Tuesday, October 31, 2006

New Comics: 11/1/06

Diamond was a bit late with their shipping list this week; it just came out this morning.

Here's what I'm looking forward to:

52 #26
Detective Comics #825
Justice League of America #3
Agents of Atlas #4
Incredible Hulk #100
Uncanny X-Men #480
Athena Voltaire: Flight of the Falcon (Ape Edition) #2
Big Book of Horror tpb
Killer #1
Mouse Guard #5
Pirate Tales #1
Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse #4
Zombie Highway #3

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone! To celebrate, how 'bout a look at the spooky first page from The Cownt #1?

Moo! H'bleh!

Monday, October 30, 2006

To Read: Indie comics for January

I've got a new column on the Newsarama blog called "Fringe Benefits." It's about independent comics.

I won't link to every article I write over there, but this week I take a look at the indie stuff that's been solicited for January and make some recommendations. There's some good genre stuff on there.

Adventure Comic
Kana's Island #1

Horror Comics
The Living and the Dead graphic novel
30 Days of Night: Spreading the Disease #2
Pieces for Mom: A Tale of the Undead
Death Comes to Dillinger trade paperback

Fantasy Comics
Dreamland Chronicles Volume 1 trade paperback
Bone Volume 5: Rockjaw: Master of the Eastern Border full-color hardcover
Conan and the Midnight God #1
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser trade paperback

Science Fiction Comics
Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Space Between #1

Holiday Road

Well, all things considered, I posted a lot more last week than I thought I would. This week will be an even bigger challenge though. I'm on vacation. Which means that I have a lot more time to write and post, but also a lot less routine to help keep me organized and on task.

Still, let's give it a shot. I've got a couple of horror graphic novel reviews that I'd like to write and get posted on CWN by tomorrow and I need to write something up about the movie Dark Water, which I saw last week and really liked a lot. I'm also hoping to catch up on my stack of comics this week, but that's going to be competing for my time against various movies and whatnot. Gonna go see The Prestige today, and I've got The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Pumpkinhead ready to go into the DVD player. Not to mention TiVoed movies like Dead Man, Frankenstein Conquers the World, and Santa's Slay. There's bound to be a classic in there somewhere.

And somewhere in all that, I'm starting a novel.

So, busy week. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up with telling you about it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Review: Silent Hill

I've never played the Silent Hill video game, but now I feel like I have. I understand that the plots are different, but the movie -- with all of its maze-like passageways, physical challenges, and endless gathering of clues and equipment to be conveniently used later -- is exactly like watching someone play a game. You can appreciate the story, but you get tired of watching the characters go down corridor after corridor; from level to increasingly harder level.

There is a cool story though. An adopted child has a chronic sleepwalking problem and screams out the name "Silent Hill" in her sleep. Her parents learn that she was born in a town called Silent Hill -- which has since turned into a ghost town -- so mother and daughter head off on a road trip to confront the past and hopefully end the sleeping problems. What they find in Silent Hill may be drawn out longer than is necessary, but it's also genuinely creepy and a satisfying conclusion to the mystery.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Reviews: Comics

Some quick reviews of genre comics over at Comic World News:

Horror Comics
Zombie Highway #1-2
Monster Parade #1
The Cryptics #1

Fantasy Comic
Phonogram #1-2

Science Fiction Comic
Lonely Robot

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Comics: 10/25

Diamond's shipping list is finalized for the week. Here's what I'm getting:

Conan & the Songs of the Dead #4
52 #25
Jack of Fables #4
Justice #8
Secret Six #5
Seven Soldiers #1
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #23
Trials of Shazam #3 (maybe)
Black Panther #21
Captain America #23
Civil War: Choosing Sides (leads into the re-launch of a new Alpha Flight comic)
Daredevil #90
Heroes for Hire #3
New Avengers #24
X-Men #192
Classic Battlestar Galactica #1
Xena #3

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Last Decent Megaplex

This week's going to be a little wonky, posting-wise. Got another new guy starting at the day job and I get to do the training again. That usually slows me up on blog activity, but we'll see.

In the meantime, Raiders was great last week. The print wasn't awesome, but the movie still is, especially on the Ultrascreen. It's been a while since I'd seen it; I'd forgotten how young Harrison Ford was.

The Marcus theater in Oakdale, Minnesota is my new favorite place to go to see movies. Not only does it have the Ultrascreen, but they also serve Pepsi and pizza at their concession stand. They had me at Pepsi, but any movie place that goes beyond hotdogs and "nachos" with their food choices is thinking in the right direction.

And they've got a good thing going with this older movies on the Ultrascreen deal too. They're going to do it once a month. Not sure if I'll make a point to see Goonies next month, but I'm all over seeing Die Hard on the big screen for Christmas.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Why'd it have to be snakes?

This is meaningless to everyone but me, but tonight one of the local theaters is showing Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen. Not just the big screen, but the Ginormous Ultra screen. Three times as big as a normal movie screen.

I've already got my ticket.

Writing is Hard: Don't let Frost get you down

The Writer's Almanac recently ran a poem by Linda Palstan called "Rereading Frost." I'll send you to the link to read it, but if you've ever felt like the Masters have already said and done it all and you've got nothing to contribute to your medium or genre, it's an encouraging piece.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Direct to DVD that's actually good?

So Stargate SG-1 was recently cancelled on SciFi, but everyone said that it wasn't dead yet. You all heard that, right? And you've probably heard that the reason it's not dead is that it's going Direct to DVD in the form of a couple of movies.

What you may not have heard is science-fiction comics author and futurist Warren Ellis' take on what it could mean for the future of the DVD industry.

From Ellis' Bad Signal newsletter:

"You've heard me talk a bit about D2DVD over the last little while. It's reported today that STARGATE SG-1, the venerable sf franchise that got put down by Sci-Fi Channel after ten years, is getting a new lease of life: direct to DVD. MGM are funding two D2DVD SG-1 movies.

"Now, the Cuban/Soderbergh DVD movies going day-and-date with theatre openings and downloads or whatever were a pretty big thing for D2DVD: but hampered by the fact that so many people thought it was an attack (which it was). There are no antagonists to SG-1 going D2DVD. It's going to be a far better yardstick of what a fan audience and an early-adopter audience will go for. And ultimately it marks out D2DVD as a home for something other than the equivalent of MANT or MANSQUITO.

"MGM stated when SG-1 got bounced from Sci-Fi that they wanted to keep the show alive, so finding some kind of budget wasn't the hassle that others would have. But the DVD will provide numbers and demos as ammunition for people who want to follow. Maybe one day John Rogers will get his dream of putting out a tv show direct to DVD."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

New Comics: 10/18

Here's what's coming out on Wednesday.

And here's what I'm planning to get:

Conan #33
52 #24
Birds of Prey #99
The Creeper #3
Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall
Hellblazer #225
Shadowpact #6
Casanova #5
Elephantmen #4
Runaways #21
CSI: Dying in the Gutters #3
Wasteland #4
Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse #3

Writing is Hard: Stop Calling Me!

No, no. You don't have to stop calling me. The title refers to writers who harrass their editors.

An anonymous editor wrote an article for Gawker.com about what not to do if you want your editor to be favorably inclined towards your work. Most of the list involves nagging.

By way of supporting that, I found that link on the blog of another editor who whole-heartedly agrees. And, as a comics critic who is sometimes pestered by well-meaning publishers and/or creators about why they haven't yet seen my review of their books, I'll co-sign my own name to the rant.

But even though the point of that lesson is to ease off the editors, there's another lesson for writers in the article. It may not offer any practical advice for writers to follow, but it's a sobering revelation about editors' thoughts on the importance of authors in the Grand Scheme of Things.

"...authors are a cross to bear somewhere between 'creepy messenger guy' and 'can't even afford a new coat from H&M' on the job-dissatisfaction scale. Because, with a few glowing exceptions, authors are the craziest, meanest, strangest, cluelessest people you've ever met."

The bright side to that complaint is that if you can avoid being crazy, mean, strange, and clueless, you're likely to stand out as someone editors would like to work with (assuming you're any good).

Monday, October 16, 2006

Review: 'Salem's Lot

It's been years since I read 'Salem's Lot, but it's one of the few books that I can remember giving me genuine chills. Appropriately, the 1979 mini-series that was made from it (starring David Soul) had the same effect.

Neither is scary the whole way through, but they both have strong moments. For the book, I don't remember details, but I still have this strong, chilling impression of sneaking around back of the Marsten house and feeling the evil coming off the place, especially from the cellar door. It's an entirely different scene in the mini-series: the fog rolling in at Danny Glick's bedroom window as his dead, little brother Ralphie floats outside and scratches at the glass, begging to be let in.

That probably doesn't come as a surprise. It's what everyone remembers from that series. The problem is that it's so overwhelming that it makes people forget the weak parts, like the lack of chemistry between Soul and Bonnie Bedelia, the lack of any acting by the James at 15 kid, or how cheesy Barlow looks. I appreciate the Nosferatu homage, but Barlow isn't frightening in the least.

The novel may not be scary all the way through, but there aren't any weak points. Even when it's just describing everyday life in a small town, it's interesting and makes you care about the people all this stuff is happening to. The mini-series is able to do some of that too, but the book's gradual, horrifying revelation of what's going on in the town is brought about too quickly in the series and loses credibility in the process.

Still, there is that window scene. And the scene in the cellar towards the end when James at 15 thinks he's all done killing vampires, but we see several slowly crawling towards him from behind. And then there's the terrifyingly feral way that the vampires' eyes are lit, making them stab at you from the darkness.

The more recent mini-series version starring Rob Lowe, unfortunately has zero chills. Barlow looks a lot better as a relatively make-upless Rutger Hauer and the acting is mostly better. Dan Byrd's (The Hills Have Eyes) cool, but frightened portrayal of Mark Petrie is much better than James at 15's wooden one, for example. I also liked Andre Braugher's (Gideon's Crossing) quietly persecuted version of Matt Burke more than ubiquitous '70s guest-star Lew Ayres' kindly-old-man performance. There still wasn't any chemistry between Rob Lowe and Samantha Mathis though, and Donald Sutherland, though more animated than James Mason, isn't nearly as creepy.

Though I liked Hauer's Barlow, I've got a big problem with how the vampires ended up in this version. They're cool at first, but by the end of the show, when they hit the street in droves, they give up the cool zooming around and walking on walls that they were doing earlier and take to shambling stupidly around the streets. It's like they've forgotten what movie they're in and are doing a zombie flick instead.

Still, some nice moments. I like how the story changes characters around to keep it fresh. Or maybe it was the 1979 version that changed characters from the book and this one's just changing them back. I don't remember. Either way, the same things happen in both versions, but to different people. In 1979, for example, the real estate agent is having an affair with his married secretary; in 2004, it's the doctor (who was Bonnie Bedelia's dad in 1979) messing around with a married patient. I also like the scene where Eva decides to marry Weasel, regardless of the personal cost to her, and I like most of the updated cultural references, like making Burke gay.

Didn't so much like the change in the framing sequence though. Ben and Mark hunting vampires in South America is much cooler than Ben getting his butt handed to him in the urban U.S.

And, of course, it would've been nice if it were actually scary.

Writing is Hard: Outdoing Your Idols

Indie comics writer Dirk Manning (Nightmare World) has a writing advice column called Write or Wrong. It's geared towards people trying to break into the comics industry, but a couple of weeks ago he ran an article called "Kill the Buddha" that's applicable to any writing endeavor. Or, part of it is, at least. Manning goes off on a lot of tangents about the nature and business of collaboration, but he eventually gets around to this helpful reminder:

"Do not seek to imitate the masters… seek what the masters sought. If you meet the Buddha… kill the Buddha. Your goal should not be to create comics as good as your favorite comics… your goal should be to create comics that are better."

Substitute "stories" for "comics" and you've got some great advice that crosses mediums.

I was at a convention once and got the opportunity to walk around it with one of my favorite cartoonists. He was looking for Jack Kirby stuff and I was surprised to learn that Kirby was one of his influences. His stuff doesn't look much like Kirby's (or anyone else's, which is why he's one of my favorites). I must've said something to him about that, because I remember that he told me that he wasn't wanting to draw like Kirby; he was wanting to achieve the same kind of effect that Kirby achieved. He was trying to learn what it was that he liked about Kirby's work, so that he could learn how to do the same thing in his own style.

When I think about my own literary idols (Neil Gaiman, Ian Fleming, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, for example), I can't get my mind around trying to write better than them. But I can conceive of studying their work in order to find out what they were/are seeking to accomplish. That's a hard enough task, but then the real work begins: trying to accomplish the same thing in my own style.

Friday, October 13, 2006

TV Schedule

This has been my first fall TV season with TiVo and it's about to kill me. They've got this thing where you can automatically record the first episodes of all the new shows, so I naturally felt obligated to try them all out at least once.

Well, maybe not all of them. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor's new sitcom, so I deleted that one unwatched. And there were several shows that I only watched part of before getting bored: Ugly Betty, Smith, and Six Degrees come to mind.

I made it through an entire episode of some shows, but decided that they weren't for me. Brothers and Sisters was too Dynasty, for example.

But there are a lot of shows that have my attention, at least enough that I'm going to follow them for a bit to see if they reach their potential. So here, joined by shows that I was already watching from previous seasons, is my updated TiVo list.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
The Class
Gilmore Girls
The Unit
The Nine
Grey's Anatomy
The Office
Battlestar Galactica
Doctor Who
Men in Trees
The Batman
Legion of Super-Heroes
The Venture Brothers

That's a lot of shows. I'm guessing that some, like Heroes and Smallville, are going to get dumped eventually. Others, like Kidnapped (pictured above) -- which I liked, but is getting cancelled -- will be taken off my plate by the networks.

Thank Heaven for networks making my decisions for me.

Review: The Illusionist

Saw The Illusionist last night. Very disappointing. It was well-acted, well-shot, and created a nice mood, but the story was... well, let me illustrate.

I don't know if I should post a spoiler warning or not for this. What I'm about to do is give you a brief summary of the first half of the movie. Without describing the ending, I bet that after learning what happens in the first half, you -- like me last night -- will be able to accurately describe exactly what happens in the last. So, with that in mind:

Spoiler Warning (I guess.)

It's the story of two star-crossed lovers. The poor son of a carpenter (Edward Norton), and the rich daughter of aristocracy (Jessica Biel). Her family vows to keep them apart, so he leaves to go study the art of illusion. Years later, he's a famoust illusionist and he brings his show to Vienna where the girl is now engaged to be married to the violent, bullying Crown Prince of Austria (Rufus Sewell). They meet and fall in love all over again, but the illusionist soon gets on the Prince's bad side when he insults the Prince during a performance. The Prince has the illusionist investigated by Vienna's Chief Inspector (Paul Giamatti, in -- credit where it's due -- one of the best performances I've seen him give).

How will the lovers get together when the Prince is keeping such a close eye on them? Especially when it becomes clear that the Prince needs the girl as part of his plan to overthrow his father and usurp the kingdom? He'll never let her go!

And then, just when things can't get any worse, the girl tells the Prince that she's leaving him, and in a drunken stupor he follows her out of the palace and off camera; the ceremonial sword he always carries slung at his side. A scream! Eeeeeeee! Then a horse comes back on camera with the girl lying limp on it's back. Off the horse goes into the night.

Remembering the title of this movie and the occupation of it's main character, tell me what happened.

It wouldn't be so bad if the movie acknowledged that the audience was in on the joke, but it doesn't. It plays exactly as if it thinks it's fooled us, even up to the part at the end where -- Usual Suspects style -- Giamatti's eyes light up as he figures out what we've known for the last hour and the montage of all the key scenes and dialogue reveals the clues that we were supposed to have not caught on to.

If only the film-makers had been as clever in their misdirection as the illusionist was supposed to be.

Having the murder take place off-camera? Really?

Writing is Hard: Stories for boys (and girls)

Last week I ranted a little about how diverse comics are these days and how frustrating it is that the media still sees a need to keep bringing that up. As sort of a counterpoint to that, here's a recent Wizard interview with cartoonist Kyle Baker about how comics actually aren't enough for kids these days.

"I’ve been in this business since 1983. And when I started, comic books were distributed at candy stores and 7-11s. And you were always told that your audience was children and there were rules that the pictures should tell the story because your audience probably can’t read that well and things like that... At some point, Marvel and DC comic books stopped being for children to the point where I can’t give Wonder Woman to my daughters because there’s too much T&A. I just personally don’t know how to do that stuff. When I did Plastic Man, I said, 'I’m gonna do a kids book.' I’m from the days when DC comic books were for children. So I pretty much expected it to not sell. That’s why I’m working for companies like Disney and Nickelodeon and Scholastic..."

Baker's talking about the actual state of the comic industry in this country and he's dead on. That's what makes it especially aggravating that the general public still sees comics as a kids' medium. Not only do comics include stories for adults these days, they pretty much exclude stories for kids. And that's not only sad; it's stupid.

"I think it’s wonderful that there’s more variety in books and there are things like Dark Knight. I’m a big fan of Alan Moore and all that stuff, but you really do need to have some stuff for kids. And just from an economic standpoint, at the end of the day, kids spend more money on cartoon products. Spongebob makes so much more money than Superman does. They’re really missing the boat. That’s my opinion.

"...Only in DC Comics when you say, 'Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a kids cartoon,' do they look at you like you’re crazy... But these are also the people who can’t sell Scooby Doo comics. If you can’t sell Scooby Doo, you should really quit the business."

This is all interesting to me not only because I love the comics industry and want to see it as healthy as it can be, but also because I'm thinking more and more about my own stuff and whom it's appropriate for.

Right now, for example, we're thinking over some of the language in Robots vs. Monsters and whether or not to tone it down for kids. On the one hand, you want to be true to your story. Chances are, if someone comes face to face with a giant freakin' monster that's crushing fighter planes left and right, that person's response isn't going to be, "Holy Mackerel!" It's going to be a bit stronger than that. On the other hand, maybe it's worth replacing the stronger word with something like "$#!%" so that we enlarge our potential audience. I mean, kids would like a comic about giant robots and giant monsters beating the snot out of each other, wouldn't they?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Writing is Hard: How Not to Market

Gail Simone has an article up on her blog with some excellent advice for authors and fans alike about how to turn people off of whatever it is you're trying to turn them onto. The secret? Whine about how no one's reading it.

"...if we make a book that isn't appealing enough to be picked up off the shelves... is that really the customer's fault? Is it right to imply that a book's failing is solely because of the readers?

"...it's wrong to blame the customer if they don't want your product. This is true both of individual creators and even large publishers, and trying to guilt a reader into buying a book is a bad move because; 1) It rarely works, and 2) It's chicken."

For more insight on why it doesn't work, check out the link. It's good stuff for writers, but it's also good for fans who are trying to drum up support for a favorite book or show. She also has advice on how you should drum up support:

"If you love a book and it could use more readers, I suggest you consider telling people why it's great, what it is you love about it. Imagine someone suggesting you try a new restaurant by saying, 'This restaurant is going under... why aren't you eating there?' It's just not appealing. It may feel good momentarily to say, but ultimately, it just bugs the hell out of me to blame the readers when they WANT to support comics. It's we who, somewhere between our computer and the comic shop, didn't give them something they felt intrigued, compelled, or horny enough to buy."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Writing is Hard: No Magic Bullet

Stephen King has an excellent article on The Washington Post's website about the Writing Life. Totally takes the mystery out of it, which is a good thing.

I can't count the number of times I've seen a successful writer asked by an aspiring writer, "Where do you get your ideas from?" As if the answer to that question will somehow lead the aspiring writer to those same ideas and make him or her a Successful Writer. It's the desire for the Magic Bullet. If only someone would just show me how to do it -- what the Secret is -- then I could replicate it and be the next (insert the literary idol of your choice).

By proclaiming that there is no Secret -- no Mystery -- to the writing process, King puts the hard work right back where it belongs: in the writer's lap.

"I'm often asked if writing classes are any help, and my immediate and enthusiastic answer is always, Yes! Writing classes are wonderful for the writers who teach them and can't make ends meet without that supplementary income. They are also good places for unattached people to meet, talk about books and movies, have a few drinks and possibly hook up. But teach you to write? No. A writing class will not teach you to write. The only things that can teach writing are reading, writing and the semi-domestication of one's muse. These are all activities one must pursue alone.

"Aspiring writers are told these things over and over again and constantly push them aside. They want something quicker."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

To Read: Cryptid

I don't know much about Cryptid except that it's got giant monsters, weird science, huge apes, eerie castles on hidden lakes, beautiful women, and two-fisted heroes. What else do you need to know?

What little info is available can be found at Newsarama. Definitely keeping an eye out for this one.

Monday, October 09, 2006

New Comics: 10/11/06

Diamond's got their shipping list finalized for the week. Here's what I'm getting:

52 #23
Absolute Sandman Vol. 1
Fables Special Edition #1
Martian Manhunter #3 (thinking about dropping this one, but we'll give it one more month)
Battlestar Galactica #2
The Phantom #12
X Isle #3

FallCon report

Most of the links below lead to pictures, so click away!

Grant's fans wait for him before the show even starts

FallCon was the best ever. Both issues of Tales from the Inner Sanctum sold well and I got some great ideas (mostly from Jess Hickman) about how to get some Cownt product on the marketplace while Gav and I are still working on the comic. More info on that later.

The best part of the weekend though was all the people whom I either met or got to know better. It's always fun hanging out with Grant, Jess, and Darla, and this year our group expanded with the addition of Paul Taylor, Katie Cook, and her husband Ryan Wilcox. Paul's been to FallCon before, but we've never sat next to him. This was Katie and Ryan's first FallCon. The seven of us took over the entire end of one of the aisles and it was a great location, so everyone was busy all weekend. I did my part to increase busy-ness by commissioning sketches from everyone. Grant, Jess, and Katie had already done Cownts for me, but I got new ones from Paul and Darla. And I had everyone make Hulk sketches for me too. I love the Hulk, but Katie does too and it was some of her Hulk art that gave me the idea to start a new Hulk sketch book.

Another person I got to know better was Josh Fialkov, creator of Western Tales of Terror and writer of Elk's Run. I'd started getting to know Josh in San Diego and was thrilled that he came to FallCon. I had a blast hanging out with him, Phil Hester, Tyler Walpole, and a few other Iowan delegates. Also got to know Allison Sohn and Adam Hughes a little better, which was fantastic. They're an incredible couple, probably because they're both such genuine, nice people who don't take their success for granted. Looking forward to hopefully getting to know them even better. It was also nice seeing Jennifer Young again. She's a talented cartoonist and I always enjoy seeing what she's working on.

During the convention, I also got to talk to some new creators about using the Internet to network. I need to follow up with them by emailing them some links; it'll be fun to see how they do. One of them was an illustrator and she showed me her very impressive portfolio. It sounds like she's got her own story ideas, but I was tempted to ask her to work on something with me right then.

Diane and David showed up on Saturday for a little bit. It was cool that they finally got to meet Cori Doerrfeld, who writes a series of mini-comic-like children's books about a little girl named Leah. We love them and they've been a recurring part of David's bedtime routine for a couple of years now.

Diane's brother (and Cownt co-creator) Dave also came with his wife and newborn daughter, and our friend Gary.

So that was the show. I'm still riding the high from it and that's making it possible for me to function today even though I didn't get nearly enough sleep all weekend. I'm way excited for MicroCon in the Spring now. Lots to do before then and I'm anxious to get cracking.

Kolchak vs. Frankenstein

I've got a short FallCon report ready to go as soon as I get pictures uploaded to go with it. In the meantime, I bring you news about a new comic coming from Moonstone. I didn't grow up watching The Night Stalker, so I haven't jumped right into Moonstone's line of Kolchak comics, but pitting him against a Bigfoot-like creature that may have been created by one Doc Frankenstein is a sure-fire way to get me to try the book out.

32 pages, color, $3.50

Story: David Michelinie
Art: Don Hudson
Cover: Bob Layton
Colors: Monica Kubina

The forests of western Oregon hold a secret… something much more than its typical Sasquatch sightings. But whatever it is that’s stalking the woods, the military is very interested in keeping it quiet. Well, we all know just how quiet reporter Carl Kolchak is about things like a deformed, hulking creature that hides in the shadows… so you can bet they’re going to want to keep him silent, as well!

Friday, October 06, 2006

FallCon in the news

Okay, so I'm not quite done posting yet for today.

I was reading Tyler Page's (Stylish Vittles, Nothing Better) blog today and he mentioned an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on FallCon. As Tyler says, it's a very "Pow, Bang! Comics aren't for kids anymore!" article. Not only does it have the word "Shazam!" (though mis-spelled) in the title, but, yes, the entire point of the article is that "there's more variety in the genre than ever before, and that the medium is poised to draw from a much broader demographic (than children)."

Which, don't get me wrong, is a very good message, but it's frustrating to people who already know it to have to hear it repeated over and over again. That means that it's not sinking in with either a) the general public, or b) the media, who can't find anything deeper to say about comics. Either is irritating. I get the feeling that in this particular case it's the writer's weakness. The most glaring indicator that she doesn't know her subject matter is her statement that Dan Jurgens drew and wrote Spider-Man while under contract for DC Comics. (Unless he did some DC/Spidey crossover that I'm not aware of; I don't care enough to check.)

Still, as Tyler points out in his blog, it's major publicity for the show and that's all good. The show's already nearly the size of the Alternative Press Expo, and this year is shaping up to be the biggest FallCon ever.


Went kind of nuts with the posting today, but we'll end with this picture that I stole from somewhere. Click to enlarge and have a great weekend!

And don't forget to stop by FallCon if you're in the area.

Looking Glass Wars trilogy

I got interested in Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars because of his comic book tie-in that's illustrated by Ben Templesmith and lettered by a buddy of mine, Jason Hanley. I picked up a copy of the novel at WizardWorld Chicago a couple of years ago and loved it. It's fast-moving, exciting, and has a nice blend of children's adventure and darker themes.

What I didn't realize was that my copy wasn't an official US version. The US one is just now being released and according to the press release on it, the book's only been available in the UK (and comics conventions, I guess) until now. But what's even nicer to learn from the press release is that it's the first volume in a planned trilogy. Like Star Wars, the first volume reads as a complete story, but it's cool to know that there's more to come.


Went to see Flyboys last night with a couple of buddies. We all ragged on it afterwards for being over-the-top and predicatable, but we also agreed that we had a blast watching it. It's not at all a modern war movie in that it doesn't punch you in the face with the "war is hell" message. (Not that I don't enjoy those films when they're well done. I'm especially looking forward to Flags of Our Fathers.)

Even though it's about World War I, Flyboys is a throw-back to WWII-era war movies where war is more adventurous than devastating. Yeah, people die in it, but they're more often overcoming personal struggles and falling in love with beautiful French gals. And that's pretty cool too.

The dogfights are fantastic, the French gals are beautiful, and the special effects are perfect. I honestly couldn't tell when they'd shifted from real plane to model to CGI and that's the way special effects should be. I never thought about them; I just enjoyed the film.

I don't know how well the movie's doing, but I get the feeling that a lot of people don't know about it. It certainly wasn't marketed very heavily. All that means though is that when it comes out on DVD, it'll be one of those movies that I drag out whenever I'm with a group of people who want to watch something good that they haven't seen before.

Empty Chamber!

I just got around to picking up new comics yesterday and was stoked to see that Robots vs. Monsters illustrator Jason Copland and RvM letterer Kel Nuttall's latest book Empty Chamber is now in better comics shops everywhere. The writer, A. David Lewis, is also incredibly talented, so I'm really looking forward to reading this one. In fact, I'll have my copy at FallCon so I can stick it in people's faces and yell, "Robots vs. Monsters team-members right there!"

FallCon update

Yeah, I know. It hasn't been that long since the announcement; how can there already be an update?

I went by the fairgrounds yesterday afternoon to visit with Nick, convention coordinator and all-around fantastic guy, and to check out the layout. We're always welcome to do some tweaking, but right now I'm set up to sit near my usual convention buddies: Darla Ecklund, Grant Gould, and Jessica Hickman. We've got a nice location on the main drag at the front of the convention hall and I'm twice as excited about the show today as I was yesterday. Especially with all the other, too-numerous-to-mention-by-name cool people who are going to be there.

I even feel motivated to get cracking on a new booth poster to replace the ones I've had for the last couple of years and are getting a little beat up.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Appearance: FallCon 2006

I feel a little weird about announcing this because I'm pretty sure that anyone reading this blog who lives in the Twin Cities area already knows whether or not they're coming. But just in case: I'll be at FallCon this weekend with plenty of comics and other goodies (like a sneaky peek at Robots vs. Monsters -- which I've turned in the final draft of the first issue for, by the way).

Writing is Hard: Glamour

The Atlantic Online ran an article a while back about superhero movies; specifically, about applying movie glamour to superhero concepts and characters. It's gone now, except for subscribers, but The Comics Reporter quoted this bit of it before it disappeared:

"Glamour is an imaginative process that creates a specific, emotional response: a sharp mixture of projection, longing, admiration, and aspiration. It evokes an audience's hopes and dreams and makes them seem attainable, all the while maintaining enough distance to sustain the fantasy. The elements that create glamour are not specific styles -- bias-cut gowns or lacquered furniture -- but more general qualities: grace, mystery, transcendence."

I'm still mulling over exactly how to apply this to my writing, but I think that part of it's allure is that it's a nebulous concept and difficult to apply. If I can figure out how to do it though... oh, baby.

Monday, October 02, 2006

To Read: The Meaning of Night

Michael Cox has a new book called The Meaning of Night. It features Victorian England, libraries, murder, con games, a deadly rivalry, brothels, and an usurped inheritance. Publishers Weekly says it has "echoes of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens."

I'm in.


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