on the field with Scott before a Minnesota Twins game.  Scott's not into chasing celebrities like I am, yet he joined me as we tried to get interviews with the players and coaches.  One of the most memorable was On the Beat With Minnesota Twins Coach Stew Cliburn.
The Twins did not have names on their backs, but I recognized Cliburn.  I should say I recognized "a" Cliburn.  The problem was the Twins had the Cliburn twins as coaches.  I was able to get the interview with Stew, but it remains a funny moment to me.
I am certain Scott will be celebrating with Jean somewhere.  I'll be joining them in Florida soon, but for now, thank you for everything, but mostly for being a friend.  Happy birthday to Scott (from frigid Chicago)!
Scott Parker and me in Fort Myers, FL-March 2017.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Megan Cavanagh of A League of Their Own

Today I feature another actress from A League of Their Own, one of my favorite movies.  Chicago born Megan Cavanagh played Marla Hooch, which was her film debut.
Marla was the second baseman for the Rockford Peaches.  The character was so endearing.
I talked to Megan about her character at a Hollywood Celebrities Show.  She talked about how many people have issues about not being the pretty one or the popular one.  Marla was so sweet and likable that people saw beyond her lack of glamour.  Megan said she is planning a documentary about that topic.  That would be one I'd love to see.
She is touched and proud that people still come up to her and talk about how much ALoTO meant to them.  Although many of those people are women, Megan said the number of men who loved the movie still surprises her.  She is grateful for all of the fans.
On a side note, I had completely forgotten that Megan had a recurring role on tv's Home Improvement as Trudy, who eventually married Al Borland in the finale.
Megan Cavanagh and me in Rosemont, IL-Spring 2015.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Russell Lissau at Wizard World Chicago 2017

Russell Lissau is a staff writer at The Daily Herald.  More relative to the world of pop culture, he is also a comic book writer.  Actually, as a teenager, those two jobs would have been my dream combination.
Writing for comic books is a challenging and often thankless job.  The brilliant artwork overshadows the writing and certainly gets more exposure.  At comic cons, the artist booths are filled with colorful, larger-than-life artwork.  What can comic book writers do in their booths?  It's hard to promote the writing, but it is obviously a vital part of every comic book.  Among his credits, he has written many issues of The Batman Strikes.
One of his projects that really fascinates me is Old Wounds, a comic book published a couple years ago.  Lissau, along with artist John Bivens, create a story showing the after-effects of a superhero's life of crime-fighting.  It is unique and fresh to look at the later life consequences of being a superhero.
I met Lissau at Wizard World Chicago 2017, where he was busy meeting his fans and doing the usual comic con business.  I look forward to talking to him more at convention this year.
You can read Lissau on The Daily Herald website.  You can also follow Lissau on twitter.  His twitter feed is an interesting combination of news stories, comics and other fun stuff.
Russell Lissau and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2017.