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The Dude on Tour [Apr. 21st, 2009|01:33 pm]
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One of my favorite movies is The Big Lebowski. In my mind, this is one of the finest movies the Coen Brothers have ever made. Yeah, I'm one of those people who quote the movie and point out every Lebowski reference in Pop-Culture (the writers of the TV series Chuck must really love the show as there is one reference to the movie almost weekly). As with anything that has a passionate and devoted fan base The Big Lebowski has spawned a series of fan events called Lebowski Fests. I've never been to a Lebowski Fest, not out of any objection but for a lack of funds, time or location. I

When I first heard about the Lebowski Fests I thought they were a cool idea and a natural progression of fan adulation of the movie. However now that they have become a thing of their own, it feels like the whole thing is turning into a Star Trek convention.

Seriously, minor actors who had small roles now go to these things and sign autographs and do the whole niche celebrity thing. The people who put this thing on have turned the thing from a nifty idea honoring a cool movie, to a cottage industry to a small marketing machine. They published a book on the movie, which was really kind of about themselves, they produce a bunch of merchandise (hey, I won a couple of the shirts, so at least it's cool stuff) and they thrive right on the edges of copyright infringement the way Star Trek fandom did thirty years ago.

Anyway, the end of the Star Trek convention, at least as it applied to fans, was when the things became an industry of their own. Suddenly, they were no longer cool and unique fan events, they became schlock merchandise-fests designed to separate you from as much of your money as possible. Soon the convention promoters became licensee's and they made crappy merchandise o ftheir own which their favorite dealers then sold in the exhibit rooms.

Like I said, I have never been to a Lebowski Fest. I would like to one day just to see what they are all about. I would like to think that I am wrong about the fate of these things, but the announcement of what the show organizers called "The Speed of Sound Tour", a series of events from Las vegas to Seattle complete with a line-up of touring actors and bands makes me feel, well, like the thing has become a little un-dude.

Like I said, I might be wrong, I hope I'm wrong.

The Big Lebowski has a place deep in my psyche as an American. It was the weekend after 9/11 and we were coming up on Monday NIght (which, at the time, was a weekly holiday in which all of my friends and I would get together to sort of watch the game but mostly to touch base on the weekend that was and the week ahead). The NFL had made the announcement that that weekend that they were canceling Monday Night Football that week.

I understood why, and honestly did not have a problem with the game being cancelled, but it did hurt a little, kind of creating a feeling of the bad guys having won. So, my friends and I got together anyway, gathering at my house to watch a movie. There was no debate as to which film we would watch. I reached in for my well worn VHS of The Big Lebowski and we watched it, laughed at it, spoke the lines with it and for a couple of hours just plain ignored the chaos enveloping our world.

You see the Dude is a man for his time. He just fits right in there wherever there might be. So I think the Dude might look at the Lebowski Fest and what it has become and just give a nod and a "far out" to the whole thing. but then I think he would wander into a Ralph's for some half-and-half and then straight home for a cold Caucasian and an evening of listening to highlights of his favorite bowling tournaments.

The dude, after all, abides.
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SLG Art Boutiki and Creator's Studio weekend a big success. [Mar. 12th, 2009|03:56 pm]
The SLG Art Boutiki and Gallery has been running for three months now, and it finally feels like we are getting the hang of it. We here at the mighty SLG pride ourselves on throwing a pretty damn good party, and now it looks like the rest of downtown San Jose is starting to figure that out. Our most recent opening for Karl Christian Krumpholz's Barflies Boozers and Bastards show brought upwards of 150 people through the door.

The next day we revived our Creator's Studio seminars with three panels on comics (including one on the business of comics which could have gone on all day) and a live drawing demonstration by Krumpholz. There were 22 people in attendance for this including one person who flew in all the way from Oklahoma JUST TO ATTEND OUR CLASS. Good thing for us it didn't suck because I would have felt guilty and wanted to refund the guys money. One other young lady came all the way from Long Beach, a roughly 400 mile one-way trip.

Our next show opening is on Friday April 3rd (as we have become a part of the South First Friday gallery crawl, all you need to remember is that on the first Friday of every month there will be a big a new showing going on at SLG) and will feature new pieces by Ethan Nicolle, Devon Deveroux, Karl Krumpholz and a few others.

The next seminar event is actually a four week seminar on comic book writing by Serena Valentino. The first class is April 11th, for more details follow this link:



Writing Comics - From Start to Finish. Four Week Class Instructed by Serena Valentino.

Here are some pictures from the big events.


 
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The Human Paraquat [Jan. 2nd, 2009|01:03 pm]
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We were watching The Big Lebowski the other day. That's not an unusual thing in our household as we watch bits and pieces of that movie at least once every couple of months. We've run the movie on a loop during parties and quote it without thinking. I have never been to a Lebowski Fest, and while those types of thing are not truly my bag I can see the appeal of them.

Anyway, we watched the movie and came to the part in the end where the Dude calls The Big Lebowski a "Human Paraquat". I never eally thought too much about the line, it comes out of left field and is qucily skipped over to the part where Walter, convinced that the Big Lebowski is faking, lifts him out of his wheelchair and drops him to the ground in a puddle of the mans tears and assorted Pomeranian slobber.

This time though someone asked out loud "What the hell is a paraquat?" More importantly why is the Big Lebowski the human incarnation of whatever this thing is? I guess this is a question that vexes Lebowski fans everywhere. Well, I have the answer to all of your questions pertaining to paraquats and all things literary.

Paraquat is an herbicide, it is used to kill weeds. In the late seventies there was a big scare about Paraquat-laced marijuana being smuggled across the border from Mexico and  sold in the United States. In the early 1980's the DEA sprayed Paraquat, among other herbicides, on pot farms that were discovered on public lands. There was outcry from the pot-smoking community as the poisoned buds posed a health threat to pot smokers. The initial response from the straight community was "Smoking marijuana is illegal get a job sir!" Ronald Reagan's Drug Czar Carlton Turner, a man who once tried to advertise a bogus paraquat tester in High Times, said that he didn't care if hundreds of kids died from smoking paraquat laced weed.

So, when the Dude is running down the Big Lebowski's scheme of setting him up and letting him take the fall for stealing the money intended for the non-kidnappers of Bunny Lebowski, tricking him into tossing a ringer for the ringer, Duder calls the elder Lebowski a human paraquat, associating the man with not just the herbicide but with the establishments attitude with pot smokers. The Big Lebowski didn't care if the Dude was killed by the real kidnappers or not.

In the end of course the Big Lebowski is not what he seems and ends up crying on the floor like a baby, his plans ruined and his scheme thwarted as he is exposed for the fraud that he is. So, there you go, the Human Paraquat.

If you found this article at all enlightening and would like to contribute to my kid's college fund, then click the link for the Amazon.com listing of The Big Lebowski Limited Edition. You don't have to buy the movie, but if you buy anything else after having followed the link I'll get a small kickback.

The Dude Abides.
The Big Lebowski - 10th Anniversary Limited Edition






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Sarah Winchester Comic Book Project. [Dec. 21st, 2008|01:57 pm]
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I don't often do this kind of post, I think hyping a project which is a long ways off from being done is often kind of a waste of energy. People tend to get worked up about something too early and forget about a project once it starts. There are a couple of reasons I am posting these early images of our upcoming comic series about Sarah Winchester now for a couple of reasons.

1) This is the first extended comic book writing since I wrote Scarlet Thunder and I am kind of pumped about the art. Drew Rausch, whom I met after we started the Haunted Mansion series, is someone I just clicked with. Once it became apparent that SLG was not going to be able to produce new Haunted Mansion material I turned my attention to the other big, mysterious house in my life, The Winchester Mystery House. I tried to get a job there when I was a kid (I didn't get it because I was a smart-ass) and I have always had an idea in my head for the place. I loved the Haunted Mansion stories Drew and I did together and he was a perfect choice for this book. He gets the vibe.

2) In an interview I made a comment about initiating more projects where we came up with the concepts internally. Lots of people asked me for examples of what kind of projects I was talking about. This is an example of one. I will post some art from another one soon.

3) I'm just generally excited about this project, and not just because I am writing it. This thing is going to have Harry Houdini, Teddy Roosevelt, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and possibly one of the most mysterious women in American history.

So, clicking on an image below take you to a larger image posted on my Facebook page. All art is by Drew Rausch. If we are lucky, the first issue will be out in time for Comic-Con (maybe, not promising).











 





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Coming Out [Nov. 8th, 2008|06:47 pm]
So, my friend Scott Saavedra came out of the closet this weekend. No, he's not gay, but he decided to reveal to the world that he is dealing with a disease known as (Polycystic Kidney Disease, or as translated into English the "Fucking-Rotten-Deal-For-Anyone" disease.

You can read his blog post about it  here

So, of course there's never a good time to get sick, but you know these times are worse than ever for most people, and Scott is not the kind of person to go out and ask for something for nothing so what he is doing is asking people to go to his Zazzle store and buy something.

Okay, so a fair number of SLG creators past and present read this blog. Some of you have done pretty well, some not, but just about EVERYONE we have published has benefited in some way from the work that Scott does for us (and for you) behind the scenes. So, really, no excuses, go buy something right the fuck now.
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Mark Buck [Oct. 21st, 2008|01:52 pm]
This is a sad week for me here in the office as yesterday I found out about the death of one of my friends and first collaborator Mark Buck. Those of you out there who have followed SLG since the beginning will know Mark Buck as the illustrator of our first comic book Samurai Penguin. Before he drew those comics Mark worked for me at A World of Fantasy, the comic book store I owned, and helped me countless other projects for the few years he worked for me.

I first met Mark when he wandered into my comics shop when he was 16 years old and I hired him to work for me shortly after. He was the first non-family person I had ever hired, but after a time he quickly felt like one of the family. He was a good kid who worked hard and who always seemed to be laughing at me. That was a thing about Mark, he always seemed to be able to laugh at things even when he was ranting about someone or something or another.

He moved on as most kids do and when I caught up with him next he was working for ILM making models. He worked on a lot of very notable films including all three of the most recent Star Wars movies, James and the Giant Peach, Nightmare Before Christmas, Transformers. His IMDB listing had him most recently working on the new Terminator movie.

Mark also got married and became a dad, he leaves behind his wife Mary Ann and young son Henry.

I didn't see Mark much lately, despite the fact that he did not live far from me. Whenever I did see him though he always had some weird and crazy story about himself to share. I kind of half expect to still see him somewhere down the line and have him say something like "Well, you're not going to believe THIS one, I died AGAIN." One of the stories about Mark that serves as a metaphor for the guy is how, at some point I think in his early thirties, he grew like another three inches in height because of an out of control thyroid gland,

The thing that makes that story stand out is that he grew physically just as he had grown as a person. BY all accounts Mark was a great husband and father. He was a great talent artistically and if he maybe wasn't really ready to do an entire comic book when he was a teenager had he stuck with comics I really believe he could have been huge.

I will always know him as a good friend and part of our family and I am lucky to have known him.

Mark Buck. He will be missed.

Dan Vado


        

Above, Mark and I at the SLG 10th anniversary party holding a copy of Samurai Penguin. Mark Buck building a model for Rocky & Bullwinkle, the cover of Samurai Penguin #1
   

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Drunken Monkeys Forever [Sep. 19th, 2008|11:08 am]
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I don't normally post a lot of personal stuff to my blog, but the picture above presented itself with an exception to that rule. The people in the picture above are members, both past and present, of the Drunken Monkeys Roller Hockey team. I started the monkeys some nine years ago and have kept it going non-stop ever since. The framed jersey in the background was given to me by my teammates and the rink we play at as a thank you for my sponsorship of the Monkey's and in gratitude for my contributions to the sport.

This was, in all honesty, one of the coolest nicest things anyone has ever done. A lot of these guys play on a lot of teams and most of them told me later that playing on the Monkeys was a highlight for them. The fact that this gift coincided with my birthday was cool too and made officially staring at 50 a little easier.

I am posting this not to try and say "look how cool I am" (I would hope most people know that isn't my style) but really just to, in a public way, say thanks to all of those players past and present who made the team what it was/is and to express my gratitude to them for the kind gift, the warm sentiments and treasured memories.

Thanks especially to my co-captain Don Preble for pulling this thing off RIGHT UNDER MY NOSE!

Dan Vado
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Untitled [Sep. 2nd, 2008|09:29 pm]
The SLG office remodel projec finishes week two. Floors are covered, walls are painted and fun is had by all.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jj_kDkt1ARg

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Remembering the Crash of '04 [Aug. 24th, 2008|09:38 pm]
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We are starting a long-overdue project at SLG of cleaning up and fixing our lobby area and trying to turn it into the gallery/store we always thought it could be. Before starting I took a bit of time to reminisce about the night a drunk driver crashed around our office, dragging in all manner of actual and metaphorical garbage.

You can find this walk down memory lane at youtube.com here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD5rEPR8oLc
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Pallet Jack-Assery [Jul. 17th, 2008|10:23 pm]
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Take a tour of the SLG offices on the back of a pallet jack. Now, really, do not try this at home.

https://www.slgcomic.com/Psllet-Jack-Assery_df_56.html


This also marks the debut of my billionth blog, the official Supreme Commander blog at the slgcomic.com site. May it ALL be this useful.


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