5 Bizarre Comics Written By, And Starring, Celebrities
Stars -- they're just like us! They eat food! They elude people conducting surveillance on them! And they write thinly veiled versions of themselves into comic books!
I've been writing comics for half my life, and any scribe who tells you they don't have at least one four-color avatar is doing this power fantasy thing wrong. A few actors have managed to put out a quality product (Hi, Rashida Jones!), even some who cast themselves as the main character, so it is possible.
But you don't want to read that article. That article would be boring. So this is what happens when doing that gets weird.
Courtney Love Wrote A (W)Hole Manga
Courtney Love's life is ripe for biography considering it begins with "Might be Marlon Brando's granddaughter," includes a contentious marriage to Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, and only gets weirder from there. Granted, not as weird as your average manga, but there's an easy fix for that: make it one.
Ai yi yi.
Princess Ai escapes her war-torn homeland of Ai-Land, landing in Japan with a bad case of amnesia, and even badder case of loving you, if you're a sensitive rocker named Kent. Unfortunately for Ai, Kent's roommate Hikaru is jealous of their love, for such is his attraction to Kent.
As you might guess, it is a fantasized retelling of Love's own life experiences.
Crazypants rating: 9.25
You have to look at this one in context. As a project, it's pretty cool. The art is good, and it comes with its own musical soundtrack, and not in a Tyrese Gibson kinda way.
But if you look at it as an attack on Dave Grohl, it's part of a lifelong vendetta that seems to only be getting stoked on one side. Like it smacks of a real, diagnosable, "this isn't funny" mental problem, rather than wacky-schmacky lunacy.
Look how deviously she made Hikaru look nothing like Grohl!
Dave Grohl, frontman of the Foo Fighters, former drummer for Nirvana, is widely regarded as the nicest guy in rock, and also the rockingest guy in nicety. Courtney Love is widely regarded as being Courtney Love. The two do not like each other. Every few years she pops up to slag Grohl, claiming he hit on her, for example, as well as hitting on her daughter or --most relevant to this comic -- was jealous of her due to his attraction to Kurt.
Somebody had to draw this book, solicit it, deliver it to retailers, market it to readers ... that's a lot of effort just to say "Yeah? Well you're GAY!" to a guy you haven't talked to in 20 years. That goes well beyond commitment. Then again, it's a manga about loving Japanese Kurt Cobain. For better or for worse, half-assing any aspect of this isn't an option.
We look forward to Dave Grohl's inevitable team-up story with Naruto.
Tyrese Gibson Floods A Comic Store's Phone Lines
Tyrese Gibson is a successful musician and the guy that screams his jokes in the The Fast And The Furious franchise. To his credit, Gibson was frank about how new he was to comics. He just wanted to make a comic book, which -- huzzah! -- is really the only criterion for making comic books. Unfortunately, he also wanted to spread the joy of his new single to readers. He included "Mayhem, Take Me Away," an "international hit" "remixed by DJs around the world" in the purchase price. If you don't want to contribute financially to this abomination, you can just watch it on YouTube.
I urge you not to.
It doesn't matter that nothing in that song pairs well with a comic about a man who shoots people in the back. In Gibson's world, every project is a thread in a branded Tyrese tapestry.
Can any of us really say he's wrong?
Originally called "The Enforcer" before someone realized a watered-down Punisher needs at least an amped-up name, Mayhem's superpower is "owns guns and knives." The plot is pretty simple: In Los Angeles, a gangster named Big X is killing a truly questionable amount of people. Mayhem, the "embodiment of vengeance and raw justice," and his "sexy" partner Malice ("sexy" is enough of a character trait for women in comic books) are the only ones who can take down Big X and his organization.
You'll never guess her secret -- because you'll never try.
Oh, right. Malice is also his sister. I'd keep it quiet too if the first word that came to mind for my sister was "sexy." Also, Big X is their dad and he used them as children to kill a rival in a convoluted plan that ignored the fact that he employs hitmen.
Crazypants rating: 8.75
Comics are like jazz: an American art form many people praise but few spend money on. The comics industry is led by a few major comic stores (the club owners, if you want to stick to the jazz analogy). Retailers confer to avoid costly pre-order mistakes. Which is why Brian Hibbs, proprietor of Comix Experience in San Francisco, explained why he didn't expect the title to be a hit.
I mean DJs from around the world have hardly any idea how to remix it.
Gibson called Hibbs for advice on how to push the book better. Unfortunately, the actor then went on Twitter and told all his followers (Gibsonites? Tyrese's Pieces?) to call Comix Experience and ask for the book. Sadly, the store was hosting a 20th Anniversary event and already flooded with calls from people trying to buy tickets for a Neil Gaiman signing. Now, real customers couldn't get through to buy tickets, because Comix Experience's phone lines were tied up selling Mayhem!. Over the phone. Oh, and they lost profit on most of the books by shipping them across the country. There's also evidence that a lot of the stock was purchased by Gibson or people close to him, trying to make his comic look popular. My advice: They could have fixed the whole situation by just hiring Gaiman to write Gibson's book.
Soon after, the book's own marketing director quit and then actively marketed against it, calling the book's spectacle "unauthorized snake-oil tactics." And that's not just some guy out to make a buck who found his conscience. That's Percy Carey, whose autobiographical comic Sentences: The Life Of MF Grimm got nominated for comics' top awards, the Eisners. And until the Eisners add a category for "Comic Book Most Likely To Have Tyrese Gibson Fans Calling Incessantly About It", Mayhem! will remain amazingly unrewarded.
That one you should buy, though.
Michael Chiklis Is Michael Chiklis Is Zeus
Younger fans know Michael Chiklis as Nathaniel Barnes from Gotham. Older fans recognize him as Vic Mackey from The Shield. My mom remembers him as The Commish. None of us remember him as The Thing, because there has never, ever been a Fantastic Four film. But in general he always plays a cop or a superhero and he's consummately terrific in everything -- even in this hypothetical FF film that I just thought up in the last second.
He is also a proud Greek-American, which is to say: a Greek-American. Which is how we arrive at Pantheon.
In a grim tomorrow no one could have foreseen, Earth's climate is ravaged, Miami is underwater, and oil is depleted. Then we learn that Greece is sitting on tons of crude oil ... only to get a big chunk of itself blown to Olympus by terrorists. Black market antiques dealer Hamilton Finch is just trying to scavenge some artifacts, but ends up at ground zero where he finds himself face to face with Zeus!
And Zeus is Michael Chiklis with a goatee.
Gathering the other gods, Zeus faces off against Prometheus The Titan and the Gorgons. The art is pretty good! Other than Wonder Woman and Greek Street undertaking this exact premise of "gods in modern life" at the exact same time, nothing really went wrong here, story-wise. Chiklis-wise, however ...
Crazypants rating: 5
Chiklis seems like a happy and humble dude on his webpage. Also, he's Vic Mackey, and if I was stranded out in a blizzard, thinking of one day watching The Shield again would be my Little Match Girl moment. So, I'm saving all my bile for people who stand on the left-hand side of the escalator.
The kookiness here lies totally in the fact that the character design gives so little shit about the amount of Michael Chiklis likeness going on. Between "Eh, that might be Michael Chiklis or it might just be some bald guy in jeans" and "Yep, that's definitely Michael Chiklis," Zeus falls somewhere around "I think we can stop pretending that this isn't Michael Chiklis beating the crap out of any supporting character that cops an attitude with him."
Michael Chiklis conjuring seated electricity in the middle of a random library aisle? Move over, Spider-Man.
Michael Chiklis being Michael Chiklis is all the wish fulfillment fantasy that Michael Chiklis needs. So I doubt that seeing himself tussling with every asshole from Ares to Taraxippus is something that really rocked his world. But we don't need to pretend that he's Zeus. As far as I'm concerned, Pantheon is the story of what happens when a normal person like you or I happens to run into Michael Chiklis: Pure Chiklisian magic. And no amount of mythology can properly capture that.
A simple game of Chiklis-Snakes-Lightning could've told you that Snakes beat Lightning.
Chris Cosentino's Insults Cut Deep
Chris Cosentino is the best there is at what he does, although what he does isn't very nice: he's a chef famous for using every part of the carcass. That's one trait that works out better in person, because on paper, it sounds like the line of the news report that comes before "Police noticed a strong smell coming from the basement."
Wolverine is also the best there is at what he does, although these days, that is mostly to be dead. Still, there was a time when he made Marvel a lot of money based on the concept of "What if Jack Nicholson was a short samurai who couldn't control his temper?"
The chef and the broodiest X-Man came to team up because Marvel's resident talent scout, C.B. Cebulski, is quite a culinary savant. He and Cosentino became friendly over food fandom. So if you want to break into comics, learn to bake kidney pie is my recommendation.
Adamantium has got to score the daylights out of stainless steel, though.
Wolverine and Cosentino are best pals. This is not an outlandish premise, considering both men are handy with blades, can easily locate kidneys, and are able to recuperate from traumatic internal injuries. If Wolverine was going to form a kinship with any person not blue or telepathic, it would be Cosentino, probably.
When ol' Wolvie traipses across a murder in San Francisco, he heads to his buddy's restaurant to ask for expert knowledge of butchery. The two track a serial killer to a food truck where human meat is the secret menu item. You get to watch a guy kill naked mutant women too, if that's your thing.
Art-wise, I would bet you lunch that this is the first Marvel Comic to be inked with a fine-point Sharpie.
It was also completely printed on thin strips of cow femur, so as not to waste anything.
Crazypants rating: 7.75
The craziness? It's honestly hard to begin when you have a story about Logan suddenly being best bros with the winner of Top Chef Masters.
First, Wolverine is a homicidal maniac, yet he and the medical examiner know less about dismembered humans than a celebrity chef. Either competition in the restaurant industry is worse than ever, or we've just learned a little too much about San Francisco's only plan to solve its homeless crisis.
Also, what the hell is happening to that honing steel?
Second, this is a comic about Chris Cosentino catching a serial killer despite his bungling sidekick Wolverine, as written by Chris Cosentino. His superpower is being true to himself, flaws and all, and frankly, we could use more superheroes who teach lessons like that. But that doesn't make this not fanfiction that cost Marvel five figures to print.
Third, there's a whole page in here of Cosentino berating a guy for being vegetarian. I too have made my bacon by writing in praise of meat, but adding this scene is like forcing Captain America to constantly remind readers that Canadian money looks weird. And it isn't just Cosentino:
Your shit literally doesn't stink?
Finally, this comic was written in six hours. That's not even enough time to barbecue a pork shoulder, let alone write 22 pages. But we can't really judge. When your story idea is about how cool Wolverine thinks you are, it's either written in a blind, furious passion, or not at all.
The Ultimate Warrior Is Just ... Holy Shit
There are plenty of wrestling comics, since it's the one pro sport that doesn't require comic book artists to learn realistic anatomy. But only two were written by the wrestlers themselves, starring themselves as themselves in implausible -- nay, impossible circumstances.
First up: Kevin "Diesel" Nash is a veteran wrestler and legit comic reader who seems like a pretty alright dude. I could devote this entire entry to him jumping out of helicopters and just obscene amounts of fucking ...
What is that multi-pronged thing under the sheets?
... but that wouldn't do justice to the real insanity of wrestlers writing their own comics. That award goes to the Ultimate Warrior.
Hulk Hogan might have embodied our 1980s jingoism and barely concealed racism, but The Ultimate Warrior was the manifestation of America's penchant for cocaine.
The man behind the character read enough philosophy and ... probably some texts or epic poetry about ancient heroes to formulate his own mythology. They didn't make sense, but they were clearly based on some real material. Which raises the scarier question: What if he never touched drugs at all and was driven mad by his ascent into a demi-godhood? It was never clear how much of it he was personally espousing and how much was the character. Kayfabe, y'all.
Crazypants rating: 10 to the ULTIMATE POWER!
We've previously mentioned the pin-up where Santa met the Ultimate Warrior, an encounter that, for lack of a better phrase, didn't go well.
You're welcome for this.
But judging these books based on that is not really fair to Warrior, since he didn't design those pinups. What he did do was script the main story of Warrior, and boy is that a weird one. It's four issues of Warrior floating in a nether-realm called Destrucity: which is both where he comes from and a true warrior's state of mind. Warrior first becomes himself, battling his own costume, and eventually his evil twin. All of which is shown to be the dreams of a Warrior in a coma.
You can't prove it isn't the inspiration for Alan Moore's Promethea.
To enumerate everything insane in this comic took a whole article, but suffice you to know that Warrior punches his inner child to death. At another point, he kills two snakes in a reference to his rebirth as Hercules. Like I said, this comic is insane, but it's not uneducated. And if your scale of greatness goes from "Ultimate" to "WARRIOR," it might be the greatest thing that the comic medium has ever produced.
If we're being honest, about half of Brendan's comics are weird and bad too. If you'd rather read a sane comic book written by and starring an actress, No Angel's a good one.
Think Nana and Pop-Pop's loving 60-year monogamous relationship is quaint and old-fashioned? First off, sorry for that disturbing image, but we've got some news for you: the monogamous sexual relationship is actually brand new relative to how long humans have been around. Secondly, it's about to get worse from here: monkey sex.
On this month's live podcast, Jack O'Brien and the Cracked staff welcome Dr. Christopher Ryan, podcaster and author of 'Sex at Dawn', onto the show for a lively Valentine's Day discussion about love, sex, why our genitals are where they are, and why we're more like chimps and bonobos than you think.
Get your tickets here.
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