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Book Signing at Night Flight Comics (SLC)!

Hey, kids— I’ll be having a book signing at Night Flight Comics, Salt Lake City, on Wed. May 27! Like my library book “The Bigfoot Casebook,” it’s long overdue. I’ve known store owner Mimi Cruz for several years and when I found myself driving to/from Denver Comic Con, I had to make it a point to stop by for a few hours!

I admit, there may not be much familiarity with Cool Jerk up there in SLC, so I’m sweetening the experience. I’m giving away a FREE copy of Cool Jerk vol. 1: Hodabeast to the first 25 people to come by my table and LIKE! Cool Jerk on Facebook and/or sign up for my emailer.

Here’s a poster with all the info you could ever possibly need (except a map).

Click it to get the deets!

Here’s a map I whipped up while you were checking out the poster.

Many thanks to Night Flight Comics (and the staff) for hosting me for a few hours. Be sure to come by from 11am-3pm, get a free Hodabeast and help fund my drive back to San Diego by buying some of my other books!


Denver Comic Con — fourth time’s a charm!

Because they can’t keep me away, Cool Jerk will again be exhibiting at Denver Comic Con this weekend, Saturday-Memorial Day Monday (May 23-25). This marks the fourth year in a row for both Denver Comic Con and my exhibiting there!

I’m driving out this time, so the Cool Jerk All-Terrain Assault Vehicle™ will be loaded with things not normally seen in Denver, like Cool Jerk T-shirts and original art! Expect crowd-pleasers like my canvas panels, buttons, stickers and enough Cool Jerk and Doc Splatter books to prevent the usual sell-out. My sketches are always free so don’t forget your sketchbook!


Here’s a map I whipped up. Come find me at C25 in Artists Valley!

Denver Comic Con consistently amazes me with its collective passion and enthusiasm for comics and pop culture. I hope to see you there!


We experienced… The Marvel Experience


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!


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??

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)

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)

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.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 29: “Night of the Demons” (2009)

You had me at "Monica Keena."

I think my stance on remakes should come to no surprise of even the most-casual reader of Doc Splatter’s movie reviews and Gore Score comics. Rob Zombie’s “Halloween,” last year’s “Fright Night” and any number of movies with “Texas Chainsaw” or “Body Snatchers” in the title should serve as examples of needless wasting of resources and diminishing returns.

That being said, there are remakes that bring a little somethin’-somethin’ to the party: John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” and even 1988’s “The Blob” all took 1950s drive-in thrillers, polished them up and made them all the better for it.

2009 (left) and 1988 (right)

I’m conflicted, because the “Night of the Demons” (2009) remake is both better and inferior to the classic 1988 splatterfest.

A quick primer for both movies: Goth hedonist Angela holds an epic Halloween party in a dilapidated mansion that serves as a portal for demons to possess the living and they pick off trapped partygoers one-by-one until the break of dawn and invariably there’s an awesome darkwave soundtrack, decent laughs, girl-on-girl makeouts, gruesome deaths and Suzanne shoves a lipstick into her boob (not a typo — trust me on that one).

One area where the remake succeeds over the original is the cast. Shannon Elizabeth (Angela) is joined by Monica Keena, Diora Baird, Edward Furlong and Bobbi Sue Luther. All are likable and bring something memorable and fun to the table; you actually kind of feel bad when they start to get their faces ripped off. In contrast, the original had only Linnea Quigley among a bunch of rookie actors and relative no-names.

On the other hand, the original had a certain charm about it, with its well-defined archetypes (the jock, the virgin, the tramp, the hood, the black dude, the cute couple, the bombastic jackass) and its sense of humor was complimented by its genuinely eerie and gory thrills.

While both have their share of good music (the original version uses one particular Bauhaus song to good effect), the remake’s soundtrack is second only to “The Return of the Living Dead” (1985).

Surprisingly decent, I would give it a recommendation and an A. Check it out on Hulu Plus.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 28: “Life After Beth” (2014)

I saw the trailer for “Life After Beth” (2014) earlier this year and thought it looked fun. I do heart me Aubrey Plaza, with her sanpaku eyes and her perpetual state of looking annoyed/disenfranchised, and figured she would be terrific in the role of a reanimated corpse. And I was right.

"I have to study for a test."

The gist: Beth Slocum dies on a solo nature hike and she’s mourned by her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon) and her estranged boyfriend Zach (Dane DeHaan) but a few days after her literal dirt nap, Beth is back, seemingly intact but maybe missing some recent memories. Not a big deal, except her folks have to keep her hidden from public. Because, you know, resurrected daughter. Zach and Beth get to spend some quality time saying and doing things Zach wish he had time for before Beth’s demise… which is really sweet and romantic and HEY WTF ISN’T THIS A ZOMBIE MOVIE OR WHAT??

Beth's downward spiral, seen here chained to her stove.

So yeah, things spiral out of control once Zach clues in Beth that she’s, well, dead. Not only does Beth begin to corrode physically and mentally but others start coming back from the dead. No one saw the “zombie apocalypse” coming… including me.

Zach tries to stop his brother from shooting Beth, who is still chained to the stove.

It’s surprisingly restrained on the gore, at least until the third reel. There are some really touching scenes, like Zach bonding with Mr. and Mrs. Slocum after Beth’s funeral, Mrs. Slocum feeding her own fingers to Beth because she’s a good mom, Zach’s final goodbye to Beth… good stuff. And the humor is pretty subtle and charming, too. “La-ven-derrrr”

Zach and Beth (plus her stove) finally take that hike together.

“Life After Beth” is the best rom-zom-com since 2004’s “Shaun of the Dead.” And before you argue that there haven’t been any rom-zom-coms since “Shaun of the Dead,” let me remind you of last year’s awful “Warm Bodies.”

Doc Splatter is pleased to give “Life After Beth” a hearty A+ and recommends it highly. Available for digital rental via Amazon and other vendors.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 27: “Fright Night” (2011)

(Click it to Brewster-size it!)


Not a review per se, but acknowledging “Fright Night” (2011) as another unnecessary remake of a classic. And hey, Internet research for panel 2!


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