Josh Frankel Launches Readers Into Any Number Of “Eccentric Orbits”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Hearkening back to the underground science fiction epics of everyone from George Metzger to Matt Howarth, to the more contemporary efforts of ambitious cartoonists like Joshua Cotter, Josh Frankel’s new self-published comics ‘zine (and that’s the right word — this is a magazine-sized publication that clocks in at 40 pages) Eccentric Orbits is nevertheless something new, different, and frankly pretty unique : a human-sized and often quite light-hearted and, dare I say it, fun take on tried and true genre tropes that draws you in immediately with the superb quality of its illustration and keeps your interest by dint of its strong characterization. Not that the art doesn’t stay great from start to finish, too, mind you, because it most assuredly does.

Frankel’s teenage protagonists, part of the crew of the ingeniously-named space station Indiscretion, are both entirely typical of kids their age and fully-fleshed-out individuals, and whether they’re being…

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The Odder End Of Odds And Ends : Jim Woodring’s “And Now, Sir – Is THIS Your Missing Gonad?”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

It’s always a tricky proposition to know what to say about Jim Woodring’s work simply because the depth and scope of his creative vision is both deeper and wider than the ability of mere language — even superlative-laden language — to keep up with. Which, yeah, is a roundabout way of saying that so much has been said about him already that there’s now much new to say — but then he comes out with a new book, and you figure that it would be a shame to ignore it just because you’re bound to say “it’s great, you should buy it.” So we’ll get that part out of the way first and see where things take us.

To that end, then : Woodring’s got a new book out from Fantagraphics, a handsome  hardcover segmented into color-coded and thematically-linked pseudo-chapters called And Now, Sir – Is THIS Your Missing Gonad?

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Music Video of the Day: You Don’t Know How It Feels by Tom Petty (1994, directed by Phil Joanu)

Believe it or not, this song was considered to be controversial when it was first released.  Even in 1994, there were apparently people shocked to discover that some musicians not only smoked weed but openly admitted it.  The song actually played on some radio stations with the words “roll’ and “joint” blanked out.  On MTV, the lyric was changed to “let’s hit another joint.”  I’m not sure how “let’s hit another joint” is somehow less pro-weed than “let’s roll another joint.”

This video was directed by Phil Joanou, who also did several videos for U2 and who directed the cult classic, Three O’Clock High.  The woman in the video is Raven Snow, who is apparently best known for appearing in several episodes of Red Shoe Diaries.  Remember Red Shoe Diaries?

I miss Tom Petty.  Don’t we all?

Mondo Double Feature : “Mondo Groovy Horrorshow” #1

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

If you read my review of Jeremy Rogers and C.J. Patterson’s Mondo Groovy issue one, you’ll recall that one of the things I appreciated most about that admittedly trashy — hell, deliberately trashy — comic was that it was totally un-pretentious and utterly lacking in both self-awareness, and awareness of the broader comics “scene” in general. And all of that goes double for its companion book, Mondo Groovy Horrorshow #1. And you kind of can’t help but tend to love this one, too.

Look, let’s be honest — normally a cartoonist has to be a fairly “known quantity” before they decide to try to monetize the contents of their old sketchbooks, but here’s Rogers, a fairly “unknown quantity” if ever there was one, doing it right the fuck now, before anybody has much of a clue who he is. Not because he seems particularly arrogant, mind you. Not because his…

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Mondo Double Feature : “Mondo Groovy” Issue One

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

So, yeah, my first thought when I got Mondo Groovy issue one — along with its companion comic, Mondo Groovy Horrorshow #1 — in the mail from cartoonist Jeremy Rogers was “these guys are trying too hard.” I mean, that title alone is just way too spot-on, right? You know this is probably going to be about a couple pothead dudes who are into trash cinema and don’t have much else going on. Maybe with a Fat Freddy’s Cat-type pet/sidekick thrown in for good measure.

And so it is. But here’s the thing : while it may, indeed, be every bit as obvious as it seems at first glance, and while it may be as all-over-the-map in terms of its effectiveness (or lack thereof) as any “gag humor” comic aimed squarely at the stoner crowd, it’s so damn unpretentious, and utterly lacking in fucks to give, that you can’t help…

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Music Video of the Day: Aeroplane by Red Hot Chili Peppers (1996, directed by Gavin Bowden)

A song about drug abuse that features a children’s chorus?

Not creepy at all!

Aeroplane makes a lot more sense if you know that it’s based on a traditional blues song called Jesus is my Areoplane.  In their version of the song, the Chili Peppers are saying that music has saved them and taken them to a higher plane of existence.  Whenever Anthony Kiedis struggled with his addictions and was tempted to turn to dust in his kitchen, it was music that kept him from destroying himself.  The original song was about people flying away with Jesus.  The Chili Peppers are flying away with songs like this one.  The Chili Peppers might be going to Hell but at least they got to make some music and shoot his video with a group of smoking hot models and synchronized swimmers.

The children’s chorus, which shows up at the end and changes the entire feel of the video, were reportedly all friends of Flea’s daughter.  Flea’s daughter is among the children singing.  At the end of the song, when you hear one girl outsinging all the rest with “You’re my areoplane!,” that’s her.


Two From Josh Simmons : “Ghouls”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Horror and humor are often a potent mix — as any fan of films like Frankenhooker or Street Trash can tell you (and, for the record, I’m “guilty” as charged on both counts) —but, more often than not, humor is the “senior partner,” if you will, in the pairing, largely because it’s easier to make someone laugh at atrocious shit than to show them how frightening the stuff we laugh at can actually be. A pure half-and-half serving of each is perhaps an even more rare thing to come by — and the challenge to create precisely that when you’re dealing with subject matter that delves into the existential ? Well, that’s a fairly stiff one indeed.

Still, it seems that’s the task Josh Simmons set for himself with his just-released mini Ghouls, a self-published series of single-panel cartoons that begins with an “abandon hope, all ye who enter…

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Two From Josh Simmons : “Micky”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

We’ve all been there — you’re sitting on a plane, or a train, or a bus, and some nosy asshole plunks down next to you and starts asking all sorts of invasive questions, most likely because they’re both bored and boring. After all, when you haven’t got much of a life yourself, then you become unnaturally interested in the lives of others. But what if the person who started nosing around in your business had motivations beyond merely alleviating the tedium of their existence?

That’s the premise behind Josh Simmons’ latest self-published mini (well, okay, it’s only a “mini” in terms of length — as far as its physical format goes, it’s magazine-sized and offset-printed) Micky, an intense short story that plays to its artist’s strengths as the small press scene’s most accomplished purveyor of visceral horror. But the visceral only hits home as anything beyond…

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Music Video of the Day: Hell In A Bucket by Grateful Dead (1987, directed by Len Dell’Amico)

I may be going to Hell in a bucket but at least I’m enjoying the ride

The members of the Grateful Dead didn’t do many music videos.  I think Hell In A Bucket was their second video, following the surprise hit that they had with A Touch of Grey.  From what I’ve read, it was the band’s record label that insisted that the band make some videos to help promote their 12th studio album, In the Dark.  Some members of the band were concerned that agreeing to do music videos would mean that they were “selling out.”

The video for Hell In A Bucket feels like it could be a parody of the type of videos that were popular on MTV.  With his Miami Vice-Style outfit and the way he mugs for the camera, Bob Weir almost seems like he could be Huey Lewis’s coked-out older brother.  The video opens in a biker bar, populated with the type of rough characters who most bands would never dream of featuring in a video.  While Jerry Garcia keeps his distance, Bob Weir sings a song of rock and roll decadence that seems to be saying, “This is what it’s all really about.”

No, I don’t know why there’s a duck at the bar.  It’s just there.  Jerry daughter’s Trixie is also in the video.  She plays one of the dancing devils.



Val’s Mini-Post: A Jump In The Kiddie Pool With 365 Days (2020, dir. Barbara Bialowas & Tomasz Mandes)

Considering I am not on TikTok I of course heard about that challenge to watch the first scene of Gaspar Noé’s self-important, wish-fulfillment film called Love (2015). Fortunately, I had already subjected myself to that movie back in 2015. Unfortunately, that challenge apparently started with some Polish movie I had never heard of before called 365 Days. At the time of writing this post, this is the plot summary on IMDb for it:

Massimo is a member of the Sicilian Mafia family and Laura is a sales director. She does not expect that on a trip to Sicily trying to save her relationship, Massimo will kidnap her and give her 365 days to fall in love with him.

As no one will remember, when Fifty Shades Of Grey (2015) came out I tweeted that it sounded like it was a film for kids to watch during a sleepover so they can think they saw something. It turned out to be accurate. The plot summary above for 365 Days made me think the same thing, so of course I watched it. Don’t judge me. The previous three movies I watched were DDR With Joey King (The Kissing Booth 2), Basically Lego Power Rangers (The Lego Ninjago Movie), and Late Night Cable With 90’s 3D Graphics (Virtual Girl). I already know I have bad taste. So what did I think of it?

It’s not worth your time unless you are a kid who is looking for a movie that will make you think you saw something salacious. Go figure that it’s the same thing I said about Fifty Shades Of Grey. It’s almost like I mentioned that for a reason.

To add a little depth, it’s a pale imitation of something I could see Italian director Lina Wertmüller doing back in the 70s or 80s but with some modern, stylish set design and cinematography added on to it. Specifically, I’m thinking of Wertmüller’s Swept Away (1974)

Swept Away (1974)

and Summer Night With Greek Profile, Almond Eyes And Scent Of Basil (1986).

Summer Night With Greek Profile, Almond Eyes And Scent Of Basil (1986)

And that’s me being very, very kind.

Here’s a couple screenshots that people have included on IMDb for obvious reasons. They get across what it’s like to watch this movie.

We meet again Joey King.

Summer ’03 (2018, dir. Becca Gleason)

It’s an image that is so taboo that it is quickly undercut by the poster for a coming-of-age movie with Joey King. It’s one of the many teases without any substance behind it that you’ll find in this film.

Yes, I’m aware it’s also similar to the poster for Lolita 2000 (1998). You don’t need to remind me.

You might think that he is going to tame her like that lion back there. But like almost all of the sex stuff in this movie, it’s over very quickly and/or goes nowhere like the scene pictured above. Another woman shows up on the other side of the room, she appears to be kissing his knee over and over instead of centering herself, he approaches the kidnapped lady, and then decides against doing anything.

The only scene I remember being complete was a blow job he gets on an airplane from someone else to establish that he takes what he wants. That’s why aside from kidnapping her, he doesn’t really take what he wants in this movie. He nudges her in various ways to try and convince her to give it to him. Character development? I think it was their way of pretending as if she had at least as much choice as Beauty/Belle in Beauty And The Beast, which greatly varies depending on the film version you watch.

This is one of those erotica movies that if you haven’t seen something like it, or something more interesting, then it will still wash on by you without leaving much of an impression. It looks stylish. It’s well-shot. It tries to have some sort of forbidden plot-line to entice you into watching it and others into getting worked up about it. That’s about it!

I wish I had more to say, but I don’t think I should be recommending anything more along these lines–you can find those yourself. It’s also so forgettable that I’m losing memories of it as I type. I don’t think I can even say that it’s worth taking the time to riff. Skip it.