WBEZ | comics http://www.wbez.org/tags/comics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Marvel Comic's new female Muslim superhero http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/marvel-comics-new-female-muslim-superhero-109122 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marvel AP.jpg" style="height: 376px; width: 620px;" title="The image released by Marvel Comics shows character Kamala Khan, second left, with her family Aamir, father Yusuf, mother Disha and friend Bruno, from the &quot;Ms. Marvel&quot; issue. (Marvel Comics/AP)" /></div></div><p>Marvel Comics&#39; newest superhero is more than just a symbol of diversity and a deviation from the white, male norm that Spiderman, Wolverine, Captain America, and countless other comic book heroes occupy.</p><p><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/06/showbiz/ms-marvel-muslim-superhero/" target="_blank">Kamala Khan</a>, a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City, also looks and sounds like a real person, albeit with extraordinary powers.</p><p>In a universe where most female superheroes are impossibly stacked and Barbie doll-proportioned (to draw ogling male eyes) Khan is a refreshing change of pace. She is pretty, yes, but rock-hard body &quot;hotness&quot; is not what defines her. &nbsp;</p><p>Writer G. Willow Wilson, a convert to Islam, says Khan was created as a true-to-life person teenagers could relate to.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s for all the geek girls out there, and everybody else who&#39;s ever looked at life on the fringe,&quot; Wilson said in a statement.</p><p>Khan, who will make her debut in January, is radically different from most of Marvel&#39;s most popular female superheroes, but also appealingly meta for a fanbase already attached to legacy characters. While she lives with conservative Pakistani parents, she fits the mold of an angsty teenager and an outsider in school.</p><p>She also is an avid reader of Marvel comic books.&nbsp;</p><p>So when she discovers her superhuman power as a polymorph &mdash; being able to lengthen her arms and legs and change shape &mdash; she takes on the name Ms. Marvel, a title which previously belonged to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Carol Danvers. Now, Khan&#39;s story will be the one to inspire a new generation of girls and boys.</p><p>Series editor Sana Amanat, who also worked on Ultimate Spiderman and Ultimate X-Men comic books for Marvel, told <a href="http://www.deccanchronicle.com/131110/news-current-affairs/article/pow-zap-marvel-comics-present-teenage-female-muslim-superhero" target="_blank">Reuters</a> that a reflection of the Muslim-American experience through the eyes of a teenage girl creates a font of endless possibilities.</p><p>&quot;We are always trying to upend expectations to an extent, but our point is to always reflect the world outside our window, and we are looking through a lot more windows right now,&quot; she said.&nbsp;</p><p>In fact, the idea for this new kind of superhero came from a conversation that Amanat had with her senior editor, Steve Wacker, about her own experiences growing up as a Muslim-American.</p><p>&quot;He was interested in the dilemma I faced as a young girl and the next day he came in and said, &#39;Wouldn&#39;t it be great to have a superhero that was for all the little girls that grew up just like you, and who are growing up just like you are today, and to create a character they can be inspired by?&#39;&quot; said Amanat.&nbsp;</p><p>Of course, girls have been inspired by female superheroes from the moment Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in 1941. But more than 70 years later, the endless parade of unbelievably bodacious babes in skin-tight bodysuits has begun to wear thin.</p><p>Female comic book fans need more than a strong, independent woman with superpowers and a slamming body to stay interested. We need diversity, in every sense of the word: racially, culturally, intellectually, and physically.</p><p>In my opinion, this is in part why so many comic book films and TV shows helmed by female superheroes (Elektra, Catwoman, and the Wonder Woman series that never made it to air) have fallen flat in recent years. The average woman or adolsecent girl has to fall in love with these characters too. If all she sees is plastic, how can she relate?</p><p>I&#39;m excited to see all of the new stories that the creators of Kamala Khan will bring to life, but I also long for more.</p><p>When will we see a mainstream superhero who is gender-queer or transgender? Why do the female characters continue to be drawn to serve the male gaze, with their supermodel sexiness and perfectly-chiseled abs? Isn&#39;t it about time we had a full-bodied female superhero, or at the very least, more&nbsp;<a href="http://geektyrant.com/news/2013/4/3/fully-clothed-female-superheroes-geek-art.html" target="_blank">fully-clothed</a>&nbsp;ones?&nbsp;</p><p>Still, the good news is that times are changing, and Kamala Khan has punched a hole through the glass ceiling with a resounding smash.</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett.</a></em></p></p> Tue, 12 Nov 2013 10:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/marvel-comics-new-female-muslim-superhero-109122 Daniel Clowes in conversation with Susan Miller http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/daniel-clowes-conversation-susan-miller-107984 <p><div><strong>Susan Miller</strong>, curator of Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes, engages Clowes in a conversation about his practice and genesis of the exhibition.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Daniel Clowes</strong>, born in Chicago in 1961, is an internationally celebrated comic book artist and graphic novelist. To date, he has published nearly 50 comic books and graphic novels including <em>Ghost World</em>, <em>Art School Confidential</em>, <em>Lloyd Llewellyn</em>, <em>David Boring</em>, <em>Ice Haven</em>, <em>The Death-Ray</em>, <em>Wilson</em>, <em>Mister Wonderful</em>, and in 1989, the groundbreaking comic book series <em>Eightball</em>. Clowes gained wide recognition in 2001 with the release of Ghost World, the <strong>Terry Zwigoff</strong>-directed, Academy Award-nominated film for which he wrote the screenplay. Clowes is also a highly acclaimed magazine illustrator with work appearing in <em>Time</em>, <em>Newsweek</em>, <em>GQ</em>, and many other magazines. Beginning in 2007, Clowes became a regular cover artist for <em>The New Yorker</em> and created the twenty-episode series <em>Mister Wonderful</em> for the <em>New York Times Magazine</em>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Susan Miller is an independent curator and producer with a career focus on regional art and culture. She has organized surveys and books on Bay Area artists including <strong>Daniel Clowes</strong>, <strong>Tony Labat</strong>, <strong>Jim Pomeroy</strong>, and <strong>Jeanne Finley</strong>. From 1993 to 2005, she was the executive director of San Francisco&rsquo;s New Langton Arts. She is currently organizing a touring exhibition and book on media artist <strong>Doug Hall</strong> as well as developing the Consortium for Interdisciplinary Research, a new research unit for UC Berkeley.</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MCA-webstory_22.gif" title="" /></div></div><p>Recorded live Saturday June 28, 2013 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.</p></p> Sat, 29 Jun 2013 15:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/daniel-clowes-conversation-susan-miller-107984 Some disdainful thoughts on Superman http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-06/some-disdainful-thoughts-superman-107493 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/288426179_e377eb7117.jpg" style="float: right; height: 400px; width: 300px;" title="Flickr/MShades" />Superman is boring. What&rsquo;s interesting about a guy who can do everything? Why don&rsquo;t you just make a movie about God or something, only one that isn&rsquo;t made by Mel Gibson or features God doing shenanigans like making newscasters talk funny. But seriously, a guy who can do everything is boring, especially if he always could do everything and it&rsquo;s nothing new. If you just want a movie with a handsome guy in tight underwear, that&rsquo;s fine, but have him be someone other than Superman.</p><p>And he&rsquo;s from outer space? Ugh. Nothing (and I mean nothing&mdash;particularly no good movies) ever came from outer space. Do you know why the movie Inner Space was so good? Because it looked inward, not out into boring old space.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s a funny joke I told my husband about Superman. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m allergic to bee stings: they&rsquo;re my kryptonite. What&rsquo;s Superman&rsquo;s kryptonite?&rdquo;</p><p>Perhaps you had to be there.</p><p>His outfit will never be cool, no matter how many textures they put on it.</p><p>How much money does Superman make? Because Bruce Wayne, when he&rsquo;s not being Batman, is a rich playboy. Which is pretty cool.</p><p>At least Batman has the decency to cover half of his face to hide his true identity. People just seem dumb in Superman movies, not being able to figure out something so obvious.</p><p>Also, why does Superman need to wear an &ldquo;S&rdquo; on his chest? So people don&rsquo;t forget who the immortal man who flies around their city is? Is there a danger with confusing him with someone else?</p><p>I also find the legend of how his outfit got made problematic. Who made it for him? Who is his tailor? Or did he make it himself, thereby giving himself the name and making a monogrammed outfit? Even I know his parents did not name him &ldquo;Superman&rdquo; at birth. Again: problems.</p><p>If Superman is so great, why can&rsquo;t Clark Kent do something to save the dying newspaper industry?</p><p>In case you couldn&rsquo;t tell, I like Batman more than I like Superman. I don&rsquo;t consider Robin to be a real superhero, even when played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Spider-Man is just a kid. All the other superheroes are tedious at this point because they have had too many movies made about them or their movies were unnecessary to begin with. Don&rsquo;t even get me started on whatever happened to Jean Grey in the third <em>X-Men</em> movie.</p><p>&ldquo;Super&rdquo; is a lame adjective. Would you trust someone who used the phrase &ldquo;Super!&rdquo; to describe any aspect of his or her life?</p><p>None of these points is arguable as they are all based in fact. If you enjoyed this piece, then you probably loved the <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-07/acclaimed-film-critic-says-newest-batman-movie-stinks-101021" target="_blank">Batman review I ran a few years ago</a>. If not, don&rsquo;t worry, I&rsquo;m sure I will win you over at a future date.</p><p><em>Follow Claire Zulkey&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/Zulkey" target="_blank">@Zulkey</a></em></p></p> Mon, 03 Jun 2013 10:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-06/some-disdainful-thoughts-superman-107493 The Hal Higdon interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/hal-higton-interview-105258 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Hal-Portrait.jpg" style="float: right; height: 386px; width: 300px;" title="Hal Higdon" /><span id="internal-source-marker_0.6083719501964003">I began running a few years ago and was quickly turned on to the training regimens of today&rsquo;s interviewee, who has maintained careers in both running and writing that are impressive for their quality, output and longevity. &nbsp;He has contributed to </span><em>Runner&#39;s World </em>for longer than any other writer, an article by him having appeared in that publication&#39;s second issue in 1966.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Author of 36 books, including the best-selling <em>Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide</em>, now in its 4th edition, Higdon also has written books on many subjects and for different age groups. His children&#39;s book, <em>The Horse That Played Center Field,</em> was made into an animated feature by ABC-TV. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. At the American Society of Journalist and Author&#39;s annual meeting in 2003, the Society gave Higdon its Career Achievement Award, the highest honor given to writer members. You can learn much more about him and his programs <a href="http://www.halhigdon.com/">here</a>.<br />&nbsp;</div><p><strong>What have been some of the most beautiful runs you&rsquo;ve ever been on?</strong><br /><a href="http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2980.htm">Indiana Dunes State Park</a> remains at the top of my list. There&#39;s a bit of everything: flat and fast to steep with scenery, on clear days the Chicago skyline. In second place, maybe the <a href="http://www.redwoods.co.nz/">Redwood Forest in Rotarua, New Zealand</a>. Bermuda has probably the most scenic marathon among the 111 I have run.<br /><br /><strong>What do you find are some of the silliest trends in running, either in terms of training or gear?</strong><br />I&#39;m not sure silly trends exist in running. At least I&#39;m not arrogant enough to brand so-called trends as &quot;silly.&quot; As long as you are a runner, and love the sport as much as I do, I&#39;m comfortable with whatever silliness you carry in your running baggage.<br /><br /><strong>What do you do (or did you do, knowing you don&rsquo;t run quite as much as you used to) when a run is just a slog? Was there a physical or mental way that typically made the run go by faster, or do you just suck it up (or just abort?)</strong><br />Run being a slog? Does that ever happen? Maybe to mere mortals. If there is a physical reason why any run is a slog, then you need to bail out and hope you are not more than 10 miles from your parked car.<br /><br /><strong>You&rsquo;ve published so many different kinds of writing; what&rsquo;s one style &nbsp;that you never tried that you&rsquo;d like to (or that you wished you were more proficient at)?</strong><br />If you had asked me that question 3 or 4 years ago, I would have answered that I would like to write a novel. But since that time, I fulfilled that desire to write a work of fiction. Titled simply <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Marathon-A-Novel-Hal-Higdon/dp/0963634607/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_3">Marathon</a></em>, it describes the 72 hours leading up to a major marathon that strongly resembles Chicago.<br /><br /><strong>What was your reaction to the New York marathon being canceled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy?</strong><br />I don&#39;t want to second-guess <a href="https://twitter.com/nyrrmaryruns">Mary Wittenberg</a>, director of the New York City Marathon, or the Mayor who in their earliest pronouncements in the middle of the week immediately after the hurricane wanted the marathon to proceed as planned. I thought then it was a bad decision, but they corrected themselves and cancelled the race. That was the right decision, even if it came at a late hour. It did not make sense to me to have runners frolicking through the streets of New York while people were suffering, their homes destroyed, without power. Many runners decided to run anyway in Central Park without worry about time and distance. Others went to near the starting line in Staten Island to help in the cleanup. I applaud them all. I also applaud all those who told the marathon organizers, no, this is not something we want happening in our back yards during this critical time for New York City.<br /><br /><strong>Running seems so incredibly basic yet it continues to be a topic of much conversation and publication. Why does such a simple activity generate so much discussion, reflection and advice?</strong><br />It&#39;s a self-help topic, certainly. Back when I first got into running, nobody cared much about the sport, except at the Olympic level and, in the case of the marathon, once a year at Boston. But now we have marathons that attract tens of thousands of runners. We are an attractive demographic, so our foibles attract a certain amount of interest.<br /><br /><strong>Related, running is an incredibly intimidating activity for many people. Why do you think it&rsquo;s so much more daunting to many people than, say, bike riding?</strong><br />Daunting? I probably put more miles in biking these days than I do running, and whether the word &quot;daunting&quot; should be attached to running, I don&#39;t know. I also hate the word &quot;grueling&quot; being attached to our endurance events. I&#39;m going to suggest that biking is a lot more dangerous an activity than running, particularly in areas where we share the roads with four-wheeled or four-legged creatures. Cars can&#39;t hit you and dogs can&#39;t chase you when you&#39;re running cross-country.<br /><br /><strong>What do you typically think about when you run?</strong><br />Anything and everything. One of the great pleasures of running is to allow your mind to freewheel while you run. Anything can attract my attention from a seagull pitter-pattering on the beach to a sunset to an attractive female runner who says, &quot;Hi&quot; as we pass, even though we may never see each other again.<br /><br /><strong>I had lunch with some friends last year who were in town to run the Chicago Marathon and I said that marathon running/training didn&rsquo;t seem very fun to me. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not,&rdquo; they confirmed. Do you agree?</strong><br />No, but I don&#39;t really care whether anyone--particularly non-runners--considers what we do as being &quot;fun.&quot; Just please get out of our way, but it would be nice if you kept your dog on the leash and didn&#39;t text while driving past us in your overpriced cars. But, hey, hasn&#39;t the focus of this interview been rather negative so far. I would rather focus on running as a positive, rather than a negative. If running were that difficult, you wouldn&#39;t find so many people doing it these days.<br /><br /><strong>Throughout your life you&rsquo;ve accomplished so much as both a writer and a runner. In the last couple of decades, which was more difficult to generate, running goals or writing goals?</strong><br />Running goals were easy. At the start of the year, you simply asked yourself, what do I want to accomplish in the next 12 months? For me, it might have been successful participation in an Olympic Trial. It might have been trying to win a world masters championship. Or it might be simply getting through the year healthy and uninjured. Writing goals? I&#39;m not sure I had any writing goals. Each article assignment, each book contract, provided a goal of some sort. The goal was to finish the assignment, to get paid, then to move onto the next assignment.<br /><br /><strong>You&rsquo;ve mentioned in <a href="http://www.ujenafitclub.com/ninter.php/14">other interviews that you&rsquo;re an incredibly organized writer</a>. What are some of your methods for staying so organized?</strong><br />Did I use the word &quot;incredibly?&quot; That seems to be a bit of an overreach. If Hemingway had ever used &quot;incredibly&quot; in a first draft, that would have been the first word scratched out in draft two. Organization? It&#39;s part of a person&#39;s mindset. It&#39;s not being afraid of doing what you&#39;re good at doing. I&#39;ve always been able to get up in the morning, go for a run (or more often now a bike ride), have breakfast, then sit down at the typewriter (or more often now a computer) and begin the job of the day. I&#39;ve never suffered writer&#39;s block. I don&#39;t know what it is. Starting each assignment, I usually had a clear path down the road to finishing the job. Because I was a good researcher and interviewer, I usually knew the ending before I knew the beginning. One editor once told me that she loved my articles, because they had a beginning, a middle and an end. Made her job much easier. She could concentrate on commas rather than paragraphs. I took whatever time it took to do produce as perfect a product as possible. It might be an hour&#39;s worth of work for a 600-word column. It might be a year or more for a 100,000-word book. I&#39;ve never felt I had a &quot;method&quot; for writing. Nothing that would make the cover of a magazine aimed at embryo writers. I just wrote. Organization enabled me to write swiftly, because I never had to pause to think of what to say next.<br /><br /><strong>You originally got your start as an aspiring comics writer. Do you still enjoy comics? Which do you read?</strong><br />Actually my aspiration was not to be a comics writer; it was more to be a comics artist. But in creating the art, I also created the words that accompanied the art. My goal in high school was to someday create a comic strip the near equal of <em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_and_the_Pirates_%28comic_strip%29">Terry and the Pirates</a> </em>by the most accomplished writer/artist of the era when I was in high school, maybe of any era. Milton Caniff, and he was considered the Rembrandt of the Comic Strips. I drew comic strips in high school, but also wrote them. Eventually, I realized I was a much better writer than runner and shifted careers. I rarely read comic books any more. They cost too much vs. the 10 cents I paid when I was a kid. They also drag the stories out too long. Too much fighting and not enough thought. My son has a subscription to <em>The Amazing Spider-Man</em>, so I borrow his copies now and then and read them eight at a time. I more often read the comic strips that come with the papers. Sadly, they are shrunk to such tiny boxes that sometimes it&#39;s hard to read the word balloons. You almost need a magnifying glass for Doonesbury. With the shrunken sizes, all the well drawn adventure strips have disappeared. You don&#39;t see anything as well drawn or well written as <em>Prince Valiant</em>, <em>Tarzan</em> or <em>Flash Gordon</em> any more. Instead, we&#39;re stuck with gag-a-day. Among that genre, I like <a href="http://www.gocomics.com/frazz">Frazz</a>, because he&#39;s a runner and triathlete and <em>For Better or For Worse</em>, because there&#39;s some continuity to the story line. I might add that I collect original comic art and have a lot of it hanging on my office walls. I&#39;m staring at a <em>Daredevil</em> page by John Romita, Jr. right now.<br /><br /><strong>You&rsquo;ve said that when you were younger, running wasn&rsquo;t an acceptable activity for anyone over 17. Why do you think that was so, and what, broadly, do you think was the turning point for running becoming a more widespread hobby?</strong><br />There was no competitive opportunities: no track meets or road races, or at least very few opportunities for out-of-school athletes. When I first ran Boston in 1959, only about 100 others participated. Very few track or cross-country runners continued beyond high school and college, and most of them were fairly accomplished, capable of sub-3 marathon times. But the focus had begun to shift toward a fitness-based sport, prompted by best-selling books by Bill Bowerman (<em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Jogging-William-J-Bowerman/dp/0448144433/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_3">Jogging</a></em>) and Dr. Ken Cooper (<em><a href="http://www.cooperaerobics.com/About/Our-Leaders/Kenneth-H-Cooper,-MD,-MPH.aspx">Aerobics</a></em>), but also an article about the Boston Marathon titled &quot;<a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1135211/index.htm">On the Run from Dogs and People</a>&quot; that I wrote for<em> Sports Illustrated</em> in 1963. By the end of the 1960s, a thousand runners entered Boston, and running was en route to becoming a mainstream sport, helped by Frank Shorter&#39;s gold medal in the Olympic Marathon in 1972.<br /><br /><strong>What do you like most about using social media as a tool for coaching?</strong><br />I can do it at home.<br /><br /><strong>How does it feel to be the 339th person interviewed for Zulkey.com?</strong><br />It depends on who you pick for # 340.</p></p> Fri, 01 Feb 2013 08:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/hal-higton-interview-105258 For stand-up comics, hecklers are no joke http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/stand-comics-hecklers-are-no-joke-104887 <p><p>&nbsp;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/louie%20ck.jpg" style="height: 210px; width: 340px; float: left; " title="Stand-up comedian Louis C.K. confronts a heckler in an episode of his FX show 'Louie.' (Google Plus/Commons) " />Imagine standing onstage at a comedy club, all shaky and sweaty under a blinding spotlight, expected to make everyone in the room laugh harder than they&#39;ve ever laughed before.&nbsp;You go into your routine, praying that your punchline will at least get a chuckle or two. Instead, someone shouts an obscenity from a few rows back. You have two options in this scenario, and you must decide quickly: a) ignore the heckler, or b) unleash a verbal blitzkrieg that could either save your act or send it up in flames.&nbsp;</p><p>I&#39;ve seen a good amount of stand-up in Chicago, and whenever a heckler interrupts with some arrogant snark, I have to resist the urge to throttle them. I also hold my breath waiting for the comedian&#39;s reaction, wondering if they feel just as embarrassed and appalled as I am.</p><p>In my experience, these instances have been thankfully few and far between. However, a recent&nbsp;<em>Tribune</em><a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-03/entertainment/ct-ott-0104-heckling-20130103_1_hecklers-audience-speaker-phone"> article </a>debating whether hecklers actually make shows more entertaining has <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-09/entertainment/ct-ent-0110-heckling-letters-20130109_1_heckler-comedians-road-comics">sparked outrage</a> from readers in the Chicago stand-up commmunity.&nbsp;</p><p>In &quot;A Field Guide to Heckling,&quot; reporters Nina Metz and Chris Borrelli discuss the possible&nbsp;upsides of an audience member verbally attacking a performer on comedy night.</p><p>Metz claims that hecklers can give comedians great material to use in their act, and &quot;from a purely selfish point of view,&quot; she judges their responses as a litmus test of true talent: &quot;Improv skill, reveal thyself!&quot;</p><p>Borrelli states that he is anti &quot;audience trolls,&quot; but he is admittedly pro-heckling in terms of creating a memorable experience. &quot;I have seen countless comedians and theater performances and live events in general, and forgotten most of them,&quot; he says, &quot;But I remember each and every time I have witnessed a performer get into it with an obnoxious audience.&quot;</p><p>Less than a week after their commentary was published, comedian Nick Vatterott posted a scathing&nbsp;<a href="http://oodlesofpun.tumblr.com/post/40053602203/all-bets-are-off-metz">&quot;review&quot;</a>&nbsp;of the article on his Tumblr blog. In addition to calling Borrelli &quot;a spineless Yes Man&quot; incapable of debate, he skewers Metz as &quot;an out of touch, long time unsupportive villain of the Chicago stand-up scene.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>The <em>A.V. Club</em>&#39;s Steve Heisler had a negative <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/why-heckling-is-still-terrible-no-matter-what-pund,90506/">response</a> to the <em>Tribune</em> article as well, but his argument is much less mean-spirited.&nbsp;He makes a list of the issues to which he takes offense, and rationally refutes each one. And while he holds the writers accountable with sharp and biting criticism, he never resorts to name-calling.&nbsp;</p><p>I also like how Heisler compares a boorish heckler interrupting comedian Patton Oswalt during his act to an audience member vomiting over a balcony during one of Paul Rudd&#39;s Broadway shows. Both incidents were shocking and unscripted, possibly entertaining for some people, but also 100 percent unfair to the performers onstage. The only difference between these two examples is intent: puking usually can&#39;t be helped, while heckling is intentional malice. Comedians are hard-working professionals, and they should be respected as such. &nbsp;</p><p>To back up her pro-heckling stance, Metz points to a conversation that she had with Zach Galifinakis about hecklers providing a &quot;potentially desirable&quot; situation for a comic. However, I believe his carefully-worded reply proves that the opposite is true: &quot;I&#39;ve been heckled before&mdash;many times, actually&mdash;and it&#39;s always distracting...but it just comes with the territory, and you have to learn how to handle it.&quot;</p><p>For the sake of future stand-ups, I hope that they <em>won&#39;t</em> have to deal with rude hecklers interrupting them while they&#39;re trying to do their jobs. And for those who get a cheap thrill out of watching spontaneous confrontations turn ugly, there&#39;s always football.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/leahkpickett">@leahkpickett</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 14 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/stand-comics-hecklers-are-no-joke-104887 The Comics: From Page to Stage http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/comics-page-stage-100649 <p><p>Although not based on a comic book or a comic strip, the new musical <em>Hero</em> at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire&nbsp;revolves around a father-and-son who own a comic shop in Milwaukee, where the son&mdash;himself a gifted artist&mdash;records his ho-hum life in his sketch book as if he were the hero of a graphic novel. You don&#39;t actually learn much about graphic novels or superhero comics (except that Blackhawk is the richest superhero), but the context got me to thinking...</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LittleNemoZoo.jpg" style="height: 397px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="A famous Little Nemo comic strip from 1910." />There&#39;s no intrinsic link between comics and theater, but there&#39;s an historic link between the two art forms. Over the years, many comic strips and comic books have been used as the source material for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, almost all of them musicals. The latest incarnation is, of course, the widely-publicized <em>Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark</em>, the Broadway extravaganza that cost $70 million to produce, leaving a trail of lawsuits and injured actors along the way.</div><p>But the history of theater and comics goes back at least to 1908, when a Broadway hit of the season was the musical <em>Little Nemo</em>, with a score by Victor Herbert, based on the wildly popular fantasy comic strip (then in the New York Herald), <em>Little Nemo in Slumberland</em>, written and drawn by the great Winsor McCay (also a pioneer of animated films).</p><p>In between, there have been such musicals as <em>It&#39;s a Bird, It&#39;s a Plane, It&#39;s Superman</em>, <em>Annie</em> and <em>Annie II</em>, <em>You&#39;re a Good Man, Charlie Brown</em> and <em>The Addams Family</em>, based on the single-panel cartoons of Charles Adams. Also, there was <em>The Mad Show</em>, a 1966 Off-Broadway precursor to <em>Mad TV</em>, inspired by the far-more-than-a-comic-book Mad Magazine, and we mustn&#39;t forget <em>Songs of the Pogo</em>, a three-person revue of Walt Kelly&#39;s work, seen only in Chicago in 1992.</p><p>The appeal of comics as a source for theater probably is obvious, beginning with the large potential audiences among the readers of various strips or books. Next, the fantasy aspects of some comics&mdash;<em>Little Nemo</em> and <em>Spiderman</em> are prime examples&mdash;lend themselves to visual spectacle. Finally, the literary quality of comics tends towards the exaggeration of characters and situations, especially among those comics featuring super heroes and arch-villains, and the simplification and repetition of storylines.</p><p>Even so, the process of comic page-to-stage transformation isn&#39;t a sure thing, as the fate of <em>It&#39;s a Bird, It&#39;s a Plane, It&#39;s Superman</em> proves (it was a failure). Whether in book form or strip form, comics are like soap operas: they come with oodles and oodles of backstory, they have villains who never are dead no matter how many times they&#39;re killed off, and the heroes never quite woo and win the love interest. Intertwined storylines go on and on and on. Theater must solve the problem of creating a story with a finite beginning, middle and end, and with sufficient exposition to make characters and situations clear.</p><p>Then, there&#39;s the matter of tone: get it wrong and you&#39;re doomed, which is precisely what happened to <em>It&#39;s a Bird . . . Superman</em>. The 1966 show survived only three months on Broadway because it decided to spoof the comic book and also invented a villain rather than using one from the Superman books themselves.</p><p>Comics may be easier to adapt to the stage if they are suitable for a revue format, as was the case with Peanuts, Pogo and Mad Magazine. <em>The Addams Family</em>&mdash;still touring but closed on Broadway after a 21-month run&mdash;might have fared better as a revue show vs. a book show. A number of the famous single-panel gag cartoons of James Thurber were incorporated into the very successful 1960&#39;s show, <em>A Thurber Carnival</em>, although that still-performed revue also had Thurber&#39;s short stories upon which to draw.</p><p>Turnabout is fair play and the career of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is a prominent example. He&#39;s the author of <em>Sensational Spider-Man, Marvel Knights 4</em> and <em>Fantastic Four</em> comics and also the author of a dozen plays, with <em>Say You Love Satan</em>, <em>Dark Matter, Based on a Totally True Story</em> and <em>Good Boys and True</em> among his works staged in Chicago at theaters from storefronts to Steppenwolf. Many of his plays, although not all of them, draw on horror/fantasy genres common to comic books. Ironically, Aguirre-Sacasa authored a revised book for <em>It&#39;s a Bird, It&#39;s a Plane, It&#39;s Superman</em> at the Dallas Theatre Center in 2010.</p></p> Fri, 06 Jul 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/comics-page-stage-100649 Video: Cartoonist Anders Nilsen talks 'Big Questions' http://www.wbez.org/blog/mark-bazer/2011-10-05/video-cartoonist-anders-nilsen-talks-big-questions-92841 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-05/big questions_flickr_austin kleon.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cartoonist Anders Nilsen showed up at The Hideout 30 minutes before <em>The Interview Show</em> began, sat by himself and immediately began drawing. That continued during the show, when, while waiting to be interviewed, he sketched a fellow guest — comedian Cameron Esposito. Anders writes in his <a href="http://themonologuist.blogspot.com/2011/09/sketchbooks.html">blog</a>:</p><p>"I was drawing the person sitting in the audience in front of me at Mark Bazer's <em>Interview Show</em> the other night, and then she turned out to be another guest on the show. Her name is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/mark-bazer/2011-09-20/video-stand-comedy-cameron-esposito-92202">Cameron Esposito</a>. She's a comedienne. She was completely hilarious. This is her ear.” (See his sketch <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0cPp5tsMgiw/TmUaXu5tCRI/AAAAAAAACYY/XWNMwXrqhsM/s1600/RBxi23%2528CameronEsposito%2529.jpg">here</a>).&nbsp;</p><p>I love that.</p><p>Anders was on to talk about <em>Big Questions</em>, which collects over a decade of smaller installments of his epic tale of, in his words, "a bunch of birds in the middle of nowhere who find an unexploded bomb and think it's an egg and then a plane crashes and they think it's a giant bird and then they spend about 600 pages trying to figure out what's going on."</p><p>The book, published by <a href="http://www.drawnandquarterly.com/">Drawn and Quarterly</a>, is beautiful and captivating. Anders talks about it, his career and his life below.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/dPTMvvCVxZ8" width="560" frameborder="0" height="315"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 05 Oct 2011 14:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/mark-bazer/2011-10-05/video-cartoonist-anders-nilsen-talks-big-questions-92841