Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Are You Arie Kaplan? The Comic Book Writer?

7/12/19

I know, I know, you want me to tell you an anecdote from my writing career, like I did last time. And I shall! But first, here are some announcements:

I wrote a Tales from Wild Space backup story that appears in Star Wars Adventures #23, which is out now from IDW Publishing. The story, titled “Majordomo, Major Problems,” is about Jabba the Hutt’s majordomo, butler, and consigliere Bib Fortuna. Specifically, it’s about how overworked and overwhelmed Bib starts to feel after tending to Jabba’s every whim on a daily basis. I should also mention that “Majordomo” is illustrated by Drew Moss, who is a phenomenal artist.

But don’t take my word for it; just check out this variant cover by Drew Moss, depicting a scene from the story.

Here’s a glowing review from the Jedi News site. The reviewer observed that there were parallels between Bib taking care of Jabba and a parent taking care of a child. Was “Majordomo” – at least partially – inspired by my life as a parent? What do you think? (Yes. Yes it was.)  

And if you’ll be at San Diego Comic Con next week, you should know that I’ll be signing copies of Star Wars Adventures #23 at at SDCC from 2-3pm on Fri July 19th, at the IDW booth #2729. You can see the full schedule of IDW’s signings here

Elsewhere at San Diego Comic Con, I’ll be appearing on a panel discussion celebrating E.C. Comics’s 75th anniversary. The panel will be happening at 6:30pm on Friday July 19th. The other panelists will be Grant Geissman (The Wonderful, Horrible EC Comics Book) and Dr. Travis Langley (The Joker Psychology: Evil Clowns and the Women Who Love Them), and the moderator will be Danny Fingeroth (A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee). Danny is the Walter White to my Jesse Pinkman, the Galactus to my Silver Surfer, the Eddie Murphy to my Arsenio Hall. Together, we’ll look back on the lasting impact E.C. has had on comics and on popular culture in general.

This panel should be quite a bit of fun. E.C. holds a very special place in my heart, especially since I’ve served as a writer for two E.C. titles, MAD Magazine and Tales from the Crypt.

In non-San Diego Comic Con-related news, I recently wrote the children’s book Hungry Shark: The Official Shark-Tastic Guide. It’s a guide to all of the wild and wacky sharks in the Hungry Shark video game franchise. Here’s an interview for the website SciFi Pulse about both the Hungry Shark book and my Star Wars Adventures story.

And now for the moment you’ve quite possibly been waiting for: a story from my writing career:

In the year 2011, I was a guest speaker at the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland. It was my second year in a row appearing at the festival, and I gave a series of talks on comic book history, animation history, and various other topics. A camera crew from the festival followed me around a little bit, asking me questions and using the resulting footage to help promote the festival.

At one point, a little old man saw me being interviewed by the camera crew and tapped me on the shoulder. It turned out he was a tourist from England, visiting the festival. “Excuse me,” he began, “Are you Arie Kaplan, the comic book writer?” “That’s right,” I nodded. “Well,” he sniffed imperiously, “Some of us speak proper English.” Then he just turned away like it was nothing, and began talking to the camera crew.

I was really annoyed by his sense of entitlement and tried tapping HIM on the shoulder. “Excuse me, did you really just say that to me?” I asked him a little too loudly. But he ignored me and just kept yammering on about – oh I don’t know, I’m gonna say “the metric system” – and I gave up and went on my way. I guess in the end, he really showed me, the guy who was born in the wrong country, the guy what can’t tawk right. Who the hell do I think I am, anyway, speaking English without a British accent?

Oh well.

I Can FEEL Your Anger! It Gives You Focus! Makes You Stronger!

5/23/19

You know what? As a writer, often I really try to get into the heads of my characters. And sometimes, I take it too far. For example…

Oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s a couple of announcements (and THEN, as usual, I’ll tell you an embarrassing anecdote from my writing career).

  • MAD Magazine: I wrote a humor piece called “The Bad Roommate,” which was illustrated by David DeGrand. It appears in MAD #7, on sale now!
  • Last month my Avengers Little Golden Book The Threat of Thanos (illustrated by Shane Clester) appeared in a Barnes & Noble ad in celebration of the film Avengers: Endgame! (Click on the thumbnail to see the whole ad)
  • Hungry Shark: The Official Shark-Tastic Guide, written by yours truly, comes out on June 25th, 2019 from Scholastic. Barnes & Noble included the book on their list of “Guides & Novels for Your Gamer.” (Seriously, what’s with Barnes & Noble hyping all of my books lately? Not that I’m complaining…)
  • Star Wars Adventures: Recently I wrote a Tales from Wild Space comic book story called “Majordomo, Major Problems,” which was illustrated by Drew Moss. “Majordomo” is an 8-page backup tale in Star Wars Adventures #23, which comes out on June 26th, 2019 from IDW Publishing.

Now that that’s out of the way, I believe you’re owed a humiliating anecdote about my writing career. And you shall have it:

As a writer, often I really try to get into the heads of my characters. For example, when I was a staff writer on the television series TruTV Presents: World’s Dumbest, I found that in order to write jokes for Gilbert Gottfried (who was one of the cast members), you had to yell the jokes out loud AS Gilbert Gottfried. In other words, you had to do an impression of Gilbert Gottfried, to figure out how he would say a particular joke.

And that’s something I’ve done quite a few times in my career. When I was writing the scripts for the House M.D. video game, I did an impression of Hugh Laurie, in his “Gregory House” voice. As “Hugh Laurie,” I acted out each scene, talking into a digital recorder. Then I played it back in order to see if it sounded like something the character would actually say.

When I used to write Bart Simpson comic book stories for Bongo Comics, whenever Krusty the Clown was in a story, I found that it was really helpful to brainstorm one-liners for Krusty by doing a terrible Krusty impression and ad-lib some jokes while talking into the digital recorder. More recently, when I wrote my LEGO Star Wars books for Scholastic, I liked to put a few Emperor Palpatine jokes in each book. And sometimes the jokes were written IN Palpatine’s voice, especially if Palpatine was narrating a section of the book. That meant doing a really terrible, over-the-top Ian McDiarmid impression, and it really helped make the Palpatine jokes and Palpatine narration even funnier.

But what I’m really getting at is that – as I type this – there’s a digital recorder right next to my laptop. On that digital recorder’s files there’s hours and hours of audio of me doing the absolute WORST Hugh Laurie, Krusty the Clown, and Ian McDiarmid impressions. And when I was writing the House scripts, I was also doing impressions of the OTHER House cast members. So there’s audio of me doing awful Omar Epps impressions, awful Lisa Edelstein impressions, awful Robert Sean Leonard impressions. Oh, you have no idea. And you WILL CONTINUE TO have no idea. Because nobody will ever hear those audio files. I guess this isn’t really a humiliating anecdote as much as it’s a POTENTIALLY humiliating anecdote.

But if you ever need something to blackmail me with, just steal the digital recorder, okay?

 

The LEGO DC Super Heroes Visual Dictionary Comes Out TOMORROW!

9/3/18

Recently, I co-wrote a book called The LEGO DC Super Heroes Visual Dictionary, which will be published by DK tomorrow, Tuesday September 4th, 2018. (My co-author on that project was Elizabeth Dowsett.) In April, I talked about what it was like working on the book when I was interviewed by the geek culture blog Comics Beat. As of this writing, The LEGO DC Super Heroes Visual Dictionary is the #1 New Release in Children’s Dictionaries on Amazon. And here’s some info on the book from the Penguin Random House site: 

“Celebrate the entire world of LEGO DC Super Heroes with this comprehensive visual guide to all the minifigures, vehicles and sets, including the LEGO Batman Movie sets. Explore every detail of LEGO Batman’s Batcave, look around Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet, examine Lex Luthor’s awesome mech and find out about all the LEGO DC Super Heroes minifigures’ weapons and gadgets. Find out how the awesome sets and amazing video games are created in the Beyond the Brick chapter, which features concept art and an interview with a LEGO designer. LEGO DC Super Heroes: The Visual Dictionary will tell you everything there is to know about LEGO DC Super Heroes.” 

New Books & Upcoming Speaking Gigs

12/27/16

Happy Holidays! Happy Almost-New-Year’s-Eve! Okay, so there are a few new things that I want to announce:

Recently, I wrote two LEGO STAR WARS books for Scholastic. The first one, LEGO STAR WARS: FACE OFF (illustrated by Dave White), is out now. You can see some excerpts from the book HERE.

The second LEGO STAR WARS book that I wrote is called THE OFFICIAL STORMTROOPER TRAINING MANUAL, and it comes out next month. And guess what, you lucky people? You can see some excerpts from THAT book HERE.

I talked a little bit about what it was like writing those LEGO STAR WARS books when I was a guest on the COMICSVERSE podcast, and you can listen to that podcast interview here.

I’ve also been working on a few projects for Disney Book Group’s Marvel Press imprint. For example, I wrote three of the stories in the 5-MINUTE AVENGERS STORIES collection, which is out now from Marvel Press. I also wrote one of the stories in the SPIDER-MAN STORYBOOK COLLECTION, which is also currently available.  

And I wrote two of the stories in the 5-MINUTE SPIDER-MAN STORIES anthology, which will be published by Marvel Press in June 2017. (I don’t have a cool link for that, but I should soon.) Interestingly enough, one of the stories that I wrote in each of those anthologies is a time travel story (and yes, there’s a reason for that).

And starting in January 2017, I’ll be doing a series of pop culture-oriented lectures at NYC performance space QED Astoria. The first one is a talk on the Golden Age of Universal horror movies (e.g. James Whale’s 1931 FRANKENSTEIN). It’s called “THE MONSTER MAKERS: UNIVERSAL PICTURES, CARL LAEMMLE JR., AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF HOLLYWOOD HORROR MOVIES,” and I’ll be giving that talk on January 7, 2017 at 2pm.

01/07/2017 <BR>2:00 - 3:00PM <BR>Monster Makers

I’ve also got quite a few other speaking engagements slotted for various dates in 2017, and I’ll be posting the specifics on THOSE lectures here soon too.

Please contact me if you want to use this for any reason. arie@ariekaplan.com