“Variants” scores coup with guest actor: Comic writer Mark Waid

In a twist on the classic “guest star as himself” sitcom trope, the Dallas-based webseries The Variants scored a major (geek) coup by tapping acclaimed comic book writer Mark Waid (The Flash, Captain America, Kingdom Come) to do a guest shot. And it’s not just a walk-on, either: The webisode requires Waid to play like a 5-year-old (wistfully wishing he was Wonder Woman) and “come out” … as the famed comic book writer Mark Waid, a fact that has apparently escaped his “brother,” Zeus comic store owner Richard, for decades.

The premise is goofy, but Waid’s acting — and that of the rest of the cast, who have really become comfortable goofing it up before the camera — is pretty solid. Next up: William Holden flirting with Barry at the Brown Derby… Well, maybe not.

You can watch it here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘The Variants’ season 1 on DVD

You could make a case that what The Office is to corporate America, The Variants is to quirky small business on the fringe of society: gay-run comic book store. (OK, maybe The Office is just the corporate version of Clerks, but you get the comparison.) The folks at Zeus Comics who created this webseries make fun of themselves, their customers and their own queer nerdiness, but it never gets mean-spirited.

The Variants began last summer as an experiment, but generated enough traffic that it’s already back for season 2 (the next episode, airing Wednesday, features Celeste Martinez). Until then, it’s a hoot to see all the local people and places in the season 1 DVD, now available.

The DVD contains lots of cool extras — audio commentary, a blooper reel, a slideshow or art and rants from misanthrope clerk Barry — but the best things about the DVD? Watching the entire series play out at once like one long feature … and not having to worry about bandwidth problems interrupting your stream.

— A.W.J.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

WATCH: ‘The Variants,’ episode 2 of season 2

It’s Wednesday, so that means The Variants — the locally produced web series about the fictionalized goings-on at Zeus Comics on Lemmon — has hit the ether. And now that season 2 is underway, the makers are fooling around a bit.

The episode begins with a Cops-like arrest, and then proceeds, through flashbacks, full of drag and kissing and saucy Barry working as a waiter, to tell what happened.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Promo trailer for ‘The Variants’ is pretty brill’

As Zeus owner Richard Neal kept tweeting about his Crossfit training, it wasn’t a surprise to see him buffed and shirtless in the trailer promo for season two of his web show The Variants. But if the vid is a hint of things to come, season two could be hella hilarioius. The Spice Girls editing is enough to get me to watch. But the question posed is what will Neal, the character, do after all that transpired in season one? Hard to say, but it looks like fun getting there.

Season two premieres May 4.


—  Rich Lopez