Thursday, April 29, 2010

A new goal. A New Promise!

I John Chihak hereby promise;
"If we raise $500 or more for Emerge! at Wonder Women Day on May 1, 2010 at Charlies Comics, John will cut his pigtails!"
Come down. Get some cool artwork. Bid on auction items and HOPEFULLY see me in pigtails for the last time in a long time!

Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse

Charlies Comics
5445 E 22nd St
Tucson, AZ 85711

Wonder WOMEN Day! For Lisa

I've been thinking a lot lately about why I feel a need to make a difference in people's lives.
Back in 2000, I met Lisa Berrie through a mutual friend. Lisa was working at Zia Records and living in a group home type facility down the road from my apartment. However the case, through this encounter, Lisa and I dated for a very short time. She ended up leaving and not returning phone calls or letters, even though she was less than two miles away. Later news, from her younger sister indicates that this was not unusual behavior for Lisa.
I didn't hear from Lisa until a year later when I was going to college, and had just finished treatments for cancer. Lisa had just had Jeremy and during the final days of her pregnancy had gone to El Con Mall to walk with a friend. She saw the Magpies kiosk and inquired if I still worked there. Whoever was working said I did, and that I had just come back from an extensive medical leave for something involving my leg. Lisa remembered that while we were dating that my knee had been killing me and I had limited range of motion in it, due to swelling.
Lisa took this as a means to, when she was on maternity leave, contact me to find out what had happened to me medically. We talked for a while and then we met up once or twice. It was at this time that I had begun the process of becoming interested in another girl, and became super confused as to what I should do. Go with what I knew, as it may not have anything in it relationship wise, or go in a new direction. I chose the new direction and Lisa and I again parted ways.
In 2002, I broke things off with my girlfriend, to see if there was anything left with Lisa. There was not, and I had messed up a relationship in the process. Eventually, I got back together with my girlfriend. Things were going well, when one night I got a phone call. It was Lisa, and she was pretty shaken up. She asked me if I could be her friend and if I could help her out. I told her I wanted to, but due to leaving my girlfriend for her, I could not do it without first talking to my current girlfriend. She understood and I called up Melanie. As Melanie and I talked for about an hour, Melanie noted how I wanted to be a hero. She always supported the ideal and aspect of my personality. Melanie said that a hero doesn't get to choose when to help someone. And that I needed to do this.
I met back up with Lisa and talked to her a few times. For some reason things didn't last for our friendship. There were a lot of factors, including the troubled relationship she was currently in. For some reason, it seemed like this was and later, continued to be the case for Lisa.
In 2003 I got another phone call. It was Lisa. She had just moved into a new apartment and wasn't doing well. She was scared and depressed about the way things were going at work. I went to visit her. Jeremy was just walking and talking. While I was there we talked a little bit, but what I remember the most was that she sang, "You Are My Sunshine," to Jeremy. It was both beautiful and sad at the same time. Hearing the words brought about a vision of isolation and loneliness, while simultaneously having genuine love for her son. I don't think I will ever forget her voice and the words she sang. I told her that I would be her friend and that I would always be there to help her and protect her. I left her apartment and her life for the last time in 2003. I never saw her again.
Through the following years things had moved forward for me. I finished school. Got a job I actually cared about. And started my comic book. But through it all I worried. And I thought about Lisa. The skinny little girl, who took my virginity and had a smile that could light up a room. I thought about how things hadn't worked between us, and wondered why. And I hoped for her to pull herself up and become happier. But for whatever reason, I didn't make an effort to find her. I didn't even try. After all the words and promises, I did nothing. And I went on with my life.
And then one day after I had come home from APE Con in San Francisco. A week I will never forget for the sheer fun I had. Exactly one day after Wonder Woman Day 2009 on October 5, 2009, I checked my comicspace page. I don't know what prompted me to do it, but I did. I had a message for a new friend from a new member named Cunty McTwat. I recognized the name from myspace, but not the picture. I read the enclosed message that simply said, "I believe you used to know my sister, Lisa Berrie." I instinctively responded, "Yes, how is she doing?" and then sent the message. Suddenly I felt my heart sink. I immediately went to Suzi's myspace page and saw when I dreaded for six years... a memorial page for Lisa. Lisa Berrie had been murdered by her boyfriend Paul Beam in August of 2008 when she decided she had enough and decided to leave him. She was severely beaten and then strangled by Beam. And as she lay on the ground, her children in the next room, Paul Beam did the unthinkable. He didn't call for help. He didn't snap out of whatever had caused him to commit this atrocity. No, he called his father, who came, and did nothing to try and help Lisa. His father didn't administer first aid or give Lisa cpr. No, he shrugged his fucking shoulders and called an ambulance. By the time the ambulance had arrived, and gotten Lisa all the way to UMC, which was an hour later, she was pronounce dead.
All my promises. All my words. At that point meant absolutely nothing. I have spoken with a lot of people about my feelings regarding Lisa's murder. One has had a good point of view, and a lot of thoughts on it. One of the reasons I look and seem to be attracted to the underdog, and the people with troubled pasts or fucked up lives is cause in some warped way, I want to try and make atonement for not being there for Lisa. I am realistic about my life. I know there is nothing I can do bring Lisa back. I am not fooling myself into think there's something I can do to bring her back. But maybe, by helping people. Maybe if I help save a life. Somehow, some way, I can make amends for my failure as a friend and failing to keep my promise to her. Maybe somehow Lisa can forgive me for not being there. And I can achieve true penance for my sins.
In trying to do so, I have made up three prints that will be for sale at Wonder Women Day at Charlies Comics on Saturday May 1. I have drawn a picture for the art auction or Grrry in homage to the iconic picture of Rosie "The Riviter," which I feel is one of the most powerful images of women achieving outter strength through their inner strength. The prints will be just $5 each or all three for only $12. And every penny I make off of those prints will in turn be given directly to Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse here in Tucson. With the hope that nothing like this will ever happen to another parent's child, another girl's sister, or another child's mother.
I commemorate Wonder Women Day 2010 to Lisa M. Berrie, the skinny little girl who I met in 2000 who's smile lit up my life. I miss you Lisa

Wonder Women Day 2010 and Free Comic Book Day will be held at Charlies Comics in Tucson, AZ @
5445 East 22nd Street
Tucson, AZ 85711-5453
(520) 320-0279

the Day is set to benefit Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse

Please attend this important day. A day of fun, but a day with heart and meaning behind it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Self Contemplations

So, a lot of things have gone down since I first found out about Lisa's murder. I continued working on Fuzzyface, and finally finished it; I've made some new friends; I thought I connected with someone and then it all got fucked up; I've thought a lot about having kids, and wondered what I have that I could offer the next generation; and I've just been having a ton of feelings. I recently learned that the judge in Paul Beam's murder trial may call for a mistrial based on juror misconduct. Like it matters. Guy kills his girlfriend and mother of his child and people don't even blink anymore. Truth is, it wouldn't have made a dent in my life if it happened to someone I didn't know. It's fucking horrible to say, but most of us live in this goddamn bubble all the time and never break out of it. We just don't want to have to lose whatever we might have left of ourselves to the horrors of the world. We don't want despair or ruin, but that's all they play on the fucking news. All the time; war, economy crumbles, terrorist attacks, plots by governments, food recalls, automobile recalls, children dying somewhere we've never heard of. They say the average American teen has witnessed 3000 plus murders in their life when reach fifteen. Because of television. The news. Schwarzenegger movies. Eminem rapping. And good old boy George W Bush spewing his hate, wrath and venom. Things used to make sense to me. And now, on the eve of producing something I had no idea I was capable of, I just don't fucking know. I want to be sure of things. I want to say I have life by the balls. And I even know for the most part I do. Right now my Bubbas are all sprawled out on my bed, snoozing and all I can do is want to cry and destroy things right now. I hate that life has to do this. I hate the peaks and valleys. But what I hate more is the plateaus. They seem to go on forever. I'm 31 and I don't feel old. But I don't exactly feel like a child anymore. I worry and I tremble. And sometimes I'm not sure if things will ever get any better. I'm scarred to be alone. And I don't know what to do to find someone who'll stand beside me. I just feel like drinking. I feel like maybe it's ok to give up. I know it's not. And I'm not gonna. But I just haven't felt whole in a while. And I think I know why. I made a promise to a girl back in 2003. I promised I would always be her friend and that I would protect her. And then I walked out that door and never saw her again. Never spoke to her again, but always wondered how she was. Always worried for her safety. She always had a knack for getting into fucked up relationships. And I know, in my heart she wouldn't want me to feel this way. But I can't change what is in my heart. I can't change what my heart wants. I can't undo what was done to her. Nothing I will ever do will bring her back. I know this. I can be logical about it. I understand how it all works. And it is probably why I am attracted to and attract younger women with a lot of personal issues. It's why I truly need to help someone. Cause if I can help just one person, maybe I can continue on. If I do something right, then maybe I can feel whole again. I honestly don't have a choice in this matter. It's something I have to do. This is my penance.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Whip It; A Hardcore Review

"What are you doing in five and half minutes?"
The tagline for this movie is "Be your own hero." More appropriate words for this current neopolitical/ pop culture driven climate could not be more spot on.

Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) is your run of the mill small town Texas misfit teen with no real aspirations of life other than placating her mom who happens to be taken with beauty pageants and cotillions. Bliss, along with "help" from her best friend, Pash, she appears at the pageant with blue hair to answer the question, "If you could eat dinner with anyone who would it be?" Bliss and Pash work side by side along with Birdman, their classmate and new shift supervisor at their waitressing gig. Pash has applied to Ivy League colleges, while Bliss kinda just doesn't really know who she is or what she wants from life. Having little passion for her future, Bliss goes shoping in nearby Austin with her mom and little sister. The shopping excursion turns into something more when Bliss runs across some local roller derby girls who skate for the team, The Hurl Scouts. Concocting a beautiful scheme with bff Pash, Bliss is out to "support her high school team," on an away game in Austin. Bliss reveres the girls of the Hurl Scouts, despite their losing effort. Claiming her new heroes in the Hurl Scouts to skater, Maggie Mayhem, Bliss is told, "Well put on some skates. Be your own hero."
Armed with a gut full of determination and "Barbie" skates, Bliss tries out for the TXRD. She's smaller and thusly faster than any girl on the track. Picked by coach, Razor, Bliss joins the Hurl Scouts, TXRD's Bad News Bears, with one exception. They're hot, lovable losers. And they just don't care. Lead by Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig), Smashly Simpson (Drew Berrymore), Rosa Sparks (hip hop artist Eve) and the doubly deaf Manson Sisters, Bliss is rechristened "Babe Ruthless," the team's newest "jammer." For the roller derby newb, a jammer is the person who scores points for their team, by completing revolutions of the track while passing members of the opposing team. Teammates provide blocking to enable scoring from the jammer. Physical contact is not only necessary it is wholly encouraged, cheered and fucking expected. Babe's problem is her unwanting to take a hit or make physical contact. Being pushed by rival Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis) Babe is forced to become well Ruthless.
The movie is about finding out who you are and going after it. It's about respecting where you come from, but not allowing that to hinder who you might become. The great thing about this movie is that a lot of actual roller derby girls worked on its production. It was also Drew Berrymore's directorial debut. And to be honest, I had my doubts about the film's legitimacy when I found that out. But after seeing how passionate these women are about what they do. Without big money contracts, endorsements top quality facilities to practice or play in, and the way society looks at them, I have so much more respect not only for the sport as a whole, but the women as individuals and their friendships and families that grow from roller derby.
What makes the experience of watching this movie even more special for me is that prior to watching it I was drinking down at the Surly Wench Pub here in Tucson and it was following a huge intercity roller derby bout. To see these women in person and the fun, and caring they have for each other after the bout is over. The people you travel down the road we all call life together become your friends, your road dogs. People you would go to bat for.
As I have stated before in my reviews, my position of being a fan of professional wrestling, most notably ECW in the years of 1994-2001, I dig the hardcore moments that encompass true battle and courage. That being said, if I review something and grade it with more than a short passing reference to Hulk Hogan I FUCKING HATED IT! And it's my blog and if you're reading it then I guess you enjoy my thoughts, have similar feelings or just like backlashing humor. However, in today's review Hulk Hogan will not be a factor. Thank god. I fucking hate that bastard. Whip It is about passion for what you do, and finding out who you really are. And in a one liner that truly matters, "being your own hero." What I came up with after some heavy thought is the tag team match from "One Night Stand" 2006 pitting newly self anointed co Hardcore Champions Mick Foley and Edge versus any two scumbags from the ECW locker room. Those scumbags just happened to be the "Innovator of Violence" Tommy Dreamer and "The Living Legend" Terry Funk. Funk was 62 when this match happened. Which is twenty plus years older than Foley. Tommy provided most of his team's offense and time in the ring. But when Funk got a hold of his opponents he let them have it. And a 62 year old punch from Terry Funk is probably a lot like a forty-something punch from Terry Funk, "stiff." During the course of the match, Funk had trauma to his eye and had to be rushed from ring side. All the while Tommy Dreamer took the brunt of the new hardcore duo. Funk returned ten minutes later through the crowd, complete with bloody head bandage and insanely over sized 2X4 wrapped in barbed wire. When he gets to the ring, Beulah helps him light the damn thing on fire. He then starts wailing away on Mick Foley with it and then dives into Foley taking both men off the ring apron and into a large piece of plywood covered in barbed wire. And the crowd at the Hammerstein Ballroom in the Manhattan Center thundered E C W! E C W!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Casting myself in a comic book flick....

Of course there is the super obvious choice of Nash from my own book, Youth in Asia. But that's not really fair, since he's based on me anyway. Although, I would have to be more athletic, and there's always the super fun stunt work and wrestling school, I'd have to attend.
But in all seriousness, I would have to go with one of four choices...

Omega Red.... as the seldom used X-Men villain I could go places, Brian Singer would never dare to go. Plus having to work with the cgi Carbonadium Tendrils would be a gas too. I just always liked Omega Red since I red how he made it through the Russian Super Soldier Program, "he toughed it out on pure mean." I honestly think, even though I'm not massive like Arkady Rosavich, I could bring a super dark and tortured presence to the character. He's mean, he's nasty and he's perfectly capable of killing Wolverine. Think about it. He secretes Death Pheromones. Just like Rogue, he would be a really isolated and tortured kind of person. Combine that with the possibility of him not being a willing participant in the Super Soldier program, and I'd give Hugh Jackman a run for his fuckin' money.

Nightwing/Batman... Since I picked up the Wizard 1/2 story, and then went back and bought over a year's worth of back issues by creative team, Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel I fell in love with the grown up Dick Grayson. Gone were the days of being Batman's sidekick and protege. Grayson filled the shoes of a much needed hero in the only city that made Gotham look like a great place to live, Bludhaven. From the acrobatics to the sharp wit and biting sarcasm that Bruce would never allow for himself, coupled with the idea that he honestly wants to hang up the tights one day and just be a normal guy. To his troubled, father/son relationship with Bruce. Dick Grayson as either Nightwing or Batman would be a serious ride and sort of cathartic to play. Plus all the stunt work and wire work would be first rate, since I would demand Woo Ping choreograph the fight scenes.

Moon Knight.... Marvel's much darker and more twisted answer to Batman comes in the form of everyman mercenary Marc Spector, who when left for dead in the Egyptian desert finds Kon Shu who grants him power and rebirth. It left Spector a little dazed in the cranium, but playing character with an imbalance would push my acting and probably make me the next Heath Ledger. What? Too soon?.... Seriously, to play a third string character recently given new light by Marvel would allow for a much darker transition and the ability to go places with the character much like they did with Blade. Shrouded in cloak and cape, Moon Knight would be tougher to pull off than Batman, as you wouldn't be able to rely on facial gesticulations or expression. You would have to go where Hugo Weaving went with V. Physical actions and a killer voice would be the only things depicting Spector's further descent into madness. And I think I like that just fine.

The Joker
.... With my final choice, I intend to take things way further than even Heath Ledger could have if he returned for the next face off with Batman. I would dig into my playbook of psychotic with a hint of legitimate humor and rapier wit to be a darker, edgier and bigger, badder Joker than anyone has ever known. People think of the Joker as "just" a psychological villain. When in reality, he's just the chaos that mirrors Batman's so called "sanity and logic." People forget that Bats is just as crazy as the Joker, and I know I could drag that out of that pointy eared freak show. You see, Batman wears a mask. I don't. I'm not hiding who I am. Am I Brucie? So his parents were killed. So were the Menendez Brothers and they turned out alright. Where Ledger conjured up visions of a more sinister Joker, he forgot about the suave style and sophistication that must come with being the number one rogue in the world of four color funny books. I know I could draw on the only two other men who came close to capturing the scintillating style and the mad a macabre that I have festering deep within me. Because as every little boy once wanted to be..... send in the clown!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Clash of the Titans (1981); A Hardcore Review

In getting ready for the monumental 3D event of the early Spring, I decided to download and watch the original Clash of the Titans. Yes the very same movie made famous for some amazing stop motion animation and special effects by Mr. Ray Harryhausen. The same Mr Ray Harryhausen who was made homage to in
Monster's Inc for the sushi house named after him. The same movie made famous with a line from Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, where Randal goes into the Quick Stop and proclaims, "I was trying to watch Clash of the Titans and all I can hear is those two yelling about Morris Day at the top of their lungs."
This movie had pretty much everything a flick involving the Gods should. Infidelity, bastard children, vengeance, brutality, egomaniacs, and some wicked stop motion animation. You have to remember that I went to school for animation in the early 2000's. And the cgi and ability has changed so much since then. It's change immensely since 1981 when this movie came out. I cannot get over how, even with the limited tech they had and the limits that compositing held, this movie holds up remarkably well. I mean to me, Gollum from LOTR doesn't even look all that realistic anymore. And that wasn't more than a handful of years ago. Some of the greatest movies of all time come from that specific time period, and the suspension of disbelief is what made it great. Now don't get me wrong, I love a movie with amazing animation in it, but there's nothing like the original Star Wars trilogy, or ET or the first two Aliens movies and Terminator 2. These films are epic, and will stand the test of time, not just cause of the generation who will never let them go, but mainly because they were phenomenally told narratives on good versus evil. And since then things have become so blurred in the 98% of Gray area we have called moral ambiguity.
Look, I loved The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and The Hellboy movies. Those you need on Bluray so you can admire the quality of the animation, costume and set design. And let's not forget how the quality of special effects has risen to a new level. It's just astonishing in scope. But there is legitimately something special about Clash of the Titans. The only other movie that came close to that, was done back in 1933, and it was called King Kong. It stood as testiment for almost 50 years. And even with the newest advent of using 3D in every other flick that comes out, I still need to harken back to movies like Clash and Star Wars to remember where I came from and what made me passionate about my imagination. It's what made me what to be a super hero. And even with the cheesy dialog and props that don't look quite right, it stands as lineage to what is.
You know I grade my reviews on a scare of a hardcore moment in professional wrestling history. The more hardcore the moment, the more I enjoyed the work I am reviewing. The more references to Hulk Hogan, the more I recommend you gouge out your eyes of puncture your ear drums. So, here we go...
It was a Friday night in late 1999. The Dudley Boys, on their last night with ECW had just won back the World Tag Team Titles. And they promised to lay them at the feet of WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon. Was there nobody who would rescue the most coveted titles in team sports? That man came forth. His name is Tommy Dreamer. With a massively damaged back, and tortured soul from the Dudleys, he wouldn't back down. He stormed the ring and began defending the honor of the company he loved. But all too quickly the two toughest men in the tag team division began the ultimate destruction of the ultimate team player in Dreamer. But, then something happened. From out of the crowd came a man from Dreamer's past. A man Dreamer hated. A man who but once had never lost to Tommy. The delusional and egomaniacal man named Raven, slid into the ring, and DDT'ed one of the Dudleys and pinned him. Tommy began to get up as the ring bell sounded. Confused and in a daze one of the tag belts was slapped onto Tommy's shoulder by his arch nemesis, Raven. And just as quickly as it started, Raven slipped back into the embrace of the ECW crowd, arms out stretched, head thrown back in effigy.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fuzzyface "The final production notes" Pt. 20 Lettering

If there is such a thing as god. It's me. Cause I just finished lettering the whole goddamned graphic novel in two sittings over the span of two nights, and who knows how many freaking hours. I do know it took 6 sodas to complete and a hell of a lot of water too. It was such an accomplished feeling, having the sun come up today and being like, "One more page, c'mon you can do it." Kinda like when you're working out and you force yourself to go another five minutes on the elliptical or another rep when your muscles want to kill you.
So, Venus said she would like to color the cover of the book, and I also spoke with her about coloring the print that I penciled and Paul Fini inked. It looks so amazing. And I told him he better feel like signing copies of the print at this year's Tucson Comic Con.
Tonight, I plan on coloring the stand up piece I am gonna use to get people to come up to the booth. It's gonna be full color, and the image is pretty sweet. It's been approved by a fan. So look for a large full color Fuzzyface stand up at Phoenix Cactus ComiCon!
I would also like to point out that I am currently on the hunt for clothing for Agnew to be dressed as Fuzzyface at Phoenix ComiCon. If you know where I can get him a dress shirt, tie, apron and of course I gotta make him a mask, out of the souls of dead muppets. We have the chainsaw thing taken care of though.
Just remembering how this idea came from a picture I drew back in 2005 of Grover with his arms ripped off and his stuffing pouring out. And it grew to be the most anticipated graphic novel of 2010!