Logan Paul Apologized, But We All Feed the Machine

Logan Paul

Oh, Logan Paul…you poor, goofy young man. Now, now, I know everyone is up in arms over how he started 2018, and I’m certainly not saying his recent video in Japan was tasteful or even artful. But Logan Paul is an artist. And as a society, we need to learn from his experience, especially as more and more bright teens aspire to become famous YouTubers. Of course, disrespecting the dead is offensive; but it is important to note that Paul did not commit murder or rape or worse. He simply exhibited very poor judgment based on a certain brand of ignorance that online culture has actively encouraged. And that’s what I’d like to discuss here. First, what did Logan Paul do exactly? He traveled with friends to the Aokigahara forest beneath Japan’s Mount Fuji to go “ghost hunting.” Upon arrival, he and his seemingly vapid, hapless posse came across a man        …read more

How the Jewish Experience Gave Rise to Our Favorite Comic Book Heroes

Jewish Creators

Whether consciously or not on the part of the Jewish creators and innovators, what comes to mind when we think of comics and superheroes comes straight out of troubled times for Jews. Comic books are lifted from the myths, plights and religious teachings of the Jewish people. Let’s start with the framework for comics as we know them. It’s 1933, the heart of the Great Depression, and M.C. Gaines (born Maxwell Ginzberg) needs an idea to make money and provide for his family. One day while reading through old comic strips, he begins to wonder if others would enjoy them too. So he decides to publish a collection of old strips, and the first comic book, Famous Funnies, is born. This is followed by Popular Comics, which includes an original strip called Scribbly about a boy cartoonist, based on its Jewish creator Sheldon Mayer. Realizing this success would be short-lived,        …read more

The World’s First Supernatural Horror Magazine: ‘The Orchid Garden’

horror magazine

Almost 100 years ago, German publishers introduced the world to ‘The Orchid Garden’ and a new art form: the supernatural horror magazine. One of the greatest inventions of all time? Paper. Though its creation is commonly attributed to Cai Lun in the Eastern Han Dynasty, archaeological research suggests paper existed in an earlier time. With the advent of the printing press in 1440, people were able to enjoy all kinds of printed works. In our now-almost-forgotten public libraries, in bookstore aisles and at the grocery checkout counter, we can still find a form of reading material that’s been popular for centuries: the magazine. In 1731 Englishman Edward Cave released The Gentleman’s Magazine, which would go on to enjoy 200 years in publication. Cave’s goal was to create a periodical that would interest the general public, so he included everything from essays and poems to stories and political musings. With the        …read more

Did Our Favorite Indie Comics Grow Up or Sell Out?

indie comics

How did indie comics ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and ‘The Tick’ rise from cult followings to franchises, and what did they give up for mass appeal? When I saw that a new version of The Tick was coming out — from creator Ben Edlund, no less — I was ecstatic. However, the pilot was not the laugh riot I expected. I was leery of the dark, serious tone and the direction it was taking. An odd approach, if you remember the original indie comics. When I was a kid, comic books were my be-all and end-all. While other kids dressed up as athletes or in occupational garb, year after year I dressed up as superheroes and — I likely should be embarrassed to write this — still do every Halloween. So imagine my delight when, as a young teen, I ran into two indie comics: The Tick and Teenage Mutant        …read more

The Greatest Magicians the World Has Ever Known

greatest magicians

From Houdini to David Blaine, the greatest magicians have captured imaginations for generations. Magic is as old as it is transcultural, and the greatest magicians tap into this fact. From figures like the wizard Merlin in Arthurian legend to books like the I-Ching from ancient China, magic has existed in cultural narratives for as long as we can remember. From one perspective, magic makes sense of life’s larger questions, filling in the gaps where contemporary science falls short. From another perspective, on the threshold between spirituality and mysticism, magic is not at odds with science, reason or logic; rather, it forms them. Whether we take one view or another, magic has developed through modern society to become a form of entertainment and, depending on the person practicing it, an art form. The greatest magicians have evolved from wizards to showmen. Sleight of hand, feats of mental discipline and death-defying stunts        …read more

8 Best TED Talks to Inspire You

best TED Talks

Looking for more happiness, focus, creativity? Here are the best TED Talks to put you on track for your best year yet. TED Talks have long been the go-to videos for inspiring, thought-provoking ideas from a variety of experts and leaders. Following are the eight best TED Talks, each under 20 minutes, if you're looking to find your calling, expand your creativity and confront your fears. 1. ‘There’s more to life than being happy’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9Trdafp83U Author and writer Emily Esfahani Smith upends the long-held theory that we should all be happy as we saunter through this mortal coil. Rather, she says, we should focus on these four pillars of living a meaningful life: belonging, finding purpose, transcendence and storytelling. Essentially, Smith encourages us to seek belonging in relationships or a community, which helps us feel valued. Finding valuable work is important in order to feel like you’re contributing to society,        …read more

‘Calvin and Hobbes’ and Bill Watterson: A Phenomenon and a Recluse

Calvin and Hobbes

‘Calvin and Hobbes’ first appeared on November 18, 1985. The strip has remained relevant for more than 30 years, and its creator has stuck to his principles through it all. It was one of those things moms say to their kids to impress them about their jobs, as if being an outstanding AP teacher weren’t enough. But of course, I was just a young boy. Name-dropping has its effects. “Bill Watterson graduated from Chagrin Falls,” she told me. Chagrin Falls High School in Northeast Ohio, that is. The school where my mom’s now taught for 22 years. Calvin and Hobbes, the revolutionary comic strip, made Chagrin Falls’ own Bill Watterson a household name. Calvin and Hobbes had always reminded me of home. The precocious Calvin and his stuffed tiger live in an idyllic Midwestern town with many Chagrin Falls characteristics. In one of the first Calvin and Hobbes strips, for        …read more

Cazzie David Follows in Dad’s Footnotes with Cranky Web Series

Larry David, Cazzie David

Larry David’s daughter Cazzie delivers a series that’s like ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ swaddled in Snapchat filters and drone jokes. Even if you didn’t know the names behind this year’s hottest web series, it felt instantly familiar: the nitpicking over minutiae, the anxiety-fueled arguments, the friendships built on equal parts love and disgust. Larry David’s 22-year-old daughter follows in the footnotes of his unique brand of humor with Eighty-Sixed. The web series debuted in April 2017 when Complex announced the eight-episode series about Remi, “a neurotic, semi-narcissist who, across several episodes ranging four-to-eight minutes, tries to ‘win’ her breakup.” The show came from writers Elisa Kalani and Cazzie David, the daughter of Larry David, cocreator of Seinfeld and the actor/writer behind HBO’s long-running Curb Your Enthusiasm. The elder goofy, acerbic David brought back Curb in October, but this year some new buzz has been swirling around his talented daughter. What Cazzie        …read more

Fallen Artists: Should We Suspend Judgment When Heroes Fall?

suspend judgement, open-minded

It can be difficult to remain open-minded when a beloved artist is accused of terrible things. There’s a saying: Don’t ask how the sausage is made. You may enjoy the end product. Maybe you’re even able to suspend judgment about its dubious origins. Sometimes even when there’s no denying the truth of a thing, some will still choose to look away. Because the love of the thing is just that great. When it comes to scandals swirling around our favorite (or once-favorite) celebrity artists, it’s tough, no doubt about it. I’ve written a fair amount about art — movies, video games, music — and of those subjects I’ve covered, I always tackle them with levity in mind. Top-10 lists to give you something to read on your lunch break or during a trip to the bathroom. And when it’s not a top-10 list, when there is a precise point to        …read more

Lights, Camera, Superhero Toys in Action!

superhero toys

Take a peek behind the scenes, where four incredibly imaginative photographers bring superhero toys to life. Let’s talk about superhero toys. First, they’re not just for kids. Second, keeping them wrapped up in their original packaging makes sense if you’re a collector, but it’s not much fun. Third, there’s a not-so-underground global group of photographers who are unwrapping their toys in order to capture stunning images. They don’t need real people for subjects — they’re happily geeking out with superhero toys. Here are four photographers that bring superhero toys to life, with fantastic results. Overcast in the UK UK-based Darylle Lacey told Crixeo that toy photography is “about keeping an eye out, looking under those hedgerows and not being afraid to get down on your belly and play with toys.” He used to keep his toys on a shelf, but by discovering toy photography he’s learned to “play again in        …read more