Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy Halloween: Download Halloween Man vs. Invisible Man FREE at Indyplanet

Hey Gang- if you've heard me rant about how wonderful Halloween Man is, you MUST go check out Indyplanet Digital, which is having a Halloween special on Drew Edward's fantastic indy comic-- including my recent favorite Halloween Man vs. Invisible Man, collected, FREE. About that one I recently wrote:
Drew Edwards completes the four-part monster bash between Halloween Man, the zombie with a heart of gold and a Reed-Richards-smart girlfriend faces off against HG Wells' most evil creation, The Invisible Man. I've really been enjoying this story because it's played like a monster procedural. ...with Halloween Man investigating a series of attacks in the leather district of Halloween Man's home, Solar City. Soon it became clear that "The Terror" was obsessed with the clientele of the leather bars and could attack them with near-impunity because the police had no interest in patrolling the district.
That left Solomon (Halloween Man) to pick up the search, one outsider looking after a community of outsiders. But it turned out that The Terror was actually none other than the insane Griffin, the sadistic, brilliant scientist who created a formula to turn himself invisible, and that has now rendered him impotent and insane. This four-part story has been illustrated by Sergio Calvet, who I think brings just the right quirky, even cartoonish tone to the book. His is one of my favorite interpretations of Halloween Man yet, handling horror, violence and tenderness equally well. This is great stuff. Halloween Man continues to be a favorite independent comic of mine and one of the few that I think holds up next to any new comic on the stands this week. Definitely check it out if you haven't had a taste.
So now is your chance to sample this comic that I LOVE-- and I say that without a penny of payola-- for free, so check it out!

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Harvey" at Level Ground Arts Theater in Dallas: Oh So Pleasant

"Good heavens, man! Haven't you any righteous indignation?"
"Oh, Doctor, years ago my mother used to say to me... 'In this world you can be oh, so smart, or oh, so pleasant.' For years I was smart. I recommend pleasant."
I have wanted to see Harvey, Mary Chase's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, since I was a child, but it's not a play that turns up very often. That's a sad thing because this is a beautiful play: the story of Elwood Dowd, a man who confounds his family because he insists that he is always accompanied by a gigantic invisible rabbit, Harvey is always able to bring me close to tears with the serene wisdom of its central character.
Elwood, played here by Dick Monday, is not actually insane, although his family at various times wants him committed, and he is not naive. What you have in Elwood is a man who has absorbed the bitter lessons of life and responded with an entire way-- a dao of Dowd, if you will-- that involves kindness towards everyone he encounters. Elwood is a brave character. He knows what people think of him. This is better. There is a central monologue where you get a glimpse of the inner workings of Elwood, who knows that the people he meets in bars need him as much as he needs his giant rabbit friend; they need him because they must tell someone of "the big, terrible things they have done, and the big, wonderful things they will do, all very large, because no one ever brings anything small into a bar."
Monday delivers these lines in a pitch-perfect performance in the same intimate theater space as a screwball cast rotates around him: Elwood's hyperventilating sister (played with 1950s fusssiness by Laura Jones), his conniving but ultimately lonely niece Myrtle May (my fellow UD alum  Audrey Ahern), a pair of would-lovers in denial (Megan Ruth Nieves and Robert Shores as nurse and doctor), Shawn Patrello as a renowned psychiatrist who just wants time to stop and maybe his own invisible rabbit, and clown (really! she's been a clown!) Tiffany Riley playing two different non-clown women, a stooped old socialite and a prim younger socialite who is instantly floored by the charm of Elwood.
You know what comes next after Harvey? The next production will be the holiday play Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. He's aided by a
That's the sort of thing you get at the Level Ground Arts Theater, a company founded by writer/director Bill Fountain, and it's clear that Fountain has a singular, almost quixotic vision. I said I wanted to see Harvey and hadn't had the chance-- and yet here it is. I've watched with something like wonder as LGA has brought us plays of Carnival of Souls (a harrowing, chilling production based on the 1962 cult film but transplanted to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, Metropolis (performed silent, to music), and even cult oddities like Manos, the Hands of Fate. The work of this playhouse is so approachable and yet utterly insane that it reminds me of Elwood, the friend of Harvey: Level Ground Arts begs to be followed because there are wistful visions and strange surprises here.
I forgot to mention: Fountain shows up in Harvey, too, in an almost-cameo as a cab driver who gets to drive home the lesson of the play with a few lines of dialogue, that sometimes the mad are worth listening to, and even following.
Harvey plays weekends Level Ground Arts Theater in Dallas until Saturday October 27. Make it a date. It is both smart and pleasant, a rare combination.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

BiblioJunkies' Shel on Triumph of Death: modern day Hardy Boys with high tech gadgets and vampires

We have a great new review of THE TRIUMPH OF DEATH from our old friends at Bibliojunkies. Shel writes:

This third installment of ALEX VAN HELSING has Alex and a mysterious new friend, Astrid, trying to stop the “Triumph of Death” a spell which would create darkness and allow vampires to essentially take over the world...
...
As with the rest of the series, The Triumph of Death was fast-paced action-adventure and completely irresistible.  Alex is such a lovable character and the world created by Henderson is so much fun.  Probably the most mature 14 year old I can think of Alex's adventures are great for all ages.  I've recommended this series to people from age 6 to adults in their 50s and 60s.  Whenever I recommend the AVH series to someone, I tell them to think of modern day Hardy Boys with high tech gadgets and vampires.
I know the book description says that this is the final installment in the series, but I really hope that isn’t so.  I would hate to say goodbye to Alex and friends!   I have been thinking all day that I cannot be the only person who thinks AVH would make a great movie or tv series...
Hardy Boys. See that? It's like she read my mind. That's what I really want to do here, adventure stories like I used to read. Personally, I love wide-open series like REACHER and Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta, and that was what I've tried to emulate-- a world where instead of one epic story for the characters, you have a set of characters who conceivably can go on forever.