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Archive for July 2014

It’s All In The Mind…

When watching the Marvel logo introduction to Guardians Of The Galaxy, see how much of a dirty mind you have. As whether this image, clipped from a Marvel comic, three seconds in…

… will make you titter or not. You know, if you have a mental age of nine.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Worked for me.

 

It’s All In The Mind…

“Clothes, Cars, Guns And Wantonness Are My Bread And Butter” – Howard Chaykin Talks The Shadow

Howard Chaykin has been interviewed a lot since taking on The Shadow: Midnight In Moscow, but it has taken the likes of fellow writer Joe Casey to come up with questions that Chaykin has enjoyed answering. The two discuss the Dynamite series and other properties from Chaykin’s past.

JOE CASEY: Does the new SHADOW series you’re doing put the original one from the 80′s into some new context (even though it takes place decades earlier)? Or does it simply stand alone as a story and fuck all the 80′s nostalgia buffs…?

HOWARD CHAYKIN: As will become clear in issue six, this series leads directly into the 80s stuff.

JC: You’ve talked before about how you never had much reverence for the Shadow, that you weren’t a fan of the old pulps, etc. Is it easier to tackle IP’s that you don’t have a particular affinity or nostalgia for? Does that give you a freedom to adapt the material as you see fit?

HC: I grew up reading Burroughs and Howard, with no interest in the crime pulps. It wasn’t until Archie Goodwin weaned me away from SF and heroic fantasy into crime fiction in the 70s, by which time my tastes in such things had reached a point where going back to those crime pulps was a disappointment.

That said, I can’t begin to imagine writing, let alone drawing Burroughs or pastiches of his work these days, while the intrinsic tropes of the crime pulps–clothes, cars, guns and wantonness are my bread and butter.

And truthfully, I don’t really think along the lines of the sort of freedom you mention. I don’t honestly believe that the concepts are the brand, in our world–rather, it’s the talent.

JC: For guys of my particular generation, our first exposure to your work was probably when you adapted STAR WARS for comics. Now, it wasn’t too many years after that you were doing AMERICAN FLAGG! — maybe five or six years at the most — but your art took a giant leap, in terms of style and approach. It was almost like you became a new artist in the 80′s. Was that conscious on your part, that kind of reinvention? Or was it just a natural evolution for you?

HC: I’d like to flatter myself into thinking that had I had any inkling that STAR WARS was going to be such a big deal, I’d have done a better job. The work is sub-par, and will haunt me to my grave. I remain ashamed.

AMERICAN FLAGG! is the result of a few years of woodshedding in other fields, developing a respect for craft, and a deeper understanding of what both I and comics were capable of, if you’ll excuse a dangling participle.

I spent six months researching comics and came up with an approach that maximized my skillset, and that was that.

JC: When you went off to write for TV in the 90′s, was it always the game plan to, at some point, come back to comics as strongly as you have in the past ten years? Or was it just a purely pragmatic (economic?) decision…?

HC: I moved to California in 1985 because I hoped to get old, and recognized that I was never going to be a big moneymaking superstar in comics–I’m just not that guy–and that I needed to plan for my golden years.

At the time, becoming a screenwriter seemed like a possible shot–which never panned out, but led me to television. I never worked on a show I’d watch, but I am forever grateful for the years I spent staffing those productions.

When I got fired from my last TV gig, I made the decision to never seek work in the industry again. I flew to New York, and stated this to the people at DC–who had a hard time believing me. I went to work for them and have been reasonably happy ever since. I should point out that I would have gone to see the folks at MARVEL at that time too, had I had any idea of the quality of work being done there since Joe Q’s ascendancy. That took a few years, but I ended up there too.

JC: One of my favorite series you did was the BLACKHAWK book for DC. That was a real eye-opener for me, in terms of how a lesser-known corporate IP can be presented to a modern audience and made into a completely viable property. It was just a shit-hot book to me. But I always wanted to know… did DC ask you to do the ongoing that spun out of it (the one that Pasko/Burchett did)? Either way, did you have more Blackhawk stories to tell?

HC: Thanks hugely. BLACKHAWK was the first comic book I ever stole, and remains one of my favorites from childhood. I wasn’t solicited by DC to continue on the book. I might have embarassed them with some of the graphic and sociological elements of the miniseries.

I thought Marty and Rick did terrific stuff with their run.

I love this material, and I’d love to do more BLACKHAWK stuff, but I earnestly believe that the character and concept belongs in a forties context–which makes it commercially unviable.

JC: When you were promoting BLACKHAWK in an interview with the old Amazing Heroes magazine, you said, point blank, “This is not going to replace sex.” Which, for me as a reader and a fan, definitely put certain things in the proper context. I know you’re one of those guys that just does your work and moves on to the next project, but I’m curious how you see the role of comics in a dedicated fan’s life. What should it be? Is it just meant to be momentary, disposable entertainment? Or can it be something deeper?

HC: A very difficult and thoughtful question, that deserves an equally thoughtful answer.
I have a photograph of me at 17 on my bulletin board, just above my drawing table. In the shot I weigh 265 pounds, and I’m tying a rope belt. What I’m getting at here is that I used to be every Hollywood douchebag’s image of the archetypal fanboy.

As I said above, I believe in my heart that the talent is the brand in our business, while the companies for whom we work have an understandably deep commitment to selling the content as the brand.
What becomes problematic is the stagnation of the marketplace. we now have men in their fifties reading the same titles that they read when they were ten. In order to make this material more palatable to an older reader, a veneer of gravity has been shellacked onto what is basically and intrinsically children’s material–as if, for example, CURIOUS GEORGE were to return to Africa with the Man in the Yellow Hat to combat the Ebola epidemic.

And note, lest you think I hold myself above this sort of thing, forget about it. I’m a working comic book professional, and I swim in the same waters I’ve identified above.

JC: How annoying is it to answer these questions from a fellow professional just trying to promote his own Dynamite series (Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #1, coming out the very same week as The Shadow: Midnight In Moscow #3)? I mean, can’t we just have a normal, fucking conversation sometime…?

HC: Bullshit. This interview has been more fun and illuminating for this old bastard than anything like it in a long time–not including the fabulous chat with the esteemed Mark Waid, of course.

For more on The Shadow: Midnight In Moscow #3, click here.

“Clothes, Cars, Guns And Wantonness Are My Bread And Butter” – Howard Chaykin Talks The Shadow

Podcast: BvS, Marvel, Last of Us, Godzilla & More

Welcome back to Keepin' It Reel! In this week's podcast, Jim Vejvoda and Roth Cornet bring you the latest in genre movie news.

After tackling last weekend's box office -- where Lucy beat Hercules for first place -- we discuss the latest movie news, including what we saw at San Diego Comic-Con, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Mad Max: Fury Road, Doctor Strange, The Sinister Six, Warcraft, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Uncharted, and much more.

Continue reading…

Waving Puppies, Poop Shirts, And Going Full-Jaden Smith: Interviewing The Guy Who Did Mushrooms At San Diego Comic Con

San Diego Comic Con has a no-smoking policy. But not, as yet, a no-shrooms policy.
Joseph Kyle Schmidt writes,

People plan their entire year around the act of crawling out of a cat’s butthole. For Anwar Newton, being a piece of human catshit was just too much. But that just might be the shrooms talking.

Newton is a Phoenix resident, an aspiring stand-up comedian, and a pop-culture junky. You might have heard of him recently as the man who took psychedelic mushrooms at San Diego Comic-Con and texted (many, strange, accurate) observations to his girlfriend and then posting them online.

The response was overwhelming for the fledgling jokester, and at the time of publication the original images have received over 300,000 hits in just two days and countless reblogs.

I’ve met Newton before—a couple months ago at a tUnE-yArDs concert in downtown Phoenix—through a mutual friend, a guy named Portillo. Portillo is mentioned a few times in the texts and accompanied Newton to San Diego, acting as his (comparatively) sober companion and “spiritual sherpa.”

We were supposed to get drinks together this night, but Portillo never returned my texts. His excuse is valid, in my book. Though I now regret not meeting up with them sooner.

Newton has gone viral with these texts but aside from the humorous musings or asinine comparisons, he also has some apt observations about the pervasive selfishness inherent to convention dwellers. I caught up with him to chat about his newfound fame, his penchant for hallucinogens, and what he really thinks about waiting in line for a t-shirt with poop on it. Most importantly, I just had to make sense of what he saw.

Bleeding Cool (Joseph Kyle Schmidt): Why am I talking to you right now?

Anwar Newton: This past weekend, the nation suffered the annual rise of San Diego Comic-Con. I went there to take shrooms and see how awful it could be. It’s been on my bucket list for the last three years. I’m a big comic book fan, a big anime fan, and I’m a pen-and-pencil artist. I wanted to experience the hoopla. Over the last year, I’ve started doing more stand-up comedy and I figured if I took shrooms one of the days I’d get something funny for my act.

BC: What did you do?

Newton: On Saturday, I wanted to run into people who I couldn’t discern, who weren’t just regular people dressed up. I wanted to think they were actually the people they dressed up as. I originally thought I didn’t have enough to get a good trip—I’ve done it before, and I know levels of it. I took just about an eighth. I got them through a different person, so they were stronger than what I was getting before. I ate it on an empty stomach. I immediately started tripping out within 20 minutes, which is a lot quicker than I was used to. Usually it takes me an hour to “get there.”

BC: Was this your first time taking them alone?

Newton: This was the first time taking mushrooms and going outside and being around, really, way too many people. I started freaking out. Every time I’ve done them, I can’t really understand what people are saying. They literally sound like they’re speaking a different language. While I was walking around, and all these people just talking in these noises, I felt I was Professor X in Cerebro. Like, I’m hearing all of these poor, young children with mutant powers just trying to get their voices heard, and I was freaking out. But… this isn’t the first time I’ve done drugs. It’s probably the first time I’ve done a drug that I could get fired from my dayjob for. Wait for that to happen.

BC: It’s not like your identity is out there, though. Your name isn’t on there.

Newton: No, but someone found my Facebook and linked to it. People started friending me, I got random friend requests. Ultimately I want to be known for it, I guess. Comedically, what I put into it, I tried to be as funny as possible in describing what I was seeing. But I don’t think I’m big enough to get away with it. Where will this go? Ride the wave.

BC: What was your plan?

Newton: I was completely unprepared for what I was getting into. Day 1, I ended up waiting in line for 4 hours and I was done with that. This seems like the entire experience, waiting in line. I’m too stupid to realize like, duh, there’s 20 thousand-million people showing up for this, and there’s celebrities. Of course you’re waiting in line, dummy. Saturday I was like, forget this, I’m going to the convention floor just blasted out of my mind on shrooms. Originally I wanted Portillo to record everything, then maybe we could have a funny video of some guy doing shrooms at Comic-Con. But I took a lot less shrooms to the con than I thought I would. We kind of abandoned it. At that point I didn’t care, I wanted to do shrooms for myself and maybe get a few laughs from my friends. But I didn’t even make it to the convention center. We got so distracted by the crap happening around the Con that I was just tripping out there. We made it to the Walking Dead PetCo Park thing and the Adult Swim Fun House. This is enough! I had had enough of everything, of the overwhelming chaos that I was dealing with at that point. And with the knowledge of how stressful it is to see anything of note… And then, the tangent of walking through a pro-Palestinian protest next to the con, I was just upset with humanity at that point.

BC: That brings up one of my next points. I wanted to ask, what was up with the whole thing with Palestine? I didn’t see the rally you were talking about.

Newton: On Friday, we left the Con after getting some swag from a panel we waited forever to get to. Me and Portillo were done. We’re done. Let’s get away from people. Let’s go back to being fake adults. We started making our way to the street toward the busses. We see people yelling, we thought it was a con thing, but it was a real Palestinian support protest going on. We got there and I’m waiting at the light. One light changes, and it changes again, and the people in front of us just stand there. We were a part of this protest for, like, a minute. That was what was fresh on my mind on Saturday.

BC: When did you start texting your girlfriend?

Newton: The first text went out about 3:30 pm. That was over two-and-a-half hours of typing that out. I was finally at the height, and I was like, I am done with everything.

BC: So you took them in the afternoon?

Newton: I took them about noonish, and the trip hit crescendo around 3 through 6.

BC: That’s a good trip, that long.

Newton: I started to come down right before it was our ticket time for the Adult Swim Fun House. [Note: This is where you crawl out of the cat’s butthole. Of course it’s something from Adult Swim.] Everything I planned went to shit. None of this was planned on my end, on any level, that actually got notoriety. I didn’t get the video recorded, I didn’t get to wander the con floor with the costumes, I didn’t even get to the fun house as a consolation while tripping out. My texts were the only thing that were, “Oh, this is kind of funny,” when I looked at it the next day.

BC: What caused you to say “I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking,” and what caused the grown woman crying?

Newton: That came directly after standing in line to get registered for the fun house. I’m standing in line, I’m freaking out, I’m getting paranoid people are staring at my haircut, I’ve got this haircut… I put sunglasses on just to ignore everyone looking at me.

[At this point, Anwar starts talking quieter. He’s hiding from a co-worker who happens to chance across him in the midst of this sordid tale. “My H.R. rep just walked by me. I’m hiding in this garden from getting fired. This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” Back to the story…]

Newton: I get to the front of the line and I knew what I needed to do, I had to register at the computer. But I’m tripping out on all of the colors. I ignore what the helpers are saying, and I try to type in my name. It’s taking longer than most people. They’re doing it really fast, like bada bing bada boom. Link to Facebook. Get online. Get your ticket. I’m sitting there typing out my name, I can’t understand, there are a bunch of colors on the screen. All of the sudden I can’t even read what’s on the computer. I’m so fucked up, I can’t even understand written English at this point. I’m reluctant to turn to this girl behind me who is helping people in line. I do it anyway, and she has the look of someone who doesn’t give a shit about the con. It’s just a paycheck. I tug on this cape they probably made her wear against her will. She comes over, she takes a look, I don’t understand anything she’s saying. But it turns out it was in a foreign language! It was in French on the screen. And I’m so fucked up, that I’m looking at French thinking it should be English and I’m afraid that people are thinking I’m crazy because I can’t read English. And that’s how messed up I was at that point, and I was like, “this was a fucking mistake. What am I doing? Everyone knows I’m out of my mind right now.”

BC: What did you do after you guys left the line for the fun house?

Newton: We ran into this weird drone exercise for the 24 booth. That started upsetting me because then I started making the connection with Palestine and actual warfare and why we’re making a game out of flying fucking drones.

BC: What was going through your mind?

Newton: I’m thinking… We’re out here, I’ve spent hundred dollars to come to Comic-Con, and here I am flying an actual drone that’s killed schools of children in the Middle East. This is what I’m doing, this is what I’ve spent my money on. And I just got upset that that was happening. Anytime I thought of something, it was like ‘the Gaza Strip,’ ‘Palestine,’ argh. I said to Portillo, go fly the drone and crash it and yell “FREE PALESTINE!” And then do it again and yell “FREE ISRAEL” so people don’t even know what you’re supporting, that you’re just bringing awareness to this bullshit. He ended up crashing the drone and not yelling anything, but I was proud of him for destroying something expensive. [Note: Portillo says he did crash the drone, but not for Palestinian solidarity. He just wanted to ruin some expensive shit.] At that point I was in line for the t-shirt. That’s when everything else started coming out.

BC: The t-shirt with poop on it?

Newton: The poop shirt was me making it up, I guess. I didn’t know what the t-shirts were. I just knew that you got a free t-shirt. At that point I was like, this is all that this is really about. Come look at someone famous, and get a fucking t-shirt. That’s all I’ve done the whole time. I wasn’t amazed by anything. I wanted to meet creators of certain shows and comic books. I ran into Frank Cho’s booth, he wasn’t there. I wanted to listen to Dan Harmon, I missed that standing in line. I realized, the whole thing is trying to see famous people and get a t-shirt. A t-shirt you can make on your own if you just had some ingenuity. I’m irate at that point. Another fucking line and another fucking t-shirt. This is Comic-Con. It’s just a t-shirt of poop! Then I realized every time I looked up someone was staring at me. Asking me about the shitty Batman shirt I was wearing or my haircut. I didn’t want that. So I just kept looking at my phone and would peak up from behind my sunglasses so I could report what atrocity I would see next. That’s when the observations just started pouring in.

BC: I think I saw you mention that it’s getting hard not to reply to people on the internet.

Newton: Overwhelmingly, there have been two sides of the coin. One side, this is funny. People at the con say, you definitely keyed in on what it’s about. The other side… You know, things get lost in translation when you read it on the internet. You have this natural anger about you when you get on the internet, you want to get the fakeness out, you don’t want people to be stupid. You know, that sort of weirdness you bring to the internet… The other side of the coin says, “This is definitely fake. You’re a liar. You’re a piece of shit. I hate your existence. You’re a doofus. That’s not how it is on shrooms. That’s not how shrooms do.” How do you fucking know how I dealt with it? You’re such a wise guru on drug use that you know exactly what I was dealing with? Maybe I’m not so dumb that I can’t type out responses. Maybe they hit me a little differently than they hit you. I can tell you on first hand account, I’ve hung out with people doing the same shit I’m doing, and it’s worked on them in completely different ways… You can’t really say it hits you the same way. That’s a lie. You can’t use your own personal experience as the universal experience everyone has with any sort of substance… People say ‘good trip/bad trip,’ but I’ve never experienced that dichotomy. It’s always been a good trip to me.

BC: Back to Palestine (a phrase I never thought I’d say), you compared the struggle to “a bunch of oily kids” “suffering on an anatomical level” just for a t-shirt, and that they actually have a reason to live for. Do you still feel that way?

Newton: I just have more respect for anyone who goes to Comic-Con, really. While I’m talking shit about the selfish nature of the con, how ridiculous it is, I have nothing of respect for people who actually know how to con. Get in line at certain hours to get into panels on time, get the swag they want, camping out to get these collectibles. You guys are masters of a world I will never be able to be even slightly important in. It brings new meaning. People say, “oh they’re nerds, they’re geeks.” No, these dudes are fucking LAND WARRIORS. I bet they could sit out in the Phoenix sun for 12 hours with nothing but a Hi-C Ecto Cooler and be fine. They’ve planned it all out, they know what they were doing. And we were just some fucking idiots. We did it all wrong. I don’t even know what I was thinking with the Palestine comparison. I guess I was thinking, these kids are going through a lot for something that is meaningless to me. I don’t have any religious alignment, so that was me being a fucking condescending asshole. That’s all that was.

BC: Portillo is a good dude, funny and fun. But he’s a weenie when it comes to drugs. What did he do?

Newton: He was my spiritual sherpa through all that. He was trying to keep me from killing myself, and I don’t know if he could have stopped that at that point. He was hilarious. I wish I would have edited his name out, but he’s taking it well now. We were on the same page as far as how we felt about the con. The lines, the swag. It wasn’t what we expected, and we were both exhausted. He just kept along and pointed me to the most interesting shit. I was paranoid and at one point I begged him not to be upset with me, and he was just like “ok man, whatever.”

BC: So, overall, you enjoyed yourself?

Newton: Oh yeah. I thought it was a blast. All of this coming up, I think it’s great fun. I’m glad people are enjoying it. It was a good experience, really.

BC: What was your least favorite part?

Newton: The existentialist stuff… My least favorite part was that that was what I decided to do. I could have done the research and got some really cool stuff. But I was like, Oh I’m going to do drugs because I’m a moron and those are my life choices. But hey, the internet liked it. So, yeah.

Follow Joe and Anwar on twitter: @woeisjoe and @anwardinoczar, respectively. Tell us your drug experiences. Or yell at us for pushing such hedonistic values. Or muse about the history of boners. Whatever rocks your jolly, you know.

Anwar on the left, with Black Jesus on the right.

 

 

Waving Puppies, Poop Shirts, And Going Full-Jaden Smith: Interviewing The Guy Who Did Mushrooms At San Diego Comic Con

Preview Of Harbinger: Omegas #1 From Dysart And Sandoval

We have a sneak peek at what Valiant has in stores on August 6th. The aftermath of the big 25th issue of Harbinger starts here with Harbinger: Omegas #1 by Joshua Dysart and Rafa Sandoval.

HARBINGER: OMEGAS #1 (of 3)
Written by Joshua Dysart Art by Rafa Sandoval Covers by Lewis Larosa, Donovan Santiago and Glenn Fabry

“It matters not how man dies, but how he lives.” The team has been shattered and a teenage Renegade lies dead – a victim of the Harbinger Foundation led by omega-powered psionic Toyo Harada. This is the story of what happens next. Out of the ashes of Harbinger #25, find out what happens when the full extent of Harada’s secret empire is exposed to the public, and just the how the surviving members of the Renegades recover from a catastrophic loss that has changed their lives… their team… and their destinies forever. $3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale AUGUST 6

Preview Of Harbinger: Omegas #1 From Dysart And Sandoval

Preview Of Harbinger: Omegas #1 From Dysart And Sandoval

We have a sneak peek at what Valiant has in stores on August 6th. The aftermath of the big 25th issue of Harbinger starts here with Harbinger: Omegas #1 by Joshua Dysart and Rafa Sandoval.

HARBINGER: OMEGAS #1 (of 3)
Written by Joshua Dysart Art by Rafa Sandoval Covers by Lewis Larosa, Donovan Santiago and Glenn Fabry

“It matters not how man dies, but how he lives.” The team has been shattered and a teenage Renegade lies dead – a victim of the Harbinger Foundation led by omega-powered psionic Toyo Harada. This is the story of what happens next. Out of the ashes of Harbinger #25, find out what happens when the full extent of Harada’s secret empire is exposed to the public, and just the how the surviving members of the Renegades recover from a catastrophic loss that has changed their lives… their team… and their destinies forever. $3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale AUGUST 6

Preview Of Harbinger: Omegas #1 From Dysart And Sandoval

Jim McLauchlin’s PANEL DISCUSSIONS: TODD McFARLANE is the Most Un/Reasonable Man Ever

Jim writes about one of comic book's biggest lightning rods - Image founder and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane.

Jim McLauchlin’s PANEL DISCUSSIONS: TODD McFARLANE is the Most Un/Reasonable Man Ever

Jim writes about one of comic book's biggest lightning rods - Image founder and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane.

Jim McLauchlin’s PANEL DISCUSSIONS: TODD McFARLANE is the Most Un/Reasonable Man Ever

Jim writes about one of comic book's biggest lightning rods - Image founder and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane.

Jim McLauchlin’s PANEL DISCUSSIONS: TODD McFARLANE is the Most Un/Reasonable Man Ever

Jim writes about one of comic book's biggest lightning rods - Image founder and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane.