PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Bad Comics

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The PopCulteer
September 30, 2011

You may have noticed that your PopCulteer is way behind schedule with his promised reviews of DC Comics New 52. There is a reason for that. Reading and reviewing comics is not quite as much the fun job that I thought it would be.

Let me explain.

I love reading comics, and I love rambling on about comic books. However when I took on the duty of reviewing DC’s new 52, that meant that I’d be reviewing comic books that I would not normally waste my time reading. Frankly, some of the new DC Comics first issues are really bad, for a variety of reasons. We have 22 of DC’s New 52 left to examine, and today we’re going to go all negative and focus on three of the stinkers.

Virtually Porn

Note that this is not “virtual” porn, but virtually porn. DC has released a few titles that might as well be porno comics. There has been a pretty huge outcry on the internet about two of last week’s titles, Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws, but there’s a candidate for the worst sexploitation comic of the New 52 in this week’s releases, too. So let’s take a good look at some of the more twisted bits of chaff, shall we?

Catwoman #1
by Judd Winnick and Guillem March

This book is written by Judd Winnick, so we know right off the bat that it’s going to be garbage, but cracking it open still reveals a pretty awful experience. The first three pages of the book are nothing more than close-ups of a half-dressed Catwoman running. The close-ups are of her boobs and butt. We don’t see her face until page three. It’s easy to figure out why the artist took a character who is already wearing a costume that is essentially latex bondage gear, and decided to have the top unzipped so that her bra is exposed during a chase scene, but it’s still so blatant that it catches you off guard.

To be fair, the artist does a competent job of copying poses from porn and swimsuit mags, and then drawing what little there is of Catwoman’s outfit on them.

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Ripper At The Glass

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Tuesday night Mark Scarpelli and Dan Kehde took the orchestra from “Jack The Ripper,” along with members of the cast, to The Empty Glass for an unusual and spectacular night of sophisticated and complex music.  Here’s a selection from the night the string quartet played the Glass. You have three more chances to see the show, tonight and Friday and Saturday nights at 8 PM at The WVSU Capitol Center Theater. Don’t miss the show of the year!

Sunday Evening Videos: Sunday Evening Art

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Tonight’s videos are two short art films by your truly.  I had some rare downtime this weekend and cranked out a couple of rather useless little films where I take some music I composed and use it as the background for some pointless zooming around and semi-animation using my digital art. There’s a remote possibility that you might enjoy them. At least they’re short.

The PopCulteer
September 23, 2011

Great Local Music

One of the challenges I’ve faced writing this column is reviewing CDs by local artists while trying to maintain a sense of objectivity. Since I know so many musicians through Radio Free Charleston, to present an honest review, I feel the need to explain any connections I might have with the band. In today’s PopCulteer, we’re going to look at two excellent CDs by two bands that have long histories with me and the show.

InFormation is a band that I first saw over four years ago at the LaBelle Theater in South Charleston. We had them on RFC, and when the band experienced some growing pains and line-up changes, I introduced Curtis Chittenden and Shane Durham to bass player, Roy Graley. The trio has gelled into a major creative force in the area, making music that really stands out, even in a vibrant and diverse music scene such as Charleston’s. I’m honored to have played a small part in this band’s story.

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Cool Comics Covers More Of DC’s “New 52”

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We are in week three (or four, depending on how you’re counting) of the big DC Comics relaunch, and your loyal reviewer is way behind schedule. I still have ten comics from last week to go over, and now we have twelve more this week. The reviews are going to be shorter and a little less detailed, but I’m still going to try and get them all in.

A bit of dialogue from the week's best book

First there is some news to report on this endeavor. Thus far the gamble has been a huge success, with every book released so far going into at least a second printing, and some of them going into third or fourth printings. This may not be as impressive as it sounds, since some of the more marginal titles had initial print runs below 30,000, but it’s still a vast improvement over DC recent sales figures. So in that regard, this has paid off. Whether the new readers stick around has yet to be determined.

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Jack The Ripper Does RFC 145

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Dan Kehde, the writer/director of "Jack The Ripper"

This episode of Radio Free Charleston is a major departure: It’s a documentary following the 2011 revival of the Dan Kehde/Mark Scarpelli musical, “Jack The Ripper.” Produced by The Contemporary Youth Arts Company, this daring and complex piece of musical theater was pulled together in less than six weeks. Included in the show are interviews with Dan and Mark, intercut with “fly-on-the-wall” footage from the rehearsals leading up to opening night.You will also see footage of the original production from 2008, starring Ryan Hardiman. This is rare video that has never been seen by the gneral public before.

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Last night Dr. Sketchy’s celebrated the coolest show on TV, Adventure Time. Molly Tilly, Cait Cool and Sarah Lane brought Finn the Human, Princess Bubblegum Hair and Marcelene the Vampire to life for a loyal gang of artists who didn’t stay home to watch the Emmys or go to the Clay center to see Colbie Callat. It was great fun, and you’ll be seeing more from this night when I’m not quite so swamped. Click to see it larger. To see it even larger, put your nose right up to your computer monitor.

A Hot Weekend, A Brisk ArtWalk And Cool Comics

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The PopCulteer
September 16, 2011

We’ve got a pretty packed week behind the scenes at PopCult, so your PopCulteer will rely on the true-tested trick of the photo essay. Last night, ArtWalk snuck up on unsuspectimg Charlestonians. Your PopCulteer had a committment to a top-secret project (we’ll let you know more about that as soon as we can) so this month’s photos were taken a few hours before the official start of ArtWalk, which is why there are fewer of them and not so many with people.

Before we do the ArtWalk, though, there are some very cool things happening in twon this weekend.

On Sunday, The Empty Glass is holding a benefit for Hospice House.  This is a show that Melanie Larch had a hand in planning, and with the aide of Richard Abdalla and The Empty Glass, it’s come together. Starting at 8PM Sunday, a killer line up of musicians, including Pepper Fandango, InFormation, The Diablo Blues Band, Oliver Dawgs, The Scrap Iron Pickers and Hobo & Moe will donate their time and music to a great cause. There will also be raffles throughout the night. 100 % of the proceeds go to Hospice House, and 100% of that goes directly to patient care.

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Monday Morning Art: Warpscape

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This week’s Monday Morning Art is yet another study in texture and color composition called “Warpscape.” It’s meant to depict the struggle of the downtrodden against the oppressive forces of gravity and moisture.  Click the image to see a bigger version.

Don’t forget to go back and watch last night’s Sunday Evening Video, a PopCult Instant Video™ featuring highlights from Mission Coalition 2011.