Month: June 2011

Laugh for Freedom

This Friday night, I join the Magic Meathands to kick off the July 4th weekend at the Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica. What better way to celebrate our freedom?

It’s a full hour of improvisational theater for comedic results. We’ll be doing a mixture of short-form games and long-form scenarios, using your suggestions. There’s even a chance or two for you to join us on stage, if you are so inclined. And we hope you are.

The ticket for our show is also good for the two shows immediately after us, The Waterbrains and Mission: IMPROVable, two hilarious improv comedy groups.

Friday, July 1, 8 PM
Tickets: $10
Event Details on Facebook

Good Grief, Charlie Brown! The Peanuts gang is all grown up!

It’s something many people have imagined. What happened to Charlie Brown and his friends when they became adults?

The seminal Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz ran for 50 wonderful years (1950-2000). The characters have lived on in new TV specials, a graphic novel, reruns of timeless TV specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the Charles M. Schulz Museum, and a reprinting project of every Peanuts comic strip ever in chronological order. There’s even a campaign to get a Snoopy license plate in California. The strip’s uncanny ability to tap into a childlike perspective has resonated with generations of fans. And as fans have grown up, it’s only natural to wonder how Charlie Brown grew up.

Director/writer Brandon Ford Green had the same thoughts, and is putting his theories into film with an independent feature currently in development. Good Grief is a dramatic comedy about eight friends who return to their home town to attend the funeral of the one person that was the bridge between them. Growing up tends to change people, so this actually gives Brandon a lot of freedom in crafting his own characters and stories that end up being very loosely based on Peanuts. But it’s still fun for those familiar with the strip to imagine “what if”.

Prequel shorts spotlighting each character have been getting previewed online but only for a brief time before they’re taken down again. This weekend, from Friday, July 1st at 10 AM to Monday, July 4th at 10 PM Pacific, you’ll get to see the video for Penn.

Is Pigpen still dirty? Good Grief reveals the answer this weekend

To follow the film’s progress and get the link for the Penn video, be sure to check out the Good Grief Facebook page.

Special Birthday Message and Song for My Sister

Recorded this really quick last night. Despite some flubs, I like it. It was fun to jump into a big bucket of nostalgia. Plus I have back-up with Nahleen on tambourine! Doesn’t she sound great? Inquiries for professional percussion gigs may be submitted via email.

I don’t think I’m letting out a big family secret to say that my oldest sister and I didn’t get along when we were young. But the amazing part about growing up is we got to rediscover each other and now get along great.

Happy Birthday, Belinda! I hope you enjoy! Thank you for your joy of life.

I’d also say happy birthday to Spencer but he’s probably too mortified to get this far. I wouldn’t blame him. Mothers and uncles shouldn’t use the internet.

New Filmmakers and Anthology Film Archives want you to Dig Comics

Director/host Miguel Cima shows a kid Fantastic Four comics for the first time, after seeing the Fantastic Four movie in theaters

The award-winning documentary short Dig Comics, which I helped produce, is an official selection for the New Filmmakers Summer Fest 2011. It will be making a rare screening at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City this Friday, July 1st, at 6 PM. D0n’t miss this opportunity to see this spirited call-to-arms for Miguel Cima’s mission to get America to dig comics again. It includes interviews with writer Jeph Loeb (Batman, Heroes), Scott Shaw! (Oddball Comics), Dame Darcy (Meatcake), and several Los Angeles comics retailers. There are also unique experiments with people on the street to get them to discover the magic of comic books.

Dig Comics won Best Documentary at Comic-Con International’s Independent Film Festival and was an official selection at Festival de Cannes, the Vancouver International Film Festival, Bumbershoot and other film festivals. There have also been special screenings at Meltdown Comics with special guest Edward James Olmos, and Jim Hanley’s Universe with a special panel made up of Marvel Comics VP of Publishing Tom Brevoort, The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald, comics creators Andy Helfer and Danny Fingeroth, and Graphic NYC’s Christopher Irving. The documentary has been written up by the Los Angeles Times, Ain’t It Cool News, and Comic Book Resources, among others.

For more on Dig Comics’ progress, check out my page for it here (although I need to catch up on some more recent events).

Friday is brought to you by Doggie Cuddling Kitteh

Things to do in LA this weekend:

COMEDY – The X-ecution: Final 5 Part 2! No one was voted off last week, so Kathie Bostian of the Magic Meathands returns! It’s elimination-style improv comedy with $500 and meetings with top talent agencies at stake. Find out who gets eliminated and who moves on to the next week at The Improv Space in Westwood, Friday, 8-9 PM. Tickets: $10.

COMEDY/COMICS/THEATER – The new and improved Spectacular Superhero Variety Hour at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood, Friday, 8 PM. Tickets: $10. [Interview with director Ben Dickow]

THEATER – Another production of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) opens to celebrate the show’s 10th Anniversary. It’s a parody of the Bard’s plays performed by 3 men in 2 hours, at the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, Friday, 7 PM. Tickets: $25-35.

COMEDY – The improv comedy group Held2Gether does their totally uncensored show Last Laugh Saturday at the Hot Java, Long Beach, Saturday, 8 – 11 PM.

Comics Can Be Anything: Chester Brown outs self as john for prostitutes in graphic novel Paying For It

Paying For It by Chester Brown (Drawn & Quarterly)

One of the major releases of the year is the graphic novel Paying For It: A Comic-Strip Memoir About Being A John by Chester Brown. Yes, that’s right. It’s a comic book about prostitutes, sex workers, hookers. You get the idea. But don’t expect lurid sex scenes and locker room bragging of sexual conquests. Like his acclaimed Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography, which methodically tracked Canada’s history and the controversial revolutionary’s life in the mid-1800s with cool detachment, so too in Paying For It does Brown logically and almost mathematically examine romantic love. And as you might guess, he comes to the conclusion that paying for sex instead of having a girlfriend is the life for him. At least for a while.

The book has been getting almost universally praised: “incredibly engrossing” – Carlton Hargro, Creative Loafing; “required reading for anyone who seeks to better comprehend the limits of romantic love” – Morgan Davis, Comics Bulletin; “revealing” – James Smart, The Guardian; “insightful and fascinating,” “5 stars” – Kelly Thompson, Comic Book Resources; “There is a commendable honesty here, to be sure: a kind of downbeat, detached naturalism. But there is something dispiriting about it too.” – Naomi Fry, The Comics Journal; “amusing and revealing” – Chris Randle, The National Post; “remains compelling” – Sean Rogers, The Walrus; “a defiant work of truth-telling and a welcome return to autobiographical comics from one of the medium’s incontrovertible masters” – Brad Mackay, The Globe and Mail.

And that was just the first couple pages of Google. But perhaps the most intriguing review was posted last week. The website Tits and Sass is a group blog by and for sex workers. Yes, that’s right. Chester Brown’s graphic novel about prostitution gets reviewed by a prostitute. Charlotte Shane turns in an excellent review, smartly written. She hilariously claims that she wouldn’t want Chester Brown as a client.

But I think I was most relieved that she didn’t treat the medium of comics as any sort of special case. The graphic novel form isn’t derided, it’s not a novelty, it’s just the piece of entertainment that’s being reviewed. And scanning through the site, I don’t see a lot of comics or graphic novel coverage. In fact, in all of the reviewed from the mainstream press linked to above, they all appear to be comfortable enough with the form.

However…

While a great interview, I get the impression from Fanny Keifer that she’s kind of surprised comics could be about this. Yes, yes they can. In fact, they can be about anything.

Spectacular Superhero Variety Hour saves Meltdown Comics from uneventful Friday night

Captured Aural Phantasy Theater brings their Spectacular Superhero Variety Hour to the Nerdist Theater at Meltdown Comics this Friday night, 8 PM. Tickets are $10.

I interviewed director Ben Dickow* when they had this show at the Bootleg Theater earlier in the year, and now they’ve tweaked and improved the Spectacular Superhero Variety Hour for its debut at Meltdown. Prepare yourself for hilarious performances depicting Joker and his colossal boner, Supergirl getting hazed at college and other classic stories from yesteryear that maybe haven’t aged so well. Plus musical performances and old comic book ads brought to life before your very eyes and ears.

No superhero knowledge necessary, it’s just a great time. If you don’t laugh, you’re probably dead.

*Of course, this interview entitles me to eternal bragging rights for any and all future successes enjoyed and/or obtained by Captured Aural Phantasy Theater and its members collectively and individually.