March 17th, 2003

smokin'

Scorched Art:The Incenidary Aestethic of Flame Rite Zippos

The Flame Rite Zippo art book from Feral House has shipped to stores and Amazon et al, so I figured I'd plug it. The roughly 8"by 8" hardcover clocks in at 96 full-color pages of zippo designs and new art by artists, designers and cartoonists who all produced lighter art for Smoke King/Flame Rite from 1995 to the present. New art was provided by myself (a full-color M&C strip), The Pizz, Coop, Shepard Fairey, Shag, Pete Bagge, Glen Barr, Tony Millionaire, Shannon Wheeler, Robert Williams, Kaz, Chris Mars and others. Designs featured are by such folks as Robert Crumb, Los Bros Hernandez,Big Daddy Roth, Spumco, Basil Wolverton, Dan Clowes, Charles Burns,Gary Panter, and a bunch more. A handsome little book for $19. Available at book shops, some comic shops and on-line. ISBN 0-922915-83-0, the book is by Am-Rep/Flame-Rite head honcho Tom Hazelmeyer.
smokin'

I'm sick and bored and don't want to work in such a state

So I'll update the journal to fritter away some time before I can go back to bed and pass out. It seems that the last two weeks or so of 16 hour workdays have resulted in my finally falling apart. I finished the Thing #1 revision/overhaul, the Hauntings script for Dark Horse and a two-page Milk and Cheese strip and cover for SLG's Free Comic Day offering, and then went to the Exhumed Films NJ screening of Evil Dead and Equinox with three hours sleep to celebrate with some stupid fun. The next day I nearly feel asleep during a family function, Sunday I realized I was very likely getting sick, and today I am sick as a dog. A phrase I don't understand, because dogs aren't naturally ill. WHat's with that, anyway? Sick as a dog. That's silly.

Anyway, the Exhumed show was a lot of fun. There was a big turnout and the new venue in Pitman NJ was terrific, an old palace theater, smallish, but nifty and very nearly fully renovated with opera booths, chandoliers, an organ, etc. The seats were smallish, but the place was built pre-McDonald's supersize meals. I haven't seen The Evil Dead since it first came out to theaters (I saw it on my birthday in 1982 which shows you how exciting my life has always been). The crowd had a good time, and then we sat through the whacko/cheapo Equinox, which I forgot seems to have been an influence on the Evil Dead trilogy -- there's an old goof who fins an old cursed book with incantations that bring evil into the world, demonic possession, an old castle, tape recordings,blah blah blah. I saw Equinox on tv as a kid and it freaked me out (of course, it's a laugh riot now), there's something about cheap horror films that are pretty effective, even bad ones, they seem like little grainy nightmares, whereas slick, expensive horror movies look like , well, movies. Equinox sports awful acting, cheesy but endearing stop-motion effects by Dave Allen and Jim Danforth, a reddish tint to the film, a ridiculous story and a sherrif named Asmodeus who likes to make idiot faces while attacking girls. Ed Begley Jr was on the creew, WKRP's Frank Bonner (Herb) is our second male "lead", and crazy old author Fritz Lieber runs around as a crazy old professor. It's a hoot, esp with the bad looping, dumb dialogue, flashback within a flashback within a flashback sequences and obvious clues that the film was shot over time -- hairstyles change constantly from scene to scene. A fun junk night at the movies with trailers and a Three Stooges short (Even though I'm not a Stooges fan it was fun to see it, I wish they had a cartoon and an old newsreel to boot. Added "bonus", being on line behind three skinheads, in full regaila with SS badges and red-laced 18-hole boots. I haven't seen any dumbasses like that in ages, either at shows or on Manhattan streets, so it was shocking to see the sad little racist threesome standing around looking twitchy and vaguely unhappy that nobody was intimidated by them. I had to keep from lauging while their fearless leader discussed the fact that he had to give up visiting a friend under house arrest because he didn't want to miss seeing Equinox in a theatre. Seig Huh?

Anyway, Exhumed really wanted to hang onto the Boradway Theater venue in Pitman NJ, and I don't blame them. The next screening is Nightmare on Elm Street 1 and 2. Dunno if I'll make that, I might go in support if it means clinching the theater, because I do want the screenings to continue and they have plans for some really interesting shows in the future, inclusing possible appearances by filmmakers. The thing is, I've seen the first flick several times now, and I'm not a huge fan of the Freddie character or films (hey, kids, it's a loveable child molestor/murderer! Buy the dolls!), I think the first one was a real scare in its day but dates badly now, partially due to the film's poor pacing and weak ending and partially because the Elm Street movie dream logic (i.e., no logic) schtick was beaten to death by scores of imitators since the first film came out. Check out the Exhumed films site (yeah, yeah, no link, figure it out baby geniuses, I'm sick and lethargic and hate looking for links even when I'm in my prime)and if you're in ther NY/NJ/Philly area, think about attending a show. We drove almost 2 hours to go because we try to support fun where you can find it, and finding it has become harder and harder these days.

Okay, onto the next sick and bored post --
smokin'

Latest from the HOF

I recently finished the Milk and Cheese cover and strip for Slave Labor's Free Comic Book Day anthology, Slave Labor Stories. The strip is called "Free Comic Book Day of Reckoning" and is about, well, Milk and Cheese angry at being asked to work for free. Guess what? Thye hit people! And crack wise! ANd rant! It's like old times. I was very surprised to find that it's been over six years since I've done a two-page M&C bit, the few peices I've done have been one-pagers or promo pieces. Time flies. Free Comic Book Day is the first week in may, I believe, check the Diamond Distribution website and don't even think of asking me for the url. I don't know it and I'm not looking.

I also finished the script for the DHC ghost anthology, "Hauntings". It;s an 8-page script about a haunted doghouse. I'm pretty happy with the strip and wish I could announce who the artists is buut I am not allowed to at this stage of the game for reasons too silly to get into. Suffice it to say, I'm very excited about who I'm working with, I think you folks will be as well, and I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing how this turns out. I'm not sure when hauntings is scheduled for, but I think Halloween is a good guess.

I've seen all the pencils by Juan Bobilla for Agent X #10 and a few pages of #11, and they work really well and I think folks will enjoy what we're doing on our two-issue arc. I've also seen a bit of the fan tumult over the cancellation of the series, and, as usual, the fans with the biggest mouths and the most active modems are the most off base about their assumptions avbout why the book was cancelled and all. It always amazes me to see the inane conjecture and backbiting that goes on in fandom, it's even more obnoxious when you're personally aware of certain events they're talking about and you know first-hand they don't know a fucking thing about what they're blowing a gasket over. Anyway, even if the series is a sinking ship, I do hope you folks will give the arc a read. It won't make me a dime or clinch a job, I just think I wrote some funny scripts worht checking out, and you don't need to know about the characters to understand what's going on. End of plug.

I've also completed some more material for Dork #11, and I should have a few new Fun strips for Sarah to post soon. Once I get better I can finish up the Thing mini-series scripting. The project is moving closer to completion, I believe Matt Madden's coloring issue #1 right now, Dean Haspeils drawing away at #3, and I'll be done in a few weeks on the fourth and final script, barring any more last-minute rewrites, blizzards, floods or colds. I can't wait to finish up because I'd like to take a week or two to finish the script for the first half of the Eltingville one-shot so I can draw that strip while starting work on another writing project that looks like its happening fairly soon, fingers crossed, as always.

That's about all the cobwebs I can find in the schedule portion of my little lizard brain.
smokin'

Ban the !

I've found myself reading a few comic fanzines and magazines these past few days and it reminded of my absolute hatred over the immature use of the exclamation point in fan writing. There are enough exclamation points spread throughout articles in Comic Book Artist, the Kirby Collector, Comic Book marketplace and the DC Archibve introductions to fill a year's worth of Jack Kirby Fourth World comics. People, people, please, I know you're enthusiastic about that unproduced Golden Age Wonder Woman script you found, I sort of understand if not share your excitement over a Tarzan painting for a Dell comic book, and yes, perhaps it was a heady experience to buy Silver Age Tower Comics off the newesstand in the 60's -- but there's no need to "scream" it to the rafters in your essays and articles like a moron. You didn't find the Sea Scrolls, or cure cancer, or make a bold stand against oppression in Yemen. You's usually writing about a scene where Magnus hit a robot, or Frazetta drew a caveman, or Stumbo the Giant first debuted. hardly earth-shattering human experiences or events of consequence. You don't find exclamation point abuse anyehwere else as you do in comics fanzines, websites and magazines. The overuse of the exclamation point comes off as fannish and silly and just smacks of plain bad writing (It also points towards larger problems in most comic-orineted essays, interviews and articles -- nameley, uncritical, nostalgia-driven writing and defensive posturing). A grown man or woman using multiple exclamation points to describe the plots of Aquaman or Thunder Agents comics needs to calm the hell down, in my not-so humble opinion. Maybe I'm just being a comics Scrooge here, but everytime I hit an "!" in an essay or article on comics it just makes me cringe and think the writer is a twelve year old ding dong. I honestly do enjoy several of the more "fannish" magazine out there like CBA and CBM, especially for the art, the information and the interviews, but the Stepford Wife-like sunniness becomes absolutely unbearable when the exclamation points are sprinkled out over the sugary text like extra doses of feel-good saccharine. I'm not asking that everyone strive to be The Journal or Comic Art or Christopher Hitchins or John Simon or what have you, I relaize these are fan-driven publoications and not the New Yorker or the Atlantic Monthly, but for god's sakes, people, stop the madness! Ban the "!" from comics writing, and keep it where it rightfully belongs --in the comics!

(Now, see how dumb that "!" looks there? It makes me look like I'm some schmuck CBG letterhack. Why would anyone want to look like a schmuck letterhack is beyond me.)

Coming soon (maybe: Speaking of fannish projects, why I despise Roy Thomas and won't buy Alter Ego (basically, the words "Roy Thomas" and "Ego" sum that one up), and why are the pages of recently released DC Archives spreading out from their binding and becoming deformed five minutes after you crack one open? You'd think a $50 dollar book would be made more decently than that, and I don't recall the older ones I've managed to pick up getting all page-wonky after being opened.

End of screeds. I'm going to sit on the ocuh under blankets and watch Raw and hope my cold goes away by tomorow so I can make some stupid comics. Ciao, bellies.