Norm Macdonald, the DGAF Comic

The late comedian mocked everyone and everything, and wasn’t looking for validation.




NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE

A
fter Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley filed for divorce, Norm Macdonald shared the sad news on SNL’s “Weekend Update”: “According to friends, the two were never a good match. She’s more of a stay-at-home type, and he’s more of a homosexual pedophile.”

Yow. Sometimes great comedy is so funny it shocks, stings, hurts. At the time, you didn’t say “Michael Jackson is a homosexual pedophile.” It was considered rude. MJ gave us “Billie Jean,” so we all gave him a pass on the molesting-little-boys thing. Norm said the unsayable, and kept saying it.

Macdonald wasn’t a shtick comic (although he did





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New Batman Comic Reveals that ‘Robin’ Is LGBTQ

Holy shoehorned sexual deviancy, Batman! The Dark Knight’s greatest sidekick, the Boy Wonder himself, Robin has finally come out of the closet. What, really? Yep, in one of the latest Batman comics from DC, Robin is interested in men. 

Oh, thank goodness for that. 

According to nerd culture outlet Polygon, Tim Drake, AKA Robin, came out in the latest volume of DC’s new anthology series, Batman: Urban Legends. This unique series takes detours from Batman’s main story and focuses each volume on a specific character in the DC Batman universe. This latest volume apparently includes a story beat on the sex life of Bruce Wayne’s most trusted crime-fighting friend. 

The outlet details how this comic, number six of the anthology series, deals with some sort of existential crisis Robin is up against. Apparently, wearing super tight pants, uttering his famous catchphrase and getting the adulation from every female citizen he and the big man save just doesn’t feel the same anymore. We’ve all been there, right? 

However, what spurs Robin towards finding himself again is the romantic attention of one of his good friends, Bernard. Apparently, Robin has to save Bernard from some supervillain and starts undergoing some strange, mysterious feelings. In the throes of rescuing Bernard, Robin has a “lightbulb moment” and realizes that he has romantic feelings for his old friend.

Oh, right. Nothing like figuring out you’re into guys to dispel that quarter life crisis. Towards the end of the comic, Tim Drake owns up to his feelings towards Bernard and decides to go ask the blonde boy next door on a date. Drake rings Bernard’s doorbell and when he answers, Robin expresses his true feelings. “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, about that night, and I – I don’t know what it meant to me. Not yet. But I’d like to find to out.”

Happily, Bernard replies, “I was hoping you would. Tim Drake … do you want to go on a date with me?” The comic book concludes with Robin saying, “Yeah … yeah. I think I want that.” Cue the quick teaser in the comic’s final panel “TO BE CONTINUED IN BATMAN: URBAN LEGENDS #10.”

Writer Meghan Fitzmartin described the moment she found out DC would go ahead with the “meaningful” storyline, saying, “I fully sat on the floor of my apartment for a solid two minutes in happiness as it sunk in.”

As for what letter of the LGBTQ alphabet Drake identifies with now, “Fitzmartin says that Tim hasn’t put a label on himself yet,” according to Polygon.

“I wanted to pay tribute to the fact that sexuality is a journey,” Fitzmartin told Polygon. “To be clear, his feelings for Stephanie have been/are 100% real, as are his feelings for Bernard. However, Tim is still figuring himself out. I don’t think he has the language for it all… yet.”

Imagine how exciting the next installment concerning Robin’s sex life will be. Does the date go well? Does Robin get cold feet? Is Bernard actually the Joker hiding an evil plot behind an innocuous dinner date? Oh yeah, the suspense is just killing us.

Joking aside. It’s just the latest pop culture staple pandering to the ever-present, ever-complaining LGBTQ crowd. Maybe DC can stay relevant for a few more years, until the woke crowd demands that the Dark Knight himself becomes gay or some other sort of non-hetero sexuality. 

Though, for real old school Batman fans, there’s no need to get too angry about Robin being gay, bi or pansexual. At least this new queer Robin is not the Robin introduced in the 1940s. That Robin was Dick Grayson. Nor was it the second Robin, Jason Todd. Tim Drake is the third Robin iteration who was introduced in 1989. There’s some consolation … maybe? 



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Latin singer Selena featured in new U.S. comic book

A cover of the comic book from TidalWave Comics “Female Force” series featuring the iconic singer Selena. TidalWave Comics/via REUTERS

August 5, 2021

(Reuters) – Selena, the Tejano music performer killed in 1995, will be the star of a U.S. comic book debuting later this month.

Selena, whose birth name was Selena Quintanilla-Perez, will be the focus of “Female Force: Selena,” a comic book in English and Spanish being released by TidalWave Comics on Aug. 11.

“So much has been said about Selena. I wanted to tell her story while bringing something new to it. I hope the readers – and her fans – enjoy what we’ve put together,” said Michael Frizell, writer of the comic book.

The book is part of a series focused on women who make a worldwide impact.

Sometimes called the Mexican Madonna or queen of Tejano, Texas-born Selena died on March 31, 1995, when she was shot by the founder of her fan club.

But her Grammy-winning music has continued to sell strongly. Tejano, also called Tex-Mex music, fuses American and Mexican influences.

(Writing by Cynthia Osterman; Editing by Matthew Lewis)





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“The Suicide Squad”: Gory Blockbuster Puts Comic Back in Comic-Book Movies

From left: Rick Flag (Joel Kinneman), Peacemaker (John Cena), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), The Thinker (Peter Capaldi), and Bloodsport (Idris Elba) in The Suicide Squad. (Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics)

Writer–director James Gunn’s gory blockbuster puts the comic back in comic-book movies.

Among comic-book movies that mock and subvert the genre, two titles stand above the others: The Lego Batman Movie and Deadpool 2. The Suicide Squad is nowhere near as funny or clever as either of those, but it’s a reasonably amusing summer spectacle and a huge improvement over the 2016 clunker Suicide Squad. Fair warning, though: It carries an America-bashing theme born of a stridently lefty view, albeit one that will have some purchase among right-wingers in the age of, “What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”

Jettisoning most of the characters from the 2016 movie and leaning hard into absurd elements, writer-director James Gunn (best known for the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, neither of which I liked) orchestrates a mostly funny mission-from-hell adventure that ranks right up there among the goriest comedies ever made.

Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), now merely a ditzy sweetheart instead of a nihilistic psycho, returns with stolid team leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) but is otherwise surrounded by a new cast of expendables, an acknowledgment that the earlier Suicide Squad is in a special category of incredibly lucrative movies that no one wanted to see replicated. Commanded as before by the sinister Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who threatens to punish the disobedient by blowing off their heads via remote control, a dirty half-dozen or so hardcore criminals get sprung from prison in order to take out a monster alien starfish living in a South American Nazi silo that will probably kill everyone if it gets loose. (Non-spoiler: It gets loose.)

Roll call. We meet the British killing machine Bloodsport (Idris Elba); the ludicrous Peacemaker (John Cena), whose chrome helmet would embarrass a first-grader; a depressed weirdo named Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) who imagines he’s attacking his mom whenever he launches his lethal colored dots at his enemies; Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), a girl who commands rodent armies; and a giant, moronic walking shark named Nanaue. The latter is voiced by Sylvester Stallone, which sounds a lot funnier in theory than it winds up being in the movie. Both Misterjaw and Chevy Chase’s landshark were more amusing. Stallone tries to get laughs via a Grootian menu of low-cognitive-function dialogue. Gunn seems to think, “Put a crazy-looking thing on screen and laughs must ensue,” but I believe he’s wrong.

Most of the fun lies in appreciating the blunderbuss incompetence of the team, whose errors result in innocent people’s heads getting sliced in two or their viscera getting exploded all over the scenery. There are two mass-slaughter scenes Gunn accents with enough thick, jammy red stuff to rival the Smuckers factory, and they’re both as vividly anarchic as they are disgusting. There’s also a scene that features more rats than I’ve ever seen in a movie before. It’s like Willard squared. As I’m unperturbed by comedic violence, I found the rats more stomach-churning than the gore. If you’re thinking of dinner and this movie, save the dinner part till later.

I don’t want to oversell The Suicide Squad, because it’s inconsistent. It’s at its best when it’s pantsing such genre clichés as the “dying hero bequeaths his magical weapon to a chosen successor” scene or the “let’s sneak into this hostile camp and raise hell” scene. Cena’s jingo-meets-Rambo hero Peacemaker is also very funny, and Gunn uses him to land a few jabs at what he sees as our national tendency to kill people in the name of liberating them. He’s quite a warrior, this Peacemaker.

But the plot, though refreshingly free of the convolution and digital clutter that marred several other recent blockbusters, is pretty standard stuff. Moreover, the film flags for 20 minutes in the middle, when Gunn temporarily turns it into a non-ironic, conventional 1980s action flick of the Sylvester SchwarzeNorris school. Gunn has no particular gift for action scenes, orchestrating (for instance) a big set piece around some Harley Quinn ass-kicking that simply stitches together a series of stunt moves of the kind we’ve all seen a thousand times before; whenever the director tries to be thrilling, I wish he’d go back to just being funny. He does, however, come up with a solid feminist joke, built around the idea that the guys have no idea how capable Harley is, which is far wittier than any of the similarly minded but ineffectively executed jibes in recent woman-directed blockbusters like Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman 1984, and Black Widow.

It all builds to a climax that, while not a classic, is at least breezy rather than desperately overstuffed. Gunn doesn’t have a brilliant success here — the movie’s not as delightful as the similar-in-tone Thor: Ragnarok, for instance. But he’s found a winning register, which is to say, the Marvel approach that gives both comedy and action their due. After one too many of Zack Snyder’s broody existential epics, it’s a good time to trade earnestness and angst for cartoony self-mockery.





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Movie Review: ‘Mandibles’ a Comic Vision of Our New Dark Age

David Marsais and Grégoire Ludig in Mandibles. (Magnet Releasing)

Quentin Dupieux’s far-out French farce

Quentin Dupieux’s films aren’t classy enough to make the festival circuit, which is to their credit. Yet he keeps making them — quickly, cleverly, and always with admirable brevity. His new 71-minute Mandibles is another absurdist satire (like Keep an Eye Out and Deerskin) in which a group of characters — starting with two bums: tall, lazy Manu (Gregoire Ludig) and his short but more devious pal, Jean-Gab (David Marsais) — turn a shady money-making scheme into a wholly different outrageous exploit.

Manu and Jean-Gab hide their alternate plan from a petty crook named Michel-Michel, a repetition that recalls the classic 1937 film Bizarre, Bizarre, the American title for Drole de drame, the second feature by France’s legendary Marcel Carne (Children of Paradise) from a script by Jacques Prevert. In its most famous scene, two characters who try outwitting each other (played by Michel Simon and Louis Jouvet) distract their hidden motives through a verbal exchange of that double phrase, “bizarre, bizarre.” It became a touchstone of the golden age of mid 20th-century art-house cinema.

Dupieux gets bizarre, bizarre when Manu and Jean-Gab steal a car and find a huge, dog-sized fly in the trunk. They adopt the insect like a pet, then attempt training it to commit bank robberies. This twists the criminal premise past wild farce into surrealism. Eccentricities pile up through a series of extended accidents, surprises, and odd characters met along the way. (They loutishly commandeer the trailer of another social outcast played by Bruno Lochet, a modern dead ringer for Michel Simon.)

Perhaps Dupieux’s lack of reputation owes to his disreputable hypotheses. This cultural moment, where activist politicians resemble a Dick Tracy rogues’ gallery, hasn’t inspired much self-critical art. Yet Dupieux boldly insists on an unsettling exhibition of characters with barely contained antisocial impulses — that is, he condenses recognizable modern idiosyncrasies into absurdity.

At first, I compared Dupieux’s horror-farce Deerskin to the films of his American-named twin Quentin Tarantino for its satire of moviemaking mania and outré violence. But given Dupieux’s second interest in pop music and music videos, a better analogy can be made to Spike Jonze who frequently bases his film in the absurd. When Manu and Jean-Gab share slang, their word “Toro” means “cool — when we agree, or when we’re happy, or to say hello, too.” It recalls the folie a deux of Jonze’s private-world collaboration with Charlie Kaufman in Being John Malkovich.

In Jonze’s cinema of the absurd, political commentary can be deceptive. The problem with Jonze’s Her came from its romantic acceptance of Big Tech domination, yet its conclusion was unironic, unfunny, and dispirited: Joaquin Phoenix’s modern-man cipher fell in love with his computer operating system — a precursor to his Joker. In Dupieux’s absurdity, human behavior is not aleatory but reflects specific social and psychological realities.

Mandibles reaches just such a peak when Manu and Jean-Gab accept the hospitality of a mistaken high-school reunion. That’s when Adele Exarchopoulos (the easily manipulated sexual naïf of Blue is the Warmest Color) appears as Agnes, a chef contending with a psychotraumatic abnormality causing her to speak loudly without emotional modulation. Agnes’s candor cuts to the quick of polite linguistic manners — as well as Manu and Jean-Gab’s con. (They’re like prodigal sons in bourgeois heaven which Dupieux shoots in pastoral pastels.) Agnes crowns Dupieux’s string of you-can’t-cheat-an-honest-man scams and improvs with a parting scene that is almost sweet.

Mandibles critiques mankind’s ruthlessness and egocentricity characterized by literal greed — not a favorable subject when film culture is committed to comic-book fantasies and self-congratulatory political correctness. This rude farceur is truer to the era — more psychically revealing — than do-gooder social-justice filmmakers.

Despite his narrative pranks, Dupieux’s moral vision is weirdly demanding. That pet-sized fly that Jean-Gab teaches to gesticulate is a gruesome reminder of some of our most repulsive public activists. (Imagine what he could do with Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Lori Lightfoot, Gretchen Whitmer, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar.) If Dupieux pays homage to Carne and Prevert’s farce about human folly, this comic of our new dark age can also usefully evoke Shakespeare’s King Lear: “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods.”



Armond White, a culture critic, writes about movies for National Review and is the author of New Position: The Prince Chronicles. His new book, Make Spielberg Great Again: The Steven Spielberg Chronicles, is available at Amazon.






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Comic Bill Burr Shreds CNN in an Expletive Filled Rant That Is Spot On – RedState

The mocking of CNN continues from all quarters and, quite frankly, it is well earned and glorious. When one of the funniest comics breathing today, Bill Burr, takes aim, it is something to treasure and behold.

As I wrote the other day about CNN’s latest ratings with the ever-so-loved and targeted 25-54 aged people, there is a reason for us to laugh. From CNN Continues Its Hindenburg-Like Burn in Losing Viewers With Release of New Ratings

The network that used to brand itself the “Most Trusted Name in News” and was once the leader of the pack in cable news is now being beaten continuously by its rivals. Possibly, activists posing as journalists is not the ratings juggernaut some thought it would be in Atlanta.

Beginning the week of July 5th, CNN viewership dropped by 19% with both overall eyeballs on the channel and with the main advertiser target of 25-54 segment of the population. Even more shocking is their morning news show “New Day” which hit a new low in the crucial demographic of 25-54, with only 76,000 people watching.

“New Day” averaged only 433,000 total viewers during the week for its lowest-rated week of 2021, while time-slot competition “FOX & Friends” delivered 1.1 million viewers. The recently revamped “New Day” has now failed to reach 500,000 average viewers for 11 straight weeks.

“It’s remarkably low viewership when putting these three numbers into context. CNN is in more than 90 million homes. It has been in existence for 41 years, almost more than any other cable network. And its morning show oftentimes can’t deliver more than 500,000 viewers,” said Joe Concha, Fox News contributor, and The Hill media columnist.

Ouch.

Ratings like those just have to sting for an organization that considers itself the vanguard of gathering and telling the news as it happens. Of course, no spin involved at all.

Enter into the fray to rub just a little bit of salt and dirt into that festering wound of rating demise is comic extraordinaire Bill Burr. I’m just going to give everyone a heads up here that I am a YUGE Bill Burr fan and I DO NOT CARE if he is a liberal, conservative, or an alien from another solar system. I just find the guy funny and that is ok these days even if some #Woke screw does not think it is.

Burr, in his immensely popular podcast Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast from last Thursday (irony abounds) threw in a couple of barbs about his Mother in Law watching CNN.

My mother-in-law comes over to help watch the kids and she always puts on CNN. Do know what those F***ing morons are doing, do know what those F***ing morons are doing? They are talking about Trump.

According to the Daily Wire, then he gets interesting…

Comedian and “Mandalorian” actor Bill Burr again bucked the liberal narrative this week on his podcast, ripping into “treasonous un-American” CNN for the network’s Trump-obsession and its refusal to criticize “bore” President Joe Biden because he’s a Democrat.

“I swear to God, I cannot believe people watch that channel. They’re so dumb,” Burr said this past week, according to Fox News. “They’re f***ing treasonous un-American pieces of s***.”

All good comedy is based on truth and Burr right here nails it.

CNN loved Trump in 2016 while they felt he had no shot of beating Hillary being he was great for the ratings. When they started to figure out he was contending, they did an about-face in showing his rallies to taking potshots about him on anything. This policy continued through his time in the White House and now the post-Trump Presidency and yet, CNN and their staff can’t quit Trump now.

Burr is just pointing out in his own unique style that this is not news that they are spreading but opinion trying to look like news. If you don’t think so just ask yourself this.

If you took Hunter Biden and changed his name to Donald Trump Jr with all Little Biden’s baggage during last year’s campaign, CNN would be running specials every week on how horrible this is, and rightly so. Now we have a sitting President with a son as a liability that has had some questionable dealings with our adversaries overseas and CNN can’t lift a finger to even question it.

If Donald Jr didn’t get the once over IF he were doing the same thing I would be disappointed. I expect consistency of reporting from news organizations and CNN stopped being that to a lot of people long ago. This is why their ratings have tanked and their reputation has suffered.

Bill Burr doing this little rant about CNN just proves it.

As I see more comics push back against the #Woke and #CancelCulture mindset and the platforms that promote it, my heart skips a beat in happiness. If this country is to return back to any semblance of normal, these idiotic notions must be crushed in the arena of ideas.

Mocking them is a great start and CNN, as one of the larger platforms for this nonsense being spread, deserves their heap of scorn and ridicule.

Bill Burr, you rock, you foul-mouthed banshee.



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SF/Fantasy Bookstore Sues Neighboring Hotel, Includes Comic Book Version of Factual Allegations in Amended Complaint – Reason.com

You can read the whole Complaint, in Criss-A-Less, Inc. d/b/a Third Planet Sci-Fi & Fantasy Superstore v. ASDN Houston, LLC d/b/a Crowne Plaza River Oaks; the comic version is at pp. 6-18, preceded with:

V. ORIGIN STORY

23. Defendant, Pacifica has previously filed special exceptions, complaining that it could not sufficiently understand the claims and allegations against it. To aid in clarifying the facts of this case, plaintiffs provide the facts in illustrated form.

As you might gather, this sort of filing can be risky, if the judge thinks it’s undignified or just a waste of time. On the other hand, it’s the Third Amended Complaint, so they know who the judge is (Judge Mike Engelhart), and presumably know something about his sensibilities; I take it they have a good sense whether he’ll be amused. Plus they doubtless expected this to lead to publicity (I read about this on law.com [Angela Morris], and I expect other outlets have picked it up), and presumably they’ve concluded that the publicity will be valuable to their client.



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Happy July 4th! New Captain America Comic Says American Dream ‘Never Really Existed’

The Marvel Commies have struck again. This time they’re attempting to indoctrinate the readers of “The United States of Captain America” by telling them that the American Dream “isn’t real.” In the first issue of the comic written by Christopher Cantwell, the patriotically dressed Avenger promotes an anti-American view of our country on the weekend of Independence Day. 

The left-wing propaganda packed comic book was released on June 30. Marvel’s website then published an article promoting the new comic on July 3 titled “Spend the Fourth with these Captain America Reads.” They described the series as a celebration of “the character’s incredible legacy.”

The story begins with the hero going on a journey to find his stolen shield and running into everyday people or “Captains” who have been protecting their communities by taking on the identity of “Captain America.” However, the story that is actually told is one of divisiveness and politically charged commentary. 

The disguised message of this new comic becomes blatantly obvious when one of the “Captain America’s” portrayed in the comic says the following, according to The Washington Times:

I’m loyal to nothing. Except the dream. Here’s the thing about a dream, though. A dream isn’t real. … I’m starting to think America actually has two dreams. And one lie. The first American dream is the one that isn’t real. It’s one some people expect to just be handed to them. And then they get angry when it disappears. When the truth is, it never really existed in the first place.

The more than 5.5 million family-owned businesses in the U.S. may have something different to say about that. Releasing this kind of hateful rhetoric on the weekend of Independence Day is one of the most anti-American acts to come from the publishing company, and Marvel seems to be constantly promoting left-wing insanity. 

The character continues to promote the biased viewpoint by discussing the “white picket fence” view of America and insists that this does not actually exist. According to the comic, the existing version of America is one that “doesn’t get along nicely with reality. Other cultures. Immigrants. The poor.” The Captain then says “a good dream is shared. Shared radically. Shared with everyone. When something isn’t shared, it can become the American lie.”

No, Marvel. That’s called equity. That is the false utopian belief that’s constantly pushed by deranged leftists. The true American dream is equality of opportunity for everyone and the promise that if you work hard you will achieve great things.

One of the characters portraying a version of “Captain America” continues to manipulate the readers even further, saying, “A while back, we told the world they could come here for a better life. But too often we turn our backs on them.”

Freedom of thought is slowly being destroyed by companies like Marvel that push fallacies onto unsuspecting citizens. We now have to question comic books because the left-wing nuts can’t help but insert their radical beliefs into places where they don’t belong – like a comic book that’s supposed to appeal to a mass audience.

Defund Marvel.  



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Bo Burnham’s Netflix Special ‘Inside’ Is A Darkly Comic Look At Quarantine

For many, almost a year of lockdown was mentally and emotionally strenuous. Isolation bread depression and many wondered if we would ever return to a world resembling pre-pandemic life. It is that feeling that comedian Bo Burnham’s latest offering, “Inside,” tackles so beautifully. “Inside” is as tense as it is funny, and absolutely brilliant for it.

The special takes an almost narrative setup, following Burnham as he attempts to create a stand-up special from his apartment, where he is locked down and alone during the pandemic, trying to keep the isolation from destroying his sanity.

Burnham is at his best sitting behind a keyboard, setting snarky observations about people and society to catchy melodies. He broke out at age 16 with the memorable ditty “My Whole Family,” a comic tune detailing his parents’ erroneous assumptions about his sexuality. From there, his lyrics have taken on everything from mental health to dating expectations to insincere country lyrics. The simple instrumentals and crass yet charming words make you laugh out loud while lightly dancing along.

The songs of “Inside” are very different. To start, several are incomplete, lasting only a verse and refrain before ending, emphasizing the fractured mental state of their creator, or at least his persona. Rather than the stripped-down vocal and piano lines, Burnham’s songs are very processed, with audio filters, backup lines, and techno beats. There is something alienating about the sound, a far cry from the intimacy of just a guy and his keyboard, though that is likely intentional.

For longtime fans of the comedian’s work, this change might be alienating at first. The visible editing, slower pace, and processing destroys the urgency and momentum present in a typical stand-up show. While this actually works in the special’s favor once the confines of the genre are accepted to be broken, it does not save the special from dragging at times, replacing the tension or laughs with boredom or self-indulgence.

While Netflix labels “Inside” as “stand-up comedy,” the 90-minute special feels more like a film or one-man play where the protagonist slowly loses his sanity during the long, lonely months.

Despite the psychological thriller sensibilities, however, “Inside” is ultimately a comedy, with songs and sketches intended to make viewers laugh. On this count, Burnham largely succeeds. Several songs, while lacking the jaunty tunes of their predecessors, are welcome additions to his musical canon. Early in the special, an anthem about how his “comedy” will “heal the world,” to absolve him of attempting to make actual change while feeling self-satisfied, was hilariously self-aware.

He likewise skewered cancel culture with an ironic tune, “Problematic,” which satirized contemporary culture so well it was difficult to tell whether he intended to beg forgiveness for more provocative jokes of his past or was mocking the idea that anyone would need to. With the Jesus imagery and references to an adolescent Aladdin Halloween costume, I’d venture a guess he intended the latter, but the song serves as a Rorschach test for your own opinions on the subject.

Of course, not every joke landed. Crass references overshadowed any humor in the song about sexting, and the mini songs about Jeff Bezos went nowhere and added nothing. Shallow conversations with loved ones were sent up humorously in an ode to FaceTiming one’s mother, but the joke could have been taken farther. For so bold a special, it was bizarre the few times that Burnham played it safe.

The filmmaking was engaging, a surprising thing to note in a comedy special. Many of the lighting and editing tricks called attention to themselves, and in multiple instances, Burnham visibly created his own light effects on camera. Rather than take viewers out of the immersion of the experience, however, these details contributed to the meta-narrative about a creator’s experience with creating.

Few works captured this fractured state with the necessary nihilism and absurdity. The only comparable work that comes to mind is British series “Staged,” with a similar mix of comedy and drama paired with metatextual jokes. The deeply personal nature of the work, however, is better likened to Federico Fellini’s “8 1/2,” or rather the musical adaptation “Nine.” While not even close to the same artistic level as Fellini’s surrealist masterpiece, “Inside” is an engaging look at an artist’s relationship with his work, his sanity, and himself.

Paulina Enck is an intern at the Federalist and current student at Georgetown University in the School of Foreign Service. Follow her on Twitter at @itspaulinaenck





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Neal Adams, King of Comic Books

Left: Neal Adams at the San Diego Comic-Con, August 1973. Right: Marilyn and Neal Adams and family, June 12. (Portrait © Clay Geerdes Estate courtesy of David Miller; Photo via Facebook)

A tribute to one of America’s greatest artists.

He walks among us!

Unbothered on the street, anonymous to passersby in midtown Manhattan, he is just another Old White Guy shuffling along, not looking for trouble. But in the right setting — a comic-book convention, say, or on one of the Facebook groups devoted to his legacy — he is nothing less than a god!

Mobbed for autographs and selfies, pressed for comment and criticism, he answers, with varying displays of patience, the same questions he has fielded, across a half-century at the top of his game, from super-fans of all ages, the nostalgic obsessives who have collected and internalized, pored and wept over, the tens of thousands of enduring images he has created, the hundreds of interviews he has given.

How can you not know who Neal Adams is? He gave the world the modern Batman and Joker! Revived Green Arrow and the X-Men! Created the first Black superhero for DC, the John Stewart Green Lantern!

He used his unrivaled talents for anatomy, layout, facial expression, coloring, and composition to bring an unprecedented hyper-realism to comics, birthing the multibillion-dollar industry that surrounds us today. More than that: When he was Riding High, a handsome and charismatic figure who resembled Robert Redford — unlike the Murrays, Marvins, and Mortys under whose crotchety tyranny the industry had suffered — he used his clout to prod the major publishers to reward creators more equitably, to provide a pension for the blind and broke creators of Superman, and to return original artwork to the artists. Like the figures he brought to life — If superheroes existed, he famously boasted, they’d look the way I draw them — he was a force for justice.

And now, Neal Adams — seeing his name in print still excites, still thrills, though not as much as the sight of his iconic signature, with the zippy arrow beneath the double-A in ADAMS — Neal Adams is 80!

Eighty! The Brash Newcomer who revolutionized comic illustration in the late 1960s, brought the medium to unparalleled heights in the ’70s, walked away for more lucrative advertising work inside his own Continuity Studios in the ’80s, published his own line of comics in the ’90s and 2000s, then returned to DC and Marvel — and the conventions industry — over the last decade . . . is now, with the death of Stan Lee and a nod to Roy Thomas, the greatest living figure in the history of comic books.

A living legend! Neal Adams hears this phrase every day — probably every half-hour. With his mere presence, he provides a cherished bridge to the bygone Silver and Bronze Ages, when comics still cost under a dollar and even desultory titles — Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane, for example — sold over 450,000 copies a month. Blessed to have avoided glaucoma or arthritis, The Master remains active, still possessed of his mad drawing skills, thick head of dark hair, and unrestrained outspokenness (“Donald Trump,” read one of his recent, milder tweets, “has made me ashamed to be white”).

He is no longer a revolutionary force in the art world — how could we expect that of him? — and critics complain he has cheapened his legacy with overexposure and trifling commissions; but who else that wowed us in 1968 is still wowing us today, still practicing his craft, still sought out, a force to be reckoned with?

How close we came to Neal not walking among us — to losing him forever — was revealed just last week. In a June 6 video on his Facebook page, from which daily perch he had been strangely absent for weeks, Neal disclosed he had weathered a bout with sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection that put him in the NYU intensive-care unit for eleven days. “The odds are I should be dead,” he said. The illness forced him onto dialysis for four days, claimed 40 pounds and half his muscle tone, left him delirious (“I went to hell”), and briefly confined him to a walker, which he has since shed.

Anticipating Neal would die — as happens to an estimated 40 to 60 percent of sepsis patients — the doctors presented grim paperwork to Marilyn Adams, Neal’s wife and Continuity collaborator of nearly 40 years. Dazed but undaunted, Marilyn spent marathon hours at her husband’s bedside until — miraculously, as in a comic book! — the living legend recovered.

In the Nealiverse, the community of super-fans who rightly regard their hero not merely as the greatest comic book artist of all time, but as one of the top five figures in the history of American art, who collect every fading back issue of Detective and Brave and Bold, every mimeographed fanzine he graced with an interview, every trading card and Winston-Salem ad he produced, every T-shirt, coffee mug, sleeping bag, shower curtain, gym bag, spiral notebook, and other piece of Neal-emblazoned memorabilia they can get their hands on, this was a supremely frightful moment.

They were forced to confront for the first time the specter (Spectre # 4, 1968: when Neal wrote and drew the main story, credited with both, a first for DC Comics) that this exceptionally hearty father of five, grandfather to many more, a presence at comicons from Philadelphia to the Philippines, might be . . . mortal . . . after all. This was uncharted terrain: the first time in anyone’s living memory that beckoned before them a lonely World (or Earth-2) Without Neal. I am 52, and I’ve not lived a second without Neal Adams always being there, always being the best, the gold standard. The prospect of life without him is saddening beyond description.

Fortunately for the Adams family, all of whom work with Continuity in some fashion, the Old Lion, a fighter since his youth in Coney Island, had one more battle in him. He returned, staggered but unbowed, to the place where he assuredly will perish: his drawing board in the Continuity offices on West 39th Street. Already this year, he contributed a dazzling cover to the first edition of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, his first-ever work on the franchise. And he resumed his live auctions on Facebook, where he charms the faithful with anecdotes, impressions, drawings to order, and even the odd Sinatra tune.

“I really like living in the middle of things,” The Master once told me, in one of the 20 hours of recorded interviews we have conducted together, dating back to 1994. “I like to create change as much as possible. And not because I’m a raving lunatic running through the streets, but [because] I don’t like to see things stay the same from one day to the next.”

A snapshot posted to Facebook on June 12 showed Neal and Marilyn surrounded by their family, seemingly happy as they posed high above the Rockaways surf at Bar Marseille, in Queens. Only faintly visible, as in the old photographs of FDR, is the wheelchair.

Neal Adams is still Riding High.

James Rosen — Mr. Rosen is a reporter for Sinclair Broadcast Group and the editor of A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century (2016), an anthology of essays by William F. Buckley Jr.





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