Month: November 2010

Comics Can Be Anything: The Cookbook Edition Take 2

Proving once again that the innovative spirit moves quickly on-line, what I thought would be the first comic book cookbook looks to be imminently trumped by Web Comics: What’s Cooking? from TGT Media. This is a 96-page book with over 60 webcomics creators contributing recipes and comics. Best of all, proceeds go to American and Canadian National Food Banks. To help pay for printing costs, so that more money can end up going to these charities, they have set up a Kickstarter page with a deadline of Friday, December 17, 8:54 AM EST. That page also has a video trailer that unfortunately won’t embed on WordPress. You can pre-order the book for $25 $20.

Now having done two blog posts on the topic of cookbooks in graphic novel or comic book form, I should probably point out that I can’t cook. I mean, really. A good day is successfully toasting my English muffins in the morning. I don’t so much make my lunch as I assemble it from pre-packaged food-stuffs. And correctly heating a microwavable meal for dinner (or as I still like to call them, TV dinners) takes more concentration and focus than I care to admit. So that’s the extent of my cooking prowess. But I can think of a few people who might like this.

And again, as with The Dirt Candy Cookbook, I think it’s a fantastic idea – using the power of sequential art to show how a recipe is done. Comics may just seem like ways to tell superhero or funny animal stories, but they have an efficiency and clarity as a communicational tool that is difficult to match. Smart companies have been using them in instruction manuals for years. I know nothing about guns but I feel like if I ever had to shoot World War 2 zombies with this gun, I could now figure it out. Heck, comics can even be used to teach you how to make your own mini-comic. So of course they can be used to show us how to cook food.

I said it last time, and I’m going to say it again: comics can be anything.

(via Robot 6)

The Magic Meathands at the Westside Comedy Theater

This Friday at 8 PM, the Magic Meathands and I will return to Santa Monica for another show of improvised comedy at the Westside Comedy Theater! Also performing: improv groups The Waterbrains and Mission: IMPROVable. $10 gets you in for all three shows! Click on the big meaty hand for more.

Friday, Dec. 3, 8 PM
Westside Comedy Theater
1323-A 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica CA 90401

Tickets: $10

Improv is stalking me

This past weekend, Nahleen and I drove a couple hours east of Los Angeles to the 7th Annual Apple Butter Festival in the Oak Glen community. Located about 5,000 feet up the San Bernadino Mountains, there is a definite New England small town vibe, especially with the changing autumn leaves. (Yes, certain parts of southern California can actually get that cold, if you know where to go. In fact, the area had snow on the ground the following night.)

Amidst all of the apple-themed shops and food, there was also a Wild West style stunt show that we were able to catch. The True West Stunt Team does staged gun play and fisticuffs around a 5-building shanty town set (saloon, bank, jail, etc.).

We were told early on that we were seeing a brand new show. (We were later told that it had been choreographed about 20 minutes prior to us sitting down, which didn’t quite seem to add up right. They had been performing two or three times a day since Friday, and we saw the last show on Saturday. Maybe they do a different show every time?)

Anyway, they had a good start, and it looked like they would be good enough to pull this off. And they would have too. But then Murphy’s law decided to smack everyone upside the head. Just about everyone’s guns failed to fire. So we had people standing on the roof of a buildings where they were supposed to be shot off and fall to their “death”. But no “bullets”.

So at this point, as performers, they had two choices. (more…)

Comics Events in LA: Week of 11/28/10

You don’t have to sit at home alone reading to get into comic books and graphic novels. There are always great events going on that celebrate the vitality and creativity of comics. Just here in Los Angeles, there are more events I can ever make. But I try, and so should you. You never know what you’ll discover.

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

This week:

Wednesday, December 1: NEW COMICS DAY! Find your local comics specialty shop.

Wednesday, December 1, 8 PM: Comics podcast Bagged & Boarded: Live! returns with Matt Cohen and Brendan Creecy for a broadcast at SModcastle, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles 90038. Tickets: $10.

Wednesday, December 1, 8:30 PM: Talking with Gods, a documentary on comics writer Grant Morrison (All-Star Superman), will be screened at Hi De Ho Comics & Books with Pictures, 1431 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica 90401. Tickets: $0. (more…)

A day to give, not just to thank

Tomorrow the United States (the American one, in case you weren’t sure) is celebrating Thanksgiving. So the blogging may stop for a few days. So I’ll leave you with this overly flowery, overly sappy message until I get back. Enjoy your foods!

Thanksgiving is a day we typically use to give thanks. While I’ll be doing plenty of that too, I’m going to stop short a bit and just give.

At around noon o’clock tomorrow, I will be performing with the Magic Meathands at a church in Inglewood that reaches out to the at-risk and homeless community. The church will be giving them a Thanksgiving meal, and we’ll be giving them some entertainment.

We do a lot of these kinds of shows, and I couldn’t be happier doing them. When I tell people about it, I think some people think it’s quaint. Some have a look on their face similar to how they would respond if their grandmother was getting involved in community theater. Good for her. She’s getting out and doing some cute little play acting to occupy her time. It’s not “real” theater of course.

As far as I’m concerned nothing could be further from the truth. These kinds of shows are challenging. Most big time comedic performers flat out couldn’t do it and don’t do it. They probably wouldn’t want to do it because they would sense how instantly humbling, demanding, and ultimately risky it is to engage an audience that is more concerned about immediate survival than catching the latest  TV show or movie. Remember, these shows are improvised. There’s no script, there’s no second take, there’s no cutting to commercial, there’s no warm-up act, there’s no one coaching the audience when to clap and when to laugh. We are flying without a net. And when things don’t click, you really know it.

So why do these shows? Because when things do click (and at this point, we’re pretty dang good at making sure things click) the reward is so much greater. The shared experience of laughter can be powerful and never more so than when that laughter gives temporary relief from overwhelming troubles. In those moments, no one is homeless or unemployed. No one is fighting addictions or emotional instability. I’m no longer the performer, they’re no longer the audience. We’re people agreeing together that life is surreal, weird, and funny. We have become a spontaneous choir of laughter. And from that transformation, we as a group have created joy. And if people in such desperate situations can find joy, there is hope.

Happy Thanksgiving. Be thankful for what you have. And find a moment to give.

13% of comics made by women

There are likely more women making comics in North America today than ever in the history of the industry. Never has there been a greater variety of creative voices and material. It’s a great time to discover comic books.

But just because it’s better than ever…

Comics material produced by women creators only makes up 13.2% of comics released to retailers and book stores in November so far, according to Ladies Making Comics. This excludes manga imported to North America and web-comics, which would no doubt boost that number significantly.

The comic book world is still very much a boys’ club. The industry was started by men, most of the material was created to appeal to boys and men, most of the businesses have been run by men. Of course there have been exceptions, but they were just that: exceptions to the rule. So the fact that the percentage is in the double digits should be celebrated. Just 10 years ago, I suspect that number would be half that number.

And more of the good news is that more and more female creators are no doubt inspiring new female creators that are growing up on some excellent material, so a mushrooming effect will take place. It’s frustratingly slow and there are still a lot of maddening obstacles, but I believe it’s happening. Nowhere more so than with web-comics, it seems. This is an amazingly fertile ground for fostering imaginative talents and they don’t have to break into a male dominated corporate structure to be seen. They just have to be good, produce material on a regular basis, and have some savviness with social media. And then you get things like Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton, Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto, Stop Paying Attention by Lucy Knisley, Fart Party by Julia Wertz, Templar, Arizona by Spike, Octopus Pie by Meredith Gran, KinokoFry: A Collection of Comics by Rebecca Clements, DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Diary by Erika Moen (which has sadly come to an end but is still a fantastic read), and many more. Have any favorites?


Magic Meathands sketch comedy video #4!

Written, directed and edited by Nikki Turner, and starring Shane Boroomand and Travis McElroy, with Mary Benedict and Liz Gill. There’s also a quick appearance by me in the crucial role of the Ticket Taker.

This was the most production heavy of the initial batch of videos we made, complete with green screen and CGI velociraptor with missile launching arms. We had to cut the velociraptor because he kept blowing his lines.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy! We’re having a blast making these for you, and more are in the works. Stay tuned! (Or… stay internetted. Or whatever.)

Magic Meathands Original video #3: Pants – A Nightmare
Magic Meathands Original video #2: Fun and Games
Magic Meathands Original video #1: Eddie the Enforcer