So! Cool news! After watching David sit at the cool kids’ table (Comics Alliance) for so long, I’ve finally decided I’d finally get around to branching out into writing for other sites. Friend of a friend Mike Cecchini is an editor at the US version of Den of Geek and asked me if I wanted in and I jumped at the chance.
I was talking to ThWiP regular Was Taters about ideas for the list and she was surprised that I could even come up with five. Doing enough research, I found over twenty of them. Here’s some SNL skits that didn’t make the cut:
– A Digital Short where Andy Samberg plays a Batman-like character who sings about how the streets need a hero. His dramatic swagger is interrupted when a mugger punches him about fifty times. For starters.
– Christopher Reeve auditioning for the role of Superman. Unfortunately, he keeps screwing up. Not only is his delivery a little off, but he can’t catch bullets with his teeth perfectly and his heat vision aim is WAY off.
– Macaulay Culkin as Superboy, who has a hard time thwarting Lex Luthor and his goons because while he’s super strong, he’s still too damn adorable to take seriously.
– Jerry Seinfeld as Superman, casually yakking it up on a talkshow. While his strength is unmatched, he admits that he’s not so invincible when it comes to Scrabble. After all, even Superman can get stuck with nothing but vowels.
– Tim Meadows plays Bruce Banner, who keeps turning into George Foreman as the Hulk when he gets angry. After the third time this happens, the Hulk starts chewing out the SNL writers for being lazy.
– The recent Avengers skit where Jeremy Renner plays Hawkeye. He’s completely useless as he only packed 12 arrows and he’s already empty.
– The White Stripes (as played by Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore) as incompetent crimefighters. I almost put this on the list just for being so goddamn out there.
Recently, I finished up taking Improv 401 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center. Before I try it again (I passed, but I need more polish before I can move on), I’m going to switch into Sketch Writing 201. Anyway, during my year-plus of improv study, I’ve met a lot of interesting people. My 401 class was definitely one of the more interesting collections of personalities I’ve crossed swords with. I thought I might as well showcase some of their stuff.
To start off, there’s the ever-so-loveable Jeremy Pinsly, a guy I worked with in both Improv 301 and 401. A man whose optimism is outright contagious, Jeremy currently hosts a biweekly show in New York City called Tuesday Night Comedy at Slightly Oliver. One of these days I swear I will go see it! In the meantime, here’s a snippet of Jeremy’s own stand-up.
Next up is the wonderful Amy Kersten, who writes/produces/stars in a web series called Hot Mess, which is about… actually, the fact that the site is currently under maintenance on the day I link to it is pretty much what the series is about. But really, it’s about humorously disastrous personal stories sent in by viewers being turned into skits. In the meantime, Amy has been releasing an inspired weekly series called Coat Tales. Months back, she worked as a coat-check girl at an unnamed bar. To keep from stabbing herself with rusty scissors, she coped with the job by sneaking off into the closet to film herself trying on various coats while telling stories of the kind of bullshit she’s had to go through. Here’s the latest episode.
Then there’s the valedictorian of Improv 401, Ted White. When not carrying the rest of our sorry asses, he was hanging out with his own indy improv team Tokyo Boom Boom. And he still does! When not performing shows, they’ve been releasing some skits online, including this new one where Ted promotes a party bus… under unfortunate consequences.
Finally, there’s Greg Stees. I THOUGHT he was my friend, but then he had the audacity to go move to LA. The cad. Anyway, I might as well show off some of his funny (and I say that begrudgingly) material, such as this clip where he appears to be playing me in ten years.
I’ve been reading this new-ish site, Strawberry Fields Whatever. It’s the blog of Laura Jane Faulds, Elizabeth Barker, and Jen May. I don’t know Jen beyond her art, but Liz & LJ have been Twitter friends with me for a while now, and I bought their Beatles zines last year, too. They’re cool people, and I think of them as friends. Is it weird to write about your friends? Who cares, I’m doing it.
SF Whatevs is a great site partially due to the fact that LJ and Liz don’t write like anyone else I read. It feels different and fresh, anything but sterile. It’s very music-centric, in that they both use rock music as the soundtrack to their lives. This song reminds me of this trip we took as a kid, this singer makes me feel like I can do anything, and this album is perfect for this scenario.
It doesn’t just stop there, like some type of Family Guy reference, either. The music is used as a stepping stone to talking about their memories and lives. It’s both foundation and segue, so it goes “I liked this song during this time period, and then I met this person, and then this happened, and here’s what that song means now.” The music is the scalpel in an examination, the bright light in an interrogation. It’s an entry point for something bigger, but it still matters when the story’s done.
Liz and LJ are pretty different, too. Liz writes about Los Angeles a lot. I have an outsider’s love of LA. It’s the city of Tupac, Boyz in the Hood, Eazy-E, Cube, and Heat. James Ellroy’s LA. It’s different to Liz, and I really enjoy seeing her work that out on the page. I have this mental image of it that I could probably never really properly express — can you imagine a girl with long sandy-colored hair sitting on the hood of a vintage El Camino, enjoying the sun and the music coming out of her tinny speakers? big sunglasses on her face? that’s the foundation, at least — but instead of sounding more like a crazy person I’ll just share this comment I left on a post she wrote about Cat Power the other day:
You never fail to make LA sound like the best place on Earth. Not like a paradise on Earth or anything, but more like… a place where things happen. Beautiful things, sad things, happy things. I especially like the detail about the couch in the parking lot, and the idea of lost friends being beautiful in their own way. I feel almost like a country mouse saying this, but you make LA sound like a place where adventures are a matter of course, where adventures just happen. And I really enjoy/appreciate that. Thank you.
And I mean, I don’t know anything about Cat Power, the musician that Liz talks about some in the post, but I still got the post, right? I like that.
LJ always amazes me with how personal she’s willing to get. I’m pretty closed off when it comes to that stuff, barring a few things that I’ve grown more comfortable joking/writing about (daddy issues, HOLLA), but LJ is astoundingly open to me. I really dug her “Laura Jane’s Quitting Smoking Journals” (one, two, three, four, five) because they were as much smoking confessional and diary as they were a deep look at motivations, positive/negative reinforcement, and even how we tell ourselves little lies just to keep ourselves going. Life as performance, you’re your own audience. I don’t smoke cigarettes, and I’ve never had to quit smoking cigarettes, but again, I can recognize the truth in her words.
They do stories, too. You can read their Beatles zines, which are excerpts from a book-in-progress called Let It Be Beautiful or check out their stories on places like Storychord, where LJ wrote about a girl named Sam and Liz wrote about a girl named Sally. Both are good. I don’t have a full list of their fiction or anything, but read SFW and I figure they’ll link new pieces as they come. Their stories have a similar swing as their posts, which is cool.
Ever read that crossover with Planetary and Batman? There’s a whole gimmick where this crazy guy has powers to alter reality and without warning, Batman keeps changing incarnations throughout the story. He’ll go from Adam West to Frank Miller-style to wearing the purple gloves from his original appearance and change his tone to fit the situation. As great as that was, Star Wars Uncut brings it to an entirely new level.
The idea is that several hundred groups had been tasked to recreate Star Wars: A New Hope… 15 seconds each. Each party is assigned a specific 15 seconds and has to remake the scene however they see fit. Then all of it is stitched together to form a completely bizarre and hilarious interpretation of the full movie.
You’ll go from seeing someone’s kids dressed up as Stormtroopers to trippy animation to special effects and acting out of Be Kind Rewind to claymation to silent film to puppets to someone talking upside down with eyes drawn on their chin. There’s plenty of gold in there, such as Lady Gaga Darth Vader, C3PO getting way too sexual, a basket of ferrets reenacting the garbage scene, an Anti-Monitor action figure playing the role of R2D2 and my new favorite impression of Chewbacca. Sometimes the footage will go into completely different universes, like turning into a Disney movie, World War II dogfights, a western, the Seventh Seal, Tron, Yellow Submarine and even at one point the Big Lewbowski.
There are some stinkers in there, sure, but that’s all part of the charm. It’s a great way to spend a couple hours.
We all remember Abobo, right? Introduced in the arcade version of Double Dragon, he became more well-known in the NES adaptation, where he looked less human and more like an angry pile of muscles. He proceeded to be a staple in the series, showing up in sequels, the Battletoads crossover game, the fighting game and the live-action movie. Even when videogame company Evoga failed to get the rights to make their game Rage of the Dragons a part of the Double Dragon franchise, they still had a character in there named Abubo.
Abobo’s been a nostalgic icon for the NES, so it’s fitting that all these years later, he’d be the centerpiece for this Newgrounds collaboration that’s taken many years to put together. Check out the trailer.
With the kidnapping of Aboboy, Abobo must go through a series of different classic NES game styles to set things right. Throughout the excessively violent journey, he deals with:
1) A warped reimagining of the first level of Double Dragon.
2) A Mario Brothers underwater level where he has Yoshi powers.
3) A very one-sided battle with Urban Champ.
4) A dungeon from Legend of Zelda where he must take on the game’s greatest villain: the old man who gives you advice. Using a sword is good enough, but using a piece of meat as a sword does even more damage.
5) After chasing the Amazon with only a pair of balloons, you then take him on in a Pro Wrestling match, featuring some unexpected but not unwelcome help.
6) As Megabobo, you must defeat your robot double.
7) Armed with a machine gun and a code for 30 lives, you blaze through the jungle to face Krang in his most dangerous form ever.
8) You take it back to the ring to face an underdog who has since become a power-hungry tyrant.
You have to play this game. It’s fun and I found myself cracking up many times, especially during the horrific ending. Good show, guys.
Bobsy: So obviously you can’t walk down the high street without seeing someone in a Batman t-shirt or a Superman t-shirt , but why are there no domino masks? Why no capes? Why no trunks on the outside? What is it that’s topping the fashion world from being hungry enough to go that extra mile?
Grant: I don’t know, because I thought super-fashion would look more like Zenith: Fashion clothes but with a little mask on. But that hasn’t happened. It’s just really hard to say where all this is going. The Internet offers up the idea that everyone is a superhero, every life story is a saga, everyone has a style, every love story is a magnificent adventure. We’ve all got our pages of our likes and dislikes. There’s osmething about the symbol of the superhero and what it represents… Clearly something is happening. People are trying to unite the imaginary and the real in a way using the Internet, so we might yet see the masks.
I just like the idea of this, how the internet is infecting real life with the idea that everyone is a superhero and important. Superhero as seductive meme, right?
I also like how it contrasts with this from Morrison’s DisInfo speech from around 2000:
“Beyond that, I find that we’re deluding ourselves in the worst way of all by believing in the individual. Stay with me on this. Kafka, Orwell, Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner, everyone told us the individual is the most important thing you can be. Everyone is fucking quirky these days. Every shit in the window of MTV is quirky. Everyone’s cool, everyone’s smart… it’s not true.”
SW: When you talk about the idea of comics that haven’t been done – that’s kind of hard to actually achieve. Branching out of the moves you know work , and the idea that everything has been done – is it possible to actually make something new in comics? Not just in the “webcomics are the future” way, but just in paper comics – from page layouts to subject matter – is it possible to keep finding new ground?
BG: I can’t say with certainty what has and hasn’t been done since there’s so much unseen out there but there’s a hell of a lot that I’ve never seen tried in comics.
Emily Carrol just put out a set of zines with each one showing one page moments from a different member of a family’s life leading up to a big fire. and you get different sides and different clues deepening on which zine you read. Or there’s that Pat McEwan short in the back of Weasle #1 where each panel is a room and you don’t read left to right — you follow individual characters. I think that idea could be pushed even farther. — you could combine both those ideas and have choose your own adventures that read what direction the reader chooses to look and have it jump books or have pages fold out like posters in it.
I had this idea for a book that starts as a Scott McCloud how to draw comics or how to do perspective or draw manga book– hosted by a guy and his beautiful assistant. 3 chapters in to a standard how book to the assistant is found dead and then the learning comics part gets dropped and it switches to a murder mystery.
Or like, I’ve never seen a serious comic showing the life cycle of a fungus
Even if stories come from the old roots I think doing them in new ways creates something bigger than just the root idea. plus as a reader or an artist I feel like you have to have hope for undiscovered country. You can’t be an explorer that already expects every mountain to have a flag planted on it– there are still mountains on mars.
Longer quote than I wanted to post, but I wanted to get Sean’s question in there, too. There’s plenty more to read, including a great bonus round.
“There are still mountains are mars” is so good, because it then makes you wonder why so many comics are content with climbing Everest over and over again at best. Other than Morrison’s Batman & Robin (specifically the Irving/Stewart/Quitely trinity), which has definitely had its share of crap art, are there any visually challenging major books at Marvel or DC? Brian Bendis got Chris Bachalo for an Avengers comic and wasted him on a bunch of talking heads. Sure, Bachalo draws great heads, but is that really what you want him to do? I mean… that’s like getting Brendan McCarthy to draw your crime noir story, or Jack Kirby to do an adaptation of High & Low. I mean, sure, it’d look nice, but seriously: who cares? Who wants that? Work to these people’s strengths and show us something new instead of throwing all these square pegs into round holes. Figure out a new way to do talking heads or Batman standing on a gargoyle or Daredevil crying about his crappy life like a big fat baby on a rooftop in the rain.
Michael’s entire supporting cast will be new. One of the most important figures in his life is ALEEKA OKAFUR. Black and brilliant, Aleeka keeps Michael on the straight and narrow while running a billion dollar corporation, Holt Industries. When Michael makes mistakes and everyone else is afraid to speak up, she’ll be the one who tells it like it is. She’s the “heart” to Michael’s “head” when it comes to business affairs, and together they make quite a team. Another new character I’m excited about is JAMAAL, a sixteen-year-old intern at Holt Industries, who also just happens to have an I.Q. of 192. Needless to say, Michael sees a lot of himself when he was a boy in Jamaal, which makes Jamaal’s life really tough, really fast. Yes, he might be a genius, but Jamaal still has a lot of growing up to do. The problem is that Michael often forgets this fact.
I like the sound of Mr. Terrific the more I hear about it, and Eric Wallace acquits himself well in this interview, some bizarre phrasing featuring the word “diverse” aside. I mean, you’ve got a cape comic with a high tech angle, a supersmart protagonist who’s going to be going on dates, and what sounds like an actual supporting cast, a rare creature in modern cape comics. A black lady, too! How rare is THAT, I ask you?
The setup, what little info we’ve been given thus far, puts me in mind of McDuffie and Cowan’s Hardware, which in turn made me realize that Hardware and Terrific are basically perfect rivals. Brilliant and idealistic vs Brilliant and gruff? Easy conflict right there. Wallace teases a surprise cameo in issue one, and it’s probably Steel, but Hardware would be fun, too.
Not to mention their approaches to technology. Holt always struck me as a soft, sensitive dude–he can speak to electronics and finesse his way to innovation. He’s got a subtle touch, like a three pointer with half a second left, nothing but net. Hardware is rougher, with armor that looks cobbled together and is clearly a weapon. You turn the corner and run into Hardware and you aren’t even scared. You’re in awe, and then you’re scared when you realize exactly how many different ways he has to kill you. Hardware is that slam dunk that ends the game and posterizes somebody for eternity.
Like, basically, after you and your crew go up against Hardware, your grandkids would come at you like “I saw that picture of the time you got away from Hardware, granddad, and that’s what you call winning?”
“I’d hate to see what you call losing.”
Mr Terrific looks good, though. DC just needs to tighten up its PR game.
I screwed up and didn’t prep for the Pretty Girls post I wanted to do today, and then went down my schedule and whoops the next three would’ve required reading, scanning, and digging books out of boxes. So a brief skip week.
In exchange, go read this exclusive 10-page preview for Adam Warren’s Empowered 6 I wrangled at Comics Alliance. It’s really very good.
Book drops next week. Look for a review, maybe on release date????
That’s one of the earlier episodes, admittedly before they really hit their stride and got good production values. Awesome Video Games is an internet series brainchild of Fraser Agar. There’s a good possibility that you’ve already heard of the series, but I only got into it recently, so to hell with it. Awesome Video Games is basically a parody of all the live action video game ads, promotional VHS tapes and TV shows from the late-80’s/early-90’s. Back when everyone who played video games was depicted as a totally radical dude with sunglasses. You know, like these guys from the Game Boy comic.
The show stars happy-go-lucky skater idiot Chet and his even stupider and more childish brother Ace. The two are a mix between Bill & Ted, the villain from The Wizard, the host of the Gamepro TV-show and basically every incompetent contestant on Nick Arcade. As they preview and review the newest titles for the Nintendo Entertainment System, they’re usually accosted and annoyed by their father Dad, who mixes aspects of everyone’s father merged with a vaudevillian charm. Often, he’ll scream at them to take out the trash, even — as shown in that above clip — if it’s in the middle of the night for some reason. A lot of the time, he’s there for Chet to point out that parents just don’t get it.
Although they have a zest for gaming, the duo are absolutely horrible at it and have no idea. It isn’t that they’re just bad gamers, it’s that they rarely understand how to even play the game in question. They think that Duck Hunt is about protecting ducks and performing cover fire to defend them from the sinister dog. They’re stoked when a fan letter tells them that there’s a secret SECOND level of Super Mario Bros. that you get to by not turning off the game when you get to the first castle (“No wonder it’s so hard to find. It’s underground!”). And man, I can’t even put their concept of Double Dragon’s gameplay into words.
Hours into discovering Awesome Video Games, I found that they’ve released a DVD of the show, featuring the first 43 episodes (excluding the Christmas specials) and with three additional episodes never released for one reason or another. Also, it has a ton of bloopers, some deleted scenes, commentary, some seriously high-quality animated menus by Retro Mike and a crapload of other extras. I found the whole concept of the show so fresh and entertaining that I felt the need to support them. See also: this post.
To further spread the love, here are some of the better episodes:
Gyromite: As Dad shows he’s a bigot when it comes to the game’s “greedy smicks”, the boys discover a newfound robot friend ROB to help them beat the game. ROB continues to screw up again and again, begging the question: is ROB more sinister than he appears? Short answer is yes. Meanwhile, a new dance craze sweeps the nation.
Game Genie: A very special episode. Ace and Chet’s shady cousin Lester visits and gets them hooked on codes. Sure, it may get their scores high and bring them to the next level, but it’s still an irresponsible gateway into a downward spiral.
Bad Dudes: To help rescue the NES game’s president, the boys dress in the coolest outfits they can find, thereby making Ace extra punchable (in the outtakes, the guy playing Chet is doing all he can to not tear his face off in a fit of rage). Their enthusiasm for badness starts to concern Dad, who wonders if they’ve been behaving wrongly behind his back. COMPLETELY UNRELATED, “the government himself” calls up the boys to see if they truly are bad enough to save the president.
Sonic the Hedgehog: In a remake of sorts of the first couple episodes, Ace and Chet are as excited and inept when it comes to Sonic the Hedgehog and the brand new Sega Genesis as they were with Super Mario Bros. and the NES. But man, the Green Hill Zone his HARD!
The Boondocks returns on Sunday :) I don’t have cable, so I can’t watch it live, but please believe I’m excited. On to the links!
-Paul DeBenedetto and Marc-Oliver Frisch take me to task for my Death to Canon post the other day. They raise some good points. I do want to say, as a meager defense, that I don’t hate the idea of the narrative, I just hate that perfectly good tales don’t get read because they aren’t important. That’s silly to me. I think we should treat all stories with the same level of importance. That was the point of the Spider-Man Noir vs Amazing Spider-Man comparison. I should have expressed that better. You should definitely read their posts, though. They say a lot of good things.
-Nina Stone serves up a good review of American Vampire, a series I have been enjoying much, much more than I expected to. I’m hoping Vertigo’s got another hit on its hands, because I want to see this one continue. That’s a good review there, you can see exactly what she likes about it.
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