Tagged: Del Close

ComicMix Quick Picks – March 10, 2009

Today’s list of quick items:

  • The Future Now: Science Fiction Set in 2009. From io9. All you Freejack fans, raise your hands. Yes, you, Kathleen David.

  • If you’ve always wandered the streets of Greenwich Village trying to find Dr. Strange’s loft, wondered which subway stop to get off at to get to Yancy Street, or tried to spot the Baxter Building in the New York Skyline, check out The Marvel Comics Guide to New York City . As the cover says," Whether you’re a native New Yorker, a thrill-seeking tourist, or a curious armchair traveler, with this one-of-a-kind guide you can explore the city that never sleeps and the comics that live forever." You know you can trust it — the book’s even at the Museum of Modern Art bookstore.

  • If your taste in pop culture entertainment runs more towards Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, and/or other animated furry friends, The Animated Bestiary takes a scholarly look at how  anthropomorphic animals have been used in film and cartoons to reflect human characteristics and behavior. So, the next time you’re watching Looney Tunes you can tell people you’re doing Serious Academic Ruminations on the Role of Anthropomorphism in Pop Culture. And you can feel like you’re Wile E. Coyote — super genius.

  • Genuine 19th century Vampire Killing Kits.

  • In case you’ve forgotten ‘Total Recall’, it’s getting remade. (Ye gods, it’s been almost two decades…)

  • What do the cartoon character "Pucca," the serialized drama "Princess Hours" and Stephen Colbert’s nemesis "RAIIIIN!" have in common? They’re all products of pop culture from Korea. Fans in the U.S. have known about Japanese pop culture imports for a while now, but there’s also a whole world of great comics, pop music, and other cool stuff just across the water in the Land of Morning Calm — and we’re not just talking about Margaret Cho and that hot guy from "Lost."  For more, page through the book Pop Goes Korea.  And if this book whets your appetite for Korean tchotchkes,  try some of the stuff from the Destination Seoul line of products from the Museum of Modern Art (can you guess where I spent some time this afternoon?) In particular, the Hwa-To Card Game is a fun way to pass the time, and much, much cheaper than Magic: the Gathering (though, I warn you, no less addictive!)

  • And finally, a belated 75th birthday to Del Close. It’s okay, he’s late himself.

Anything else? Consider this an open thread.

Kim ‘Howard’ Johnson Shows ‘Monty Python’ Slides

Kim ‘Howard’ Johnson Shows ‘Monty Python’ Slides

Kim “Howard” Johnson, author of the just-released memoir Monty Python’s Tunisian Holiday: My Life with Brian, will appear live at Chicago’s i.O. Theatre, 3541 N. Clark Street (phone 773-880-0199), at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 18, to present, for the first time ever, his 30-year-old vacation slide show as he reveals secrets behind the filming of Monty Python’s Life of Brian. The event is free and open to the public.

Monty Python’s Tunisian Holiday: My Life with Brian Live! will incorporate many of the photos presented in the new book, and many more never before seen, Johnson will discuss the filming of the comedy classic and his life, times, and strange adventures with the six members of Monty Python.

“I’ve always enjoyed subjecting small groups of friends and relatives to my slides of Yellowstone Park and the Wisconsin Dells,” says Johnson. “So you can imagine how thrilled I am to be able to subject an entire audience to every minute detail of the Stoning Scene, the fate of George Harrison’s money, and the long-censored secrets of King Otto and Mrs. Pontius Pilate.

In addition to writing five books on Monty Python, Johnson is also co-author (with Del Close and Charna Halpern) of the improvisation manual Truth in Comedy and the author of the acclaimed biography of improvisational guru Del Close, titled The Funniest One in the Room.

A limited quantity of books will be available for purchase at the event.

Review: ‘Monty Python’s Tunisian Holiday’

Well as careers go, here’s a good one. Start off writing a fanzine and wind up working with and for Del Close and Monty Python and, specifically, John Cleese. Then you get to write all kinds of books about your labors.

Long-time comics journalist and frequent ComicMix commenter Kim Howard Johnson has a new book out called Monty Python’s Tunisian Holiday. It’s a misnomer; Monty Python was in Tunisia to work. They were making a movie. Monty [[[Python’s Life of Brian]]], to be exact. But few would buy a book called [[[Kim Howard Johnson’s Tunisian Holiday]]] unless it had a lot of sex in it, so the title choice is obvious. So are the contents: it’s Howard’s account of his time with the Pythons in Tunisia filming [[[The Life of Brian]]] and touches on his time on-stage with the group at the famed Hollywood Bowl concerts (Howard’s a professional, trained by no less than Del Close).

This is less of a companion volume to his [[[The First 200 Years of Monty Python]]],[[[ And Now For Something Completely Trivial]]],[[[ Life Before (and After) Monty Python]]], and [[[The First 280 Years of Monty Python]]] than it is Howard’s story chronicling his experiences as both a performer in the movie and a journalist covering the shoot. As such, it’s more of a companion volume to Michael Palin’s recently released autobiography Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years (I highly recommend the audiobook version, read by Palin). It’s witty, it’s thorough, and if you’re a Python fan or a movie nut, it’s completely vital. 

By the way, Howard’s got prefaces from Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, and his former boss and collaborator ([[[Superman: True Brit]]]), John Cleese. It’s nice to know people.

O.K. Cool, Howard. Great job. Now go do that biography of the Bonzo Dog Band I’ve been wanting so desperately.  Ummm… after you finish that [[[Munden’s Bar]]] story you’re doing with…

John Ostrander’s ‘Bloody Bess’ Retakes The Stage

John Ostrander’s ‘Bloody Bess’ Retakes The Stage

Way back in the dark ages, Stuart Gordon directed a play for his Organic Theater written by ComicMix’s own John Ostrander and our pal William J. Norris called Bloody Bess. It starred Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna and Meshach Taylor along with writer Norris – writer Ostrander was pressed into service once when he wasn’t performing at the Goodman Theater with Del Close. The play was about this lady pirate’s revenge on her kidnappers and had lots of swashbuckling and mystery and terror. I saw it only about nine times.

It toured all over the world, but eventually, like all stage plays, it faded. And like all good stage plays, Bloody Bess is making its triumphant return.

Between June 13 and July 20, Chicago’s BackStage Theater Company will be presenting Bloody Bess at The Storefront Theatre Gallery 37, 66 East Randolph Street, downtown near Lake Mighigan. It stars Eva Swan, Ron Kuzava and Scott Graham. They work on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and on Sundays at 3 pm.

Hmmm… This will be going on during Wizard World Chicago. If you’re around, check it out. 

I’m Dreaming of a Celluloid Christmas, Part 1, by John Ostrander

I’m Dreaming of a Celluloid Christmas, Part 1, by John Ostrander

Having learned nothing from my last list of favorite films other than how to start a few fights, I’ve decided to go at it again, this time with a list of my favorite Christmas films. T’is the season to really annoy people, after all.

A few words as I begin. This is my list of favorite films. I’m not saying they are the best. Well, some of them are. They just may not be your favorites. Omission of a certain film doesn’t mean I don’t know it or don’t like it. It’s just not on my list. Anyone attempting to see more into the list will be drowned in eggnog and buried with a stake of mistletoe through the heart. Hostile? Sure. T’is the season.

Here we go.

A Christmas Carol – I’m something of A Christmas Carol-aholic. It’s an inspired combination – Dickens creates a ghost story not for Halloween but for Christmas. Brilliant!

I read the story as a boy, the scene around the Cratchit family table was read at my house every Christmas Eve when I was growing up, and it was the last play I performed (where I played such vital roles as Mr. Round, Fred’s friend #3, Dancing Man, and Ensemble) before giving up my sputtering acting career. So I have very definite ideas of what the movie version should be. I own three different versions on DVD – all of which I will have seen before Christmas Day this year.


Happy 32nd birthday, Saturday Night Live!

Happy 32nd birthday, Saturday Night Live!

Thirty-two years ago, at 11:30 PM Eastern Time, the National Broadcasting Company aired this live:

…and with that, a revolution was born. NBC’s Saturday Night premiered with George Carlin as the host, Janis Ian and Billy Preston as musical guests, Jim Henson’s Muppets, and Not Ready For Prime Time Players Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, George Coe (remember him?), Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Michael O’Donoghue, and Gilda Radner. A few years later, it would be renamed to what we know it as today, Saturday Night Live.

Del Close, subject of last Friday’s Munden’s Bar story, was acting coach and rehearsal director of SNL in 1981 and 1982.

Thank God It’s Munden’s

Thank God It’s Munden’s

Lots of people think their neighborhood bar is a place where anything can happen. Well, at Munden’s Bar, anything can happen – and does, frequently. It’s located in Cynosure, the city that serves as the intersection for every dimension, real or unreal, magical, demonic, scientific, holy or a mixture of all. Munden’s is the kind of place where the regulars can include gladiators, gunslingers, wizards, aliens, dancing girls, and a watchlizard named Bob.

Munden’s was created as part of the award-winning GrimJack series by John Ostrander and developed in tandem with legendary director Del Close. Nearly every story was self contained. The main writers, early on, were Ostrander and the legendary Close who had been director and teacher at Chicago’s Second City Improv group for twenty years and worked with his students who graduated to Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show. Del was fascinated by the potential of comics and, together with Ostrander, devised some strange and wonderful stories.

Each weekly story (starting Fridays on ComicMix.com) will be drawn by a different artist, and will run the gauntlet from unsettling drama to broad satire to hilarious slapstick.

Now we’re bringing it back. Del is no longer available, having died a few years back (he willed his skull to the Goodman Theater and, supposedly, there it rests although there has been some questioning of late as to whether or not it is actually Del’s skull). Our first story, however, is a tribute to Del and will be drawn by legendary Chicago underground artist, Skip Williamson. It involves the skull of the great sorcerer, the Amazing Del, that is sitting on the Bar as part of its latest farewell tour. The visit, however, is interrupted by the Reality Police who find the Bar in violation of several laws of reality (as defined by the Reality Police) and try to arrest the skull as well for not actually being the skull of the Amazing Del. Mayhem. . . and comedy. . .ensues.

So pull up a stool while we ask John Ostrander about what’s going on at Munden’s.

JO: We’re doing new Munden’s Bar stories – eight page short stories set in the bar that GrimJack calls home. Stories originally showed up in the back of the book and we had a great compilation of guest writers and artists, including the immortal Del Close who, at the time, was the director and teacher at Chicago’s famed Second City and had been guru to a great many comic minds in the latter part of the last century. The new set of stories will be just as wild, strange, and funny. I seem to recall that a newbie named Martha Thomases is doing one. I’m really looking forward to hers.


Next Nexus

Next Nexus

Via Heidi MacDonald at The Beat, we see that new adventures of Nexus, our favorite interstellar killer of mass murderers, will be coming out in July.

Clearly, this leaves us with a large hunk of questions over here at ComicMix. After all, if Nexus can come back in this day and age, complete with the original creators, what could possibly be next?

John Ostrander and Timothy Truman on GrimJack?

Mike Grell doing new Jon Sable Freelance?

Del Close coming back from the grave for new Munden’s Bar stories?

Obviously, if we have any information about any of these properties, we’ll let you know.


Unless something else comes along to eclipse that news.