Seeing doppel
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Seeing doppelFeb 18, 2015

Umlauts!

We experienced… The Marvel ExperienceFeb 17, 2015


Last week Darlene and I had the opportunity to check out The Marvel Experience at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. It’s on tour across the U.S. and will be here locally through Sunday, March 1.


It’s a self-contained, interactive attraction — sort of like a miniature theme park meets video game meets hands-on museum… and a gigantic house ad for Marvel’s movie and TV properties.


The gist is that Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Samuel L. Jackson-style, not David Hasselhoff-style) needs help to battle the crime organization Hydra. So we “new recruits” are issued I.D. cards and sent through a crash-course basic training regimen.


“Recruits” are ushered into one of many connected domes. Within, we receive our training (flying in Iron Man’s armor, running a laser maze designed for the Black Widow, shooting at various Hydra adaptoid robots, Spider-Man wall-climbing, etc.) via interactive video games (think first-person shooters or Dance Dance Revolution-style arcade gaming) or hands-on equipment. Joining the aforementioned Marvel characters, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Wolverine, Black Panther, Iron Fist, Vision and She-Hulk are prominently featured on video screens at each exhibit and instruct “recruits” on what tasks to complete.

Click image to experience his shame up close and personal!

Afterward, we’re led to a 360° 3D simularium which does a very good job of putting you within a video game. The plot thickens, Hydra makes their move. From there, you board an Avengers Quinjet to help the Avengers tackle a gigantic Hydra menace. This would be via a Star Tours-type VR ride and is considered the grand finale. From there you exit via the gift shop and you’ve just spent a good two hours of escapism.


My take on it is that the 10-year-old me would have had a complete blast. It’s clearly aimed at small fry and there’s enough there to keep parents and older Marvel fans entertained. But make no mistake: this is absolutely geared toward youngsters. The jokes and dialogue are corny, the interactivity of the main Recruit Training Center will keeps kids occupied and excited, and the Quinjet ride will hit them with plenty of shock and awe.


As a critique, Darlene and I were disappointed there weren’t more female characters represented in the interactivity dome. When it came time to Customize a Costume or try your skill at one of the exhibits, there was only one female choice (Black Widow) for the girls. Now, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill, sentient robot Jocasta (seen above) and Bruce Banner’s fun-loving cousin She-Hulk were also seen here and there on video screens, but that was about it. Research shows that girls make up about half of the comics-reading population. Marvel/Disney needs to be more inclusive in the future.

I also think the Marvel Experience could have been improved with the occasional cosplayer — in total character — dropping in to check out the “recruits” and give them some face-to-face encouragement (not to mention photo ops). I don’t think it would have been that big a deal to have a random Nick Fury, Hawkeye, Black Panther or She-Hulk walk among the crowd on occasion. When Universal Studios (Los Angeles) had its Marvel attractions and restaurant in the late 1990s, you could talk with Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine or Storm… and I think that went a long way to keeping the adults entertained while the younger set would gush and geek out. (Full disclosure: I gushed and geeked out when Captain America deputized my friend Burns and me as Avengers back in 1998. And I was pushing 30.)

Official info for The Marvel Experience here.

Disclaimer: I was invited to check out The Marvel Experience. My tickets were complimentary and I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own. A-doy.

Reno Comic Con Photo Recap!Nov 30, 2014


So Reno had its first comic con (it should be christened “The Biggest Little Comic Con in the World”) and it was terrific! Darlene stayed in San Diego so I flew solo (actually, I drove, which is always a preferred option as I can bring more books and t-shirts to sell). I was surprised — and a little humbled — that so many attendees remembered Cool Jerk from its days in the Reno Gazette-Journal (1991-1996) and even its original incarnation “Like, For Shore!” when it ran in the UNR Sagebrush (1987-1990). One attendee told me that whenever a new Sagebrush came out, he always went straight to the comics and always read “Like, For Shore!” first. That was awesome to hear.

So I sold t-shirts, canvas panels and many books, almost running out of Cool Jerk Vol. 2: Chickadoowa. I caught up with fellow cartoonist from college days, Brian Foote, and that alone nearly made the trip worthwhile. Well, I could bore you with all this stuff but instead, let’s go to the photo-recap!


I’ll start with my stop at the Reno Nugget for one of their Awful Awfuls. This was the night before the convention, and who should I see in line ahead of me…?


THIS guy! Dude, cosplay officially starts in 12 hours! Trust me from experience: Don’t freak out the locals! (This is Stephen Thompson, a Renoite who should know better than to wander downtown as a Borg-assimilated Shakespearean actor.)


One of the first — and best — cosplayers I saw on Friday was this gal dressed as Belle, who roadtripped from Virginia (!) just for this show!


And I’ve seen plenty of Green Lanterns in my day, but I think this might be the first Guy Gardner. Bravo, tough guy!


Lots of cosplayers in the couples category. Let’s start with Angela and Spawn


Here’s Popeye and Olive


Mordecai and Rigby


Beast Boy and Raven


Spidey and Mary Jane Watson


Here’s the PowerPuff Family (?)…


And here’s one of the best: Batgirl in her new “Burnside” outfit (complete with snap-on cape and respectable combat boots)!


More costumes to come, but here’s where I’ll show you a 3-minute Sharpie™ sketch of Daryl from “The Walking Dead.” Norman Reedus was one of the many special celebrity guests in attendance. This was for the daughter of a long-time Cool Jerk reader and friend Will Bento.


Here’s the top part of my first-ever convention-exclusive print. Can’t show you the whole thing because, you know, secret punch line. They went pretty fast but I still have about 8-10 left. Buzz me if you’d like to buy one! $15 signed, and that includes shipping and sales tax.


Meet Robert Harris. He’s not only been a longtime Cool Jerk reader, but also remembered a bunch of storylines from old “Like, For Shore!” strips (like when I had Rocket and Sunset rent out their guest rooms to Britpop New Wave quartet Fuzzbox). Plus, he also “guest-wrote” one particular Cool Jerk strip from 2007. It was awesome to finally meet him in person and save him a bunch of postage and sales tax when he bought up a stack of goods. Thanks again, Robert!


Here’s my bro Justin Orr, who was the only other exhibitor I knew (we met at WonderCon a bunch of years ago, when he was my next-door table neighbor). I always look forward to visiting with him and talk about influences, from Frank Frazetta to Charles Harper. He hails from the Bay Area and I recommend his art highly.


Back to the sights! Here’s Deadpool and Alien vs. Thor… (Deadpool was the brother of my next-door table neighbor, author Cynthia Vespia)


Here’s Black Cat

Click to get right up in there!

…and slumber party variant of Harley Quinn. One of my favorite cosplayers at Reno Comic Con — take a look at her expression. SHE WAS REALLY INTO IT.


This gal built a FREAKIN’ TARDIS out of wood and rolled around the convention floor while inside. She got Karen Gillan (also a special guest) to climb in and autograph it.

And to wrap things up, on the last day, Ted Raimi stopped by the table to say hi.

In all, it was a terrific show and a great turn out… especially for Reno. I’m already looking forward to next year (also the third weekend in November). Thanks again to the Wizard World crew for making this happen!

Reno Comic Con— I know, right??Nov 16, 2014

I never thought I’d see the day, but my old stomping grounds (and the birthplace of Cool Jerk and Doc Splatter) is hosting its very own comic convention this week.

Reno Comic Con — part of a series of conventions put on by Wizard World — will mark its debut in the Truckee Meadows this Friday through Sunday, Nov. 21-23. I’ve been given the status of “Special Guest” so that means I can show up drunk and take anything I want from other people’s tables. Crazy, right? Home team has its privileges!

Last time I had a book signing in Reno was 2011, and since then I’ve released Cool Jerk Vol. 4: Thinkulus. So all of you completionists will certainly need to swing by my table to pick one up! Further, I’ll have all sorts of Cool Jerk effluvia you’d expect to see at a comic-con, such as Canvas Panels, t-shirts, sketchbooks, posters, buttons, stickers and my ever-grinnin’ mug. All items are going to be discounted so THIS IS DEFINITELY THE TIME TO SHOP! Nevada sales tax? I got your back— it’s all part of the price!

Click it to expand-a-size it!


Need some help getting there? Here’s a locator I whipped up while simultaneously placing an order at Port of Subs.

So bring your Christmas shopping list and some folding money (I also take credit cards) and come by the Cool Jerk outpost C-41 in Artists Alley, on the far right side of Hall 2. I expect to see a bunch of friendly, familiar faces… hope yours is one of them!

SHOW HOURS
Friday, Nov. 21: 3pm-8pm
Saturday, Nov. 22: 10am-7pm
Sunday, Nov. 23: 11am-5pm

DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 31: “Willow Creek” (2014)Oct 31, 2014

Not the sequel to "Willow" (1988).

I was duped.

Reviews on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes made “Willow Creek” (2014) sound like the Citizen Kane of found-footage sasquatch movies. “‘Willow Creek?’ More like ‘Scary and the Hendersons!’” “From celebrated director Bobcat Goldthwait…” etc. Sounded like the perfect movie to wrap up DOCtoberFest 2014, so I rented it (Amazon) and watched it with Mrs. Doc Splatter and two Splatter Cadets James Not Jackson and Mrs. James Not Jackson.

It started out with some promise. A filmmaking boyfriend and his good-natured girlfriend drive up to Trinity National Forest and start interviewing locals in and around Willow Creek about the Patterson-Gimlin sasquatch film from 1967 and I’m such a bigfoot nerd/phobe that I didn’t even need to fact check any of this sentence. But if you’re looking for tense, edge-of-your-seat thrills and frights, you’re better off with “The Blair Witch Project.” Why? Because this scene wasn’t in “Blair Witch.”

For fuck's sake PLEASE LEAVE THE TENT AND INVESTIGATE!

Here’s Jim and Kelly listening to something outside their tent. Not very captivating, right? Well, amplify that by 20 MINUTES. That’s how long the four of us sat, watching them in their goddamned tent, in one long, unbroken shot. The Jackson cadets were imploring them to leave the tent and get killed by sasquatch TO PUT US OUT OF OUR MISERY.

Do we get a sasquatch attack? Not really. Do Jim and Kelly meet a grisly end? I think that’s implied. Will I ever go camping? Not on your life.

This movie had the potential for an A or a B+, but The Doc has to give it a D for lack of payoff and pissing off the entire audience. Available via Amazon rental.

This has been DOCtoberFest 2014. Thanks for reading, commenting and suggesting movies to watch. I hope you enjoyed yourself and hope you have a terrif* Halloween!

(*short for both “terrific” and “terrifying”).

DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 30: “Carrie” (2013)Oct 30, 2014

Adding to the pile of “needless and inferior remakes” goes “Carrie” (2013), starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Carrie White and Julianne Moore as her über-religious nutbar of a mother.

As remakes go, this one brings high production values and CGI to the table, along with a decent role for Julianne Moore. That being said, the rest of the movie is a by-the-numbers remake of the 1976 classic, complete with topical elements like iPhones to make it “relevant and timely for Millennials and the era of cyberbullying.” That’s all well and good, but the remake remains inferior to the original in most every aspect. In fact, I decided to do a quick side-by-side comparison of the infamous prom scene:

Click it to live large

So many other reasons why this can’t hold a candle to the original, not the least of which is the original’s grand finale “arm grab” scene. You know the one I’m talking about— the one that made you cry for your mama.

The Doc gives the “Carrie” remake a D+. Available on Netflix among other places.

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