Tag Archives: Playboy

Todd McFarlane Playboy Interview: 25 Years of ‘Spawn’ and Image Comics

Todd McFarlane

It was such a pleasure to listen to Todd McFarlane speak at a reunion of Image Comics founders at Emerald City Comicon. One thing is clear, Todd is not shy. No, the guy is a master at public speaking. The running gag that Mr. MacFarlane ran with at the ECCC panel discussion involved co-founder Jim Lee having jumped ship and returning to DC Comics. When you help to found a comic book publisher all about creator-owned independence, returning to the place you ran away from in the first place is not exactly taken lightly. That said, McFarlane had a great time describing Lee’s lack of a baseball pitching arm. It’s a long story but one that only McFarlane can tell, and ultimately tell with a good sense of humor and regard for his old friend.

Yes, it was 25 years ago that seven Marvel and DC Comics artists and writers, seeking creative control and a better deal, jumped ship and built their own which they christened Image Comics. The driving ethos was that all of their titles, released through their own individual studios, were creator-owned and controlled. Among the rebels from the Big Two was Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, and the upstart company quickly rose up in the business, with several of their series, including Youngblood, The Savage Dragon, and Wildcats, reportedly selling hundreds of thousands of copies or more per month.

Well, to know that McFarlane recently sat down for a Playboy Interview instantly caught my interest. In the interview, McFarlane looks back on his first 25 years at Image Comics. He also offers his own hard-won advice on how to push forward as an industry insurgent by stating, “People-pleasers don’t change the world. It’s the rebel, it’s the dick, it’s the troublemaker. There are a lot of labels for us. You have to say at some point, ‘I don’t care.’” Ah, that certainly sounds like vintage McFarlane.

Read the entire Todd McFarlane Playboy Interview right here.

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Filed under Comics, Image Comics, Interviews, Playboy, Todd McFarlane

Review: ‘The Case Against Satan’ by Ray Russell

Ray Russell illustration by Henry Chamberlain

Ray Russell illustration by Henry Chamberlain

When you write a story about the Devil, you are in some sense, summoning him. You cannot take that lightly for one very good reason: if you don’t take it seriously, you will amount with less than a gripping story. Ray Russell knew not to disturb Satan for no good reason. Russell was, by extension, part of the original Southern California Writers Group of the Sixties. This was “The Group,” the guys who went on to do such amazing things as write for the original Twilight Zone. Ray was not so much a regular at gatherings but he knew the art of writing as well as the best of them. He published the best of them as the fiction editor at Playboy, no less. And his own writing rose to the occasion too. One shining example of this is his 1962 novel, “The Case Against Satan.”

The early Sixties were dripping with modern cool with trailblazers bursting upon all the arts. In writing, one fertile ground was pushing the limits of gothic and dark fantasy. It is in “The Case Against Satan” that Russell broke new ground and created the contemporary demon possession story. It is more than fair to say that it was the precursor to William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel, “The Exorcist.” And, most assuredly, it is a novel still every bit as chilling today, oddly enhanced by its vintage. Certain modes of communication, like social media, just weren’t available to our characters in 1962 while others were more commonly relied upon, like a simple pamphlet, printed by the local zealot, and circulated amongst the neighborhood.

Ray Russell Case Against Satan

This is a story that depends a lot upon communication. Susan, a pretty sixteen-year-old, will prove a most enigmatic figure who may, or may not, be possessed by Lucifer himself. Her every word seems to harbor a double meaning. And, as we progress, all depends upon what is true and what is false. This is also a philosophical story as Susan will bring two men with very differing views together to help save her soul. The argument between them is one of faith. Can you only believe what you choose to believe or, when push comes to shove, must you give yourself completely over? The question is whether Satan actually exists. Sure, God is relatively easy to believe in. But, if there is a God, is there not a Satan?

Russell is more than just a master of the horror genre. You could say that simply writing horror is only the first step. In order for it to matter, the writer has to take on his own leap of faith. The writer has to have skin in the game, so to speak. Well, Russell is, without a doubt, a writer willing to give his skin, and heart, over to what he did. He has a way of drawing you in completely too. You arrive closer and closer to the bogeyman to find yourself butting right up against him and then you may gasp, or you may be in awe, as to how you got there. Russell does not hammer away. He may mention something only once but that one time will suffice. You cannot help but bookmark it and eagerly anticipate a return.

Much in line with the trim and fast-paced novels of the era, like Robert Bloch’s 1959 novel, “Psycho,” this is story that is very focused, very much a page-turner, with an eerie elegance running throughout. It breaks my heart to think that this was never turned into a major motion picture. With some adjustments, it could still be made as an updated version. Or, better yet, you could remain close to the spooky cool of the original.

Perhaps it might do well to adapt this story into a play. “Doubt” comes to mind. For this is very much a story about overcoming one’s doubt. It is, in large part, a story about Gregory, a priest in crisis, at a crossroads in early middle age. And his counterpart, mentor, and friend, is a visiting bishop. In fact, the meeting between them was to be fleeting at best. However, circumstances would dictate otherwise. Above all else, Russell masterfully balances the inner and outer turmoil of these two, among a cast of other characters emerging from varied backgrounds, all brought together by a demon possession, that may or may not be true.

“The Case Against Satan” is a 160-page paperback published by Penguin Random House. For more information, and to purchase, visit our friends at Penguin Random House right here.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Books, Penguin Random House, Playboy, Ray Russell, Satan, Southern California Writers Group, The Twilight Zone

Interview: Missy Suicide and SuicideGirls: Blackheart Burlesque Tour

SuicideGirls-Blackheart-Burlesque-2014

Missy Suicide, the co-founder of SuicideGirls, has seen her venture grow by leaps and bounds to become a part of the pop culture. It all began as what seemed like a lark in 2001 to become a new generation’s answer to Playboy Magazine. If you are into alternative beauty, then SuicideGirls answers that call. In my interview, Missy speaks to what SuicideGirls is all about. For anyone who wonders if SG has its comics cred in order, I would direct you to the SG website and check out the online community discussions. Everything from vegan cooking to manga is up for grabs. You will also want to check out the latest SG book, “Geekology,” which you can find here.

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Filed under Comics, Geeks, Indie, Suicide Girls, SuicideGirls, Tattoos

‘Gahan Wilson: Born Dead Still Weird’ Campaign Kicks Off August 18, 2013

Gahan-Wilson-Born-Dead-Still-Weird-2013

“We’re going all the way!” says filmmaker Steven-Charles Jaffe about his fundraising campaign in support of his documentary on master cartoonist Gahan Wilson, “Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird.”

Beginning on Sunday, August 18, 2013, at noon PST, fundraising for the documentary resumes after the Kickstarter effort.

Many of the original pledgers are now renewing their pledges on the official “Born Dead, Still Weird” website which you can visit here.

Gahan-Wilson-art-Born-Dead-Still-Weird

Gahan-Wilson-The-New-Yorker

From the “Born Dead, Still Weird” site:

We have launched this new funding website for our ACADEMY AWARD® campaign to enable all of you awesome supporters to renew your pledges and receive your rewards.

Please browse through our rewards and choose one or more. Note: some previously listed rewards have changed, so take a look and choose one or more. There is also the option to make a pledge without a reward. You can purchase using Paypal or credit card.

The reasons we need your help remain the same. We’re in a tough race to get the documentary submitted to the Academy® so we must reach our goal of $26,000 by Monday September 16.

Thanks again for your continued enthusiasm and support. We will do this!

Sincerely,

Steven

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Filed under Academy Awards, cartoon, Cartooning, Cartoonists, Cartoons, Comics, Documentaries, Gahan Wilson, Illustration, Kickstarter, Playboy, Steven-Charles Jaffe, The New Yorker

INTERVIEW: Filmmaker Steven-Charles Jaffe and ‘Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird’

Gahan-Wilson-Steven-Charles-Jaffe-2013

“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:

Steven-Charles Jaffe

Be sure to stop by and visit the Kickstarter campaign for “Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird” right here.

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Filed under Art, Cartoons, Comics, Documentaries, Gahan Wilson, Humor, Illustration, Kickstarter, National Lampoon, Playboy, Steven-Charles Jaffe, The New Yorker

Gahan Wilson Doc, ‘Born Dead, Still Weird’ Seeks Your Help For Academy Award Nomination

Gahan-Wilson

The New Yorker gag cartoon is quite a unique creature. It comes in many flavors, the best being “strange.” The master of strange is Gahan Wilson. It’s quite a blend that has been published for the last 50 years in The New Yorker, Playboy, and National Lampoon. His work takes you to a dark place while putting a smile on your face. It’s not an easy thing to do. I remember, as a kid in the ’70s, attracted to all kinds of comics that unveiled a mysterious world, one often made up of hapless adults. God help anyone seeking answers from a Gahan Wilson cartoon–but it helped me! I’m not sure how but it did. In order to celebrate and better understand Gahan Wilson, and his amazing work, Filmmaker Steven-Charles Jaffe created a documentary, “Born Dead, Still Weird,” which is currently part of a Kickstarter campaign (runs thru August 17) that you can view here.

Gahan-Wilson-Born-Dead-Still-Weird

A funny thing happened on the way to somewhere else. I literally stepped into the “Born Dead, Still Weird” documentary some years back. I happened to be in town and I dropped by The New Yorker offices to show a batch of my cartoon gags. Little did I know that Gahan Wilson was in the green room, along with all the regular contributors, awaiting an audience with Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor for The New Yorker. Now, I’m from Seattle, so it wasn’t like a usual thing. I kept putting off my visit to the editor’s office because I was so enthralled and wanted to make the moment last. I remember signing a waiver, just in case my interview with Bob Mankoff was used in the film. I was invited back to continue to submit work. I left, had lunch, and continued with my life. And I always wondered about this documentary!

Gahan-Wilson-Born-Dead-Still-Weird-2013

Now, we come to the good part. We fans of comics and art and wonderful things love Gahan Wilson and his work. We want this documentary to succeed in a very big way. If it can fulfill the requirements necessary to be considered for an Academy Award nomination, then that will be a big leap forward to getting everyone to know about this documentary. The current Kickstarter campaign is all about meeting the criteria for nomination and that primarily involves renting movie theaters for special screenings. You can read all about it at the Kickstarter campaign here.

An Academy Award nomination alone is a huge deal and “Born Dead, Still Weird” is a perfect candidate for Best Documentary. Let’s all do what we can to see this campaign get funded.

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Filed under Cartoons, Comics, Documentaries, Gahan Wilson, Humor, Illustration, Kickstarter, National Lampoon, Playboy, The New Yorker