Best of the Blog


My continuing tendency to get distracted and work on things not posted online means that I haven’t updated in a spell. Let’s rectify that with some of the better articles I’ve done over the last couple of months.

Kenny Caperton built an exact replica of the famous Michael Myers house from the movie Halloween in Hillsborough.

As I’m posting this on Halloween, here’s an article I wrote about some crazy haunted house events in North Carolina. You can read it here.

PHOTO BY JEREMY M. LANGE

And here’s an article I did on The Little Leviathan, a local oddiites shop that sells odd antiques, custom prop items (they’ve worked on TV’s SLEEPY HOLLOW) and much more you .You can read about their twisted world here.

If you’re enjoying GOTHAM on Fox, I wrote an extensive essay on BRUCE WAYNE, a previous attempt at doing a Batman prequel story for television by the screenwriter of THE IRON GIANT, that actually wound up inspiring a completely different superhero TV show. You can read about it here.

Or if you’re enjoying NBC’s romantic sitcom A TO Z, here’s an interview I did with creator Ben Queen, where he reveals himself to be a major fanboy. You can read it here.

I did a series of interviews counting down to the Small Press Expo (SPX) in September, each an in-depth talk with a different independent creator.

Celine Loup on HONEY

Emily Carroll on THROUGH THE WOODS

Farel Dalrymple on THE WRENCHIES

Jules Feiffer on KILL MY MOTHER

Eleanor Davis on HOW TO BE HAPPY

#

This is a piece I did with writer/artist Scott Shaw on Captain Carrot, who appears in the new DC miniseries MULTIVERSITY and has a cult following from his 1980s appearances. You can read it here.

Speaking of the 1980s, here’s an interview I did with Brian Froud, designer of THE DARK CRYSTAL and LABYRINTH, on his new book FAERIES’ TALES. You can read it here.

bs8-final-cover-gzd-900w.jpg

And speaking of SF and fantasy, here’s an interview I did with my friend Samuel Montgomery-Blinn on his magazine BULL SPEC. You can read it here.

I talked to Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, creators of the podcast THE THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR, about their two new ongoing titles at Image Comics based on the show, SPARKS NEVADA and BEYOND BELIEF. You can read the interview here.

So and So Books makes its mark

Here’s a look I did at local Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill independent bookstores and how they’re doing.  You can read the full piece here.

And finally: I followed up my in-character interview with Cartoon Network’s Lumpy Space Princess with an in-depth talk with REGULAR SHOW star Muscle Man. Read the madness here.

Though I’ve had a number of big pieces the last few months, I haven’t taken the time to update them here!  Let’s rectify that.

Here’s some of my best pieces from the last few months.

Here is a two-part interview with Jim Starlin on his run on Marvel’s WARLOCK — including his creations Drax, Gamora and Thanos, who appear in the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY film.

Part One
Part Two

 

Here’s an interview I did with screenwriter John Ridley just before he won the Academy Award for scripting this year’s Best PIcture, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, discussing his work on the film and his background writing in comics and animation.

Part One

Part Two

Going Their Own Way: The Creator-Owned Comic Book Renaissance

Here’s an extensive piece I wrote for PASTE about how more comic creators are going the route of creator-owned comics, featuring interviews with Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, Kieron Gillen, Cullen Bunn and others.

 

 

Here’s an interview I did with Siblings Scott and Sage Stossel (editor of THE ATLANTIC and major cartoonist for it, respectively) about their books on anxiety — of which Sage’s is a graphic novel on an anxious superhero called STARLING.

When I read my friend Tom Scioli would be doing a G.I. Joe/Transformers comic, I called him up to talk about those old shows.  Good call — it’s now one of the year’s most acclaimed books!

Another two-parter: I talk with the creators of the internet’s top podcast, WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE, about their show, their favorite comics, and more.

Part One

Part Two

I also talked to Ben Acker of THE THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR about their show’s NIGHT VALE crossover.

Here’s a talk I did with Minty Lewis, who writes for REGULAR SHOW and voices Eileen, about doing an issue of the REGULAR SHOW comic.

And on a stranger note, I did an “interview” with the character of Lumpy Space Princess from ADVENTURE TIME.

Did a great talk with acclaimed creator Gene Luen Yang on his new graphic novel THE SHADOW HERO.

Paperhand Puppets rehearse in<br /><br /><br /><br />
the troupe’s Saxapahaw studio.” /></p>
<p><a href=Here’s a retrospective on Paperhand Puppet Intervention, a local theatrical troupe that does wondrous shows year after year.

 

PHOTO BY JUSTIN COOK - Film projection is moving from rollers and reels to cables and hard drives.

And here’s a look at how traditional film prints are being replaced with digital packages.

Finally, if you haven’t had a chance to check out my ADVENTURE TIME podcast, here’s a link to the episodes to date, which include interviews with show actors Olivia Olson and Hynden Walch, and co-hosts including Lev Grossman, Maria Bustillos and more super-smart people!

And a LOT more stuff is coming — did a whole bunch of interviews lately that are now going online.

Cheers!  Will try to update more.

 

Like most peeps who were born/grew up in the ’80s, I irrationally  idealize that decade as the greatest and best of all things.

And there’s nothing quite like finding some obscure reminders of the themes, styles and tropes of that era.

Here’s a few examples of TV shows that really, really embraced certain trends of the time.

THE RENEGADES was a knock-off of the movie THE WARRIORS starring Patrick Swayze as the head of a street gang who secretly works for the cops, specifically national treasure Kurtwood Smith from ROBOCOP, THAT ’70s SHOW and more.  I love how half the credits are just their feet intercut with their striking poses and revealing their street names, followed by Smith and his partner exchanging looks like, “Oh, those crazy kids!”

 

The long-running daytime soap GUIDING LIGHT briefly had an opening that was about…discos, kung-fu and evil Jack O’Lanterns, I think.  I sort of love how it goes from the karate kick to everyone dancin’.

During the 1980s, syndicated TV programming for local channels really took off, and TBS, the “Superstation,” had a number of original long-running low-budget comedies.  The weirdest was DOWN TO EARTH, whose premise was…well, the theme song pretty much describes this.  I’m amazed a show was able to come up with a rhyme based around being hit by a trolley.  ALSO OF NOTE: One of the kids of the show grew up to be a Real Housewife, the actor playing the dad quit and was replaced by Dick Sargent, Darren #2 from BEWITCHED, because…that’s his job to replace people, I guess, and the whole thing was co-created by STAR SEARCH champ Sam Harris. That’s some pow’ful ’80s mojo in this one.

THE MASTER featured veteran actor Lee Van Cleef as an American Ninja searching for his long-lost daughter with Tim Van Patten, known as the star of the cult classic CLASS OF 1984 and now known for directing such HBO shows as THE SOPRANOS and GAME OF THRONES.  It was one of many “action heroes travel around helping the little guy”-type shows, complete with sweet custom van.  Ironically, Van Cleef’s action scenes were mostly done with the actor playing his ninja rival serving as stunt double.

WE GOT IT MADE was one of those wacky shows about guys dealing with a hot girl, in this case a maid.  Get it?  In this case, it had some of the most sophisticated video graphics this side of The Cars’ “You Might Think” video.

Among the many low-budget SF-TV shows of the 1980s was THE HIGHWAYMAN, a vague knockoff of MAD MAX starring Sam Jones from FLASH GORDON as a government agent with a souped-up truck battling secret forces of evil.  Among the supporting cast was former V alien Jane Badler, future STAR TREK: VOYAGER Vulcan Tim Russ, and noted battery spokesperson “Jacko” as “Jetto,” which led to commercials saying the heroes were into “Assault…and battery!”  It was created by BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s Glen Larson, nicknamed “Glen Larceny” for the number of his shows that closely followed recent hit films, and the credits feature the most sophisticated CGI-effects 1989 could buy.

Here’s a compliation of many other low-budget 1980s SF show openings, including TRON knockoff AUTOMAN,  the GHOSTBUSTERS knockoff SHADOW CHASERS, and many others.

Finally, here’s an oddball show: DISNEY PRESENTS THE 100 LIVES OF BLACK JACK SAVAGE, a Stephen J. Cannell production for Disney by future X-FILES writer Glen Morgan and James Wong about a Trump-style yuppie (HARDCASTLE AND MCCORMICK’s Daniel Hugh Kelly), who flees to a Cuba-esque corrupt island and lives in a castle with the ghost of a pirate who uses him to help do 100 good deeds to make up for the lives he’s taken with the help of a souped-up boat and special ghostbusting equipment to stop the creatures trying to drag said pirate to Hell.  WHEW!  Needless to say, the premise was a bit much for viewers, particularly the young ones coveted by this show, to follow.  It didn’t last long.

I’m sure there’s many shows I missed, but presumably this has brought back some repressed memories, or created morbid curiosity you’re better off not following up upon.  Let’s just remember this: The ’80s were the most awesome decade ever…if you were there for ‘em.

As a psycho ADVENTURE TIME fan, I tend to rewatch episodes and follow behind-the-scenes info heavily.
One cool thing I’ve notices is that sometimes the title cards shown for a split-second at the top of the episode depict events referenced but not seen in the episode, or that take place just before the episode’s actions start.  This is also often done with promotional drawings the show’s artists do for the Adventure Time Tumblr page — I did a trade for one of these pieces.
I thought I’d compile these images, which often provide some good jokes if you know the episodes.
And here’s some examples:
“The Duke:” The Duke of Nuts binges on Princess Bubblegum’s pudding:
“The Other Tarts:” Tart Toter in his prime:
Lady’s parents pic:
Younger Billy, inspired byFrank  Frazetta’s “Death Dealer” painting:
HEAT SIGNATURE billboard:
“Another Way:” Finn and Jake jump off birds, leading to their breaking their legs
“Card Wars:” Why BMO won’t play with Jake:
“All the Little People:” Magic Man crafts the figures:
“Apple Wedding:” Tree Trunks’ ex Wyatt mourns the past:
“We Fixed a Truck:” Finn finding the truck
“The Great Bird Man: ” The wizard who “stole” Xergiok’s eyes:
AT VIdeo Game: Ice King and Gunter steal Finn and Jake’s garbage:
Pre-Show Drawings:
“Dad’s Dungeon:” Joshua watches his holo-message:
“In Your Footsteps:” BMO at soccer practice (designs later used for MOs; “Be More” was initially planned for earlier in series):
“Goliad:” Peppermint Butler burrowing to get to Finn and Jake:
“Sons of Mars:” The death of Magic Man’s girlfriend Margles, which set him on his path of jerkdom:
“The Vault:” Shoko’s parents trading her arm for a computer:
“You Made Me:” The Notorious Pup Gang throws a basketball at Jake’s head:
“Reign of Gunters:” Finn reads Jay T. Doggzone (this is the piece I have)
“Apple Wedding:” The backstories for many guests, including why Cinnamon Bun wasn’t in Fire Kingdom:
“Love Games:” Elder Plops builds the boats for the sing-off:
“Time Sandwich:” Magic Man has a plan:
“We Fixed a Truck:” Banana Man awaits Finn and Jake’s Call:

I did a big compilation of Beavis and Butt-Head  videos like a year ago.  Here’s a bunch I found since then.

“WHOAH!  Is this the Weather Channel?”  “The forecast is partially cool.”

“What a jack-butt-munch-ass-dumb-butt.”

“She looks like that chick who used to be young and had big hooters, and then got married to that dude and does commercials for the Korean institute…”

“Is this a commercial?”  “Yeah, for MTV’s House of Butt.”

“You know, maybe if they put more suck bands in prison, people would not want to go there.”

“Hayell yeah!  HAYELL YEAH!”

“But it’s like I’m always telling them, ‘If meat’s bad for you, then how come it’s food?'”

“Okay, Beavis.  You’ll be thinking about loogies and I’ll be slapping around my gigantic schlong.”

“I’m getting sick and tired of all these smartass videos where there’s all these college dudes and they’re in the water and they’re being all smartass”

“These guys were like always calling each other nerds, because I think that was back before they’d invented words like butt-munch.”

“He’s Lemmy. He can walk into any damn video he wants.”

“Dammit, Butt-Head, SHUT UP!  I am a firework!  I’m an M-80!”

“I think this is supposed to be her dad.  He’s like,’ Should never have sent that kid to Hogwarts.'”

“You know, I kind of feel sorry for these guys, because it’s probably not their fault they suck so much.”

“Hey Butt-Head, what is love?”  “It’s like, when you get a stiffie for a really long time.”

“Check it out, he’s watching TV.”  “Yeah.  And we’re watching TV, so it’s like we’re watching two TVs for the price of one.”

“You know, these are nice colors, all kind of orangey…”

“It takes a lot more than bears to make a video cool, Beavis.”

“Is this like, a commercial for VH1?”

“Hey Butt-Head, where’s Seattle?”  “You don’t know?  It’s this place where like, stuff is really cool.”

“I think that four-year-old has the same dad as you.  Remember when he shoved his Power Rangers up your butt?”

These chicks should marry GWAR.”

“This video is cool and everything, but it’s been giving me nightmares.”

“He’s saying all his friends are turds.  He’s telling his friends that they suck.”

“How come these guys are playing out in the mud?”  “Well, it’s either because they’re really stupid or really cool.”

“Get off the ground and stop whining, you wuss!”

“It’s like, he can’t write songs, but he sure can sing.”

“Dammit, I’m sick of seeing videos set in school.  If I wanted to see videos in school, I’d go to school and watch TV!”

“This chick’s pretty hot, but she has a tendency to wear too many clothes.”

“What language is this?”  “I think it’s French, or Mexican or something.”

“I think this is supposed to be freaking us out, but I’m unfreaked.  In fact, this video is making me feel totally normal.  If i turned on the TV and this was on, I’d be, ‘Yep, this is what I thought I was gonna see.'”

“This guy keeps saying wants a woman, but it’s like, I want a woman too, but I’m not out there singing some crappy song about it.”

“Oh no, it’s another one of these.”  “It’s like they’re not even trying.”

“Yeah!  Greta’s got quite a unit on him.”

“That is NOT Wolverine, Butt-Head.”

“Look, it’s Mrs. Doubt-FIRE!”

“…and I want you to open your eyes.  And I want you to look at me.  Now baby…do you think you could do me?  Oh.  I see you brought some friends.”

“This is still on?  That pisses me off.”

“Right now, David wishes he had his old job back.”  “Right now, David is planning to kill Sammy Hagar.”

“We should start a band and call it ‘Butt-Head Butt-Head’.”

“If you play this backwards, it says ‘This sucks.'”

“I don’t like videos that suck.”

“I think this is the Jesus and Mary Chain.”  “Stop cursing, Butt-Head!”

“Is this a deodorant commercial?”

“Well, I’ll be hornswoggled and dipped in turds!”

“That looks like that dude from Deliverance.”

“Hey Butt-Head, remember when these guys were cool?”  “Uhhhhh…no.”

“Oh no, is this Yanni?”

“You LIKE this!”

“Come on, let’s play cards”

“I think this is Seinfeld.”

“Hey Butt-Head, I know I talk about turds a lot, but…these things really look a lot like turds.”

“It’s like this video looks pretty cool, but the sound sucks.”

“This video’s all serious.”  “Yeah, it seriously sucks.”

“If I had boobs like that, I’d never leave the house.”

“All right, Montel Williams!  Maybe he’ll have some whores!”

“This chick needs to stop whining.”

“That guy looks like a cheerleader.  ‘All those years of hard work and practicing moves in the garage pay off when you see those smiling faces in the audience!'”

“I KNOW A GUY!  HIS HAIR IS ORANGE!  HE SUCKS!”

“They need to show like a big, violent butthole.”

“Check it out Butt-Head, it’s Mallory!  It’s that chick from FAMILY TIES!”

“This guy is FOREIGN.”

Stars

Darned if I don’t laugh every time at those not-porn-stars-anymore played by Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.  It’s even more repetitive than most SNL sketches and is based around the characters being stupid and inappropriate, like many an SNL sketch that has deeply annoyed me…yet this doesn’t.  In fact, it just seems to get funnier each time.

Rather than try to explain the absurd brilliance of this, I’ve decided to create a rough outline of these sketches’ formula, line-by-line, so you can create your own at home.  Why you would do this I don’t know.  Maybe you’re young and want to liven up a slumber party; maybe you’re just bored.  It’s not my place to judge.

Anyway, there are likely variations among the sketches, but this is a pretty close breakdown.

#

Not-Porn-Star-Anymore 1) (Vanessa Bayer): (descriptive noun, pronounced correctly)

Not-Porn-Star-Anymore 2) (Cecily Strong): (descriptive noun, pronounced incorrectly)

1) (another descriptive noun, pronounced incorrectly)

2) (another descriptive noun, pronounced incorrectly)

BOTH: “The (superlative adjective, pronounced correctly)”  “(Name of luxurious product, pronounced incorrectly, possibly with sexual connotation)

Product

2) (nonsensical description of product’s benefits)

1) (same)

BOTH: “With (mispronounced title)”

1) “Hi.  We’re not porn stars anymore.  I’m Brooky…”

2) “And (answer that does not give her actual name”

1) “And we’re not porn stars anymore, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like (description of use of product in tandem with 2) with awkward hand gestures)”

GUEST: (moves through scene in some way: “Did someone say (trigger phrase based around pun involving their movement through scene)?”

Guest

1 & 2 : (indicate not yet)

GUEST: (gets message, departs)

1) “Other (product) are (bad description, mangled put-down)”

2) (backs up description of why other product doesn’t work with own mangled explanation)

1) “(product) is (illogical reason why it works), plus it’s (more description, mispronounced words, etc.)”

2) “And it’s perfect for occasions like…”

1) (random, illogical example)

2) (same)

1) (same — can be awkwardly-employed verb)

2) (more sexual, inappropriate example)

1) (another mangled, sexual example)

2) (guarantee — with sexual and/or mispronounced simile or metaphor)

1) (similar sexual metaphor/simile)

2) (same)

1) “Plus, you can…(actual use for product)…like…(asks 2 about obvious, everyday object)

2) (Provides wrong answer; possibly sexual)

1) (notes this is incorrect; provides more details)

2) (another wrong example)

1) (remembers correct answer; 2 agrees)

GUEST: (repeats movement through scene with above trigger phrase)

1 & 2: (Not yet)

GUEST: (leaves)

1 & 2: “With (mispronounced title of product)”

2) “One time (banging-based story, usually based around thinking she had sex with someone famous, but it was really just…)  (barely ties this into endorsement for mispronounced product)”

Bang

1) (Sexually-based story, usually involving personal injury during sexual act, again ties to mispronounced product)

2) (another banging or porn-related story, barely tied to mispronounced product)

1) (another sexually-based story possibly involving injury, barely involving product)

2)  (another banging story, perhaps not involving the product)

1) “Hey, remember (some random thing that has nothing to do with commercial)”

2) (joins 1 in recalling thing, does imitation or weird impression as part of recollection)

GUEST: (moves all the way through scene without stopping)

1 & 2 (look on in confusion, indicate for guest to come back)

Sammy

GUEST: “Well, hello.  I’m (porn-based title, pun-based porn name).  (goes off on odd monologue about porn proficiency and sexual experience and/or damaged nature).  So if you’re looking for (product that has nothing to do with what has been described), look no further than (name of product being advertise mispronounced even more thoroughly, possibly in a sexual manner.  It’s (explanation of why re-described product is good based off mangled description).  And (threatens some random person from their past).”

Guest Name

1&2: (dissuade guest from current monologue, explain how the ad has to be good so they can send it in to television to get free [product being advertised, name said in unison])

GUEST: (remembers scam; all awkwardly lean in and “wink” at the camera)  “So for (some occasion), (set up for statement of product’s name)”

Wink

1) (says name of product) 2) (says something sexual at the same time)

GUEST: (provides mangled pronunciation of mangled pronunciation of product again, along with catchphrase for this product)

1&2: “With (first mispronounced version of product as logo is shown)” (said simultaneously)

Hill

 

#
Anyway, I hope this has bettered your lives somehow.  I’ve been snowed in for a bit and these sketches have been among the things that have kept my sanity.  My props to you, ladies Bayer and Strong!

Did a short interview with William Shatner for a local paper — you can read it here

Here’s the extended version of our talk.

#

He’ll forever be known as Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, but William Shatner’s willingness to embrace his campy persona has made him more prolific than most actors a quarter of his 82 years – and he’ll explore his long, strange trip in detail in his one-man show Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It at Duke Energy Center on Jan.12, a performance Shatner says has left him “moved to tears” many times by the audience’s reaction.

Shatner began his show at the suggestion of an Australian fan, figuring “if it fails, nobody’ll know – it’s the way of the wild.”  It’s become a consistently evolving beast, touring Australia, Canada and the United States, including a sojourn on Broadway.  “The show, which had its original inspiration in Australia, has become inspirational to me as a result of doing it,” says Shatner in a phone call from Los Angeles.

Shatner had one of his most acclaimed projects with Chapel Hill’s Ben Folds on the 2004 album Has Been, which reinvigorated Shatner’s oft-derided musical career.  “I fell in love with Ben Folds and his family – we’ve remained friends over the years and I would love to perform with him again,” says Shatner, who recently released the prog-rock album Ponder the Mystery with Billy Sherwood of Yes.  “He’s a musical genius.  I like him and admire him very much.”

Captain Kirk and Star Trek typecast the stage-trained Shatner for years, something he addresses in Shatner’s World.  What does he make of the modern state of television, where shows are sometimes held up as superior to film or prose literature?  “I absolutely agree with you – television has become a great medium, and people are looking to it for works of art as well as wide entertainment or circus entertainment.  There seems to be a deepening of people’s taste, requiring artists to fulfill that yearning by coming out with things that appeal to their more fundamental tastes, rather than just on the surface.  That applies to movies, television and now things like Facebook and Twitter and all those viral networks.”

We had to ask Shatner about the recent incident in North Carolina where Indian Trail Councilman David Waddell resigned in the form of a short letter written in Klingon.  Shatner hadn’t heard of this prior to our interview and is somewhat baffled by Waddell’s choice: “I would think he lessens the impact by being superficial in referencing this language that doesn’t exist,” Shatner says. “If it’s a joke, is he making his resignation a joke? I would think that he would serve his purposes better by writing a well-reasoned, carefully-worded letter that spoke of his desire to do good, rather than make a joke of it and write it in Klingon.”  He was more intrigued to hear noted Klingon language authority Lawrence M. Schoen will be in Raleigh for illogiCon the same weekend as him: “It brings to mind what is language, and how is language devised, and can you have subtlety in a made-up language?  It’s a really interesting creative question.”  He finds similar invented languages fascinating, but wonders how wide an audience they can reach: “Getting back to the guy that resigned, if he wishes to reach a large audience to express his opinion, he’s got a very limited audience of five.”

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30,662 other followers