Tag Archives: Hell

Review: ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF HELL II: The Conquest of Heaven


ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF HELL II: The Conquest of Heaven, A Demonic History of the Future Concerning the Celestial Realm and the Angelic Race Which Infests It

Martin Olson. Illustrations: Tony Millionaire & Mahendra Singh. Feral House. 2021. 224pp. $24.99

Martin Olson is one of the best humorists around. Olson is known around Hollywood as one of the nicest and most hard-working of comedy writers. His special brand of satire has made its way to numerous comedy series on HBO, CBS, Showtime, Comedy Central, Disney, and FX. His last book was the critically-acclaimed Encyclopaedia of Hell, which includes a road map for a full-scale demonic invasion of Earth. Now, Olson tops himself with a sequel, The Conquest of Heaven, with Satan leading a coup of Heaven to replace God. Olson’s wry and relentless humor echoes Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce.

Lord Satan dreams the Hell Cosmos.

This much-anticipated sequel picks up where Olson left off, writing again in the voice of Satan, we follow the Dark Lord’s latest scheme. Conquering Earth was mere child’s play when it comes to taking on the Almighty’s digs. And it’s not long before Satan runs into some difficulties.

After Hell’s army conquers Insignificant Earth and devours the human race in a celebratory feast, Lord Satan reveals that he will now journey deep into the universe to find the throne of the despised Creator. There Satan will depose God and take his rightful place as Emperor of Existence. Now, the secret sauce to making the story work hinges upon the voice of Satan. Again, that’s where the comparisons to literary giants like Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce come into play. These guys satisfied that career high of nailing it, getting to channel Satan, as it were. And so Olson returns to those dizzying heights with his new book. Let’s dig in and see how he does it.

Lord Zyk battles the ghost of Abra Kadab.

First, you need to establish the character and, in Satan’s case, we’re talking about both a sophisticated creature and an egomaniac at an astronomical level. Satan is supposed to be all-knowing. But he’s also arrogant and pompous. Olson’s Satan maintains an other-worldly tone, full of regal turns of phrase and douchebag observations. In this excerpt, Satan has just set hoof on Heaven:

Yes, it was all Heavenly. All exactly what I hated.

I had come prepared with eye filters to screen out hideous beauty like the fountain. But I was unprepared for the audio component poisoning the air around me. Each festoon of flowers resonated with a different vibratory tone. Together, they emitted a hideously majestic symphony, a loathsome atmosphere of perfect harmony. Its precise overtones made my ears bleed. When I inhaled, the flowers’ sweetness produced cognitive dissonance with the natural filth that composed my lungs. I swooned, heaved deeply, and vomited the remains of a virgin I’d eaten into the azaleas. It was confirmed: perfect harmony was an unbearable toxin to my soul.

Satan is not exactly an easy guy to accomodate, even under ideal conditions, and here he is on arguably his greatest quest. Determined to discover the origin of his own creation, and to murder God, Satan must endure a series of obstacles in God’s Library akin to Alice in Wonderland, as well as match wits with a demented nun. And that’s just part of it, all leading to the shocking secret at the core of Creation. Could it have something to do with Satan? There’s a very good chance of that. To add some extra spice, there’s some other characters thrown into the mix like the equally pompous Lord Zyk and the wayward demon, Abra Kadab. The main thing is the journey which Olson masterfully keeps moving along. In this excerpt, Satan is dueling with a possessed book which has just lopped off his head. He’s later surprised to find out which book he’d been fighting:

Using a combination of my teeth and the vicissitudes of momentum, I climbed up my leg and torso until I reached the bloody stump of my severed neck. Through rapid licking, I then self-cauterized the wound, reconnecting my head to my body, and glared down at the culpable book.

Ironically, or perhaps not, the book that had decapitated me was a novelty edition of my own repugnant masterpiece of evil, Encycolpeadia of Hell, its ancient cover splattered with rose-red, black and purple coagulations of my royal demon blood.

What else might stand a chance against Satan but the very book prior to Olson’s latest misadventure with Satan? This kind of humor will delight readers of any age. Just think of vintage MAD Magazine. Sure, for the youngest readers, there’s the obvious parental discretion to keep in mind. This is, after all, a most unabashed Satan we’re dealing with here. The fangs. The claws. And everything else is all hanging out. But no risk of any exorcism! Honestly, if your kid is reading this, you can thank God that the kid has got good taste.


Filed under Book Reviews, Humor, Martin Olson

Interview: Cast from Adult Swim’s YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL


YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL is faster and funnier than your average comedy show. It’s whipsmart, which is a good thing considering this show’s setting. There’s whips, there’s chains, all manner of fire and brimstone but, when you really come down to it, isn’t it always about the characters? That’s what I came away with after a brief chat with the cast from this hilarious new show on Adult Swim, Thursdays, at midnight.

Matt Servitto, as Satan

Matt Servitto, as Satan

First up, is Matt Servitto, who is a seasoned actor with an impressive resume. He is known for his work on THE SOPRANOS as well as a variety of other shows. He was recently in PRICE CHECK, with Parker Posey, and that is a must-see and available now on DVD. In YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL, Matt plays a high profile character, the big guy himself, Satan. For inspiration, Matt turned to Ed Asner’s character, Lou Grant, on THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW. You might wonder about that. There are a number of impressions of Lou you can come away with but, at his core, he was always short tempered, a bit erratic, and not someone you wanted to displease. “If you think back, that guy could be crazy. You felt sorry for Mary whenever she was called into his office.”

Henry Zebrowski, as Gary

Henry Zebrowski, as Gary

Next, we have Henry Zebrowski, who plays Gary on the show. He’s shuffling along as a good worker demon but his heart isn’t in it. Henry likens the sharp-witted humor on PRETTY FACE to sharking around a pizza at a party and grabbing a slice before they’re all gone. His quick reflexes landed him a role in the upcoming Martin Scorsese film, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. Henry let us in on a different aspect to the movie that audiences may not be expecting. “This one is going to be bloody. It’s going to be the next SCARFACE.” Well, that’s Henry’s interpretation so take it with a full grain of salt.

Craig Rowin, as Claude

Craig Rowin, as Claude

Craig Rowin rounds out the cast as the conniving intern who is adapting quite well to literally working in corporate hell. Being in hell doesn’t seem to phase him and he looks like he’s going to thrive while his supervisor, Gary, is only going to flounder. Both Craig and Henry come from working on the sketch comedy show, COLLEGE HUMOR ORIGINALS, and, as the title implies, they have both earned their stripes. When I asked Craig if he could define comedy for us, he had a very good answer related to what makes PRETTY FACE work. “You’re working off a baseline of insanity. It’s absurd humor playing off reality.”

Henry jumped in to agree with his fellow comedian. “It’s all about that 9 to 5 office job. You might be working with some of the saddest cases. It’s about that unreal office world.” And that’s good comedy for you, keeping it real in the unreal. Even though this show is set in hell, don’t these office workers bleed if they are papercut? You bet they do. They cry sometimes too. And, since it’s that kind of show, they even explode into tiny little bits. It’s all possible coming from the creators of the show, Dave Willis and Chris Kelly, both steeped in Cartoon Network writing experience, including AQUA TEAM HUNGER FORCE. As Craig points out, it’s that background that gives the show its animated zip even though it’s a live action show.

It was at this point in the interview that things took a sudden ugly turn. Henry got a little too excited and called Craig, “A tiny-eyed rat-faced boy.” While a seemingly random swipe at Craig, he took it well and considered it a compliment of sorts. All three actors agreed that this moment of potential danger was all in good fun. Just the right note to end this interview on.

Catch YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL, Thursdays at midnight, on Adult Swim.

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Filed under Cartoon Network, Comedy, Humor


EDITOR’S NOTE: On Monday, Comics Grinder will have an interview with the cast from YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL. Yeah, buddy!

What are you doing Thursdays at midnight? You may want to check out this new comedy on Adult Swim. “Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell” is like “The Office” if it took place in hell. If that’s just too nightmarish, then maybe you should catch some sleep and be a good worker bee. However, if you have a rebellious sense of humor, happen to be unemployed, or just enjoy your quirk extra dark, then this show is for you. It can get pretty repulsive but, hey, that’s hell for you.

“Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell” is a live-action workplace comedy about Gary, an associate demon, as he attempts to capture souls on earth in order to climb the corporate ladder of the underworld. Gary is played by Henry Zebrowski (The Wolf of Wall Street).

Gary hopes to advance in Hell, but he may be too stupid, lazy and kind-hearted to realize his dreams of promotion. Meanwhile, Gary’s intern, Claude, is more talented, more devious and will do whatever it takes to impress Satan. Claude is played by Craig Rowin (College Humor Originals). And the CEO, Satan himself, is played by Matt Servitto (The Sopranos).

A Williams Street production, the show is created and directed by Dave Willis (Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Squidbillies) and Casper Kelly (Squidbillies, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, Stroker & Hoop).

Watch a full episode, “Welcome to Hell,” here.

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Filed under Comedy, Television