We are in a golden age of comics, specifically webcomics. We all have our favorites that we follow. Cartoonist David Daneman brings together some of the best work out there. Last year he presented Launch Party which proved a success. This year, it’s Art Block, with a whole new group of talent. A Kickstarter campaign in support of this new project launches March 4 and runs for a month. Check it out right here.
“Projects like this are the reason we get up in the morning. When David calls, we’re in.”
—Jonathan Kunz & Elizabeth Pich, War and Peas
~75 strips from 25 different artists
–Full color interior
~$20.00 (usd) + shipping/handling
–Ships anywhere in the world
In 2017, Montreal-based cartoonist David Daneman realized he had found a niche to fill in the comics ecosystem. The type of comics he loves, short and funny gag-strips, are increasingly published but rarely in anthology form. Under the name The Original Content Collective, Daneman published the 2018 proof of concept book, Launch Party, and paid all of his contributors a fee per comic plus a share of the profits. Building on the success of Launch Party, Daneman returns this year with Art Block, a new anthology with a new crew of cartoonists and including some very impressive titles: Poorly Drawn Lines, Cassandra and The Perry Bible Fellowship, to name a few. Kris Wilson, author of Cyanide and Happiness, will write the introduction.
Comedy Review: David Cross at Moore Theater, Seattle, June 29, 2018
David Cross is one of the great conversational comics, among a short list of greats. Well, you may have a long list. If a gun were put to my head, and I could cough up, say, only four comedians currently working at this level, I would go with: Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, and David Cross. They’re all around my age and they’re all very relatable but, more than that, they are all masters at this deceptively simple casual banter that, bit by bit, builds into something epic. I caught The OH COME ON 2018 World Tour at its stop in Seattle, at the Moore Theatre, June 29th and I loved it!
Be prepared for some very funny material about being a new dad from a comic known for being jaded and highly ironic. Cross assures his audience he’s not one of those comics that does an hour of dad jokes only to end up doing quite a lot of dad jokes–but they’re very subversive dad jokes so it’s all good.
Lots of Good Trump Jokes
If you’re expecting intelligent humor from an intelligent comedian, you’re in luck here–but also be prepared for it to get pretty weird and crass. The material on Trump is priceless and I certainly won’t give any of it away here. I will say that Cross isn’t kidding when he confides in his audience that making fun of Trump is a challenge. As Cross wades deeper and deeper into the Trump swamp, you can see Cross fighting off the fumes and doing his part for his country. One of the best bits is Cross wrapping his head around the recent trend of regretful Trump voters. It’s a thing of beauty to see Cross rattle off all the things that have had to happen before these Trump voters had regrets.
Chemtrails and Vinegar
You’ll thank me for including this YouTube video as accompanying material. Out of the blue, so it seemed, Cross jumped into a long bit explaining this very strange Deep State conspiracy theory. The idea here is that true believers are convinced that there’s a vast government scheme to pollute the air and only a vinegar spray can combat it. Enjoy.
Oh, Come On
The actual bit that is the title to his act glides in for a landing at the very end of the show. It’s just one of those special things you have to see for yourself! Again, I will just say: Cross is masterful at articulating simple and goofy material in a sophisticated and artful way.
Perhaps one of the best of the quickie jokes was at the very end, just as some people were sharking their way out. There was David Cross, back on stage, with one last bit. Cross wanted to share a very special item he discovered at one of his recent hotel stays. It is a very special “ergonomic” and “sustainable” soap. Just the sort of thing begging to be made fun of. And, to top it of, it has a gaping hole right in the middle. Well, sometimes comedy material just writes itself. Cross was now armed with a hilarious symbol for all he hates about Santa Monica liberals who live in a bubble–and are thrilled to pay premium for soap with a hole where most of the soap should be.
The OH COME ON 2018 World Tour is on, baby! Visit the official David Cross website right here.
I still remember the sting and utter humiliation during an improv class when I was asked to tell a joke and I froze. I thought I knew what to expect from acting and improv but I wasn’t ready that night to tell a simple joke! Now, I have discovered a fine book that I wish I had with me all long: THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK! This book will save your comedic bacon no matter what your age and is published by Downtown Bookworks.
Page from THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK
There are more than 600 puns, knock-knocks, one-liners, riddles, gags, and tongue twisters! Use it at parties. Use it on dates, depending on the date, of course. And definitely use it to bring a smile to anyone’s face. How about a way to get a rambunctious kid’s attention? Everyone loves a good joke. This book is chock full of them in an eye-popping colorful presentation.
Page from THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK
As you can see from the samples, these are smart and funny jokes. A little here about the authors: Noah Smith is a comedy writer who has worked for Saturday Night Live; Sarah Parvis is a children’s book author; and Michael Robin is an author and librarian.
THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK is a full color 176-page trade paperback for ages 6 and up, published by Downtown Bookworks. You can also find it at Amazon right here.
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 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.
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
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Shannon Wheeler has been for many years the much beloved alternative cartoonist, famous for his over-caffeinated comics, “Too Much Coffee Man.” And then he went where many cartoonists have attempted to go before but only a smidgen have been heard from since…The New Yorker!
Here is a comic that attempts to tap into the elegant simplicity of the James Thurber short story. It is a delicate and precise little story: A henpecked husband daydreams he’s a hero while he goes about his mundane life. Two major motion pictures, in 1947 and in 2013, have taken this little story to great heights. This is a distillation of the original 1939 short story drawn in my take on the style of Thurber cartoons.
And there you have it, the whole story told in only six panels. I’d like to think that Mr. Thurber would have appreciated this tribute.
The holiday season is upon us and what better way to rebel than with the right dose of sarcasm and wit? Well then, look no further than the latest issue of the quarterly humor magazine, The Devastator. Issue 9 is devoted to the theme, Toys & Games! Ah, what fun! Get it here.
In an issue chock full of comics, prose, and all sorts of jolly manipulation of other content, you start out with the one-page comic, “In Jail,” by K.C. Green, that sets the tone for funny.
“Mastermind,” spoofs the beloved board game and is brought to you by Comedian Greg Proops (The Smartest Man In World, Whose Line Is it Anyway?), well in the tradition of hilarious photo-comics from The National Lampoon.
Or perhaps your refined taste for offbeat humor runs toward more complex satire? No problem there, sport. You will be thrilled by such involved work as “Bye-Bye, Miss American Girl,” by Patrick Baker, with art by Grace Levine. There’s even a fully formed new board game, “ClueMates: The Passive Agressive Roommate Detective Game,” illustrated by BOOM! Studio’s Yehudi Mercado (Adventure Time comics, Pantalones, TX).
The Devastator is a Los Angeles comedy magazine, founded by writers Geoffrey Golden and Amanda Meadows. Each issue features original comics and writing by some of the funniest people alive: from The Daily Show, The Onion, Adult Swim, Marvel, DC Comics, and more! Check out devastatorquarterly.com.
“If Crumb can have a documentary, then so can Gahan Wilson!” The decision had been made.
Gahan Wilson is a force of nature. And so is filmmaker Steven-Charles Jaffe. Wilson found in Jaffe someone who would do justice to his legendary career that spans over 50 years of cartoons for The New Yorker, Playboy, and National Lampoon. Who else even comes close to such an output? That’s why a documentary had to be made. It is called, “Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird.” Yes, you read that right, “Born Dead, Still Weird,” and it is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign that you can join here.
It was upon seeing “Crumb,” Terry Zwigoff’s landmark 1995 documentary on underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, that Jaffe resolved he needed to create a similarly worthy documentary of his friend and idol, Gahan Wilson. The idea of Jaffe and Wilson working together had already been kicking around for a few years. One plan that continues to interest them is a feature length animated movie based on Wilson’s illustrated book, “Eddy Deco’s Last Caper.” Jaffe and director Nicholas Meyer have approached IMAX about the project so we shall see. A Gahan Wilson animated movie in 3-D would be worth the wait.
For a taste of what it’s like for Wilson and Jaffe to work together, you can view the 2008 animated short, “It Was a Dark and Silly Night.” A story about children determined to have a jello war, even if it’s in a cemetery, this animated short is based on a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Gathan Wilson for an illustrated anthology, compiled and edited by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly, “Little Lit: It Was a Dark and Silly Night.”
There is so much to a Gahan Wilson cartoon: it is entertaining, memorable, scary, and above all else, it won’t let go. “I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a Gahan Wilson cartoon that relates right back to his own life.” Jaffe makes the observation with awe and admiration. An artist of the caliber of Wilson has both a keen sense of whimsy and a backbone made of steel. He was a child of two out of control alcoholic parents. For him, he had to grow up fast while holding on ever tighter to his dreams.
The dream behind “Born Dead, Still Weird” is to give it as wide an audience as possible. Much in the same way that “Crumb” was transcendent, so too this documentary aims to show you the real man and artist. “That’s what struck such a chord with people, to see Robert Crumb on a human level,” says Jaffe. Both Crumb and Wilson climbed their ways out of adversity to unprecedented success. If Jaffe can accomplish his goal of stirring up the pot and getting his documentary considered for an Academy Award nomination, it will go a long way in securing a high profile for “Born Dead, Still Weird.” The essential stage, getting the documentary made is done. But the last stage, marketing and distribution, and just making sure the documentary is known about, is still ahead.
Jaffe recalls the kind words from Robert Redford in support of “Born Dead, Still Weird.” After viewing it, Redford wrote back to Jaffe, “I’m a huge proponent of art not only getting into the educational system but for its ability to save some lives and enhance some lives. It is a fine piece of work and I thank you.” Saving lives. What a joy to be able to make such a difference. This is something that has genuinely stuck with Jaffe. He’s the first to say that he did not set out to make an inspirational film and yet Gahan’s life attracts just that.
From Jaffe’s first encounter with a Gahan Wilson cartoon in Playboy at the tender age of 10, up to today, Jaffe’s felt his own life enriched by Wilson. “He is a total nonconformist,” Jaffe says with delight. In a world where being different can have harsh consequences, as with bullies in school, Gahan Wilson is a shining example of someone who is going to live his life his way.
I hope you enjoy the podcast below that includes the entire interview with Steven-Charles Jaffe. Just click below:
The world of the one panel comics gag shares a lot in common with the world of stand-up comedy. Either the joke works or it doesn’t. There isn’t much room for debate. Well, maybe. But, in general, you know what I mean. It needs to make an impact pretty quickly. Welcome to Wrong Hands, the world of John Atkinson, where jokes make impacts.
Life and art are a process. You learn by doing. And you often get your best ideas when you least expect them, when you don’t seem to be doing anything more than preparing to fall asleep. That’s when John relies on his pad and pencil near his nightstand. He’ll come up with an idea and jot it down. The next morning, he’ll either gasp in disgust or be pleased by a promising new joke.
But will his audience be as receptive to this new joke as he is? Sometimes, in those solidarity moments of word play and free assocaiton, a connection will be made that is so strong that it is emboldens the cartoonist to take a stand. He’ll deliver the joke, no matter the consequences.
It becomes a matter of honor. A person will stick their neck out, all for the sake of a joke. It’s the principle of the thing: a joke for the sake of a joke. The fight is on, if needed, against all who can’t take a joke, who would rather analyze and dissect it. Everyone is entitled to their opinon but the cartoonist is there to believe in his, or her, work.
And so it goes with Mr. Atkinson’s hand in the game. In his case, it’s the “wrong hands.”