Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Interview with Tom Scharpling

Tom Scharpling
I am extremely excited to say that I had the honor and pleasure to interview Tom Scharpling. He was gracious enough to take some time to talk to me about all sorts of fun stuff.

You may know Tom as the writer and executive producer of the Emmy award-winning TV show Monk. He is also one of the hosts of the Low Times podcast and has directed music videos for great acts such as Ted Leo, The New Pornographers, Aimee Mann, and Titus Andronicus.

Thankfully, Tom finds time to host my favorite show (on radio or TV) The Best Show on WFMU. WFMU is a free-form radio station based out of Jersey City, New Jersey and Tom has been hosting The Best Show there since it started in 2000. I've been a devoted listener for years and although I know a lot about Tom from his stories on the radio, I was interested in finding out a little more about the geeky side of Tom.

Onto the interview!

The Fat Lantern: I have been a die-hard fan of The Best Show on WFMU since 2007. I have every show since then on my iPod and I listen every day at work. If my headphones are on, 99% of the time they’re playing The Best Show. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!

Tom Scharpling: Thanks for doing this interview with me, son. You’ve been a great supporter of the show and I appreciate all your enthusiasm. It means a lot to me.

The Fat Lantern: You reference comic books from time to time on The Best Show, and you’ve had some big names on your show such as Matt Fraction and Michael Kupperman. Your interest in comics is evident. Are you a comic subscriber or do you occasionally purchase comics when you’re in the mood to read?

Tom Scharpling: At this point I’m someone who goes to the comic book store and buys a ton of stuff and then takes forever to read it. I’m so all over the map in terms of my comic book consumption and while I wish it was a little more regular or structured, I don’t see it changing anytime soon. It’s sad, right?

The Fat Lantern: You’ve spoken many times about your love of the Marvel character Iron Fist. Is there anything in particular about the character that you identify with?

Tom Scharpling: I always loved the minor Marvel characters when I was a kid. I preferred The Defenders to The Avengers, and the ultimate second tier characters were Power Man and Iron Fist. I love how he’s a third-rate Tony Stark, who is really a third-rate Bruce Wayne. That makes him what, sixth-rate? And he comes from that awesome era of Marvel titles where they overturned every aspect of popular culture for comic book material – Dracula, Ghost Rider, etc. And combining a kung fu dude with a blacksploitation character is the greatest. If they blow it with the movie – which should be an R rated 1970s period piece – I’m done with superhero movies forever.

The Fat Lantern: It seems like when it comes to “The Big Two” (Marvel or DC), you’re a Marvel guy. Have you read anything from other publishers that you’ve enjoyed as much as your favorites from Marvel?

Tom Scharpling: Every time I try to cross the street with DC, I realize I just don’t have the feel for it. I grew up on Marvel and that has kind of formed my thought patterns in all things comics.

I do like certain things I read from all different publishers! It’s ultimately about the work, not the corporation.

The Fat Lantern: Have you ever been to a Comic-Con? If so, what was the dumbest thing you saw there?

Tom Scharpling: I went to Comic Con in San Diego years ago – maybe 2005/2006? – and the dumbest thing I saw was me and my comedy buddies having a drink too many and trying to have the pedi cab guys race through the streets of San Diego like we were riding chariots in a crummy old movie. I learned something about personal dignity on that trip.

The Fat Lantern: Were you into action figures as a young man? If so, what was your favorite toy?

Tom Scharpling: I have been known to buy the occasional action figure for my work desk. My all-time favorite figures were the MARS ATTACKS figures that came out around the release of the movie. I loved them so much!

The Fat Lantern: When I go to a comic shop, I get tempted to buy items other than comics (such as mugs or calendars, for example). Is there anything in particular that usually catches your eye other than the comics at a comic shop?

Tom Scharpling: I have learned to respect the limited amount of space in my house and curtail my purchases of non-essential items over the last few years. I will occasionally buy a pack of some sort of trading card but on the whole I’m pretty responsible with that kind of stuff.

The Fat Lantern: One of my favorite features of The Best Show is hearing Mike, the associate producer and call screener for The Best Show, cackle in the background as you host the show…

So you’re Batman. Between you and me, is Mike your Robin or your Joker?

Tom Scharpling: I actually think Mike might be Batman at this point. He’s the one moving through the streets of Bayonne at night, dealing with the people. I’m more like Commissioner Gordon.

Scharpling and Wurster
The Fat Lantern: While I have your attention, I have to tell you about one of my all-time favorite moments of The Best Show. On November 9, 2010, Jon Wurster called in as Rick di Betto from “di Betto and Nephew's Fine Dining”. In terms of the Wurster calls on The Best Show, it's one of many hilarious calls. However, there is one part of the call that is easily one of the top 5 funniest things I have ever heard in my life. The exchange between you and Jon when Jon starts saying "mozzarella", attempting to do an Italian accent, while you get more and more frustrated, is something I have rewound and listened to easily hundreds of times. I come from an all-Italian family (I'm the first generation that was born in America and not Italy), so the pronunciation of certain Italian words has always been a thing in my family. Growing up, I was taught to say Italian words, such as mozzarella, with an Italian accent (and I've spent all of the time since then training myself not to do that). Did you know Jon was going to say mozzarella like that? Is that something that you've found funny outside of The Best Show?

Tom Scharpling: I think that was a surprise! Jon has the ability to just lay me out with funny things he either holds up his sleeve before the show starts or comes up with on the fly. He’s without a doubt the funniest person I’ve ever met and has to be Top 10 funniest on the planet.

Me and Tom Scharpling
I want to give a huge thanks again to Tom Scharpling. It was so exciting to get answers to these questions and to hear more about what makes him tick. You can tune in to listen to The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Scharpling on Tuesday nights over at wfmu.org and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. I also recommend that you subscribe to Best Show Gems on iTunes. It's the best of The Best Show. Be sure to follow Tom on Twitter and check out the website for The Best Show on WFMU, FriendsOfTom.com. And for even more fun, follow Associate Producer Mike and Tom's comedic partner Jon Wurster on Twitter.

I agree with Tom that Jon Wurster is one of the top 10 funniest people on the planet, only I'd put Tom Scharpling right next to him on that list.

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's Good to be the King(pin)

(From Superior Spider-Man #14, 2013)
In the latest issue of Superior Spider-Man, it's revealed that Kingpin has had a body double lined up who matches his DNA just in case blah blah blah. Listen, I love Superior Spider-Man and I love Dan Slott. I'm not trying to ignore Dan Slott's amazing writing, but look at what that fat slob is eating! Wings, popcorn, fries, chips, ice cream, cookies, soda, and a whole pie. Screw comic, I want to go eat some of that delicious trash food!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Caption Figures #67

"It's OK, brother. Not everyone can grow facial hair."
Please comment with your own captions! I'll pick my favorite caption and feature it in a "best of" post.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I grew up listening to Metallica. I've been listening to their music ever since I was a little boy who had no idea what the lyrics were about. I'd say 90% of the songs I can play on guitar are Metallica songs. I even end most of my sentences with "eahhhhhh", Hetfield-style. For example: "Can you turn off the ligheahhhhhh!?" or "I'll call you tonigheahhhhhh!".

I do have one question though. Why the heahhhhhhll was Metallica at San Diego Comic-Con?

The only connection between Metallica and comics that I could come up with is me. I love Metallica. I love comics. There may have been an instance or two when I was reading comics and listening to Metallica at the same time. I think that's why they went to this year's San Diego Comic-Con. That's the only logical explanation. And logical explanations are the only explanations my brain comprehends.

I understand that a comic convention can be about more than just comic books. But Metallica showing up at a Comic-Con to promote an IMAX movie about them putting on a concert is not even a stretch, it's just flat out inappropriate.

Metallica performed "The Imperial March" from Star Wars which did not help their case. Although it is the most metal of all science fiction movie theme songs.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Medical Wing

I really enjoyed the latest issue of Justice League of America. It's a great comic but it also contains one of the funniest jokes I've seen in a while.

Medical WING? HAWKman?

Get it?

He's a hawk man with wings and he's in a medical wing getting checked up.

Get it?

Hey Hawkman, looks like your WING needs some MEDICAL attention. Maybe you should visit the MEDICAL WING.

Get it?

You better hope that the MEDICAL doctor doesn't just WING it in the MEDICAL WING.

Get it?

Is this thing on?

Is this blog on?

Monday, July 22, 2013

FAT Illustrations - Where's Blobin?

Today's FAT Illustration is another great one from Robin Jones!

Thanks, Robin! Looks like Fatman needs to find a new suit before he finds Blobin.

Check out more from Robin here!

If you would like to participate in FAT Illustrations, please message me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +. All you have to do is draw a fat version of any comic book/sci-fi/video game character and send it! I will showcase your art along with your name, Twitter handle, and website (unless you specify otherwise).

FAT Illustrations: Where the readers shine and the comic book characters are slobs.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Caption Figures #66

"This Hulk tastes like crap!"
Please comment with your own captions! I'll pick my favorite caption and feature it in a "best of" post.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Best Of Caption Figures #61-65!

Caption Figures is a weekly post where I take pictures of my action figures in different positions, add captions, and ask you (the reader) to participate by writing your own captions. Thank you to everyone who came up with captions! Here are the best reader captions for Caption Figures #61-65!

Caption Figures #61

Keith Frank: "I can't believe I got this HHH rotor ornament from Goodwill. The things people throw away!"

Caption Figures #62

Anonymous: "Where did that hole come from?"

Caption Figures #63

Jason: [Insert your own "Old Country Way" & shoestring joke here.]

Caption Figures #64

ReadComicBooks: "THIS is my air guitar. NO you CAN'T have it. But I will battle you."

Caption Figures #65

Scooby-Doom!: "Uh! I'm Spider-Man! Uh! THWIP BITCH!"

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Procrastinator of Time

I'm going to be upfront with you. Last week, I voluntarily took off from blogging. I recently purchased a Nintendo 3DS and I got sucked in. The only thing I wanted to do was play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D all week. Don't worry, I beat it.

It's Mii!
Although my video game obsession is in full force, that's not how it was before I bought the Nintendo 3DS. I've been a gamer my entire life, but I think with all hobbies, you experience ebbs and flows. Some days I really want to read comics. Some days I really want to play video games. Some days I want to do nothing but have a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie marathon (or as I like to call it, a "Van Dammathon"). Lately, I haven't really been motivated to play many video games. I've had the same video game systems for so long that although I enjoy the games I have, the fire for playing has just dimmed out.
Van Damme playing video games

Whoa! What's that I hear? News of an upcoming Legend of Zelda video game that is the sequel to one of my favorite video games of all time, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past? And it's for Nintendo 3DS? But I don't have a Nintendo 3DS! Well, I do now.

I'm sure you're asking yourself if I really purchased a video game system for one (upcoming) video game, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Two Worlds. The answer to that question is yes, I did. I have already purchased some Nintendo3DS games and I do plan on getting non-Zelda titles. But the fact of the matter is I love The Legend of Zelda video game series. It is my favorite video game series on the planet. I need The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Two Worlds. I put off buying a Nintendo 3DS for long enough. It was time.

All in all, last week ended up being a productive week. The Nintendo 3DS rekindled my love of video games. Don't worry, I'm not turning The Fat Lantern into a video game blog. But don't be surprised if that stuff pops up more often...

Monday, July 15, 2013

FAT Illustrations *SPECIAL EDITION* - More Than Just A Fat Green Lantern

Today's special FAT Illustration comes from Robin Jones!

Thanks, Robin! This really shows the world what being a fat Lantern is all about!

Why is this special? Well I'll tell you. Robin's talents don't stop art. He also writes. He runs a column called Papercuts and Inkstains for the fantastic online comic book shop, Inter-comics.com. I had the pleasure of contributing to an article he recently wrote about Green Lantern. You can find that here!

If you would like to participate in FAT Illustrations, please message me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +. All you have to do is draw a fat version of any comic book/sci-fi/video game character and send it! I will showcase your art along with your name, Twitter handle, and website (unless you specify otherwise).

FAT Illustrations: Where the readers shine and the comic book characters are slobs.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Caption Figures #65

Please comment with your own captions! I'll pick my favorite caption and feature it in a "best of" post.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Not-So-Green Lantern

Now that it's been some time since Geoff Johns established the emotional spectrum, the Green Lantern Corps doesn't feel like it should be the center of everything. I understand that Green Lantern has been around the longest so that's going to be the most popular and profitable, at least for a while, but I think we could use a solid, general "Lantern Corps" title that focuses on every Corps equally. I'm hoping that Green Lantern: New Guardians becomes that, with Kyle as a White Lantern, harnessing all colors of the emotional spectrum. However, it needs a title change. It still has "Green Lantern" in the title.

Let's come up with title names for a general Lantern comic, whatever it may be. I'll get things started.
  • The Lanterns
  •  The Emotional Spectrum
  • Guardians of the Universe
  • Ring Bearers
  • The Power Rings

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

First Impressions

I am a fan of The Avengers and the Iron Man movies. If you ask me, Robert Downey Jr. is amazing as Tony Stark. As a matter of fact, I think that Robert Downey Jr. is one of the greatest actors of all time. Unfortunately, no matter what he does, I will always see Robert Downey Jr. as Derek Lutz, the asshole best friend from Back to School.

I used to watch Back to School a lot when I was a kid. For quite some time, that's the only movie featuring Robert Downey Jr. that I had ever seen. It wasn't until I was an adult that I got to see him portray Tony Stark.

You see, Robert Downey Jr. is too good at acting. He was such a convincing dickhead in Back to School that now I can't unsee him as a dickhead. Plus, he's gotten so famous since then. When I watch Iron Man, I see Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, not Tony Stark.

This begs the question: Is it better to have a known actor portray an established character, or someone completely unknown? On one hand, it's smart to put such a huge role in the hands of an actor that is known to be great. However, what if someone who no one has seen in movies or TV before accepts the role? Is it more convincing since we're seeing them as that character right off the bat?

Whether it's about movies that have already been released or upcoming movies, let's discuss!

Monday, July 1, 2013

FAT Illustrations - FAT Sheikie

Today's FAT Illustration comes from my good buddy Dan Eastman!

Thanks, Dan! Sheikie baby made that pizza humble old country way.

Dan is an extremely funny guy and I encourage you all to follow him on Twitter.

If you would like to participate in FAT Illustrations, please message me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +. All you have to do is draw a fat version of any comic book/sci-fi/video game character and send it! I will showcase your art along with your name, Twitter handle, and website (unless you specify otherwise).

FAT Illustrations: Where the readers shine and the comic book characters are slobs.