The Simpsons

Simpsons writer lampoons comics world in Learn To Draw vids

The Simpsons writer/producer and The Doozies cartoonist Tom Gammill has a fun video series called Learn to Draw that, despite the title, will not teach aspiring cartoonists how to draw. Instead it offers a fun glimpse into the world of comics as what is possibly the world’s first comedy web-series about comics and cartooning.

Tom Gammill started the web-series three years ago (almost to the date – the first video was posted to YouTube on November 12, 2008) and has since seen guest appearances by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman (Zits), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Tony Carrillo (F Minus), Mell Lazarus (Momma), Cathy Guisewite (Cathy), Jeff Keane (The Family Circus), Matt Groening (The Simpsons, Life in Hell), Bill Amend (Foxtrot) and even Jeannie Schulz, the widow of Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts). Gammill and/or his writing partner Max Pross is an excellent director able to get these non-actors to loosen up and do some pretty silly things. Or maybe it’s that after year years and decades of creating comedy every day, cartoonists have built a natural ability to perform with good comedic timing. Whatever the reason, it’s a

Here are a few favorites, culminating in the crazy Arnold Roth episode:

Free Comic Book Day 2011 is this Saturday

Do you want FREE comics? You’re in luck! This Saturday, May 7, is Free Comic Book Day!

After enjoying the new Marvel Studios movie Thor opening this Friday, head out to your local participating comic book shop and get yourself some all-new comics for absolutely nothing. It’s a great way to discover comics for the first time, get back in to them if it’s been a while, or just celebrate the American art form of comics! (It’s also a great way to prepare yourself for the other big comic book movies this summer: Priest (May 13), X-Men: First Class (June 3), Green Lantern (June 17), Captain America (July 22), and Cowboys & Aliens (July 29).)

You can get exclusive comic books made just for Free Comic Book Day featuring the Amazing Spider-Man, Avatar the Last Airbender, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Green Lantern, Betty & Veronica, Darkwing Duck, Kung Fu Panda, Richie Rich, the Dark Crystal, the Simpsons, Captain America, Thor, Inspector Gadget, Sonic the Hedgehog, the Tick, Mickey Mouse, Young Justice, Batman: the Brave & the Bold, and so many more. See here for a complete list of free comics available at participating stores.

Lots of stores are also holding special sales and events including signings with comics creators.

Locally, comic stores all around Los Angeles County will be celebrating with free comic books, discounted comics and graphic novels, guest appearances by comic book artists and writers, and more! Additional announcements will probably be announced this week, so keep your eye on your favorite store’s website or Facebook page.

Some stores have really pulled out all of the stops:

Golden Apple on Melrose will be open an hour earlier than normal for the big day. Starting right at 10 AM, there will be comics creators giving free autographs and sketches all day, plus 20% off everything, free Lipton Brisk Green Lantern tea & hot dogs, free Priest movie stuff, a bounce house for kids (!) and more! Creators signing: 10 AM – Top Cow Productions president Matt Hawkins, writer Jeff Cahn (Red Spike), writer Owen Weisman (Samurai’s Blood) and cartoonist/animator Scott Shaw! (The Flintstones, Simpsons Comics); 12 noon: actor/writer Walter Koenig (Things to Come); 2 PM – writer Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead, Super Dinosaur) and artist Jason Howard (Super Dinosaur); 4 PM – writer Marc Andreyko (True Blood: Tainted Love, Let Met In: Crossroads), and writers Brian McCarthy & Michael Lent (Brimstone).

At Earth-2 Comics both store locations will have plenty to do, like free sketches from 10 AM to 12 noon by Todd Brocasso Harris (in Sherman Oaks) and Justin Rodrigues (Northridge). Then from 12 noon to 2 PM, writer and DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns (Green Lantern, The Flash), and writer and Executive Vice President of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb (Batman: Hush, Spider-Man: Blue) will be available for autographs in Sherman Oaks. The two will be at the Northridge location from 3 to 5 PM. The store will also have an Earth-2 exclusive Green Lantern comic.

Free Comic Book Day 2011 (by Darwyn Cooke)

Meltdown Comics will be holding amazing special events all day long! From 11 AM to 3 PM, including a free screening of Jim Henson‘s classic movie The Dark Crystal and life-sized Skeksis statues used in the original 1982 movie! Writer Brian Holguin, who wrote a new Dark Crystal story in the free comic book flip book released for Free Comic Book Day, will be on hand for autographs, as will David Petersen, writer/illustrator of Mouse Guard, which makes up the second half of the flip book. Plus free posters, prizes, giveaways, and gourmet grilled cheese from The Grilled Cheese Truck. At the same time, from 11 AM to 2 PM, Jason JFish Fischer of Studio JFish will be present to sell his new underground comics, the adults only Junqueland #1, art anthology Fine Literature #2, and fantasy/adventure Jaephisch and the Dark Rainbow Chapters 1 & 2. At 1 PM, Shane and Chris Houghton, creators of the all-ages comic Reed Gunther, will hold a comics creating class just for kids. From 2:00 – 3:30 PM, writers Jeff Cahn (Red Spike) and Owen Weisman (Samurai’s Blood) of Benaroya Publishing will be signing. Finally, at 4 PM in the Meltdown Gallery, there will be a Graphic Noir panel with writer Joshua Hale Fialkov (Echoes, Tumor) and writer/artist Kody Chamberlain (Sweets, Punks: The Comic), as they discuss their creative processes and influences, followed by a brief signing.

Burbank’s House of Secrets will be going all day long, from 11 AM to 7 PM. From 12 noon to 2 PM, they’ll have Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants and Sherm Cohen, cover artist of the new SpongeBob Comics.

The Comic Bug in Hermosa Beach has a ton of creators lined up, scheduled for 12 noon to 3 PM giving free sketches and autographs in addition to huge sales and live super-heroes for photo ops. Their line-up will include writer/artist Mike Mignola (Hellboy, Baltimore), writer Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre), TV & comics writer Christopher Yost (Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, New X-Men), writer Joshua Williamson (Fractured Fables, Yo Gabba Gabba Comic Book Time), writer/letterer Richard Starkings (Elephantmen), animator/artist Phil Ortiz (The Simpsons), Jeff Stokely (Fraggle Rock) and lots more. Artist Joe Benitez (Lady Mechanika) will be there 3 – 5 PM.

Collector’s Paradise Comics & Gallery in Winnetka has a full day of events planned, including featured guests like Whilce Portacio (Wetworks, Artifacts), Tomm Coker (Undying Love, Daredevil Noir), Joshua Fialkov (Tumor, Echoes) and a lot more giving autographs and/or sketches to raise money for the non-profit organization The Hero Initiative from 12 noon to 3 PM. Plus the store will be having its biggest sale of the year, costumed superhero characters, and the Calbi gourmet food truck.

Read more on the history of Free Comic Book Day… (more…)

Looking at the Eisners: Nominees for Best Short Story

The 2011 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards released their nominees for excellence in comic books for the previous year last Friday. A panel of 6 judges made up of professionals throughout the industry selected the nominees. People throughout the industry will now begin voting on the nominees. Winners will be announced at the award show put on at this summer’s huge Comic-Con International convention in San Diego. The Eisners are basically the comic book equivalent of the film industry’s Academy Awards, TV’s Emmy Awards, music’s Grammy Awards, and theater’s Tony Awards, so it deserves a closer look.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be breaking down the nominees in each category, providing context and background info, and I’ll also give you a link to Amazon and other sites so you can buy your own copy, if possible. I can’t read everything, so lots of this stuff passed by me or is on my way-too-high to-read pile, so I’m going to avoid saying what “should” win. (I’m also pretty bad at predicting award show winners, so I’m not going to bother embarrassing myself.) Please feel free to post your predictions, preferences, opinions, or questions.

Today we’re taking a look at the nominees for the Best Short Story category, kind of the equivalent of the Oscar for Best Short Film.

Best Short Story

Take a closer look with the click through: (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!

Happy Valentine’s Day

I’m busy pitching woo with the one I love, so to tide you over here are a bunch of comics or semi-comics pictures celebrating love and the Holiday That Hallmark Built. Enjoy!

Lois Lane debuts with Superman in Action Comics #1 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, June 1938. Clark Kent pines for Lois but she only has eyes for the Man of Steel. And the superhero genre's psychological issues with identity and romance are off and running.

Archie Comics #3, Summer 1942, art by Harry Sahle features one of comics' classic love triangles. Will Archie choose Betty or Veronica?

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New to Comics? New Comics for You! 9/23/09

Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?

(Still catching up. Time keeps on slipping-slipping-slipping into the future. For your patience… a sorta-kinda Halloween-themed edition!)

Here’s some brand new stuff that came out the week of September 23 that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick any of these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.

Don’t have a lot of time, so not much commentary from me. Just imagine me being excited about all of these because they all look awesome.

Disclaimer: For the most part, I have not read these yet, so I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, odds are good they just might appeal to you.

Ghost Comics: A Benefit Anthology for RS Eden – $10.00
Edited by Ed Choy Moorman
176 pages; published by Bare Bones Press

Ghosts of dinosaurs, transforming robots, and forgotten pasts abound in this star-studded book of staggeringly good comics.
All proceeds benefit Minneapolis substance abuse treatment facility RS Eden.

Including: Monica Anderson, Tuesday Bassen, Jeffrey Brown, Kevin Cannon, Allison Cole, Warren Craghead III, Will Dinski, Will Hayes, Hob, John Hankiewicz, David Heatley, Toby Jones, Reynold Kissling, Aidan Koch, Lucy Knisley, Mike Lowery, Sean Lynch. Jessica McLeod, Ed Choy Moorman, Sarah Morean, Corinne Mucha, Abby Mullen, Madeline Queripel, Evan Palmer, John Porcellino, Zak Sally, Jillian Schroeder, Mark Scott, Eileen Shaughnessy, Jenny Tondera, Sarah Louise Wahrhaftig, Maris Wicks, and Jessica Williams.

“An excellent sampler of what’s being done in today’s indie comics scene.” – Midnight Fiction

A different take on ghost stories. Here’s a preview of each story from this 2008 Xeric Award winner.

Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror #15 – $4.99
Edited by Sammy Harkham
48 pages; published by Bongo Comics; available at PictureBox

Guest edited by Sammy Harkham, the award-winning creator of the popular Kramers Ergot anthology, this year’s issue is jam-packed with some of the most idiosyncratic takes on “The Simpsons” universe ever.

Among Halloween-inspired short strips by such visionary cartoonists as C.F. (Powr Mastrs), Will Sweeney (Tales from Greenfuzz), Jordan Crane (Uptight), Tim Hensley (MOME), and John Kerschbaum (Petey & Pussy), are four featured tales of inspired Simpsons lunacy: heralded artists Kevin Huizenga (Ganges, Or Else) and Matthew Thurber (1-800 Mice, Kramers Ergot) collaborate on a weird and wild story equal parts Lovecraftian eco-horror and Philip K. Dick identity comedy. Jeffrey Brown (Incredible Change- Bots, Clumsy) does a creepy and suitably pathetic story featuring Milhouse in a “Bad Ronald”-inspired tale of murder and crawl space living. Harkham and Ted May (INJURY) pull out all the stops for a tragic monster tale of unrequited love, bad karaoke, and body snatching at Moe’s Bar. Ben Jones (Paper Rad) does the comic of his life with an epic tale of how bootleg candy being sold at the Kwik-E-Mart rapidly spirals out of control into an Invasion of The Body Snatchers-like nightmare of a Springfield filled with cheap bootleg versions of familiar characters. And nobody does squishy, sweaty, and gross like up and coming cartoonist Jon Vermilyea (MOME), who outdoes himself with “C.H.U.M.M.,” a C.H.U.D.-inspired parody featuring everybody’s favorite senior citizen, Hans Moleman!

Every year “The Simpsons” TV show does a special Halloween-themed episode. They also put out a comic book that’s probably even more bizarre and hilarious. Here’s a review of it with some previews.

Underground #1 – $3.50
By Jeff Parker & Steve Lieber
32 pages; published by Image Comics

Park Ranger and avid caver Wesley Fischer is on a one-woman mission to stop Stillwater Cave from being turned into a tourist trap, but public opinion is not on her side. When locals begin blasting in the cave, Wes and a fellow ranger investigate – and a confrontation spirals into a deadly chase deep under the Kentucky mountains!

Yes, there are even comics about people who explore caves. Claustrophobics be warned. Here’s a 7-page preview. One of the characters are named Corey, so I don’t really think it’s possible for this to not be awesome.

(And if you haven’t read Whiteout, I highly recommend it. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I haven’t really heard good things about it. Like with Watchmen and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, ignore the movie and enjoy the comic.)

Things Undone – $12.95
By Shane White
80 pages; published by NBM Publishing’s ComicsLit; available at Amazon.com

The author of the acclaimed “North Country” is back with a dark comedy. Despite Rick Watt’s best efforts to keep it together, he feels his life is falling apart, turning him into a zombie. After a cross-country move with girlfriend in tow, his fresh start turns into a festering mess. As a video game artist, Rick is subjected to the incompetence of three bosses and a kinky art director. His overactive imagination helps him cope until… his seven-year relationship tailspins and his ex takes flight with the guy across the parking lot. Other jobs and a new GF don’t look any better. Caught between his fantasy world and reality, Rick decides to pull the trigger.
With a foreword by Robert Kirkman, creator of the Walking Dead.

Here’s a 10-page preview. That flooded comics scene might be the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood – $11.99
By Tony Lee & Sam Hart
160 pages; published by Candlewick Press; available at Amazon.com

How did Robin of Loxley become Robin Hood? Why did he choose to fight injustice instead of robbing for his own gain? Expressive and gritty, this graphic novel whisks readers back to Crusades-era England, where the Sheriff of Nottingham rules with an iron fist, and in the haunted heart of Sherwood Forest, a defiant rogue — with the help of his men and the lovely Maid Marian — disguises himself to become an outlaw. Lively language and illustrations follow the legendary hero as he champions the poor and provokes a high-stakes vendetta in a gripping adventure sure to draw a new generation of readers.

Here’s a 30-second preview for you:

And here’s the graphic novel’s blog, for interviews, reviews and some other preview images.