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 is not a review.

It started out as one: I fully intended to offer a considered critique of the new comics anthology Love is Love, in which various creators both within the comics industry (Gail Simone, Matt Millar, Jim Lee, G. Willow Wilson and more) and without it (Matt Bomer, Patton Oswalt, Morgan Spurlock, John Ross Bowie, Taran Killam and more) produce dozens of brief — one-or-two-page — reactions to the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

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.

Once a day, since Dec. 1, we highlighted a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year.


Hm? What's that?

An odd choice for the Pop Culture Advent Calendar's final day, you say?

Well, look: You're you, I'm me.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


Historically, writers of science fiction tend to enjoy fleshing out the means by which the human species might communicate with beings from other worlds. China Mieville, Ursula K. LeGuin, C.J. Cherryh, and many, many other authors have grappled with the chewy notion of first-contact linguistics.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


The disparate plot threads of HBO's sprawling Game of Thrones finally began to tighten in the series' sixth season. Characters long separated were reunited, while other characters who'd never encountered one another before met in person for the first time.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


Don't call it "splashy."

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


Diners feature in a number of memorable scenes in American film.

Five Easy Pieces. Bagdad Cafe. Heat. When Harry Met Sally. Reservoir Dogs. Pulp Fiction.

And not to put too fine a point on it, Diner.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


I know, Joyce, I know.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


That photo right there? Up above? Is not a shot of the expression on the face of Hank's Dad (Richard Gross) at the conclusion of this year's most egregiously and defiantly odd indie film, Swiss Army Man.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


OK, maybe the music choice was a bit on the nose. Maybe.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


The fans knew he'd show up, of course.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


"Formation," the lead single from Beyonce's sixth album, Lemonade, dropped on Feb. 6. It was a Saturday.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


Ok, yes, it's just the one joke. Fine.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Season One of HBO's Westworld ended with several bangs last night, so Audie Cornish and I headed into a studio to unpack what happened, and, given the events of the finale, what seems likely to happen when the show returns ... in 2018.

We touch on the show's puzzle-box narrative infrastructure, its use of sex, violence and sexual violence, and how just how meta things get. (Spoiler: a whole lot.)

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


Just watch it.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


Chiron and Kevin — two childhood friends — are walking together through the parking lot of a Miami diner.

They haven't seen each other since they were teenagers. They are adults now.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


It's that same old Hollywood plot, really:

Boy meets girl.

Boy loses girl.

Once a day, for the next 25 days, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


We open on the back of a woman's head. Her long black hair is arranged in an ponytail. She is sitting in an upscale restaurant.

Superheroes are democratic ideals.

They exist to express what's noblest about us: selflessness, sacrifice, a commitment to protect those who need protection, and to empower the powerless.

Superheroes are fascist ideals.

They exist to symbolize the notion that might equals right, that a select few should dictate the fate of the world, and that the status quo is to be protected at all costs.

Both of these things are true, and inextricably bound up with one another — but they weren't always.

Recently, actor Ben Affleck spoke with the Associated Press and revealed the title of the solo Batman film he's slated to direct.

Ready?

The Batman, he said.

Perhaps sensing that this announcement would be greeted with the collective cricket-chirping shrug it has been, he immediately built himself a verbal escape clause: "At least, that's what we're going with now."

Herschell Gordon Lewis, who died earlier this week at the age of 87, wore several hats over the course of his life: advertising copywriter. Self-styled direct-marketing guru. And, most famously, director of exploitation films of various stripes (nudie, splatter, nudie-splatter).

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