We went all out this year on what has to be one of our biggest Fall Guides to arts and culture ever. We’ve got substantial stories on Black Ops taking on local theater’s race problem, a Pulitzer winning author coming to the Triangle, a Nasher Museum reimagined for its 10th birthday, an influx of new “luxury cinemas,” a pickleball league at Wheels Fun Park and major renovations in NC State’s arts presentation. We’ve also got my personal must-see picks for fall theater, dance, visual art, readings and more, with Grayson Haver Currin covering concerts and Craig D. Lindsey tipping big-name comedy. And we devised what I think is a pretty hilarious cover, much pumpkin spice respect to art team of Chris Williams, Maxine Mills and Skillet Gilmore. Dive in through the landing page here.
I have done some comics stories in the INDY, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve ever done a whole special section on comics. Based on how it turned out and the number of local comics stories there are to tell, I think it’s something we’ll do again.
Our main angle this time was diversity in comics, with a story by me on Jazmin Truesdale, who is trying to start a new line of ethnically diverse female superheroes in Aza Comics, and a story by Zack Smith on Jeremy Whitley’s Princeless and its new spinoff, which feature biracial princesses who can save themselves just fine.
We round it out with my Q&A with the producer of new doc The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? (an incredible inside-Hollywood story about the dissolution of a late-90s Superman movie starring Nicolas Cage), a hilarious anecdote of the convention life by local comics writer Brockton McKinney, and a report on Durham’s Ultimate Comics shop expanding into Raleigh.
It’s all wrapped in amazing illustrations, including Handbook of the Marvel Universe-style dossiers of the story subjects, by the redoubtable Chris Williams. I signed off my intro “Excelsior!” and fulfilled a lifelong dream of being Stan Lee. Hope you enjoy. You can easily access all the stories through the landing page.
For the INDY‘s annual summer arts and culture preview special, I wanted to do something different this year. I love the swimming hole and other traditional summer fun as much as the next guy (more, probably), but it’s all but hopeless to put a fresh spin on them. So I decided to look at summer differently: Through a wintry lens. Our writers dream up creative ways to turn summer days in the Triangle into snow days, and things get pretty out of hand. And, of course, our critics preview the summer season in visual art, theater, dance, film and more. Props to Chris Williams for the Mad Magazine-style fold-in cover, Alex Boerner for the inspired photos, and Maxine Mills and Skillet Gilmore for the vivid interior design. Dive into the package through the handy table of contents here.
Cipher Escape is a five-month-old live escape game in Morrisville. I went to play it with two other INDY editors and had a blast. The live escape game is a trend that has been popular in Europe and Japan for awhile but is now gaining steam in the U.S. It’s based on room escape videogames, where you have to find objects and logically combine them in order to escape a locked room. It translates wonderfully to a live experience; this was probably the fastest hour of my life. Highly recommended if you live in the Triangle. Read about the INDY editors’ experience here.
Here’s a story I’ve wanted to tell for a long time. As Clang Quartet, Scotty Irving has been making harsh noise music about his Christian faith for 18 years. His set always involves elaborate masks and props––currently, a very impressive cross––and is like an Easter Sunday passion play as filtered through Merzbow.
If being a devout Christian on the transgressive noise scene (and an amazing performance artist) weren’t interesting enough, Scotty is also a folklore-sized figure with a complex perspective, an enormous personality and a rare generosity of spirit. A true American original, his intensely personal view of Christian faith and redemption is something he broadcasts to the world without pushing it on anyone, a rare feat.
I am most interested in stories about people who are animated by contradictions, and trying to resolve those contradictions, which makes Scotty something like my ideal subject. Huge thanks to him for being so forthcoming with his time and his thoughts, his pastor and church for letting me visit, Grayson Haver Currin for the fine editing and Jeremy M. Lange for the amazing photography. Read the story here.