“There’s No Infrastructure To Support These Artists, And I Want To Do My Best To Remedy That” : Four Color Apocalypse Talks To Sean Knickerbocker About His New Anthology Project, “Rust Belt Review”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Cartoonist Sean Knickerbocker — who, like yours truly, hails from Minneapolis — has long been concerned with narratives that focus on the socially and economically marginalized and dispossessed, telling authentic stories about the forgotten people of “flyover country.” Now, he’s both sharpening and expanding his focus simultaneously with his recently-launched anthology series, Rust Belt Review. Sean was kind enough to answer some of my questions about this new project , and our conversation is presented here along with sample pages from the first issue by, respectively, Caleb Orecchio, Audra Stang, and Knickerbocker himself.

Four Color Apocalypse : What made you decide that now was the time to attempt to launch a new anthology, and what unique editorial sensibilities do you bring to the project that you think aren’t present and accounted for in other anthologies at the moment?

Sean Knickerbocker : The pandemic definitely pushed me in this direction. Since…

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The TSL’s Grindhouse: Schizoid (dir by David Paulsen)

The 1980 film, Schizoid, is all about the things you can do with scissors.

For instance, in the days before email, text messages, and social media, scissors could be used to cut words out of a magazines.  Those words could then be carefully pasted onto construction paper and then sent to an advice columnist like Julie Caffret (Marianna Hill).  Julie is pretty upset when she starts getting the notes, largely because they promise an anonymous reign of terror and murder.  The police, however, say that the notes probably don’t meant anything.  They’re probably just a hoax.  I mean, it’s true that several members of Julie’s therapy group have recently been murdered but the letters all talk about committing murder with a gun.  Whereas the members of the therapy group are being murdered by someone wielding …. SCISSORS!  (Cue that dramatic music.)

Of course, Julie has other things to worry about.  For instance, her ex-husband, Doug (Craig Wasson), is still in her life.  He’s putting up wallpaper in her office.  Or, at least, that’s what he says he’s doing.  It’s hard not to notice that he doesn’t seem to be making much progress with the job.  Plus, he apparently sleeps in the office, which just seems odd.  Then, there’s the building’s creepy maintenance man, Gilbert (Christopher Lloyd), who specializes in making people uncomfortable on elevators.  And then there’s the fact that Julie’s therapist, is played by Klaus Kinski!

Seriously, if you were looking for a therapist, would you go to Klaus Kinski?

From the minute Klaus shows up, it’s pretty obvious that the film wants us to assume that he’s the killer and really, it’s hard not to make that assumption.  We’re so used to seeing Klaus Kinski play evil and villainous characters and, even 30 years after his death, there are so many stories out there about how difficult Klaus Kinski could be to work with in real life that our natural reaction is to believe any character he plays must have a sinister motivation.  In this film, Klaus’s character has an out-of-control teenage daughter (Donna Wilkes) who tries to commit suicide by locking herself in the garage with a running car.  When Klaus takes an axe to the garage door, we’re left to seriously wonder if he’s planning on killing her or if he’s actually trying to save her life.  That said, Schizoid actually makes good use of Kinski’s menacing persona and Kinski himself gives a performance that elevates the entire film.  Kinski actually does manage to keep you guessing as to whether or not the therapist is a monster or if he’s just kind of a jerk.

Schizoid is usually classified as a slasher film, though it actually has more in common with the classic Italian giallo films that it does with any of the Friday the 13th sequels.  The killer’s identity is masked through POV shots and, in typical giallo fashion, the killer wears black gloves while committing his crimes.  We spend a good deal of the film following the police investigation, which is a typical element of the giallo genre but which is usually treated as an afterthought in post-Friday the 13th slasher films.  Much like Fulci’s The New York Ripper, Schizoid is a violent journey into the heart of darkness, a look at a world with no morality and no safety.  Also like Fulci’s film, it’s so shamelessly sleazy that it’s easy to miss the fact that it’s actually rather well-directed and acted.

Schizoid turned out to be a better film that I was expecting.  That said, I still have to wonder why anyone would select Klaus Kinski to be their therapist.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special David Cronenberg Edition

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

Today, the Shattered Lens wishes a happy birthday to one of the best and most influential directors of all time, Canada’s own David Cronenberg!  It’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 David Cronenberg Films

The Brood (1979, dir by David Cronenberg DP: Mark Irwin)

The Dead Zone (1983, dir. by David Cronenberg, DP: Mark Irwin)

The Fly (1986, dir. by David Cronenberg, DP: Mark Irwin)

Naked Lunch (1991, dir by David Cronenberg, DP:Peter Suschitzky)

Finally! Here Are The Oscar Nominations!

After a very, very long precursor season, here are the Oscar nominations!

I’ll have more to say about them later but, for now, I’d just like to point out that I was predicting Thomas Vinterberg would get a best director nomination back when most of the pundits were still insisting that Aaron Sorkin was a lock.

Best Picture
The Father
Judas And The Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial Of The Chicago 7

Best Director
Thomas Vinterberg – ​Another Round
David Fincher – Mank
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman

Best Actress
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day – The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces Of A Woman
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed – Sound Of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Gary Oldman – Mank
Steven Yeun – Minari

​Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman – The Father
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Youn Yuh-jung – Minari

Best Supporting Actor
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial Of The Chicago 7
Daniel Kaluuya – Judas And The Black Messiah
Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night In Miami
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal
LaKeith Stanfield –  Judas And The Black Messiah

Best Original Screenplay
Judas And The Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound Of Metal
The Trial Of The Chicago 7

Best Adapted Screenplay
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The Father
One Night In Miami
The White Tiger

Best Animated Feature
Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Best Documentary Feature
Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher

Best International Feature
​Another Round
Better Days
The Man Who Sold His Skin
Quo Vadis, Aida?

Best Cinematography
Judas And The Black Messiah
News of the World
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Costume Design
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Film Editing
The Father
Promising Young Woman
Sound Of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Hillbilly Elegy
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Production Design
The Father
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
News of the World

Best Sound
News of the World
Sound of Metal

Best Visual Effects
Love And Monsters
The Midnight Sky
The One And Only Ivan

Best Original Score
Da 5 Bloods
News of the World

Best Original Song
Judas and the Black Messiah – “Fight for You”
The Trial of the Chicago 7 – “Hear My Voice”
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – “Husavik (My Hometown)”
The Life Ahead – “Seen”
​One Night in Miami – “Speak Now”

Best Animated Short
Genius Loci
If Anything Happens I Love You
Yes People

Best Documentary Short
A Concerto Is a Conversation
Do Not Split
Hunger Ward
A Love Song for Latasha

Best Live-Action Short
Feeling Through
The Letter Room
The Present
Two Distant Strangers
White Eye

Artwork of the Day: Love Life of a Hollywood Mistress (artist unknown)

Artist Unknown

Lisa asked me to pick something about Hollywood for today’s artwork of the day and there’s nothing more Hollywood than this!  The book is even illustrated.  Is the life of a Hollywood mistress as exciting as the life of a Reno tramp?  I guess Florence Stronebraker was the one to ask.

This book is from 1950.  Sadly, the artist is unknown.

Music Video of the Day: What Have I Done To Deserve This? by Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield (1987, directed by Eric Watson)

“Someone who’s in this relationship that they know they shouldn’t be in. It’s this dysfunctional relationship, and they don’t have the strength to get out. And ‘what have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?’ – there’s a real sense that they shouldn’t be there, but they’re basically a slave to this obsessive love. It’s one of the few songs of mine that is about that but doesn’t turn itself around and go, ‘I’m leaving here, screw you, go make someone else miserable.’ Usually I don’t just leave it at ‘what have I done to deserve this,’ but it felt right for the group, so that’s what it was.”

— Allee Willis, co-writer of What Have I Done To Deserve This?

Though this song may be out a toxic relationship, I always think of it as being about the showgirl taking off her glasses before going out to dance on stage.  That’s the power of a good music video.

This video was directed by Eric Watson, who spent most of his music video career working with Pet Shop Boys, though he also did videos for Samantha Fox, Rod Stewart, and Debbie Harry.