Friday, May 27, 2011

YOUNG@HEART -- A Documentary Celebrating Life!

Sometimes the most universal truths can be found in the smallest slices of life. That’s what makes independent documentaries so powerful, engaging, and entertaining. Not only do they show you little worlds to which you’ve never had access, but they oftentimes also tell the larger story of what it means to be human.  Armed with this intellectual conceit, a bag of Funyuns, and a couple of Miller beers, I curl up in front of the TV and delve deep into the bowels of Netflix Documentaries to find out a little bit more about all of us.

Today I found 2007’s Young@Heart by Stephen Walker and Sally George from Fox Searchlight Pictures.


Young@Heart follows the Young@Heart Chorus, a world-wide traveling choral group composed of seniors (average age is 81) led by Bob Cilman, as they prepare for a concert in their hometown of Northampton, MA.

What makes this choral group different than other senior groups is that they re-imagine classic rock and indie songs from the likes of The Clash, The Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, Bob Dylan, and others, in a way that, given the context of the performers, creates a new dynamic and thematic magnitude for these songs.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Two-Bit Comics -- Ripclaw Special

Two-Bit Comics
Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for my local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week I randomly grab a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang I can get for my two-bits. These are those tales.

May 18, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
RIPCLAW SPECIAL
Published by Image Comics
Written by: Marc Silvestri, David Wohl (story), Brian Holguin (script)
Art by: Jordan Raskin


I DON’T MUCH LIKE WHAT MY BONES ARE TELLING ME RIGHT NOW.

Did you know that most Dutch telephone numbers increased to ten digits in October 1995? This was also the month that OJ Simpson was found not guilty of murder, and John Bobbit had plastic surgery to increase his penis size by three inches. October 1995 also saw the Million Man March in Washington D.C. and saw the contract moving the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore being signed. Insane Clown Posse released their album Riddle Box and Image Comics released Ripclaw Special.

I know all these things are connected in some way. My problem is figuring out how.

As I have said many times in this column, I had basically stopped reading mainstream comics in the 90’s, so I have little to no background as to who this Ripclaw character is. After reading Ripclaw Special, though, I mourn for this loss of innocence.

I will warn you right now that reading Ripclaw Special was sort of like snorting a giant line of methamphetamine, chasing it with two bottles of tequila, getting punched in the face repeatedly by circa 1986 Mike Tyson, and listening to a the Scorpion’s Rock You Like a Hurricane on endless repeat, all while skydiving over the Grand Canyon without a parachute.

If this is an experience you wish to have, then join me as I go through Ripclaw Special. If not, may I suggest you watch some cat videos on YouTube.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Interview with KILL SHAKESPEARE's Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery


Kill Shakespeare #11 will be available in stores on May 25th.  This is the penultimate issue of the 12 issue series.

Though the series may be drawing to a close, the momentum behind the title is picking up!

Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery, the creators behind the series, have just announced that:

  • They have secured film development funding from the Harold Greenberg Fund and the Corus Made For Pay Fund.

  • The FIRST-EVER LIVE READING of Kill Shakespeare was performed by Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre on April 23rd (to celebrate Shakespeare’s birth/death anniversary). They are now working with Soulpepper on hosting a reading of the full series in November of this year.

  • They have made appearances the Boston Comic Con and Toronto Comic Arts Festival in the last month.

  • They will be appearing at Heroes Con (Charlotte, NC), Calgary Expo, Baltimore Comic-Con, Toronto’s FanExpo, Dragon Con (Atlanta) and others this summer.

  • They have also made appearances on SunTV in Canada, and have been filmed for a CBC television story.

To find out more about what's going on behind all the hype, I contacted the creators and asked them about the book, audience reaction, and their future plans.

Read the complete interview after the jump.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thwipster -- Daily Deals for Your Inner Geek (not spitting on Hipsters) -- Interview.


Thwipster is nascent deal-of-the-day site for comic book and pop culture enthusiasts.  It's like a "Groupon for Geeks!"

They offer only one product a day at a heavily discounted rate.  It's accompanied by a short video, photos, and some contextual information.

Thwipster launched April 27th and its first offering was Absolute All-Star Superman at $40 off the cover price.

Since then they have been going gangbusters, selling out of everything they have put on their daily deals.

Some of their past offerings have been things like Ultimates: Ultimate Collection Volume 1 for $14.99, Grant Morrison's Invisibles Volume 1 for $11.99, The Boys Volume 1 Limited Edition Hardcover for $15.99, and Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library Volume 20 for $13.99.

They've even offered a Dr. Who Dalek Alarm Clock for only $33.99!

I've been wondering about who was behind this great site and how the heck they are able to do what they do, and do it so well.

I contacted the appropriately named Lance Sells, CEO, Director, and "Chief Officer Prime" of Thwipster, to find out more.

The complete interview is after the jump...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Two-Bit Comics -- Welcome Back, Kotter #4

Two-Bit Comics
Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for my local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week I randomly grab a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang I can get for my two-bits. These are those tales.

May 11, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
WELCOME BACK, KOTTER #4
Published by DC Comics
Written by: Mark Evanier
Art by: Ric Estrada and Bob Oksner


SOMETIMES, WHEN YOU WIN, YOU WIN…
SOMETIMES, WHEN YOU LOSE, YOU WIN…

May of 1977 was all about Star Wars, but you have to remember that this was also the time that George Willing from Queens, NY climbed the South Tower of the World Trade Center in 3.5 hours, A.J. Foyt won his unprecedented (at the time) fourth Indianapolis 500, Smokey and the Bandit also came out in theatres, Hotel California cemented the Eagles a place in Rock and Roll history, and Patty Hearst was let out of jail.

May 1977 also saw the release of Welcome Back, Kotter #4 from DC comics. With this act, all became right in the world for a brief, shining moment as we all reached a heretofore unknown state of enlightenment.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Interview with the Creators of Com.X's newest release, BLUESPEAR.


Last year saw the publication of the critically acclaimed and innovative book 45 from the small British press Com.x.

Written by Andi Ewington and illustrated by a number of fantastic artists, 45 follows a journalist who interviews forty-five super-powered individuals to find out what life is like for them, beings who have the "Super-S" gene, in anticipation of the arrival of his own child.

45 is still available for purchase, and has just been released on Amazon Kindle.

Now Com.x is expanding on this universe with three one-shots based on the characters and concepts found in 45.

The first of these, to be released on July 22nd, is focused on the character BlueSpear, the Japanese hero.

I was fortunate to interview writers Andi Ewington and Eddie Deighton, and artist Cosmo White about their upcoming release, BlueSpear, from Com.X

Friday, May 13, 2011

MARWENCOL - A documentary about an accidental artist and his dolls.

Sometimes the most universal truths can be found in the smallest slices of life. That’s what makes independent documentaries so powerful, engaging, and entertaining. Not only do they show you little worlds to which you’ve never had access, but they oftentimes also tell the larger story of what it means to be human. Armed with this intellectual conceit, a bag of Funyuns, and a couple of Miller beers, I curl up in front of the TV and delve deep into the bowels of Netflix Documentaries to find out a little bit more about all of us.

Today I found Marwencol by Jeff Malmberg, released in 2010.



Marwencol is a documentary about Mark Hogancamp, but more importantly it asks us to confront our understanding of what constitutes art and what purpose it serves both for an individual and for the greater society.

In April of 2000, Mark Hogancamp was nearly beaten to death by five guys. He spent nine days in a coma and spent forty days in the hospital until he was released. As a result of the injuries he sustained, he had almost complete memory loss and had to relearn almost all aspects of living as an adult.

Lacking insurance, Mark could not afford the physical therapy he needed to help him recover. Since that avenue was closed to him, Mark turned to his own creativity.

Thus was born Marwencol.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Interview with Benjamin M. Shahrabani and Jon Sloan, the Men behind Com.X Press

The following is an interview I did as Comic News Editor for Forces of Geek!

Last year saw the publication of the critically acclaimed and innovative book 45 from the small British press Com.x.

Written by Andi Ewington and illustrated by a number of fantastic artists, 45 follows a journalist who interviews forty-five super-powered individuals to find out what life is like for them, beings who have the "Super-S" gene, in anticipation of the arrival of his own child.

45 is still available for purchase, and has just been released on Amazon Kindle.

Now Com.x is expanding on this universe with three one-shots based on the characters and concepts found in 45.

The first of these, to be released on July 22nd, is focused on the character BlueSpear, the Japanese hero.
BlueSpear

FOG! spoke to Com.x's Benjamin M. Shahrabani and Jon Sloan about independent publishing and their upcoming slate.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Adventures in Free Comics -- FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2011

A year has passed since the last time I wrote about Free Comic Book Day and the event, it seems, has been growing in scale and garnering even greater world-wide attention.

My son is now thirteen and, while his hormones have done some interesting things to his personality, his love for comics has not diminished.

Free Comic Book Day continues to be an event for us.  This year, we decided to seek out new adventures and do Free Comic Book Day Comic Shop Crawl Sacramento!

Our itinerary this year included not only hitting OUR local comic shop, but also adventuring to four comic shops in the Greater Sacramento area that we had never stepped inside.

We started our Comic Shop Crawl as we did last year, at A-1 Comics Roseville.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Eli Pariser - Beware online "filter bubbles"

Information that should be more widely disseminated about how content is delivered on the internet.
 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Two-Bit Comics -- Green Lantern co-starring Green Arrow #92

Two-Bit Comics
Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for my local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week I randomly grab a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang I can get for my two-bits. These are those tales.

May 4, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
GREEN LANTERN CO-STARRING GREEN ARROW #92
Published by DC Comics
Written by: Denny O’Neil
Art by: Mike Grell and Robert Smith



ALL HEROIC LEGENDS ARE DIFFERENT, YET ALL ARE THE SAME!

On January 20, 1977, Jimmy Carter becomes the 39th President of the United States. The next day he pardons Vietnam War draft dodgers. Also in January 1977, the Oakland Raiders beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI, Roots captures a massive TV audience, and Gary Gilmore is executed by firing squad in Utah. 1977 is also the year that Punk broke. In January, the record label EMI fires the Sex Pistols, and the Clash headline the opening of The Roxy in London.

In the comic shops, all this is ignored, and instead we get Green Lantern co-starring Green Arrow #92. This issue was part of the 2nd iteration of the Green Lantern series for DC which began in August 1960. From issues #76 to #122, it co-starred Green Arrow. I assume this was because there was a sale on green ink at the printers.

Green Lantern co-starring Green Arrow #92 starts with a pretty cool splash page.



Although it does seem like that solider/knight guy is shooting the horse in the eye with his laser thingy. Poor pony.

So this story is called “The Legend of the Green Arrow” and is taking place “Once upon a time … in a land that may not even exist.” This should mean that this comic is going to be epic. Spoiler Alert: It is.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Two-Bit Comics -- Rom Spaceknight #3

Two-Bit Comics
Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for my local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week I randomly grab a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang I can get for my two-bits. These are those tales.

April 27, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
ROM SPACEKNIGHT #3
Published by Marvel Comics
Written by: Bill Mantlo
Art by: Sal Buscema


B-But … My Hands!!

February 1980 had a lot going for it. There was “The Miracle on Ice” when the US Olympic Hockey Team defeated the Soviet Union in the semifinals of the Winter Olympics. The FBI busted members of Congress during Abscam. Lou Reed married Sylvia Morales. American Gigolo and Caligula hit the big screens. Captain and Tennille wanted us to “Do That To Me One More Time” and Michael Jackson wanted to “Rock With You”

But the highlight of February 1980 had to be the release of Marvel Comics’ Rom Spaceknight #3.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Rom Spaceknight was a comic designed to market a rather shoddy plastic toy from Parker Brothers. Comics created to sell products can’t be any good, can they?

But Marvel handed this project over to Bill Mantlo, and that made all the difference. While the toy it was associated with eventually became a memory, the Rom comic lasted for 75 issues over a seven year period. Why? Because it is awesome, that’s why!