June 2008

Back to the Janes: Castellucci & Rugg on Janes in Love

By Zack Smith

Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg opened the doors for DC’s Minx line of teen-oriented graphic novels last year with The P.L.A.I.N. Janes, the story of a group of four girls all named “Jane” who form a secret group of artists to liven up their town. Now, the story continues in Janes in Love, the second installment in the series, which premieres in September. Castellucci and Rugg let us know what to expect from the Janes this time out, and the many other projects they have in the pipeline.

Television Review: The Middleman on ABC Family

By Zack Smith

The last decade has arguably seen a renaissance of SF/fantasy material on television – not to mention the rise of films and TV series that are either based on comic books or draw from the type of storytelling found there.

But let’s face it: Like comics themselves, SF and fantasy have gotten so…serious! Sure, there are plenty of moments of levity to be found, but for the last several years, it seems like every show contains terminal levels of angst, impending apocalypses, and continuity so convoluted you need an online encyclopedia to figure it out.

Thankfully, we now have The Middleman.

A Colleen Coover Catch Up – All Things Marvel and More

By Zack Smith
posted: 2008-06-11 16:52:00 ET

It’s impossible not to smile when you see Colleen Coover’s art. The Portland-based artist, previously known for her adult-oriented series Small Favors and the more kid-friendly Banana Sunday from Oni, has gained a new and massive fan following from her adorable back-up stories in X-Men: First Class.

Coover’s colorful, cartoony, gentle work has resulted in some of the most fun Marvel comics of the last few years – and she’s just getting started! Coover gave us a special look at some of her upcoming projects, including a new full-length Spider-Man story featuring some of Marvel’s most famous female characters. Let’s take a look.

Read the full interview here!

Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy at Progress Energy Center
Through June 15


Dearly Beloved
Theatre in the Park
Through June 28

Fans of farce have their pick of shows when it comes to local theater. The annual summer series Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy (an unfortunately literal title during this heat wave) opens its season with Neil Simon’s 1988 play Rumors, while Theatre in the Park has Dearly Beloved by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten. Both feature energetic direction and performances, and both also suffer from weak scripts.

Rumors takes the form of an upscale drawing-room comedy, with virtually every beat of action punctuated by a slamming door. A dinner party for the deputy mayor of New York has gone horribly awry, with two of the guests (Lynda Clark and Eric Carl, reuniting from Theatre in the Park’s recent production of Angels in America), arriving to find the servants gone, the hostess missing, and the host with a bullet through his earlobe. The situation grows more and more out of hand as more guests arrive, but the plot feels self-conscious and stuck in the 1980s, with lame running gags about crystals and the characters’ similar names. (Note to aspiring playwrights: Naming the male characters “Ken,” “Len” and “Glenn” is mildly clever; having several conversations that point this out is not.)

The actors put everything into their performances (particularly the droll Martin Thompson as bespectacled Lenny Ganz) and, at the performance I attended, managed to remain professional despite a fire alarm that forced an impromptu intermission. The problem is with the material, which is Simon at his sitcom-iest. If that’s your thing, this play is for you.

Dearly Beloved is on the opposite end of the social spectrum from the upper-crust parody of Rumors. The play is the first of a series set in the small town of Fayro, Texas, emphasizing the trials and tribulations of the Futrelle sisters, a trio of middle-aged women who once performed as a gospel group called “The Sermonettes.” If you laughed at that name, then you have an idea of the play’s humor.

Directed by Ira David Wood III, Beloved chronicles the events of a massively disastrous wedding that features government cheese for catering, a UPS delivery man in a too-short robe as the minister, and the bride and groom nowhere to be found. Wood keeps the action moving, but like Rumors, the play has the feel of a broad, 1980s-era sitcom, with running gags about hot flashes and bull insemination. Again, there’s some good work, particularly Larry Evans’ physical comedy as doped-up guest Wylie Hicks, but the script’s crowd-pleasing humor lacks the wit found in an average episode of King of the Hill. Your enjoyment might depend on how many low-budget Southern weddings you’ve been forced to attend. —Zack Smith

Reprinted from the Independent Weekly

The Middleman – From TV to Comics and Back Again, p2

By Zack Smith
posted: 06 June 2008 11:04 am ET

In part one of a two part interview, we spoke with writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach

(Lost, Medium) about adapting his once TV pilot script into the Viper comic book series The Middleman and then back again into ABC Family’s new television series debuting June 16th.

We continue the conversation tracing the origins of the series in the following part two…

Goodnight’s Comedy Club—Mike Birbiglia has made a career out of revealing things most people would rather keep quiet. Case in point: The subject of his hour-plus of all-new material he’s workshopping at Goodnight’s. “I’m working on a whole new show called Sleepwalk with Me, where I go into detail about a sleepwalking disorder I have,” says the 29-year-old comedian. “For a long time, I was kind of in denial about it, and that’s one of the themes of my shows—how we’re in denial about our various issues.”

Birbiglia, who calls his blog his “Secret Public Journal,” has parlayed his most embarrassing moments into a regular feature on the Bob and Tom radio show, three Comedy Central specials and, most recently, a CBS pilot with Bob Odenkirk and Six Feet Under‘s Frances Conroy. He says his comedy has taught him “the degree to which I push aside things I don’t want to deal with.”

Sleepwalk, which Birbiglia hopes to turn into an off-Broadway show and TV special, chronicles his battles with his disorder, which sometimes leads him to act out his dreams. “For instance, I’d have a recurring dream where there was an insect jackal thing hovering over my bed, and I would jump on the bed in real life in a karate pose and go, ‘There’s a jackal in the room!’ to my girlfriend,” Birbiglia says. “She got so used to it that she could talk me down: ‘There’s no jackal.'”

Birbiglia is excited about performing at Goodnight’s and feels that Sleepwalk features “the most real and true and intense and revealing stories, but it’s the funniest of my shows.” How does he make his humor work? “A lot of my comedy has its roots in the fact that the joke is on myself, so that’s made it easier.” —Zack Smith

For more information, visit www.goodnightscomedy.com or www.birbigs.com.

Reprinted from the Independent Weekly

By Zack Smith

Javier Grillo-Marxuach has enjoyed a lot of success as a writer in Hollywood, working on such shows as Lost, Medium and many other sci-fi and fantasy shows (seriously. It’s a lot.). Now, he’s getting to do his own show…and he owes it in part to comic books.

For several years, readers have been familiar with The Middleman, the action-packed and wickedly funny series about Wendy Watson, a directionless twentysomething who gets sucked into the wonderful world of mysterious conspiracies and science gone mad when she takes a job with a mysterious figure hired to clean these messes up…a milk-drinking hero known only as the Middleman. Published by Viper Comics and illustrated by Les McClaine, the book enjoyed a considerable amount of critical acclaim, and led to Grillo-Marxuach doing several projects for Marvel Comic and other publishers.

But The Middleman had its origins as a TV pilot script…and now it’s returned to its roots as a new one-hour series premiering on ABC Family June 16th.

Read Part One of our talk with Grillo-Marxuach on the series here!

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