Ever since turning a bad psychedelic mushroom trip into online comedy gold at San Diego Comic-Con in 2014, Anwar Newton has proved time and again that he's not just good for a laugh, he's good for the Phoenix stand-up scene as a whole. On top of building a following for his own observational anecdotes, the 30-something humorist has helped shape a community of other local comics who hone their craft at Newton's signature shows: the monthly Literally the Worst Show Ever with co-host Dan Thompson at Valley Bar and the weekly This Week Sucks Tonight at Crescent Ballroom. For upcoming shows, jokes, and posts about Ja Rule Day (a December 9 holiday invented by Newton and recently recognized by Ja himself) follow him on Twitter @thenawarnewton.

Eisner-nominated Arizona artist Tony Parker has drawn big-name characters like Batman and Wolverine for DC and Marvel, but it's his indie projects that showcase his style best. With writer Paul Cornell, he launched This Damned Band, a '70s rock 'n' roll epic laced with occult overtones. More recently, he teamed with writer Alex de Campi for Mayday, a similarly psychedelic Cold War story loaded with druggy escapes and all-too-topical Russian conspiratorial ruses. Parker's style is expressive and detailed, with psychedelic flourishes that evoke the late '60s and '70s. One of the nicest dudes in comics, you can find Parker at events like Phoenix Comicon and on Twitter, where he discusses politics as much as comics news.

Phoenix puppeteer Stacey Gordon doesn't need directions to get to Sesame Street. The woman behind Grand Avenue's Puppet Pie studio has been there and back, playing the long-running PBS show's newest character Julia, a red-haired, green-eyed girl with autism. First appearing on the show's digital platform, Julia made her debut on the children's TV show in April 2017. And rumor has it Gordon will shoot several more episodes, which will air on the show's new network, HBO. No need to worry, though. Gordon's still based in Phoenix, and teaching puppet-making workshops when she isn't creating new creatures or performing improv.

A round of applause for Liliana Gomez. The dancer and choreographer is one of the Valley's most omnipresent performers, one who always seems to be organizing festivals, teaching kids, and championing her fellow creatives. It surprised exactly nobody when Gomez took home a Mayor's Arts Award for her contributions to the community in 2015 — nor when she nabbed an Artist Award from the 2017 Governor's Arts Awards. Over the summer, she brought the first-ever BlakTina Dance Festival to Phoenix, putting the spotlight on work by black and Latinx choreographers. What's next? We'd put money on another well-deserved award or two.

When Phoenix City Council member and stalwart fiscal conservative Jim Waring discovered that his sunglasses had gone missing, police launched an in-depth investigation to find the culprit. They watched surveillance video from the Phoenix Public Library's Mesquite branch, where the $300 prescription lenses had disappeared from the men's bathroom. They identified a suspect, described in police reports as wearing "a desirable hip pack (better known as a fanny pack)," and traced the license plates of cars leaving the library. They even tested DNA from a camouflage hat that the alleged thief had left behind. But despite all that, the sunglasses are still at large. Shortly after the Arizona Republic's Alia Beard Rau reported on the saga, a novelty Twitter account titled @JimsSunglasses popped up. "It's an insurance fraud. He buried me in the desert," the Twitterer explained.

It's no secret that we're pretty big fans of designer Kelsey Dake Rushing's work. The artist was a Big Brain finalist back in 2013 and one of our 100 Creatives the year before that. After a stint living in the Pacific Northwest, the illustrator, whose work has appeared in the New York Times and McSweeney's, returned to Phoenix. And since then, we have been borderline obsessed with her Insta — and her terrier, Truman. Follow along for in-progress drawings in her uniquely grotesque cartoonish style, as well as desert scenes and personal snapshots. And if you're in the market for a second string of updates from Dake Rushing, she started an account under @kelseyrushing, her married name, that's dedicated to her house-rehabbing projects. Come for the DIY tips, stay for the impeccable design choices.

We don't know who maintains this one, or how we heard about it, or even if anyone will pick it back up now that school has started again, but we love the simple idea behind @asusleeps, which is this: Take photos of members of the Arizona State University community sleeping. Not in their beds. On couches, in class, anywhere a little shut-eye is not encouraged. It's harmless (well, probably most of the time) and hilarious and we totally volunteer to man this one if the last person's done. Or asleep.

After pestering U.S. Representative Trent Franks for months, Indivisible Surprise chapter president Wendy Garcia finally got her sit-down with the conservative politician, and she was sure to share every moment of it on Facebook Live. Before entering a private room for a health care roundtable, Garcia and others were told not to take photos or videos during the meeting. Garcia coyly stood her iPhone upright between her hands as she sat across from the Republican and grilled him on his politics live on her Facebook page. Halfway through the 40-minute sit-down with Franks, his assistant asked Garcia if she had been filming the entire time. She answered truthfully. Franks said he knew and dismissed the incident, but the assistant later took Garcia aside to scold her. Smile! You're on Candid Camera.

You think Donald Trump invented the term "fake news"? Sad! Phoenix's own Paul Horner mastered the art of the hoax years ago. With the help of his Super Official News website and all-too-clickable share buttons across the internet, the late prankster duped countless social media users (and a few news outlets) into believing an array of pop culture-centered lies. They include but are certainly not limited to: a Banksy street art work discovered in Roosevelt Row, the world's biggest Starbucks opening downtown, and Bill Murray embarking on a party tour of the continental U.S. None of 'em are true, but boy, are they more amusing than "real news" headlines.

We aren't saying that Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer. But we're not not saying that Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer. While several have taken credit for the conspiracy theory that ran rampant through the internet during the 2016 presidential election, meme-obsessed Valley dwellers know whom to thank for the ridiculous, hilarious, and preposterous notion that Cruz could be the evasive NorCal murderer who claimed to have killed 37 people. Tempe's own Jonathan Novak runs the "Ted Cruz Is the Zodiac Killer" Facebook page. And we are reasonably sure that Novak isn't the Zodiac Killer. So, there's that.

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