Chronicling the creative process for Pop Zeus, the forthcoming Guided By Voices/Bob Pollard tribute comic- including sketches, concepts, finished art and whatever else is in my brain at the moment.

Friday, April 28, 2006

David Rees Gets His War On

Want to give a shout out to David Rees, the hilarious and erudite cartoonist behind Get Your War On, My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable, and My New Filing Technique Is Unstoppable. Was struggling to find some bland clip art images as inspiration for the Second Illustrated Song section of Pop Zeus and I immediately thought of Rees' work.

The idea of outrageous dialogue coming out of the expressionless and hopelessly generic figures found in clip art and powerpoint presentations is pure genius. And Rees' comic strip began right after September 11th, 2001 when everyone was afraid to speak their minds and humor was understandably at an all-time low. Get Your War On was a wake up bomb for America- someone finally saying what everyone was thinking. The power of satire and comedy cannot be understated, especially in times of war and crisis. Above is a sample of the very first GYWO strip.

So I send a random email last week to Mr. Rees asking for his help. He graciously replied and steered me in the right direction. Thanks David, you rock!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bulldog Skin Video

Suprised to find 1997's Bulldog Skin video on You Tube, the only Guided By Voices music video on there. It's not my favorite of the bunch but it is damn funny. The clip is certainly the most conventional (and likely expensive) GBV video- the only one with a plot, I think. And Bulldog Skin is a little too reminicent of Van Halen's Hot For Teacher video to be a coincidence. Otherwise, it's a lot of fun. Keep an eye out for the brutal moshing of Larky Parka (ouch!), the only video appearance of GBVerde (when Bob hired the entire band Cobra Verde to be the new GBV), a variety pack of Bob stage moves and Doug's maxiumum riffage. I was also getting Vietnam flashbacks to a Marilyn Manson show back in the mid-90's where my glasses were ground into dust beneath the boots of a hundred violent Goths. Traumatic!


Didja ever get the feeling that you were being watched? Been fairly candid on this here blog so far, perhaps a little too candid. It's tempting to treat a blog like a diary, a repository for my joys and frustrations, forgetting that anyone with rudimentary Googling knowledge can easily find and read it. Now don't get me wrong, I am ecstatic to have 99.99% of everyone in the known universe read my blog, sharing this creative journey with me. It's just that .01% that concerns me. But I should explain...

Had an incident at work last week that set off some alarm bells. Maybe I am being paranoid (wouldn't be the first time I was accused of such) but the timing seemed too neat. It's been cathartic and good to bitch about my day job in this forum. And the things that are most directly and negatively impacted by said job are the very things that mean the most to me, namely this project and everything else I do in my free time to feed my soul. But when I get the feeling that my blog boldness is leaking into my waking life, things get wanky.

So I may tread lightly for a little while in the light of all this. I pride myself in being a rather honest person and regret having to double think what I say on here. But perhaps I have been too careless. What do you think?

Anyway, more regular updates to come. Peace!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Super Dimension Fortress Bob

This past weekend was fairly productive and all too fast- totally spoiled by the 4 day weekend with my dad so that a regular sized one seems paltry. But I had a great time working out the plot points and ideas for the 3rd Illustrated Song for Pop Zeus. As mentioned in an earlier post, it will be a send-off of all the Japanese anime and live action superhero stuff I loved as a kid. I went into some detail in that post, so I won't reveal more just yet. But, here are some of the major influences for this section of the comic and for me as an artist in general...

Star Blazers (aka Space Battleship Yamato)- Wasn't such a fan of this seminal series in it's original run (or at least its rerun when I was a little kid). I think it was too adult for me at the time, but it still seeped into my subconscious and prepared me for Robotech and Voltron later on.

Robotech (aka The Super Dimension Fortress Macross)- Totally obsessed with this series as a junior high-schooler. It blew my pubescent mind when one of the main characters died- I didn't know you could do that in a cartoon! Great melodrama, great series.

Voltron (aka Hundred Beast King Five Lion)- Not in the same league as Star Blazers or Robotech artistically or storywise. But it was the first of many five member superhero teams with transforming robot that join into one that I was aware of. Used to ride around on my bike with a pack of friends pretending I was Lance, the blue one. This series should finally be out on DVD some time this year, which rocks. And Voltron's appearance in Get Your War On was very unexpected and classic!

Might Morphin Power Rangers- An obvious descendent of Ultraman, Kikaida and the like, Power Rangers was my first exposure to live action Japanese superheroes and it kicked my ass. Even though this live action TV series kinda sucks in retrospect (the fighting was god-awful), at the time it was the only martial arts sci-fi series on TV so it was hard to peel your eyes off of it (and the Pink Ranger, admittedly).

Godzilla (aka Gojira)- The original black and white film version of this classic monster series is the one to see. The uncut Japanese version of the film made the rounds a couple years ago and wow, was it great. A spooky and haunting parable about the bombing of Japan during WWII, the original bears little resemblance to the man-in-rubber-suit cheese fest that followed (not to mention the awful American version).

Kikaida- One of a million live action series influenced by Ultraman, Kikaida really didn't hit it's stride until it was aired in Hawaii. The series became a huge cult phenomenon that continues to this day, shown weekly here in San Francisco on Saturday nights. Typically melodramatic but still riveting, Kikaida's extensive arcing storyline put it a cut above the rest.

Ultraman- Granddaddy of them all, Ultraman was relatively unknown (except in plastic) to me until recently. Went to Ultramania here in SF last year. I got hooked by a classic so-bad-it's-good episode of the TV series, which completely overshadowed the glossy high-budget new film version. It's a shame this landmark 60's series is still not out on DVD.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pop Zeus Character Design- "Lil' Bob"

Here is the first posted character sketch for Pop Zeus- "Lil' Bob" from the Bob Story segment! The entire flashback in that story will be an obvious homage to Charles Schultz's Peanuts. It is totally fun and an honor trying to emulate Sparky's masterful style. I used my old Bob Pollard designs plus a photo of real life kid Bob to create the character. And there should be a baby brother Jimmy design forthcoming. Enjoy!

Doug Gillard Goes West! (New Tour Dates)

(photo courtesy of Bernie DeChant)

Former GBV face-melter Doug Gillard is back on the road supporting rock troubadour Richard Buckner. And to top it of, they are coming to San Francisco in a few short weeks! Been a while since DG has played the Bay Area and I for one am stoked. Courtesy of Gillard's website and a. aminos on Disarm The Settlers, here are the new tour dates...

Wednesday, April 26 - Rhythm & Brews, Chattanooga, TN (formerly Sing-sing)
221 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402 (423)267-4644
18+, $10, 8:00 doors

Thursday, April 27 - Patrick Sullivan's Steakhouse & Saloon, Knoxville, TN
100 North Central Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902 (865) 637-4255
$7; 10 pm - for more info, call the club

Friday, April 28 - 3rd & Lindsley Bar and Grill, Nashville
818 3rd Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37210 (615) 259-9891
18+, $10, 9:30 pm

Saturday, April 29 - HiTone Cafe, Memphis
1913 Poplar Ave. Memphis, TN 38104 (901) 278-8663
$10, 9 pm doors

Monday, May 1 - Cactus Cafe, Austin
University of Texas, Texas Union Building (2247 Guadalupe -corner of 24th & Guadalupe Streets) (512)475-6515
$12; 8 pm doors - No advance tickets

Thursday, May 4 - Largo, Los Angeles
432 N. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA
(323) 852-1073 - dinner reservations & general info
21+; ( All ages, if dinner reservations made)

Friday, May 5 - Howie & Son's, Visalia, CA
2430 S. Mooney Boulevard, Visalia, CA 93277 (559) 0732-7949
All ages; $5, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 6 - Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco
1233 17th Street (17th @ Missouri), San Francisco, CA 94107
Info line: 415-621-4455
21+, 8:30p doors $13 adv/$15 door

With any luck, Gillard will soon be back on the road with his own band playing new material (and I hear that he is already recording the follow up to the amazing Salamander)!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Welcome Harp Magazine Readers!

Greetings literate and tasteful readers of Harp Magazine! Welcome to my wondrous blog! Just so you know, I've been blogging at this locale since February 2006 so there are a lot of fun articles to check out. My blog has a combination, a jambalaya if you will, of Guided By Voices/Robert Pollard news and reviews, links to cool GBV stuff I found on the web, random stuff I find amusing, and of course, status updates, art and info on Pop Zeus- my comic book tribute to the band.

Which brings me to my most important point- the comic book isn't done yet! So please be patient and enjoy watching 'cartoon boy' squirm as I chart the progress on this big solo project (yep, it's all me). Info on how much Pop Zeus will be and where to order it will be forthcoming as it nears completion. Odds are you will find it in the same places you get your other GBV side projects and esoterica. Until then, I will keep everyone posted (I am sticking this post at the top of the blog with a futuristic date for the time being, so new articles will be appearing below this space).

Welcome aboard, keep your arms and legs within the vehicle at all times and enjoy the ride!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Game Of Pricks Live Video

Kick ass live performance of the immortal Game Of Pricks at the L.A. Amoeba Records in-store back in 2002. The clip was originally featured on, so go check out that great fan site for more of the good stuff. Watch for not Doug's sunglasses coming down over his eyes in time with the final chord (makes me giggle every time), not enough Nate and Bob's everlasting big kick...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Pop Zeus Illustrated Songs And Status Update

Getting back in the groove of Pop Zeus after my big weekend. Spent a little time this week working out the second of the very exciting and fun Illustrated Song segments.

The first one is almost totally fleshed out (as mentioned at some point) and ready to go once I gather all of the voluminous reference materials (lots of funny references, but not dependent on them like the icky Family Guy). As I may have mentioned before (?), the first one will be a total sci-fi blowout packed full of outer space madness and fun. It will likely be 3 to 5 pages, the longest of the Illustrated Songs. And it is one of my absolute favorite Bob tracks but I won't reveal which song just yet. I want to keep you all in suspense and avoid too many spoilers at this juncture. But, you might be able to guess- leave a comment if you think you know which song it is!

The aforementioned second Illustrated Song I've been working on this week is a horror story. If you put two and two together faithful blog readers, you may be able to guess the style I will try to emulate for this one. And this 1 page short story will be hosted by a surprise guest from the GBV world. Yet again, I don't want to spoil the surprises. But I will say that the tune is a real short one from one of the Suitcase sets.

Sadly, work has been hecka busy and no new progress has been made on the Photoshop intensive Fake Comic Ads. But hopefully, things will ease up in the near future. And I did recruit my friend and coworker Sean to help me with the Pop Zeus logo. Creating a logo in the computer is something I have zero experience with and I want it to be super spiffy. So Sean's help will be mucho awesome. Will post logo designs as they arrive!

OK, so here is the status on Pop Zeus as of today. Have a great weekend my peeps around the world (shout outs to the folks checking in from Japan, the UK, India, Europe, NZ and Australia!). Planning on more writing (the 3rd Illustrated Song segment- Japanese superheroes!) and some sketching, thumbnailing and designing. Hope to be uploading some artwork for your eyeballs some time soon!

Cover (!)- IDEAS BREWING (more later)
GBV MVP profiles- 6 pages- WRITING STARTED (most of the research done)
Secret Origin of GBV- 3 pages- WRITING ALMOST DONE
My GBV Experience (in 3 parts)
-Enlightenment- 3 pages?- WRITING DONE
-The Search for the Holy Grail- 3 to 4 pages?- WRITING DONE
-The end of GBV- 3 pages?- WRITING DONE
Illustrated Song- 3 to 5 pages- WRITING STILL ALMOST DONE
Bob Story- 3 pages?- WRITING DONE
Fun Page- 1 page- WRITING STARTED (not much to do)
Cross Section- 1 page- WRITING STARTED (this idea may change, more later)
Illustrated Song Part Deux- 1 page- WRITING ALMOST DONE
Possible 3rd Illustrated Song- 3 to 5 pages- WRITING ALMOST DONE
Possible 4th Illustrated Song- 1 to 3 pages- WRITING STARTED (not much to do)
Fake Comic Ads- 3 to 6 pages?- WRITING AND ART STARTED
Out of the Mind of ????- 1 page- POSSIBLY ABANDONED

Total estimate: 40ish pages

Thursday, April 20, 2006

TVT's Guided By Voices Bootleg Website Goodies

Just added the old but still functioning TVT GBV Bootleg Website to the links over thar ----> It's a not-so-secret site that buying Isolation Drills gave you access to, apparently now accessible to all. Lots of great MP3's including a great CBGB's post-Conan live version of Big School, the rare Invisible Train To Earth, Total Exposure, I Drove A Tank and Alone, Stinking, On The Conan O'Brien Show And Unafraid (Who Gives A Fuck). Cool photos and videos too but sadly you need the CD to see the Headache Revolution video (just checked this and it don't work no more). Go check it out!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Drinker's Peace Live Video

There are a lot of easy-to-find Guided By Voices and Robert Pollard clips and videos on the ole interweb, but I would like to feature some of my favorites here on the blog. I'm on a big You Tube kick and this is one of the best- Drinker's Peace, my brothers and sisters. Devastating and raw track, brilliant live version featuring Bob and the subtle guitar magic of Doug Gillard...

V For Vendetta And What Else I Done Did

Greetings once again everybody! Feeling a little more with it today after a fun but hectic four day weekend zipping around San Francisco with my dad. Felt great to get out of my shitty little apartment into the sunshine and remember what it was like to have a life! Since taking my day job three years ago my life has gotten smaller and smaller as I've gotten busier and busier. And after this weekend, I'm more motivated than ever to move on.

But enough about all that for now (never know who may be reading...). So, first me and my dad went to the newly reopened De Young Museum, which had a really impressive permanent art collection. Also impressive was the structure of the museum itself- with its wide open interior spaces, odd wall angles, copper wrapped exterior- quite amazing. Most eye popping of all was the ride up to the tower which offers stunning 360 degree panoramic views of western San Francisco and Golden Gate Park.

We also went to the Japantown Mall (its really just a mall more than an actual neighborhood like Chinatown) during the Cherry Blossom Festival, just by chance. Always have a fun time in the cultural immersion that is the Japantown Mall- Kinokuniya bookstore with its wall o' manga, the Taiko Drum Dojo, the sushi boat place right next to the ever cheesy Benihana, the Japanese DVD store, the tea pot shop, etc. Weird that as a Japanese businessman visiting SF, you can stay in the Radisson hotel attached to the mall, shop and eat in the mall and its as if you never left Japan (and you don't even need to step outside to do it)!

While there, I picked up a copy of the first translated Lupin III manga volume (so so awesome), the first Dr. Slump volume as well (Slump being the first popular work by Akira Toriyama who went on to make the uber-popular and not as good Dragonball Z) and a daruma for luck. The festival itself featured many outside booths with crafts, corporate sponsors, a lot of obnoxious tee shirts and food. The best part was the performance stage. We got to see some traditional Japanese folk dancing as performed by a pack of cheerful old ladies in kimonos- just lovely. And then there was a local women's school Judo demo which looked rather painful. I prefer kung fu to getting thrown on the ground repeatedly, thank you very much. (BTW, the festival continues this weekend if you are in town!)

Which brings me to my main topic- V for Vendetta, the movie. It was still playing on the giant Imax screen (everything is good on Imax, I contend) at the Metreon this weekend so I took my dad to go see it. I had been wanting to see it for some time now- the original graphic novel by Alan Moore (not credited in the film) and David Lloyd was one of my favorites when I was a kid. I collected the issues one by one as they came out and was really drawn in by the distopic vision of the future Moore and Lloyd created (I have always loved dark future stories like 1984, Brazil and Blade Runner).

And the film version did not disappoint this old school fan. Again I felt swept up by the journey of Natalie Portman's character Evey, especially her imprisonment/torture and it's aftermath. There were some wanky pop movie moments but overall the film was unflinching, steady and stirring. You gotta love a movie that makes you want to kick some ass and blow shit up!

And whatever controversy the movie stirred up now seems silly after having seen it. The concept of terrorism being in the eye of the beholder is one that the US was founded on and shouldn't be so alien to us now, in spite of 9/11. I'm sure King George thought that our revolutionary forefathers were "terrorists". And as the film demonstrates rather well, terror only controls those who allow themselves to be altered by fear. We need more films (and comics) like V for Vendetta- stories that are food for thought and stir debate, even if they make people uncomfortable.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I'm Back, I'm Bad And I'm Mad As Hell!

And I'm knocking shit over like the La Choy Dragon!

(This commercial rocks and Henson is God. Otherwise too groggy from my first day back at work to blog seriously. More tomorrow!)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Taking a TO

Howdy folks! My dad, the honorable mayor of my hometown, is visiting me here in the big city. So I will be taking a short break from frequent posting and active Pop Zeus work in general.

Been feeling really wiped out the last few weeks. A month and a half of rainy weather with no sunshine plus increased work loads at my day job have really taken a lot out of me. Its ultimately good for the project and good for me to take a little break. So, don't panic! ;) As our esteemed governator said: I'll be back!

The Meaning Of Pop Zeus

When I started Pop Zeus, the only purpose I had in mind was an expression of fandom and gratitude- how much Guided By Voices has meant to me and an attempt to give something back to my favorite rock band of all time.

But as I have been researching and writing, some pretty deep questions about the purpose of this project have come up. Why does Guided By Voices mean so much to me? What is it in their music that I get from no other band? What has GBV music reflected in my own life over the last 10+ years? And what influence has it had on who I have become? Does rock music have the power to save your life? Destroy your life?

This may all sound very ambitious, but that's just what I want Pop Zeus to be. As I said back in February when I started this blog- "I really want the comic to reflect the deep respect and love I have for Bob and his music, so I am going totally balls out on this one. Ambitions: To make the best rock and roll comic book ever". And I mean it. The only way for me to approach those heights is to try to answering these tough questions. By showing how the thread of GBV's music was woven into my life, I hope to dig that deep and express something meaningful and true.

I also want to briefly touch on the stylistic concept behind the project, because I've had some insight into that recently as well. Way back when I was devising the basic ideas for Pop Zeus, I decided to draw each chapter in a different style. I instinctively knew it was a great idea and a perfect match but I wasn't sure why. But now I know- it just kind of hit me one day in spite of being fairly obvious in retrospect.

Not unlike Bob's sonic and visual collages, Pop Zeus will be a collage of everything I've loved about comics since I was a kid. And just as Bob pools all his influences to create his music, I too will pool my influences to make this comic book. As GBV used The Beatles, The Who, REM, Wire and David Bowie, I will use Los Bros Hernandez, Paul Pope, Mad Magazine, Baru and Monkey Punch. I will be guided by these voices (corny, I know).

It's not going to be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is. (stepping off my soapbox... :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"My First Guided By Voices Show" or "I Am Old"

As you may know by now, I've been in the process of collecting information and reference for Pop Zeus. And one of the big pieces of the puzzle was figuring out which Guided By Voices show was the first one I went to. That show made a huge impression on me and I remember a lot of what happened that night, but I forgot the exact date and which club in NYC it was (my brain operates this way in general). And that first show is an important setting for Part One of the My GBV Experience chapter of Pop Zeus.

Luckily, I got in the habit of saving any and all tickets in a zip-lock baggie since high school! Not sure why I got started but it looks like the first tickets I saved were from WWF professional wrestling cards, so that seems the likely reason. Remembering that these tickets were in storage back in New Jersey, I had my dad send out the baggie just this past week.

Lo and behold, I not only saved the ticket stub, but I had written down the setlist and what happened on a random flyer! Sweet! It's like a gift from the past me to the present me. So here is the flyer plus the ticket face for your perusal and enjoyment.

And here is the back of the ticket stub with Mitch Mitchell's signature and date.

I have to send Jeff at the GBV Database an email to let him know that I have a song list for that show (there is no other info on the database about it)!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Pop Zeus Photo Safari

Welcome to the working week, sad friends. Finally had a semi-sunny Saturday here in the Bay Area (March had 25 out of 31 days of rain!) so I took my dog out on a hike, then went to grab some grub and work on Pop Zeus. Used the time to transfer into my journal the GBV gear info I've gathered for the Guided By Voices MVP section. And last night I took a snapshot of The Grail Diary, as I call it. This journal compiles all the writing and info for Pop Zeus into one place so if I lose it, I am screwed! (I'd be so sad if I lost it, he he)

It's just about full so I may have to get a second one going soon. I also wanted to show you all what my half-crazed chicken scratch looks like- pictured below are pages from the Bob Story section of the comic. Glean what you can from it (including my pajama bottoms and sock)!

After a few hours at the cafe on Saturday, the daylight was waning so I dashed out to take some reference photos for the comic. Been meaning to do it for a while, and I was pretty bored on Saturday so I figured, why not. It's super helpful to use as much photo reference as I can, especially on things like buildings, cars, guitars- pretty much anything that I can't draw from life. But, I'll leave it up to you to figure out which sections of Pop Zeus each photo is for! First I zipped over to Amoeba on Haight and took some lovely photos of the exterior of the former bowling alley.

Then I sauntered inside to shop around a little (the new Morrissey album is out but I will have to wait until my funds are replenished). Eventually got up the courage to ask at the info desk if I could take some snapshots of the inside and stage area. They were cool with it, so I did and no one really noticed.

Then I chugged over to Tower Records on the corner of Columbus and Bay to snap some picture of the exterior and sneak a bunch of shots of the inside, including the vinyl rack.

Finally I walked over to Bimbo's just down the block to take some photos of the exterior and the cool neon sign. I almost got run over by a cab as I was crossing the street, which was really odd considering I had the walk signal. Something seems wrong about the light timing on that corner but it was not my day to die, thankfully.

So there you have it- a small sampling of photo reference for Pop Zeus. See you on the other side!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

New Robert Pollard Side Project MP3s!

Excited to report that three awesome and brand new MP3s have been uploaded to Robert Pollard's official website, one from each of May's upcoming side projects!

The first one is "Hello Forever" from Psycho and the Birds' (Bob and Todd Tobias) "All That Is Holy"- a lovely and lush mellotron-laden ballad with indecipherable lyrics. I love it- creepy and melodic!

The second is "Fairly Blacking Out" from The Takeovers' (Bob and Chris Slusarenko plus others) "Turn To Red". This kick-ass rocker is my favorite of the three- the spoken middle verse, the tambourine and bizarro guitar (?) solo- wow!

The final is "Death of the Party" from The Keene Brothers' (Bob Keene and Tommy Keene) "Blues and Boogie Shoes". This is some weep-worthy pop- brilliantly produced, beautifully played and sensitively sung melodies. I can't wait to hear how the rest of this one sounds!

I am officially crawling out of skin with excitement over these new projects! It's hard to imagine a more amazing crop of MP3s dropped in a single day. More official info on these projects can be found on the News page and check out the Sounds page for even more great solo Bob MP3s- including my favorites the Gold demo, You're Not The Queen Anymore, and the Perfect This Time demo.

Another update tomorrow with Pop Zeus reference photos from all around San Francisco!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Drought (Upcoming Robert Pollard Albums)- Updated Again!

Robert Pollard fans are spoiled, without a doubt. It's not enough to just get one proper Guided By Voices or Robert Pollard solo album a year, but we are usually treated to many other side projects along the way, most within Luna Music's Fading Captain Series. A Halloween (Bob's birthday) without a new Circus Devils record just isn't the same. And these albums are by no means throwaways. In fact, the hardcore fans tend to love the "brown nuggets" even more than the big label releases! Some of my all time favorites have been Lexo and The Leapers, Choreographed Man Of War, Nightwalker, Speak Kindly with Doug Gillard and The Moping Swans.

But it's honestly been a while and I am starting to feel the pain. I obtained an advance copy of From A Compound Eye back in February 2005, so that's really the last big project I heard. Granted, 2005 did see the release of Suitcase 2 with 100 new GBV songs, The Moping Swans EP, another Circus Devils, and the Music For Bubble EP. But 2006 has been a dry spell so far, at least for me.

Thankfully, the rest of the year should be amazing as the prolific rock god hits us with at least 4 interesting new projects. Listen up!

(in order of tentative release date)

Psycho and the Birds "All That Is Holy"
(Fading Captain Series. Official release date- May 2nd)
Word from the Dayton Mafia says that this is Bob boombox demos with Todd Tobias instrumentals layered over top. It was recorded last summer and is supposedly akin to a lo-fi Circus Devils.

The Takeovers "Turn To Red"
(Fading Captain Series. Official release date- May 2nd)
Rumor has it that this one is awesome- a rocking, poppy and weird collaboration with former GBV bassist Chris Slusarenko.

The Keene Brothers "Blues And Boogie Shoes"
(Fading Captain Series. Official release date- May 2nd)
Newly recorded (I think) album with Tommy Keene, current lead guitar player with Bob's touring band, The Ascended Masters and legendary pop rocker in his own right.

Robert Pollard "Normal Happiness"
(Merge Records. Official release date- October 10th!)
Bob's second solo album with Merge is in the can and is supposedly a happier, poppier record than From A Compound Eye. It was, of course, another collaboration with the mighty Todd Tobias. Known song titles are...

I'm No Child (heard on the Bob tour)
Boxing About (heard on the Bob tour and as an instrumental on the Music For Bubble EP)
Supernatural Car Lover (heard on the Bob tour)
Get A Faceful (heard on the Bob tour)
Serious Birdwoman, You Turn Me On (heard on the Bob tour)
Towers & Landslides
Accidental Texas Who
Rhoda Rhoda
Tomorrow Will Not Be Another Day

Circus Devils
(Fading Captain Series. Tentative release date late October 2006?)
The fifth in the Holloween-bound Circus Devils album cycle will be released later this year, according to Todd Tobias' page. And there will be another Circus Devils LP released in the UK- confirmed! Prolific is an understatement!

Psycho and the Birds EP "Check Your Zoo"
(Fading Captain Series? Tentative release date late 2006?)
Follow up to May 2006's "All That Is Holy", just recorded this month. Yet more Bob boombox demos with Todd Tobias instrumentals layered over top.

The Takeovers "Bad Football"
(Fading Captain Series? Tentative release date 2007?)
Another pop collaboration with former GBV bassist Chris Slusarenko. Hoo-hah!

Robert Pollard "Hello Forever" (tentative title)
(Tentative release date- 2007?)
Demos for the follow-up to the follow-up have already been recorded! Final studio recording to commence in June 2006!What this sounds like, only the future will tell.

Can't wait for the next deluge from Bob!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Discovering The Secret Origin of Guided By Voices

Over the last week I've been totally focused on the band history section of Pop Zeus, titled The Secret Origin of Guided By Voices (a very cool and comic booky conceit). In spite of being swamped at work and swamped with financial stress, I think the writing is just about done. What I have been struggling with is finding an art style for the section. There are not a whole lot of precedence for cartoon histories, outside of Larry Gonick's work. Any ideas out there for an appropriate style?

The evolution of this section of the Pop Zeus has been interesting. I started by gathering whatever cool interviews, article and band histories I already had saved in my computer. It was especially in the vintage mid-90's interviews that I was finding the funniest stories and best material, a lot of which seemed to have been forgotten in more recent band histories like Hunting Accidents. There are some hilarious scenes that I can't wait to illustrate! As I poured over the articles, I was also making a point to highlight the tales and quotes that would translate the best visually, avoiding using too many words to tell the story.

And I soon discovered that if I just used quotes from various band members to tell the story, it would add an unique element to the section- the first visual history of Guided By Voices, told in their own words!

I also realized that the most interesting and dramatic story arc of GBV's history was their early days. That arc would go from Bob as a kid writing songs, to the release of the brilliant but unrecognized early GBV albums, to the creation of Propeller and the bitter end of GBV, then to the dramatic phoenix-like rising from the ashes and triumphant show at the New Music Seminar in NYC. Birth, growth, death and rebirth!

The rest of the story of GBV would be too long and complicated to flesh out, I figure. And a lot of it is covered in the "My GBV Experience" 3-part section anyway.

That's all I know. Have a great weekend folks!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Robert Pollard Opening For Pearl Jam

(photo courtesy of Terri Nelles)

It was just announced that Robert Pollard and the Ascended Masters will be opening for the legendary Pearl Jam in June! Pearl Jam will be touring arenas in support of their new self-titled album due out on May 2nd. Bob and the boys will be playing 45 minute sets, heavy on the From A Compound Eye stuff I would guess, before the main act. Here are the dates!..

6/23/2006 Pittsburgh, PA Mellon Arena
6/24/2006 Cincinnati, OH US Bank Arena

This is a golden opportunity for the band to recruit thousands of newbies into the fold, so congrats are in order. Plus for the first time, fans will get a chance to hear Pollard's arena rock in an actual arena!

Not a big fan of the Jam myself but I would give my left nut to get a chance to see the everlasting big kick on the big stage. I hear that the cheap seat tickets (a country mile from the stage no doubt) are around 40 bucks, pretty reasonable... hmmm. Damn, this is tempting in spite of my financial woes...

For more info, check out the tour page at!

Harp Magazine With Pop Zeus Article Is Out! (Updated)

UPDATE: Finally got a copy of the magazine courtesy of my family, and the online version is up as well. Enjoy!

My sources tell me that the May issue of Harp Magazine with the Pop Zeus article has hit the shelves- huzzah! A little earlier than I expected, which is cool. Run, do not walk to your local newsstand to check it out. As mentioned earlier, Borders and Tower Records are your best bets- local independent record shops are likely carriers as well. I know from my own experience that magazine release dates vary widely depending on where you shop so it may take a few days to land near you.

I haven't seen a physical copy yet but I hear that the article occupies a full page with photos and art! Can't wait to see it myself- will be making a jaunt after work to my neighborhood Tower to comb the shelves. If you find it, drop me a comment and let me know what you think of the article! Big thanks again to Randy Harward, author of the article for all his hard work and to Dave at for pimping me out. Stay tuned for more news!

Fargo Rock City

Nearly finished reading Chuck Klosterman's debut book Fargo Rock City tonight as I munched out on my curry dinner. You may be wondering what this has to do with anything and why I am wasting my valuable comic book making free time reading a book on heavy metal. Well, in keeping with finding inspiration for Pop Zeus where I can get it (check my School Of Rock post), I decided to read Fargo Rock City after flipping through it in the store. And that store being Green Apple Books here in SF, the venue I cannot leave without dropping some serious moolah, and the price being less than 10 bucks for a hardcover, made it irresistible. Plus I'm tired as shit tonight and readings all I'm good for!

I should preface my thoughts on the book and say that in the last few years, the music of my high school years has made a big resurgence. That music would be old school hip-hop (or rap as we liked to call it) and heavy metal- pretty much anything that can be played at ear-splitting volumes in the car. This may have something to do with feeling like I am 15 again, in other words extremely frustrated, pissed off and gloomy! So I must say that I was already on board from page one.

Fargo Rock City is basically a love letter to 80's heavy metal music. But do not expect to hear the praises of Slayer, Metallica, or Iron Maiden. We are talking cheesy hair (or glam) metal- Poison, post-makeup Kiss, Cinderella, Guns N' Roses, the Crue, you get the idea. And as such, the book succeeds brilliantly- not unlike my favorite music book of all time Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth (sing the praises of The Archies or the Banana Splits and I am yours). And you don't even really need to be that familiar with the music in question, like me. Klosterman is extremely opinionated and so earnestly loves this crappy music. And therefore he is extremely funny and a delight to read, even for the casual metal fan.

The only rub is that my metal love tends to be in the more serious stuff, like pre-"Black Album" Metallica, Sabbath, Megadeth, and early industrial like Ministry and old Nine Inch Nails. And as such, Klosterman would be quick to dismiss me as a hipster unable to appreciate the more fun and frothy metal that informed his youth. He may be right.

But Klosterman really crosses the line with me when he declares that the 90's "alternative" rock that killed the hair metal of the 80's was even more pretentious and more fake. I detect sour grapes. I was as aware as anyone of 80's hair metal through MTV and pop radio. Even then I knew that a dude in spandex, teased hair and lipstick was not cool and a complete phony- and that was the point. And the backlash that rang in the likes of Nirvana, R.E.M. Pearl Jam, and ultimately Guided By Voices was that their music sounded like it was made by regular dudes expressing something more emotive, subtle and real. Maybe I am naive in thinking that those artists were authentic. But the only one Klosterman gives credit to is Kurt Cobain because he killed himself. I guess that makes him real?

Either way, Fargo Rock City is a great read and I highly recommend it. Klosterman's enthusiasm has motivated me to dip even further into the world of heavy metal. I see a trip to Amoeba in my future. But I will likely be sticking to the more serious stuff!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Great Doug Gillard Interview from 2002

Read many interviews and articles over the last few weeks for the Guided By Voices history section of Pop Zeus. Although Bob was often the focus of the media's attention, the other members of GBV always had something interesting and funny to say when interviewed. One of the best I found was an interview with Doug Gillard by the Stone Pony Online Newsletter back in 2002 (the Pony holds a special place in my heart as a son of the Jersey Shore, born and raised). It was the Universal Truths And Cycles era and GBV was still going full steam ahead. Here are some of the cooler quotes from the article...

The Stone Pony: Can you share how you first met Bob Pollard, and what led to your becoming a member of the group. Were you aware of Guided By Voices' music before you joined the band?
Doug Gillard: No, I wasn't. Bob was walking past this Journey cover band I was in at the Ohio State Fair, stopped, and wanted me to play leads in his band. I wondered what on earth Guided By Voices could be, but he promised me they had a following. Now this was about mid '96. He told me to trim the mullet, lose the Jheri curls, and get some Converse. I fell in love with the music instantly, and it reminded me that I used to have Beatles records before Night Ranger and Vandenberg took over in my formative years.

The Stone Pony: When you're as prolific as GbV has been, is there ever any concern about following-up the success of an album with something stronger, or different?
DG: Not having a top-40 hit certainly keeps that pressure away!! F*ck success - who wants that? No, but we have achieved success - time after time, year after year. We never have worried about the follow-up factor. We are not big worriers. We're warriors.

Enjoy the full interview here!

The Lost Weekend

Heya! Had a stressful, busy (as usual) and terribly surreal weekend. On the stressful front, the financial difficulties I've been facing are really putting some cracks in my armor, I think. Everything seems to be getting more expensive (my classes, my rent, car repairs) but I'm still making the same dinky amount of money and it's wigging me out. May have to schedule a meeting with my boss to get some more dough a flowing. Had to go to the bank this morning to try to get my ATM card unlocked and get some cash so I can eat. Hopefully I will be able to pay the rent in a couple days. Yeesh!

Plus, it's been a few weeks since I've done anything social besides lunch with coworkers and chatting with the folks at my favorite automat/cafe where I get most of my writing done. I think I'm getting a little lonely and stir crazy, but Pop Zeus is a demanding mistress and I need to keep plugging away.

After my oh-so-fun bank argument on Friday, I slept restlessly and had a pretty weird dream about Bob Pollard. Been immersed in all things GBV (DVD's, interviews, music), so it makes total sense that I would dream about them. Wish I could remember more detail- I tend to forget most of my dreams. I do remember that Bob was on stage in what seemed to be an amphitheater type arena inside of a cruise ship (?). I was in the audience watching the show. And for some reason, Bob was struggling to sing Cheyenne (I remember listening to Cheyenne in the car recently). Suddenly there were all these kids on stage singing the song. And the audience starting singing along too. Strange.

On Saturday, I got some but not much work done on the Guided By Voices history section (subject of an upcoming post). I was sitting in the window of the aforementioned cafe writing away, when out of nowhere some drunk black college guy in warmups and two sorority girls staggered right in front of me, blocking my light and view. Obnoxious though they were, I tried to ignore them hoping they would go away. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that they were doing stupid dancing, like the 'running man', and harassing passers-by but nothing too serious. Then this hip-hop looking white guy came up and was talking to the frat boy, but I figured he was with their group. Next thing you know, three white guys had the black guy in the gutter and were kicking and punching the crap out of him! Keep in mind this was in one of San Francisco's more sedate family neighborhoods. He must have said something stupid to the wrong person, though I question whether he would have been attacked so forcefully had he not been black.

Before long passersby intervened and broke up the battle. In the process, one of the girls got punched in the face and knocked to the gutter. And some poor dude's crappy parked car was dented and a headlight broken. Luckily everyone was relatively alright in the end- the cops getting a cab for the slightly sobered up group, the gang of white guys scattered to the wind.

What I had forgotten was that it's Spring Break right now. I thought there was a higher percentage of assholes out in the streets, but I wasn't sure why (can you hear my eyes rolling?). Good thing I live in peaceful and tolerant San Francisco too, where nothing like this could ever happen, right? (dripping with sarcasm again)

Other than that it was a perfectly normal weekend, heh.