March 2010

Reprinted from the Independent Weekly

A TOWN CALLED PANIC—French animators Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar capture an odd tone in this tale of stop-motion-animated toys dealing with such minor crises as ordering too many bricks over the Internet or underwater wall-stealers (it makes sense on screen, honest). The film is an expansion of a Belgian TV series distributed by Aardman Studios of Wallace and Gromit renown, though it looks nothing like those clay heroes. The animation, reminescent of the Adult Swim series Robot Chicken, contrasts the characters’ laid-back attitudes with the sheer absurdity that comes from watching a plastic cowboy, Indian and horse talk about birthday presents and penguin-shaped tanks. The result is inoffensive but presented at a hyperactive pace that might leave some viewers feeling like they’ve had too much sugar (or other, less legal substances). Once you adjust to the tone and the lack of plot, the result is frequently inventive and sometimes smile-inducing. Not rated. —ZS


Young Adult Novelist Explores When Heroes Become POWERLESS

By Zack Smith

Matthew Cody’s first novel, Powerless has a unique take on superhero stories for all ages.  In the town of Noble’s Green, all children have superpowers…until the age of 13, when they lose them and all memory of what they could once do.  But Daniel Corrigan, the new kid in town, soon discovers their secret, and finds the classic stories of the hero Johnny Noble might finally explain what’s happened.  Cody talked to us about his tale, comics for kids, and more.

Read the full interview here!

Englehart Delivers Novel Sequel 20 Years in the Making

By Zack Smith

 Steve Englehart became one of the first major post-Silver Age superhero writers with his character-and-action-heavy runs on such characters as Captain America, Batman, Dr. Strange, the Avengers and more.  In addition to his groundbreaking superhero work, Englehart was also one of the first Bronze Age creators to break into such media as novels and video games.  Now, he’s returned to the world created in his first novel – and launched a new epic tale.

First published in 1981, Englehart’s novel The Point Man was a modern-day pulp thriller about a Vietnam vet drawn into a conspiracy that introduced him to the world of magic.  Nearly three decades later, the novel’s been reissued as part of a new series that’s already earning raves from top writers.  With publication of the first sequel, The Long Man, we talked with Englehart about the series, his career, and whether he’ll ever return to comics.

Read the full interview here!

Cartoonist Continues Adventures of FRANKIE PICKLE For Kids

By Zack Smith

 Writer/artist Eric Wight hit it big with kids last year with his comics/prose hybrid Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom.  Now, his imaginative protagonist is back with Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000.  Wight talked with us about his new book, and even gave us some exclusive preview art for the third Frankie tale.

Read the full interview here!

A double-interview focusing on two sets of writers returning to North Carolina,  and the success they’ve achieved since their time there.

Read the full article here!

IDW Adds KING AROO To Its Library of American Comics

By Zack Smith

 Though it’s not one of the best-known American comic strips, Jack Kent’s King Aroo is regarded as a classic by those who’ve had a chance to read it. Now, a comprehensive collection of the strip is finally available after almost six decades as part of IDW’s Library of American Comics. We talked with editor Dean Mullaney about the collection, creator Jack Kent, and why this may be the best comic strip you’ve never read. But don’t take our word for it – check out the strips spread throughout this article.

Read the full interview here!

N.C. Theatre’s The Full Monty

3 MAR 2010  •  by Zack Smith


The big moment arrives in “The Full Monty.”
Photo by Curtis Brown Photography


The Full Monty

N.C. Theatre at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
Through March 7

Popular culture has a sort of carousel-like relationship to real life; it starts off as relevant, slowly fades into the past, then comes around to become relevant again. Such is the case of the 2000 musical version of The Full Monty, the adaptation of the hit film about laid-off mill workers who resort to stripping. N.C. Theatre’s production with Theatre in the Park mainstay Ira David Wood III and TV-rerun fixture Sally Struthers captures the crowd-pleasing aspects of the original story, though some aspects of Terrence McNally’s book could stand to be updated for the current recession.

“Reviewing the quality of naked rear ends is prurient and has no place in proper journalism, but I will say that overall there was more muscle tone than I had anticipated.”

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