Tag Archives: ben schwartz

Marvel and Hulu’s MODOK Gets a First Look

Revealed via EW during New York Comic-Con’s Metaverse, the upcoming stop motion MODOK series has delivered a first look. The series is one of the surviving Hulu Marvel shows, the other being the upcoming Helstrom. MODOK stars Patton Oswalt who stars as the Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing and follows him during his off-hours.

The cast includes MODOK’s equally-giant-headed daughter, Melissa (voiced by Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Melissa Fumero), son Lou (Parks & Recreation‘s Ben Schwartz), and wife Jodie (Lucifer‘s Aimee Garcia). And what’s a show without a rival? That’d be Austin Van Der Sleet (Beck Bennett of SNL).

The show was created by Oswalt and Jordan Blum and animated by Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, the folks behind Robot Chicken.

MODOK was to be part of a series of four animated shows on Hulu. The others were Howard the Duck, Hit-Monkey, and Tigra, and Dazzler. They’d eventually come together into a group called The Offenders. Much of Marvel’s Hulu plans have been scrapped with MODOK being one of the few shows left standing.

Movie Review: Night School

night school posterWe’ve all seen Night School before, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. While the new Kevin Hart film feels a little bit paint by numbers, it still delivers laughs and highlights the comedic talents of it’s amazing cast, chief among whom is Tiffany Haddish who owns every scene she is in.

Our story centers around Teddy Walker (who should just be named Kevin Hart), an extremely successful BBQ salesman in Atlanta. He’s about to propose to his girlfriend, Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke who you may recognize from the CW’s Arrowverse shows as Vixen) but he has a major secret — he is a high school dropout who is living paycheck-to-paycheck in order to impress her with money that he doesn’t have. When hijinks eventually ensue, he finds himself in need of a new job and his best option is to go back to school pursue his GED at night school at his previous high school to get a job in finance with his best friend Marvin (Ben Schwartz — yes! Jean Ralphio!).

However in a bit of irony, the school’s principal is now the kid who he bullied in high school (Taran Killam), who looks to return the favor with some humiliation of his own. Luckily for him the night Schools teacher is the unorthodox but strict Carrie (Tiffany Haddish), who won’t give up on either him or any of the other misfits in his night school class. Oh, and those miscreants? Rob Riggle, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Al Madrigal, Romany Malco, and Fat Joe— who joins class via Skype from prison.

This movie has a lot of jokes, and most of them are funny. The the script seems to take a shotgun approach of trying to pack as many little jokes in as possible and hope that some of them hit. Luckily a number of them do, mostly because of grade A comedic talent, especially Haddish, who may be one of the most underrated comedic talents in Hollywood right now.

Unfortunately, the film just doesn’t know exactly where it’s trying to go. There’s an extended dance break where they go to the school’s prom, because I guess why not? There’s also a side plot involving Hart working at a Christian themed chicken joint which, while funny, doesn’t really fit anywhere else into the film. But oh well. It’s mostly funny.

Hart also does something really smart here which is allow himself to be the fast-talking flim-flam artist, but he still mostly a straight man. This allows Haddish to take the lead and his supporting actors to do most of the heavy lifting.

The film almost takes a turn as a sort of  heist film in a strange Act II break when they decide to rob the principal’s office to get the answers to their midterm test. Even though this mostly works, it’s still just a very strange turn for the movie which doesn’t really seem to know what it wants to do.

Speaking of not knowing what it wants to do, the opening of the film very clearly sets up a sibling rivalry with a twin sister for Hart to deal with, and then drops her the entire rest of the film.

The plot is fairly thin, the character arcs are fairly thin, and you can see where everything is going from miles away. But at least the jokes are mostly funny along the way.

However, it sometimes devolves into more shocking or simple gross-out gags and humor, which just doesn’t work. Like at all. In their attempts to justify their R-rating, they really don’t do anything good with it.

What is truly unfortunate is that films like this will unfortunately be marketed as “Urban” (read: black only) films. It’s incredibly troubling that more and more often films are only marketed to a certain segment of the population, even though there’s nothing inherently racial about the film.

There are a few incredibly funny jokes about being “woke” that somehow involve robots. There’s also a very funny call out of Principal Stewart using “black voice” which makes an excellent counterpoint to this summer’s breakout hit Sorry to Bother You and their use of “white voice.” Though nowhere near as brilliant, they’re talking about some of the same things, but drawing attention to the fact that when white people “code switch” they do it to pretend to be “cool” rather than it being a matter of survival and identity for others. It’s an issue much better dealt with in the upcoming The Hate U Give, but it’s nice to see a comedy trying at broader social comedy.

The biggest problem is we’ve seen this movie dozens of times before. However if you are a fan of Kevin Hart and this cast, you will get some laughs out of this. But if there’s one reason to see this, it’s Haddish. Hopefully this will be another crossover success for her like Girls Trip and we will get to see more of her– at least as much as we do of Kevin Hart.

2.5 out of 5 stars 

Fantagraphics Books At Comic-Con International

Official Press Release

FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS AT COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL

OUR PLEDGE TO YOU: ALL COMICS, ALL THE TIME!

Your guide to signings, panels, new books, freebies, sales and more!

JULY 12 2010, SEATTLE, WA — Comic-Con is upon us, and it is time to spill the beans on some major news. Fantagraphics Books is excited to announce that at this year’s show we will have no celebrity tie-ins, no comic adaptations of summer blockbusters, no TV show spinoffs, no videogame companion books, and no major announcements regarding digital distribution.

We do, however, pledge to deliver more cartoonists, more classic comics collections, more original literary graphic novels, more high-quality foreign reprints of international cartooning, more graphic memoirs, more offbeat humor books, more envelope-pushing anthologies, and more and better books-about-comics and comics history than any other publisher on the floor.

Next week, Fantagraphics Books will close up shop in Seattle and relocate for one week to San Diego, CA for the 2010 Comic-Con International (to booth #1718, to be exact). With over 20 authors signing throughout the weekend – including the first-ever U.S. appearance by MOTO HAGIO, founder of Shojo Manga, as well as American comix legends CAROL TYLER, PETER BAGGE, TONY MILLIONAIRE ,THE HERNANDEZ BROTHERS and many others – as well as over a dozen new books debuting at the show, the weekend promises to be an exciting one for fans of comic books and graphic novels. Here is your guide to Fantagraphics Books’ signings, book debuts, panels and much more!

AUTHOR APPEARANCES AND RELATED PANELS:

Thursday:

12:00 – 1:00: Johnny Ryan & Esther Pearl Watson
1:00 – 2:00: Moto Hago & Jeannie Schulz
2:00 – 4:00: Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez
4:00 – 5:00: Carol Tyler
5:00 – 6:00: Blake Bell

Friday:

12:00 – 2:00: Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez
2:00 – 4:00: Moto Hagio & Carol Tyler
4:00 – 5:00: Stephen DeStefano & Andrei Molotiu
5:00 – 6:00: Johnny Ryan & Esther Pearl Watson
6:00 – 7:00: Blake Bell, Wendy Everett (daughter of Bill Everett)
10:30AM: Spotlight on Moto Hagio, moderated by Matt Thorn (Rm. 5AB)
12:00PM: Spotlight on Carol Tyler, moderated by Gary Groth
2:00PM: Peanuts 60th Anniversary Panel with Jeannie Schulz

Saturday:

10:00 – 11:00: Mike Vosburg & Mitch Schauer
11:00 – 12:00: Ben Schwartz, Blake Bell and Andrei Molotiu
12:00 – 1:00: Tim Hensley & Carol Tyler
1:00 – 3:00: Peter Bagge, Dame Darcy and Tony Millionaire
3:00 – 5:00: Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez
5:00 – 7:00: Moto Hagio & Stephen DeStefano

12:00PM: Spotlight on Peter Bagge, moderated by Jason Miles (Rm. 3)
1:30PM: Comics Criticism panel with Ben Schwartz & co. (Rm. 4)
1:45PM: Cartoon Network panel with Stephen DeStefano & Co.
3:00PM: Comics Reprint Revolution with Gary Groth (Rm. 8)
3:30PM: International Graphic Novels panel with Moto Hagio (Rm. 4)

Sunday:

10:00 – 12:00: Stephen DeStefano & Peter Bagge
12:00 – 1:00: Ted Stearn & Andrei Molotiu
1:00 – 2:00: Moto Hagio & Carol Tyler
2:00 – 4:00: Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez

12:30PM: The Funny Stuff: Humor in Graphic Novels with Peter Bagge (Rm. 8)

NEW FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS DEBUTING AT COMIC-CON:

For more art and information regarding any of the below titles, click the title link.

LUCKY IN LOVE BOOK ONE by George Chieffet and Stephen DeStefano • This debut graphic memoir of one man’s experiences in love and WWII is gorgeously drawn by fan favorite Stefan DeStefano, who will be signing copies on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1977 to 1978 (Vol. 14) by Charles M. Schulz • Our 14th (!) volume, featuring an introduction by Alex Baldwin! Jeannie Schulz, widow of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz and President of the Schulz Museum, will be onhand Thursday to sign copies.

THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1975-1978 Boxed Set by Charles M. Schulz • Collecting the 13th and 14th volumes, this gift box set won’t be in stores until October! Jeannie Schulz, widow of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz and President of the Schulz Museum, will be onhand Thursday to sign copies.

A DRUNKEN DREAM AND OTHER STORIES by Moto Hagio • Our long-awaited foray into the world of Manga, collecting the best work from legendary artist Moto Hagio’s 30 year-plus career. Ms. Hagio will be an International Guest of Honor at this year’s convention, making her first-ever trip to the States and signing all four days of the show.

FROM SHADOW TO LIGHT: THE LIFE & ART OF MORT MESKIN by Steven Brower • A coffee-table retrospective and critical appreciation of the great golden age cartoonist and illustrator, Mort Meskin.

FIRE AND WATER: BILL EVERETT, THE SUB-MARINER AND THE BIRTH OF MARVEL COMICS by Blake Bell • Part-biography of Sub-Mariner creator Bill Everett, part history of the early days of Marvel Comics, and part gorgeous art book, from acclaimed historian and critic Blake Bell, who will be signing copies on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On Friday, Bell will be joined by Wendy Everett, daughter of Bill Everett, to answer questions and share anecdotes about her father.

TOO SOON? by Drew Friedman • Featuring an introduction by Jimmy Kimmel, this gorgeous coffee-table book features over 15 years of Freidman’s skewering commercial art.

YOU’LL NEVER KNOW BOOK TWO: COLLATERAL DAMAGE by C. Tyler • The second book in Tyler’s critically-acclaimed graphic memoir focusing on her father’s experiences in WWII and how his experiences affected her family after the war. Tyler is a special guest of Comic-Con’s, appearing all four days and participating in an author spoitlight with Gary Groth on Friday at noon.

THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADÉLE BLANC-SEC VOL. 1 by Jacques Tardi • The book that inspired Luc Besson’s 2010 film adaptation is available in English for the first time!

LOVE & ROCKETS NEW STORIES #3 by Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez • Another Comic-Con, another new Love & Rockets, and another weekend-long appearance from Fantagraphics’ most towering creators, the great Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez. This issue will not disappoint, we promise you.

PRISON PIT 2 by Johnny Ryan • Last year’s most talked-about book at Comic-Con is back with the eagerly-anticipated second volume, and Johnny Ryan will be as well to sign your copies and answer questions about his mental health.

RIP, M.D. by Mitch Schauer & Mike Vosburg • This all-ages graphic novel by comics veteran Mike Vosburg and animation heavyweight Mitch Schauer will delight parents and children, and the creators will be on hand Saturday morning (natch) to sign copies.

NORMAN PETTINGILL: BACKWOODS HUMORIST by Norman Pettingill • Sporting an introduction by R. Crumb, this deranged art book will surely appeal to fans of outsider art, and although Mr. Pettingill is no longer with us, co-editors Gary Groth and Johnny Ryan will be happy to sign copies and tell you all about this unique visionary.

And, our four new releases in the Ignatz imprint from Fantagraphics Books:

NIGER 3 by Leila Marzocchi

SAMMY THE MOUSE 3 by Zak Sally

INTERIORAE 4 by Gabriella Giandelli

GROTESQUE 4 by Sergio Ponchione

In addition to these exciting author events and new releases, there will be several other surprises for visitors, as well.  We’ve put together a number of unique sales for the show that you’ll have to come by to check out, and we’ve also raided our warehouse and gathered as many cool items as we could find to stuff into bags for everyone who makes a purchase at the booth, from rare postcard sets by Peter Bagge, long unavailable buttons featuring classic Fanta characters, free comic books, posters, and much more. We’ve put together about 500 of these goodie bags that will be available with every purchase, while supplies last.

We look forward to seeing you all there!