WHEN WORLD PREMIERE TELEVISION AND FUNNYBOOK SHOPS MEET
You know, I had a completely different column planned for this week. Yep, one completely different that the one you are about to read. It’s a column that I had planned to do for a couple months now, one I was looking forward to writing even. And I was all ready to get down to the business of writing it… until Wednesday rolled around.
As you might have heard, this last Wednesday, the Isotope sponsored the world premier of the second episode of the B-Minus Comiks “Hel on Ice” TV Show. And that’s the reason I’m giving you this column instead of that other one that I had planned on that I’m going to have to write up for a different week.
Because this week we’re talking B-Minus Comiks.
Now you might not know about B-Minus Comiks, and you might not be familiar with the names Aaron Farmer, AK Smith, or Marc Nordstrom. That’s okay, a couple years ago I wasn’t either. But to help you get aquatinted with their names a little better I’m going to take a minute here to tell you all about these mini-comic making, television crafting, creative dynamos.
Every year, the B-Minus Comiks booth is one of the most eye-catching tables at the Alternative Press Expo. Next to the usual no-nonsense, bare-bones, table cloth and stand-up comics displays that populate comic convention tables everywhere, B-Minus seems to employ some kind of ever-changing comic display wizardry. I’m talking really sharp, professional booth design here. This year B-Minus Comiks stunned everybody by setting up a glorious vinyl-clad, PVC-Pipe contraption that could’ve come straight off the floor of E3.
You can’t help but be drawn to their table, as it entices you over with sheer style and high-class convention sexiness. Once they’ve effectively lured you in, you feel like an idiot not taking a look at the comics they’re pimping, and that’s really where B-Minus gets you. Because these guys are fucking talented and their comics are damn funny.
Yeah, you’ve taken the bait and the hook, and you know it. You’re ready to drop some cash on them when you realize that these aren’t some slick hucksters using hypnotic suggestion and great goods to suck your precious money out of your pocket, these are just cool people who are making good funnybooks. Because despite the obvious talent and a keen flare for display the B-Minus Comiks family are just absolutely cool, friendly people who love comics just like you do and they happen to make something that’s worth spending your money on.
And it just doesn’t get better than that, my friends.
I can tell you from first hand experience that they’re also a blast to hang out with. From Aaron’s drunken comic slip and slide to B-Minus’ astoundingly good showing at our Brian Wood month shooting range event it couldn’t be clearer that wherever B-Minus is at is a damn fun place to be.
Now that you know the members of the B-Minus Comiks family a little bit better, let’s talk about World Premier Television. Because B- Minus’s flagship comic anthology, “Hel on Ice,” isn’t just a terrific funny book read, it’s also a B-movie, sci-fi and Horror schlockfest of a cable access TV show, hosted by lovely, blue-skinned Ms. Monster herself.
A couple months back, these fine B-Minus Comiks folks proposed the idea of premiering the second episode of “Hel on Ice” at the Isotope. They wanted to do something that was a little bit wild, and they damn well knew I was going to be up for a little wilding myself. It was a match made in heaven.
As with any world premier event, we knew to except a large crowd of sexy people, plenty of celebratory beverage, and industry hobnobbing. And we knew that was going to take a bit of work and a lot of bravado to pull off in true Isotope style. The minute I put the stamp of approval on that baby, they got the ball rolling.
And that ball was rolling right up to the last second. Marc Nordstrom spent the early afternoon finessing the final edit of the show. At the same time, Aaron Farmer was equipment wrangling with former Isotope employee Tristan Crane, author of NBM publishing’s terrific gender-outlaw, San Francisco nightlife comic “How Loathsome.” The car was packed from floorboards to sunroof with electronic equipment, so after the unloading process, we all took a moment to chill out with an ice-cold brew. It was a nice opportunity to tell Tristan about how excited I am for the upcoming hardcover collection of his book. That Diamond order code is FEB04 2521 in case you’re wondering.
And then it was back to the whirlwind schedule and they were off again, darting off to Kinko’s to pick up issue 2 of “Hel on Ice,” hot off the press. The B-Minus Comiks family gives it their all for the entertainment starved masses and they had fine-tuned issue 2 of “Hel on Ice” in order to perfect the latest edition which was also set to debut at our little world premier event.
Ryan “Scurvy Dogs” Yount arrived with keg in hand, and a returned Aaron Farmer Feverishly finished folding and stapling the sexy new “Hel on Ice” as the crowd started gathering.
By early evening the event was starting to take shape. And that shape was big. Because B-Minus thinks big. Instead of setting up a TV and VCR and just showing some TV, they wanted to project the show onto the Isotope’s front window so that it could be viewed from both inside and outside the store. As I spray starched and ironed the giant fabric which would act as our projection screen earlier that day I chuckled to myself thinking about the show we were going to give to the entire neighborhood. And when many of our neighbors showed up on the sidewalk later that evening with smiles and high fives all around, I knew that once again those B-Minus people know a thing or two about presentation.
The dual turntables got plenty of use getting the crowd pumped up for the show, as a quadriligy of dueling DJs lined up to start spinning the hot jams.
As the people arrived, we put the 1970’s classic gang flick “The Warriors” up on the big screen. I hadn’t seen it in a really long time, and it was great seeing right there in my own little piece of comic book heaven. “Demo” author Brian Wood was also pretty excited we were showing “The Warriors” that night and donated an early prototype Warriors T-shirt that his pals from Rockstar Games sent him. We had intended to raffle off the shirt to some lucky winner that night, but ended up having too much fun and completely forgot to do it, much to Isotope enforcer Jared Guether’s delight. “Hey, it’s 3:30 in the morning. Who deserves this Warriors t-shirt more than me?” he asked with a sly grin.
Jared got his shirt, who could refuse anything to an employee that had just clocked an 18-hour day? And besides, he was the one who found my “Blondie versus The Ramones” videotape, which we also proudly projected up on the Isotope window. Don’t tell him, but if he had asked for the shirt off my back he could have had that one too.
But the star of the event was the show itself. “Hel on Ice” harkens back to the days of Elvira’s Creature Feature. Hosted by Ms. Monster, the TV show features clips from the Horror and Sci Fi classic films, cartoons, performances by crazy bands, and sketch comedy featuring the sexy blue-skinned hostess and her trash-talking, robot-killing, puppet side-kicks. And there were plenty of zombies, monsters, robots, and aliens for everybody. There were even zombies wrestling sharks. That’s right, zombies wrestling sharks. It was fucking beautiful.
Aside from running the ever-present Isotope camera to document the event I also took several videos clips from the evening, from both the inside and the outside of the store. I think you’ll enjoy them. I particularly like the last one where Tat the Monsterous Melon puppet gets his arm cut off and shoots blood everywhere.
I watched a good portion of the show from the outside of the Isotope, because that was just fucking cool. Street traffic drove by slowly, trying to figure out what was going on and some cars pulled over and parked to take advantage of our instant drive-in theatre. Over the course of the night I met many people who had never been in a comic store in their lives who came in to check out the action and enjoy the show. The retailer in me had great fun popping these comic virgins cherries and sending these first time comic buyers away with 25 cent “Hellboy’s,” a variety of different trade paperbacks, and, of course, copies of B-Minus Comiks “Hel on Ice.”
Once again I find that all you have to do is give people an excuse to do a little comic reading and shopping, and that’s exactly what people are going to do. Even though we had turned down the main over-head lights for better TV viewing, people still just had to read the comics!
Damn, what a great fun time!
So though I had a different column planned for this week, I just had to give up the love for the B-Minus family and friends. So let me extend a thank you to Marc Nordstrom, AK Smith, and Aaron Farmer. Thanks for making great comics, hilarious cable access TV and helping me throw a truly kickass event. You guys rock.
Now for everyone else out there… do yourself and Marc, Aaron and AK a favor. Go fool around on the B- Minus Comiks website. Buy some of their great comics. And while you’re at it, drop these guys an email and let them know you want them do another event like this with the Isotope in the future. ‘Cos I sure as hell do.
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