Posts Tagged ‘Jerry Lewis’

Lax But Not Lazy


Monday, September 11, 2006

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Well, Tim’s been on vacation and I’ve been frantically trying to squeeze out some books and get an exhibition up as well. See PictureBox for all the updates. In the meantime, I should note that I saw the great Frank Tashlin movie Artists and Models last week. It’s an amazing Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin vehicle in which they star as writer/artist pals on the make in New York. They happen into, you guessed it, the comic book world, as Jerry’s favorite cartoonist turns out to be their upstairs neighbor and beautiful, too, natch. Dean falls for her (fascinating, given all the recent discussion, that the famous cartoonist in the movie is a woman–also a convenient plot device, but still…) while Jerry falls for her model, played by Shirely Maclaine. Anyhow, there’s some wonderful stuff in there with sleazy publishers, exciting imagery (“Bat-Lady” is the stuff of Jerry’s fantasies) and general hilarity. What’s so refreshing about the movie is that the comics stuff seems oddly right-on. It’s just a business in this movie, but the business still generates the raw material for dreams and nightmares. I could see how comics were once part of the entertainment mainstream–just another thing for a film to riff on. Too bad that’s no longer. There’s also a great sequence in which Jerry gleefully makes the case that comics made him retarded, a sentiment I couldn’t agree with more. Retarded is the new sexy.

Anyhow, we’re hard at work on the next issue, which thus far features a fine essay on Spider-Man by Peter Bagge, a fine list by Mark Newgarden, comics by Matthew Thurber and Paper Rad, a long interview with Pshaw, and Tim on Steve Gerber. It’s coming along. We hope to have it done for October.

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Sweet Clarity


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

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Because we got a little off-schedule this week, I’m not going to make the big Shazam reveal until tomorrow (sorry, I know). But since my last post may have come off as a little more strident than I intended, a little brief clarification may be in order.

First, I wrote that only one superheroes-grown-up story has ever worked, but to be fair, I might well have missed something or other. (I’ve never read Rick Veitch‘s Bratpack or its sequels, for example, and for all I know, they’re brilliant. And Alan Moore’s early Miracleman comics worked to at least some extent.) And once you’ve got more than one “exception that proves the rule”, maybe the exceptions don’t actually prove the rule so much as they disprove it. So there’s that.

Second, I also kind of gave the game away when I brought in Ursula K. Le Guin. Once you take away the capes and underwear, there’s really no reason that a story with super-powers can’t be successful (and “adult”). Books ranging from Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination to the New Testament have proved that a super-powered protagonist isn’t necessarily a liability. It’s the costumes that cause most of the problems. (But they’re big problems. Green Arrow yelling, “My ward is a junkie!” is bad all enough on its own, but when he’s dressed like Robin Hood while he’s doing it, it’s all over. Wearing that outfit, reading the 9/11 Commission Report would seem ridiculous.)

That’s all, I think, since I don’t want to get too deep into the nerd weeds. I still think my general point was valid, but consider adding these grains of salt, please.

Unrelated bonus: Since Dan brought up Jerry Lewis comics, here’s a memorable comic book moment that’s been making the internet rounds lately, for those who haven’t already seen it: When Jerry Met Kal-El.

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Sometimes and Something


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

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I stumbled on Kevin Huizenga’s blog this morning and was glad to take it all in. I’ve enjoyed Kevin’s comics for a while now, and his recent issue of Or Else, number 4, was absolutely thrilling. It struck me as a humble attempt to explain the entire world in just under a hundred pages. Kevin digs deep spiritual holes and then lets the rest of us peer in. He reminds me a lot of Ben Jones in his philosophical concerns…it’s just that they each exited through a different door or something. I’m glad he’s able to communicate what he does, because it’s the kind of exploration so often lacking in comics. Kevin is after the universe, I think, but through a macro lense.

Anyhow, onto the meat of this post. Seems as though Tim is covering this week’s historical business, so, hey, have you ever seen the Royal Trux comic book? It’s pretty amazing. It was published by the band’s record label, Drag City, in 2001 but I only just got a copy today. The band itself, meanwhile, is long gone. So there’s a time lag. Maybe this is history today after all. Well, the Trux comic is written by guitarist (and occassional writer on comics) Neil Michael Hagerty and drawn by Doreen Kirchner. It’s like a metaphysical stroll through the Royal Trux universe. I like a bunch of things about it: one, the idea of a band as a universe that could produce a comic book. Two, Kirchner’s art is all coloring book-bold outlines, and unexpectedly off kilter compositions. And three, Hagerty is wonderfully verbose, maxing-out speech balloons on nearly every page. It’s an unassuming comic in the same way, say, a Jerry Lewis comic from 1960 (one of my finds last weekend) is unassuming. It’s yarn-spinning without any goal besides a certain kind of entertainment. Check it out if you happen upon it.

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