Routine Check 12/21/12


– It’s been a while, partially because the first half of December is always completely bananas for me due to running an annual 24-hour weird-holiday-crap marathon called the McArathon. This was its eight year, and went delightfully well with a mostly-noir theme that included movies like Blast of Silence and I, the Jury. The full list is here, and the 8-minute “commercial” we shot for it is here.

– You’ve surely already heard if you’re the sort of person that would care, but Karen Berger is retiring from DC Comics and the Vertigo imprint that she founded and managed into arguably the most reliable corner of comic book sophistication of the last 20 years. The general consensus is that comics like Swamp Thing, Sandman, Animal Man, HellblazerPreacher, Y: The Last Man, Human Target, and a billion others would never have reached their healthy issue counts or lofty ambitions without her in their corner. Comics Alliance rounded up a bunch of reactions from industry folks, whose “end of an era” comments match the rumors that Vertigo might be getting phased out soon to make room for more spandex garbage.

– If you missed this roundtable of “so hot right now” directors filmed for The Hollywood Reporter, that’s probably the best thing I’ve seen on the Internet this month. It’s a very frank conversation that delves pretty deep into the idea that many directors’ output tends to go south at some point.

– Gus Van Sant, who barely edges out Ang Lee in that last video as the chillest director in the room, is talking about doing a superhero comedy in the vein of Stephen Chow’s films. Sure, I’ll watch that.

– Speaking of Ang Lee, you might remember that Life of Pi was previously being developed with the great Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Even having his name tangentially attached was enough to rush me into theaters, and while I mostly enjoyed Lee’s version it’s hard not to imagine a more personal, idiosyncratic take by Jeunet, which makes his recent blog post sharing concept art and thoughts on the subject pretty fascinating, though it’s pretty tame as far as Hollywood car crashes go. There doesn’t seem to be much bad blood involved in his leaving the project, and he charmingly shrugs off his disappointment with a classic line of thought: “I tell myself that every director must have made: a black and white film, a great success, an American film and a film… which is never made.” The Jeunet Director Checklist!

richardspooralmanac– At the risk of making most of my news posts about Richard Thompson in some way, it is everyone’s great fortune that GoComics is now running his pre-Cul de Sac, semi-editorial strip Richard’s Poor Almanac in addition to re-running the recently hiatused Cul de Sac from the top.

– It’s too late to fund it, and it didn’t need your money anyway (it broke the record the most over-funded book on Kickstarter), but check out this nice-looking project from Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics and Kaboom’s Adventure Time anyway. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure, picture-book take on Hamlet that sports a ridiculous roster of art talent thanks to North’s epic curator skills — Kate Beaton, Dustin Harbin, Anthony Clark, Ethan Nicolle, Chris Hastings, Brandon Bird, Andy Runton, Faith Erin Hicks, Scott Campbell, David Malki, Ryan Pequin, and Meredith Gran, to name a few.

– Here’s a project not currently crowd-funding but that I would pitch in for in a minute — the excellent comic artist Tommy Lee Edwards is moving into live-action filmmaking with an ’80s action tribute called Vandroid, shooting this month in North Carolina. Edwards has been a concept artist on several major films including Batman Begins and Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, and recently collaborated with Edgar Wright for the Brandon Generator webcomic,  so he know what side film is buttered on.

– I enjoyed this video-game-focused interview with Pendleton Ward, who discusses the new Adventure Time game bust mostly just rattles off his various gaming addictions and touches on some other influences and background on the show. Ward has also been posting some short webisodes called Animations Pals on YouTube with Adventure Time animator Ian Jones-Quartey.

-As a longtime fan of the Residents, it’s fun to see them get some press for once, particularly for this very funny publicity stunt involving ten refrigerators full of rare merchandise. The accompanying video is a pretty rare instance of the band addressing their fans and acknowledging their willful obscurity, and it actually makes for a pretty nice history and summation of their work for the unfamiliar. Plus it made me laugh like an idiot.

– There is of course a staggering amount of year-end listmaking going on at this very moment… I always get a little depressed about it because I think publishing a bunch of definitive best-ofs in the middle of December is severely flawed in that late-in-the-year releases are either ignored, overcompensated, or at the very least not given the proper gestation time for a really well-considered rundown. To be even more pretentious about it, it also seems a little classist when the average person who doesn’t have access to a lot of higher culture until months later. Having said that, there are some interesting lists around, particularly the ones that outsource the favoritism to various artists and celebrities, like these lists from Brooklyn Vegan or these from AV Club, which collectively poll the eclectic likes of Animal Collective, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Patton Oswalt, Fred Armisen, Dan Deacon, Tig Notaro, Maria Bamford, Adam Scott, Tim and Eric, Neil Hamburger, Kyle Kinane, Amanda Palmer, John Hodgman, Eugene Mirman, Questlove, Eddie Argos, Tom Scharpling, Jon Wurster, JEFF the Brotherhood, Damon Lindelof, Ben Folds, Britt Daniel, Blonde Redhead, Bear in Heaven, Prince Rama, !!!, and even the Petes from Pete & Pete. Not bad!

trillium– Looking ahead to next year, here’s one of Tom Spurgeon’s “Five for Friday” posts where his readers list comics they’re looking forward to in 2013. There’s a lot of neat books and collections in there, many of which won’t get a lot of press on release. I’m pretty damned excited for Jeff Lemire’s Trillium myself.

– Another big thing to look foward to next year: another new They Might Be Giants album. It’s called Nanobots and just recently wrapped a lengthy recording session that yielded “25 tracks in about 40 minutes,” which is sort of a harkening back to their earliest classic albums. Rolling Stone has the premiere of the first single, an brassy pastiche called “Call You Mom” which I found pretty infectious and amusing.

– One last look to the future, here’s some TV shows being developed that could potentially be interesting: Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Films is doing a couple pilots for ABC including one based on Michael Ian Black’s recent non-fiction book, Adult Swim is spinning off the Childrens Hospital show-within-a-show(-within-another-show-or-two) Newsreaders, and Amazon Studios–the open-door crowd-sourcing experiment I wrote up recently for a project with the band YACHT–announced a slew of mid-profile pilots from the likes of Garry Trudeau, Kristen Schaal, and The Onion.

Today in streams and freebies: Here’s some music-of-2012 mash-ups by Dan Deacon, The Hood Internet, and Major Lazer, and here’s a bunch of holiday junk: a crazy mixtape called Chopped & Scrooged from holiday music master Sufjan Stevens featuring exclusive bits from Das Racist, Busdriver, and others; a teaser for a double single of heavy metals takes on classic carols by Christopher Lee (seriously); a new holiday EP from Lemon Demon; a new compilation called Holidays Rule featuring new recordings by Paul McCartney, the Shins, Heartless Bastards, and Eleanor Friedberger, among others, streaming in one big chunk on Soundcloud; a new Kill Rock Stars comp streaming on Bandcamp;  an original EP by the composer of Adventure Time for download; some original carols by Mark Lanegan of all people; a new single from Kishi Bashi; and finally, a yuletide mix from DJ Jazzy Jeff, who is still a thing apparently.


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