Texas®

Tooling around the interwebs last week, I saw that Daniel Johnston has a new iPhone game based upon his songs. Created by Austin outfit Dr. Fun Fun‘s Peter Franco, the game, named after Johnston’s most recognized catchphrase, ‘Hi, How Are You?’, is a rollicking adventure that finds Johnston’s hapless characters, such as the froggy Jeremiah the Innocent, on a mission to fight the battle between good and evil, love and hate. And once you start playing the game, you quickly find it to be a beautiful, poignant ovation to Johnston, a love letter of sorts, and it’s obvious that the game’s creators are Johnston fans themselves.

Dr. Fun Fun

Dr. Fun Fun

Narrated by Johnston’s songs, including ‘True Love Will Find You in The End’, the game plays out with the clumsy heart of a kid, and that’s a good thing. Filled with Johnston’s  romantic pains and misadventures, ‘Hi, How Are You?’  captures the vivid life-or-death mortification of fifth grade that nary an adult can ever shake.

While some find Johnston and his writing irrational, fanciful, childish, nonsensical, I’ve always seen a songwriter who is capable of honestly and simplistically bridging the gap between heart and mouth without needing to rely heavily on metaphor. Someone brave enough to share, even the scary deep dark secret monster stuff…lessons learned from being on the ugly side of your own humanness. So it only seems fitting that Dr. Fun Fun found plenty enough fodder to create an otherworldly game based upon his lyrics.
        

 

Well, I know it’s still about a month away but I thought what better time than now to get everyone aware of the upcoming Star Wars Fan Days III?!?

This year is shaping up to be another big one with the usual troupe of actors whom you’ve never seen the faces of (Prowse, Bulloch and Mayhew) actors who only had a couple of lines in 1 film (Jack Klaff, played X-wing pilot Red 4 during the attack on the first Death Star… he didn’t make it.) and every voice actor from the popular Clone Wars animated series. But king among all of these actors would be none other than C-3PO himself, Anthony Daniels, who I’m certain holds the record for most Star Wars appearances in film, cartoons, Christmas specials, and traveling symphony concerts out of all the other Star Wars alumni.

Mr. Daniels will be there on Saturday, October 24th and they say his schedule is giving him a very limited amount of time to be available for autographs so I would suggest going for the VIP or Speed passes if you want a shot at getting his signature.

All and all there are several actors/behind the scenes people that will be featured guest along with several Star Wars artists and with 30+ days to go there are sure be some additions and subtractions to the guest list. To keep up with the most up to date info on SWFD3 go to their official site.

Star Wars Fan days III will be Oct 24-25 at the Plano Center
2000 E. Spring Creek Park Way
Plano, TX
Saturday 10:30AM-6PM
Sunday 11AM-5PM

Many a fellow Star Wars fanatics will be excited to learn that tomorrow at The Soda Gallery – A Best of Texas Favorite – is a very exciting art opening party!

droidsThe Soda Gallery and Boomstick Comics are teaming up to bring us “These Aren’t The Droids You’re Looking For: A Star Wars Fan Appreciation Art Show and Celebration” and they’ve decided to start things off with a bang. The Soda Gallery’s Jonathon Kimbrell and his new set-up, Telephone Print Company, will have hand printed limited edition silk screened posters featuring prints of Slave Girl Leia, Darth Vader and Stormtrooper. Each poster will be limited to only 20 copies and will be hand signed and numbered so get there early as they won’t last long.

Also in attendance will be the famed 501st in full authentic Stormtrooper get ups. The party starts at 6pm and will run probably last until 10pm.

The SW art will be on display through September 14th so even if you can’t make the party you should get up to The Soda Gallery, purchase a Dublin TX Dr Pepper (Sugar cane!!) and check out some fine Star Wars art.

The Soda Gallery
408 North Bishop Avenue
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 946-SODA or toll free 1-866-946-SODA
Tuesday – Saturday 11:00am – 9:00pm
Sunday 11:00am – 4:00pm

jwarrgs1

Just a friendly reminder that this weekend is the Dallas Comic Con (in Richardson)! The Con will run on Saturday from 11am-6pm and Sunday 12noon-4pm. Tickets are available at the show for $10, children 12 and under are free. 2-day Speed-passes are also available which would get you into both days and first access to the actors and into the Q&A room for $20.

Comic guests include: J Scott Campbell- creator and artist for Danger Girl and artist for Gen 13 along with Steve Niles- creator and writer of 30 Days of Night and many more. Other guests include: Barry Bostwick- The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Spin City, Law & Order: SVU –  plus many more.

Get out there early to get your tickets and meet some of your comic industry favorites and have Dean Stockwell sign your copy of Blue Velvet (or Quantum Leap season 3). And, if you insist on dressing up, dress up as something blatantly pop culturish. I’m tired of seeing these costumes of wild-west/sci-fi people are wearing  just because they know they can get away with it. Also in DCC related news, David Hopkins (writer of Karma Inc, Emily Edison and also a DCC guest this year) gives his guide to a happy convention experience – a must read for anyone thinking of attending.

The schedule from Mark Walters, DCC Manager, is:

Saturday
10:00am – Speedpass tickets go on sale, followed by General Admission.

10:30am – Speedpass holders are allowed into the front hall.

11:00am – General Admission allowed in; dealer room and autograph area opens (Speedpass gets priority line placement).

12:15pm – Yancy Butler Q&A: the WITCHBLADE star talks about her numerous film and TV credits, and takes questions from the fans.

1:00pm – Marvel Masters Q&A: Paul Smith, J. Scott Campbell, and Brandon Peterson, Mitch Breitweiser, and Michael Lark discuss their contributions to the Marvel Universe, and what lies ahead on their work schedules.

2:00pm – Bill and Steve Q&A: Bill Sienkiewicz and Steve Niles talk about their masterful work in the comics industry, and what’s on the horizon in this informative panel.

3:00pm – Rene Auberjonois Q&A: the talented actor talks about his work on everything from STAR TREK to BOSTON LEGAL.

4:00pm – The Dallas Comic Con Silent Art Auction: bid on exciting original art, rare toys, autographs, and posters (approx 30 mins).

6:00pm – The show closes for the day.

Sunday
11:30am – Tickets for Sunday go on sale.

11:45am – Speedpass holders are allowed into the front hall.

12:00pm – General Admission allowed in, dealer room and autograph area opens (Speedpass gets priority line placement).

1:00pm – Barry Bostwick Q&A: the diversified actor recounts his memories from ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, MEGA FORCE, SPIN CITY, and more in this sure to be memorable panel.

2:00pm – Dean Stockwell Q&A: DUNE, BLUE VELVET, QUANTUM LEAP… he’s done it all, and here’s your chance to ask him how.

4:00pm – The DALLAS COMIC CON XIII is officially closed


I’ll admit straight up that this Geek Speak has nothing to do with Texas but this is just too awesome of a video that I can’t pass up an opportunity to point the masses to it. Coming out next month is The Beatles: Rock Band and they just released the intro video to this game and it is GORGEOUS. Thankfully my wife feels the same way, which may indicate a change in her insistance that, “WE DO NOT NEED ANOTHER GAMING SYSTEM IN OUR HOUSE.”

That being said, I suspect this is the game that will single-handedly win the battle that has been raging in my home over getting an X Box 360. The game alone will give me the opportunity to pretend like I’m in the band of my dreams and on top of that, they are releasing special controllers designed like The Beatles’ instruments (which adds to the argument of getting a 360, it’s less expensive than an actual Rickenbacker or a Hofner).

Go and enjoy the video, which by the by, was produced by the same brilliant folks, Passion Pictures, who created the play-doh bunny-filled Sony Bravia commercial.

jwarrgs1

Get your outrageous costumes ready, fast approaching is the Dallas Comic Con which will be held at the Richardson Civic Center this year August 15-16 and this year is shaping up to be a pretty stellar line up! Comic guests include: J Scott Campbell- creator and artist for Danger Girl and artist for Gen 13 along with Steve Niles- creator and writer of 30 Days of Night and many more. Other guests include: Dean Stockwell- Battlestar Galactica, Quantum Leap, Dune and Barry Bostwick- The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Spin City, Law & Order: SVU plus many more

Like other cons, the line-up will continue to evolve up until the start of the con, so keep an eye on the Dallas Comic Con website for the latest updates!

Also in DCC related news, David Hopkins (writer of Karma Inc, Emily Edison and also a DCC guest this year) gives his guide to a happy convention experience  – a must read for anyone thinking of attending.

jwarrgs1

Hey everyone, I’m back with another Geek Speak to let you all know about special goings on at my favorite comic shop, Zeus Comics!

This Saturday, June 27th, the Eisner Award winning writer, Greg Rucka will be in from 10am to 6pm signing autographs and chatting with fans in honor of his latest run on Detective Comics featuring Batwoman (out yesterday – both literally and figuratively – she’s DC’s first high-profile lesbian character!). It must be a pretty daunting task, taking over Detective Comics, with a character that isn’t Batman (He’s been the main feature in Detective Comics since his first appearance in 1939) so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Knowing Mr. Rucka’s background (Wonderwoman, Batman, Wolverine, and his own creation, White Out – soon to be released as a feature film starring Kate Beckinsale) I’m sure it will be a great run.

You can find out more information here!

jwarrgs1

Last night Howard and I headed up to Northpark Mall to view a special screening of Transformers: Rise of the Fallen. (Shout out to General Motors for the invite.)

As many of you who would click on the link to read this write up would know, Rise of the Fallen is the sequel to the 2007 hit, Transformers. The film takes place shortly after the events of the first film where we find our hero, Sam Witwickey (Shia Lebeouf) setting out to college hoping to start a new as a normal college student after the events of the first film and even chooses to leave behind his beloved Camaro/ robot-alien bodyguard to achieve this. Before he can take off however he finds a shard of the All Spark that had fallen in with his clothes. The All Spark then transfers into his mind dozens of symbols that he has no idea of their meaning. What follows after that is a LOT of explosions. A LOT.

That’s not to say that is a bad thing. This is a fun, exciting, summer action film and should be thought of as no less. Just about everything you might have ready about this film is true, good or bad review. As Gawker said, it is “Loud, obnoxious, and loud.” But I don’t think that should rule it out as a good film. Sure it lacks the profundity of say, Citizen Kane, but if you go in there expecting it to be, you shouldn’t be watching this film. The film comes in at about 2.5 hours and you can tell, but at the same time you’re not begging for it to be over. The plot is understandable (though there are a few moments where you think they just half-assed a getting from point a-b situation), the dialogue is fun (especially with Sam’s parents) and the special effects are impressive.

This time around there is twice as many robots than the last film. The irony being I think there was half as much dialogue coming from robots than the last one and what dialogue you get from the new robots is pretty blatant racial stereotyping in my opinion, but I’ll leave you to judge that for yourself. Some of the language said from the robots is a bit adult (though funny) but probably not very suitable for a child under the age of 15 (parental discretion is advised).

All and all this is a great summer popcorn movie that really has one purpose: to entertain.

As you may have heard from the state’s advertising machine, Texas is like a whole other country – and, in fact as my teenaged daughter just pointed out, Texas was a separate country for ten years (1836 – 1846).

During that time and up to the present, various jurisdictions have enacted some of the weirdest laws known to man – or woman.

So, when you visit it’s a good idea to keep these laws in mind:

State law says it’s illegal to sell your eye – or any other human organ.

A recently passed anti-crime law requires criminals to give their victims 24 hours notice, either orally or in writing, and to explain the nature of the crime to be committed.

The entire Encyclopedia Britannica is banned in Texas because it contains a formula for making beer at home – why not just the “B” volume????

In Abilene, it’s illegal to loiter in a public place for the purpose of flirting.

In Borger, it’s against the law to throw confetti, rubber balls, feather dusters, whips or riding crops, and explosive firecrackers of any kind.

In El Paso, appearing in public places wearing a “lewd dress” is prohibited. And, for you tobacco chewers, Churches, hotels, halls of assembly, stores, markets, banking rooms, railroad depots, and saloons are required to provide spittoons.

In Mesquite, it’s illegal for children to have unusual haircuts – nothing is said about haircolor, though.

In Port Arthur, “obnoxious odors” may not be emitted in an elevator.

In San Antonio, it’s illegal to urinate on the Alamo. And, it’s illegal for people to flirt or respond to flirting using their eyes or hands.

In Temple, don’t steal cattle – thieves can be hanged on the spot. And, you are allowed to ride your horse in a saloon.

In Texarkana, you can’t ride your horse at night without tail lights – that may hurt your horse, though.

And, it’s important to follow the law on the gulf coast. In Galveston, “offensive gestures” aren’t tolerated at any public event, you must ride your bike at a “reasonable speed,” you aren’t allowed to land your plane on the beach and while your still aloft, it’s illegal to litter from an airplane.

jwarrgs1 

This Saturday is National Free Comic Book Day. In preparation for the events of this Saturday I sat down with Richard Neal, Owner of Zeus Comics & Toys to see what inspired him to start up one of the best comic book stores in the nation and to see what kind of festivities he has planned for NFCBD.

Geek Speak: Tell me a bit about Zeus Comics, what got you to want to open up your own comic book store?

Zeus: Zeus comics is 8 ½ years old, we opened back in July of 2000. We first opened up on Oaklawn in the Turtlecreek Village Shopping Center but that is getting a major renovation, the building we were in is getting torn down so we’ve moved to Lemon Avenue. It’s a lot more visible space for us. For me, what I discovered, because I was a comic book collector before the store opened up. I discovered that there were multiple stores I was going to for different reasons. I’d go to this store for new releases, I’d go to this store for back issues, I’d go for this store for toys, I’d go to this store because they had a better selection of new releases… It was just, you know… My weekend jaunt would be spending 6 hours going to different comic book shops finding what I wanted. So, I decided to open one that kind of encapsulated a lot of those elements. The other thing is that I thought was common among all of them was that they were of fairly poor design. They hadn’t changed. You looked around and you’d see some innovated retailers like FAO Schwartz or then at the time Warner Bros Store that were very, very sophisticated and yet the comic book shop still looked fairly the same. Just cardboard boxes on tables and wire racks, and I thought, you know what we’ve all grown up now; we’re all professionals, we’re all in IS, we’re all in creative, we’re all in graphic design, we’re all computer programmers… The comic book stores need to look like what we would normally shop at not just because they have comic books but something sophisticated that would appeal to all of us.

GS: That does seem to be the trend these days with newer stores going for a more aesthetic approach as well but I was up in Amarillo and it was just racks with no music and your typical “Comic Book Guy” behind the counter. Are you trying to buck the trend of “Comic Book Guy Worse Issue Ever” kind of guy?

Zeus: Hah ha hah, well yeah, comic book stores have been getting a wrap. You have the Comic Book Guy off of The Simpsons and it becomes this stereo type and this stereo type exists I guess because there is a little bit of truth in it but it gives everyone else this bad feeling because they assume that is what a comic book shop is like when that isn’t necessarily the case. Definitely by tricking out the store and making it more sophisticated it you can appeal to more people. One of our biggest sellers is the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book and a lot of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans have been coming into Zeus to pick it up and I think our aesthetic makes it a lot more comfortable for people who are not use to going to comic book stores. They can walk in here and feel relaxed and I like that.

GS: What are you looking forward to coming up most in the comic book world?

Zeus: For me right now it’s DC Comics’ summer event of Green Lantern, The Blackest Night. It’s something that they have been building for this last 3 or 4 years and it’s this phenomenal concept that there is more lanterns out there than just the green ones. There are yellow which is fear and orange which is avarice (greed) and so forth. And it’s being well written. It’s being written by one of their best writers, Geoff Johns.

GS: I saw that you won a Will Eisner Award. How did that come about?

Zeus: Oh yeah! In 2006 we won the Will Eisner Spirit of Retail Award. Our good friend David Hopkins, who you’re familiar with, there are these forms where you can nominate a store for the Will Eisner award and one year David got together and actually filled it out. I think he made it a part of a class assignment – I could have that wrong – but he made it a part of a class assignment so they go this nomination for the store and they sent us this packet in the mail and we made a five minute video which is up on YouTube and made a nice presentation about the store and what we do and what we do different. We went to San Diego with 10 other stores to see if anybody would win and we won!

GS: I was wondering how that could come about, if you would need to do a big national campaign for your store or a smear campaign against Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash…

Zeus: Well one of the great things about the Spirit award is that you can only win it once. It’s like a lifetime award. That way one store can’t continue to get it every year and lock it up. This way somebody different can be spotlighted each year, it’s a great system. We’re the only store in Texas to ever win it and usually its stores on the coast so it was great to bring the award here.

GS: That’s really impressive. Tell me about Free Comic Book Day.

Zeus: Free Comic Book Day is a national event. It’s been going on for….This would be the sixth year. Basically the publishers offer us certain titles at a heavily discounted rate for the hopes for us to buy them and then give them away. So the free comic book days… the misconception is that free comic books are not free to the retailer so that is why you see a mix level of participation from retailer to retailer. Not everybody jumps full on board, some people just do a limited number some limit the number of whatever. So we’ve been participating for each year that they’ve been doing it. This year we have a few guests such as: Scott Kurtz of PVP Online, James O’Barr creator of the Crow, Matt Sturges writer of Blue Beetle and Jack of Fables, and Kristian Donaldson of Supermarket and DMZ and we’re giving out 4,000 of the free comics and it’s from 10-6 on Saturday (May 2nd)

GS: What kind of crowd are you expecting?

Zeus: I don’t know, we’ve definitely thrown bigger Free Comic Book Day events in the past where we’ve had a few thousand people show up so since we’re doing something a little bit smaller this year inside the store as appose to out of the park I don’t know if we’re just going to get over run or if we’re just going to open up a case of beer and have a good time. Hopefully both!

GS: What would you recommend for parents who don’t know anything about comic books looking to purchase something for their kids to get them into reading?

Zeus: DC does a line of comic books based off of their animated series. Such as Batman: The Brave and the Bold, there is a comic book based on that. Marvel does a line called Marvel Adventures that has super heroes involved. You have the more traditional Betty and Veronica and Archie’s. One of my favorite books, however, is a book by Brian Vaughn, who is currently a writer on Lost, and it’s about a group of kids who discover their parents are super villains and how they handle that. It’s very kid-centric so the kids can get into it and have this fantasy of “Oh what if my parents aren’t who they say they are.” Boost Studios just picked up the Disney/Pixar license so they will be releasing original stories with The Incredibles, Toy Story, Finding Nemo and so forth. They also picked up the license for The Muppet Show so they have some comics out that are very, very good. Surprisingly.

GS: That’s good because I know comic books aren’t quite as tame as parents might remember them, GI Joe over there isn’t exactly explaining that “Knowing is half the battle” anymore.

Zeus: We definitely separate our comic books from what would be, 4 o’clock TV and what would be 6 o’clock TV. So that when parents come in there is a safe place to go and just pick up The Incredibles, Archie, Marvel Adventure Spiderman… and so on.

Join Zeus comics this Saturday from 10-6 for Free Comic Book Day at 4411 Lemmon Ave
Dallas, TX 75219. Visit www.zeuscomics.com to see the latest releases and to hold any new releases you are wanting to get before you get there!