Saturday, January 16, 2016

Entertainment Roundup for 2015


As I do every year, I'm kicking off my 2016 blog with a rundown of the films, books, TV, live shows, and other entertainment and culture activities I took in this past year—with the usual caveat of noting that though I try my best to record everything I've seen, I'm sure there may be a few things I've missed.

Keep in mind that while I consider myself a film buff, I don't get a chance to see a lot of current movies in theaters, even when they interest me. And though I catch up on a few when they become available for rental or streaming, sometimes it's not until well after their release. As a result, some of the films on this list may have first been released prior to 2015.

Among my favorite films this past year were Cinderella, The Interview, Ant-Man, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Bridge of Spies, and the Imitation Game (which, with the exception of the Interview, I all saw in a theater). But I guess I would have to stay that standing head and shoulders above all of them was Star Wars: The Force Awakens. To date, I've seen the film in a theater three times! As many have observed, the film successfully unlocked the code of the original series and brought back for me the same sense of wonder and enthrallment the original trilogy had on me when I was 15. And it did so while trading on the nostalgia of the original trilogy while introducing new characters and storylines that will carry the series into the future. I hope to write about the film in more length in the near future, but for now I have to admit how much this film has stayed with me.

This past year I also re-discovered television. A lot of network shows remain off my radar, but among the great series I watched regularly this past year were the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Supergirl, You’re the Worst, The Goldbergs, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the Newsroom, Wet Hot American Summer, and Red Oaks. As this list suggests, what qualifies as "television" has evolved somewhat since many of these "series"namely Kimmy Schmidt, Wet Hot American Summer, and Red Oaks—were exclusive to Netflix or Amazon. Regardless, I enjoyed them immensely and hope to write about these too. 

And so, without any further ado...

Films:

Blue Jasmine - DVD (2/10/15)
That Guy...Who Was in that Thing - Netflix (1/31/15)
I Know that Voice! - Netflix (1/31/15)
Wolf of Wall Street - Netflix (1/20/15)
Chef - Netflix
Girl Most Likely - Netflix (3/9/2015)
Jim Gaffigan Standup Concert
Cinderella (3/14/15)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (4/10/2015
Stripped - Netflix (5/11/2015)
Lolita (5/17/15) - TCM
San Francisco - TCM (5/22/2015)
Pitch Perfect 2 (5/24/2015)
Dirty Dozen - TCM (5/25/2015)
L.A. Plays Itself - Netflix (5/24/2015)
Tomorrowland (5/31/2015)
Driving Miss Daisy- Netflix (5/31/2105)
My Week with Marilyn - Netflix (6/3/2015)
Inbetweeners 2 - Netflix (6/5/2015)
Battled Bastards of Baseball - Netflix ll (6/6/2015)
Beyond the Lights - Netflix (6/25/2015)
The Winning Season - Netflix (6/27/2015)
Les Daniels’ The Butler - Netflix (6/27/2015)
Louie, Season 4 - Netflix (6/27/2015)
Hector and the Search for Happiness - Netflix (6/28/2015)
Tiny Furniture - Netflix (7/1/2015)
The Interview - Netflix (7/6/2015)
Ant-Man (7/18/2015)
Wet Hot American Summer - Netflix (7/26/2015)
Hurricane of Fun: The Making of Wet Hot American Summer - Netflix (8/4/2015)
Staten Island Summer - Neflix (8/4/2015)
The Skeleton Twins - Netflix (8/6/2015)
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (8/8/2015)
The Search for General Tso - Netflix (9/12/2015)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - Netflix (9/12/2015)
Moonrise Kingdom - Netflix (9/27/2015)|
The Martian (10/4/2015)
Captain Phillips - DVD (10/4/2015)
Man on a Wire - Neflix streaming
Bridge of Spies (10/17/2015)
Last Days in Vietnam (PBS Documentary) - Netflix (11/7/2015)
Back in Time - Netflix
The Players - Netflix (11/10/2015)
W/Bob & David: Season 1 - Netflix (11/18/2015)
Master of None: Season 1 - Netflix (11/7/2015)
Kingsman: The Secret Service - DVD (11/21/2015)
Pixels - PayPerView (11/22/2015)
Top Gun - Netflix (11/28/2015)
Ken Burns: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History - Netflix (12/2/2015)
A Very Murray Christmas - Netflix (12/5/2015)
The Imitation Game - DVD (12/9/2015)
The Odd Couple - Netflix (12/12/2015)
People, Places, Things - Netflix (12/18/2015)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12/20/15; 12/26/15; 12/30/2015)

Books:

L.A. Son by Roy Choi
The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk
Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow
Suck It, Wonder Woman! The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek by Olivia Munn and Mac Montandon

Television:

Downton Abbey Season 5
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Netflix (3/9/15)
Grantchester
Hallstrom
Schitts Creek
Forever
Supergirl
You’re the Worst
The Goldbergs
Brooklyn Nine-nine
Newsroom - Amazon Prime (8/2015)
Wet Hot American Summer: the series (8/1/15)
Red Oaks - Amazon Streaming (10/13/2015)
Raising Hope - Netflix streaming (12/2015)

Live Performance:

La Reve (Cirque du Soleil) - Wynn Theater, Las Vegas (3/23/15)
Ice Cream Social

Museums:

LACMA/Gehry exhibition (11/7/2015)
Walt Disney Family Museum (11/27/2015)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

2016 Calendar Now Available!

A Rob Hanes Adventures 12-month calendar is now available from WCG Comics!

The calendar measures approximately 11"x17" when fully open and features a fresh full-color image—mostly from issue covers—each month.

Below is a scan of the cover and an overview of each month's art.

Click here to place an order!



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Rob Hanes Adventures #16 Now Available!

Just in time for the holidays, Rob Hanes Adventures #16 is now available! To order, visit our webstore or use the order link below.


The issue offers a fun detour from the series’ usual menu of action and intrigue in a throwback to classic romance comics in a tale called “The Real Julianne Love.”

In the story, globetrotting troubleshooter Rob Hanes gets caught up in a love triangle involving a co-worker at Justice International, Julianne Love, and a costumed crimefighter with super powers known as Guardian Angel. Unbeknownst to Rob, however, Julianne Love and Guardian Angel are one and the same!

Originally produced for a comic-book anthology that mashed up classic romance comics and costumed super heroes, the story is being released for the first time in the pages of Rob Hanes Adventures.

The story also includes THREE additional bonus stories that have been newly re-lettered for their re-release here, one of which, like the lead story, are appearing in the regular series for the first time: “The Glowworm Conspiracy,” “Pact with the Devil,” and “The Bounty Hunters.” An update of a reprinted swimsuit pinup ad also appears in the issue.

Click here for the original press release and to see sample pages.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Book signing and Mini-Con at Meltdown Comics

I was honored to recently discover that I am included in Comic Book People 2: Photographs from the 1990s, a collection of Jackie Estrada’s photographs from the decade covering the comic-book industry. The book is a follow up to Comic Book People: Photographs from the 1970s and 1980s.

To celebrate the books, on Saturday, October 24, noted L.A. comic-book store boutique Meltdown Comics is hosting a book-signing/mini-convention and, at Jackie’s kind invitation, I’ll be there with a table along with many other industry creators and professionals! The show is from 2 to 6 p.m., at 7522 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. A flyer and announcement for the event is posted here.

For those who don’t know, Jackie is a comic-book publisher, writer and editor, and convention organizer. Affiliated with the San Diego Comic-Con for many years, she is the administrator for the Comic-Con’s Eisner Awards—known as the “Academy Awards of the comic-book industry—and co-publisher of Exhibit A Press, which publishes her husband Batton Lash’s long-running comic-book series, Supernatural Law (formerly Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre). I’m proud to say that both Batton and Jackie are friends and longtime supporters of Rob Hanes Adventures.

Jackie is well known and respected in the field, which has given her access to virtually everyone in the industry. Her massive archive of photos taken over the decades (mostly from San Diego Comic-Cons)—now digitized and printed in these books for posterity—provides a valuable historical photographic record of comic-book people that puts a face to the biggest names in the industry as well as to less well-known pros like myself. I’m truly honored to be included in the book and to have my tiny contribution to the field preserved for posterity. It was certainly a trip down memory lane to see people in the book who I know are still active in the industry as well as those who just passed through for a brief time and moved on to other things.

Anyway, I encourage anyone in the L.A. area on October 24 to come by and visit. In addition to Jackie, Batton and myself, there will be many other distinguished guests (see the flyer at the link above), which along with the many comics for sale at Meltdown should make the trip worth it! See you there!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

REVIEW: Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby


If you happen to be in the Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley area, I encourage anyone interested in comics to visit an exhibition of original comics art called “Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby” at the Art Gallery at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). The exhibition runs through October 10.

For anyone not familiar with Kirby’s work (who passed away in 1994), he is one of the most visionary and influential comic book artists in the history of the medium. One needs to look no further than the incredibly successful run of films that feature Marvel Comics characters—Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and X-Men—to understand the man’s stunning legacy. While the more visible Stan Lee, a lifelong Marvel ambassador, has sometimes been solely credited for these and other characters that made Marvel a juggernaut in the comics industry and valuable properties—it’s generally understood now that while the two worked together synergistically to create many of these iconic characters in the 1960s, Kirby played a huge role in inventing and developing the characters, often single-handedly.

Curated by noted comics scholar and CSUN English Professor Charles Hatfield, the retrospective provides a great overview of Kirby’s work. While it comprehensively covers Kirby’s career which began during the 1930s Depression—and encompassed in these early days the creation of Captain America on the eve of World War II—it focuses on his work in the 1960s and ‘70s, when Kirby particularly exploded creatively. This era saw the launch of many of Marvel’s iconic characters and, after his move to rival publisher DC Comics in the 1970s due to his dissatisfaction with Marvel, characters and series like Kamandi, Mister Miracle, the Forever People, New Gods, and the Fourth World.

I’ve covered at length in this blog cartoonists like Roy Crane, Noel Sickles, Milton Caniff, Will Eisner, and Alex Toth, who are considered among the finest cartoonists in the history of the field and had great personal influence on me. Indeed, Kirby and Toth are often considered as the leading examples of the two primary differing schools of comic-book art: Toth was the more naturalistic (though still strong on design) while Kirby’s dynamic, operatic style was perfectly suited for the superhero genre. Although my blog posts clearly show that I lean towards the work of the other school of cartooning represented by people like Caniff and Toth, one cannot deny that Kirby is truly among the titans of the comic-book industry. The characters he created or had a hand in creating  remain the foundation on which modern superhero comics—particularly those published by Marvel that have been major source material for the films—continue to build upon.



In looking at the exhibit, it’s fascinating to see how Kirby incorporated his love of myth, fantasy and science fiction into his work. As he gained more freedom, his creative output reached its apotheosis around this period—though Thor was initially about a god living in the guise of a human among ordinary people, the series soon expanded into the Norse myths of Asgard and other realms. Much of his work at DC—under the umbrella of his ambitious Fourth World saga—further advanced his thinking in these areas. Though Kirby, a product of the Depression era and a member of “the greatest generation,” could hardly be mistaken to be a part of the 1960s counterculture, one could see how the transcendental and fantastic elements of his art and stories had resonance in the psychedelic age. His art during this period also became more stylized and impressionistic, but retained the operatic and epic quality that was always a part of his work.

Seeing original comics art in their original full size is always a treat and a different experience from seeing them in print format and in color. It’s a great opportunity to see original comics art up close and learn about one of the giants of the comic-book field.

Interview with curator and comics scholar Charles Hatfield from the Comics Reporter.

Below: A tour of the exhibition with curator Charles Hatfield.



Monday, September 14, 2015

NEWS RELEASE - For Immediate Release


Love Is in the Air in Rob Hanes Adventures #16!


This October, Rob Hanes Adventures #16 takes a detour from the series’ usual menu of action and adventure in a throwback to classic romance in a tale called “The Real Julianne Love.” In the story, globetrotting adventurer Rob Hanes becomes entwined in a love triangle involving his co-worker Julianne Love and a costumed crimefighter with super powers known as Guardian Angel. Unbeknownst to Rob, however, Julianne Love and Guardian Angel are one and the same!

Originally produced for a comic-book anthology that mashed up classic romance comics with super heroes, the story is being released for the first time in the pages of Rob Hanes Adventures.

This is not the first time the series has engaged in genre-bending storytelling. Issue 7, “Death on the Moors,” featured a classic drawing room murder mystery, while issue 10, “The Pride of the Chickenhawks,” was a sports tale centered on semi-professional baseball. (The latter story earned the issue a spot in Tony Isabella’s 1000 Comics You Must Read.)

“I’d always wanted to do a classic romance comic and this story was a great opportunity to do one,” said Rob Hanes Adventures writer-artist-creator Randy Reynaldo. “Although the series is primarily an action-adventure series, I think some variety helps keep the series fun and refreshing."

Also rounding out the issue will be two additional stories, both re-lettered for their appearance in this issue: “The Glowworm Conspiracy,” which originally appeared in the Rob Hanes Archives
trade paperback and “Pact with the Devil,” a 4-page story set in South America.

About Rob Hanes Adventures:
Inspired by classic adventure comic strips like Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates and Roy Crane's Buz Sawyer but set in the modern day — with dashes of light-hearted humor reminiscent of Will Eisner's Spirit — readers and fans have lauded Rob Hanes Adventures for recapturing the spirit of the classic adventure strip while updating it for modern day audiences.

Though themes and characters recur in the series, every issue of Rob Hanes Adventures is self-contained. The entire series remains in print, including 15 issues to date and two trade paperback collections of earlier work. For more information about the series, previews and to purchase back issues, visit the WCG Comics website at wcgcomics.com or facebook.com/rhadventures.

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The permanent link for this press release is http://wcgcomics.blogspot.com/2015/09/rha16.html

Below are sample pages from Rob Hanes Adventures #16:

Cover to Rob Hanes Adventures #16

Splash page to "The Real Julianne Love" p. 1


"The Real Julianne Love," p. 3



"The Real Julianne Love," p. 4


"The Real Julianne Love," p. 7
Re-lettered splash page to "Pact with the Devil"
Re-lettered splash page to "The Glowworm Conspiracy"

Re-lettered swimsuit pinup page to be reprinted in RHA #16



Sunday, August 23, 2015

Harry Potter Hamlet

Every weekend in August, the Actor's Gang in Culver City puts on a free Shakespeare production in the park for families, usually a family friendly one-hour production of a Shakespeare play mashed up with another pop culture touchstone—with plenty of comedy (for both kids and their parents), music, some pointed political satire, and shout outs and plugs for Culver City.

This year's show was one of their best—"Harry Potter Hamlet"—and, spoiler alert, in this production, everyone survives and learns a life lesson, thanks to the magic of the wizards and audience participation!

Here are some photos from the production.