Routine Check 3/26/13


– It’s hard to think of a bigger, nerdier story this month than the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter, partially because, hey, cool, a Veronica Mars movie, but also because of its widely-discussed implications on the future of cultishly adored, studio-shy properties. These massive success stories tend to always bring up the same conversations about established artists washing out the potential for new artists seeking funding, the difference between laziness and cutting out the middle man, etc., all of which I tend to mentally respond with “Eh, it’s fine,” but this piece raises some interesting points I hadn’t really considered about the dangers of a runaway crowd-funding success powered by backer rewards.

– Other new Kickstarters of interest: A new comic-strip documentary called Stripped, featuring interviews with Bill Watterson(!), Richard Thompson, Kate Beaton, Scott McCloud, and a host of classic strip creators, is nearly finished. John Vanderslice crowd-funding the completion of his latest album (actually successfully concluded yesterday, but worth a look as it’s another runaway success and in a medium which seems to me to be the most behind on using the tool.) The great Steve Rude doing a 2013 sketchbook. Also, not Kickstarter technically, but I’m glad to see some activity from Joshua Fried, the great electronic music innovator best known for his collaborations with They Might Be Giants and his eccentric live shows — he’s funding his debut album after more than 20 years of his radio-sampling experiments.

– Bobcat Goldthwait already had a couple projects for fans of his unexpected resurgence as a darkly funny and original filmmaker to anticipate, including the zombie-fetus nightmare Anklebiters and a boarding school musical based on the Kinks’ Schoolboys in Disgrace, but he recently wrapped production on a surprise found-footage film called Willow Creek, a Bigfoot-hunting thriller shot in sequence over just a few days. Bleeding Cool has a some notes from Goldthwait explaining the idea and acknowledging the “played out” status of the found-footage genre lately, which may help win over anyone not immediately sold.

– I wasn’t sure whether to be worried there would never be progress on the Beasts of Burden movie or terrified it would happen, but it helps a good bit to see that Shane Acker has come on board as director. That comic book is one of the very best of its or any kind, and does have certain potential as a cross-media franchise if handled correctly (it’s essentially The X-Files with scrappy dogs and cats if you’ve never read it), and Acker’s 9 showed a lot of promise for mixing creepy and distinguished visuals with semi-family-friendly entertainment.

– Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin, two names that should project “hey, read this comic book” to most self-respecting comic nerds, are trying out the Radiohead pay-what-you-want model for their new digital effort The Private Eye which for some reason I’m not reading right now instead of writing this.

– Among several attractive announcements at Emerald City Comic Con was a new slate of projects for the animation house Titmouse, who are working with comic book heroes like Jhonen Vasquez and Jim Mahfood to develop content for MTV’s Liquid Television reboot and other avenues. Fans of Vasquez, who has been relatively quiet since Invader Zim, will be particularly excited to hear that he’s toying with adaptations of cultishly adored properties like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Squee. The Mahfood show, D.I.S.C.O. Destroyer, is being written with Joe Casey and Scott Mosier and looks pretty great.

– Speaking of X-Files, IDW has announced a new comic series for the franchise following the same “Season X” format as the successful (I assume) Buffy comics, with creator Chris Carter on board as a story editor. Presumably this will get around to the story points that fans were frustrated about the final season and wholly unnecessary second film not bothering with, although I believe all of the show’s primaries are still pushing for another go at it themselves.

– Alex Winter has been fielding questions about Bill and Ted 3 while doing press tours for his new Napster documentary, dismissing the general feeling that the sequel seems to be taking a long time or possibly stalling out as a misunderstanding due to the project being announced too early in the process, and that there’s a rewrite moving along on schedule. I assume that’s just another draft by franchise overlords Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson, in which case it still has my full attention.

victorianmurdercomp– There are two types of comic book fans: those who think Rick Geary’s various true-crime comics are among the very best the medium has to offer, and those who haven’t discovered those particular comics yet. I guess there’s a third category of complete idiots, but anyone looking for jumping-on point for the series (though you can honestly jump on anywhere) will be well-served by its first compendium, collecting three of the earliest volumes in one attractive hardcover. Here’s an interview with Geary on the new book and his plans for further volumes.

– Another big, sexy comic collection you should totally buy: The Complete Cul de Sac, just announced on Richard Thompson’s blog. I’ve given that strip enough words in this column before that I won’t bore you again with how much I love it, but I’m glad it will have a convenient all-in-one book I can keep next to its cultural ancestor The Complete Calvin and Hobbes when I’m not forcing friends to read it.

– Among many Anchorman 2 casting rumors is the possibility of the great Terrence Stamp playing a Rupert Murdoch stand-in. He discussed it at a recent Q&A, reported by Ain’t It Cool, where he also teased a potential sequel to The Limey he wrote for himself and Julie Christie, which could be very neat indeed if it ever happens. I also had no idea that “Waterloo Sunset” is long suspected to be based on his and Christie’s relationship, which he confirms to the best of his knowledge when asked about it.

– I was at South by Southwest a couple years back when James Franco premiered his documentary Saturday Night, and have been regretting not making it in since it seemed to be locked into purgatory soon after. With a week-in-the-life format detailing the writing, rehearsal, and production of a single episode of Saturday Night Live, the film is potentially an essential artifact, but the solid reviews and Franco’s star power haven’t been enough to clear up all the rights issues so far, so I was glad to see him updating the Huffington Post on its status, even if it’s a vague “It will come out.”

– Cinematic Titanic, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 offshoot running parallel to the more popular Rifftrax, has announced that 2013 will be their last year, not long after shifting away from original DVD content to exclusively touring with live riffing. I saw the group perform a couple years ago and greatly enjoyed it, but I suspect having such a large group of comedians all living in separate parts of the country was never easy to manage into a roadshow.

– In what I hope is the first of many new project announcements from the newly freed-up Cinematic Titanic gang, Frank Conniff has a new podcast anthology called The Wonderful Pundits of Oz, featuring original radio musicals written, starring, and direct by Conniff and featuring the likes of Dana Gould, Emo Philips, Laraine Newman, CT’s J. Elvis Weinstein, and Dave “Gruber” Allen. I can’t say there’s a politically-charged-musical-comedy shaped hole in my life, but those are funny human beings.

– I wasn’t familiar with game designer Kenji Eno on hearing about his death from heart failure, but this obituary and rundown of his work is fascinating and does a great job filling in newcomers about the importance and innovation of his work, and made me want to figure out how to play some of it right away.

– Benjamin Curtis of the great School of Seven Bells is undergoing cancer treatment and could use some donations.

– If I can pull out one particular album from the section below, allow me some extra space for my favorite band since wee youth, They Might Be Giants. Their sixteenth proper album (not counting a seemingly infinite number of unclassifiable odds and ends) is streaming at Rolling Stone, and there is a full tour afoot as well as interviews and ephemera popping up all over, which is of interest if you’re a fan or if you’re just interested in a band getting near 30 years of active duty without the usual hiccups of the profession. I particularly recommend this wordy, thoughtful exchange between Rick Moody and John Linnell, and a series of pleasantly random articles by John Flansburgh as a week-long guest editor for Magnet Magazine.

Today in streams and freebies: It is apparently the season for big-ass album releases, so there’s a lot of these… It’s not every day you can go listen to a new David Bowie album, Thom Yorke’s long-gestating supergroup Atoms for Peace’s debut album is playing on their own site, Depeche Mode are entering their third decade of new releases, the Strokes are continuing their march into irrelevance with album 4,  comedy-rap lothario Dragon Boy Suede a.k.a. Howard Kremer has a surprise new album available for stream and purchase at his Bandcamp, Trent Reznor’s forced-typography vanity project How to destroy angels_ have a debut full-length (after a couple years of EPs and singles) at Pitchfork Advance, the underappreciated Montreal synth-rockers We Are Wolves’ fourth album is at Exclaim. Advance also has a new one from offbeat electronic pop duo Javelin called Hi Beams. NPR has the latest post-reunion full-length from Low, as well as the latest from one of my personal favorites Marnie Stern, and the third full-length from the always-enjoyable Telekinesis. Finally, a couple of short documentaries running free for now: fans of Belle and Sebastian’s rightfully revered If You’re Feeling Sinister album should enjoy the new making-of on Pitchfork, and fans of John Cazale will be glad to see that Richard Shepard’s tribute to the actor, I Knew It Was You, has been fully uploaded to YouTube on the anniversary of his death.

Also, check out the complete Ant Comic, a serialized Tumblr comic by Adventure Time artist and indie-comics maverick Michael DeForge, which DeForge collected in one convenient reading space. It’s really good and free.


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