Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More Angel from me?

My Angel story is going to be collected AGAIN in a big, giant hardcover. You can pre-order that here:

No cover has been solicited yet, so the link is pretty boring... but how awesome is that? Again, I'm alongside of great, great writers. Brian Lynch. Scott Tipton. David Tischman. Bill Willingham. So many big time dudes, and me. Makes a guy all proud.

Big news coming soon. I'm not sure how much I can say right now, but yeah... I'm getting some pretty cool comics writing gigs.

Comic Book Wednesday #7 - Hack/Slash review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #7

Nothing on my pull list came out today, which is weird for me. I've been on a bit of a TPB binge, though, so I have a lot to pick from. I've been reading Brubaker's Captain America trades, a lot of Geoff Johns' DC stuff, and some other various assorted bits of awesomry. We're going to skip out on the superheroes for a week, though, and focus on a girl. A girl with an attitude. A girl with an attitude and a big fuckin' bat.

Series Review
Part 1

Tim Seeley's Hack/Slash is simply the finest horror comic currently being published. It's scary, it's hilarious, it embraces the camp factor without ever compromising the human story, it's sexy without being gratuitous (plot-wise... some of the covers are admittedly a bit much), it's current while still commenting on the all-time horror classics, and it's overall a consistently great story with mostly consistently great art.

I've read the first two omnibuses, so that's all I'll be able to comment on. These things are giant, high quality books that don't suffer from what I've found a lot of giant paperback graphic novels do... the tendency to crack and spit out pages as soon as you open the book. I plan to reread these collections over and over, and I'm very impressed with the quality. The first two have comprehensive cover galleries and profiles for all of the villains. While I haven't read the third, I noticed that it's way shorter on extras but a bit meatier on content, which is fine. Point is, the collects are giant, beautiful, well-made, and affordable. If you're planning on getting into Hack/Slash, this is the way.

Now, the story. Imagine all movie slashers live in one universe. That is the world that Cassie Hack lives in. She was the proverbial Girl That Survives The Slasher And Goes On To Live Life after her mother went crazy, killed a bunch of kids, proceeded to commit suicide, and then come back as a slasher. Cassie is bitter. Outwardly angry, even, and she takes that out on the slashers that she hunts with her partner Vlad, a hulking man who is often mistaken for a monster by the people around them. While Cassie is one of the baddest badasses in comic books, she's also vulnerable and innocent in many ways, which proves for a nice dichotomy. Like all good genre fiction, the cool monsters and the hunts don't take center stage here. Cassie's relationship with Vlad, her personal history, and her journey toward finding who she is as a girl make up the real meat of Hack/Slash.

Possibly because of that, there have been a lot of comparisons between Hack/Slash and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I'm not going to lie; that's one of the reasons I picked the book up in the first place. Whedonesque is synonymous for "I want to read the shit out of this." Most of the folks that follow this blog know me from either writing about Buffy and Angel or having written for Angel, so let me tell you guys: While Hack/Slash is in absolutely no way derivative, it has the attention to character and love for snarky dialogue that made Buffy so watchable. However, I've found that Whedon fans tend to go apeshit when women are sexualized in comics, but I personally find nothing gratuitous about Hack/Slash (nor did I find anything gratuitous about Spike's harem Angel: After the Fall, which a lot of people flipped needless shits about), but that's just me.

To dispense with the Buffy comparisons, let me reiterate: Hack/Slash is a fine horror comic. It's a fine creator owned comic. The concept is fresh, the execution is insanely good, and the characters are badass and easy to root for. It's everything that horror comics should be, but tend to not be.

Volume One is a collection of the earliest Hack/Slash stories, which are mostly one-shots that show Cassie and Vlad hunting slashers. Along the way, a few supporting players are introduced, but not much in the way of a continuing storyline is developed in the first omnibus. Volume Two, however, takes the threads set up in Volume One and weaves them into a complex and thrilling story arc that shows the government trying to deal with slashers, introduces my favorite character (a talking demon dog from a Hell dimension named Pooch), has Cassie grappling with her personal life and her duty as a slasher hunter (and maybe her sexuality, a bit), and delves into our heroine's past in a tragic, smart way. Also, there are badass monsters and chicks who fight them.

Can't beat that.

Future awesome: I've seen most of the covers, even for the issues I haven't read yet... and the always talented Jenny Frison has been doing brilliant covers for this series. Who is better than Jenny at covers? Who? Not that guy. Nope, not her either.

More future awesome: I just started reading the third volume, and it starts with Pooch trying to take a shit in the backyard while his master eggs him on. Pooch says, "Master, I cannot expunge my vile wastes while you command your humble Pooch." AH!

Even more future awesome: Your life will be better if you buy this book. Unless you happen to be an undead murderer bent on targeting couples and/or folks you think are sinning. Because, yeah. You're in trouble.

TOMORROW: PART ONE of my interview with SUPERGIRL writer Kelly Sue DeConnick goes up!

Friday, June 24, 2011

8in8 Makes the World a Better Place

I'm going to post a more substantial entry about writing within the next few days, but I just had to share this. Most of the people that follow this blog are fans of Angel and/or IDW, and I think that you'll appreciate this since you guys love sensitively told stories that explore what it means to be human while making you laugh your ass off while crying until your eyes are less organs through which you can see and more useless pools of salty water.

Or if you came here because you've read a story that I wrote, or saw a play that I was involved in, or pretty much for any reason at all... I dig this band. I admire the people in it. These songs moved me and made me smile. Also, it made me want to read more Neil Gaiman, who also wrote this incredibly brilliant post a few years ago. My girlfriend directed me to the link this morning, and my buddy and fellow Angel writer Scott Tipton linked it through his Comics 101 site. The article, which you can read here, as as relevant today as it was when it was written.

Now, onto three songs of mad, unrelenting brilliance.

Music like this makes the world a better place.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Comic Book Wednesday #6


Issue #6

So... my first missed blog. It happens. Just ask the guy who ran Buffyverse Comic Reviews.* I was working against deadline for some comics from a big ol' company that I'm excited to be working for, so I had to do that stuff during the breaks from my day job instead of this blog. Next week and, I'm sure, the subsequent weeks will show regular weekly updates to the CBW section of the blog.

Here we go!

Superman #712
Written by Chris Roberson
Pencils by... hey, wait a sec...

This cover clearly shows Superman... who isn't in the book.

Also, that seems to be either someone with a tan or *gasp* a non-white hero.

Wait a sec... the book I read didn't even have the name "Roberson" on it, nor did it touch on the Grounded arc at all...

Let's give this another try.

Superman #712
Written by Kurt Busiek
Pencils by Rick Leonardi
DC Comics

So, this happened. The original issue that we were supposed to get this month featured Superman continuing from where #711 left off. Funny how that works. One story flowing naturally from the one that came before it. Weird world, huh? Alas, the story was canned last minute in favor of... another story that got canned a few years back. There is some debate whether it was cancelled due to the appearance of a Muslim hero (as the linked article speculated) or because of kitties.

One way, you've got racism... the other, you've got intense silliness.

I'll let the sites that folks actually read speculate on that, though. As weird as the backstory to how this happened is, and as bad as I feel for the super talented guys behind the Grounded arc (especially Chris Roberson, whom I've become a giant fan of), I really enjoyed this nearly silent tale of Krypto the Superdog.

A lot of folks rag on Krypto, but to them I say this. Krypto is a dog who is important enough to wear a cape. How many people do you know that are important enough to not look completely ridiculous in a cape? I thought so.

On a somewhat serious note (though, how serious can you get when talking about a Superdog; well, pretty serious, considering the content of this issue), Krypto has always been one of my favorites. His death in Alan Moore's "imaginary tale" Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? is among the most moving scenes in the DC Universe. His limited role in recent years has been entertaining, as it's always fun to see Kal's best friend pop his head in.

Well, this issue is all him. It takes place "shortly after Superboy died in Infinite Crisis and Superman went missing." That threw me off a bit, because I haven't read Infinite Crisis, and though I'm somewhat familiar with the events of the book because of the other titles I've been following. I was worried that the comic would be so steeped in that storyline that it would be hard to jump into. And while the events of this issue are a major reflection of the tragedies that went down in IC, it is quite easy to follow.

We follow Krypto as he tries to make sense of life without Superman or Superboy, cutting back and forth from flashbacks (nice stuff and intense/sad stuff) to the present day scenes of Krypto revisiting places that he remembers as significant. It's full of touching moments like Krypto looking up hopefully every time a bird or a plane passes. The art is great, the tone is very quiet and very sad with a tinge of hope that only a dog can bring.

For comic book writers struggling with economy of words, check out Busiek. Dude knows what he's doing. "Less is more" is a cheesy phrase that isn't always true, but Busiek manages to pull off a decompressed story with big heart and minimal dialogue.

I really dug the issue, but I'm looking forward to getting back to Grounded in July so Roberson can give the long-running Superman title the ending he intended. Let's hope the final two issues don't involve cats.

This is a bit of an arbitrary PS, but I have to wonder if this issue will ever make it into a TPB. I love single issues, but I've got a big, beautiful library going on... and the completist in me fears that the random nature of #712 will prevent it from ever making it into a trade.


SOONER THAN NEXT WEEK: Got an interview with Supergirl writer KELLY SUE DECONNICK.

*Known in some circles as "Me."

** I wonder if the original cover was also cropped because of cats?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writing Comics Instead of Writing About Comics

Due to a comics writing gig that I just got the go ahead for, today has been writing writing writing... so no Comic Book Wednesday today.

Tomorrow, however, I will chime in with a review of Superman #712. Thanks.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Big, big writerly news.

As I mentioned before, my short story "A Smile Like Many Voices" is going to be published in Rainstorm Press's Signals from the Void anthology. You can order that here.

Two more of my stories have been accepted into anthologies. Both of the books will be published by Pill Hill Press this summer. Links to come.

There Was a Crooked House...
An anthology from Pill Hill Press
Includes my story "Can't Stop Growing Old"
Release date: Late Summer 2011

Told You So
A conspiracy anthology from Pill Hill Press
Includes my story "Gordon Macduff is Just a Man"
Release date: Late Summer 2011/Early Fall 2011

I've got a short play going up June 27th as a part of the monthly Shotz festival. The play is call... ahem... "Furry Cuffs." Details on that to come.

Annnnnnd I've got some comic book work coming soon from a certain publisher that starts with a Z. You know who. Yeah. Them.

Last but certainly not least, I'll be posting an interview with Supergirl writer Kelly Sue DeConnick this week.

Now, if I can only find time to actually not be in front of the computer...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Comic Book Wednesday #5

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #5

Supergirl #65
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Pencils by ChrisCross
DC Comics

Supergirl goes to college in this new three issue arc by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Marvel's Osborn), who writes the character with humor and heart. This story reminds us that while Supergirl will throw out a Buffy-esque one-liner at villains before she kicks their asses, Kara Zor-El is still new to this planet and the way that humans kid around with each other. After two jokes that Lois tries to crack end up confusing Kara, Lois sends her on a reconnaissance mission at a local college to investigate the disappearance of some students. She ends up rooming with a girl who is entirely too excited for the whole dorm experience, which led to this funny and revealing exchange:

SHIRLEY: Do you know what you'll major in?
SHIRLEY: Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?
SHIRLEY: Have you thought about having kids?
SHIRLEY: Do you want to see if the cafeteria's open?

Throwing Supergirl in with people who are her "peers" (read as: human counterparts of a similar age) serves to show how different she is than them, and it's not just because of her powers. She's confident with being a hero now... it's the day-to-day life that she continues to struggle with. Kelly Sue DeConnick seems to be using this final arc of this volume of Supergirl to explore who Kara Zor-El is and isn't as a young woman. My one major issue with the comic, though, is the art is very exaggerated for a story that is, while still action packed, very subtle. Supergirl and Lois have a very quiet conversation in the car, but artist ChrisCross handles those scenes like he handles any other of his books... with strange facial expressions, eyes popping out, and gesticulations that take attention right away from the conversation. It's hard to tell what's going on in some of the action panels as well.

While ChrisCross's art is at times hard to look at, DeConnick's incredible writing makes this story worthy of being the series finale of this volume of Supergirl. There are a bunch of one-liners that made me laugh ("Henry Octavious Flyte! Bastard ne'er-do-well. I should have put hat on calling cards" and "Do they have to be robots? It's been kind of a robot-y few weeks for me...") and there are many scenes in this that seem to plant the seeds for what will be a great story about Supergirl as a hero and a teenager.

NEXT WEEK: An interview with SUPERGIRL writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick!

The Cape (one shot)
Written by Jason Ciaramella
Based on the short story by Joe Hill
Art by Zach Howard
IDW Publishing

Joe Hill's Locke and Key is one of the main reasons that IDW Publishing is probably the creatively strongest comic book publishing company making funny books. It's scary as shit, adds to the medium as a whole, plays with form, looks beautiful, and just tells a damn good story. Best of all, it's something completely different. No one has ever done a comic like Locke and Key before.

So here's another effort from Joe Hill and IDW... The Cape, a one-shot comic that writer Jason Ciaramella scripted based on a short story by Hill. Let's just say that Locke and Key is absolutely not a fluke. Hill is the strongest writer to hit the scene in a very long time, and I have to say... I'm a bit angry at myself for not catching this when it first came out. While this legacy edition offers awesome the awesome extra of the original short story with Ciaramella's notes, the story itself is something that I wish I'd had in my library for longer. It's that good.

IDW is about to do a The Cape miniseries co-written by Joe Hill and Jason Ciaramella. If it's half as good as this--and with Hill's track record, you'd better believe it will be--it will give the entire industry a kick in the ass. Fucking The Cape, man...

I'll end the review with one of the most pretentiuous things a man can do... quoting himself. I think this will work here, though. "It's scary as shit, adds to the medium as a whole, plays with form, looks beautiful, and just tells a damn good story. Best of all, it's something completely different. No one has ever done a comic like (The Cape) before."

NEXT WEEK: Superman #712

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Comic Book Wednesday #4

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #4

Fly #1
Written by Raven Gregory
Pencils by Eric J
Zenescope Entertainment

Longtime Zenescope writer Raven Gregory and artist Eric J bring the first issue of this deeply personal, allegorical tale about addiction to comic shops today. While, on its surface, Fly seems to be a classic story about what the abuse of true power can do to a person, the true meat of the story is in the allegory of drug use and how the simple choices that people make on any average day can lead to the destruction of their future.

The comic opens with Eddie, who has had a completely shitty day, running into a fiery red head who proceeds to physically obliterate him. She slams him into a wall, flies him hundreds of feet in the air, breaks his hand, and then comes down and throws him through the window like a toy. As he passes out and we turn the page, the gritty and dark art of the opening scene is gone and replaced with the bright, cartoony, wide-eyed pages of the rest of the issue: a flashback. The flashback shows the readers Eddie's first step onto the road that will lead toward his present situation. It's a clever, revealing, and witty (the Vaughan-esque pun that ends the issue made me grin) tale from Raven Gregory that shows that some of the best stories are made of the pain, struggles, and even healing of the writers. The article at the end about the events that inspired this comic is a great read as well. Highly recommended for those looking for an excellent and very human creator owned book now that Brian K. Vaughan's Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina have both finished up.

Flashpoint #1 and #2
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Andy Kubert
DC Comics

I wasn't sure if I should buy this series. I can't afford to pick up more than four or five comics a week, and Flashpoint has been advertised as having more tie-ins than any crossover event in DC history. Not really affordable for me, and I'm the kind of guy that likes the full story. Well, it's been announced that the fallout of this crossover will reboot the entire DC Universe, making the history move of dialing back the long-running series and introducing fifty-five #1 issues in September. That right there made Flashpoint a must read.

While, in a perfect world, I'd have the money and the time to get all of the Flashpoint related issues, that isn't an option right now. Thankfully, though, Geoff John's excellent writing makes Flashpoint easy to understand without even knowing any of the side stories. We, the reader, experience the world of Flashpoint as Barry Allen does. Some of the biggest shocks include that Wonder Woman and Aquaman are at war with each other and are ruthlessly destroying Europe in the process, Superman seems to not exist, and Batman is Thomas Wayne.


The book assumes a decent amount of DC Universe knowledge for some of the big reveals to really matter, but anyone who follows two or three DC books should be able to understand this with no problem. Johns' storytelling is top notch as always, and Kubert's art is at once chaotic and clear. Both issues were full of surprises, emotional moments, and some damn good action.

I'm so ready for #3.

Screamland #1
Written by Harold Sipe & Christopher Sebela
Art by Lee Leslie
Image Comics

Started off with a creator owned book, so let's end with one. This was one of those books that I saw on the shelf and just grabbed, having heard nothing about it. I found out, upon coming home, that there was a miniseries that came before this issue, and I sort of wish I had read that to get a better feel for the characters. This issue does do a good job of setting up the situation (monsters haven't been getting jobs because Hollywood is hiring good-looking teens to play their parts, a Creature from the Black Lagoon type monster named Devil Fish has killed himself, Invisible Man wants to screen a sex tape that the monsters recorded in the seventies, and our protagonists--a werewolf named Gary and a seemingly normal dude named Travis--want to stop him) and introducing the characters, but that's all it seems to do. It's funny and intriguing enough for me to pick up a second issue, but the cover and the plot blurb on the inside made this seem like it would be a balls out hilarious read. It was good, but not that. I'm always happy to support creator owned projects, and Image Comics tend to put out great titles, so I have enough faith to pick up the second part of this series.

NOTE: It includes a back-up story that, while very somber, might be the best part of this issue. I didn't read it at first, because the "Next Time on Screamland" page that precedes it made me think it was a preview, which I tend to not read. Don't make the same mistake. Very good short.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mohonk Mountain House

I'm trying to write every day. That's what good writers do, right? I have a bunch of deadlines coming up, all of which I'm sure I'll make with time to spare. Getting shit done when it needs to be done has never been an issue for me. It's the day-to-day, honing my craft stuff that I need to stay on my feet to keep up with.

Right now, I'm on vacation with a beautiful girl who I am very in love with. She just laughed at a book that she's reading. I hear the birds through the door to our room, and I almost want to take her hand and go outside again. I say almost because we climbed a mountain, walked forever, and rowed a canoe today. Well, she did the rowing while I sat in what the man on the dock referred to as "the princess seat." She's badass, what can I say? My body is tired, but my mind and heart are filled to the brim with the loveliness of this place and the company with which I'm spending my time here.

From the last time we visited Mohonk together... Nov. 2010

I have a lot going on outside of this gorgeous get-away, but I think I'm going to let that all rest tonight. I'm here with my favorite person in the world. Everything else can wait.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Romantic Gestures of Patrick Von Suave

Erica came home from France yesterday, and I wanted to be Mr. Suave and Romantic. I set a plan into motion.

1. She's been craving sunflowers for a while. "Craving" might be the wrong word, as she doesn't want to eat them (as far as I know), but she's been in a sunflower-getting mood recently. Everywhere I've been looking, however, has been completely out of sunflowers. I had some time before going to pick her up, though, so I called a bunch of places and finally found a spot that had these giant yellow buggers. So sunflowers, check.

2. I'd get to the airport super early with said sunflowers so that the first thing she'd see in the lobby waiting for her would be me and the bouquet. Then, we'd walk over to my closely parked car and drive off into the sunset (well, it would be an hour away from setting, but "drive off into the sun" evokes an entirely different image).

Turns out, her plane landed a lot earlier than we'd anticipated. Instead of parking and being the first thing she'd see, I decided to go to the pick-up area, where I'd wait until she got out. Clearly, I'm a "picking up girlfriend from airport" virgin because that doesn't fly. As soon as I pulled over, an enraged man came up to me and screamed, "WHERE YOU GO!?" and I said "Here" and he said "YOU PICK UP!?" and I said "I pick up" and he said "WHERE?" and I said "Here" and he said "CIRCLE AROUND!" and I looked sad. So, because Erica wasn't ready and this guy had something against little ginger men causing traffic jams, I had to circle around. But the airport is less circular and more labyrinthine, so my circling around led me back to the parkway going in a different direction. Mind you, Erica had to circle around when she drove there last week, and she managed to not get lost, but hey... I have the directional senses of a hunk of sharp cheddar.

So I finally made it back to the airport, figuring that Erica must be just about through with customs. I, however, didn't want to take any chances with the angry pick up area again, so I drove to the parking section. Upon seeing a line of cars parked directly across from the pick-up area, I rejoiced. This was clearly the section where people who were ready to leave parked! It was crowded, so I was thrilled to squeeze into a spot, pulling off a particularly sexy parallel park. Mr. Suave was back in business.

I saw a few people run out of the cars to greet their returning friends and family, so I did the same, flowers in hand. I called Erica, and she found me pretty quickly. I took a few of her bags, and presented her with the flowers... about the same time that I saw that all of the other cars that I'd parked behind had driven away, and that a tow truck had begun to lift my car. Much to Erica's confusion, I ran toward the truck, flowers in hand, pants slightly falling down, and began to haggle with the trucker who revealed that I was in a no parking zone. It was printed clearly on the area that all the other cars (that had sped away upon seeing the tow truck) were covering. Yay.

Erica took this flattering picture of me, the picture of romance, as I appealed to the truck driver.

Fifty-five dollars later, I found myself driving Erica home. She had her flowers, and I might have even had a so-small-you-can-just-about-see-it slice of my dignity. As I drove, I apologized profusely, and she told me that it didn't matter. "If we were suave," she said, "we wouldn't want to date each other."

So Erica is home, she's got some pretty and giant sunflowers, my car is no longer hooked up to the back of a car, and I'm dating the coolest girl in the world. I might not be Mr. Suave, but I think I've got it pretty damn good.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Theatre in NYC- NYCycle: Secondary Sources

Last night, I caught the second to last production of NYCycle: Secondary Sources, a collection of three short plays performed by the amios theatre troupe. I’ve written plays that have been performed in their monthly shotz event, so expect this review to be totally biased. On a serious note, the only reason that I’m biased is because the people who write, direct, and appear in these plays are some of the most wonderfully talented people working in theatre today. Shit you not. Go see NYCycle tomorrow (for the final performance!) and see what I mean. You won’t be disappointed.

And hey, if you are, that just means you have terrible taste, so at least you’ll know your failings as a human being!

NYCycle: Secondary Sources is made up of three thirty minute plays that center around the ideas presented in this statement from amios art director Christian Haines: “The title ‘Secondary Sources’ refers to second hand information. The idea stems from WikiLeaks, wherein primary sources were published and then interpreted by secondary sources. This led to full scale revolution throughout the middle east. It strikes me that a lot of our own information and opinions are formed by other people’s analysis with very little appreciation for the critical thought of the individual.”

So let’s get to those plays!

(NOTE: All of the following photography is very, very © alanna wilson photography 2011.)


Written by John Behlmann

Directed by January LaVoy

Starring Kate MacCluggage (replacement for Jenna Panther), Lauren Berst, and Michael J. Fulvio

This isn’t a dig at the other two plays, both of which I loved, by John Behlmann’s “Un-f**king-believable” is the strongest play of the bunch, and a hell of a way to kick off a night of excellent theatre. At its core, it’s a mediation on what “I love you” means to different people, and how three words, when said in tandem, can matter so much to some and so little to others. Behlmann, by putting his characters in ridiculous yet believable situations, examines the failings of the three words, and the inability of words as a whole, really, to truly express what one feels.

We see the characters lie to each other in ways small and large, all building to the devastating revelation that each of those lies, no matter the size, is a violation of the trust that is necessary for an “I love you” to matter. “Un-f**king-beievable” is heartfelt and hilarious, with the most realistic conversational dialogue I’ve seen in theatre in… well, not sure how long.

I love this play.

…See what I did there? Yeah? Good? …Fine.

Jesus, it’s Easter

Written by Dan Loeser

Directed by John Pieza

Starring Jillian LaVinka, Rob Hille, and Justin Yorio

Couple walks through park in Easter. Couple realizes that they have arrived in the area famous for gay men meeting up for sex. Jesus jumps out of a pile of garbage.


The skinny of this play is that Jesus appears to this couple, telling them that he was given a sign by Heaven that he will find the reincarnation of Mary Magdalene in the park. Jesus spends the length of the play trying to convince the woman (Christine, which makes Jesus think that she must be his Mary: “That’s practically me-tine!”) that she is his wife and she must ascend to Heaven with him.

The play uses the Secondary Sources theme to show how the Bible has failed humanity and how the vagueness of the message from Heaven has misled Jesus. While this play was mostly comedy, actor Justin Yorio performed Jesus as a human. A hilarious, completely earnest, and sometimes even an asshole human. While most of the lines of dialogue had me cracking up, I was actually moved by this odd “Jesus in the park” play at times. I’m paraphrasing, but the moment that the play began to feel like more than just satire to me is when Jesus says something to the extent of this: “To you, it has been thousands of years since the anniversary of his death and resurrection, but to me it’s been three days since I was nailed to the cross… and, at the same time, it’s been three years. So time is irrelevant to me… but that every breath I take without Mary is killing me.”

Add a hilarious twist ending to the play, and you’ve got a winner.

American Exceptionalism

Written by Steven Cole Hughes

Directed by Kate MacCluggage

Starring Joshua Coomer, Christian Haines, and Melissa Ortiz

There are three cast members and maybe twenty characters. There are minimal wardrobe changes to show who is who (a headband, an eyepatch, etc.), and the play moves at a breakneck pace, moving from a news report, to a man in his living room, to church, to a speech, to… well, a whole bunch of other stuff. For the first minute or two, I admit that I was confused as hell, but the superb directing from MacCluggage quickly made clear what was going on. Even though there is hardly a thing to visually tell these characters apart, the brilliant staging and exceptional acting from the cast (particularly Joshua Coomer) makes this satirical explosion of a play work in a way that I hadn’t thought possible.

The play climaxes with a speech from Coomer, who plays a congressman that publicly renounces falsely representing himself as a stuffy, moderate politician without personality. But I’ll let that part of the play speak for itself. “American Exceptionalism” ruthlessly satirizes that which Americans think matters; while it’s a comedy, it is made into a horror story through the shocking kernels of truth that are presented alongside of satirical hyperbole.

Also, the play is about lighting farts on fire.

After the play, a comedian and musician named Zoe Farmingdale took the stage for the Zoe Show, a twenty minute set of stand-up and songs inspired by the night’s plays (there is obviously no video available from tonight, as it just happened, but here's a taping of a Zoe Show from a previous NYCycle). It was a hilarious coda, and the songs will be stuck in your head on the train ride home.

Jesus in the park, Jesus in the park…

Here’s some info on the show:

June 3rd - LAST SHOW!

The Monkey West Theatre

37 West 26th Street, 12th Floor (btwn 5th & 6th)

New York, New York

Go see it. You won’t regret it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

CBW #3: iZombie Review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #3

This was one of those rare weeks that I didn't have anything on my pull list. I've retroactively decided that I might take the whole FLASHPOINT ride, considering the consequences it will have within the DC Universe... that is, a big ol' reboot (read about that here at Scott Tipton's Comics 101) but that'll have to wait until next week. For this week's entry, I'm taking it to the trades.

iZombie Volume One

I hadn't heard of the series, so when I first saw the trade, I was admittedly skeptical of yet another zombie comic chasing after the success of THE WALKING DEAD. But two things piqued my interested enough to convince me to give the book a shot: the kickass art from Mike Allred and the little "Vertigo" at the bottom of the spine, which usually means damn good things.

Upon reading the book, I was thrilled to discover that not only was it nothing like THE WALKING DEAD, it was also nothing like any other book on the shelves. The pacing is that of a memoir-comic (day to day, but never slow--it reminded me of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER with the way the supernatural plot is always interesting but takes a backseat to character interactions) and the dialogue is line-for-line excellent. Besides Brian K. Vaughan's various series, I can't remember liking a creator-owed book this much after just the first volume. Unfortunately for my wallet, it looks like I might have to pick this book up monthly.

Ex Machina Volumes 1 - 10

I unenthusiastically followed this series as the TPBs were released, disappointed by the tone of the book after loving Brian K. Vaughan's work on Y: THE LAST MAN. I stopped reading after the fifth volume a few years ago, but something recently made me buy the final five volumes and do a re-read of the entire series. Now I just want to go back in time and slap some sense into Past!Me for not being able to grasp the brilliance that is EX MACHINA. It's the darkest story that BKV has ever told, and that's saying a lot. We knew from the opening scene that EX MACHINA would end in tragedy, but as they say... it's all about how you get there. And man, what a ride.

NEXT WEEK: Superman #712 and Hack/Slash Omnibus