Month: November 2011

Missed It: Dig Comics video review

Here’s a video review of the documentary Dig Comics that I somehow missed when it was originally released. I helped produce the doc short, which won Best Documentary at Comic-Con International: San Diego’s Independent Film Festival, and has also been an official selection at the Cannes and Vancouver international film festivals (among about a dozen other film fests). We shot some more footage a few weekends back and are ramping up for some epic comic evangelism action.

The video was produced by InMag.com, Video Symphony, and Action on Film.

To watch the full 20-minute doc plus a new 10-minute pilot, check out DigComics.com.

(Oh and Miguel Cima’s name is pronounced “see-ma” but otherwise a good review. I hope reviewer Jennifer Marks checked out one of any number of fine comic book stores in Los Angeles, such as Meltdown Comics, Golden Apple, Secret Headquarters, House of Secrets, The Comic Bug, and more!)

Bonus alternate trailer of the original Dig Comics for the NewFilmmakers LA screening:

Celebrate the Holidays with Hilarity

Cross-posted on the Magic Meathands blog. I’ve been a member of the Magic Meathands for nearly 3 years, performing well over 100 shows of improvised comedy. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, give yourself a treat and catch one of our shows.

April's Fools joins the Magic Meathands on Dec. 17

Did you get stuffed on Thanksgiving? Did you get trampled on Black Friday?

The holiday season brings joy but it can also bring stress. Shopping, cooking, decorating, family gatherings – these can either be a lot of fun or higher therapist bills in the works. One of the best things to do during this time of year is get out, relax and enjoy some good comedy. Fortunately we’ve packed December with plenty of opportunities for just that sort of solution. Here are the details:

As I mentioned last week, we’re back at the Westside Comedy Theater this Friday night. Santa Monica’s best place for laughs has been renovated with a bar, which is guaranteed to make us seem much funnier. Our show starts at 8 PM and tickets cost $10. Those tickets are good for every show for the rest of the night, which means you can hang around to enjoy The Waterbrains and Mission: IMPROVable, two hilarious improv groups. Three groups all performing improv comedy might seem like much but we each have our own distinct style and format, which really keeps the whole night lively and unpredictable.

Then it’s our popular family friendly night with Jump Start, so you can bring the kids, spouse, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents and have a great night out. The show is Saturday, December 10, and starts at 8 PM with Jump Start, followed by us at around 9. Tickets are $7 for the whole show, which is at the spacious Mary Pickford Studio on Venice Blvd. at National in West LA.

And finally, it’s our monthly Tag Team Show where we’rere joined by some of our talented friends. This month, it’s the improv comedy group April’s Fools! Based in the South Bay area, they’ve been bringing laughs to Hermosa Beach and the surrounding area for over 13 years. Don’t miss your chance to see them with us on Saturday, December 17. The show starts at 8 PM at the Mary Pickford Studio. Tickets are $7.

So there you have it! Three opportunities to make the holidays just a bit sillier (in a good way). I hope to see you at one or more of this month’s shows. Each show is a completely unique experience, never to be repeated – just like a snowflake. So try to catch as many of our shows on your tongue as you can! … Wait, this metaphor just took an awkward turn. But if someone shows up in a snowsuit it will be worth it!

Best Comics of 2011 – A List of Lists for the Listophiles

Whether published as comic books, graphic novels, manga, web comics, digital comics, or some other form of sequential art, comics published this year continues a fantastic renaissance in the art form that brings more creativity and innovation. Barely able to contain their excitement, several outlets have already released their lists for the year’s best. And since we’re now knee deep in the holiday shopping season, let’s see what has won the attention of critics and reviewers in 2011.

I’ll add to the list as more are released. Check out the artists own webpages and check out the publisher links for more info on each book. Select quotes are taken from the site/publication, visit each for more.

First, here are some Black Friday shopping guides that are still worth consulting and will no doubt influence those site’s final Best Of lists:

Also of note is the Washington Post’s Comic Riffs blog sending out an open call for nominations for this year’s Best Webcomics. Let me know if I’ve missed a Best Of list worth reading. OK, on with the lists!

Amazon.ca – Best Books of 2011: Comics & Graphic Novels (published November 28, 2011) [mostly the same as Amazon.com’s list below except for 4 items]

Zahra's Paradise by Amir & Khalil

Publishers Weekly – Best Books 2011: Comics (published November 7, 2011)

“An Iranian blogger goes missing and his family enters a hellish twilight zone of obfuscation in a story that captures the uncertainty of living under religious dogma.”

Host of NPR’s On the Media, Gladstone uses a cartoon persona to take the reader on a thoughtful and entertaining excursion through the history of the media from ancient Rome to the rise of digital technology.

“In this epic work of science fiction, Rachel Grosvenor, an outcast in a world ruled by a complex network of clans, looks to find a place for herself by attempting to join a very exclusive clan.”

Habibi by Craig Thompson

Amazon.com – Best Books of 2011: Comics & Graphic Novels (published November 8, 2011)

Habibi, Craig Thompson’s intricate and moving fairy tale about familial and romantic love, one’s relationship to their environment, the shared roots of Christianity and Islam, and the effects of industrial modernization, tops our list of the best Comics & Graphic Novels of 2011.”

The New York Times – Holiday Gift Guide: 100 Notable Books of 2011 (published November 21, 2011)

“In this capacious, metaphysically inclined graphic novel, a flock of finches act out Nilsen’s unsettling comic vision about the food chain, fate and death.”

Can’t Blog… Eating

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone in the United States! Everyone else… Happy Thursday?

This morning, the Magic Meathands and I are performing at a church in Inglewood that is serving a Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless and needy. I think this makes the third year in a row we’ve done this show. Improv comedy directly to the people that need laughter the most. I love it.

Eat hearty and be thankful.

Meanwhile, here’s an awkward and poorly-lit video of our cat Cleo:

Stan Lee: Real vs. Fake

After the last two days, I think we need something to lighten things up before we head off to the Thanksgiving weekend.

If someone thinks about comic books long enough to consider that people actually make them, that person is probably aware of Stan Lee. The head editor and face of Marvel Comics in the 1960s, Stan “The Man” Lee helped plot and script nearly the entirety of Marvel’s then growing line of groundbreaking superhero comic books. He also either helped write or oversaw the western, romance, suspense, humor, war and other comics back when Marvel wasn’t primarily limited to one genre. He was also an innovator in fan interaction for the comics world of the time, taking on a carnival barker persona that remains to this day. While he hasn’t been involved in Marvel’s day-to-day operations for a long time, he’s still thought of as the guy who created the Marvel Universe, even if that title almost completely ignores the contributions of the brilliant artists working at Marvel at the time (most significantly Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko). Despite the controversies and legal issues of who really created Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four and all the others, and to what extent, Stan Lee remains a beloved public figure of Marvel and a legendary force of goodwill and visibility for comics in general.

These days, he remains as active as ever with his POW! Entertainment, where he’s provided concepts for a mini-line of superhero comics published by BOOM! Studios, superhero characters for the NHL, manga, and countless other projects, along with a first look deal with Disney and other production partnerships. (But not Stripperella. Nobody had anything to do with Stripperella.) And on the side, he makes cameos in Marvel Studios’ films:

To expand his Twitter and Facebook presence, Stan Lee is getting ready to launch TheRealStanLee.com, which is going to be a community-focused site. Here’s the promotional video that was released yesterday:

And thus we get to the real point of me posting all of this. Included in the above video is a clip of Stan Lee meeting The Fake Stan Lee. Played by cartoonist/improviser Kevin McShane, the Fake Stan Lee hits the right balance of playful tribute and pointed satire. For a few years now, McShane has been posting funny videos of himself as Stan Lee attending comic book conventions and interacting with attendants unabashedly being Stan Lee. And if you don’t know what that means, you got a glimpse at the above video. Now check out the below two videos. The first includes the two Stans meeting at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con.

And they had another showdown in last year’s Comic-Con:

For more Fake Stan Lee videos, check out his YouTube channel.

Cartoonists’ child tragically dies

Please don't comment on this one, just let it be, thanks. on Twitpic

Rosalie Lightning

As if yesterday’s blog wasn’t heart-breaking enough.

Two-year-old Rosalie Lightning, daughter of cartoonist and Sequential Artists Workshop instructor Tom Hart (Hutch Owen) and illustrator Leela Corman (Crafternoon), passed away in her sleep the night of November 17th.

On his Twitter page, Hart initially only posted “Miserable world”. Later, once word had spread, he tweeted “Thanks everyone for your words. They mean a great deal to us, thank you”. He also posted a picture of his daughter (right) with the comment, “Please don’t comment on this one, just let it be, thanks”.

Their friend and fellow cartoonist Lauren R. Weinstein (The Goddess of War) was the first to make the tragic news public. She has set up a PayPal account to receive donations to help Hart and Corman with expenses.

Just to be clear, this is not an ongoing charitable foundation; it is a bunch of Tom and Leela’s friends passing the cup around to help them surmount the short-term challenges arising from this tragedy.

Rosalie was a wonderful girl.  She loved lizards, Miyazaki movies and duck ponds.

If you want any more information about where to send your condolences please email rosalielightningmemorial@gmail.com.

Cartoonist Jon Lewis (True Swamp) offers further context, explaining how the new family had only recently moved down to Gainesville, Florida, from New York City on a shoe-string budget with the hopes of Hart opening up a new comics school. In the comments section, Hart posted of their new home, “It’s a magical place, this town, where her soul was set free.”

My deepest condolences to Leela Corman, Tom Hart and their families.