Tagged: fan

Marc Alan Fishman: Turtles the Size of Buicks!

No doubt you’ve watched it. If you’re of my generation? You’ve likely re-watched it several times over. And after each subsequent viewing… you ask yourself: Is Michael Bay destroying my childhood one license at a time? In response, I think we’ve all come to relatively the same conclusion– maybe a little bit. But the trailer in question reveals to us a Michael Bay at his Bay-ie-est.

Let’s start with the good. There’s plenty of hints that the film makers know the lore from which they are drawing. From April O’Boobs’ yellow jacket, the TCRI building, to the relatively recognizable Shredder armor… it’s clear that someone in the production watched a few cartoons in their pre-production meeting. (more…)

Jen Krueger: Fan to Fan, or Performing Doctor Who for Fellow Whovians

Doctor Who Live at ComikazeThinking about my favorite of the Doctor’s adventures, one that immediately comes to mind is his journey to Tudor England. Crossing paths with an aging Henry VIII on the verge of a final marriage, the Doctor stumbles on a Dalek plot to kill him while companion Brianna is killed by the King’s Guard. Resurrected by the Pope, Brianna saves the day by brokering peace between Henry and the Catholic church, and using her love for the Doctor to melt the Dalek in disguise. If you’re a fan of Doctor Who but don’t remember this episode, that’s probably because this adventure was presented for the first and only time in Los Angeles for a single night in September of 2013. Also, it technically wasn’t an episode of Doctor Who. It was an installment of Doctor Who Live!, an improvised version of Doctor Who that I perform in twice a month.

As a Whovian for several years and an improviser for even longer, I was really excited when I was invited to join a group that would allow me to bring together two of my favorite things. I thought doing a show that would let me transform the things I wish the Doctor would do from idle thoughts into reality (albeit reality limited to 45 minute non-canon installments) would be a blast. After all, every fan has opinions on how the object of their fandom could be improved or expanded upon, but how often does any fan get the chance to actually play out those opinions by dictating what their favorite fictional characters will see, say, or do? Almost never, at best. I was pumped. So, so pumped.

And then, the pressure hit me. Because the more I thought about how cool it was going to be to make up and play out an episode of Doctor Who, the more I realized how difficult that would really be. Walking on stage with nothing more than the TV show’s conventions as a bare foundation on which to build comedy with twelve other people means there’s as much of a chance for failure as there is for success. I’m strictly a 2005 and on fan, so there are decades worth of episodes that I know nothing about yet, our audience may expect to see references from. Thankfully, a lot of the cast knows classic Who, so I can count on them to catch me up quickly in the wings if the audience’s suggested title for our episode contains something I don’t know much about, like the Sea Devils (and man, does our audience love to bring up the Sea Devils).

But my worries about representing Doctor Who faithfully went beyond just nailing the right references. Knowing how strong my feelings about the TV show are, it seemed fair to me that our Doctor Who Live! audience could hold us to the same standard they have for the real thing. We promise an improvised episode of the TV show and the TV show is phenomenal, so we’ve set an incredibly high bar for ourselves and have to figure out how to clear it. Before my first performance with the group, I was a bundle of nerves thinking about falling short of that bar. I wanted the show to be perfect because I didn’t want to disappoint myself or the audience. And with all this worrying going on, I was overlooking a very crucial fact: in that theater, we’re all fans.

After all, while it takes an awful lot of fandom to put on an improvised episode of a TV show, it takes even more to watch an improvised episode of a TV show. And Doctor Who Live! isn’t just lucky enough that there are big enough fans of Doctor Who to make doing our own version of it viable, but luckier still to have fans of our own. We have wonderful audience members who come regularly, encourage our silliest bits, and even let us be part of their birthdays by celebrating at our show. If we didn’t all love Doctor Who, none of that would be possible. I have to admit that despite regularly performing in front of audiences in various forms of improv for the last five years, it always feels weird to me to be recognized for a show I’ve done since improv is, by nature, so fleeting. But I’m starting to enjoy getting recognized for Doctor Who Live!, because being remembered as part of that group is, by nature, being recognized as a fan of Doctor Who, and usually leads to conversations about the real show. Now what kind of Whovian would I be if I didn’t like that?

Doctor Who Live logo

Jen Krueger: Who Is The Most Intersting Character on “Shameless”?

While certain aspects of Showtime’s [[[Shameless]]] have been hit or miss, there’s a character on it who’s had such a remarkable arc over the show’s four seasons that he’s become one of my favorite characters on TV. With a father who’s barely a father, and a poverty-stricken upbringing in a bad neighborhood in Chicago, he’s had to resort to violence and scheming to make ends meet. His romantic relationships are fraught with conflict because he’s never learned how to communicate well enough to tell someone he really cares, yet even if he could find the words to say how he feels, they’d still catch in his throat because showing vulnerability to anyone is so antithetical to what his life experiences have taught him it means to be a man. And while all of these things could probably also be said about one of the show’s protagonists, Lip Gallagher, I’m actually talking about Mickey Milkovich, who started off as one of the show’s tertiary characters.

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Box Office Democracy Review: “Veronica Mars”

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I backed the Veronica Mars movie on Kickstarter.  In addition to a myriad of cool perks this gave me, and thousands of other backers, access to regular updates on the process of making this movie, a level of access rather atypical today and totally unheard of a decade ago.  I watched this movie grow from a cool pipe dream to an actual thing that is actually playing in theaters.  This all adds up to a movie that I liked a great deal but am unable to assure myself that this affection is genuine, or is it more like the love a parent feels for their potentially mediocre child?

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Box Office Democracy: “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”

I was a big fan of [[[The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show]]] as a child and while I enjoyed almost all of the segments “Peabody’s Improbable History” was a particular favorite.  I don’t know what it is but time travel and know-it-alls have always appealed to me.  It was because of this fandom and the horrific earlier attempts to make films out of the Jay Ward cartoons that made me approach Mr. Peabody & Sherman with particular trepidation.  I’m happy to report that these fears were unfounded and that Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a generally delightful movie.

After perhaps a bit too much exposition (the original cartoon never seemed to need much more than talking dog, pet boy, time machine) Mr. Peabody & Sherman gets right into a trip to Revolutionary France that plays like a more action-packed version of an old-school Peabody short.  It even closes with a pun.  From there the movie packs on a rather stunning amount of plot when all I really wanted was more of the classic formula.

This is the peril of the modern reboot movie; they often lose the fun in favor of a more modern approach to storytelling.  I don’t care about Sherman being bullied for having a father that’s a dog, I don’t care about irrationally angry school counselors that want to involve Child Protective Services, I only care about Mr. Peabody hosting a dinner party because the characters attending are voiced by Stephen Colbert and Leslie Mann, and I don’t really need Mr. Peabody to learn a lesson about being a good father.  I just want time travel and jokes and for a good percentage of those jokes to be terrible puns.  I don’t think that’s too much to ask and the movie delivers on this frequently but I left the theater wanting more.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is better than it is bad and I enthusiastically await a sequel (it seems on pace for those kind of numbers assuming the rights aren’t a mess) but there are so many tiny flaws holding this one back from the excellence that was in its grasp.  I’ve seen enough terrible kids movies the last two years that very good is more than enough for me but if I were Rob Minkoff and I had directed this and The Lion King I would feel like this one could have been a bigger deal.

Michael Davis: A Burning Love Story

In the years I’ve been writing these rants I don’t think I’ve ever written about love.

I’ve written about sex many times but not love. I’ve always wanted to write about love but somehow never got around to it. Funny-perhaps I thought love and sex was the same thing.

Is that why I have not written about love? Have I, all these years simply assumed that love and sex were one?

Gethefuckoutofhere!

Anybody that assumes sex is love I’m willing to bet has an appointment every week that begins with being asked about their relationship with their mother or father and ends with being told their hour is up.

You may love sex but sex is not love. Trust me on this; I’m a doctor.

I’ve been in love. I suck at it. I’ve had sex. I’m pretty good at that.

How good? I’ve heard, ‘you’re my daddy’ so often someone reported me to social services who showed up at my door and asked where all my children were.

Pine Valley, in case anyone’s wondering.

I think my problem is I’m way too much of a realist. I can’t pretend something could be just because I want it to be. Then again maybe I’m too much of a romantic, I’ve often pretended something that isn’t could be.

Or maybe I’m just a motherfucking idiot clearly the above statement is a blatant contradiction and sadly its also true. I wish I would just pick a side.

Why don’t I have a weekly appointment that begins with being asked about my mother? Because someone talking about my mother is grounds for me putting my foot up that someone’s ass. Paying someone who’s going to end up with my foot in their ass seems mighty ‘crazy white people shit’ to me.

Translation: Black men don’t go to shrinks.

Damn I’m a mess.

But-if I know I’m a mess am I really a mess?  If you are aware you are crazy or you really? If I’m aware that I can’t love someone from a distance why do I think I can make a long distance relationship work? How can I be black and love the music of Florence Henderson.

Yeah.

I freely admit I love the music of Mrs. Brady and don’t give a shit who knows it.  The great thing about loving her music is I don’t have to think rather or not her music is going to fuck a bunch of guys and them blame me.

Yeah- that happened to me once, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It’s times like that when you turn to the things you love that cannot hurt you, things that cannot break your heart.

Like the music of Florence Henderson or comic books. Those things can never hurt you.

Right?

Wrong.

A funny thing happened to me the other day-my heart was broken. Broken by those I consider my extended family, fellow comic book fans.

The racism brandished on-line by some in comic fandom from the second a Black actor was cast, as Johnny Storm was agonizing for me.

It’s agonizing for all Black fandom and I dare say most comic fans of any color.

Yeah-I continue to be stupid and think people in comics, fan and professional are above this type of hatred.

I believe in my heart that the vast majority in our shared community is not what I’ve read on-line or saw in news reports.

I refuse to believe anything else.

Marc Alan Fishman: Crowdfunding Fist To Your Face

Bereft of much else on my mind this week, I turned to my social media outlets. I asked the world to inspire me, and seconds later, the world responded. “Monkey Fist”! It shouted at me. Well world, what about it?

“Monkey Fist” is in fact a crowdfunded project being thrown by fellow indie-in-arms studio, the Sun Bros. I myself am proud to proclaim myself a backer. Perhaps you should too. The Sun Bros, Wesley and Brad, are two hard-working dudes I’ve seen successfully launch now their third project, by way of crowd-funding. They hit the scene (which given the fact that Wesley knows Kung Fu means the pavement is now dead) with the apropos “Chinatown” in 2012, followed it up a year later with “Apocalypse Man”, and are now amidst their campaign to fund the fist. Suffice to say, they are making their way in the industry 1 great fan at a time. Not unlike Unshaven Comics. But given a look at their crowd-funded kitty, perhaps we should be asking them questions and taking serious notes… instead of shaving.

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Martha Thomases: A Call to Alarms

Thomases Art 140207This is the time of year when the ComicMix crew starts to firm up our attendance at various comic conventions in the year ahead. It’s a frustrating process because there are a lot of shows and we can’t go to all the ones we’d like to attend.

It also makes me really angry.

Last year was the first in a long time that I went to a bunch of cons. It was fascinating and fun most of the time, but annoying at others. Twenty years after we started Friends of Lulu, there are still remarkably few women invited to be guests at the shows.

This is odd, because there are a lot of women working in the industry, and (capitalists take note) even more buying comics and tickets to cons. Wouldn’t show organizers like to demonstrate to this market segment that they are welcome and valued?

I, for one, am sick of complaining about it. I’ve decided to do something.

I want to use my position as a busy body on this website to point out conventions that don’t have many women on their guest list. For example, Emerald City Con, which I’ve always wanted to go to and sounds amazing has, on their website, a list of 235 guests, of which 20, I think, are women (I qualify that because there are some names that could be appropriate for any gender).

Here’s another example. Heroes Con, which is one of my favorites, has 48 announced guests, and only four are women.

The Asbury Park Con has announced 54 guests, and three are women. No women listed on any panels currently scheduled.

A press release I received today from Baltimore Comic-Con said, “This year’s previously confirmed guests for the show include: Marty Baumann (Pixar artist); Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl); Dave Bullock (Batman Black and White); Greg Capullo (Batman); Bernard Chang (Green Lantern Corps); Sean Chen (Amazing Spider-Man); Jimmy Cheung (Infinity); Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman); Frank Cho (X-Men: Battle of the Atom); Richard Clark (House of Gold & Bones); Steve Conley (Bloop); Alan Davis (Wolverine); Tommy Lee Edwards (Suicide Risk); Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys); David Finch (Forever Evil); Bryan JL Glass (Mice Templar); Michael Golden (The Ravagers); Cully Hamner (Animal Man); Dean Haspiel (The Fox); Adam Hughes (Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan); JG Jones (Green Lantern Corps, Batman Black and White); Justin Jordan (Luther Strode, Green Lantern: New Guardians); Barry Kitson (Empire); David Mack (Shadowman); Kevin Maguire (Guardians of the Galaxy); Ron Marz (Witchblade); Bob McLeod (X-Men: Gold); Tradd Moore (Deadpool Annual); Mark Morales (New Avengers); Dan Parent (Archie, Veronica, Kevin Keller); David Peterson (Mouse Guard); Eric Powell (The Goon); Joe Prado (Justice League); Brian Pulido (Lady Death); Ivan Reis (Aquaman and The Others); Budd Root (Cavewoman); Alex Saviuk (Web of Spider-Man); Andy Smith (Superman #23.1: Bizarro); John K. Snyder III (Zorro Rides Again); Allison Sohn (sketch card artist); Charles Soule (Thunderbolts); Ben Templesmith (The Memory Collectors); Peter Tomasi (Batman and Two-Face); Herb Trimpe (GI Joe: A Real American Hero); Billy Tucci (Shi); Rick Veitch (Saga of the Swamp Thing); Matt Wagner (Grendel); Mark Waid (Daredevil); Bill Willingham (Fables); Renee Witterstaetter (Joe Jusko: Maelstrom); and Thom Zahler (My Little Pony).”

As you can see, that is two women.

There can be a lot of reasons for this. Sometimes, publishers promote their “hot” talent for guest spots. Sometimes, the people planning the show want a particular kind of fan to attend, and that kind of fan has testicles.

However, when there are no women on the guest list, not only does it send the false message that women haven’t achieved prominence in our corner of the entertainment industry, it also reduces the number of women on panels, taking part in our public conversations.

So I’d like to keep track of who is being welcoming to women, and who isn’t. I would also be delighted to report on who is being welcome to other groups who are under-represented, such as people of color and LGBTQ folks. It would be my honor to be your ally.

I’m not asking for a quota at shows. I want to see more women, but I don’t have a number in mind. I’m not making any demands. I’m simply reporting facts, gathered from promotional material (including websites) created by the shows’ promoters.

It is my opinion that if there are more women welcomed as guests at these shows, there will be fewer incidents such as this. As I said in a previous column, “It would be easier for women to be taken seriously by convention goers if they were taken seriously by convention planners. I don’t think we should sit back and wait for others to fix the problem. I think we need to fix it ourselves. Every time we see bad behavior, we should say something, loudly. Every time a convention or industry event ignores women, we should ridicule them for their lack of knowledge about our industry and its future.”

So while I’m trying to keep track of how many women are treated as professionals at shows, I’d also like to also offer my mailbox (martha@comicmix.com) as a place where women can share their unpleasant experiences with disrespectful men and boys at the same shows. With their permission, I’d like to ask show promoters to explain how such things can happen under their auspices. If my editor and I think there is a story, we’ll run it.

All e-mails sent to me will be considered to be “on the record” unless there is a compelling reason to keep it confidential. This means that if, instead of keeping to the spirit of this conversation, you hurl gratuitous insults or threat me, I’ll make it public (including taking it to the authorities if I feel threatened).

Let’s stand up for ourselves and let our voices be heard. The people, united, can never be defeated.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

A WEEK FROM THIS AFTERNOON: Oh, that would be telling…

 

Michael Davis: Steranko – Who Is He, And What Is He To You?

Davis Art 140128My subtitle is the title of a great Bill Withers song, but an even greater Creative Source song. If you are of the age where you think of Twilight as a classic film, chances are you have never heard of Bill Withers, Creative Source or that song.

Pity.

I could understand not being aware of Creative Source. They were a bit off the beaten path. However any music fan not aware of Bill Withers should drop less Ecstasy and lighten up on the trance. People, Boom, Boom, Boom with an occasional auto corrected voice may be music, but a song it is not.

Whatever age you are, if you are a fan of comics you should have heard of Jim Steranko, or simply Steranko as he is better known.

A comic fan, a true fan of the medium, not aware of Steranko is akin to a history buff thinking Lincoln is only a carmaker.

I’m not about to, nor am I qualified to give a detailed overview of his work. Please, yes I’m saying please, do yourself a big favor and look him up.

As I said, I can’t even begin to cover his contributions to our industry but I will share with you what I hope is a small indication of his importance to an industry he changed forever.

In the mid to late 90s I ran Motown Animation & Filmworks, (MA) Motown is the most famous record company in the world and if you doubt that name three record companies and do so without Goggle.

Oh. I’m sorry. You’re quiet now.

MA was a film and television division of Motown that at the time Motown was owned by Polygram and both were Phillips Companies.

Phillips is a enormous corporation and anything what comes under their umbrella is protected with an army of lawyers that will crush any affront to their intellectual properties (IP), patents, products and the very saying of their name is like a lone Klan member yelling “jungle bunny” at the Black Murderer convention.

On the flip side, if you make any move while within a corporate structure that has even the smell of being problematic you could be bitch slapped.

Bitch slapped like I was when I appeared on a CNN financial news show and answered “Fine” when asked how I thought what I was doing would affect the stock price.

The show was live and after I unclipped my lapel mic – if that long – my cell rung. The booming voice of Clarence Avant, Chairman Of The Board of Motown Records told me to, “Never, ever, comment of the stock price, anywhere, anytime for any reason!”

He was not happy.

And that was just over one word.

That was a serious blunder on my part. I simply didn’t know but ignorance when you head up a key division of a major company is no excuse.

I learned fast that without first running some decisions past Business Affairs I’d run the very real risk of a very bad day.

IP was at he very heart of my core business at Motown and because of such I created a comic book division called Motown Machineworks. One of the titles was a book and character called Stealth.

As soon as the press broke on that book I got a call from a fairly well known artist. I won’t mention his name because what I’m about to say may cause him to pop some shit in my face when next we meet and I don’t need that kind of noise in my life. Hell, I’m already on probation because of the last two people who popped some shit in my face.

This creator said he had a friend who was producing a book called Stealth. I said that was a problem. He agreed. But he said the problem was mine.

I explained to him that MA owned the trademark to that character name and suggested whatever he was smoking he stop. He boldly told me that he would create a P.R. nightmare for me if we did not “Cut the kid a check.”

“So let me get this straight. I pay someone to stop you from causing Motown a public relations problem over a trademark we own.”

Yep, that’s what he meant.

“Fuck you.” I cheerfully said with a pretty good chuckle. “Tell that kid to lawyer up and I’ll make sure he knows you were the one to clue me in.”

C L I C K.

Never heard a word from him on that matter.

Even if I wanted to cave like a little bitch when I had no reason in the world to do so, the amount of time and effort dealing with this would be a needless waste of resources and resources mean money and losing money in corporate America is bad but wasting money on a non issue?

I may have been shot.

What, pry tell, does this have to do with Steranko and his importance to the comics industry? I’ll tell you.

A couple of days later I get a call from Jim Steranko.

What follows is the word for word exchange between Jim and I. This I know because I have journals going back to high school. The time of the entry is 2:20 pm. That means I did not wait to get home to write about it.

 “I’ll get to the point, I created a character called Stealth some time ago and I read recently that you are launching a book about a character with the same name. I’m sure my character predates yours and I call on you as a gentleman to step back from that name.”

“Take it. It’s yours.”

How important is Steranko to comics?

His impact in the field commands and deserves that kind of respect.

He’s that important.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Tweaks!

 

Jen Krueger: Cream Rising to the Top

Krueger Art 140121I’ve been a fan of Top Chef for years, and this season has me particularly hooked. I like the New Orleans setting, the accompanying season of Last Chance Kitchen has been stellar, and I’ve found a few of the challenges to be some of the best the show has ever done, mostly because they manage to be surprising despite the show being in its eleventh season. But the biggest surprise to me about this season of Top Chef has nothing to do with the content of the show; it’s the sheer fact that I’m watching it.

Frustrations with my cable provider reached a breaking point last summer when I was overcharged by more than a hundred dollars in a single bill, and since most of the shows my roommate and I watch regularly are available through the combination of iTunes, Netflix, and Hulu Plus, we decided to call it quits with cable. Saving money was the obvious perk, but I was also more than happy to cut down on extraneous TV watching borne out of getting sucked into a show coming on after something I’d intended to watch, or worse yet, the time-wasting passive intake of crap I’m not even interested in but end up watching just because the TV is on.

On the other hand, while almost all of the scripted programming I enjoy is available through multiple outlets besides broadcast TV, most of the reality shows I liked seemed to be available only through iTunes, if anywhere at all. I’d always found the idea of buying episodes of reality shows silly since I don’t see any rewatch value in them, competition shows for the obvious reason that knowing the winner and loser of an episode takes away most of the point of watching it, and documentary-style shows because so many of the ones I watched tend to be of little to no substance. Even at just $1.99 a pop, I couldn’t imagine myself paying for them, so I figured they’d simply drop out of my viewing rotation altogether and was kind of bummed out at the thought.

Then I started tallying up the reality TV I’d been regularly watching. One iteration of Storage Wars, two shows about persnickety interior designer Jeff Lewis, three MTV shows about teenagers having kids, four sets of Real Housewives, and five food competition shows later, I wasn’t close to done but was sufficiently embarrassed at the volume of reality TV I’d been consuming. Ugh, I can totally live without this stuff, I thought. And I’ll save hours each week by not watching garbage!

But lumping together all reality TV as garbage isn’t really fair, is it? The first reality show I remember ever getting hooked on was Project Runway, which was innovative and entertaining while showcasing genuinely unique talents in an industry I knew little about (at least in the first few seasons of the show). Before morphing into a sensationalized and formulaic show on Fox, Kitchen Nightmares was Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares on Channel 4 in the U.K. and documented sincere attempts on the host’s part to save restaurants in much more detail, meaning insight on everything from how to cook specific dishes to how to best run meal service to how to create a local customer base were all offered on camera by Gordon Ramsay. And though it was short-lived, Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover showed me more about the real local cultures of both cities I know well and cities I’ve never been to than I think I could’ve gleaned through hours of my own research and experiences.

I realized the black-and-white view I’d taken on reality shows in a cable-less household was entirely and arbitrarily self-imposed. I decided that by culling the quality reality wheat from the trashy reality chaff, I could still get my competition and documentary-style fixes without losing hours to the empty albeit entertaining morass that previously clogged my DVR. Last but not least in sealing the deal, I tallied the costs of an iTunes season pass for the few gems like Top Chef that I decided were worth keeping up with and found it comes to less than the cost of two months of cable. With a bargain like that, it suddenly seemed silly not to buy the handful of reality shows I like most. And after all, in any season of Top Chef, the Restaurant Wars episode alone is always good for at least $1.99 worth of entertainment.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold