Fantastic Fest Day #1

Human-Filled Eyeball Pinata

Behold, a Zack Carlson-filled pinata!

The normal description: Fantastic Fest is a film festival in Austin, Texas, which focuses on genre films from around the world.

My description: Fantastic Fest is the heavy metal mosh pit of film festivals. And I love it.

Opening night was last night. I got to see my favorite Fantastic Fest buddies. Beers were handed to me. The Texas swamp-heat made us all smell real pretty. I got to play a stand-up arcade game called The Last Starfighter. I got to see a human-filled eyeball piñata. The live band was made of furries. It all ended with a food fight on the top of a parking garage.

Oh, and I also saw a couple movies!

Tusk is Kevin Smith’s newest effort. It contains some of Smith’s trademark dialogue-heavy comedy, but mostly it’s a horror film (or, rather, an over-the-top parody thereof). It involves turning Justin Long into a walrus. No, really. The tone is inconsistent, and Smith doesn’t seem to know how to make it read evenly as a satire. However, the film contains a ludicrous Quebecois detective played by [unexpected cameo by a famous person you would not expect] and Michael Parks. I can always watch Michael Parks.

In better news, there is this Indian film named As Seen by the Rest, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It follows the Citizen Kane structure where there is an end point that you are not told, and as a journalist interviews various people to get at the story, you are shown out-of-order facets of the truth. It’s also a little bit of Rashomon and a whole lot of Pulp Fiction, to the point where the film shares a MacGuffin with Tarantino. As a whole, the film could use another pass in the editing room, but otherwise I was pleased that Fantastic Fest poured it into my eyeballs.

Now, I need to go wash the fest funk off my body so I can go join humanity. I am aiming for five films today!

The D after the OC

EI have a Google Doc Spreadsheet called Pack List. Whenever I have to pack for an out-of-town excursion, I create a new tab and take notes for the week prior to departure. Then, anytime I think, “Oh, I need to remember to bring a water bottle / a gift for a distant friend / a gorilla suit,” it all gets jotted down.

In preparation for this week’s trip to Austin, I copied my tab from last year’s Fantastic Fest trip. My first thought was to list ice packs and leg braces for my recent ankle injury… and then I saw they were already on the list. With bemusement, I realized that I’d also sprained the same ankle just prior to the same trip last year.

Then I noticed the other things I’d noted for last year’s trip. Notebooks and copies of forms and a long, detailed meal plan that I’d put together with the help of a nutritionist and a counselor, so I could enjoy the eight-day film festival without having a full-blown freak-out about what I was or wasn’t eating.

It has been a little over one year since I first went into treatment for an eating disorder and, by extension, the underlying obsessive compulsive disorder. Last year’s list was an artifact from a woman who had just started down the path of naming the monster.

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Remembering Nick Post

I woke up this morning thinking of an evening about a decade ago, when I was having beers in Chicago with Nick Post and a whole slew of comics creators. It was a hilarious evening, and it brought a smile to my sleepy face.

Then I rolled over and turned on my phone… and found out that Nick had passed away yesterday.

Coincidence? Yes, of course it was. Really, more days should start with a fun memory that involved Nick Post.

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Nick Post — aka Dominic Postiglione — was at the heart of the Midwest Comic Book Association, and was a partner at The Source Comics & Games in St. Paul, MN. During my years as a comics colorist, I saw him around pretty frequently.

He was this big, Italian guy with a boisterous voice and a larger-than-life personality. He had a big heart as well as a shrewd sense of business. Whenever Chris Jones or I needed business advice about getting a foothold in the comics business, he always knew how to guide us.

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My first foray into the business of comics started innocently enough in 2002, when Chris Jones, who’d I’d just started dating at the time, took me to one of the MCBA comics conventions. For the last couple decades, MCBA has hosted two comics conventions per year — one in the spring, and one in fall. I’d attended sci-fi conventions for years by this point in my life, but MCBA gave me my first comics show experience.

I discovered quarter bins. It was glorious.

But aside from the delight of raiding boxes for bargain-basement comics while Chris ran his table, the thing that struck me about MCBA is how well Chris and I were treated. Chris was hardly a big name at the time — he’d just worked for smaller publishers, and had just started getting single-issue jobs from DC Comics — and I was merely his girlfriend. Yet the MCBA folks always treated all of the comics talent equally, no matter how established they were, and I was always treated as more than just Chris’ female attache.

Also, after the convention closed on Saturday night, MCBA fed us free steak. All of us. Every person who worked the show got free steak.

That happens at every two-day MCBA show, by the way. Nick liked to keep us well-fed.

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A few years later, I was at Wizard World Chicago. By this time, I was an actual comics colorist.

Late one night after convention hours, I was hanging out in the hotel bar with a whole slew of comics creators: inker Terry Beatty, inker Mark Stegbauer, inker Barb Schulz, writer Terrance Griep, and of course Chris Jones. Suddenly, an anonymous donor sent a round of free beers over to our table. We were curious, but didn’t quite know who it was. The bar was stuffed full of pros from the convention (including, bizarrely, Jason Mewes).

A couple hours later, Nick Post joined our table, and it was eventually revealed that he was our Beer Benefactor. He got quite drunk with all of us, which means I learned that he owned the original art for nearly every single issue of House of Mystery. (Wait, was it House of Mystery? Maybe it was The Witching Hour. This was many years ago.)

When bar close happened and the tab arrived, Nick and I battled for it. I didn’t make a whole lot of money at the time, but I was drunk and boisterous enough to spring for a $200 bar tab. Nick, however, wasn’t having any of that. We argued a bit, which finally culminated in Nick leaning forward across the table and glowering at me.

“Look,” he said, with just a hint of alcohol in his words, “I’m rich.”

And then he snatched the bill from my hands.

I don’t know if he was rich, in the usual monetary sense. He was definitely rich with generosity, though.

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That reminds me of another story.

I was at San Diego Comic Con a few year after that. I was wandering around on the dealers’ floor, which is larger than the deck of an aircraft carrier and holds just about every desirable nerd artifact in existence. I once found a life-size replica of the beetle typewriter from Naked Lunch in that dealers’ room. I’m serious.

Anyway, that’s where I was, and I turned the corner to find a mountain of geeky stuffed animals. It contained all of the plush Monty Python toys from Toy Vault, stuffed 20-sided dice, toy Cthulhus, etc. I was fascinated by the scale of the thing as well as its contents. I started poking around.

Suddenly, Nick Post appeared from around the fuzzy mountain. It turns out that the booth belonged to The Source.

Nick and I chatted a bit while I prodded the toys. Eventually, I happened upon a plush Godzilla.

I said something akin to, “Squeeee!” because it was adorable. And then I hugged it…

…and it roared.

The thing had a sound box in it, and I’d accidentally discovered it. I squealed with delight.

Nick laughed and said, “That Godzilla should be yours.”

I dove for my wallet.

“No,” he said, waving his hand and refusing my money. “It’s clearly yours.”

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I mentioned earlier that I was always welcomed with open arms at the MCBA, no matter where I was or wasn’t with my own comics career. I think this was largely because of Nick. His belief of treating every professional and fan with respect was infectious, and he gathered people around him who also shared that respect.

There’s a lot of talk today about the treatment of women in the comics industry and in geek circles in general. I am lucky to live in the Twin Cities, because over decades, Nick helped build a comics community that respected women and diversity and kids. I think that respect bled over into the other local geek communities, too, because this is a town where many of the big conventions are at least 50% women.

Nick always treated me like a pro, even after I broke up with Chris, and even after I stopped coloring comics.

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The last time I saw Nick, it was at the MCBA Springcon this year. He was selling tickets at the door.

I started to give him money, and of course, he refused it. I started to argue with him, since I now have a sweet corporate job and I’m happy to give my sweet corporate money to support an organization that has helped and delighted me so much over the years.

This was a few days after the new American Godzilla film came out, so he eventually asked, “What did you think?” We then proceeded to full-on nerd-out about the atomic breath bit at the end of the film.

A few minutes later, after I walked into the convention, I realized that he’d distracted me with Godzilla so he could give me a ticket without letting me pay.

I’ll miss you, Nick. You were a gem. I wish I’d had a chance to say goodbye.

A Reel Education on July 20th!

Metropolis

A Reel Education is pleased to return to The Trylon microcinema on July 20th! This time, we will be presenting Metropolis, the very first feature-length science fiction film. As an extra treat, this silent classic will be accompanied with live music by FUGITIVE!

The Trylon microcinema is a wonderful, intimate non-profit theater in South Minneapolis, whose focus is on rare, classic, and unusual films. They also serve organic popcorn with real butter, so you know these folks are serious about the film experience.

Tickets are $10. (Five-show Trylon discount cards are also available for $25!)

Join us! And spread the word!

A Reel Education LIVE featuring Metropolis

Sunday, July 20th

Film starts at 8:00 PM. Podcast will be recorded immediately after the film.

The Trylon microcinema
3258 Minnehaha Av
Minneapolis, MN

PowerPoint Karaoke at the MN Fringe Festival!

That’s right! We somehow landed a whopping five shows during the illustrious Minnesota Fringe Festival, the largest non-juried festival in the United States.

Come see improv comedians bravely attempt to give a PowerPoint presentation for a deck of slides that they have never seen before. You know what that means? That means you can come to every single one of our five Fringe shows, and have a completely different experience each time: different slides and different performers each night!

This madness is going down at:

Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis

August 2 at 7:00 PM
August 3 at 4:00 PM
August 5 at 5:30 PM
August 8 at 5:30 PM
August 9 at 7:00 PM

Tickets are $12 (plus a one-time purchase of a  MN Fringe button), or you can attend more cheaply by buying a Fringe pass. Find out more and buy tickets ahead of time on the Minnesota Fringe Festival web site.

If you do the Facebook thing, we now have a Facebook page where we have created individual events for each of our shows. We’ll probably also post some other fun stuff in the upcoming weeks, so like us there and play along!

I look forward to slinging slides at you in August!