Max Clotfelter’s “Rat Tactics” : Rush To Get These Rush Jobs

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

What can you get done in four hours? Clean the house? File your taxes? Re-arrange your bookshelves? Work half your shift?

Max Clotfelter can crank out some pretty damn cool comic strips, and he’s been doing so for five years as part of Seattle’s monthly Dune meet-up/comics “jam,” a regular ritual that challenges cartoonists to literally write and draw “whatever comes to mind.”

Clotfelter’s always been wildly inventive, of course, creating comics that bridge the stylistic and thematic gap from old-school undergrounds to present-day “aht comics,” but perusing the contents of his recently-released Rat Tactics ‘zine shows something of a hitherto-unremarked-upon (as far as I know, at any rate) evolution in his work, albeit in severely, wondrously truncated form : the yarns at the start, dating back to 2012, are rough-hewn affairs with little by way of concern for even storytelling basics, much less actual narrative, pesky little concerns…

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Cole Johnson Takes You Deep Into The Mind Of “The Cartoonist”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

You read a headline like that and most likely think, naturally enough, “okay, but which cartoonist?” And then you probably realize, just as quickly, “oh, duh — himself, of course!” Congratulations on being exactly right.

We’ve talked about Cole Johnson’s self-published minis a couple of times here before, and my earnest hope is that we’ll be able to continue to do so for a long time to come, because this is an artist who has staked out a territory all his own by simply doing the kinds of things he does better than anyone else. Longing for times, friends, lovers gone; restlessness of the heart and mind; the transposing of unfocused affection onto life’s “little things”; ennui of the body and spirit — these are all something more than themes “within his wheelhouse,” they are his raison d’etre; his animating passion; his alpha, omega, and all points between. And nowhere…

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(I’m A) King “B”: RIP Dick Miller

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Dick Miller in ‘Rock All Night’

If you’re a Roger Corman fan, you know Dick Miller . If you enjoy the films of Joe Dante, you know Dick Miller. Hell, if you’ve watched movies for the past sixty years, you know Dick Miller, maybe not by name, but certainly by sight. Dick Miller, who passed away yesterday at the age of 90, was one of those character actors who elevated everything he did, even the schlockiest of schlock. He’s in some of my favorite films, never a big star but always a welcome presence, and the ultimate Familiar Face.

Miller was born in the Bronx on Christmas Day 1928 and caught the show biz bug early. By age 8 he was working as a “boy singer” in the Catskills, and as a teen he worked in various stock companies, doing everything from acting to painting scenery. After a hitch in…

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Lisa’s way, way, way, way, way too early Oscar predictions for January

Attempting, in January, to predict what will be nominated for an Oscar next year is a largely pointless exercise but it’s one that I do every year.  What can I say?  I like the Oscars.  I like rituals.  And I like making lists.

But seriously, don’t take these predictions too seriously.  For the most part, they’re based on wild guesses and familiar names.  For instance, The Irishman is listed because it’s a Scorsese film but that didn’t really help out Silence.  Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is listed because it’s a Tarantino film.  Tom Hanks is listed because …. well, he’s Tom Hanks.  Late Night and The Report are listed because of the excitement they generated at Sundance but Sundance hype doesn’t always last for a full 12 months.  I’d love to see Amy Adams finally win an Oscar for The Woman In The Window but, to be honest, I couldn’t visualize anyone other than Naomi Watts in the lead role when I read the novel.

At this time last year, no one had heard of Green Book.  Bohemian Rhapsody looked like it might just end up going straight to HBO.  No one suspected Black Panther would be the first comic book movie to be nominated for best picture.  Richard E. Grant was on no one’s radar and anyone who says they thought Roma and The Favourite would be the most nominated films of the year is a damn liar.  It’s too early to make any sort of real guess about what will be nominated next year.

However, it’s never too early to make some cray, wild guesses!

Here are my way, way, way, way, way too early Oscar predictions for January.  Some day, perhaps tomorrow, we’ll look back at these predictions and laugh.  And then I’ll cry because it’s never fun when people laugh at you….

Best Picture

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Call of the Wild

The Irishman

Late Night

Little Women

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

The Report

Toy Story 4

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

The Woman in the Window

Best Director

Nisha Ganatra for Late Night

Greta Gerwig for Little Women

Martin Scorsese for The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Joe Wright for The Woman In The Window

Best Actor

Robert De Niro in The Irishman

Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker

Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Actress

Amy Adams in The Woman In The Window

Annette Bening in The Report

Cate Blanchett in Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Saoirse Ronan in Little Women

Emma Thompson in Late Night

Best Supporting Actor

Harrison Ford in Call of the Wild

Damon Herriman in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Sir Ian McKellen in Cats

Al Pacino in The Irishman

Wyatt Russell in The Woman In The Window

Best Supporting Actress

Dame Judi Dench in Cats

Laura Dern in Little Women

Nicole Kidman in The Goldfinch

Anna Paquin in The Irishman

Margot Robbie in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

In Memory of Dick Miller

Dick Miller in Rock All Night

Dick Miller, the legendary character actor who appeared in everything from Apache Woman to Gremlins to The Terminator, has died.  He was 90 years old.

Dick Miller started his career in the 1950s and he was still working in 2018.  If you’ve watched more than a dozen of movies over the course of your life, chances are that you’ve seen Dick Miller.  Maybe you saw him as the friendly flower eater in the original Little Shop of Horrors or perhaps you’ve come across Bucket of Blood, in which he played the homicidal artist, Walter Paisley.  If you’re a fan of Martin Scorsese’s, you may have seen Miller in either After Hours or New York, New York.  Director Joe Dante loved Dick Miller and found a role for him in almost all of his films.  In The Howling, he explained how to kill werewolves.  In Gremlins, he provided comic relief.  In Piranha, he refused to surrender to a bunch of carnivorous fish.

Dick Miller in The Terminator

But that’s not all.  According to the imdb, Dick Miller had 182 acting credits.  He played mobsters and he played cops.  He played gamblers.  He played bartenders and prohibitionists.  In his debut film, Apache Woman, he played both an Indian and a cowboy.  In Executive Action, he shot JFK.  In honor of his first starring role, he played a lot of different characters named Walter Paisley.  In Chopping Mall, he was killed by security robots.  In The Terminator, he was shot by Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Quentin Tarantino claimed that his performances in Grindhouse were meant to be a tribute to Dick Miller.  One wonders how Miller would have reacted to that as he wasn’t reportedly wasn’t particularly happy when Tarantino left performance in Pulp Fiction on the cutting room floor.

(Miller discussed his feeling about Pulp Fiction and Tarantino in an interview he did with the AV Club.)


Dick Miller had one of those faces that you couldn’t forget.  It was a face that worked just as well for comedy as it did for drama.  Miller was originally from the Bronx and some of his best performances epitomized the type of tough, no bullshit, blue-collar worldview that we tend to associate with New York City.  One look at Miller and it was easy to imagine him driving a cab and complaining about the Yankees.  At the same time, Miller was just as believable when cast as a Nevada sheriff in Far From Home or as a Pennsylvania high school teacher in All The Right Moves.  Dick Miller just had it, whatever it may be.  When he appeared onscreen, you believed in him.  No matter who he was playing, he was real.  He was just one of those actors.

After Hours

There was always something comforting about seeing Dick Miller in a movie.  Miller appeared in his share of bad movies but he was always good.  More importantly, you always knew he was going to be good.  As soon as he appeared onscreen, you know that he was either going to elevate a bad film or make a good one even better.

From what I’ve read and heard, Dick Miller was a genuinely humble man who appreciated his fans and whose talent went hand-in-hand with his generosity of spirit.  The world of film is going to be a little bit sadder without his presence.  The Academy damn well better remember him at this year’s Oscars.  Dick Miller’s long career represented everything that there is to love about the movies.

Dick Miller, RIP

The Howling

4 Shots From 4 Films: Basquiat, Love is the Devil, Mr. Turner, At Eternity’s Gate

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today is Inspire Your Heart With Art Day!

Listen, it’s a real holiday.  It’s listed on Checkiday and everything.  I don’t know who originally decided that January 31st would always be Inspire Your Heart With Art Day.  I don’t know how long the holiday has been celebrated.  But what does it matter, really?  Allowing art to inspire your emotions and strengthen your heart is something that deserves to be celebrated every day!

So, with that in mind, here are 4 Shots From 4 Films, that all have one thing in common.  They deal with artists!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Basquiat (1996, dir by Julian Schnabel)

Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998, dir by John Maybury)

Mr. Turner (2014, dir by Mike Leigh)

At Eternity’s Gate (2018, dir by Julian Schnabel)

Music Video of the Day: Wake Up by Hilary Duff (2005, dir by Marc Webb)

When I think back to 2005, it sometimes seems as if every single song released that year was about how difficult it was to be a rich former Disney star.  I know that, technically, that’s just a trick of my memory and there was a wide variety of songs released that year.  But, if you mention 2005 to me, my automatic reaction is going to be to start singing, “People talking …. talking about me …. they think they know me …. they don’t know me….”  Again, that’s not from any specific song.  It just seems that 2005 was the year when everyone was singing about people talking about them.

Then again, I might just be thinking about Hilary Duff’s Wake Up.  Wake Up was promoted as showcasing a totally new sound for the former Lizzie McGuire.  Of course, it really didn’t but I still like the song.  It’s almost a guilty pleasure, to be honest.  I know it’s not exactly a great song but it certainly gets stuck in your head and the lyrics are shallow enough that it’s easy to relate to them.

The video features Hilary going to parties around the world and having a good time.  Basically, the video is shouting, “She’s not just Lizzie McGuire anymore!”  The video was directed by Marc Webb, who later went on to direct the two Spider-Man films that nobody remembers.  He also directed Gifted, which is a film that left me cold but which is loved by a lot of other people.

One fun thing to do with this video is to turn down Hilary’s vocals and replace them with Rebecca Black singing Friday.  Seriously, it works!


Laura Lannes’ “John, Dear” : The Most Subtle Traps Are The Most Insidious

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

“There is nothing in the dark that isn’t there when the lights are on.”

So Rod Serling told us, at any rate, but there’s simply no convincing the subconscious mind of that, is there? As a result, darkness, through no fault of its own, has become the go-to metaphor for negativity, depression, evil, you name it. Difficult or challenging times in life are “dark” times. The historical era dominated by superstition and anti-intellectualism is referred to as the “Dark Ages.” Encroaching despair is the “darkness closing in on us.”

It’s primal. It’s instinctive. Our rational minds know that it makes no sense, but nevertheless — darkness isn’t just symbolic of fear, it’s symbolic of all fear, of the fear. The fear of losing ourselves into all-encompassing, all-devouring nothingness.

Laura Lannes understands this more intuitively than any cartoonist working today, and I say that without a moment’s hesitation. Her strips in…

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A Love Letter to STAN & OLLIE (Sony Pictures Classics 2018)

cracked rear viewer

I told you Dear Readers I was going to see STAN & OLLIE when it came to my area, and last Saturday night I did just that. Taking the 22 mile trip down the highway to Swansea, MA to catch the 9:40 showing, I have good news and bad news. The good: STAN & OLLIE is one of the best Hollywood biopic I’ve ever seen, a loving tribute to the classic comedy duo. The bad: well, I’ll get to that a bit later.

The film follows Laurel and Hardy as they embark on a 1953 tour of the UK. The duo is older, in need of money, and Stan is working on obtaining funding for their screen comeback – an adaptation of the Robin Hood legend. Ollie is in poor physical condition due to his massive weight gain, but Stan has persuaded him to do the tour. They’re booked into…

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