Monday, March 24, 2014

Emerald City Schedule

In just a few days Gabriel and I will be in Seattle, attending Emerald City Comicon at the Washington State Convention Center. For most of the weekend

you can find us at Table A-08 in Artist Alley, but we've got a few other things planned too.

I'll be on the Hire This Woman panel in Hall D on Saturday starting at 1:40 with Janelle Asselin, Mairghread Scott, Amy Chu, Heather Nuhfer, and Robin Robinson.

On Sunday, both of us will be signing at the Dark Horse booth (#206) from 2 to 2:50. 

Of course, Gabriel will be doing sketching at our table throughout the weekend. You can find all the details on his blog. We'll also have books and art to sell.

Hope to see you there! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Madam Satan

This weekend we actually saw two films in the theater, a rarity with two freelancers in the same household. Yesterday was Wes Anderson's THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. Everyone's talking about that one, so I'm going to talk about MADAM SATAN instead.

Pre-code films are often gloriously outrageous in one way or another, and this is no exception. Made in 1930 and directed by Cecile B. DeMille, its an early and truly uneven musical. The characters are all pretty odious too, from the cheating cad of a husband Bob to the maid who advises her employer Angela to do everything she can to make her husband happy. Surely whatever he does is Angela's fault, the film (written by a trio of women, amazingly) suggests. If you aren't familiar with this era of filmmaking, please don't think that they're all like that! Both IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and TWENTIETH CENTURY are from 1934 and both are sharp and smart. Anyway, I don't think anyone would ever watch MADAM SATAN for the plot. Instead, it's more than worth seeing for the sheer amount of crazy that appears on the screen once the mistaken identity plot gets going. And the beautiful Deco designs!

Poor Angela. Bob says she's cold next to showgirl Trixie. So Angela decides that she'll be so hot that "it'll take a whole fire station to put me out!" She crashes a swinging costume party aboard a zeppelin (!) just as the "most beautiful women" are being auctioned off (!) to the highest bidder. Is this a charity function of some sort? Why no, it's to advertise an oil company apparently. There are a ton of insane costumes, an ode to electricity, women serving drinks while pedaling around in little model dirigibles, and, of course, the devil herself. Angela, in her amazing costume, is unrecognizable to everyone, including her husband. She puts on an accent and coyly asks "who wants to come to hell with Madam Satan?" There's a crazy dance-off and then a lightning storm, followed by a mass bail-out as party-goers dressed as golden pheasants, clouds, and Hindu gods parachute through the sky. Baz Luhrmann's THE GREAT GATSBY had nothing on this!

I mean, check these out:
A musical ode to... Time?
Angela (Kay Johnson) costumed as Madam Satan
She's dressed as the "spirit of rain"
I'm glad I saw this at the Egyptian in Hollywood, threadbare around the edges as it is now, instead of at home or at some newer theater. It was easy to imagine seeing it in 1930 as a first run picture, marveling at the sets and complaining about the clunky direction. But if you get the chance to see it, no matter the venue, don't hesitate. I promise the absurdity will not disappoint. 
The Egyptian doesn't look quite like this anymore, but close enough.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ghosts of the Desert

To me, nothing is more relaxing than spending time around animals. So sometimes we head to the LA Zoo in the afternoon when we need a break. I occasionally write for their magazine Zoo View so it's almost like working...

The last time we went the peninsular pronghorns were very energetic, play fighting and carousing.

I'm really proud of our zoo's involvement with the Peninsular Pronghorn Recovery Project in Mexico, so it's a treat to see these guys up close. Only about 250 members of this subspecies survive in the wild, down from the thousands that used to roam the deserts. That means the breeding herd at LAZ comprises a significant percentage of all individuals alive today. It's really a shame they're endangered, since they're quite unusual. Not only are they the fastest hoofed mammals on Earth, but pronghorns are also the only extant member of their entire family (Antilocapridae). They're weird too, falling somewhere between goats and deer, with odd branching horns instead of antlers, unlike any other creature alive today.

In their home range the peninsular subspecies is called los fantasmas del desierto, the ghosts of the desert, because of their cryptic coloration and great speed that allows them to disappear from view with almost supernatural quickness. Indeed, they can cruise at nearly 60 mph, tongues hanging out and mouths agape to admit copious amounts of air, for an hour at a time. That's one thing you won't see in a zoo though, since these pronghorns are far too relaxed to consider fleeing. Like me, after an afternoon spent watching them.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Emerald City Update

We've had a great time at Emerald City Comicon for several years running now so I'm really looking forward to returning at the end of this month. The show runs from the 28th to the 30th at the Washington State Convention Center. Look for Gabriel Hardman and me at table A-08 in Artist Alley.

We'll have lots of books for sale as well as original art. ECCC is always a fun show so I hope we see you there!

In addition to doing signings at the table, I'm going to be on at least one panel. Details will be posted shortly...
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