Category Archives: Indie

Interview: Bill Kartalopoulos and THE BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2014

Bill-Kartalopoulos-Best-American-Comics

It is a pleasure to chat about comics, especially with someone as well-versed on the subject as Bill Kartalopoulos. For this interview, the occasion is the 2014 volume of “The Best American Comics,” which Bill takes over as the new series editor. I thought I’d take the opportunity to ask him about his thoughts on the term, “alternative comics,” since he led an interesting panel discussion on that topic at SPX back in 2012 entitled, “Life After Alternative Comics.” This was a way to frame the conversation.

Bill Kartalopoulos is a great observer of, and participant in, today’s comics scene. Part of his impressive resume includes being the program coordinator for the Small Press Expo as well as the program director for the MoCCA Arts Festival. Both of these events are essential barometers of prevailing trends. So, if Bill suggests that alternative comics are dead, I listen. Of course, he doesn’t really suggest that, at least not as you might think. But, let me continue…

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Art Spiegelman, Bill Kartalopoulos, Comics, Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Independent Comics, Indie, MoCCA Arts Festival, New York City, SPX, The Best American Comics

Review: BOOBAGE by Monica Gallagher

Boobage-Monica-Gallagher-2013

“Boobage,” is a mini-comic by Monica Gallager that covers, or unveils, a very personal preoccupation with a lot of wit and humor. So, what do you instantly think of when you put such greats together as Kate Hudson, Clare Danes, Gwen Stefani, and Bridget Fonda? The one thing that Gallager used to have trouble with was their (and her own) relatively small breasts, or “tits.” It’s okay, she says “tits” a lot. Gallagher isn’t afraid to tackle the tit issue, large or small. This won’t really be of interest to those who objectify and sexualize but it may give them some pause. Hey Jimmy, or whoever, those hooters you salivate over belong to a real human being.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Comics Reviews, Comix, Comixology, Comixology Submit, Independent Comics, Indie, mini-comics, Monica Gallagher, Self-Esteem, Sex, Sexuality, Women

SHORT RUN SMALL PRESS FEST IN SEATTLE: EVENTS SCHEDULE FOR NOVEMBER 1-30, 2013

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“Short Run” is a gathering of small press in Seattle with some added attractions this year. There’s the main event, the Short Run Small Press Festival at Washington Hall on Saturday, November 30, 2013. But, for those who want more, there’s plenty more starting with an event on November 1. Check out the Short Run website for details here.

Press release follows:

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Comics News, David Lasky, Eroyn Franklin, Independent Comics, Indie, Jim Woodring, Kelly Froh, Micropublishing, mini-comics, Minicomics, Seattle, Self-Published, Short Run Small Press Fest, Small Press, Underground Comics, Zines

Interview: MATTHEW JOHNSON Director of THE DIRTIES

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Matthew Johnson is the director, co-writer, and starring actor in a film not without its controversy, “The Dirties.” It is a film about a school shooting which makes it vulnerable from the start. However, it navigates its subject with a level of self-awareness that gives it a sense of honesty. In other words, this is not a movie out to make a fast buck. What keeps it real is Matthew Johnson.

It is Columbine that springs to mind when Johnson is asked about what compelled the making of this movie. It is the issue that he had to confront when he was in high school. How do you address that horror, and all the others before and since, and avoid preaching in favor of making of art? What this movie does is use the dynamic of a documentary for all its worth.

Instead of the old traditional Hollywood route, and its hyperreality, “The Dirties” uses the found footage genre to tell a simple and direct story about bullying and school violence. A balance is struck between incorporating actual high school students and schools with the actors. The result is understated, down-to-earth, and very believable.

Matt (Matthew Johnson) and Owen (Owen Williams) are two misfits struggling to survive high school. Maybe they will find satisfying revenge from their bullies through their film project. Early on, we peg Matt as the overzealous one and Owen as the passive follower. We already know that this will not end well and that it is most likely going to focus on Matt. What will be Matt’s breaking point? As Johnson points out, “The Dirties” begins where most stories like this end. We actually get to learn something about the Matt character.

The following interview took place October 11, 2013. Matthew talks about the complex issue of bullies, the sweet pursuit of obscure references, Lena Dunham, mumblecore, Quentin Tarantino, Sacha Baron Cohen, and a glimpse of what lies ahead. As for what lies ahead, that seems a quite proper place for a young talent in search of the truth.

Click below for the podcast interview:

Phase 4 and the Kevin Smith Movie Club are proud to present THE DIRTIES. Winner of the 2013 Slamdance Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Film.

Visit THE DIRTIES website here.

Synopsis: When two best friends team up to film a comedy about getting revenge on bullies, the exercise takes a devastating turn when one of them begins to think of it as more than a joke.

Director: Matt Johnson
Starring: Matt Johnson, Owen Williams
Screenplay: Matt Johnson, Evan Morgan

Available In Theaters and On Demand as of October 4, 2013

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Filed under Independent Film, Indie, Interviews, mumblecore

Interview: Director Roger Sewhcomar and ‘Do You Like My Basement?’

Director Roger Sewhcomar, with Devon Talbott and Charlie Floyd, in DO YOU LIKE MY BASEMENT?

Director Roger Sewhcomar, with Devon Talbott and Charlie Floyd, on set of DO YOU LIKE MY BASEMENT?

Roger Sewhcomar has crafted a devilishly good horror movie, both chilling and satirical. If you’re in New York City, be sure to catch it at the NewFilmmakers Short Film program on May 29. You can find details here. And, of course, there’s more to come as the film moves on to other venues and branches out into new web content.

Karlheinz Böhm, as Mark Lewis, in PEEPING TOM

Karlheinz Böhm, as Mark Lewis, in PEEPING TOM

If you’re a film buff, you may find yourself comparing “Do You Like My Basement?” to classic horror, especially, “Peeping Tom,” considering both main characters, Stanley Farmer, and Mark Lewis, respectively, are deranged filmmakers. They are up to their gills in toxic psychosis. “Peeping Tom,” although now considered a masterpiece, did not go over so well in 1960 and its director, Michael Powell, paid a heavy price as he was thoroughly drummed out of the business by harsh critics. “Do You Like My Basement?” has a much brighter future ahead of it, not only by comparison, but for being quite a gem. Director Roger Sewhcomar provides just the sort of horror that goes beyond expectations, and meets the contemporary taste for suspense.

Charlie Floyd on set of DO YOU LIKE MY BASEMENT?

Charlie Floyd on set of DO YOU LIKE MY BASEMENT?

A production such as this has its share of unsung heroes, those that go the extra mile but may go unseen. Ironically, the main character to this film, Stanley Farmer, is never quite seen. However, there is no mistaking the presence of actor Charlie Floyd. In fact, he’s always there. Once you hear his voice, you won’t mistake it. Mr. Floyd leads a strong cast in this remarkable mix of horror, satire, and dark comedy.

It was a pleasure to get to chat with director Roger Sewhcomar. We go over his influences, what it takes to make a movie, and what lies ahead for “Do You like My Basement?” Click below. Enjoy.

Visit the “Do You Like My Basement?” website here.

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Filed under Horror, Independent Film, Indie, Interviews, Kickstarter, movies

Stumptown Comics Fest Review: UNKNOWN ORIGINS & UNTIMELY ENDS Anthology

Unknown-Origins-Emi-Gennis-2013

“Unknown Origins & Untimely Ends: A Collection of Unsolved Mysteries,” is a comics anthology, edited by Emi Gennis. As comics anthologies go, this one knocks it out of the park. It is consistently good, full of satisfying surprises, and it’s as if all the contributors gathered together, held hands, and zoned into something awesome. This is not always the case but it sure is here. The theme is true to its title in every way.

"The Lead Masks" by J.T. Yost

“The Lead Masks” by J.T. Yost

Organized into two subcategories of the strange and spooky, one group of cartoonists take on the subject of “Unknown Origins” while the other takes on the subject of “Untimely Ends.” What sets this book up there with the best anthologies is how dedicated everyone is to all the details. So, how did this man come to die without any ID and an eerie connection to the book of poetry, “The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám”? That’s the opener, “The Unknown Man of Somerton Beach,” by Nikki DeSautelle, that lets us know right away that we’re in good hands. Drawn in a strikingly spare style, it leads you into the next story, an environmental mystery, “Goo,” by Jason Bradshaw, and then an urban myth, “The Monster with 21 Faces,” by Aaron Whitaker. And so on, one style of cartooning blending into the next, all held together by a unified vision.

"Aokigahara Forest" by Jenn Woodall

“Aokigahara Forest” by Jenn Woodall

This is first comics anthology for Hic & Hoc Publications and we certainly look forward to many more.

"The Dyatlov Pass Incident" by Emi Gennis

“The Dyatlov Pass Incident” by Emi Gennis

The anthology showcases 34 cartoonists, all working at their full potential.

"Dark Forces" by Lizz Lunney

“Dark Forces” by Lizz Lunney

Good work, Emi Gennis, on editing this remarkable anthology. Visit Emi’s website here.

“Unknown Origins & Untimely Ends: A Collection of Unsolved Mysteries” released on April 23 at Floating World Comics. The party continues at Stumptown Comics Fest this weekend, April 27-28. It’s a wonderful example of what you’ll find at this gem of a gathering of comics talent. If you’re in PDX, you will want to go. I’ll see you there. Visit the Stumptown Comics Fest website here.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Independent Comics, Indie, PDX, Portland, Stumptown Comics Fest

Movie Review: SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED

Safety-Not-Guaranteed-Mark-Duplass-2013

I watch a lot of movies and I sometimes take it for granted that you do too, that you’ve already seen this or that cool movie. Or maybe I’m stacked to the gills with pop culture and it’s hard sometimes to know which direction to point my noggin in and start writing. Case in point, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED Wow, I think there’s a lot of folks out there that are still playing around with the meme that inspired this fine indie flick. It has, for starters, the hero of indieland, Mark Duplass. That man was born to command the indie screen. Catch him in YOUR SISTER’S SISTER with the ever lovely Emily Blunt.

Safety-Not-Guaranteed-Meme

Anyhow, this was one story and then it became quite another more intricate one. As for where the meme came from, the early age of the internet, 1997. A popular magazine about rural living entitled, “Backwoods Home Magazine” had some extra space to fill on one of its pages. So, senior editor John Silveira filled it with a poetic fake ad. Pretty decent, a decade before Twitter: Someone to go back in time with me…Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.” Jay Leno picked it up for his stupid ad routine on “The Tonight Show,” even though it doesn’t reveal someone for being stupid and so a meme was eventually born.

Next up for that delightful little meme, director Colin Trevorrow and writer Derek Connolly turn it into a fanciful, quirky movie. We begin with a meeting at a slick Seattle magazine. Everyone is throwing out ideas. An editor decides he’d love to do something with this oddball ad so a team is created: one cynical reporter and two very green interns. They all jump into an SUV and, if they’re not careful, this will just be another hack job by Jeff (Jake Johnson). The two interns appear to be useless. Arnau (Karan Soni) seems to be an uptight killjoy. Darius (Aubrey Plaza) seems to be an apathetic slacker. But, given a little time, magic occurs in more ways than one. It turns out, that Darius isn’t really a slacker. Given the opportunity, she invests in turning their questionable quest into a worthwhile story.

Safety-Not-Guaranteed-2013

But there’s more. Kenneth (Mark Duplass), the guy who wrote the oddball ad about time traveling isn’t an obvious nut job. He’s kind, intelligent, and somebody that Darius can’t easily dismiss. And, you guessed it, Jeff and Arnau also grow as characters but in unexpected ways. It’s the evolution of Darius and Kenneth that really captivates. With a delicate touch, this movie will make you believe anything is possible.

So, yeah man, this the prefect time to support this movie. As you probably know, there is a more to the life cycle of any movie that its initial theatrical release. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. Visit the movie’s website here.

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Filed under Aubrey Plaza, Independent Film, Indie, Mark Duplass, Movie Reviews, movies, science fiction, Seattle, Time Travel

Dark Horse to collect SACRIFICE by Sam Humphries and Dalton Rose

Sacrifice-Sam-Humphries-Dalton-Rose-Dark-Horse-2013

You have to hand it to Dark Horse Comics for always being prepared for the unexpected and offering one surprise treat after another. Here they go again with “Sacrifice.”

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Comix, Dark Horse Comics, Fusion Comics, Indie, Underground Comics

SHORT RUN: Seattle Indie Comics and the Start of a New Seattle Tradition

Curators Eroyn Franklin and Kelly Froh, pictured above, did it again with the second annual Short Run Small Press Fest. Held at The Vera Project in Seattle Center, Small Run was an awesome gathering of artists and writers: comics, zines art books, animation, independent talent from the Northwest that you just know is good. What follows is a sampling of what Short Run was like this year.

As a cartoonist, I definitely felt at home with this crowd. The Vera Project is a cozy venue for this event providing an intimate yet ample space, the size of a higher end club or restaurant. At times, it got a bit crowded but nothing to worry about, especially if you’ve gone to any convention-type setting. Here, you’re talking a laid back vibe that will see you through very nicely.

For me, Short Run already is quintessential Seattle, bringing together the unique creative spirit of this area. It is on track to becoming a new Seattle tradition.

Randy Wood, pictured above, was one of a number of stellar talent at Short Run this year. Here he is showing off one of his collected books of his “Kitties!” comic strip.

Here is a copy of “The Intruder,” a free newspaper full of local comics talent.

Stefan Gruber was here this year, along with other animators. This is a flipbook of his entitled, “Tiger Wave,” based on a dream. Check out Mr. Gruber and Seattle Experimental Animation Team.

Breanne Boland has a new comic out, “Drawing Bitchface,” a guide on how to make the most of putting on a proper, “bitchface.”

Aron Nels Steinke had his new collection out, “Big Plans,” published by Bridge City Comics. “Mr. Fox” is one of his self-published gems.

The Vera Project is a fascinating place with much to offer like its silkscreen classes and use of its silkscreen studio! Here is Eric Carnell, who helps to keep things moving along at The Vera Project’s silkscreen studio.

Cartoonist Nicole Georges provides much needed advice.

A great time had by all. See you next year at Short Run.

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Filed under Art books, Comics, Comix, Eroyn Franklin, Indie, Kelly Froh, Seattle, Short Run Small Press Fest, Zines