I found out about this late in the game, and I'm unfortunately going to be out of town for it, but artists Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, and Françoise Mouly will all be in Austin next month for a one-night-only discussion about comics, art and culture. Spiegelman is best known for his autobiographical comic Maus, and Crumb is (in case you're not familiar with comics that aren't Batman) probably as much a celebrity as it's possible to be in the world of underground comic art. Crumb's newest work is an illustrated version of the Book of Genesis.
This coming April, genre heavyweight John Carpenter will visit Dallas for Texas Frightmare Weekend 2010–the homegrown horror convention’s 5th anniversary.
With a long list of genuine, certified classics (um… Halloween, Christine, The Thing, Assault on Precinct 13), as well as a solid roster of cult faves (Escape from New York, They Live, Big Trouble in Little China), Carpenter is pretty much a living legend. His synth-powered fright flicks and gritty action comedies are usually brilliant, and always fun. And the prospect of having him autograph a They Live poster makes my inner fanboy smile. I even loved Vampires, his roundly panned bloodsucker flick starring James Woods.
I visited the TFW convention in 08, and it was pretty good. The venue was a little bit odd, and the film screening setup was lackluster, but everything else was good, and they’ve moved since then, so who knows. A bit of advice though…if you’ve got the extra money and you love autographs, get a fancy VIP badge. Not having to wait in line could literally save you hours.
Other guests for 2010 include George Romero, William Katt (House and House IV), Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead, Near Dark, Aliens), Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th), Sid Haig and Bill Moseley (those Rob Zombie movies and whatnot), Margot Kidder (Superman) and Doug Bradley (Hellraiser). The convention runs from April 30 to May 2.
Ronald Bronstein’s bleak, uncompromising indie flick Frownland is now available on DVD. Better yet, it’s available in a fancypants deluxe edition that includes outtakes, extras, a vinyl version of the film’s score and an actual piece of the original 16mm work print.
When the film played at SXSW 07, Bronstein described it to me as “a miserablist sort of comedy about an excruciatingly irritating and inarticulate young man, chronicling several days in his life as he pingpongs from one damaged rapport to the next”. Which is as perfect a description as can be offered about a film as, um, complicated as Frownland. What it leaves out is that the lead performance is absolutely stellar, and that the film is one of the most raw, original works to come from an American indie filmmaker in years.
I can’t guarantee you’ll like this movie. But even in hating it, you may cement its substantial reputation as a singular howl against the indie establishment (which sounds like an oxymoron but really isn’t). One word of advice though: if you want to get a sense of the flick, try watching the individual clips like this one rather than the trailer.