Tag Archives: Entertainment

Review: JONESY #1 (of 4)

Boom Studios Jonesy.jpg

High school is a pretty crazy time: either you don’t fit in or, even if you do, you always wonder if you could fit in better. Lots of confusion. It’s a wonder that anything ever gets done with all these emotional fluctuations and raging hormones. Enter a pint-sized Hispanic girl named, Jonesy. She could have had it all, friends, admirers, lovers, but she chose to be weird. Not really an intentional thing on her part. But, as you can see in the first issue of this limited series comic book, Jonesy is a girl on a flight path all her own.

JONESY is brought to you by Boom! Studios and brings together the comic talents of writer Sam Humphries and artist Caitlin Rose Boyle with colors by Mickey Quinn and letters by Corey Breen. This comic will appeal not only to fans of Bryan Lee O’Malley, what with his outspoken characters in poppy shenanigans, but also to that broader demographic: anyone who survived high school. Jonesy has found a way to not only survive but to thrive: she has magic powers! Well, some might say that’s a cop out to have a kid on the margins rely upon her super powers. And that’s okay. Her super powers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

As you’ll find out in this hilarious first issue, Jonesy appears to have the power to make people fall in love. What will she do with such power? It seems like she should be able to rule the school as she parades around with whoever she casts under her spell. Not so easy. Much like everything else in high school, Jonesy’s control of her powers is awkward and emerging, at best. This first issue offers up an original and lively comic that will be fun to keep up with. I think Jonesy has won me over and she didn’t have to cast a spell on me either.

JONESY is available now. For more details, visit our friends at Boom! Studios right here.

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Filed under Boom! Studios, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Comics, Comics Reviews, Sam Humphries

Batton Lash’s New Kickstarter: A VAMPIRE IN HOLLYWOOD

Batton Lash

Batton Lash, a comics legend in his own right, has launched a new Kickstarter campaign in support of his latest collection, “A Vampire in Hollywood.” You can join the campaign, which runs thru March 11th, right here.

Batton Lash Vampire in Hollywood

With a distinctive wit and style, Batton Lash has entertained readers over the years with the misadventure of “Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre,” the only law firm that represents vampires, zombies, and other ghouls. Wolff and Byrd has subsequently been known simply as, “Supernatural Law.” It is a cross between Archie comics and The Walking Dead. It is definitely something different!

Press release follows:

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Filed under Batton Lash, Comics, graphic novels, Hollywood, Kickstarter, Monsters

Oscars 2016: BRIDGE OF SPIES

Hanks Bridge of Spies

In 1960, Arnold Spielberg was an engineer with General Electric in Russia as part of a foreign exchange program. As part of his initial tour, he was confronted with a display of the flight suit of airman Gary Powers and some of the remains of the infamous U-2 spy plane that the Soviets had shot down. This was meant to leave a impression on the American visitor. It did. His son is Steven Spielberg who has gone on to make some of the most memorable major motion pictures in history. So, it turns out, Spielberg’s latest film, “Bridge of Spies,” is a film that the director was compelled to make. You learn about the anecdote regarding Spielberg’s dad in the extra feature on the DVD. As bonus features go, this one is a keeper.

It’s really good to see the lauded director genuinely excited, like a kid, as he talks about his film, which has great relevance for today. How do we treat enemies of the state? Does the rule of law still apply? This is the story of a lawyer, much like Atticus Finch, who never swerves from his pursuit of justice, even if he’s representing a Soviet spy. Tom Hanks plays the role of James B. Donovan, the American lawyer enlisted to negotiate the release of airman Gary Powers during the course of some extraordinary events.

Bridge-of-Spies-Tom-Hanks

I think in any other year, “Bridge of Spies” would be a shoe-in to win for Best Picture at the Oscars. This year gives us a particularly tight race. That said, this is a film that will go down as a respected achievement whatever the case. Even at this high level of moviemaking, it comes across as a genuine labor of love. It is a relatively quieter film for Spielberg. I think the hype surrounding “Lincoln” overshadowed what a fine film that actually is. In the case of “Bridge of Spies,” it has the no-nonsense appeal of Tom Hanks. There aren’t really any famous scenes to point to but the story is brimming with Cold War intrigue.

“Bridge of Spies” is very much a period piece and very strong on story. The original screenwriter, Matt Charman, was first drawn to the seemingly unusual selection by President Kennedy of attorney James B. Donovan to broker the release of prisoners from the Bay of Pigs invasion. Just who was Mr. Donovan? Charman dug deeper and discovered the rest of the intriguing story. And to give Charman’s initial screenplay an added texture of personality, Spielberg enlisted the famous Cohen brothers, Joel and Ethan. I can see that, with unlimited resources like that at one’s disposal, a production like this could collapse under its own excess. However, that is not the case here. No matter how great the budget, no matter what the content, a successful creation has got to have a fire in the belly. Spielberg has not squandered anything and delivers at the level of a truly great director.

At the heart of this film is a steadfast belief in principles and integrity. What’s more, this film inspires a trust in willing to go to the very edge to safeguard not only a way of life but the rule of law upon which it stands. Sounds like pretty heady stuff. Well, it’s the stuff of great entertainment from “High Noon” to “Star Wars.” If you want the good feeling of believing in something, with the added benefit of a suspenseful thrill ride, then you’ll want to see Tom Hanks give it all it’s worth as the persistent Mr. Donovan.

To find out more, and to purchase a DVD or Blu-ray, visit the official “Bridge of Spies” website right here.

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Filed under Movie Reviews, movies, Oscars, Steven Spielberg

Review: MIRROR by Emma Ríos and Hwei Lim

Mirror-Rio-Lim

MIRROR is a real beauty of a comic with such an effortless way about it. The work, both the writing by Emma Ríos and artwork by Hwei Lim, dance upon the page.

Very graceful use of space. You get that sketchbook feeling of uninhibited freshness.

Emma Rios Mirror

All you really need to know is that this is a strange and mysterious world. And some exotic and majestic animals are being held captive to further the ends of an evil entity.

All in all, one of the most magical comics you will find right now.

The first issue of this new ongoing series is available now. For more details on MIRROR, visit our friends at Image Comics right here.

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Filed under comic books, Comics, Comics Reviews, Image Comics

Congrats to Combat Flip Flops on ‘Shark Tank’: Interview With CEO Matthew Griffin

Former Rangers Donald Lee, left, and Matthew Griffin pitch their company Combat Flip Flops on "Shark Tank." (Photo: ABC/Tyler Golden)

Former Rangers Donald Lee, left, and Matthew Griffin pitch their company Combat Flip Flops on “Shark Tank.” (Photo: ABC/Tyler Golden)

Fans of “Shark Tank” got to see an impressive three shark win this Friday night for the founders of Combat Flip Flops, Matthew ‘Griff’ Griffin, CEO, and fellow Ranger Donald Lee. Combat Flip Flops are uniquely made with combat boot rubber and have a special charitable connection to Afghanistan and other war-torn regions. At the end of the day, Combat Flip Flops proved to be a superior product that got the financial backing of three wealthy investors on the popular show on ABC.

Matthew "Griff" Griffin models The Cashmagh

Matthew “Griff” Griffin models The Cashmagh

I had the honor of interviewing Matthew Griffin, back in March of last year, prior to the Shark Tank notoriety. Listen to my interview by clicking the link below:

As with any impressive appearance on Shark Tank, all eyes are on where to learn more. Go visit our friends at Combat Flip Flops right here.

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Filed under ABC, Business, Combat Flip Flops, Entrepreneurship, flip flops, Mark Cuban, pop culture, Shark Tank, Television

Review: ‘Fante Bukowski’ by Noah Van Sciver

Fante-Bukowski-Noah-Van-Sciver

I’d been meaning to read Noah Van Sciver’s latest graphic novel, “Fante Bukowski,” and I guess I was waiting for a good time to do it. I thought I had it figured out: a silly little satire about a ne’er-do-well. It is that, in a nutshell. But, after reading it, I wasn’t totally sure of what to say about it. Well, actually, I had some idea. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Steve Martin in his film debut, 1979’s “The Jerk.” It is both subversively offbeat and totally hilarious.

“Fante Bukowski,” is worthy of your attention in all its irreverent splendor. Part of the humor is that it is quite obvious that Van Sciver has no real axe to grind within the literary community and yet he seems to manage to provide some quite effective biting satire. The bite is not aimed at anyone in particular. It’s more like the Marx Brothers poking fun at the absurdity of life in general. And, it’s safe to say that the pomposity and pretentiousness that Groucho ridiculed a century ago has not changed much for Millennials.

And lest you think this book has anything meaningful to say about Charles Bukowski, think again! Our main character decided to have his name legally changed from Kelly Perkins to Fante Bukowski to honor his childhood idol. It’s, by far, the saddest thing, Audrey, another unpromising writer, has ever heard! Fante meets, or stumbles upon, Audrey during a reading Fante gives of an incredibly brief and ill-conceived bit of his so-called poetry. It is Fante’s dumb luck that Audrey finds him attractive and decides to spend the night with him. To her dismay, she discovers that Fante slaves away on an actual typewriter.

While Van Sciver seems to favor light humor, it also seems that he doesn’t suffer fools lightly either. The following scene can’t help but sound familiar to many an aspiring writer: there is much chit chat over a certain literary magazine at a party and it results in Fante pleading with the editor for the chance to submit some work. After some back and forth, the editor accepts Fante’s half-baked drivel. After more small talk, Fante asks how big the magazine’s circulation is. The editor, without a hint of irony, says it’s a dozen. Brilliant. That, and the fact that Fante is obsessed with using a typewriter does seem to say something about a new generation allowing itself to walk into walls it could have easily avoided.

Van Sciver’s latest subject, and what he does with it, is a prime example of a cartoonist who understands why he keeps going back to his drawing board to toil away. He has made certain choices like keeping the artwork within reasonable limits and cranking the humor just right. This is all in the service of telling the tale of a terribly delusional young man. It’s an absurd story. When it’s all said and done, it is a silly satire about a ne’er-do-well. But it’s an impressive silly little satire too.

Fante Bukowski

“Fante Bukowski” is an 80-page trade paperback published by Fantagraphics Books. For more details, visit our friends at Fantagraphics right here.

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Filed under Charles Bukowski, Comics, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Noah Van Sciver

Review: ROSALIE LIGHTNING: A Graphic Memoir by Tom Hart

St-Martins-Press-Tom-Hart

A basic truth about good art is that it comes from an artist who is compelled to create it. I have followed the work of cartoonist Tom Hart for many years and I consider him a friend. I can see that his latest book, the graphic memoir, “Rosalie Lightning,” brings out the best in him and what he can do as an artist. This is a story about grieving. Tom and his wife, the cartoonist Leela Corman, suffered the loss of their daughter, Rosalie Lightning, a few years ago. She was nearly two years old. The process of grieving has no set amount of time. It can very well go on forever. However, for the sake of one’s own life, and one’s loved ones, there is also a process of acceptance and renewal. In his book, Hart explores all of this with great insight.

The comics medium can offer the reader entry into the mind of a cartoonist in a very distinct way. This often happens with a work from an independent creator who both writes and draws the work. If it is a personal work, and the creator is up to the task, the reader will be swept into a myriad of observations made all the more tangible by the elastic and concise nature of comics. The words must be more condensed, providing a sharper impact. And then you add the immediacy and the intimacy of the drawings coming from the very same author’s hand. Tom Hart is in a unique position, as an experienced storyteller with a highly expressive style, to tell this story.

Tom Hart Rosalie Lightning

One thing I’ve always admired about Tom Hart is his ability and willingness to open himself up to his readers. He is alright with presenting himself as a regular guy struggling with life in much the same way as we all do. Now, imagine a gifted storyteller like Hart dealing with the death of his baby girl. Is this a story he can even begin to tell? Is it one he wants to tell? You sense right from the beginning that he followed his instincts and chose to continue to share about his life through his comics. There was no set plan. The observations were intermittent posts on his blog. Organically, a narrative took root. And, I believe, the theme of exploring grieving naturally emerged. You find it throughout the book, first in moving recollections and later in greater detail as two parents walk in the wilderness and search for answers.

Aside from the medical reasons, are there any answers as to why a beautiful toddler would die? That is the question that Tom and Leela struggle with. Was it somehow preordained? Both parents torment themselves by repeatedly posing that question. The thing about Hart’s comics is, by their very nature, they are direct and are brimming with immediacy. There’s an interesting tension created by a story following a circuitous and ambiguous path which is punctuated with sharp and forceful drawings. Hart combats a need to contemplate, and recede into the background, with a strong will to tell his story and keep moving forward in his life. Of course, the goal was never to forget but to find balance. Hart’s book proves to be an excellent work of self-discovery and of keeping the memory alive of a dear soul.

Rosalie Lightning Tom Hart

“Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir” is a 272-page hardcover published by St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers. For more details, visit our friends at Macmillan Publishers right here.

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Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Macmillan Publishers, Tom Hart

Cartoonist Jim Toomey Promotes Saving Ocean Life in CARTOON CRASH COURSE

Cartoonist Jim Toomey

Cartoonist Jim Toomey

It’s pretty simple, we need a healthy planet in order to sustain healthy life all around. Take our oceans, they seem vast and mighty but they’re also vulnerable. As cartoonist and conservationist Jim Toomey points out, there’s a delicate ecosystem we need to protect. For example, consider forage fish. These little guys, such as herring, menhaden, and sardines, play an essential role as food for an array of sealife: sharks, whales, seabirds, tuna, seals, and sea lions. But, you guessed it, humans have managed to muck up the system.

And there is so much to say on marine topics! With Jim Toomey, the cartoonist for the popular comic strip, “Sherman’s Lagoon,” as your guide, you can learn a lot in only a few minutes. The Pew Charitable Trusts has joined forces with Jim Toomey to present a lively and fun look at our vital ocean life in “Cartoon Crash Course.” You can see all 10 new short films right here!

The Vital Role of Forage Fish

The Vital Role of Forage Fish

Watch these humorous cartoons and come away with a better, and more animated, understanding of what it means to take care of our oceans! Learn more and get involved by visiting our friends at The Pew Charitable Trusts right here.

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Filed under Comics, Environment, Jim Toomey

Oscars 2016: THE BIG SHORT

The Big Short

“The Big Short” is a movie that has earned its place among a unique set of movies that can really make a difference. Who knew that the more arcane details of the housing crisis and subsequent financial meltdown of 2008 could be rendered in an accessible and entertaining fashion? And with some of the best talent around to boot. I actually went to see this with my 19-year-old daughter. The roster of leading men and the offbeat intent of the movie made it very promising. So, it was about derivative swaps, well, okay then.

For anyone who has seen it, “The Big Short” not only delivers but leaves you feeling encouraged about the state of filmmaking today. I had assumed that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association would have heaped praise, and awards, upon it without giving it a second thought. It just goes to show what a heated race it is this year as we approach the Oscars on February 28th. It’s a hot race in the Best Picture category, and “The Big Short” is up against some stiff competition with the leading favorite, “The Revenant.” “The Big Short” is just the sort of significant movie that should win big on the big night.

The Big Short Adam McKay

Much has been said about this movie. Consider the spirited New York Times review here. I’ll give you my take on it. First off, it’s been a long time since the media has focused on the housing market and the major banks–almost as if nothing had happened at all. Sure, the news runs in odd cycles but it does leave one wondering. In fact, one of the points made in this film is the fact that the issues surrounding the financial crisis are far from resolved. How we got here, and why we don’t seem to learn, is at the heart of this story. The movie faithfully plumbs the depths of the famously entertaining nonfiction book, “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine,” by Michael Lewis.

Prior to 2008, there were only a few key players in a position to read the handwriting on the wall. Their anticipation of an impending financial collapse, had something to do with insider knowledge and everything to do with seeing what would someday become the obvious. Their collective response was to use specialized hedge funds to bet against Wall Street! And so we see our story play out. Among these special key players who could see what lay ahead, there is genius fund manager Michael Burry (played by Christian Bale) who is willing to take his position of authority at the firm he works for to bet the farm. As the pressure mounts on Burry from his bosses to retreat, we see a study in rebellion with other people’s money.

The point was, and remains, that money is not as abstract as some would like to believe. It is ultimately other people’s money that gets manipulated, stolen, and outright lost. The powers that be, the major banks, continue to take those sort of gambles that present little, if any, consequence.

But it’s not just consequences that those in power manage to sidestep. As this film repeatedly points out, the corruption is deeply entrenched and the major banks are masters of deflecting blame. Mirroring the activist spirit of the book, the message here goes above and beyond buyer beware.

We have had a few exceptional films dealing with the housing crisis. What makes this film remarkable is its fierce vision, its commitment to keep you engaged. And its timing, in an election year, is perfect. To have a film of this caliber is such a great opportunity to further the discussion. An Oscar win for Best Picture would seem to be most appropriate. In fact, in some circles, this film is considered a front-runner for Best Picture. With “The Big Short” taking the Producers Guild of America’s top prize this last weekend, the odds could very well be in favor of this film taking the top prize at the Oscars.

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Filed under Hollywood, Movie Reviews, movies, The Oscars, Wall Street

Review: POP PAINTING by Camilla d’Errico

Pop Painting Watson-Guptill

“Pop Painting,” published by Watson-Guptill, is an essential guide for artists and anyone interested in contemporary art. The art world can seem like a murky and mysterious place depending upon where you look. However, some things about art are pretty straightforward: successful art requires a focus on theme coupled with a dedication to craft. I know this as an artist and art lover. As a working artist, I juggle a number of tasks. And, at those times when I could use some inspiration, I’m always pleased to find great art books from Watson-Guptill that demystify and enlighten.

Pop Painting Watson-Guptill 2016

Camilla d’Errico is a professional artist who follows a certain routine and way of seeing the world. She presents a highly engaging collection of work that falls within the category of Pop Surrealism. This is an art movement that, in a nutshell, takes various elements in pop culture and places them in a dream-like environment. The results can be quite stunning. In her new 248-page full color book, “Pop Painting,” d’enrico shares with the reader her views and her methods. She takes an honest step-by-step approach providing real examples with real solutions.

Pop Painting Camilla dErrico

In the world of art and art-making, there are many things that remain constant and always will be: art training still involves life drawing, perspective, and actual hands-on work. As we bring in other disciplines, we still respect, and need, traditional methods. In the last twenty years, right alongside digital art, we have seen an explosion in interest in art-making stemming from the basic sources of drawing and painting. This had led to the comics medium being acknowledged as an art form in its own right. And this is something that Watson-Guptill has whole-heartedly embraced with books specifically on all aspects of comics from drawing to writing. So, it is no surprise to see this latest book, “Pop Painting,” with its unique focus on Pop Surrealism. It will be of interest to anyone, from the generalist to the specific fan. For more details, visit our friends at Watson-Guptill right here.

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Filed under Art, Art books, Drawing, Painting, Pop Surrealism, Watson-Guptill Publications