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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I recently reunited with the crew responsible for UPSTAGED, our entry in the Asheville 48 Hour Film Festival, on a new short film I’ll call Project Burglary for now. The story involves an art thief who finds himself in a surreal, Sci-Fi situation, which is played to its full effect using extreme dutch angles, the black and white aesthetic, and artificial sound via foley.
Project Burglarly starred actor Jeff Ryan Alexander (The Inspectors / Transplanting / Office Christmas Party) with John Duper Morse as his body double and crew including myself (Director), Rome Widenhouse (Director of Photography), Madeleine Richardson (1st AD), Cat Wityk (Script Supervisor), and Brittany Jackson (Gaffer). The short was shot on Monday 9/26 in the living room of the Widenhouse residence in Woodfin, NC.
I adapted this piece from a project I shot for a class at UNC Asheville in 2011 and chose to revisit the concept since the previous version was never completed. The cameraman mixed up the recording button, so every time he thought we were rolling, he was actually cutting. We were left with footage involving the set up of each shot with the camera shutting off as soon as I said “Action!” Luckily I was able to recycle the footage for a documentary about the failed project later that semester.
Revisiting the concept five years later proved to go exponentially more smoothly as I was joined by much capable filmmakers. I wrote roughly three new drafts of the 2-page script after important creative feedback from Rome and Cat, incorporating more unifying moments and symbolism, including a painting of the Ouroboros created by Rome Widenhouse, which you can see getting destroyed in the Instagram video below.
Project Burglary has now entered post-production, edited by Madeleine Richardson. After picture lock, we will begin to create the foley sounds and ambient soundtrack. Expect an announcement with Project Burglary’s official title and its accompanying plans for release by the end of the year.
I recorded the narration on this video last year for WDb, looking back on the history, design, and functionality of Batman’s costumes throughout animated television. WDb is short for the WATCHTOWER DATABASE, a YouTube variety channel regarding all things DC Animated Universe, which was a series of interlocking cartoons starting with the Emmy award winning BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.
The video below was one of the first I contributed to the channel, so the sound quality isn’t as solid as I would prefer. Fortunately webmaster James Strecker’s editing skills are so natural and engaging, he could have substituted my voice with the sound of a lawnmower and still retained interest. All self deprecation aside, it actually is a pretty cool video and at the time of this post, at least 4,250 other people seem to agree. 102 of them even felt the need to thumbs up… not that life should be measured by your number of Likes, of course.