Category: Music

With Further Ado #111: Wheatley’s The Witch of Everwhen

With Further Ado #111: Wheatley’s The Witch of Everwhen

Some people are just overflowing with talent, and when it spills over to other media, it’s a truly wondrous thing. Mark Wheatley is one of those people.  You may know him as an award-winning comics creator, a frequent exhibitor at San Diego Comic-Con & Baltimore Comic-Con, or as an industrious entrepreneur.  Knowing all those things about him, I was even more impressed when he told me about his newest project, a song & music video called The Witch of Everwhen.  Checkout the teaser trailer:

 

 

Wheatley is working out the details for the full-fledged Witch of Everwhen video debut. The announcement should be made soon, and you can keep up with it all here at the Mark Wheatley Gallery.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised because he’s created music videos before for previous projects like Dance with Your Brothers , Surrender and Earth’s Farewell.  But nonetheless, I had to find out more.

Ed Catto: This is a fascinating project – tell me how The Witch of Everwhen came about!

Mark Wheatley: I have been composing and recording music for as long as I have been writing and drawing comics professionally. In my early days looking for work in New York, while I was beating the pavement to show my portfolio to art directors and editors, I was also sending demo tapes to A&R reps at the various music companies. I was doing this right up until I landed my first monthly comic series, MARS.

The only musical “success” I had during that period was one of my tunes was picked for airplay on WNEW and one of their DJs was calling me to brainstorm how I would get more attention for my music. But when Marc Hempel and I signed our MARS contract [with First Comics], I decided that the time required to write and pencil a monthly comic was going to eat my life, and I stopped recording and sending out demo tapes. So, of course, two weeks after I signed the MARS contract Capitol Records offered me a three record deal, and I had to turn it down. A few months later, Columbia Records offered me a one record deal. Both of these offers would require me to also hit the road for live tours, so it was just impossible. After that, aside from recording some soundtrack music for radio and TV commercials, my musical efforts were limited to recording theme songs for my comic book creations. Continue reading “With Further Ado #111: Wheatley’s The Witch of Everwhen”

Weird Scenes #100: Black Like He?

Weird Scenes #100: Black Like He?

I miss the old Kanye, straight from the ‘Go Kanye / Chop up the soul Kanye, set on his goals Kanye / I hate the new Kanye, the bad mood Kanye / The always rude Kanye, spaz in the news Kanye / I miss the sweet Kanye, chop up the beats Kanye / I gotta to say at that time I’d like to meet Kanye – I Love Kanye, written by Kanye West, 2016.

You may have heard of Kanye Omari West. He is a very successful rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, and fashion designer… and now, he’s a presidential candidate.

When it comes to businessmen as presidential candidates, I will say this: he is far more qualified, experienced and successful then the current clown-in-chief, President Orangeface. But he’s probably no more qualified than, oh, let’s say, you are. Or either of my cats. I’m just playing the odds here.

Don’t matter none. Orangeface has set the presidential bar so low it doubles as a sewer pipe. Yeah, West has made it onto a couple state ballots and doubtlessly will do so in a couple more — mostly swing-states, and that is for a reason.

As it turns out, major Republican campaign operators have been “assisting” West’s efforts to become our next president. You’d think they would be working for the reelection of Orangeface. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #100: Black Like He?”

Brainiac On Banjo #093: “What the Hell Was That?”

Brainiac On Banjo #093: “What the Hell Was That?”

One day I feel so horny / Next night I feel so bleh / Guess well have to take the whoppee! / along with the bleh / Each night I ask the moon up above / Why must I be a septuagenerian in love? ––Tuli Kupferberg, “Septuagenerian in Love,” from The Fugs Final CD, Part 1, 2003.

Well, this is goddamned strange. Not at all what I expected.

It’s not that I’m big on birthday celebrations. I have a hard time remembering such events; it’s an often embarrassing failing. The only reason I remember my own is because I’ve renewed my driver’s license approximately 18 times, thereby making it a habit. Well, I’ve just put my new driver’s license in my wallet – which was kinda fun because I didn’t have to break quarantine to get it — so unless something terminal happens in the next 24 hours, I turn 70 tomorrow. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #093: “What the Hell Was That?””

Weird Scenes #95: Gee, They Were So Young

Weird Scenes #95: Gee, They Were So Young

Whatever gets you through your life ‘salright, ‘salright / Do it wrong or do it right ‘salright, ‘salright / Don’t need a watch to waste your time oh no, oh no — “Whatever Gets You Through The Night,” written by John Lennon, 1974.

When it comes to sorting Americans into tribes based upon political beliefs — and we are so desperate to divide up into tribes — if you are thinking along the lines of “well, those [whatever] usually tend to be [whichever tribe you like, such as young conservatives, young progressives, young Libertarians, or jocks]…, you are most certainly full of two things, one of which is yourself.

We hear a lot about Gen-Z being very politically active and very progressive. Of course that’s not completely so. Like all previous generations, the largest subgroup are those who just don’t give a damn. These kids are much more politically active than the previous two, but they seem to be motivated not as much by some old fart’s progressive agenda as they are by the philosophy “You are destroying my planet, and I’m the one who is supposed to live here in the future. Not you.” And… that’s fair.

The younger you are the more cynical you might be, but I am living proof that cynicism is most likely to be a permanent lifestyle. For one thing, it’s more fun. This is a good thing: it’s easier to fight the good fights if you allow yourself to appreciate your victories, keep a sense of humor about absolutely everything, and never think about Sisyphus. It’s good to remember the words of some Joker: “Why so serious? Let’s put a smile on that face!”

So it came as no surprise that when I watched Donald Trump’s two pep rallies earlier this week, I saw a whole lot of kids. Almost entirely White kids, but there always are a few non-White people are there, some of whom were hired just like the large group of cheering fans at Trump Tower when the Donald floated down his escalator-from-heaven back in 2015.

Granted, the second of these sessions was held at a college, so it’s not a great an indication of teen-age lack of death-perception as the first. But both had this in common with our recruitment policies for our military: the younger you are, the less likely you are to be aware and protective of your longevity. By and large, if you were, say, a 45-year-old carrying a bayonet, and you were ordered to assault that well-protected Hill 59, you might hesitate. Then your problem becomes getting out of the way of the 19-year-olds who are much less concerned about maintaining their personal franchise.

It is at the core of military training: your master says jump and do not think, you jump without a thought as to your own mortality. 19-year-olds, by and large, have yet to fully develop that sense. I did all kinds of dangerous shit back when I was 19. And 18, and 20. I look back and smile, but I’m not smiling about those stupid risks. I smile because I’m still around to look back at all that dangerous shit. My actions were, and still are, quite serious. My cause is quite serious. My attitude is more “Why so serious.” Whatever gets you through the night.

So we’ve got several thousand southwestern young’uns shoulder-to-shoulder, in weather-appropriate dress (the southwest in late June demands less clothing), jumping up and down and shouting and screaming and cheering and carrying on, maskless, as though they were at the Titanic of high school pep rallies. As the Jefferson Airplane said back in my day, “bless their pointed little heads.”

Many of them think Covid-19 does not affect them because they are not old. Well, dig this kids: when all this plague stuff started, some Black people believed they couldn’t get it either. It was a big deal — a very big deal, until some of them folks started dying. Well, die and learn. Now we know that younger people are merely less likely to come down with Covid-19 than us old people who have little to lose but our memories.

Well, that’s America for you. This nation of ours is your go-to place if you want to age out of your own tribe.

Besides, our planet was overcrowded about five billion live-births ago. Soylent Green does not have to be made out of old dead bodies. I’ll bet the young dead bodies taste better.

Brainiac On Banjo #080: Little Addictions

Brainiac On Banjo #080: Little Addictions

“Your nose may be bulbous, your face may be spotty / Your skin may be wrinkled and tight / But I don’t want to see you, the way that you are / So I turn off the living room light” – Ray Davies, When I Turn Off The Living Room Light

We all have our little addictions. Things we’ve done forever, habits that we would never consider breaking because they aren’t harmful and we’ve benefited from them. Nonetheless, they are addictions, and I say that without making value judgment.

You might be addicted to chocolate. Perhaps you’re into music — it’s almost always on whenever you’re in a place where you can control your environment. Maybe you are into comic books — hey, this is Pop Culture Squad, after all. If so, yeah, we’re going through a rough patch right now. Television? You don’t hear from those annoying snobs who proudly proclaim they “never watch television” while wearing a face that looks like somebody is holding a small turd under their noses.

Because I can multitask, I’m addicted to all of the above, and to barbecue as well. But I have an even stronger addiction, one that always has played a major role in defining who I am. I am addicted to the news. “Hi, my name is Mike, and I’m a news addict.” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #080: Little Addictions”

Spotlight Interview with Ian McGinty and Eliot Rahal, creators of the new OGN, Robot’s Tale

Spotlight Interview with Ian McGinty and Eliot Rahal, creators of the new OGN, Robot’s Tale

Hey folks!

Welcome back to another spotlight interview.

This time we bring you an interview that we did with comic creators Ian McGinty and Eliot Rahal. They are the creative team behind a brand new Original Graphic Novel called Robot’s Tale. It is based on the music of the band Dance Gavin Dance and being published by Z2 Comics.

Ian is an artist who has worked on the Invader Zim movie and done work for Boom! Studios on the Adventure Time comics and Bee and PuppyCat. He also illustrated Poppy‘s Graphic Novel Genesis 1 which was also published by Z2.

Eliot is writer of such comics as Hot Lunch Special and Midnight Vista from AfterShock comics. He has done a bunch of work with Valiant Comics and besides this Dance Gavin Dance book is currently working on Bleed Them Dry from Vault comics.

We had a great conversation about this crazy story that they are creating. The audio recording has a lot more organic conversation, but we transcribed some of the most important parts below.

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Pop Culture Squad: We are very excited about this book you are doing with Dance Gavin Dance called Robot’s Tale. Before we get to what goes on in the book, why don’t you tell us how you guys got brought together on it?

Eliot Rahal: That’s all Josh Frankel. I know Ian has been doing work for Josh as Z2 for quite some time. I met Josh about a year and a half ago at New York Comic Con through a mutual friend. I immediately loved this man. He is such a unique person.

Ian McGinty: He is an insane human being. I don’t even know how to describe Josh, but he is a nutso person in the best way possible.

ER: He is great. How Ian and I got placed together is that I had been in conversation with Josh for over a year, trying to find a project, and this one lined up and he asked me to do it, and then he lined up with Ian’s schedule and here we are.

PCS: I have seen Robot’s Tale described as bat-shit crazy. So, what can we expect from this book? Continue reading “Spotlight Interview with Ian McGinty and Eliot Rahal, creators of the new OGN, Robot’s Tale”

Brainiac On Banjo #072: Grave New World

Brainiac On Banjo #072: Grave New World

I dream of cherry pies / Candy bars, and chocolate chip cookies / We used to microwave / Now we just eat nuts and berries / This was a discount store / Now it’s turned into a cornfield / You’ve got it, you’ve got it / Don’t leave me stranded here / I can’t get used to this lifestyle – (Nothing But) Flowers, David Byrne

I have spent my entire life being a collector.

No, not a debt collector or a tax collector, not even a rubber band collector. I am a stuff collector, and I mean “stuff” in the George Carlin sense of the term. I collect music (over 43,000 tracks, thank you), I collect comic books, I collect books about comic books, I collect books in general. I collect movies, teevee shows, artwork… all kinds of stuff.

The question “now where do I put this?” spikes my second biggest fear. My biggest fear is having to move all my stuff from the house that has warehoused my collections for almost a third of a century, abetted by the many collections possessed by my daughter and my late wife. Comics collections from the three of us, a legion of statues, enough history books to fill a wing at the Library of Congress, flicks I am dying to see again but won’t live long enough to do so… All this has combined to define the most consistent and most dominant part of my life. But moving it all to another place will look a lot like photos of those ancient, beautiful houses that somehow get boosted onto a flatbed truck and taken cross-town so developers who bribed their way into eminent domain can turn the land into a parking lot.

This hasn’t been an investment thing, and in that I am lucky. If all this stuff was here to make money, I’d have to go down to Wall Street and jump out of a window. This is because, aside from the Daffy Duck “I WANT IT” syndrome, today nearly all that stuff, no matter what it is, is available digitally. A 30-terabyte hard disc drive will house it all in a box that is much smaller than the Collected Works of Michael Moorcock. Of course, with all the streaming services around covering virtually all media, you really don’t even need that disc drive.

It’s possible that moving or disposing my collections will not be my problem. It might become my daughter’s problem. Hey, none of us are getting any younger (you’ve probably noticed that) and, whereas that’s a nasty trick to play on her, she is merely 25 years my younger and I’d like to be around to see her have decide what to sell and what really neat shit to hold on to. Sort of a Sophie’s Choice… without the “wait; you’re going to kill one of my kids??” bit.

Overall, this is a rather minor concern. There are much more important things to be concerned about. I don’t wake up in a cold sweat thinking about this, although I’m certain I will if I ever have to move it. I’ve enjoyed this stuff and, besides, maybe the tons of dust my collections gather will cure cancer or the common cold or something. I mean, look, we do not know why the guy who first looked at penicillin in a petri dish said “Wow! Cool!! I think I’m going to hit this shit up!” However, I do wonder if, at that time, this cat had the clap.

You know the old phrase “Evolution Happens.” Well, okay, I poured some artistic license over that one, but you get the point. The focus should be on content and not possession. Buddha had tons of material possessions, as the story goes, but he gave it all away to charity. I wonder which charity would be most interested in my Steve Ditko collection.

Like most of us who have a strong sense of wonder but a short attention span, I always have endeavored to embrace change. But making plans for one’s personal end times is a whole ‘nother thing. I think it takes well over a decade to work all this stuff out but… Hello! Short attention span, remember?

The contradiction in this labor is that I’ve spent my entire lifetime acquiring all this stuff. My thinking about eliminating it, no matter how remarkably logical it is to do so, feels as though I am invalidating my mission, my passion for existence.

And you wonder why old men scream at the clouds.

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #071: Holiday In Tehran

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #071: Holiday In Tehran

It’s time to taste what you most fear / Right Guard will not help you here / Brace yourself, my dear / Brace yourself, my dear – Holiday In Cambodia by the Dead Kennedys, 1980.

It was great fun watching Donald Trump and his Stooges run their victory lap yesterday. Let me paraphrase their comments: “Iran blinked.” Trump may very well be as stupid as his dangerous, but even I have a hard time believing the Great Orange Turd wasn’t knowingly lying through his teeth.

After Iran’s massive missile attacks that served as warning shots, followed by statements from Iranian leaders blatantly saying their response was just that, Trump says Iran blinked. If he really believes that, then he will continue to keep in jeopardy the lives of over 100,000 American troops – as well as that of his alleged best-bud Benji Netanyahu. Maybe Trump thinks that, since the Jews are the ones responsible for his impeachment (source: statement made January 6 by Delaware Republican Party official Nelly Jordan), he can get back to his family’s legacy of hating the Hebes so, hey, screw Benji.

Iran bombed the shit out of two of our bases in Iraq Tuesday night. They were meticulous in not killing Americans, Iranians, or (I take it) Iraqis. Then they said, and again I paraphrase, this town isn’t big enough for the two of us, and if we don’t get out or if we assassinate any more Iranian leaders, they will move their bombsites a little bit to the right and blow our troops to kingdom come. That is the textbook definition of a warning shot. Stop listening to the babblings of Trump’s lying toadies: the absolute truth is that, Wednesday night, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made Donald Trump dance in a hail of missile fire. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #071: Holiday In Tehran”

Brainiac On Banjo #067: The Winter of the Year

Brainiac On Banjo #067: The Winter of the Year

Observations at year’s-end. This will be a Trump-free list… unless you count sub-text.

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The final two weeks of the year used to be the most boring weeks of each year… and they still are. It’s a pain in the ass to go to the supermarket, let alone buy anything at any other sort of store. Traffic sucks, and often the weather does too (not this year over in my neck of the woods, but your mileage may vary on that).

Whatever broadcast television is out there that I enjoy is not out there at year’s-end. However, there’s so much stuff on my TiVo and through streaming services that this is no longer a big deal. Actually, that’s kind of good news: people recommend streaming stuff to me all the time, and some arouse my curiosity. Others make me somnambulistic.

• • • • •

Speaking of television, I had a bit of a Victor Buono film-fest here a couple months ago, and I had a wonderful time. Evil was never so gentle; wit was rarely so sharp. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #067: The Winter of the Year”

With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season

With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season

Forget Rudolph, the Grinch and Frosty. I’m not here to talk about it It’s A Wonderful Life  or Hallmark Channel movies (even though my daughter-in-law loves them). Today I want to focus on Christmas Commercials.

It’s been a good yuletide season for ads. Although I’ve yet to see the famous Santa-on-a-Norelco-shaver spot (one of my all-time favorites), there’s been some engaging TV spots. Oh sure, they are all  promoting crass commercialism when we’re all really supposed to be thinking about peace, brotherhood and one very important baby born in a barn, but let’s focus on creativity, entrepreneurism and providing more than a few jobs. 

The Peloton TV spot got all the buzz for all the wrong reasons. This year they stepped in it with an ad that suggesting a rich guy demands his perfectly beautiful wife to continuously workout to maintain her perfectly physique. The stock stumbled for a bit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Peloton has fantastic end of year sales.

Or was it all a sneaky plot? At the end of the day, Peloton is a brand that found a way to successfully sell a piece of fitness equipment  at a super-expensive price – despite the fact that this particular piece of fitness equipment exists in abundance on Planet Earth.   Continue reading “With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season”