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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Michael Golden and Richard Corben Artwork on Display at Poe Museum Until End of March!

Artwork Kicks off Poe's 204th Birthday Bash! 

By Chris Semtner

Sixteen Original pieces of art by artists Michael Golden and Richard Corben are currently on exhibition in Richmond, VA.

On January 19, 2013 from noon to midnight, the Poe Museum celebrated its biggest E. A. Poe Birthday Bash ever to honor both Poe’s 204th birthday and the 170th anniversary of the first printing of his greatest horror story, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” with a day of festivities featuring no fewer than six performances, five tours, four historical interpreters, two films, a Poe trivia showdown, and the opening of the first public exhibition of the Museum’s most recently acquired artifact, the coveted first printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart.” In addition to this prized artifact, the exhibit also featured these original illustrations for comic book adaptations of the story. 
And even if you didn't attend the Birthday Bash, it's not too late to visit the museum and see the exhibit.
From January 19 until March 31, 2013, the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia will continue this special exhibit celebrating the 170th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s horror masterpiece “The Tell-Tale Heart.” The exhibit brings together the Poe Museum’s recently acquired first printing of the story and loans of sixteen original drawings for comic book adaptations of the story by masterful illustrators Corben and Golden.

Michael Golden is one of the world’s most popular comic artists, having provided artwork for G.I. Joe, The Adventures of Superman, Batman, The Micronauts, and many other groundbreaking series, including The 'Nam. He is the co-creator of Rogue from the X-Men as well as Bucky O'Hare and Spartan X. He has served as an editor at DC Comics as well as Senior Art Director at Marvel Comics. In addition to continuing to create sequential stories, he also conducts classes in storytelling at venues around the world. The artwork in the exhibit, which is among his earliest published work, was printed in Marvel Classics #28 in 1977. 

Richard Corben began his career in animation before turning to underground comics. In 1976 he adapted a Robert E. Howard story into what is considered the first graphic novel, Bloodstar. His illustrious career has included work in album covers and movie posters, collaboration on a graphic novel with rock musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie, and an award-winning short film Neverwhere. The artwork on display was printed in Edgar Allan Poe’s Haunt of Horror #2 in 2006. One of the pieces will be an unpublished alternative cover design.
Admission to the exhibit is included in the price of Poe Museum general admission.
The exhibit was made possible by loans of artwork from the collections of Richard Corben and James Vacca.

About The Museum

The World's Finest Edgar Allan Poe Collection

Called "America's Shakespeare," Edgar Allan Poe created or mastered 
the short story, detective fiction, science fiction, lyric poetry and the
 horror story. His dark genius has invited children and adults to read 
and love literature for over 150 years. Opened in 1922, in The Old
Stone House, the museum is only blocks away from Poe's first Richmond 
home and his first place of employment, the Southern, Literary

Exhibits  and Collection

Richmond's Poe Museum boasts the world's finest collection 
of Edgar Allan Poe's manuscripts, letters, first editions, 
memorabilia and personal belongings. The Poe Museum 
provides a retreat into early nineteenth century Richmond 
where Poe lived and worked. The museum features the life 
and career of Edgar Allan Poe by documenting his 
accomplishments with pictures, relics, and verse, and 
focusing on his many years in Richmond.
For more information on the museum and the exhibit, you can contact: 

Poe Museum
1914-16 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23223


For more information on artist Michael Golden, contact Eva Ink Artist Group at: evaink@aol.com

he Tell-Tale Heart.”

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Breaking Bread-- Two of My Favorite Recipes

(A random Thanksgiving at my small NYC Apartment. )

When I was growing up in Texas, cooking was always a part of the atmosphere, and I do still love to cook. Especially for a dinner party and for people that I love. For me it's creative. I espicially like making up my own recipes, or trying to figure out the ingredients of something I try in a restaurant...chemistry at it's best.

It's no surprise that each year the Southern Baptist Church were I spent my youth would always produce a church wide cookbook, with anyone who wanted, contributing their signature recipe or two, each year. This cookbook served as a fundraiser for church activities, but more importantly than that, it was a type of sharing, with each person proudly putting their name after their Surprise Tamale Pie, Chicken Tetrazzini,  or their version of a Coca-Cola Cake.

All church tested and Family approved.

Sometimes, when at my Mom's house, I still take out one of those old cookbooks and look at the dishes, sure, trying to find something I remembered from my youth, to use that can of Campbell's Mushroom Soup that I have on the shelf... but I also look at the names...

Many of those lovely ladies were my Sunday School teachers, or they came over for my Mom's Tupperware parties, or they were mothers of my classmates.  I read their names and remember them as they were then, coming to the church potlucks, covered dish in hand...many of them now gone...

Recipes as artifacts of our lives.

It's an interesting concept.

And as I've written about before, it's always amazed me how smells and such can make us time travel and take us back to the "moment when...."

And sometimes, falling out of those old cookbooks at Mom's, where they have been tucked away like little maps to some surprise treasure, are my Mother's handwritten recipes as well, scribbled on scraps of papers or grocery bags.

Maw Maw's Jam Cake, Aunt Lana's Pink Stuff, Aunt Margaret's Gumbo....

And of course, they are much more than they appear... They are artifacts, written in a hand that no longer writes the same, or in the case of the ones from my Grandmother, gone forever... some sporting stains of a kitchen war and remnants from a flurry of creation from various times, perhaps when the Crisco got out of hand...all of them browning on the edges.  They remind me of Sunday dinners or family fish frys. The whole family together-- those dishes walking through the door. And the voices that went with them.

(And sometimes Elvis stops by. Here at my Mom's 80th! Alas I had no peanut butter and banana sandwiches on hand. He wasn't, however, all shook up.)

On a little side note, I just threw an 80th Birthday Party for my Mom, and told everyone to bring a covered dish if they like...just like we did when I was growing up. Just like folks in Texas still do...You don't go to anyone's house empty handed. Aunt Lana asked me what she could bring, and I, of course, suggested her legendary "Pink Stuff." What would a family gathering be without it. :-)

So, in the spirit of all that's wonderful about sharing recipes as parts of our lives, and the fellowship of sharing food = time,  here are two concoctions  I'll share with you today.

The Banana Bread is a Costa Rican version that is more dry than the Texas variety, but I find it travels well, and is a great source of energy when I'm hiking or need a quick snack on the road.  The Bread Pudding is wonderful warm, and served with a little milk on top. This recipe is very similar to the one my Mom has made for years.

I'll be honored if you try 'em, write 'em out and sick 'em in a little cookbook at home. Sometime in the future, perhaps someone will open it, and a little piece of paper will flutter to the ground, and the past is aromatic  again.




8 tbsp oil or butter
 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 large bananas
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup shelled walnuts

(sometimes I also add a teaspoon of cinnamon)

Preheat over to 350. Mix all ingredients. For an 8 in square pan. Double recipe for a large pan. Add a little milk if mixture is too dense.  Bake 50 to 60 min. I always cover with foil until the last 5-10 minutes. Insert knife in middle and if it comes out clean, it's done!



6 slices of day old bread
2 tablespoons butter, melted (or olive oil)
1/2 cup raisins
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk 
1/4 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square pan. Sprinkle melted butter over bread. Sprinkle raisins over mixture. 

In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped. Again, I put foil over the top until the last 5-10 minutes. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Magnificient Seven: 7 Things You Should Always Wear on a Plane

Hi Ya'll--With convention season starting up again next month, and a good portion of my life spent on a plane, I'm always looking for travel tips to make life a little more manageable. 

Just in time, after the holidays, www.smartertravel.com posted this article by Caroline Costello on "Seven Things You Should Always Wear on a Plane."  

Now, I have my own ideas. Ten years ago, I was very much into wearing overalls on planes. Loose and comfortable with lots of pockets. I called it my flight suit. However, now with tightened security, the metal tabs that hold the straps on always set off the metal detectors. 

 These days I more often than not opt for cargo pants with side pockets and some good shoes that are easy to slip off. A long sleeve top is also good. Most of the flights (except a few on Iberia which were terribly hot, are rather cold.) I don't think I'm making any fashion statements, but it's practical and comfortable. 

For you road warriors perhaps this article will also offer few valuable tips. It reminded me of a few things I SHOULD be doing.  My notes follow each of the seven.



"Seven Things You should Always Wear on a  Plane"
By Caroline Costello

Dressing appropriately for air travel means knowing what will keep you comfortable on the plane—and given the cramped seats and various temperature changes on flights, this isn't always easy. The following seven items, which provide plenty of comfort plus a touch of style, are essential for any jet-setting flyer's wardrobe. Be the best dressed in the cabin with our guide to in-flight apparel.


Layers, Layers, Layers

Air travel is often an assemblage of various disparate micro-climates, from the sweat-inducing sunny tarmac to the arctic air-conditioned cabin during flight. So fight discomfort with plenty of layers. I like to wear a washable cotton scarf (like this one from J.Crew Factory) that's a large enough to double as a wrap when it's particularly chilly. Pashminas, shawls, wraps, cardigans, sweatshirts, vests, and light jackets are perfect. You can even fold or roll soft items, like cotton jackets, and use them as makeshift pillows during flight.
Plus, the more layers you pile on your body, the less you need to pack in your luggage. Roll items and stuff them in your carry-on bag or under the seat in front of you if you're too warm. A foldable, reusable bag like Baggu, which takes up almost no suitcase space and can even be scrunched up and stuffed into a pocket, is useful for toting extra apparel that you've taken off.
Layers that help you regulate temperature while flying also come in very handy when traveling through various (actual) climates. And for travelers hitting the road during shoulder season, when weather is particularly unpredictable, layers are key for optimal comfort.

(Renee's Note: Layers are a must. I always take a jacket or hoodie to wear on the plane, as well as a pashmina--that translates to scarf--most of mine from a flea market in Paris. Especially now that most airlines do not provide pillows and blankets, these come in handy. Your hoodie can also double as a pillow. And as she mentions above, on a side note, somewhere in my luggage I do have an extra bag made of lightweight material that can be used as a carry on, if I happen to return with souveniers, etc. )


Breathable Fabrics

Maintain in-flight comfort and cleanliness by wearing breathable fabrics—materials that allow air and moisture to pass through—like cotton, silk, or linen. Fabrics that don't allow air to circulate will hold sweat on the skin, likely making you feel dirtier faster and probably necessitating a good spin in the washing machine upon landing. Natural fabrics are great, but moisture-wicking manmade fabrics are suitable options as well.

(Renee's Note: Could not agree more. Cotton is my favorite fabric for travel or any time. Not a fan of the manmade fabrics however. I always feel like I can't breath, much less my clothes.) 


Support or Compression Legwear

Many doctors recommend that pregnant women wear support or compression stockings or socks in flight. But compression legwear is also a good choice for those with pre-existing medical conditions, travelers taking long-haul flights, and anyone who flies often. The socks or stockings, which promote blood circulation, help prevent swelling of the legs, and help guard against deep vein thrombosis (DVT), work by putting pressure on leg muscles and increasing blood flow. You can find them at many pharmacies and drug stores, and they're often available from travel-supplies stores like Magellan's.

(Renee's Notes:  This is a new one for me. I know several friends with Diabeties that are using these socks to help improve circulation. And they work wonders.  I can see how they'd be great on a flight. Especially a long one.)


Comfortable, Simple Shoes

It's best to wear extremely comfortable, mostly flat shoes on the plane—think of your poor feet after hours or even days of sitting, standing, and walking en route to your destination. You'll also want to select shoes that are easy to slip on and off when passing through airport security (as we advise in 10 Ways to Speed Through Airport Security.)
My favorite shoes to wear on a plane are Keds Skimmers for women, which offer sneaker-grade comfort but look more like cute ballet flats. Additionally, I recommend CitySlips (for women), Toms (for men and women), and higher-end Tieks (for women). Tieks also offers a line of vegan shoes.

(Renee's Notes: There was a time when I use to wear cowboy boots everywhere and for every occassion. I don't any more-- except when I'm Cajun dancing. Nice comfortable shoes are now a must on the plane.)


Clothes with Lots of Pockets

With all kinds of airline baggage fees dropping like hot bricks, clothes that do double duty as wearable carry-on bags are de rigueur. We love the Scottevest Travel Vest (available for men or women), which is also one of our picks in 10 Best Travel Clothes to Wear on the Road. And there are myriad other travel jackets out there that feature an explosion of pockets, like the Ultimate Travel Jacket from Orvis or the (admittedly dorky-looking) Voyager Vest, which appears to be exactly the same as a fishing vest. But it gets the job done, if you can pull off the angler look.

(Renee's Notes:  As mentioned I'm a big fan of cargo pants. Haven't gone the vest route though, except on one trip to Peru. Remember however, the more pockets you have, the more pockets you have to remember to take things out of when going through security. And here's my biggest tip: If you are going to Peru, or the Amazon, or someplace where you KNOW you are going to get dirty. Don't spend a ton of money on these things. Go to your local thrift shop, find what you need, pay a fraction of the cost, and help a charity all at the same time. If it falls into the Zambezi you aren't going to cry over it. )


Loose-Fitting Clothing

As we mentioned before, DVT is a danger on flights, where travelers stuck in cramped seats for long periods of time are at greater risk for developing blood clots. To reduce the risk of getting DVT, the University of Washington Medical Center recommends avoiding "tight clothing, nylons, or socks (especially the type that are too tight at the top and/or leave marks on your skin) that might restrict blood flow through veins." So leave your skinny jeans at home and opt for less restrictive garments like A-line skirts, loose-fitting dresses, or more relaxed straight-or wide-leg pants. TravelSmith's Aero Microfleece Pants (for men) feel and fit like sweats, but won't make you look like a hospital escapee.

(Renee's Notes: I swear, as God is my witness, I will never wear a cat sweat top. Loose top yes. With Feline on it, no! )


Something Stylish

Don't throw fashion totally out the window. When it comes to dressing for a flight, much of our advice focuses on function. But dressing with a bit of style—while keeping conscious of comfort, of course—could help you get a free upgrade. An anonymous source told Goop, "On a Virgin flight back to Heathrow, I spotted one of the staff's monitors that read, 'Look for well-dressed people to upgrade.' The staff then began looking around for well-dressed people to upgrade. I'm not saying this will happen every time, but if you are looking to get upgraded, it helps to look smart." Throw a flowy, fashion-forward dress on over your compression socks and flash the airline staff a smile.

(Renee's Notes: Gone are the days that folks dressed for dinner and the theatre, alas, much less for flying. I would love a little more class, in first class or domestic class for that matter, to tell you the truth. Just like I'd still like a nice meal with real silverwear and real plates, and a pillow and a blanket.... sigh... Still... There are ways to make yourself look put together, without looking silly or overdressed. I do bother sometimes, but... I generally go for comfort and just hope that I don't see anyone I know.... but maybe I'll revise my stance. :-) if it means that much to Virgin! LOL)


And there you have it. Tips for a more comfortable ride. As for me, I'm still holding out hope for teleportation in my lifetime.  

Happy trails, everyone!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Life in Words-- Interview with Renee Witterstaetter, "Texarkana Gazette," 12-30-12

Renee's Notes: A visit home to Texas this Christmas, included a nice interview with the local newspaper, "The Texarkana Gazette." Back in college, I also wrote travel articles for them. So it was kinda fun to see myself on the front page. A few things I talked about in the interview didn't make it into the final article. So, I'd also like to mention the names of these several folks who were important to me early on, and whom I've never forgotten. Besides of course, going more in-depth about my parents, Erma and Raymond Witterstaetter, who sacrificed so much of their time and energy to raise my brothers and I, there are others... 

Namely, Coach McGregor who was my history teacher at Westlawn Jr. High School, Mark Gruenwald, my boss and wonderful teacher at Marvel Comics. Craig Anderson, my direct boss at Marvel Comics, and Jim Salicrup, my friend and boss at Topps Comics. All people I feel blessed to know. 

Since you have to have a subscription to the paper to read the story on-line, here is the article in it's entirety. 

Telling Stories: Love of Reading led to a lifelong career of film, comic books and publishing for Wake Village native Renee Witterstaetter

*Renee Witterstaetter, a writer, comic book editor and color artist who has worked for Marvel and DC Comics, holds a copy of one of her books, "Michael Golden's More Heroes and Villains," on Friday in the graphic novels section of Books-A-Million in Texarkana, Texas.

By Marie Martin * Texarkana Gazette
December 30, 2012

Storytelling comes naturally to Wake Village, Texas native Renee Witterstaetter, whose homegrown talent gave her a lifelong career in the creative worlds of comics, literature, music and film.

Witterstaetter, a 1980's graduate of Texas High School and East Texas State University-Commerce, spent her childhood reading, writing and watching old movies. She said her introduction to comics came from reading comics collected by her brothers, Robert and Ray.

"Spider-Man," specifically the issue where Peter meets Mary Jane, by Marvel Comics and DC Comics "Jerry Lewis" books…these were the first comics I discovered as a kid from my brother's collection, long before I knew I'd ever work in comics."

Witterstaetter said she returns to East Texas two or three times a year to keep herself grounded and reminded of the place where she "found the early love of storytelling," including the inspiration from her grandmother.

"(She) was always writing poetry," Witterstaetter said of grandmother Eva Hicks of Texarkana. "She made quilts and used them to remind her of a story from her life with fabric from an old dress or a flour sack."

(My Grandmother, Eva Vann Hicks with me right before my move to Connecticut, and below as a teenager.)

In December, Witterstaetter visited Books-A-Million in Texarkana, which sells a number of graphic novels that list Witterstaetter's name in the credits.

Witterstaetter is the daughter of Erma and Raymond Witterstaetter. She said her influences were many, including elementary teacher Jewel Gwyn; French teacher Sue Kimbro, who encouraged her to got to Paris on a school trip; high school Journalism teacher Connie Penny; and college professor Dr. Lawrence McNamee, who taught her about William Shakespeare and worked with her on writing collaborations.

(Above, my parents visiting in Connecticut, and my dear friend Dr. Lawrence McNamee.)

Witterstaetter said she became aware of her creative aptitude when she won an award in Junior High School for a World War II slide show. She recruited a concentration camp survivor to narrate the project.

(Working at the East Texan at ETSU Commerce.)

Just after completing college, Witterstaetter left East Texas to work at a company that organized comic book events. Eventually, she became an editor at comic book publishers DC, Marvel and Topps. She worked on "Superman" at DC. At Marvel she worked on the "Silver Surfer," "Conan the Barbarian," the reintroduction of "She-Hulk" and the "Conan Saga." At Topps, she was the editor for "Jurassic Park," "Xena" and "Hercules." She is the co-creator of the comic book series "Spartan X" with artist Michael Golden.
(With the one and only Stan Lee at the Dallas Fantasy Faire, where I was the Co-Chair.)

Now, Witterstaetter owns her own publishing company, Eva Ink in Connecticut, and represents several comic artists in the Eva Ink Artist Group. She also has written several historical, film, art and children's books.

(Children's book, "Kerry and the Scary Things," with cover by Michael Golden, text by Renee Witterstaetter and illos by Keith Wilson.)

Witterstaetter said her career--which took her from working with a Dallas company that organizes comic conventions, to authoring her own books, to working on music videos with Madonna, Usher and Seal--is proof that "doors are always opening."

"When a door opens and it feels right, that's what I do. I am very fortunate and blessed."

Witterstaetter said the comics business is collegial.

"It's a small industry, and everyone knows everyone in the industry."

One of those Witterstaetter knows is Mike Carlin, an editor at Marvel and DC.

"He taught me a great deal about the essentials of telling a good story."

Witterstaetter travels to China, Norway, Spain, Australia, Costa Rica and Hong Kong and other places have introduced her to celebrities, including Jackie Chan, about whom she wrote a book and whom she considers a good friend, and famed comedian Buster Keaton's widow, Eleanor, whom she traveled to Los Angeles to introduce to Chan at one point.

Witterstaetter worked with Chan on his movie "Rush Hour 2" and with Anthony Hopkins on "Red Dragon."
(With Jackie in Hong Kong, on his birthday one year.)

Witterstaetter studied journalism in high school, at Texarkana College and at Texas A&M Commerce. She was the editor of the Tiger Times, TC News and at A&M (Then ETSU)--Commerce's student newspaper The East Texan. She also worked at Citizens Tribune newspaper in New Boston.
(Working on the school newspaper at Texas High School.)

Witterstaetter said most o the books Eva Ink publishes are limited edition, and some are picked up by other companies for various foreign editions. Her book "Nick Cardy: The Artist at War" recently was picked up by Britain's Titan Publishing. The book can be purchased on Titanbooks.com and will be in bookstores soon.

Cardy is a movie poster artist and a comic book artist on DC's "Tomahawk," "Aquaman" and "Teen Titans."

Witterstaetter said the idea for the Cardy book came after she visited the artist a couple of years ago. He showed her some of his never-before-seen combat sketches of World War II. Cardy, 93, carried his artist tools with him while an assistant tank driver in the 3rd Armored Division. He received two Purple Hearts.

(With Nick Cardy at MegaCon in Orlando, Florida.)

Witterstaetter said despite the popularity of electronic media, there always will be a place for paper books.

"It's a treasure that shouldn't be lost…(It's) an artifact, history of our existence as people," she said.

Witterstaetter, who fancies ballroom and Salsa dancing and still likes to fish in NYC's Central Park, has a number of nieces and nephews in East Texas. She will travel to Russia next year to lecture on comics.

Renee Witterstaetter List:

A partial list of some of the books on which Renee Witterstaetter has worked:

*"Nick Cardy: The Artist at War" by Renee Witterstaetter, published by Eva Ink (2011) and Titan Publishing (2013)

*"Santa Confidential"--Artwork by Chris Browne of "Hagar the Horrible" fame, text by S. Claus, edited and designed by Renee Witterstaetter. Consultant Ric Meyers. Eva Ink Publishing (2012)

*"Nick Cardy: Wit-Lash," by Renee Witterstaetter, published by Eva Ink (2012)

*"Dying for Action: The Life and Films of Jackie Chan," Warner Publishing, author Renee Witterstaetter (1998). Updated version due in 2013.

*"Kerry and the Scary Things," children's book by Renee Witterstaetter. Cover by Michael Golden. Interior art by Keith Wilson. Published by Eva Ink (2011)

*"Tex: The Art of Mark Texeira," author Renee Witterstaetter. Published by Vanguard Productions (2009)

*"Excess: The Art of Michael Golden," author Renee Witterstaetter from Vanguard Productions (2009)

*"Fantastic Art of Arthur Suydam," Editors J. David Spurlock and Renee Witterstaetter. Text by Arthur Suydam. From Vanguard Publishing (2007).