Seeing Green: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turn 30 at the Cartoon Art Museum

Juan De Anda/SF Weekly
TMNT Animators drawing stills from the TV show for fans at the TMNT book laucn event June 14, 2014 at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.
Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo.

Yes, yes, these are the names of four Italian masters of Renaissance art, sure. Certainly, but more importantly, for many people in their 20s and 30s, these were the heroes of a generation.

Insight Editions
Yes, these are the pizza-loving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who are now, like a lot of Millennials, celebrating their 30th birthday (which, like only certain Millennials, came via genetic mutation) with a new retrospective book release in conjunction with a San Francisco-exclusive exhibition at the Cartoon Art Museum. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History is written by Andrew Farago, the curator of the Cartoon Art Museum and responsible for organizing the new exhibit.

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Trangela Lansbury Gets Down with Superheroes

Categories: Art, Comics, Drag, LGBT

I first saw Trangela Lansbury as a gold-bearded Siren glittering across the stage at El Rio. Then there she was again at a California College of the Arts exhibit as a traditional Frida Kahlo, elegantly carrying her shining facial hair into flashing cameras while also showcasing her homoerotic drawings at the Batman on Robin show in the Mission.

Trangela, aka Diego Gomez, is a Bay Area native and as an artist he combines performance, illustration, design, painting, lingerie, and now theater -- he was cast for Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma, a Cockettes revival musical starting March 28 at the Hypnodrome. Heavily influenced by artists such as Jim Lee and Alphonse Mucha, he combines fantasy art, comics, and raw homoeroticism with a hint of trashy, genderbending imagery.

We spoke to Gomez about gaying up Batman, drag, and, as he notes on his Facebook page, the mad skills and verbosity that "could cut a bitch like a Lee Press-On Nail."

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Video of the Day: Old School Woody Allen Stand-Up

Categories: Comics
Thumbnail image for 445px-Woody_Allen_(2006).jpeg

In case you hadn't heard, Woody Allen is in town shooting a new movie. Since we've yet to run into him wandering about the town (that he called "charming"), we thought we'd shake his hand electronically with this video of his stand-up routine from 1965. Spoiler: It involves him shooting a moose.

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A Case for the Mondays: Comedy Night at El Rio

Robert Couse-Baker
Mondays get a bad rap. It's a day often associated with depression, anxiety, and melancholy in pop culture. Think of "Monday, Monday" by the Mamas & the Papas, "Manic Monday" by the Bangles, and of course the memetastic "Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays" phrase popularized by work-satirizing '90s movie Office Space. Thankfully, we now have a reason to chase away those Monday-induced feelings of despair (or chase them down with a beer at the very least).

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Carl Barks' and Floyd Gottfredson's Disney Comics Are Great Popular Art

Categories: Comics
Artists of vision toiling within the gears of a vision-suppressing machine, Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson drew and wrote great swathes of the best popular art of the twentieth century, mostly in the least auspicious venues available: comic books and comic strips credited to Walt Disney.

There, the work did what popular art too often doesn't: It actually delighted the millions who read it, rather than merely distracted or killed time for 'em.

Fantagraphics is currently collecting the work of both artists: Barks's transcendent Donald and Scrooge McDuck comics, and Gottfredson's sprightly Mickey Mouse serials. To the publisher's credit, the books are gorgeous but designed for readability rather than display. This is great art you can guiltlessly peruse in the bathtub.

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Death Panels, Part I: How Human Villains Murdered the Horror Comics of Yesteryear

October calls for scares, and despite the very scary state of the world, there is still a desire for entertainment that frightens us. Here we look at the broad, deep legacy of horror comics in a series that delves into the genre's many variations and highlights from the 1940s to the present.

Jack Cole

Crypt cover.jpg
A parade of grotesque killers -- human and undead -- got horror comics in trouble during their heyday in the 1950s, but it was real-life parents and other uptight suburbanites, incensed by the popularity of the genre, who (temporarily) eliminated them from mainstream American culture.

Among the hundreds of horror titles available during the boom years of the 1940s and early 1950s were EC Comics' Tales from the Crypt (along with sister books The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear), Eerie, Creepy, and This Magazine is Haunted. Recently, the genre has again become widespread and influential, with Mike Mignola's Hellboy universe and the continued interest in vampires and zombies leading the pack. But it was during the Golden Age that the horror anthology comic flourished. Although horror comics were ubiquitous and often disposable, key titles of that era continue to circulate in reprinted editions, inspiring new generations of readers and visibly influencing current work.

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Comics Giants (and Ex-Neighbors) Daniel Clowes and Adrian Tomine to Reunite at APE

Categories: Comics, Events

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Self-portraits by Daniel Clowes (l) and Adrian Tomine (r)
It was an unlikely scenario. If it showed up in fiction, it would appear contrived. In the early 1990s, as grunge and ska and thrift store shopping distracted a generation, two people at the top of their chosen field (in this case, graphic fiction) became fast friends after a chance meeting and the discovery that they lived on the same street. This scenario happened in our own backyard.

It was 1992, and Daniel Clowes had just relocated to Oakland from Chicago. He had been receiving Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve mini-comics direct from the artist for a few years. One day, Clowes' wife Erika, then a student at UC Berkeley, pointed at a photograph of Tomine on the cover of one of his comics and said to her husband, "I think that guy's in my class." Assuming that Tomine was just a year or two his junior (Clowes was 30), he didn't think Erika could be right.

However, the next day, Erika introduced herself and confirmed that her classmate was indeed Tomine, then only 18. He and Clowes soon met for coffee and discovered something else: that they lived on the same street, just a block apart.

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New Collection Recaps Killer Comics From the Pages of Crime Does Not Pay

Categories: Comics
Cover 24.jpg
Charles Biro

"Artist Slays Divorcee After 11-Day Tryst in A Gramercy Pk. Hotel." So read a headline on August 27, 1958, in the New York Daily News. A woman named Violette Phillips had been found dead in Manhattan's Irving Hotel. Her head had been bashed in with an electric iron. Bob Wood, the "artist" mentioned in the headline, quickly confessed to the murder. Wood and Phillips, longtime lovers, had spent 11 days at hotel, engaged in a drinking binge that spun out of control. Wood was convicted of manslaughter and served three years in Sing Sing.

At the time of the crime, Wood had a history of violence against women and had carried large gambling debts, but he was not known as a career criminal. He was primarily known, from 1942 to 1955, as the co-creator of the one of the most successful (and notorious) comic books of all time: Crime Does Not Pay.

A new paperback collection from Dark Horse Books, Blackjacked and Pistol-Whipped: A Crime Does Not Pay Primer (suggesting, we hope, that additional volumes will follow), presents a choice selection of stories from the book's 13-year run.

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Nato Green Prepares to Eat America for Breakfast

Categories: Comics

We caught up with Nato Green, San Francisco stand-up and subject of this week's cover, right before Green prepared to set off on a cross country tour, bringing his brand of San Francisco comedy to Red State America.

From our story in this week's print edition:

Green and his act are decidedly -- and vocally -- left of center. He takes on current social and political trends, both local and national, with biting wit. Here he is on San Francisco's infamous sit-lie law, which makes it illegal to sprawl out on the sidewalk: "What the chief of police seems to be unaware of is that 100 percent of crime is committed by people who are not lying down." And here are his thoughts on the rise of the Tea Party: "White people cannot handle hope. We experience hope as a down payment on things to come. As in, 'I feel hopeful, so where is my shit?'"

Want to catch Green in the act? He's at the Purple Onion tomorrow night, Sept. 8, and starts his nationwide tour in Phoenix on Sept. 10.

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Jack Kirby's Fighting American: The Gloriously Weird Adventures of a Captain America Wannabe

Categories: Comics

"You put the head of one guy on another guy, and you have a new character," explains Joe Simon in the introduction to Titan Books' square-jawed, two-fisted, batshit crazy collection of the complete Fighting American comic-book series.

Simon isn't kidding. With Jack Kirby, he created Captain America (in 1941) and The Fighting American (in '54), which might seem something like first coming up with Twinkies and then moving on to Zingers, except for the fact that Fighting American series is a lark of patriotic dada.

On the one hand, it's the copycat story about a scrawny, Steve Rogers-like everyman who gets pumped up into a commie-punching Atlas-in-tights thanks to government science. He's Cap, right down to the sidekick. It's a one-guy's-head-on-the-other's-body situation that came about due to the vagaries of comic publishing and character ownership -- Simon (words) and Kirby (art) worked for a company that didn't hold the rights to Captain America, so presto: Here's Fighting American.

On the other hand, the short stories here tend toward the wild and self-referential, with 'ol F.A. sojourning through earth, time, and space battling Roman legionnaires, interstellar fungi, Mexican banditos, Red spies with names like Hotsky Trotsky and Poison Ivan, Martians sent here in a "Beef Box" to stop our lousy TV shows, and even an unsympathetic comic-book inker who alters Simon and Kirby's pages so that Fighting American (and Speedboy, his masked pubescent plus one) get gunned down by crooks. All this in just seven issues!

My favorite villain is Super Khakalovitch, who flies about by doing the squatty Russian kick dance and whose superpower is B.O.

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