Want to get schooled in comic book history, but not bored to tears? Look no further than Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey’s series Comic Book Comics, which teaches historically accurate lessons about the graphic format – but, you know: fun. To celebrate the release of the fifth, “All Lawsuit!” issue of the book, which illustrates (literally) events ranging from the Marvelman controversy, to the legal flap between Siegel & Shuster and DC Comics over Superman, Midtown Comics welcomed the Author/Illustrator duo for an extended chat and signing, and we were on the scene! I’m Scoops McGee, and… Okay, never mind, here’s what happened:

The majority of the event was taken up with Van Lente and Dunlavey reading a story each from the issue. Van Lente read first story in book, “Grabbers,” which is all about DC’s copyright battle with Siegel and Shuster, and Marvel’s battles with Steve Ditko – among others. One of the highlights of the issue, the literate and reader-friendly breakdown of just what “work-for-hire” means in the comics business is a great argument for why it’s necessary that Comic Book Comics exists. Van Lente read the story along with a PowerPoint presentation of the panels, peppering the reading with asides to the audience, and voices for the characters ranging from Ziggy, to a slightly hip-hop Darkseid.

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Midtown Comics in NYC's Times Square was buzzing and packed at 6pm on a Friday night, as I headed in for the very first Midtown Comics Book Club. The retailer was featuring newly hot American Vampire scribe Scott Snyder, with a focus on the recently published first collection of his Vertigo series. The Book Club wouldn’t start until 6:30pm though, so I spent a little time browsing, figuring I could pick up some recommendations from friends, and then set up early to cover the event.

At about 6:15pm, I decided it was enough dilly-dallying, bought the books in my hand, and asked he guy behind the counter where the Book Club would be held. He paused for a second, and then said, “Downtown.”

Oops.

You see friends; Midtown Comics has three locations in Manhattan, including a recently opened downtown space with an alcove for events like the Book Club. But on auto, I had headed to Times Square, and now had fifteen minutes to travel the equivalent of half the island. Thank goodness for the MTA actually running on time for once, as I only missed the introduction, and was all set up by the time hosts Thor Parker and Zoe welcomed Snyder up in front of the packed crowd.

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