Glen Weldon

Glen Weldon is a regular panelist on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He also reviews books and movies for NPR.org and is a contributor to NPR's pop culture blog Monkey See, where he posts weekly about comics and comics culture.

Over the course of his career, he has spent time as a theater critic, a science writer, an oral historian, a writing teacher, a bookstore clerk, a PR flack, a seriously terrible marine biologist and a slightly better-than-average competitive swimmer.

Weldon is the author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, a cultural history of the iconic character. His fiction and criticism have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Slate, Story, McSweeney's, The Dallas Morning News, Washington City Paper and many other publications. He is the recipient of an NEA Arts Journalism Fellowship, a Ragdale Writing Fellowship and a PEW Fellowship in the Arts for Fiction.

This week, our intrepid host Linda Holmes calls in from L.A., where she's attending the Television Critics' Association press tour, to host a discussion of the filthy, freewheeling and very, very funny Girls Trip. She's joined by regular panelist Stephen Thompson, Code Switch's Gene Demby, and special guest Aisha Harris from Slate.

We'll be recapping Season 7 of HBO's Game of Thrones here on Monkey See. We'll try to turn them around overnight, so look for them first thing on Mondays. And of course: Spoilers abound

As you may have heard (AND I DEARLY HOPE YOU FRIGGIN' HAVE), our Summer Readers' Poll on Comics and Graphic Novels came out yesterday. You cast thousands of votes, and a crazily accomplished judging panel (which, due to some egregious error in the vetting process, also included me) combed over the top vote-getters, spent hours on the phone arguing for or against each one ...

Long, long ago, when the Earth was new and ichthyosaurs swam the turbid seas, Iron Man 2 arrived in theaters. [Ed. Note — Simmer down. It was 2010.]

It was, most agreed, a disappointment, compared with its predecessor, despite a fun and deeply, deeply squirrelly Sam Rockwell performance. (Remember how he had bronzer on his palms? And no one mentioned it. It was just a character thing? Remember that? That was cool.)

We'll be releasing the results of this year's Summer Reader Poll on Comics and Graphic Novels later this week — and it's a varied and deeply idiosyncratic list, trust us. Y'all have some fascinating favorite comics.

Not to spoil anything, but the final list skews heavily toward recent offerings, which makes sense: The stuff that's been around a long time may earn people's respect, but new discoveries spark excitement. And that's what any survey that asks folks to name their favorites will naturally turn up.

The first book of the Harry Potter series went on sale in the U.K. 20 years ago today. It offers a convenient excuse to reacquaint yourself with a world before anyone on this side of the Atlantic had heard of muggles, horcruxes or pensieves, before tourists would crowd into London's Kings Cross railway station simply to peer wistfully at the space between Platforms Nine and Ten.

Here's the first story NPR ever aired about Harry Potter — a wonderful piece by the late Margot Adler, from All Things Considered in 1998.

Some gems, from that bygone era:

"Why is a welder like a woman in love?"

I'm 7 years old, standing between the two dogwood trees in my backyard. It's autumn; there's a crispness in the golden, late afternoon air. I've taken the hood of my parka and thrown it over my head, but my arms are not in the sleeves. The coat falls over my narrow, bird-boned shoulders and down my back.

Like a cape, you see.

It's a Wednesday at Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C., and the store is bustling.

Every Wednesday is New Comics Day — when subscribers come in to pick up the week's new titles, check in with each other, and talk comics. This Wednesday is no different.

Well. It's a little different.

I'm used to comics-shop chatter that revolves around things like which new books are worth checking out, what storylines have gone one way too long, and which hero could kick which other hero's butt.

Chuck Barris, the game show producer, emcee, author and songwriter who died Tuesday at his home in Palisades, N.J., at age 87, was in his time called "The King of Shlock," "The Baron of Bad Taste" and "The Ayatollah of Trasherola."

(... In fairness: It was the '70s.)

Robert Silvers, whose long career as an editor included terms at The Paris Review, Harper's and, most notably, as co-founder of The New York Review of Books, died Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

Silvers launched The New York Review of Books in 1963 with Barbara Epstein, intending to raise the standard of book reviewing. In its pages, a given book under consideration could be little more than a jumping-off point for an extended essay that directly engaged the political and cultural moment.

So. How'd you do?

Did you follow my advice in making your Oscar pool picks?

... You did? All of them? Hunh.

Well then. That means you got 13 out of the evening's 24 categories correct.

That's ... 54%.

So. Yes. Well. Cough.

Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET

A literary treasure buried for more than a century has been unearthed by Zachary Turpin, a grad student at the University of Houston.

"That's a weird smile."

So says someone to Timothy Olyphant's manically grinning Joel Hammond, a few episodes into the smart, hugely funny Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet, and the thing is: they're right, it is weird.

1. Don't.

2. No Seriously, Netflix: Do Not.

This is a thing for which no one — no one — was clamoring. There's still time to turn back! I'm the creepy guy at the beginning of the horror movie, imploring you not to enter the abandoned house/read from the blood-smeared tome/go for a swim, at night, alone. You don't have to do this. Save yourselves!

... Ok.

Updated 10:57 a.m.

Updated 9:53 a.m.

Updated 9:25 a.m.

When the nominees for the 2017 Academy Awards were announced this morning, La La Land racked up 14 nods, tying records held by Titanic and All About Eve.

Leather jacket ... over superhero tights.

Maybe with the jacket sleeves pushed up to the elbows jauntily? Finished off with some leather driving gloves, for precisely no reason?

It's ... a look. You can't say it's not.

At least, it was a look, back in the bad old days of the benighted '90s, when superhero fashion, like skiing, skateboarding, makeovers and underarm deodorant, got extreeeeeme.

Some people possess a quality — a highly specific fuel mixture of intelligence and humor — that makes them seem like they've always got a secret they want to share with you, and only you.

It's not obvious. That's the whole point of it: It lives on the sly, this quality, around the edges of what they say and do. It sidles up to you and draws you in, it whispers to you that you are important and special, and that's why this person chose you. You share something, the two of you.

Additional reporting by LA Johnson.

I've attended the Small Press Expo, or SPX, for 10 years now. This year, I convinced NPR to let me take a reporting kit and interview attendees about what drew them to the show.

(You can check out more photos, illustrations and interviews with creators from the 2016 Small Press Expo on the NPR Illustrations Tumblr over the coming days and weeks.)

You want to win the Emmy pool tonight.

Doesn't matter why: Maybe you want the money, maybe you just want to rub your victory in your friend Trish's face, because she reads Variety and calls TV shows "skeins."

God, Trish, right? Trish is the worst.

The 2016 Emmy Awards are 75 percent over.

Think about that next Sunday night, as some sudsy production number lumbers on or yet another powerfully unnecessary montage/tribute — "A Salute To: The Laugh Track!" — brings the proceedings to a lurching halt.

It will take host Jimmy Kimmel and company three hours and change to hand out 27 Emmy statues. If that sounds inefficient to you, consider this chilling fact: There are in fact 110 Emmy categories this year.

This summer, NPR has been thinking about villains in popular culture. Critic Bob Mondello explored what makes a great screen villain tick. NPR Books' Petra Mayer looked at how and why so many of literature's greatest villains get away with it.

Actor and writer Gene Wilder, who brought his signature manic energy to films such as The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and the role that forever ensconced him in the collective memory of a generation of children, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died. He was 83.

Wilder died early Monday at his home in Stamford, Conn., of complications from Alzheimer's disease, according to a statement from his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman.

Gold, Silver ... and Bronze.

As hierarchies of merit go, it's got long historical legs, stretching all the way back to the ancient Greeks.

Not — as many believe — to the ancient Olympic Games, however; those athletes just got olive wreaths for their trouble. (Well, olive wreaths and sunburn, one supposes, as competitors observed the tradition of gymnos, or nudity.)

It's a weird one this week: Linda's off in LA with hundreds of other TV critics being wined and dined (or at least coffeed and breakfast burritoed) by various networks as they show off their upcoming wares, so Stephen Thompson clambers into the host chair to make the rest of us (me, the great Tanya Ballard Brown and master-of-punching Chris Klimek) bow to his will.

The 1966 film Batman: The Movie was shot between the first and second seasons of the television show. It used the same sets as the TV show, the same characters, costumes, the same story formula, and — most importantly — adopted the same tonal jiu-jitsu: high silliness executed with grave seriousness.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

At the San Diego Comic-Con now underway, toys, comic books and costumes fill the exhibit floor with color and light. It's a crush of bodies buzzing on adrenaline and fan joy.

[Spoilers ahead for the finales of both Veep and Game Of Thrones. Obviously.]

Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder.

-- Petyr Baelish, Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 6

Well then, why don't we send WARSHIPS into the South China Seas? I WANT! MY NOBEL! PEACE PRIZE!

-- President Selina Meyer, Veep, Season 5, Episode 10

Last night on HBO, two venal, scheming rulers saw their secret machinations come to ruinous ends — literally ruinous, for one of them.

Tonight the game show To Tell the Truth returns to television on ABC, hosted by Black-ish star Anthony Anderson. It's proven a surprisingly scrappy, long-lived, battle-scarred veteran of show: since its first run on CBS from 1956 to 1968, there have been three different syndicated versions of TTtT, plus a brief one-year run on NBC (1990-91).

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