12th Level Intellects // recap

About a year ago, I participated in an extensive discussion with James Strecker on fan theories regarding the DC Animated Universe (or DCAU, if you will) which was a series of interlocking cartoons that began in 1992 with BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and concluded in 2006 with JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. The DCAU started one of the first shared universes, a concept that Marvel Studios has now popularized over the last decade.

Since the DCAU experienced such a lengthy run with spin-offs like STATIC SHOCK and BATMAN BEYOND, these versions of DC Comics’ classic characters were truly streamlined to the bare essentials that made them work without all the baggage of 75 years of comic book history. Because of this, some characters were occasionally taken into new, unfamiliar territory, such as the romance between Green Lantern and Hawkgirl as well as a glimpse into the twilight years of Batman’s career.

The DCAU never ceased to surprise even long term fans of the characters and the internet took it upon itself to push the realm of possibility even further. The aforementioned discussion on these fan theories became the 12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS podcast, a continuing segment featured on the WATCHTOWER DATABASE YouTube channel, named for a term in the DCAU meant to describe the smartest beings in the universe. That would naturally be the hosts of the podcast.

We’ve discussed various ideas such as whether the Teen Titans belong to this universe, if Gear and Brainiac bonded to create a lineage in the far future, if villains such as Harley Quinn, the Scarecrow, Penguin, or Lock-Up ever had children, and the possibility that the Justice Leaguer Warhawk was actually the son of Hawkman rather than Green Lantern, among so many more discussions to come over the next few months.

Our biggest success was the Harley Quinn video, linked below, which went viral shortly after the premiere of David Ayer’s SUICIDE SQUAD. As of this writing, the video has gathered over 160,000 views on YouTube and countless comments debating who was actually the father of Harley’s children. Expect additional installments of the 12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS podcast at least once a month as it does take a moment to splice together such a video essay.

S.T.A.R. Labs Confidential

When The CW launched the new seasons of their superhero shows last fall, YouTube channel host Zizzoro aka Brian Day and I reviewed each premiere. First we talked about THE FLASH, which was fun because the first episode was adapted from a familiar comic book storyline called FLASHPOINT, written by one of my favorite writers Geoff Johns. Zizzoro and I dive into the similarities between the episode and its source material and speculate on the future of the current season.

Next we talked about the season 5 premiere of ARROW where we discussed the new villain Prometheus (one of my favorite comic book villains, an Anti-Batman), last season’s death of the Black Canary and her potential return, and whether the temporal tampering of the aforementioned “Flashpoint” will also affect ARROW which we’ve already seen some evidence in regards to John Diggle’s child.

Although I haven’t followed the show in full, in the review on SUPERGIRL’s season 2 premiere, Zizzoro and I discussed the presence of Martian Manhunter and a new Superman, the change in networks from CBS to The CW, Supergirl’s love life in the comics, how her relationship with Jimmy Olsen might evolve, the virtues of Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant, and the possibility of more crossover episodes.

To round out the discussion, Zizzoro and I discussed the season 2 premiere of LEGENDS OF TOMORROW. This show has always had the most potential to explore the vast corners of the DC Universe, and with somewhat obscure characters like Firestorm and Vixen on their team roster, there’s no arguing that they do. This season saw the introduction of the Justice Society, one of my favorite superhero teams from the WWII era, as well as a new incarnation of the Legion of Doom.

I had a great time geeking out about DC TV on S.T.A.R. Labs Confidential and welcome the opportunity to do so again with Zizzoro or another host.  I’ve also been known to conduct interviews, so I’m sure there will be many more to come.

WDb interviews MATTHEW MANNING

The first issue of DC Comics, IDW, and Nickelodeon’s best-selling comic series BATMAN / TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ADVENTURES dropped on November 9th after selling out its first printing two weeks in advance! I had the pleasure of sitting down with the series writer and fellow Asheville resident Matthew K. Manning for an interview about the project.

I had been hounding Matt to sign my copies of JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES #14 and #33 for years. We finally made that happen, and he also graciously agreed to geek out with me on the 12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS podcast where we discussed everything from the first issue itself, upcoming plans for the series, our favorite versions of Batman and the turtles, their histories in animation, and many other nuggets of interesting nerd knowledge.

PROJECT GLOOM // concept art update

Project Gloom is the codename to my upcoming horror comic series that has been gestating in my head for a few years, but only in development since August 2016. I’m excited to have an outlet that will allow me to experiment with the boundaries of comics in thirteen separate chapters with almost as many artists.

My team has shifted somewhat recently, first and foremost with the addition of Rome Widenhouse as Editor. He’s already been active in the refinement of the series ending, so I’m happy to have him onboard for the initial issues. Secondly, artist Gabriel Fobert is taking on a more extensive role in the series. Find concept art by Fobert (@crypt_crow) on the Hatman phenomenon below.

#ink #sketch #art #trenchcoat #hatman The hat man cometh! 🎩

A photo posted by Gabriel Fobert (@crypt_crow) on

My collaborators and I had a production meeting over drinks at Burial Beer Co. just shortly before Halloween, which was both inspirational and rejuvenating. I am currently juggling two scripts on Project Gloom simultaneously, both the first and third issues, with drafts expected for completion within the month.

PROJECT MINUTE PIGEON // intro

Since last April, I’ve been working as an Editor on an independent comic series I’ll call Project Minute Pigeon for now. Minute Pigeon is a high concept, space spaghetti western epic written by Adam Mullen and illustrated by Mike Lombardo.

What is a space spaghetti western epic, you may ask? Just accept such a dusty, noodly description for what it is and let it whet your appetite and expectations. Providing everything goes according to plan, you’ll be able to read issue #1 in print or digital means within a year or so.

Check out concept art below displaying a prominent element of the series.

banner_wmImage by Mike Lombardo

PROJECT SCRAMBLED EGGS // intro

Though the official title is still up in the air, what I’m calling Project Scrambled Eggs is a southern gothic, dark comedy short film about destroying objects of the past to make room for the future. Scrambled Eggs will star actors Catherine Wityk, Erich Reinhard, and Brian Bost with much of the same crew behind UPSTAGED, our entry into the 2016 Asheville 48 Hour Film Project, involving filmmakers Brittany Jackson (Gaffer), Madeleine Richardson (DoP), and Daniel Hall (1st AD).

A photo posted by Ted Kendrick (@ted.kendrick) on

Director Rome Widenhouse, actress Cat Wityk, and I came up with the concept earlier this year as a practice short for the 48HFP, planned primarily to test our ability to smash an object as we were expecting to break a TV for the 48HFP (though that never actually happened). Rome gets credit for writing most of the scenario involved in Scrambled Eggs, though Cat heavily changed the direction of her character Mabel, and I like to think I brought the ending together and ironed out the rest. Per usual for work with this crew, I pulled double duty as Producer and Sound Recordist.

A photo posted by Ted Kendrick (@ted.kendrick) on

We filmed the first scene on Friday 9/9 at the Widenhouse family’s property in Woodfin, NC where we parked a Honda Civic in the middle of a field and removed the hood and tires to make it look like a piece of junk. We planned to finish the shoot that next Monday, but scheduling conflicts moved the final scenes over to the following month. We only just wrapped principle photography on Friday 10/21.

Project Scrambled Eggs has entered post-production and expected to be finished by the end of the year. Based on the footage I’ve seen so far, the short could be a strong contender for a programming presence in local film festivals next year as it will definitely be a beautiful piece of work.

WDb // COMIC RELIEF

Over the last few months, on every Wednesday afternoon, I’ve maintained a column called COMIC RELIEF where I recommend comics and graphic novels I’ve enjoyed over the years. The segment was originally posted to the LEGACIES OF THE DCAU Facebook page of which I was a curator, though the page has now been taken offline due to low traffic.

COMIC RELIEF will instead accompany the WATCHTOWER DATABASE social media outlets starting at the end of November and will post every Wednesday, the same day new comics arrive at local stores. I intend to mix old reviews with the new, sharing all in a more visual aesthetic rather than the plain text I used before.

I’m excited for a continuing platform to share some of my favorite books from an ever expanding medium. Be sure to hit ‘like’ on the WATCHTOWER DATABASE Facebook page so you don’t miss each weekly update of COMIC RELIEF!

CircUS Party 2020 // web series

Over the last few months, I’ve been involved in the development of the CircUS Party 2020 campaign, a mockumentary web series in the style of BORAT and THE OFFICE that will bring the political circus out of Washington and back into the classic setting of the Big Top. The CircUS Party just launched their crowdfunding campaign and are seeking initial funds to produce the pilot episode.

If financed, I would likely continue to assist in the development of the web series by writing and producing. I also ran sound during the production of the Teaser Trailer below and make a brief cameo doing as much in the second video.

The CircUS Party web series is the brainchild of Creatrix Iz Web, a member of the original CircUS Party, Head of Development at Social Construct Films, and Ringmistress of Clan Destiny Circus as well as an experienced acrobatic dancer and aerialist. Iz and I have worked together at Social Construct Films for a few years now and it’s been a lot of fun to watch this concept grow into fruition.

With over 1,000 card-carrying members (most of whom joined at Bonnaroo during the 2012 live tour), the CircUS Party already has a huge online community to facilitate participation in the web-series and prompted organized civic action. Though not an actual political party, the CircUS Party reserves the right to become one at some point and make the run for the White House, or a more localized level of government, similar to comedian Stephen Colbert’s presidential campaign in 2008 where he only ran in the South Carolina primaries.

If you like what you’ve seen and want to learn more, sign up to become a member at www.CircUS-Party.org/JOIN or get in touch at circusparty2020@gmail.com!

VIREALITY // feature film

VIREALTY is a feature film by James Strecker, a filmmaker from Eugene, Oregon who produces a comedy sketch channel on YouTube called JTS Entertainment. The film stars actors James Strecker, Nicholas Rylands, Joe Scott, Jon Freeman, Scott Steele, and Will Violette with an original soundtrack scored by Adam Mullen of Musica Atomica.

VIREALITY is intended to be the culmination of every video James has uploaded to his channel over the last six years, bringing together all of the characters from his various skits in a parallel universe shattering epic. In fact, that all becomes a part of the plot when James himself discovers his YouTube content actually exists in its own plane of reality, though under siege by the evil warlord Goo’ghal, a not so sly commentary on the overreach of a certain tech company.

I provided edits for VIREALITY shortly after the first draft was completed and left enough fingerprints behind to earn myself a Co-Writer credit. VIREALITY probably went through four major edits or so with James and I trading PDFs back and forth with comments as we do with additional feedback and suggestions from Micah Dugan, Jon Freeman, and Will Violette.

An Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign was launched a few months later where James secured a little over $1,500 for financing out of a $6,000 goal, so roughly a quarter of the desired budget. James is gearing up for production on the CGI heavy segment that takes places in the digital world of “The Tube” and is still welcoming donations on his personal website.

Half of the film, which takes places in the “real world,” was shot last year over two weeks in Oregon. The actors in this segment were playing themselves, all recurring talent from previous videos by JTS Entertainment. These scenes are well into post-production with the more expensive and intricate segments of VIREALITY set in the digital world of “The Tube” prepped for 2017.

EMPTY HANDS // music

During my senior year of high school in Homewood, Alabama, I was a member in a folk rock band called EMPTY HANDS, inspired by musical acts such as Bright Eyes, Wild Sweet Orange, and the Great Book of John, just to name a few.

EMPTY HANDS was comprised of frontman Trevor Litsey (Vocals / Guitar), C.W. Newell (Lead Guitar), myself (Bass) and Will Johnston (Drums) with rotating backup vocalists Molly Byrom, Lesley Wildes, Lily Womble, and Chelsey Whild.

From 2009 to 2010, we played a handful of shows including The Peerless Saloon in Anniston, Alabama which was the oldest saloon in the state, the Magic City Art Connection in Birmingham where we played right after Kate Taylor of Dead Fingers, and the Homewood Holiday Open House on the corner of 18th street.

Listen to our homemade album, with some songs produced by Ron Dometrovich, embedded below via NoiseTrade. I can safely say that the band’s unanimous favorite was track 11, “Utah” which truly still holds up as a damn good tune.