Sunday, February 25, 2007

Allow Me to Introduce... Charlie Meyerson

I attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Maybe this is where you think I will swerve off-topic from comics and go into a rant about the University's Chief Illiniwek flap. Well, no, I won't. (Although you shouldn't think I didn't toy with the idea! I was going to title the article "A Word about Two Chiefs" and it was going to begin with talk of that native American mascot and then get back onto the comic path with me lamenting the fact that the visually very cool Super-Chief was revived in DC Comics 52 Week 22 only to meet with an untimely demise in the very same issue. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed, and I won't be writing in any detail about any chiefs this fine day.)

The first week of my first semester at college, I somehow learned of the existence of a Comic Book Club for students at the University. Maybe a flier was posted in the Campus Store at the corner of Sixth and Green in Campustown, I don't recall. (I think I do recall, though, that two comics I purchased that week in the Campus Store were DC Super-Stars #17 with The Huntress on the cover and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 by Jim Starlin.) The Comic Club met once a week on Wednesday evenings (or was it Thursdays?) in a meeting room on the second floor of the Illini Union, and I looked forward to attending my first meeting.

When I arrived, I was overwhelmed by the cast of characters that were in attendance (between fve and ten people, at any given minute). Some stayed and chatted about comics for an hour or two; some arrived and left at a faster pace. But they were all so funny! I would wager that I'll introduce you to each of those characters at a later date, but right now I want to talk about two individuals who at the time of my arrival were former members (having graduated from the University and moved on) and their names were mentioned in hushed whispers like revered figures from mythology.

One of these was Chuck Huber, who I'm pretty sure I never did meet even though I did attend pretty much every Comic Club meeting for the next four years (you see, former members were known to reappear on occasion). The other was Charlie Meyerson, who was off making a grand name for himself as the morning news man on WXRT radio in Chicago. Charlie however, I did get to meet, and I'll tell you how.

Two years later, Folo and Julie Watkins, the all-but-titular heads of the Comic Club kindly hosted a party at their Urbana home and all the Club members were invited. The party was in full swing when I arrived and Folo ushered me in saying, "Come on in and meet Charlie!" to which I sheepishly replied, "Charlie... Hume?" Now that one I had better explain... My sometimes-convoluted thought processes were merging the names of the mythological and unmet Chuck Huber with Charlie Hume, Lou Grant's newspaper boss on the then-new and still-great Lou Grant TV show (and I'm still waiting for that show to come out on DVD). Folo shook his head and I got to meet Charlie Meyerson himself and a great time was had by all.

Five years later (smooth transition, huh?) I heard Charlie's interview with John Byrne on WXRT in Chicago; this was around the time Byrne was getting rave reviews for his writing and drawing of the Fantastic Four comic book, some of the ravers opining that the FF hadn't been that good since the days of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (who had left the title over a decade earlier). By this time I was drawing my full-page commentoonies for Alan Light's (Comics) Buyer's Guide, and I wrote to Charlie to see if he'd mind me illustrating a transcription of his interview. Charlie said okay, and if you click here you can see for yourself what was published in The Buyer's Guide #461 back in 1982.

Charlie liked it! He invited me and a buddy of mine for a personal tour of the WXRT studio, after which we adjourned down the road for hot dogs at Jeff's Red Hots. Again a great time was had by all!

Charlie spent a total of ten years as the morning news anchor and city hall reporter for WXRT, and then he spent nine years as news and public affairs director for WNUA-FM also in Chicago. For the most recent nine years, Charlie has been columnist, editor, and senior producer for the online edition of the Chicago Tribune; he would love for you to take a look at his handiwork by visiting And what do you know, as I look at that website today I see a picture of ye olde Chief Illiniwek.

To read an interview with Charlie that was posted just last week, please visit Rick Kaempfer's Chicago Radio Spotlight by clicking here. And I don't mind revealing to you that Charlie has on one or two occasions offered me his welcome technical advice on how to make The Hayfamzone Blog the best that it can be.

It has been my pleasure today to introduce you to Charlie Meyerson!


At 1:19 AM, Blogger Rob said...

The new Super-Chief looked cool, but he was stereotypical. See Super-Chief Lives for more on the subject.


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