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by Allison Taich

17 Dec 2010


Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, the creators of Robot Chicken, are taking their toys out the box for the third installment of the Robot Chicken Star Wars series. The critically acclaimed Robot Chicken saga premieres 19 December 2010 with an hour long special parodying the dark side of the universe. Through the show’s signature stop motion animation and crafty pop culture wit, Episode III recounts the untold experiences of four galactic bad guys: Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader, Boba Fett and Gary the Stormtrooper. As the special flips around the universe each villainous tale intertwines and connects throughout all six Star Wars films.

Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III features Zac Efron as Anakin Skywalker, Anthony Daniels (from the original Star Wars films) as C3PO, Robot Chicken virgins Mike Henry (The Cleveland Show) and Donald Glover (Community), plus returning voices Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks and Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian. Additional voices include: Green, Senreich, Seth MacFarlane, Breckin Meyer, Zeb Wells, Rachael Leigh Cook, Tom Kane and more.

If you are not up to date with Star Wars fear not! Between crooked depictions of a cocky bounty hunter and a frustrated patriarch Stormtrooper, you don’t have to be a sci-fi/Star Wars geek to let some laughs slip. Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III premieres 19 December, 2010 at 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT) on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

by Jimmy Callaway

10 Aug 2010


The premise of the cartoon Super Chicken is deceptively simple.  A send-up of the comic-book superheroes also found on the small screen and large, the cartoon aired on Jay Ward’s George of the Jungle in 1967, and fit nicely with the show’s simple silliness, also found in other Ward shows like The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

But as with much of Ward’s output, there was something more sophisticated lurking beneath. Put aside the thematic correlations between Super Chicken and the war in South Vietnam. On a less politicized level, the parody of superheroes often times (and certainly in this case) is as much a jab at the source as it is at the recipient. The intended audience for much superhero fare tends to be the young, the unathletic. The ineffectual. The weaklings who, despite the astronomical odds against them, want so desperately to be heroic, to be seen as heroic. It is precisely because he is neither the brightest nor the most admirable that Super Chicken is a true hero for the disenfranchised.

In the insanely catchy opening theme, we can see two very quick shots that strengthen this claim. First, within the opening seconds, during the lyric “When you’re threatened by a stranger”, an elderly woman is pounding on an over-sized thug with her purse. Simple reversal of fortunes equals a quick laugh. But pause the YouTube video here and think about it: do we know this “thug” was at all threatening this woman? What if he had been offering her assistance across the street? Asking for directions to the local charity hospital so he could volunteer? That ever-present polarization between the elderly and the young was probably never more at the forefront of the American mind than it was during the late 1960s, and here Jay Ward has, however briefly, captured that. Who else to save a “thug” from a “granny” than Super Chicken?

This notion of the generation gap is reinforced with the very next lyric/image (“When it looks like you will take a lickin’”). A young man is about to be spanked. We know not his dastardly crime, but we all know that position, that feeling of terror: “An authority figure is punishing me!”  Ineffectual.  Weak.  It hits an immediate emotional core, and that extended caaaaaall for rescue reverberates from within.

Even if it is for a chicken and a lion in an egg-shaped flying car.

by Chris Conaton

23 Jul 2010


Fred Phelps’ notorious Westboro Baptist Church, the folks who bring their hateful signs and protests to events like military funerals, decided that they were going to take their act to Comic-Con this year. The result: exactly four Westboro protesters showed up while hundreds of Comic-Con attendees bearing dozens of hilarious signs showed up in counter-protest. See all the pics at Comics Alliance.

by Dean Blumberg

11 Jun 2010


Sue Storm, the Fantastic Four's Invisible Woman

Sue Storm, the Fantastic Four’s Invisible Woman

I always just assumed an invisibility cloak was something relegated to Marvel Comic’s The Hood, the Fantastic Four’s Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman or some Tony Stark Iron Man development. Apparently the technology of comic books is not so far from scientific developments in today’s real world.

Anil Ananthaswamy posted a piece on the New Scientist website this week about advancements in what innovators term “optical camouflage technology”. Researchers at Duke, UC Berkeley and University of St. Andrews are hard at work are using “metamaterials”, or materials with strong electromagnetic properties with a negative refraction index. From what I’ve read in the linked reports on the New Scientist piece, light does not reflect or refract but instead bends around these materials rendering them “invisible” to our visible spectrum. Wait a second, this sound like something from TV’s Lost!

However, we are still far from Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four. Today’s cloaking technology works primarily on 2D objects. As Ananthaswamy explains, “[the] first cloak could only hide two-dimensional objects viewed from specific directions – and only if they were ‘viewed using one particular microwave frequency. Producing a cloak to hide objects from visible light, which has a wavelength several orders of magnitude smaller than microwaves – let alone cloaking objects when viewed from any direction – seemed a more remote possibility”.

As New Scientist reports, 3D cloaking is currently the project that scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany are working on. If comic books are any indication of scientific advancements of the future, I expect Pym Particles that allow humans to radically alter their size to be developed by 2020.

by Oliver Ho

27 May 2010


A playfully weird take on classic tarot images, this project reinvents divination cards with such images as “The Molar Beetle” and the “Znakir of Thrax”.
“I describe my pictures as key frames or storyboards for some sort of bizarre movie,” says artist Ellis Nadler. “Or perhaps as stage sets for an opera I shall write some day.” I would love to see a full deck of these evocative cards in real-life. Imagine the strange fortunes people would tell. [via A Journey Round My Skull]

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Double Take: The African Queen (1951)

// Short Ends and Leader

"What a time they had, Charlie and Rosie. They'll never lack for stories to tell their grandchildren. And what a time we had at Double Take discussing the spiritual and romantic journey of the African Queen.

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