Giant Robot Store and GR2 News

After attending for 24 years I still love Comic-Con. Crowds and corporations can’t ruin the annual gathering that is Halloween, Christmas, and the first day of summer for me. The costumes, goods, and energy are unbeatable–not to mention hanging out with my twin brother, friends from elementary school, and other people that matter from all over the place. Best Comic-Con ever? It this year felt like that–or at least a return to focusing on comic books for me.


After picking up our badges in perhaps the easiest line ever (one of the things Comic-Con gets right), my brother Greg and I made our annual donations at the Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive.

Then we went straight to Hall H to catch the panel for Europa Report. I don’t often buy into the lines and hype of the Con’s biggest hall, but couldn’t miss the scoop on the indie sci-fi flick featuring my longtime friend, Hong Kong movie star, and Giant Robot contributor Daniel Wu. Shockingly, the line was reasonable and we were rewarded with an awesome trailer as well as some killer footage accompanied by earth-shaking audio. The panel, which featured director Sebastián Cordero, composer Bear McCreary, actress Karolina Wydra, and two consultants from JPL, focused mostly on how the movie is scientifically sound. Karolina told some pretty funny stories about wearing the scientifically correct spacesuits. The movie looks amazing and intense, and I wish the panel also mentioned the flick’s more kick-ass elements. Too bad there was no time for a Q&A session because I wanted to bring up Dan’s role in it. Go see the film, and get more info here!

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T.S.O.L. singer Jack Grisham just released a new collection of short stories, Untamed. To celebrate, he had a book signing/punk rock matinee at The Observatory in Santa Ana. For the price of the book you got a free show! I got there just in time to introduce Jack to Eloise, have my copy signed, and catch the end of the afternoon’s final opener. The Detours are a first-wave Orange County punk band, circa 1977. And in addition to decades of shredding to dip into, they can throw in a ripping version of “No Way” (doesn’t hurt that various members have played in The Adolescents, D.I., Christian Death, Social Distortion…). Awesome. Four o’clock headliners T.S.O.L. gleefully served up all the old hits like maniacs, from anarchist rippers like “Abolish Government/Silent Majority” to proto-death rock classics like “Sounds of Laughter.” The pit was raging for a Sunday afternoon, and I was stoked that my five-year-old daughter lasted more than halfway through the set. I was also shocked to find out that the band played a second show that night at an American Legion Hall in Baldwin Park. Damn! Jack says the band is embarking on a South American tour this week, but there’s another chance to get your book signed at Beyond Baroque on June 23. Go! Jack isn’t as scary as you think. PUBLICATION REVIEWS Untamed, Jack Grisham Jack Grisham’s literary work is joyfully twisted, right in step with the T.S.O.L. singer’s musical output (dark, violent) and legend (troublemaker, ass-kicker). And like his memoir, An American Demon, the brand-new collection of 10 short stories by T.S.O.L.’s singer is loosely based or at least inspired by his own life experiences. What’s real and what’s made up provide a ton of subtext for literary punks but fallen angels, torture, murder, and sex with stuffed animals make it a real page turner for anyone. Accompanied by R. Crumb-esque illustrations by Scott Aicher. [Punk Hostage Press] Hard Art, Lucian Perkins This collection of images by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Lucian Perkins draws not from his stints in Afghanistan, Kosovo, or the Persian Gulf War but the Washington DC punk scene of 1979. The unpublished black-and-white photography captures key gigs in the embryonic punk scene that included Bad Brains (before they left for New York) and Teen Idles (featuring pre-Minor Threat Ian Mackaye and Jeff Nelson). The live shots are stunning but the photos of the audience are just as important–reflecting a real sense of community and not just a star factory. Insightful narrative is provided by none other than participants and musicians Alec Mackaye and Henry Rollins. [Akashic Books] Perpetually Twelve 10 The balance has shifted from words to art in the latest issue of McHank’s zine out of San Diego. Among other pieces, I really dig the hot-rod inspired brushs of Mr. Sleeep and bold inks of Frenemy. McHanks’ fan art is awesome, too. I call it that not disparagingly but because he lovingly depicts Kermit the Frog and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the...
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One of the tiniest shops on Sunset, Vacation Vinyl, has hosted some of the gnarliest in-stores, from Converge to OFF! Before this week’s Retox gig in the shoebox-like store, guitar ripper Michael Crain asked my friend Ben and me, “Did you bring earplugs?”

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I remember one of the first times I corresponded with McHank. He responded to an Instagram picture I posted of the Dum Dum Girls in concert by saying , “Dude, give Kristin, I mean Dee Dee, my love. Old pal!” He did a similar thing with a photo I posted of Mrs. Magician. Later on, John Reis said hi to him from the stage at a Night Marchers/Hot Snakes show at Alex’s Bar. I wondered, Who is this guy and how does he know everyone?

Sometime in between, I met McHank in his hometown of San Diego at Comic-Con. He gave me some copies of his stapled-and-folded zine and I was instantly hooked. It’s like a mixture of  Cometbus, CARtoons, and Tiger Beat with tons of honest introspection and observation, cool and random art, and unabashedly loving band interviews–often written by hand or even brushed.

The ninth and most recent issue of the digest-sized publication has cool art (Tim Kerr, Travis Millard, Skinner, Bwana Spoons, McHank himself…), killer interviews (Brandon Welchez from Crocodiles, Mary Animaux from White Murder…) and all-star contributions (John Reis writing about discovering the Ramones, Joey Cape in memoriam of Tony Sly…). Even so, my favorite piece of all time is still McHank’s essay about growing up in the Bay Area and not knowing how to drive when he moved to San Diego and how he had to ride bikes or take the bus to get to shows. Can you get more personal or street level than that?

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I apologize in advance for being the guy who puts up a blog about something cool that’s impossible to acquire. My brother getting married last week provided an opportunity for me to help make a print zine for the first time since Robot Power (the stapled-and-folded half issues between Giant Robot 17 through 21). The first couple of spreads had the ceremony program, thanks list, menu, and seating chart. After that, a full-on zine!

Serious Giant Robot readers will be familiar with much of the contents and vibe. It was conceptualized, designed, and laid out by San Diego artist and wedding speaker/guest Susie Ghahremani, who has been featured in the magazine and shown at the art galleries. Giant Robot readers will also be familiar with interview subject and wedding weekend contributor Goh Nakamura, who has also been in the pages of GR and performed at GR events.

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