12 REASONS WHY I LOVE HER FILM FESTIVAL

When I started to hatch a plan to relaunch 12 Reasons Why I Love Her for its tenth anniversary--in stores now!--I had some weird notion that we might one day do a film festival with movies that inspired the book or otherwise have something in common with it. Namely, films with fractured timelines, or multiple storylines that overlap and backtrack and alter how you view what came before, or that otherwise take a unique approach to showing a relationship. I made a list on my phone and I've been carrying it around for god knows how long. Here is what I had settled on, were you inclined to undertake this festival on your own:

Two for the Road (1967), dir. Stanley Donen

Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight (1995/2004/2013), dir. Richard Linklater

Scenes from a Marriage (1973); dir. Ingmar Bergman

5X2 (2004), dir. Francois Ozon

Three Times (2005), dir. Hou Hsiao Hsien

In the Mood For Love (2000)/2046 (2004), dir. Wong Kar-Wai

Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), dir. Alain Resnais

The Day He Arrives (2011)/In Another Country (2012), dir. Hong San-soo

Reconstruction (2003), dir. Christoffer Boe

Lucas Belvaux's Trilogy (2002)

13 Conversations About One Thing (2001), dir. Jill Sprecher

Sliding Doors (1998), dir. Peter Howitt

FAST FICTION - JANUARY 2, 2016

Written in about an hour with minimal editing, based on a prompt from George Rohac ("ennui") and Matt Zoller Seitz ("a bowler hat full of spaghetti"). 

*

For six months there, Jimmy Scarsdale was the most famous man in America, and the #1 box office draw in movie houses around the world. It was said that Chaplin’s The Kid was a direct response to Jimmy’s success. Most argue that it was Charlie’s competitiveness that drove him to create one of his most beloved films, but those close to the performer heard tell of the truth: he despised the cheap nature of Jimmy’s signature gag and wanted to return some kind of meaning back to the cinema. Years later, when an elderly Jimmy Scarsdale had a chance to look back on his one-time career, he would insist that, if nothing else, the movie-going public had him to thank for that.

Truth was, The Kid wasn’t even done being edited before Jimmy himself grew bored with the routine that had made him famous. On a back lot in a desert in California, he sat in a rickety chair, decked out in a custom tuxedo, and holding a bowler hat full of spaghetti in his lap. They were making a New Year’s picture. The set was a lavish nightclub, the numerals 1921 hanging above the soundstage, each digit six feet tall, the light bulbs that outlined the metal currently switched off. The cast and crew were milling about, the demarcation between the two easy to spot. The “talent,” as it were, dressed to the nines, ready to celebrate the changing of the calendar; the people who put it all together were outfitted in clothes more suitable to the labor of an October morning.

Most notable amongst this crowd were the twelve dancing girls wearing rhinestone bathing suits and not much else. Their sheer stockings so thin they may as well been wearing nothing over their legs. Some of the girls draped towels over their shoulders between takes to keep warm, creating an inadvertent sensation every time the assistant director ordered them to take their marks. Every male on set would stop to watch the girls whip the towels away and expose their cleavage. There were catcalls and wolf whistles and knowing elbows exchanged, and even as early as two months ago Jimmy would have been standing with the fellas and whooping it up alongside them. Now he was the most powerful man in the vicinity and he couldn’t be bothered.

The dancing had taken a full day to choreograph and now it would take another half day to shoot, and all for what? So the latest Jimmy Scarsdale short could end up exactly the same way.

Just looking at the spaghetti in the hat made Jimmy queasy. In the years that would come, he would elaborate on these feelings, exaggerate the moment to make it sound more dramatic. “It came to a point where I’d see a plate of any pasta and I would lose my balance,” he told one gullible biographer. “The noodles would turn to worms, the meatballs to maggots, the marinara was blood. I was going to die under a mountain of spaghetti, I just knew it.”

The truth was, Jimmy felt nothing when he saw the spaghetti now. To even say it just made him bored or tired would be too much. It certainly didn’t make him hungry. Just emptiness.

There was a thrill to it once. Jimmy had gotten a real charge out of the second and third times he had done the act. That was when they really knew that he had something, that the bowler-full-of-spaghetti gag was going to make them all rich and put the struggling Poverty Row studio that had Jimmy under contract on the map. There was also the brief road tour to promote that third film, the one where Jimmy played a dandy who had happened upon a lumberjack camp and had to do some fast thinking to get in the good graces of the roughnecks. Before the screening, Jimmy would go out on stage and do the act live. At first the theater owners balked at the idea of having to clean up all that spaghetti, but once they saw how many tickets Jimmy sold, they were ready to dump whatever food he told them on their own heads.

And the crowds! They loved seeing the man from the movie screen there in the flesh. In return, Jimmy loved hearing them cheer him on. Maybe that was when things took a turn, when the studio pulled the plug on Jimmy performing live, fearing it would lessen the impact of Jimmy’s movies. “Why would they settle for the pre-recorded version when they can smell the gravy for real?”

Spaghetti Outpost was fairly indicative of the formula that would develop around Scarsdale’s persona. There was never any explanation as to why Jimmy would be wherever he was, he would just end up in some strange new locale, interact with folks there, and then about fifteen minutes in, put a bowler hat full of spaghetti on his head. Cue the laughs and applause.

Today’s production wouldn’t be any different. Auld Linguini Syne may have been more extravagant, with its musical performances and dance numbers, as well as a montage of 11 different spaghetti dumpings, one for each month of the year, as a happy Jimmy Scarsdale relived a triumphant 1920. All of this was just build-up to get them to midnight, and Jimmy ringing in the new year by having a sexy blonde ingénue in a skimpy outfit, a cross between Cupid and Baby New Year, do the ceremonial hat turn. That was the punchline.

The girl was a newcomer. Deborah Stewart was 17 and eager, and Jimmy had handpicked her the way he had done all of his female co-stars since Spaghetti Outpost, the last film to feature his original leading lady, Gloria Stephens. She’d had enough of Jimmy’s roving hands, and the diva formerly known as Gloriana di Stefano had told him, “I only sleep with men who don’t smell like my grandmother’s kitchen.”

Track Jimmy’s filmography from then on, and the actresses got younger and more eager and less likely to be seen in anything else again, at least not at Jimmy’s studio, where the star might have to see one of his previous casting-couch conquests.

Perhaps that was why the excitement had faded. Jimmy could have whatever he wanted, he didn’t have to try anymore, he just had to show up and make sure his bowler hat was the right size. Seeing Deborah on set wrapped in rags to cover extremities, he remembered why he had chosen her out of the line-up of girls presented to him, but the urge to do anything about it had left him. Again, he would fictionalize this encounter later. Deborah would go on to have a healthy career right up until the sound era, and he would take credit for giving her the break that made it all possible. “It was her cupid wings,” he’d say. “She was so young and...well, with the wings, so angelic, I knew she was special and had to be treated as such. Like a kid sister, not a potential ex-wife.”

That myth would be much better than the one where a comedian in the midst of washing-out couldn’t get it up.

Perhaps the later version was partially inspired by what a nice girl Deborah Stewart really was. She approached Jimmy timidly, a modest hand on her breast bone, the other hovering lower, the actress slightly embarrassed by the costume that would make her a star and give her a gig for many December 31st celebrations to come (“Ring out the old with Hollywood’s sexiest New Year Baby!”).

“Mr. Scarsdale, sir?” she said.

Jimmy only grunted in response.

“Mr. Scarsdale, I just wanted to thank you for this opportunity. It means a lot, and I don’t know that I can ever repay you enough.”

This would have normally been his cue to make some suggestions for how she could really thank him, but instead, Jimmy took a deep breath, caught a snootful of fumes from the red sauce, lightly burped, and said, “Not a problem, kid. Just try not to splash any on ya’ when the big moment comes.”

“Can I ask you something, sir? Is it true what they say, that you based the whole thing on a prank from your schooldays?”

Deborah, like everyone else, had heard the publicity version of the origin story, and outside of a handful of people who had been on the set for Springtime Serenade, the light romantic picture that had been the debut of the hat joke, no one had any reason to doubt it. Jimmy had never been asked to vouch for his own press bio before.

“No, kid, that’s not true. You want to know what really happened?”

“Oh, yes! Please!”

“What really happened was I was supposed to have third billing on Serenade, playing the sidekick to Eddie Graham, the comedic relief while he romanced Gloria Stephens. That shrew took a disliking to me from the get-go, and had I known she was sleeping with the director, I may not have made a pass at her in the first place. Thanks to her I kept getting my scenes cut and pushed out of frame, to the point that I got so mad that I went to the lunch table and filled my hat full of noodles.”

“And you wrote yourself a new scene?”

“So to speak. My initial plan was to walk up to Gloria and pour the spaghetti on her head. If you watch the film again, you’ll see it. I walk up to her, am about to tip the bowler in her direction, only to realize at the last second that, if I did, I’d never work again. That’s how I ended up putting the hat on my own head, and the rest is, well...”

Before he could finish that thought, Jimmy and Deborah were called to set. They were ready for the big scene where Jimmy would come out of his reverie, the countdown reaching 1 and then, as the last calendar page flipped and the giant 1921 came to life, Deborah’s Baby New Year doused Jimmy in spaghetti. It was the first time someone other than the comedian himself would do it. Jimmy thought this was just as well. He didn’t really have the energy to do it himself.  

This big moment should have been the highlight of Jimmy Scarsdale’s career, but instead, it was the beginning of the end. Auld Linguini Syne was the first of his movies to make less than the previous film, and by the end of 1921, the Tramp was King and no one wanted to see a man covered in pasta. Jimmy’s bowler had been replaced by Chaplin’s. Critics would later argue that audience’s disliked the self-congratulatory tone of the montage. In his private thoughts, Jimmy chalked it up to the fact that he just didn’t care anymore. “In comedy, you have to be committed, or the joke falls flat.”

Like many old stars, Jimmy would find some renewal in television. Early variety shows would bring him out either to dump the spaghetti on himself, or to have their host or some guest star do the dumping for him. His last appearance on the boob tube was in the late 1960s, a cameo on Laugh-In, where in a throwback to Auld Linguini Syne, Goldie Hawn would dress up like Deborah Stewart and wish everyone a happy New Year. Jimmy was in his 80s then, and nearly lost his footing when the spaghetti hit. Seeing this, Hawn grabbed him and in a sweet ad lib, kissed him on the cheek. Rather than making an old man happy, the touch of her lips and her girlish giggle put Jimmy right back in October 1920, and made him ask, “What had it all been for?”

Two days later, Jimmy Scarsdale was dead. 

ALL TOMORROW'S PARTIES: LADY KILLER #3 PREVIEW

Lady Killer #3 lands in comic book shops this week: Wednesday, March 4. The 2nd printing of #2 is also being released this week. 

Joëlle and I had a nice chat with Comics Alliance about the book, and she showed off the cover process for the issue. Scroll through to see the different stages.

And you can also look through a sneak preview of five pages, right here.

The series got a neat shout-out from Nuke the Fridge, who would like to see cosplay of Josie. We agree!

One of my new favorite comic characters comes from Dark Horse Comics’ Lady Killer. Josie is a hit-woman by night and a house wife and mother by day. She has a great look to her and a great story. She has a few different outfits to her which all look great, so any one of them would be a cool cosplay to see.

Don't forget to follow the Lady Killer tumblr for more regular updates and special sneak peeks and inspiration.

Because there you would have already seen this neat piece of fan art from our friend Monica Gallagher, whose on book Part-Time Princesses is coming soon from Oni Press.

PREVIEW: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF MIRANDA TURNER #6

The Double Life of Miranda Turner #6

Things almost went wrong for Miranda when her sister's best friend caught her snooping around Lindy's house, but the Cat barely gets time to breathe before having to jump into the breach once again to take on the previous Cat's hellacious arch-nemesis.

MADAME FRANKENSTEIN trade paperback delayed until March 18

Bad news in regards to the Madame Frankenstein trade paperback, originally due in stores this week. We have been informed that some kind of problem at the docks has delayed the shipment from the printer, and so the books won't be in stores now until March 18.

Our apologies for this most unexpected development. In the meantime, here is a sneak peek at some of the design elements and sketches from the book.

For more details on the series, visit the Image Comics page, or join us on Facebook.

DROP DOWN DEAD TONIGHT

Lady Killer #5 (of 5)
Joëlle Jones (W/A/Cover), Jamie S. Rich (W), and Laura Allred (C)

On sale May 6
FC, 32 pages
$3.50
Miniseries

Josie closes in on the truth behind who really wants to end her life as a cheerful housewife, mother, and ruthlessly skilled assassin! Who is really behind the hit? And are they closer to home than she’d like?

“A level of violence that can only be described as Mad Men’s Betty Draper meets Dexter.”—Comic Book Resources

Current Soundtrack: Fifty Shades of Gray soundtrack

LIVE FROM CRUSH PALACE

Happy Valentine's Day from Ares & Aphrodite!

Yes, we know that the actual high holy day is not until this weekend, but this is also to celebrate the digital finale of the first volume over on Comixology. Have you read it yet?

Megan Levens and I are excited to have this book out in the world at last. 

Here's something to listen to while you read. Gigi quotes this song in an earlier chapter, in a way that is as much a threat as a promise. :)

Current Soundtrack: Karen O, Live from Crush Palace

LAST CALL on LADY KILLER #2

Final order cut-off for the second printing of Lady Killer #2 is today, Monday, February 9. Dont miss out! More details here

For those looking to hear arguments in favor of the book...

Our editor, Scott Allie, spends a lot of time talking about Lady Killer in this recent interview with Bleeding Cool. The site also gives a tremendous review to #2.

And Joëlle has her own chat with Graphic Policy.

Plus a couple more reviews:

Doomrocket includes us in their weekly round-up

The attention to period detail is very appreciated, and only makes the story more engaging. (In a period piece, there’s nothing worse than getting pulled out of a story because someone’s hair or costume or makeup is incorrect: no such problems arise here.) Aesthetically, even Jones’ art style fits with the era, at times reminiscent of the gorgeous fashion illustration of the time. This is simply well-crafted and entertaining fiction: the only fault to find with it is its brevity as a five-issue mini-series, and that only three more installments remain. (My fingers are certainly crossed for more.)

Geeked-Out Nation

RoboFist

Current Soundtrack: Beyoncé, BEYONCÉ [platinum edition]

TRUE LOVE WILL FIND YOU IN THE END...OF ARES & APHRODITE

The digital edition of Ares & Aphrodite wraps up this Tuesday. You can get that and previous chapters from Comixology.

Needless to say, this gallery previewing that sixth installment has spoilers. If you've not been reading, scroll through at your own peril.

I was surprised with a first-look advance copy of the actual printed comic this week. It came out gorgeous! Hilary Thompson at Oni Press really did a marvelous job bringing it together. And I think Megan's colors look even better on paper.

And remember, when this bad boy comes out in April, it has a bonus story, process material, and an afterword not available in the serialization.

Current Soundtrack: Cornershop, Hold On It's Easy

BY JOVE!

NOW IN THEATERS...

Jupiter Ascendingthe latest from Andy and Lana Wachowski, opens this week, and hey, I ended up liking it

The Portland International Film Festival is also kicking off its 2013 run. Give a look at their schedule

As part of the Oregonian's team coverage, I reviewed:

Corn Island from Georgia

Life in a Fishbowl from Iceland [review to be published Tuesday]

The Tribe from the Ukraine

Ones I've seen but did not review, but that I recommend, are The Japanese Dog, Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles, Marie's Story, and The Clouds of Sils Maria.

I do not recommend Underdog.

More reviews from the festival next week!

Current Soundtrack: Luke Haines, Adventures in Dementia: A Micro Opera

LADY KILLER #2 GOES TO A 2ND PRINT, PLUS MORE REVIEWS

The response to the second issue of Lady Killer is proving just as strong as the first...

...which itself is picking up new readers in advance of the reprint due out on 2/18. Check out this long review of #1 from Eat Geek Play.

Today we even announced a sell-out and a second print of the issue.

‘LADY KILLER’ #2 CONTINUES SELLOUT, GOES TO SECOND PRINTING

02/05/2015 1:01pm

‘Lady Killer’ Second Issue Continues An Incredible Direct-Market Run

Dark Horse is proud to announce that Joëlle Jones, Jamie S. Rich, and Laura Allred’s Lady Killer #2 has sold out at the distributor level and will receive a second printing, a mere day after its publication.

In Lady Killer #2, Josie’s life grows more complicated than ever. Between the demands of her family life (including her disapproving mother-in-law), the challenges of performing as a ruthless assassin, and being underestimated by the men she works for, how can she do it all—and make it look so good?

The issue’s second-printing cover will feature a new color scheme that’s black, white, and red all over.

Don’t be left behind on the series Gail Simone calls “a gorgeous and darkly funny book, well worth buying.” Order your copy of the second printing of Lady Killer #2 today through your local retailer!

Lady Killer #2 Second Printing (DEC148395)

Joëlle Jones (W/A/Cover) and Jamie S. Rich (W)

On sale March 4

FC, 32 pages; Miniseries

$3.50

Praise for Lady Killer #2:

“As delightful to read as it is to just look at.”—Multiversity Comics

“This feels like a hit in the making.”—Comic Book Resources’ Comics Should Be Good

‘Lady Killer’ Second Issue Continues An Incredible Direct-Market Run

 

Lady Killer #2 second printing cover

A few more links to reviews of Lady Killer #2:

ComicAttack.Net

* Comic Bastardsscore of 4 out of 5

Comic Vine: 5 out of 5

* Adventures in Poor Taste: 7.5/10

Rockin' Comics4.75/5

All-Comic.com: 4/5

Current Soundtrack: Björk, Vulnicura

SECOND TIME AROUND

Lady Killer #2 lands today! In comic shops everywhere.

Here are a couple of early reviews:

Big Comic Page

Broken Frontier staff pick

Coming Up Comics

* Graphic Policy

Multiversity's Comics Should Be Cheap: picked twice!

Nuke the Fridge

* Backwards Compatible:

Joëlle also made the list for Comics Should Be Good/She Has No Head's 10 Ladies Leveling Up in 2015. Excerpt:

Having read the first issue I can tell you that it’s easily Jones best work (and maybe Rich’s as well?) and the book feels like it could hit pretty big. It’s got a nice easy to pitch high-concept idea—kind of a Mad Men meets Kill Bill…or perhaps Dexter vibe—and paired with a strong completely beautiful execution, this feels like a hit in the making.

And the two of us have a quick chat with Geeked-Out Nation.

Current Soundtrack: Inherent Vice soundtrack

LOVE IS MORE THAN WEDDING DAY...

...but today is the day in Ares & Aphrodite when we find out who wins the bet, Will or Gigi. Is this particular knot about to get tied?

It's the penultimate chapter. You're going to know how this whole little romance turns out next week, just in time for Valentine's!

Download Ares & Aphrodite #5 now.

Scroll through the preview below. 

The printed book is out in April. Order it now.

Current Soundtrack: The Charlatans, Modern Nature

HANG ON TO YOURSELF

NOW IN THEATERS...

It's an Academy Awards bonanza.

* Animated and Live-Action ShortsCatch all the nominated short films in a limited program.

Leviathanthe Russian entry in the Best Foreign Language category shows why it's a front runner.

Still Alice earned Julianne Moore a Best Actress nod, but offers little else worth noting.

Portlanders also might head out to see the French animated film The King and the Mockingbird, newly restored after a long journey that started in the 1950s. Or you might settle in for the challenge of Lars von Trier's Dogville.

WATCH IT AT HOME...

The Bride Wore BlackFrancois Truffaut's tribute to Hitchcock, featuring Jeanne Moreau as a woman bent on revenge. Now on Blu-ray.

Port of Flowers/The Living Magoroku, the first two films of Japanese director Keisuke Kinoshita, as included in Criterion's Eclipse 41: Kinoshita and World War II.

MISSED IT...

Links I didn't post last week.

Sit Stay Ride: The Story of America's Sidecar Dogsa documentary with a self-explanatory title. Available digitally.

Two music documentaries: one about Portland's the Prids, the other about the San Diego music scene of the 1980s/90s.

Current Soundtrack: The Beatles, Live at the BBC

LADY KILLER SELLS OUT, GOES TO SECOND PRINT RUN

Lady Killer Slays the Direct Market 

Dark Horse is proud to announce that the first issue of Joëlle Jones, Jamie S. Rich, and Laura Allred’s Lady Killer has sold out at the distributor level and will receive a second printing!

Josie Schuller is a picture-perfect homemaker, wife, and mother—but she’s also a ruthless, efficient killer for hire! A brand-new original comedy series that combines the wholesome imagery of early 1960s domestic bliss with a tightening web of murder, paranoia, and cold-blooded survival, Lady Killer has received acclaim from creators and critics alike.

“The best comics feature great talent throwing together the stuff that gets them most excited, like Mike Mignola onHellboy, or Eric Powell on The Goon, or Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips on The Fade Out,” said Dark Horse’s editor in chief, Scott Allie. “Joëlle’s drawn a lot of other people’s stories, but only she could’ve used midcentury fashion, espionage, and ultraviolence to create such a perfectly modern comic.”

To reflect the absolute killing the issue’s first print run made in the direct market, the second-printing cover will feature a special blood-red color scheme.

Find out why the critics are raving. Order Lady Killer #1 today through your local retailer!

Lady Killer #1 Second Printing (DEC148311)

Joëlle Jones (W/A/Cover) and Jamie S. Rich (W)

On sale February 18

FC, 32 pages; Miniseries

$3.50

Praise for Lady Killer #1:

“A gorgeous and darkly funny book, well worth buying.”—Gail Simone

“Dark Horse has spared no expense in making this miniseries loaded with talent.”—Comic Book Resources’ Robot 6

“Jones brings a new level of polish to her artwork on this title, using a clean, confident line that gives Lady Killer a slick retro look.”—The A.V. Club

THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE

The fourth digital chapter of Ares & Aphrodite: Love Wars takes us into the final act. Get “The Morning After the Night Before” on Comixology now.

Two issues to go, still plenty of time to catch up. Scroll trough the preview of #4 for more.

This chapter also has a self-deprecating two-panel exchange that never fails to crack me up. 

PREVIEW LADY KILLER #2

Yesterday, Doom Rocket premiered exclusive pages from Lady Killer #2.

Give a look to their coverage here.

Lady Killer #2 goes on sale February 4, 2014.

You can also meet Joëlle Jones at Wizard World Portland this weekend, where she will have a table. 

I'll be hanging around a bit, and I am scheduled to sign at the Dark Horse booth on 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Current Soundtrack: Emile Haynie & Lana Del Rey, "Wait for Life"