Posts Tagged ‘blog: things you should check out’.

Video: Nikola Tesla at KPCC!


Here I am playing Tesla at Sunday’s event! My entrance is at 55:00 in the video.

Over the weekend I was pleased to participate in a Nikola Tesla event at KPCC, one of our local public radio stations in Los Angeles. Science reporter Sanden Totten (at left in the photo above) hosted a retrospective of Tesla’s life and career, and brought up scientists from the California Science Center and the Griffith Observatory to talk about the principles of electricity.

Near the end of the presentation, I got to play a time-traveling Nikola Tesla to do a brief Q&A with Sanden. If you ever get invited to dress up like a famous scientist and tell jokes, I highly recommend it.

Here is video of the event on KPCC’s site! Sanden plays Mayor LaGuardia’s posthumous remembrance of Tesla at about 54 minutes in, which precedes my entrance right at 55:00.

The event was a co-production with Sanden’s radio show/podcast Brains On, which is a science and education show for kids specifically. There were a lot of kids in the audience at this event and I hope they enjoyed it!

I have to thank Sanden for inviting me to participate, and also for providing me with the opportunity to take what should probably be my author photo for time immemorial.



Best comedy sketches from The Late Live Show

I was very sad to hear of the passing last week of comedian Dan Ronan. If you’ve never seen him perform, here’s one of his hilarious characters for Chicago’s The Late Live Show: 40-year veteran cartoonist “Tim Negoda”:

This entire video series of character monologues from The Late Live Show is wonderful and well worth your time. Two others of my favorites are Janelle Otter, Angel Expert and Young Adult Author Roxann Darb.

Things Adults Do – a Twitter investigation

One thing I forgot to mention in the “What I’m doing roundup” last week was my dumb twitter account Things Adults Do.

It’s simple: I find people saying “I am an adult”, and I retweet them. Over time, this paints a comprehensive (and, may I say, delightful) picture of Things Adults Do.

Some examples:

Follow along at @adults_do!

Check out: The Abandoned Boat of Bouvet Island

Fascinating story!

Bouvet Island lies in the furthest reaches of the storm-wracked Southern Ocean, far south even of the Roaring Forties. It is a speck of ice in the middle of a freezing fastness: a few square miles of uninhabited volcanic basalt groaning under several hundred feet of glacier, scraped raw by gales, shrouded by drifts of sea-fog, and utterly devoid of trees, shelter, or landing places.

Around Bouvet Island, it is possible to draw a circle of one thousand miles radius (having an area of 3,146,000 square miles, or very nearly that of Europe) which contains no other land whatever. No other point of land on the earth’s surface has this peculiarity.

An unidentified whaler or ship’s lifeboat found abandoned on Bouvet Island on 2 April 1964…bore no identifying marks. There were signs that survivors might have made it to shore, but no trace of them has ever been found…


Full article: “An Abandoned Lifeboat at World’s End”

‘STRIPPED’ comic strip documentary is out today!

no, clothed
Stripped co-director Dave Kellett, left, with my wife Nikki and me!

Four things about the comics documentary Stripped, which is available on iTunes today!

• Dave and Fred, the film’s directors, are trying to replicate what we did in 2010 with Machine of Death: become a #1 bestseller for just one day. We did it on Amazon; they’re trying to do it on iTunes. Machine of Death’s success opened a lot of doors for us and that book — of which there are now over 30,000 copies in print; it’s been translated into eight languages; you can get it from any bookstore; we put out a sequel with the second-largest publisher in the world. If you’re interested in this movie, and think you might get it anyway, getting it today helps Dave and Fred the most.

• I’ve never made a documentary or a feature film (though I have done shorts), but I know how hard filmmaking can be. Watching Dave and Fred work on this for four years, and then finally getting to see the finished product on a big screen in Hollywood, has been so gratifying — even vicariously! Lots of projects are conceptualized; some are labored over; few are ever finished; fewer still are actually any good. What they have done is a stunning accomplishment, and moreso when you realize they’re doing this completely independently: there is no studio, no distributor. They have made this thing exist by sheer force of will. (I know the feeling.) I hope hope hope hope hope that they will get to reap some rewards for their efforts.

• Oh hey also the DVD is on sale too, if you don’t want to get it through iTunes! It’ll be on other streaming services soon as well.

• Ryan Fisher from the comic strip “Sometime After” tweeted me the other day:

I then happened across his recent blog post about Stripped:

…As a cartoonist, if you can watch that thing and not come away jazzed over what you do, it may be time to ask yourself some hard questions. That being said, I have ANOTHER reason to LOVE the documentary… STA’s in it!!!!

SERIOUSLY, RUPERT, TWITCH AND COMPANY ARE IN STRIPPED!!!! Now it may be for about a second, and you have to be paying attention to see it, but damn if it isn’t there. When David Malki is talking about building a webcomic audience and the camera shows the “Wondermark” website, an STA ad banner is sitting front and center under the comic. Now I know that for most people this is kinda like a “so?” thing, and I totally get that. But here’s why I nearly wet myself last night during my happy dance/Kermit flail hybrid that ensued after I saw it.

“STRIPPED” is a beautifully done documentary and much like things like “Draw Comics the Marvel Way” are still referenced decades later, so will this documentary. Whenever anyone wants to learn about the transition of comics from newspaper to the web/whatever medium it evolves into in the future, this movie will be referenced. And in my own small, SMALL way, I am a part of that. I will be able to sit my kids down one day, freeze that frame and explain that this is what dad was up to in college. That is incredible for me to say.

Small things we don’t even realize can reach people we don’t know and might never meet. Small acts, like buying an ad on a whim, or sending a kind email, or picking up an unfamiliar book, might have consequences we could never predict. That ad on Wondermark might not make Ryan rich and famous, but the unexpected repercussions gave him, as an artist, a jolt of encouragement. I love seeing things like that happen.

I just got back from the Emerald City Comicon this weekend! I had a really great time, better than the last few years, and have come home really optimistic and excited about everything I and my peers are doing. It’s so great to be in that environment — of creativity, of relationships, of socializing, of inspiration. That isn’t always the case at every convention! But this one, this year, was pretty great.

In 2005, I attended the San Diego Comic-Con and saw a panel on webcomics. I think it may have been the first time I heard the term “webcomics”, although I’d already been making Wondermark for over two years — I knew of Penny Arcade and Sinfest and PVP, but I didn’t really know much about the world of webcomics as a “thing” that was beginning to grow and develop.

One of the panelists, back at that convention in 2005, was Scott Kurtz of PVP. Scott and I have since gotten to know each other and become friends, or professional acquaintances, or whatever it’s called when you respect someone’s work and like talking with them but don’t always see eye-to-eye. Anyway, on this occasion, Scott was leaving the panel, and I stopped him in the hallway to ask a question about website layout. He very kindly paused and gave me some advice, which I took.

Now fast-forward nine years, to last weekend. I was the one on stage at a panel, this one about independent publishing. It’s never an ideal situation, trying to give information in a panel — you have to talk in generalities, and you can’t go into a ton of detail in the time allotted, and everyone’s experience will be different and not everything you say will be relevant. But a few people told me they got some good info out of it, which I’m happy about.

On my way out of the panel, two ladies who had been in the audience stopped me in the hallway to ask me a question. I’m glad that they were bold enough to do so, and I offered what I hope was helpful advice.

As I walked back to my booth, I recalled that moment with Scott years ago, and I was briefly struck by how seamlessly the circle had closed. Being on the other side of that interaction reminded me how much has changed in the last nine years and how far I’ve come. And it was a moment also charged with the possibility of the future: of the wonders we have yet to see and discover and create, and the artists we have yet to meet, who are going to be up there giving advice nine years from now.

I felt I had to go find Scott at his own booth and tell him what had happened, and I did so. I’m sure he didn’t remember our initial encounter from 2005, or if even he did, had never connected it to me. I kinda surprised myself by getting a tiny bit choked up as I talked with him! But I was glad for that encounter: it felt like an indication, in that moment, that I was doing okay.

Little moments. Little moments mean a lot. Little moments add up to lifetimes. You never know what little thing will mean the world to someone else.

The ladies I spoke with were Alisa Bishop and Aimee Zhou, both amazing artists (to judge from their sites). I hope we’ll see work from them and a million other artists in this amazing Renaissance of comics that we’re in the middle of right now. The film Stripped will be an important part of the canon of this time, and I’m honored to have been a part of it.

Stripped is available on iTunes and on DVD now.