May 6, 2015

Orson Welles: The 100th Birthday Blog Retrospective


To think that it all started in high school AP English class....

That's when I first saw Citizen Kane....but more importantly, was introduced to the talent of Orson Welles.

I remembered him (at that point) as more of the "Paul Masson wine" guy - you know, the fat man who would sell no wine before its time? But after that point, I was....well, much more open minded...

Then I saw The Third Man in college - as well as the later restoration rerelease....and was hooked. Heck, I even wrote a Welles-themed story for Airship 27 Productions. (And yes, Ron, this is a very blatant attempt to bully and blackmail you into publishing it).

But on this 100th anniversary of Orson Welles' birth, I am choosing to celebrate not with reminisces....but with some choice selections of Wellesian fare from this very blog.

The  best tribute I can give to Welles is to point to his work. Enjoy!

May 5, 2015

5 Things I Learned Reading DC's CONVERGENCE

When I'm not engaging in my Rocketing Into Spring Road Show - or currently enjoying the heck out of my new freelance gig - I've been reading comics.

Most notably, DC's Convergence "event" series.

There's been a lot of coverage of this event, and I'm not going to be an exception. However, rather than perform a traditional review, I thought I would engage in my semiregular habit of posting 5 bullet pointed items...more specifically, 5 things that I have learned reading DC's Convergence series.

  1. Yes, comics in the 1990s really were that bad - Thank you so much, Week 2, for reminding me of this. But not in a very painful way.
  2. The Big Two Aren't Subtle About Their Universe-Spanning Changes: Let's see - we have Multiversity (which is a much better variation on Crisis on Infinite Earths) and Marvel's Secret Wars (which is a similar premise). Plus, with the most recent issue of Justice League...it looks like both companies are looking to clean house. Or, in DC's case, "more business as usual"....
  3. DC will pretty much publish anything, won't they? - I understand the need to thoroughly use all of their past characters & content: after all, DC gets plagued with the usual complaints of "why-don't-you-make-comics-like-I-remember-as-a-youngster"? But there's something a bit off about the choices they're making: Crime Syndicate? (And why not the Morrison version?) Superman in Detective Comics? Earth-2 Robin & Huntress in Action Comics? Yes, this is published during the office move from New York to California....but there should be some form of 'editorial control'. (You know, thanks to Scott Lobdell's Blue Beetle and Keith Giffen's Supergirl Matrix, I've lost my love of the bwah-ha-ha.
  4. Yes, nostalgia will play a key factor - OK, I loved both Legion books. And the Infinity Inc. one-shot. But the whole premise - various heroes trapped in a city for an entire year - gets a little tiresome. And some concepts don't need to be their own books or universes (Really? Vampire Justice League? Who asked for that?) and finally:
  5. Some revivals speak for themselves: I will accept DC's Convergence only because it offers us this panel. Which I love to death for various reasons....and in all honesty, makes me wish they would go back to basics. 

Apr 29, 2015

Second City ETC's SOUL BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?


Yes, it was my pre-C2E2 indulgence; thanks to a set of complimentary tickets (I'm on their press list, you know), I caught the latest production from Second City ETC - a little something called Soul Brother, Where Art Thou?

And in short, it's a pretty good revue - the first half is a bit iffy, but the second half knocks it out of the ball park.

To be fair, the first half was spoiled somewhat by the gentleman sitting in front of me who spilled a beer on my leg....but thanks to napkins, that was alleviated. Many of the skits in the first half of Soul Brother suffered a bit from being....well, a bit dated. However, some of the Ferguson-themed jokes - including one featuring two characters from Disneyland - will probably have stronger resonance with the recent events in Baltimore. And that's one of the primary strengths of this particular revue: a greater commitment to exploring racial issues as well as the usual themes of a Second City revue.

But it's the second half that stands out, with several bits that absolutely kill. Part of it is the ingenious use of video (especially during "I Will Follow You", a sketch that integrates social media, video, and music into a moment that simultaneously frightens & enlightens). Another skit is a silent movie pastiche that leads into....well, it's surprising, it's sudden, and feels immediate. Some are even rather clever - a teleportation gag seems to go awry. And the revue ends as it began - with a woman clutching a bomb that's ready to go off.

That's one of the more endearing qualities of Soul Brother, Where Art Thou? - a willingness to head towards the edge. Even in its weaker moments, there's a great sense of daring in the material. It straddles the edge of propriety, daring to move further and into more extreme territory.

Go see this. You'll thank me later.