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On this week's fresh-and-fruity weekly Independent comics page: Red Meat chronicles Earl's new job at the DMV; Apoca Clips listens in as Don Jr. and Eric discuss Hunter Biden's alleged misdeeds; The K Chronicles gets wistful about the joys of being young; This Modern World ponders some extremely good-faith arguments against impeachment; and Jen Sorensen offers a tribute, of sorts, to the right-wing punk.

Published in Comics

On this week's held-in-contempt weekly Independent comics page: Apoca Clips says goodbye to that big TV show with the help of a Trump-aided fashion show; Red Meat enjoys some arts and crafts; Jen Sorensen ponders the gradual erosion of Roe v. Wade; The K Chronicles deals with package-tampering; and This Modern World shares the latest adventures of The Unbelievable Trump.

Published in Comics

A large and, by all accounts, successful comic con came to Palm Springs over the summer.

One problem: That comic con was improperly billed as the first and only Coachella Valley comic con.

Turns out a group called the Palm Springs Comic Con has been around since 2014—and this scrappy group of locals is putting on the Palm Springs Comic Con on Saturday, Nov. 19, and Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Hard Rock Hotel in Palm Springs. (Full disclosure: The Independent is a sponsor of the event.)

Locally, there is no one more passionate about comic and nerd-culture than Alex Callego.

“My love for it started 20 years ago,” Callego said during a recent interview. “My love for conventions began before that. I’d always heard about San Diego Comic-Con, even before it was this huge and gigantic thing. I always wanted to go to it because I had friends who were artists in high school, and I wanted to be a comic book writer. I joined forces with them and tried to be a comic writer, but it was never a serious thing; it was just out of love for my comic-book fandom.”

Callego said he went to his first San Diego Comic-Con by accident, more or less.

“I was on vacation with some family members. We stayed in San Diego at the same time as San Diego Comic-Con,” he said. “We walked over there, and this was back before you had to buy tickets. We just went in, and from that moment forward, it changed my life: I had to go every single year.”

Callego said he always thought it would be amazing to have a comic con in his hometown, but he was hesitant to produce one of his own.

“I was into music … and I wanted to be in a band and tour. After a while, the whole music thing went away for me for a few years,” he said. “But I was still going to San Diego Comic-Con … 10 years in a row, and then 15 years in a row. That idea of putting on my own convention was something I decided I wanted to do: It sunk in that I needed to create something of my own. Music wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

“The first event we did was in May 2014, and that’s when we launched our (Kickstarter) initiative.”

That initiative raised more than $14,000. Callego said he was bothered at first when the other group came in and started billing the summer comic con as the valley’s first and only.

“Very quickly, I let it go,” he said. “The way I saw it, and the more geek stuff out here in the desert, the better. It strengthens the culture that much more as long as it’s done right. The thing is, being first doesn’t mean anything. Being the best at something is a matter of opinion. What matters the most is being good and connecting with people. As long as I’m connecting to people, that’s what matters. I’m sure it matters to businesses that are involved and things like that.

“Our convention started off with a Kickstarter; the fans wanted it. They saw the desire to have a comic-book convention in their town and wanted it so badly that they put their own money behind it. It’s my duty as a person in the community to create something as best as possible with the resources that I have.”

What can attendees expect from the Palm Springs Comic Con? Callego said the weekend is all about offering a unique experience, as well as some really fun exhibits.

“We want the experience to be more interactive; we bring in the younger talents who are trying to do their artwork and art form,” Callego said. “This is a platform for us to be able to help them. What I want to give is an experience that is unique. … We have Titmouse Studios coming in, and they’re going to be doing a panel. They’re going to be talking about their latest show and their newest movie. We also have this thing called the Memory Box; it’s sort of like playing telephone, only through video.”

The Palm Springs Comic Con takes place Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 19 and 20, at the Hard Rock Hotel, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $15 to $50. For tickets and more information, visit www.pscomiccon.com. For VIP passes ($50 value for $35), go to the Independent Market at CVIndependent.com.

Published in Local Fun

On this week's electorally divided weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson analyses the presidential debate analyses; The K Chronicles appreciates a subtle costume at a comics convention; This Modern World exposes the truth behind Donald Trump's hair; and Red Meat refuses to get rid of the meat.

Published in Comics

Comic books may be meant for kids, but they’re not child’s play. So says Jon Proudstar, creator of Tribal Force—the first comic book to feature an all-Native American superhero team.

Time spent counseling child-abuse victims and violent youth offenders—often from the Pascua Yaqui and Tohono O’odham reservations near his Tucson, Ariz., home—taught Proudstar the value of cultural awareness. He didn’t learn about his own Yaqui heritage until his maternal grandmother told him when he was 5.

Tribal Force, released in 1996, was critically well received—even making it into Comic Art Indigène, a pop-culture exhibition that stopped at locations including the Palm Springs Art Museum. Several large comic-book publishers sought to buy the rights, but Proudstar wanted to retain control of the storyline and the characters’ unhappy, all-too-real backstories. Unfortunately, he lacked funding, so the project went dark for more than a decade.

The new Tribal Force, from the small independent publisher Rising Sun Comics, continues the saga. An online preview is already available, with the print version expected in April.

The god Thunder Eagle, determined to create a Native superhero team from North America’s various First Nations, helps Nita, a Navajo child-molestation survivor, transform into the goddess Earth. Meanwhile, Gabriel Medicine Dog, a Hunkpapa Sioux left mute by fetal alcohol syndrome, metamorphoses into the fearsome Little Big Horn following a fatal bar fight. Together, Nita and Gabriel seek out other Native supernaturals, fighting high-tech government entities and supervillains along the way.

A onetime Hollywood chauffeur and bodyguard, Proudstar, 46, currently works as a screenwriter and independent-film actor. In 2012, he co-starred with Booboo Stewart of the Twilight franchise in the award-winning coming-of-age film Running Deer. He formed Proudstar Productions to represent and finance deserving projects, including the forthcoming Wastelander, an apocalyptic science fiction film directed by Angelo Lopes.

Bryn Bailer caught up with Proudstar recently in a Tucson coffee shop.

Why did you create Tribal Force?

I think Native children need to know who they are. They forget why we fought so hard in the beginning, and why we continue to fight: to fulfill the promise we made with our God to protect this land and take care of it. When you have that strength of knowing where you come from, and the greatness your people once had, it’s like you’re Superman. You feel the power.

Where did the idea come from?

The superhero comic books that I was so into (as a kid) taught me the whole thing about good and evil. I saw the bad things that were going on, that gangs were doing, and … I know it sounds silly, man, but I was like: “Spider-Man wouldn’t do that,” or “Batman wouldn’t do that.”

Traditionalism vs. modern life is a big theme, isn’t it?

That’s definitely entrenched in Tribal Force. They’re all traditional heroes—meaning that their powers come from Native tradition—but their enemies are all high-tech: guns, lasers, cannons, invisible ships. That’s what they’re up against. It’s hard to keep values and traditions when you’re amalgamating with such an advanced society. You walk two roads: Failure in one world is success in the other, and vice versa. … My dream is to give Native American kids heroes. I didn’t have that.

The members of Tribal Force aren’t your typical superhero team.

The characters are very young and flawed, and not into their culture. They’re the last people you’d pick to have super powers in your community. They’re the jerkoffs who are in jail every frickin’ weekend. Nita’s a punk … and the gods won’t take it from her any more. Spiderwoman—the Navajo goddess who taught her people how to weave—takes Nita to the past, and shows her what the Navajo have been through. When she sees the sacrifices that her people made, she starts to become more serious about learning. If she learns how to weave, she’ll get more powers. If she goes through her Kinaaldá (a Navajo coming-of-age ceremony), she’ll increase her powers.

If the members of Tribal Force were here today, what would they be most upset with?

Tribal Force looks at the same issues that rez kids have to deal with. When I was younger, I remember thinking, “We’ll always be poor, struggling, seeing relatives being arrested.” That was kind of crushing. But I educated myself by reading a lot, and in broadening my horizons, I realized that things will change—and that you can change them. The first issue I’m dealing with in the book is the epidemic of child molestation on Indian reservations. Seven out of 10 girls—it’s a huge cancer. Gabe has fetal alcohol syndrome … and he’s into weed and drinking, and struggles with learning what it truly is to be a warrior. A lot of kids misinterpret what a warrior is. It has nothing to do with war. A warrior takes care of his village, makes sure the old ones are taken care of, and that the children are safe. But for the most part, it’s a comic book. There’s action and aliens, and weird stuff.

Given all the injustices Native Americans have experienced, what keeps you fighting the good fight?

To know I have that blood running through me definitely gives me strength. That’s what I’m hoping when kids pick up my book—that somewhere in there, they will find a window that opens up to them, too. We give kids the information in a non-threatening way. It’s not like a textbook.

Is it intended to be controversial?

The books that influenced me, like X-Men, were very controversial at the time, because they talked about homosexuality, racism, suicide—topics that were taboo in comic books. If an educator reads (Tribal Force), they definitely would be worried. (It has) a lot of violence and controversial subject matter. But I’m not writing it for adults. I’m writing it for young people, in a medium they’re used to. It’s the art of “fighting without fighting.” The last thing I want is teachers or organizations saying, “Children, you should read this.” If anything, I want them to say, “Stay away from this book.”

This article originally appeared in High Country News.

Published in Features

Powered Wig Machine is an unsigned band from a small Arizona town—but they’re starting to make a big name for themselves, thanks to high-quality music and bar-raising creativity.

See for yourself when they stop by The Hood Bar and Pizza for a show that starts at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15.

Powered Wig Machine—the name was inspired by a track on Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions Volume 9—was founded around 2007 in Sierra Vista, Ariz., a town that’s a 75-minute drive from Tucson. The band consists of Wayne Rudell (vocals/guitar), Brian Gold (guitar), Joey Rudell (bass) and Daniel Graves (drums).

The band’s roots are in “stoner rock,” a term applied to a lot of West Coast bands in the early ’90s—including many of our local desert-rock bands.

“A lot of it goes back to music that came out of the ’70s,” Rudell explained, “(with) the fuzzy guitar and the thicker sludge sound, and bands like Foghat and Led Zeppelin. It is such a broad term. If you play vintage style rock ’n’ roll, it can be considered stoner rock.”

Rudell explained some of the technique behind the sound. “Standard guitar-tuning is E-A-D-G-B-E; a lot of times, you can get a deeper and lower sound by dropping the tuning. Queens of the Stone Age drop it down to a C-tuning, which gives them that deep sound. A lot of it is old tube amps, and tube amps in conjunction with fuzz pedals.”

While the band has a heavy sound, they meld that sound with some rather unique songwriting. Their EP Bearded Goddess featured songs such as “Mullet Man,” “Recipe for Badass” and “Death by Suplex.”

Rudell explained that comic books have inspired many of the songs that he’s written—and that inspiration comes to the forefront on Supa-Collider, the band's brand-new independent album.

“This album is sort of a concept based around a comic-book idea that we came up with a while back,” Rudell said. “It never got to paper, and it never got anywhere besides the creative shelf. All the song titles relate to the story, and all the songs are tied together. It’s less satire and more of a story.”

Rudell said he’s had a lifelong love of comic books.

“I’ve always been a fan of a lot of the stuff Marvel puts out,” he said. “I like The Hulk. There was a series called The Infinity Gauntlet that I’ve always been a big fan of; Preacher; and stuff like Watchmen—all that stuff with the huge story lines. I’ve always been a fan of how intricate comics are.”

The band released a music video for their song “At the Helm of Hades,” a track that will be on Supa-Collider.

“It was real fun,” Rudell said. “I wrote most of the story for that video, and we had a friend of mine who was a film student come in and put in all the effects. We actually spent about four months on it, and we recorded it like it was a comic-book story. There are multiple car chases, old vintage bikes and cowboys. I’m real proud of that, and that we put it out in this last year.” (Scroll down to watch the video.)

While the band’s creative juices are definitely at an all-time high after recording Supa-Collider and the music video for “At the Helm of Hades,” Rudell said the band plans to take things to a whole other level.

“We hadn’t really been searching for a record label,” Rudell said. “With the new album coming out and with the tour, we’ll probably be actively seeking one. Personally, I didn’t think we were ready yet, and we were doing a pretty good job ourselves. Now we’re ready to get that extra push.”

Powered Wig Machine will play with Fever Dog and The Hellions at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit www.facebook.com/Poweredwigmachine.

Published in Previews

Part two of The Dark Knight Returns, the adaptation of Frank Miller’s classic graphic novel, has lots of Joker and Superman. For fans of the novel, this makes for a fine interpretation of Miller’s work, even if it isn’t the live-action adaptation many fans (myself included) wanted.

Because the film, being released on DVD and Blu-Ray today (Jan. 29), is rated PG-13, it isn’t nearly as dark and nasty as the novel. But the David Endocrine massacre does happen (sadly, Endocrine doesn’t sound or look like David Letterman, as he did in the novel), and Superman’s battle with a nuclear missile is very well-done.

The two animated movies serving Miller’s classic opus are faithful, but not total copies. The Joker’s end is brutally depicted in this one, and it’s the moment that best captures that Miller vibe.

Special Features: Some behind-the-scenes featurettes, and a look at the upcoming Superman: Unbound, an animated film featuring the voice of Matt Bomer.

 

 

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing