Month: February 2011

Make your own comics at Marvel.com – like this one but probably better

My comedic genius at work. Click image for higher quality version at Marvel.com

Hey, look what I made!

Marvel.com has a fun little program where you can create your own comic strips and comic books using clip art. It’s kind of a limited selection but it’s plenty to tinker around. I’m sure younger kids would have fun playing around with it and sort of learning how comics are made (more or less). You can pick Marvel characters like the three I picked above, as well as the X-Men’s Wolverine, Beast and Colossus, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, a few villains, and more. You can choose your panel layouts, pick your backgrounds, speech balloons, type in your own dialogue, and add sound effects.

If you sign up with an account, you can build a portfolio, save the comics at Marvel.com, save them to your computer as PDFs, and email them to friends. Marvel.com apparently saves all of them on their website. There’s a gallery here where you can see some fun comics posted, although it doesn’t look like they display ones created without setting up an account since I don’t see mine there. Other users can rate and leave comments for each comic.

I don’t know when this was added but it’s a fun feature. Maybe I’ll torture you with more of these.

Comics Events in LA: Week of 2/27/11

If you’re interested in finding out more about comic books and graphic novels, a great way to discover new stories is to check out a local comics event. There’s a vibrant comics community here in Los Angeles, where you can meet artists, writers, publishers, and other readers who are ready and willing to turn you on to some amazing material.

Here are some local Los Angeles events coming up that celebrate the sequential art form.

This week:

Wednesday, March 2: NEW COMICS DAY! Find your local comics specialty shop.

Wednesday, March 2, 8:30 PM: The Meltdown with Kumail Nanjiani and Jonah Ray (weekly comedy show) featuring stand-up comedians Chris Gore, Matt Mira, Glenn Wool, Sean Patton, Brett Gelman, and Thomas Lennon, at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 90046. Tickets: $8.

Thursday, March 3, 7 PM – 10 PM: Meat! art show opening reception, with art by Michael Kupperman, Charlyne Yi, Brandon Bird, Carlos Ramos, J.R. Goldberg, Julia Vickerman, Myke Chilian, Layron DeJarnette, John McGuire Olsen, Richard George Lee, Britt Sanders, Andy Ristaino, and Jhonen Vasquez, at Meltdown Comics, 7522 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 90046. Tickets: $0. Art show on display until March 17.

Saturday, March 5, 8 PM: Film geek podcast Battleship Pretension, hosted by Tyler Smith and David Bax, with special guests comedians Jim Bruce, Michelle Biloon, James Adomian, and Matt Champagne, broadcasts live at Meltdown Comics, 7522 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 90046. Tickets: $5. (more…)

Pheel Good

Magic Meathands Original video #8!

Written and directed by Mary Benedict. Me as one of the spokespersons for a new amazing pharmaceutical product with… some side effects. Also starring Mary, Kathie Bostian, Kevin Callahan, Shane Boroomand, Nikki Turner, and Seth Rotkin as Choking Guy.

I don’t know about you, but I feel better already. In fact, I’m having a hard time remembering a time when I ever felt bad. Wow, this stuff really works! I’m headed to my local pharmacy to get more!

Archives:
Magic Meathands Original video #7: Corey vs. His Nemesis
Magic Meathands Original video #6: Gabby’s Good Luck Minute
Magic Meathands Original video #5: Gotcha
Magic Meathands Original video #4: ManCoaster
Magic Meathands Original video #3: Pants – A Nightmare
Magic Meathands Original video #2: Fun and Games
Magic Meathands Original video #1: Eddie the Enforcer

Subscribe to the Magic Meathands YouTube channel.

Thank you for donating to the National MS Society

Nahleen and I at last year's Walk MS (click above for more pics of us at Walk MS 2010)

Yesterday my wife and I got to experience first hand the benefits of the last several years of our friends, families, and in some cases complete strangers, donating to the National MS Society through our participating in the annual Walk MS events. (Last year, I walked in a dress and heels (right).)

My wife Nahleen was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 8 years ago. MS is a baffling disease. There’s no cure and it manifests itself in everyone differently. She was put on a treatment of Betaseron, which required her to inject herself with a needle every other night. Yes, there are worse things in the world, but it hasn’t been pleasant.

Despite the challenges, we carried on and adapted to our altered lives. We kept working, got married, and continued to pursue our creative dreams, while also juggling doctors, insurance, appointments, tests, treatments, etc. Life continued on until her symptoms spiked dramatically last summer. Her liver kind of went bonkers and she got real sick. It turns out she also has lupus.

Apparently, multiple sclerosis and lupus are both autoimmune diseases, and one following the other isn’t entirely out of the question. (There’s also the possibility of mixed connective tissue disease but that’s not currently the theory we’re working under.)

Nahleen has worked extraordinarily hard since the summer to crawl out of that pit she was in. It is an extremely slow and gradual process. Fortunately she has a vibrant spirit.

A big step was taken yesterday. When her liver started evicting its residents, they took her off of Betaseron since it’s processed through the liver. So she has been without any MS treatment for well past 6 months. Through incredibly fortunate timing, a new MS drug called Gilenya recently became available. It is the first MS oral medication (meaning, it’s a pill). While still very new, it’s incredibly promising: less side effects for most and extremely effective in keeping the body from attacking itself.

Yesterday, Nahleen had her first treatment of Gilenya. There was no pre-medication necessary. No icing the injection site. No mixing of chemicals. No loading a needle into an injector. No stabbing. No fevers and flu-like symptoms afterward. Simply wash a pill down with some water. Emotionally and psychologically, this is a huge relief. The big stress was the 6-hour observation for the first treatment to make sure she wasn’t among the minority that responded poorly. Fortunately it went smoothly. From here on out, it should be a simple matter of taking a pill once a day at around the same time where ever she happens to be at that time. This is a definite improvement.

Of course, it doesn’t mean everything’s all better. There’s still a ways to go to recover from last summer. We’re taking this year off from Walk MS to focus on her recovery. But please consider walking on your own or donating to a friend’s walk. If you or someone you know is walking, please get in touch and I would be happy to feature you or them.

Nahleen and I have a lot of hope for the future. She is being treated for lupus and she now has new and improved treatment for multiple sclerosis. And that didn’t just come out of thin air. The National MS Society provided a lot of resources to get Gilenya to market. They helped with funding, research, and testing. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that if the National MS Society didn’t exist, Gilenya wouldn’t be here now. And the only reason they are as effective as they are is because of those of you have given on our behalf. Over the last 3 years, our team raised about $40,000. It is thanks to your inspiring generosity. Thank you.

Static Shock creator/All-Star Superman screenwriter Dwayne McDuffie dies

Dwayne McDuffie by Glen Murakami & Andrew Pepoy (click for full bio)

The sad and unexpected death of Dwayne McDuffie was announced yesterday by Comic Book Resources. He passed away due to complications from a surgical procedure performed Monday evening.

Yesterday was also the day of the DVD release of All-Star Superman, an animated feature adaptation of the critically acclaimed comic book series of the same name by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. McDuffie was the direct-to-DVD movie’s screenwriter. He had previously written for the animated TV series “Justice League Unlimited”, and served as both producer and writer on Cartoon Network’s successful Ben 10 animated franchise.

In the comics world, he will be remembered for co-founding Milestone Media, which led to the Milestone imprint at DC Comics in the 1990s. His Milestone creation Static was later adapted into an animated series, “Static Shock”, on which McDuffie served as story editor and writer for several episodes. DC Comics has been reprinting a number of classic Milestone comics recently, including graphic novel collections of Hardware, Icon, and of course Static Shock. Earlier in McDuffie’s career he worked for Marvel Comics, where he co-created the comedy series Damage Control and successfully revamped Deathlok (both of which should’ve been made into movies by now).

McDuffie lived and worked in Los Angeles. He was a guest speaker at CSUN’s Superheroes Seminar with Charles Hatfield last Fall (read Hatfield’s touching eulogy), and would make in-store appearances at local comic book stores to sign books and DVDs. He had appeared at the LA screening of All-Star Superman last week at The Paley Center, and was scheduled to appear at tonight’s ReggiesWorld.com launch party at Golden Apple in West Hollywood. The final hours of that Golden Apple event have been converted to a Tribute to Dwayne McDuffie starting at 8 PM tonight. Fans and professionals alike are invited to attend.

As remembrances started pouring in, two stories caught my attention on Twitter. I think they illustrate the kind of humor and intelligence at his disposal. In my mind they underscore his importance as a respected professional who fought from within for diversity and a stronger industry. (more…)

Banksy vs. Los Angeles

Charlie Burn (click for Banksy's LA gallery)

There’s some cool art popping up around LA, but you better enjoy it before it’s gone.

Mysterious graffiti artist Banksy has been hitting Hollywood and the surrounding areas over the last week or so. Charlie Brown as an arsonist (right) and an intoxicated Mickey & Minnie Mouse getting gropey on a huge billboard are just a few of the subversive pieces of work he’s been contributing to Los Angeles. Charles Schulz and Walt Disney probably wouldn’t approve of Banksy’s take but I think they’re great.

It’s not his first time playing with iconic hand drawn characters. The Simpsons hired Banksy to do the opening credits for last October’s episode, “MoneyBART”. It’s probably the darkest comedy the show has ever done. According to executive producer Al Jean’s interview with the New York Times, he claims they never met Banksy. They were just delivered storyboards through an agent.

The British artist is notoriously secretive about his true identity and has requested being able to attend this weekend’s Academy Awards show with a monkey mask. His short film Exit Through the Gift Shop was nominated for Best Documentary Feature and is considered the front runner in the category. Unfortunately his request was denied because the Academy is worried about “copycat gatecrashers”, according to /Film. To add insult to injury, his LA works are slowly being removed or defaced. Now that’s just rude.

Don’t listen to the haters, Banksy! We love you!

Celebrate Presidents Day – Read a Comic

Happy Presidents Day! It’s that time of year again when the United States celebrates that we have a President in our form of government! Pretty exciting stuff!

Actually, there are some pretty crazy stories from the life and times of US Presidents past. And sometimes their deaths can make for some compelling reading too. Sure, it’s morbid but it can also be pretty fascinating. Comics writer/artist Rick Geary has taken a look at two presidential assassinations with the same precision and accessibility of all of his work. His series of graphic novels A Treasury of Victorian Murder (and the newer series A Treasury of XXth Century Murder) make for great reads, and pre-dates a lot of the current non-fiction graphic novels coming out nowadays.

The Murder of Abraham Lincoln by Rick Geary

In The Murder of Abraham Lincoln, Geary takes a look at the 1865 murder of the 16th US President and the days that followed. Some of the recently resurrected theories about John Wilkes Booth surviving and living to old age while a body double was killed in his place at Garrett Farm aren’t included but it nevertheless is packed with information glazed over in high school history class while maintaining a great narrative. Geary also uses the power of comics well, weaving in a cutaway of the Presidential Box at the Ford’s Theatre as Booth makes his fatal move, maps and a timeline of Booth’s escape route, and a map showing the route taken by the Lincoln funeral train.

Geary also took a look at the second US President to be killed in The Fatal Bullet: The Assassination of President James A. Garfield.

See NBM Publishing for a complete list of Geary’s true crime graphic novels currently in-print.