Tag Archives: Seattle

Seattle Focus: The Comedy Underground: Jay Montepare Headlines Lots of Laughs

Jay Montepare, Los Angeles based stand-up comedian

Jay Montepare

If you’re in Seattle, or plan to be, you need to head down to the Comedy Underground, located in historic Pioneer Square. This Saturday night, June 27th, I caught Jay Montepare headlining lots of laughs. It stands as a shining example of what you can expect. Each night is different with quality acts throughout. Just check out the Comedy Underground website for more details right here.

I was reminded of this time I tried to describe to a very uptight person a moment of comedy magic and she wasn’t having it. This was a Q&A session with Will Ferrell. The person, overcome by jitters, got a bit choked up as he asked his question to the superstar comedian. It was a split second decision, and Ferrell was right. He proceeded to answer the man in a choked up voice. He wasn’t mocking him. He had simply honed in on something funny. It was no use trying to explain this to my prim and proper friend. Maybe if she’d been there. This leads me to my visit to the Comedy Underground. It was a night full of honing in on some very funny stuff.

The Comedy Underground, Seattle

The Comedy Underground, Seattle

The headliner was Jay Montepare, a Los Angeles based stand-up comedian. He’s done a ton of work and is well regarded in comedy circles. He’s known for being the host of Ellen Degeneres’ “Ellen’s Design Challenge” on HGTV. You can get his comedy album, “Jay Montepare: The Sound That Jokes Make,” on iTunes and Amazon. Visit him at his website right here.

If you’re easily offended by some friendly poking fun at, then this will not work out for you. But, if you can take a joke, then you’re in for some dazzling comedy. Jay began his set by summing up for the audience some observations he’d been making while waiting to go on stage. For instance, he was quite amused by a woman in the front who seemed to be compulsively supportive of each comic’s performance. He pegged her as the ultimate soccer mom ready to provide orange slices to anyone in need of some Vitamin C. Then there was the guy who looked like he’d just been transported into a human body and had no idea who he was. Yes, sad but true, and quite laugh-worthy.

Travis Nelson

Travis Nelson

The great thing about Jay was how relaxed and in the moment he was throughout his set. He had come to play and he had brought a lot of toys with him ready to let fly from his fevered mind. The same can be said for all the comics that night. Everyone demonstrated solid improv chops. I’ll go down the line starting with the opening comic and host, Travis Nelson. He has a real charm about him and seemed open to share just about any hilarious detail about his life. His theme for the night was bears and he may very well be on his way to setting a record for bear references.

Anthony Harlem Blu

Anthony Harlem Blu

Next up was Anthony Harlem Blu. Now, here’s a comic who was also quite charming, disarming, and ready to go for the jugular. As an African American coming from New York City, he said, with a twinkle in his eye, that he was impressed with all the diversity to be found in Seattle. Take the neighborhood of Bellevue, wow, that must rank as the richest and whitest place he’d ever seen in his life. There was more, and it all rang true and was very funny.

Brett Hamil

Brett Hamil

Brett Hamil is a very funny guy. He opened with a complaint about leaf blowers and then turned that on its head. His complaint was that the leaf blower was trying to do his job over Brett’s drunken body that had somehow stayed the night and was splayed on a leafy lawn. Hamil has a combination of whipsmart delivery and self-deprecating humor that is very funny and endearing. Another priceless moment in his set is his revealing that dating a yoga instructor doesn’t really mean incredible sex. No, in reality, she’ll keep you hydrated and repeatedly correct your posture. Yes, Brett Hamil is a comedy treasure.

Mike Masilotti

Mike Masilotti

Mike Masilotti introduced himself as the guy you met and gave you your ticket when you first arrived. His main theme was cats. He felt bad for a cat who got lost. It was a tough situation. If it were a dog, that dog would be rescued and served up a nice warm blanket to keep cozy. But not so much for a cat. Mike has a very nice handle on his timing. He lures you in and then follows through, truly a wicked sense of humor.

Kortney Shane Williams

Kortney Shane Williams

Kortney Shane Williams demonstrated a very free form style. He is an excellent example of how a confident and professional comic can just keep talking, seem to take things over the edge, fall into nonsense, and make a beautiful comedic landing. He somehow managed to mix the subject of tackling with childhood, prison, and anger management. I really wasn’t sure where he was going for a moment there but his delivery kept me laughing. And then it all made sense and I was laughing even more. Williams has a all-around daring and heart-felt style.

I finish up here by saying that everyone brought their A game and it was wonderfully brought home by headliner Jay Montepare. He took the audience down many directions and all were hilarious. Much of it was silly stuff that sure sounded like it was coming directly from his own life. One of the funniest, and perhaps scariest, observations was his recalling one night at home watching the reality show, “Ganglands,” only to discover that the rough crime-ridden Echo Park being featured was the neighborhood he’d just move into. And there on the screen was his house, and there he was throwing out the garbage! Well, often comedy hits close to home.

Be sure to visit our friends at the Comedy Underground right here.

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Filed under Comedy, Comedy Underground, Humor, Seattle, Travel

Review: SCORCHED EARTH #1 and #2 by Tom Van Deusen

SCORCHED EARTH #1 and #2 by Tom Van Deusen

SCORCHED EARTH #1 and #2 by Tom Van Deusen

If you earnestly wear a “Mean People Suck” t-shirt, then something is wrong with you and this comic is not for you. However, if you ironically wear a “Mean People Suck” trucker hat, then we’re in business. By the way, do mean people suck? Yes, and Tom Van Deusen should know as his main character, Tom (not literally Mr. Van Deusen, of course) is quite a mean-spirited cuss. Anyway, getting back to what I was saying, if you take things too seriously and too literally, then you will ruin an otherwise fine ole time reading the first two issues of “Scorched Earth.”

So, we follow the exploits of a sad sack character who is having a lot of trouble functioning in society, the work place, simple exchanges of just about any kind. You get the picture, right? Van Deusen sure does. He draws up quite a repulsive fellow. And he runs with that as far as he can for his aims at effective dark humor. Given that he’s a young horny guy, our sad sack repeatedly blunders in matters of mating. For this guy, an attractive young woman would be fine but he finds they sure aren’t as easy as ordering a pizza. Once he’s fed up with his date, he is just as likely to disappear as he is to hang on.

In one disturbing/hilarious scene, Tom’s date steps into a port-o-potty. The date has not gone well and, instead of spending another minute with her, he tips over the potty and walks away. The timing is impeccable and inspires a chuckle. The scene is shocking. And it shows that, for Tom, women are literally disposable. But, heck, all of humanity is compost as far as he’s concerned.

There’s an undeniable tension here as we have a cartoon Tom that can’t help but refer back on some level to the cartoonist Tom. You can break this down many ways: it’s an opportunity for the real Tom to behave badly and provoke the reader; it’s an opportunity for the real Tom to comment on such bad behavior; the cartoon Tom can stand-in for human frailty; and, at the end of the day, it’s simply a fiction referring back to its creator. Quite a lot to juggle for Van Deusen–and also be funny. These are dynamics that, no doubt, Crumb was masterful with. And Van Deusen appears to be up to the challenge.

Panel from Scorched Earth #1

Panel from Scorched Earth #1

There’s always room for another character that you love to hate. In this case, you have a classic fool. Van Deusen seems to be on the right track with balancing hateful actions with just the right level of humor. Crumb made a career out of stoking the fires of dark humor to the point where he brought the red hot blaze so close as to burn. Van Deusen has set up camp. We’ll see how far he takes his own fires.

Yes, you too can now own the first two issues of the comics I’ve just reviewed, “Scorched Earth.” Find each 24-page comic book and other fine items at Poochie Press right here.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Independent Comics, Poochie Press, Seattle, Tom Van Deusen

Review: EAT EAT EAT by Tom Van Deusen

Cover to the print issue of Tom Van Deusen's most excellent EAT EAT EAT

Cover to the print issue of Tom Van Deusen’s most excellent EAT EAT EAT

“Eat Eat Eat” is a very funny comic by cartoonist Tom Van Deusen. That may not be readily apparent for some readers, I suppose. If you haven’t (or have?) been exposed to Robert Crumb, for instance. But, you know, for a lot of folks, this is going to be a laugh riot. Let me delve into this one further because it merits close attention. As I began to say, the content is, well, weird.

So, yeah, some people could potentially think they’re in for some typical gross out session. But, no, no, it’s not that. This is well-timed wry humor with a touch of the poet. That is to say that it does not collapse under the weight of heavily-used underground comix tropes. Many a cartoonist, and comics reviewer, have allowed themselves to get too caught up in what is thought to be fashionable scat. But you show some restraint and respect for craft and you end up moving forward.

Van Deusen knows how to make the most of the little details. He knows how to draw bared teeth to maximum effect. Each instance is mercilessly depicted with precision and gusto. And elicits a giggle. He also knows how to wring out humor from lettering for all it’s worth. Who knew how funny it could be to read his various hand-written renderings of “Later.” You know, a brief break in the action similar to “Meanwhile.” He loves to devote a full panel for each of his uses of “Later.”

Okay, I think we know where we stand now. It’s not so much gross out humor as absurdist humor that we find in this comic. Our hero is just a sad sack looking to get lucky. In this case, lucky in love. Lucky with the ladies. Our sad sack is NOT a ladies’ man but that doesn’t stop him. And when he does land a date with a cutie, he proves to her and all the world how underserving he is to have set foot outdoors in the first place.

Turns out, push comes to shove, forget the ladies, he’d much rather make out with a giant bag of popcorn. Wonderful surreal humor. Is it any wonder that I was reading this as I waited to see some improv comedy? It’s good stuff–and good for you. I read the rest during my visit to the chiropractor. I highly recommend that you read this as they crack you back into shape.

I had the treat of reading the collected webcomic work to EAT EAT EAT that makes for a powerful work in comics, all in one neat 24-page book. You really need to get yourself a copy, even if you’ve already read the webcomic. You can find out how to get your copy here. Ah, and there’s more comics by Tom Van Deusen, all part of his Poochie Press. We’ll cover another title in another post.

And be sure to check out the EAT EAT EAT webcomic at Studygroup right here.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Comics Reviews, Independent Comics, Poochie Press, Seattle, Tom Van Deusen

A Recap to ‘What’s Up Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones’ at the EMP Museum in Seattle From a Cartoonist’s Perspective

Henry Chamberlain at EMP Museum 13 June 2015

Henry Chamberlain at EMP Museum 13 June 2015

I was the guest cartoonist at the grand opening of “What’s Up Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones” at the EMP Museum in Seattle this Saturday, June 13, 2015. My role there was primarily to draw. I was there to do what I know and love, draw comics. In this case, comics with a Chuck Jones theme. I was simply there to express as much as I could about what I know and love about the world of Chuck Jones. Yikes! Where to begin? Well, one rabbit ear at a time.

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Filed under animation, Bugs Bunny, Chuck Jones, Comics, Daffy Duck, EMP Museum, Road Runner, Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Entertainment, Wile E. Coyote

Chuck Jones Animation Exhibit at EMP Museum in Seattle (Opening Day Celebration Saturday, June 13, 2015)

Chuck-Jones-Animation-EMP-2015

I am so honored to be a part of this amazing event. June 13th will be the opening day celebration for a very special Chuck Jones animation exhibit at EMP Museum in Seattle: What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones.

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Filed under Bugs Bunny, Chuck Jones, EMP Museum, Warner Bros.

Interview: Mike Capozzola, Stand-Up Comedian and Published Cartoonist (See him at Seattle Comedy Underground June 14, 2015)

Mike-Capozzola-Spock-Star-Trek

Mike Capozzola is a San Francisco stand-up comedian and published cartoonist. He’s very funny and thoughtful and a great guy to chat with about pop culture. He’ll be in my hometown, Seattle, to perform at the Comedy Underground on Sunday, June 14th. This is a perfect time to check out one of the most distinctive and cool comedy venues in the country.

Capozzola will perform his multimedia comedy show about sci-fi films, secret agents, werewolves, and superheroes. It’s called “Emperor Ming’s Mercilessly Spicy Wings and Other Tales.” You can find more details right here.

Emperor Ming-Mike-Capozzola

Corporations that have jumped on the geek bandwagon are not your friends. Heck, corporations aren’t even actually people. And the people who run these corporations don’t care, or begin to understand, what the term “geek” means. But folks like Mike Capozzola do get it. His show revolves around a natural love for geeky stuff.

Mike-Capozzola-Stand-Up-Comedy-Cartoonist

Amid his wide spectrum of work, what shines through is a relentless pursuit of offbeat humor. We chat here about what exactly the title of his show is all about and end up discussing pop culture in a significant way. We weren’t afraid to pull back the curtain and comment upon the brazen highjacking of the idea of being authentic, or “geek,” by commercial interests.

Michael-Capozzola-Harold-Lloyd

Byway of discussing the title for his show in this interview, Capozzola shared his love for the webcomic, “The Perry Bible Fellowship” by Nicholas Gurewitch. In relation to Capozzola’s obscure reference to Emperor Ming, he cites Gurewitch’s story, “The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories,” where the good colonel appears in only a couple of panels. Now that’s some good geek street cred!

You can listen to the interview right below:

So, if you’re in Seattle, be sure to see Mike Capozzola at the Comedy Underground on Sunday, June 14. And visit Mike at his site right here.

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Filed under cartoon, Cartoon Art Museum, Cartooning, Cartoonists, Cartoons, Comedy, Comedy Underground, Comics, Humor, Mike Capozzola, Pike Place Market, Seattle, Stand-up Comedy

Review: BLACK RIVER

Fantagraphics-Josh-Simmons

There is no Black River to be found in Josh Simmons’s graphic novel, “Black River,” but that’s besides the point. The characters are all post-apocalypse survivors with nary a need to know one river from another. Nihilism prevails. For such a bare bones story, there are plenty of compelling moments, both grim and poetic.

People can be pretty hostile and dangerous even in the best of times, so it is quite something to have a group of youth running wild into the wasteland. No zombies to contend with, if that’s any consolation. It’s more the drip, drip, drip, of too many lost and rough souls wandering. All this Simmons depicts well. It’s something any hip cartoonist can revel in, if he or she chooses, and he does a good job of it.

With all the jailhouse craziness that ensues, Simmons is a careful artist. He has a deft way of creating just the right amount of detail to evoke a landscape or a town that has been left in ruins. And I really enjoy his rendering of the Aurora Borealis. It comes up a number of times in panels, enough to add to the spacey energy that charges this work.

Much like a good old-fashioned horror movie, a comic such as this, to be any good, relies upon setting up an interesting mood and environment. Without a doubt, Simmons succeeds in this. He gives us some compelling characters among his ragtag group of hardened misfits. And we’re left wanting to turn the page as a morbid sense of curiosity sets in. Of course, things will get darker, as well as more disgusting. This is raw stuff, kids. Mature content. Those familiar with it, will not be disappointed.

Josh-Simmons-Black-River

And if you’re in Seattle, be sure to visit the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this Saturday, April 25, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm for a reception for the publication of Josh Simmons’s new graphic novel, Black River, and the release of the latest issue of Intruder, #15. Simmons will be joined by his colleagues from the Intruder comix collective. Simmons contributes a story in the latest issue illustrated by Joe Garber. Festivities include a display of Simmons’s original drawings, a black light room, short film screening, a book signing, and complimentary refreshments.

Black River is a 112-page trade paperback, priced at $18.99. For more details, visit our friends at Fantagraphics Books right here.

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Filed under Comics, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Horror, Josh Simmons

ECCC 2015: Top Shelf Productions and Shannon Wheeler & Mark Russell

IDW Publishing at Emerald City Comicon this year brings a wide variety of comics goodness. I wanted to point out that Top Shelf Productions, now an imprint of IDW Publishing, will be at booth #1225, where you can meet the creative team behind the hit satire “God Is Disappointed in You,” Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler! The book is very funny and informative. Read my review right here.

"God Is Disappointed in You," by Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler

“God Is Disappointed in You,” by Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler

Shannon Wheeler is a cartoonist best known for creating the satirical superhero Too Much Coffee Man, and as a cartoonist for The New Yorker. Find him here. Mark Russell is a writer and a cartoonist. His writing has been featured in McSweeney’s, The Nib, and Funny Times, among other places, and his cartoons are featured regularly at Nailed. Find him here. And, of course, you can definitely purchase “God Is Disappointed in You,” from Top Shelf Productions, right here.

Top Shelf Productions

I have a soft spot in my heart for the ebullient quality of Shannon’s cartoons. I include above a video interview I did with him at last year’s Comic-Con International: San Diego. Seems like the perfect blast from the past to share with all of you. Below are the details on the panel with Shannon Wheeler and Mark Russell:

Saturday, 2:00 – 3:00 Room Hall C (TCC 301)
God is Disappointed in You (The Sequel), with Mark Russell & Shannon Wheeler—Last year’s standing-room-only hot ticket returns — now with even more Biblical bewilderment! God Is Disappointed in You, published by Top Shelf, is the tongue-in-cheek “condensed” version of the Bible you never knew you needed — hilariously modern, but surprisingly authentic — packed with cartoons by Eisner-award-winner Shannon Wheeler (The New Yorker, Too Much Coffee Man). Join him and author Mark Russell (writer of DC Comics’ upcoming Prez) for an hour of unforgettable irreverence, including Q&A, audience sketches, and the hilarious-yet-accurate “ten-minute Bible.” PLUS: a taste of the Audie-nominated audiobook, read by Dr. Venture himself, James Urbaniak (The Venture Bros), and an exclusive announcement about the upcoming sequel!

For more details on the IDW schedule at ECCC, go right here.

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Filed under Cartoonists, Cartoons, Comics, Emerald City Comicon, God, Humor, IDW Publishing, Religion, Satire, Shannon Wheeler, The New Yorker, Top Shelf Productions

Image Comics at Emerald City Comicon, March 27-29

DESCENDER #1 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen

DESCENDER #1 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen

Image Comics returns to Seattle for this year’s Emerald City Comicon on Friday, March 27 through Sunday, March 29. You can expect an impressive assortment of creator-owned panels, signings, and con exclusive variant covers like the one above for DESCENDER #1 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, priced at $5 (#Y-05, also available at Image booth #312). DESCENDER is about a young robot’s struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. Read my review here.

Here’s a rundown on Image Comics variant covers at ECCC:

VARIANTS SOLD AT THE IMAGE BOOTH (#312):

LOW, VOL. 1 hardcover by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini, $35

THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #9 by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, $5 (also available at creator table #II-06)

DESCENDER #1 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, $5 (also available at creator table #Y-05)

VARIANTS SOLD AT CREATORS’ TABLES:

SEX CRIMINALS, VOL. 2 hardcover by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, $40 (Table #II-04)

WAYWARD, VOL. 1 hardcover by Jim Zub and Steven Cummings, $30 (Table #HH-11)

DESCENDER #1 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, $5 (#Y-05, also available at Image booth #312)

INVISIBLE REPUBLIC #1 by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, $10 (#HH-05)

WAYWARD #6 variants by Jim Zub and Steven Cummings, starting at $5, blank sketch covers for $10 or $25 with sketch (Table #HH-11)

THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #9 by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, $5 (also available at Image booth #312)

For a full schedule of Image Comics events at Emerald City Comicon, visit our friends at Image Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Dustin Nguyen, Emerald City Comicon, Image Comics, Jeff Lemire, Seattle

Emerald City Comicon in Seattle: March 27-29

Lady Killer #1 ECCC exclusive variant cover by Joelle Jones (500 copies)

Lady Killer #1 ECCC exclusive variant cover by Joelle Jones (500 copies)

Emerald City Comicon takes place this weekend in Seattle, March 27-29. For those attending, you are sure to find something special whether it’s a book signing, a panel, or a special ECCC comic book cover like the one above for “Lady Killer #1,” published by Dark Horse Comics. Lady Killer, by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich, is about a 1950’s housewife-turned-assassin. The story is set in Seattle during the 1960 World’s Fair. It’s great crime noir comics with an extra kick to it.

Visit our friends at Dark Horse for their full schedule at ECCC right here. Below is a complete rundown of Dark Horse exclusive covers for ECCC 2015:

EMERALD CITY COMICON EXCLUSIVES

A set quantity will be available at opening each day of the show. Limit of 5 per person per day while supplies last. Each comic is $5.00.
Frankenstein Underground #1 ECCC exclusive variant cover by Mike Mignola (1,000 copies)
Prometheus: Fire and Stone—Omega ECCC exclusive variant cover by Patric Reynolds (500 copies)

Lady Killer #1 ECCC exclusive variant cover by Joelle Jones (500 copies)

Past Aways #1 ECCC exclusive variant cover by Scott Kolins (500 copies)

Conan Red Sonja #1 limited-edition black-and-white variant cover by Dan Panosian (1,000 copies)
We’ll also have a variety of Dark Horse comics, graphic novels, art books, and collectibles for sale in our booth.

For more details, visit our friends at Emerald City Comicon right here.

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Filed under Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Emerald City Comicon, Joëlle Jones, Seattle