Jacksonville artist Ryan Black was instantly hooked when he discovered his first “X-Men” comic book on a spinner rack at Lil’ Champ in the 1980s.
Black’s grandmother bought him all of his comics while he was growing up because she thought of it as him studying to be a comic artist.
Now, pursuing his greatest passion, Black seeks funding through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter.com for “Tension,” a modern mythology comic book featuring real-world obstacles. The campaign begins May 4.
“I’m creating something with a lot of heart; this is not an ironic hipster book. There are no unicorns with mustaches here,” Black said.
Black says “Tension” is special because it’s a truly independent comic that draws from the same mythological pool as Marvel and DC Comics, giving readers something different wrapped in something familiar. He said the characters are three-dimensional people and have real problems to which readers in all walks of life can relate.
The story opens with the main character Eric Evans (aka WitchHammer) being told by his boss to hunt down and neutralize his telepathic best friend Jessica Jane. Jane is being blamed for an event in Prague that left 12 people dead and hundreds injured.
Evans is employed by a government-funded black-ops agency called The American Bureau for Special Defense (A.B.S.D.), which employs super humans like Evans and Jane to defend America from super-powered terrorists.
WitchHammer’s power isn’t revealed yet, but he has the ability to absorb and harness dark matter, Black said.
For the most part there aren't a lot of independent artists creating superheroes without their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks, Black said.
“I'm doing a comic book for people who have outgrown some of the Big Two's bullshit and aren't getting their superhero fix from the indies.”
“Tension” features comedy mixed with …
Since it formed in 2010, the Coastal Georgia Film Alliance has facilitated the production of two television pilots, two full-length film features, two television series and four short films. The CGFA recently secured two new projects for Camden County, the short films “Mime in a Box” and “Preserve.”
Producer Kim Murray’s “Mime in a Box” is set to begin filming in Camden County in late spring. Murray is the producer of “The Prisoner,” another locally shot film, directed by the award-winning Mahmoud Shoulizadeh. Shoulizadeh’s film “Noora” took first place at the 49th International Film Festival of Taormina in Italy. Samad Banks, the writer of “Mime in a Box,” has said the presentation and plot of the short is very “Twilight Zone”-ish.
“Preserve” is a post-apocalyptic short that was written by Wayne Deegan and filmed at the old paper mill site in St. Marys. The setting of the short is 170 years after a disaster that drove the survivors underground. The film focuses on four people who emerge to the surface and seek safe harbor in an unwelcoming world.
“These survivors are a lot like the pioneers in the early days of America,” Degan said. “Fighting the need to be complacent, they leave a comfortable place to explore life and improve their lot.”
According to CGFA co-founder and chair Doug Vaught, the organization works closely with the state of Georgia to fulfill location requests and see that the filmmakers’ needs are met.
“Georgia’s ‘up to 30 percent tax credits’ for filmmakers is a compelling reason for filmmakers to come to the area,” Vaught said, “but with so many locales to choose from and the potential of economic impact to a community so desirable, bringing film projects to an area can be very competitive.”
“We’re in the business of ‘repeat …
Life was good for Orlando business owner Dan Ellis in the spring of 2009. He had a wonderful marriage, three happy children and a successful printing business. But by that fall, he’d begun to slur words and suspected something was seriously wrong with his health. Ellis was diagnosed with progressive ALS, a debilitating terminal illness also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in 2010.
The 18-minute short documentary film, “Dan Behind His Eyes,” chronicles Ellis’ time spent creating giant paintings with his daughter Gina in 2011, by which time he had lost nearly all muscle control and could only communicate using a Dynavox eye movement sensor. The film will premiere at the World Arts Film Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville on April 11.
“I wanted to use art and music and color. Dan surrounded himself with art, and that’s who he was,” said Sheri Kebbel, the film’s director and producer. “So this film, I wanted it to be so that people would not look away. That it was not so ugly and so hard in knowing that it was a terminal illness to where they have this feeling of ‘Well, what do you want me to do about it?’”
Kebbel filmed the Ellis family from November 2010 until March 2012, just a few months before Dan Ellis lost his battle with ALS last June. In addition to the short documentary “Dan Behind His Eyes,” Kebbel directed and produced an hour-long, feature-length film which follows Ellis’ interactions with family and friends and his artistic collaborations with his children and hip-hop rapper MC Serch while in the grip of progressive ALS. The feature film is currently in post-production and will be submitted to film festivals in the fall.
Kebbel will join Kevin Boylan, medical director and founder of the ALS clinic at Mayo Clinic in Florida, and Kim Hanna, president and CEO of the ALS Association Florida Chapter, for a short question and …
Two Jacksonville University theater students received national recognition for excellence in acting.
Nick Boucher and Elaine Tyson were nominated for the prestigious Kennedy Center Irene Ryan Award for their work in the recent one-act comedies “Laundry & Bourbon” and “Lone Star.”
The nomination places the actors in the regional and national competitions for the American College Theatre Festival.
“I think our acting program at Jacksonville University produces student actors with a firmly rooted acting process and technique, and also provides them with the tools to pursue further training on the graduate level,” said Deborah Jordan, an assistant professor of theater at JU who directed the plays, in a press release from the university.
Since 1972, the Irene Ryan Foundation awarded scholarships to outstanding student performers at each festival. This year, the foundation is giving 19 regional awards and two fellowships consisting of 16 $500 scholarships, two $2,500 scholarships for the winners at the national level in Washington, D.C., and a cash prize of $250 for the student that is awarded the Kingsley Colton Award in national auditions.
The late Irene Ryan played Granny Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
American indie rock bands Minus the Bear, Circa Survive and Now, Now sold out Freebird Live March 25 for four hours of rock ’n’ roll.
Minus the Bear is co-headlining the Waves Overhead tour with Circa Survive for the release of its fifth album “Infinity Overhead.”
Dozens of Pabst Blue Ribbons were thrust into the air as concert goers stood shoulder to shoulder in unanimous agreement of a stellar show.
The threesome from Minnesota, Now, Now, started the night off with a great performance and even sported neon pink Jacksonville Beach tank tops.
Now, Now emits a shoegaze feel with its dreamy, delicate vocal melodies blended with effects of guitars, drums and synthesizers.
The high-energy set catapulted the several intrepid souls into the inevitable moshing and crowd surfing, while some tried to enjoy the music without worrying about getting assaulted.
Crowd surfing was highly encouraged by the energetic lead singer of Philadelphia’s Circa Survive, Anthony Green.
“Let yourself go!” Green screamed. “Fuck Mondays! Stop acting like it’s fucking Monday.”
After Circa Survive’s amped up performance, Green invited everyone out to go swim naked in the ocean.
Minus the Bear started its set with “Steel and Blood,” a song where two become one in the cacophony of a bourbon-soaked car crash.
Soon after Minus the Bear hit the stage, the moshing and crowd surfing stopped, and people enjoyed the music through non-violent dance.
Minus the Bear also delved into older albums and played the crowd’s favorites from “Highly Refined Pirates,” “Menos el Oso,” “Planet of Ice” and “Omni.”
Towards the end of the show, Minus the Bear played the single from which the album is named, “Infinity Overhead”: “Liquid concrete under our feet/Trippin' on the constellations we see/Diamond lightning/Seeing where seams …
Comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias and his Stand Up Revolution Tour attracted more than 2,000 spectators to the Times-Union Center’s Moran Theater on March 24.
Fellow Stand Up Revolution comedians Martin Moreno, Lance Patrick, Alfred Robles, Rick Gutierrez, Thai Rivera and G Reilly opened the show, each delivering a short set. After a short intermission, “Fluffy” took the stage.
Iglesias joked about raising his stepson and his three Chihuahuas and shared stories of traveling to the Middle East to tour and perform for a prince. A set that he promised would be 45 minutes lasted more than an hour to the delight of his fans.
The spectators were all ages — even to the surprise of Iglesias. “Fluffy” was shocked by the screams of a 4-year-old girl in the audience who seemed to enjoy the show whether she understood all the jokes or not.
One local man aims to keep local creative people in town with his music video countdown show "Music 4 U" (M4U). The show premieres 7:30 p.m. April 7 on CW17 with an emphasis on local music, fashion and art.
The show will feature Kentucky-born Kojo Robinson the show’s host and creator, as he presents a weekly viewer-chosen, top-five music video countdown, as well as a fashion segment from “Mz London,” or Shadae Myers. Kojo will speak with Northeast Florida artists, entertainers, athletes and personalities during the half-hour show.
Jake McCain of CW17 spoke about the year-long process the station and the show's creators went through to get to this point.
“We worked with Kojo and made suggestions and changes to get it to the quality of which we could air the show,” McCain said. “We gave constructive criticism throughout, and it was a back-and-forth process. As revisions were made, they implemented those suggestions, and we moved forward towards the green light.”
Kojo said that the process was a lengthy one, but it has been fun pursuing his dream.
“The main purpose is to show viewers that Jacksonville has a lot of talent that people aren't aware of,” Kojo said. “Many artists have to leave Jacksonville to get exposure. We want to stop that. We want to keep our talent and even bring talent from surrounding areas here.”
Strongly supportive of local music, artists and Jacksonville, Kojo said that he plans to keep the show here even if it he’s able to develop a national following.
“We are having a lot of people contacting us and sending us their videos,” Myers said. “It's a great feeling to get that support. We would love to eventually go national with the show, while keeping M4U right here. We want to make sure Jacksonville becomes that place where artists go to get their music to the masses.”
Americana music lovers camped beneath the live oaks at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park for the 17th annual Suwannee Springfest March 21-24.
The first two days of the festival lucked out with fair weather. There were memorable performances by Spirit Family Reunion, Tornado Rider, Scythian, Von Grey, Keller and the Keels, Elephant Revival, Peter Rowan, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, Whetherman, Leftover Salmon, the Travelin’ McCourys and countless more off-stage in the campgrounds.
Day three’s weather was not so kind to Springfest. Thunderstorms cancelled many of the day’s shows. Park employees had to bring in bales of pine straw to counteract the puddles and mud.
Despite the heavy rains and tornado-worthy winds Saturday, headliner Old Crow Medicine Show’s set still went on. The 6-piece string band kept the rain-soaked crowd’s spirits high by playing their hits “Wagon Wheel” and “Tell It to Me”. Fiddle player and vocalist Ketch Secor revealed it was not the band’s first time in Suwannee, they had played there 11 years before.
Covering Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ songs seemed to be a popular choice throughout the weekend. Keller and the Keels did a rendition of “Breakdown” and Old Crow Medicine Show played “American Girl.”
Artists came together for jam sessions throughout the weekend. Peter Rowan joined Keller and the Keels for a number, as did the Travelin’ McCourys. Violinist Darol Anger played with Leftover Salmon at their Friday set on the amphitheater stage.
Festivalgoers who stuck it out in the rain Sunday morning enjoyed a sunny and warm afternoon of music by The Mosier Brothers, Donna the Buffalo, Peter Rowan & Friends, Jerry Douglas and Nikki Talley.
Springfest attendees can share their experiences and recommendations on the Suwannee Springfest Facebook page.
An adult Easter egg hunt? The mind reels with possibilities of what you might find hiding in the eggs. Mini-bottles? Condoms?
Although these speculations are as fabricated as the Easter Bunny, the event is real: On March 23, the Jacksonville Jaycees will host its second annual Adult Easter Egg Hunt at Hemming Plaza in Downtown Jacksonville.
For only $15, you’ll get the opportunity to relive childhood memories and possibly even find a prize egg. Over 1000 eggs will be hidden throughout the plaza. Inside each egg, participants will find candy or a prize ticket. Prizes include gift certificates and sweet swag baskets from local businesses like Sephora, Fionn MacCool’s, The Cheesecake Factory, Carrabba’s, Longhorn, Publix, Sweets by Holly, Crispers, Chipotle, Which Wich and PRP wine tastings.
There will be other “adult” offerings as well: beer, for starters. When the fast kids push you down and snatch all the eggs, you can drown your disappointment. The good people from Bold City Brewery will be there serving craft brew for $4 a pint, or you can purchase three beer tickets for $10.
Those Jacksonville favorites, the food trucks, will be on hand as well.
Funds raised at this event will go to support the many local community service projects organized by the Jacksonville Jaycees. The Jacksonville Jaycees are particularly involved with the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, the Ronald McDonald House, Habijax, Wounded Warrior Project, animal shelters and other local charities on the First Coast.
You have to be 21 to participate in the Adult Egg Hunt, but you don’t have to bring your own Easter basket — loot bags will be provided for you to lug away the spoils. This event is rain or shine, and the organizers suggest that a flashlight might come in handy to help you spot those elusive, well-hidden eggs. There will be photo opportunities you won’t want to miss. Think of how awesome you’ll look in your new Facebook …
Open mic has a proud tradition in Jacksonville dating back a couple of decades — and then some. I emceed nights at Fusion Café and Fuel in the 1990s, and, of course ,Al Letson (who has gone on to accomplish as much as any writer of his generation) had his night at Voodoo years ago.
To borrow a phrase from Sonny and Cher, the beat goes on, in the form of the Cypher Open Mic Poetry and Soul, held at Da Real Ting Café every first, third, and fifth Thursday of the month. Hosted by DJ Monsta and Ill Clinton — names familiar to those who know what's happening in Duval — this is a showcase for talent and is worth checking out.
Doors open at 8 p.m., and the show starts at 9 p.m. The show ends at midnight. Entry is $5 all night long, 18 and older. There is a full dinner menu, and for those who need liquid fortification, there are 3-for-1 well drinks, which is a drink offer that no reasonable person can refuse.
On April 4, the WB will be in the house, recording the event for a local program. The smart performer would show up tomorrow, do a poem or a song, then bring it back in April for the cameras.