Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Galactica needs to get off the treadmill

I spent the first half of this season of Battlestar Galactica trying to adjust to the new feel of the show. Everything was so dark and painful to watch, but it was gripping. I always wanted to know where they were going next. Now that things are pretty much back to normal on the show, I'm getting restless. Yeah, there are moments that I love in each episode, but the feeling I'm getting is that the show is kind of running in place. And I'm not the only one.

The Geek Monthly blog offers some complaints about the season so far: "Ticking time bomb my butt! Athena got her baby back (baby back, baby back) without so much as a raised fisticuff. It’s like her rescue mission was on her 'to do' list between 'buy milk' and 'tape Lost.'"

And: "As Roslin keeps reminding us over the past few episodes, Baltar will be tried for his crimes. Eventually. After we cover all of the pressing story business of a racist doctor, a dead ex-wife, and how much Galen and Cally’s lives suck. Seriously though, after that it’s next on the agenda."

Agree? Disagree?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pulp movie news

VH1 summarizes a whole mess o' news from last weekend's New York Comic-Con, most of it regarding films based on pulp characters. Check out the link for more info, but here are the short versions:

Green Hornet: Previously announced as a possible Kevin Smith project, now the director pronounces it dead.

The Spirit: Frank Miller is moving ahead with writing and directing his modern version of the classic Will Eisner character. Filming begins this summer for an '08 release. Expect lots of cameos from Hollywood stars.

Shazam: I didn't even know this was in the works, but apparently they've already got a director in Peter Segal (Get Smart, The Longest Yard).

The Shadow: Not really any news on this one. Just a reminder that it's getting made with Sam Raimi co-producing.

And it's not really pulp, but there's also a quick interview with Steve Niles about the 30 Days of Night movie, coming out October 19th.

2006 Nebula Award nominees

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have announced their nominees for the 2006 Nebula Awards.

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner (Bantam Spectra, Jul06)
Seeker byJack McDevitt (Ace, Nov05)
The Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford (Dark Alley, Aug05)
Farthing by Jo Walton (Tor Books, Jul06)
From the Files of the Time Rangers by Richard Bowes (Golden Gryphon Press, Sep05)
To Crush the Moon by Wil McCarthy (Bantam Spectra, May05)

Burn by James Patrick Kelly (Tachyon Publications, Dec05)
"Sanctuary" by Michael A. Burstein (Analog, Sep05)
"The Walls of the Universe" by Paul Melko (Asimov's, Apr/May06)
"Inclination" by William Shunn (Asimov's, Apr/May06)

"The Language of Moths" by Chris Barzak (Realms of Fantasy, Apr05)
"Walpurgis Afternoon" by Delia Sherman (F&SF, Dec05)
"Journey into the Kingdom" by M. Rickert (F&SF, May06)
"Two Hearts" by Peter S. Beagle (F&SF, Oct/Nov05)
"Little Faces" by Vonda N. McIntyre (SCI FICTION, 23 Feb05)

Short Stories:
"Echo" by Elizabeth Hand (F&SF, Oct/Nov05)
"Helen Remembers the Stork Club" by Esther M. Friesner (F&SF, Nov05)
"The Woman in Schrodinger's Wave Equations" by Eugene Mirabelli (F&SF, Aug05)
"Henry James, This One's For You" by Jack McDevitt (Subterranean #2, Nov05)
"An End To All Things" by Karina Sumner-Smith (Children of Magic, DAW Books, Jun06)
"Pip and the Fairies" by Theodora Goss (Strange Horizons, 3 Oct05)

Batman Begins by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer (Warner Bros., released 17 Jun05)
Howl's Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki, Cindy Davis Hewitt, and Donald H. Hewitt (Studio Ghibli and Walt Disney Pictures, U.S. Premier 10 Jun05. Based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones.)
"Unfinished Business" by Michael Taylor (Battlestar Galactica, Dec06)
"The Girl in the Fireplace" by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, BBC/The Sci-Fi Channel, Oct06 (broadcast 10 Oct06))

Also awarded by the SFWA is the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy:
Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier (Penguin Razorbill, May05)
Devilish by Maureen Johnson, Razorbill (Penguin Young Readers Group, Sep06)
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner, Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins, 2006)
Midnighters #2: Touching Darkness by Scott Westerfeld (Eos, Mar05)
Peeps by Scott Westerfeld (Penguin Razorbill, Sep05)
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Harcourt, Oct06)

Winners will be announced at the Nebula Awards Weekend on May 11-13 in New York City. Check the link above for more info.

To See: The Fabulous World of Jules Verne

Take a bunch of Jules Verne stories and mix them together with special effects based on illustrations from old editions of Verne novels and you get The Fabulous World of Jules Verne.

It's an English-dubbed Czech film about a scientist and his assistant who are on the verge of discovering a new energy source. They're kidnapped by pirates who work for an evil buisnessman, but he's a cool evil businessman because he has a submarine and a secret volcano hideout.

Found via Brass Goggles.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Writing is Hard: World-Building

There's something of a controversy amongst fantasy/sci-fi writers (and their fans) around the topic of world-building. Basically, people hold differing opinions about the value of a writer's putting time and effort into constructing an environment for her/his fictional characters to inhabit. Some say it's unnecessary, reader-numbing, and the mark of bad writing. Others suggest that it is necessary, but in the same way that research is necessary (and that, like research, you shouldn't put everything you've uncovered into your story).

I like the second view, especially with that caveat about restraining yourself when it comes to including details. A good writer should do some amount of world-building, all of which should be transparent to the reader.

Anyway, fantasy/sci-fi writer Lynn Viehl has a great checklist of things to consider when world-building as well as some cool links on the subject.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Review: Ghost Rider

It's a law of physics that you can't make a movie about a guy with a flaming skull who rides a motorcycle and have it be Uncool. And if you include an unshaven Sam Elliot in Western gear, then your movie becomes automatically Likeable.
But it doesn't, unfortunately, make it Good.
Standing around after Ghost Rider last night talking with my buddies about the movie, I tried comparing it to Ang Lee's Hulk. The middle part of Hulk, where he's fighting tanks in the desert and jumping around looking for a place to be alone, is a perfect recreation of every Hulk comic that any child of the '70s ever read. The really long lead up to it and the weird fight at the end were annoying bookends to that beautiful segment, but they don't take away from how utterly cool that was.
My point in bringing it up was that parts of Ghost Rider really nailed what made me love the comic as a kid. There was a point towards the middle where I forgot about my frustrations from earlier in the movie (mostly involving Nick Cage's overacting a few times) and just revelled in seeing the Ghost Rider zoom around town on that unholy bike of his bringing vengeance to the guilty. But as the movie wrapped up and started concentrating on its story again, the disappointment crept back.
The plot of Ghost Rider blows. Not the origin sequence. That's okay. But the stuff about a contract that the Devil once had for the souls of an entire town and how this contract somehow has the ability to grant an unbalancing amount of power to whichever demon holds it. First of all, it's never explained just why this particular contract is so powerful. Yes, there are probably thousands of names on it, but how do those make a difference to a being that's got to have billions upon billions of souls locked up over the course of human history? It's a stupid object to have everyone hunting for.
Actually, the whole focus on demons is a drawback. Ghost Rider is demon enough for one movie. Yeah, he's the coolest looking one in the show, but having other demons playing such important roles in the story waters down Ghost Rider's uniqueness. The best Ghost Rider comics aren't the ones where he's battling Hell, they're the ones where he's fighting the Orb or trying to rescue a girl from an evil shaman or something. (Fans of the '90s version may disagree with me, but they're wrong.) Weird villains, but relatively mundane. Human, at least.
And as long as we're talking about demons and the plot, I've got to gripe about the end. So if you haven't seen the movie yet and don't want to know what happens, consider this your Spoiler Warning and skip the following paragraph.
The plot of the movie revolves around Mephistopheles' trying to get his hands on the Special Contract and keep his son Blackheart (pffft!) away from it. That's the whole reason he turns Johnny Blaze into Ghost Rider in the first place. Instead of following orders, Johnny gives the contract to Blackheart, but uses it against him, destroying both Blackheart and the contract in the process. So then Mephistopheles shows up, but rather than being pissed over not getting his contract, he all but applauds and slaps Johnny on the back for a job well done. Even offers to remove the Ghost Rider curse. But when Johnny refuses -- wanting to use the Ghost Rider powers for good -- Meph throws a fit and is all, "I'll get you for this, Johnny Blaze!" You'd think Meph could just take the curse back regardless of what Johnny wants, but apparently not. Maybe it's the kind of thing where Johnny has to willingly give it up, but that doesn't make much sense and even if it's true, it would be nice to have that piece of information foreshadowed earlier rather than implied by Meph's otherwise inexplicable reaction.
Another problem I have with the movie is the acting. I usually like Nick Cage just fine and he's funny and charming through most of Ghost Rider. The writers put some nice touches on his character by giving him some quirks, but Cage's charisma also helps out. Yet, like I mentioned earlier, there are a few times when he just overacts as he's striking a dramatic pose or falling down or something. During those times he reminds me of a seven-year-old pretending to be a super hero on the playground. To be fair though, some of that may be in the directing. The kid playing Young Johnny Blaze strikes a similarly cheesy pose (basically he's standing there with his feet spread apart, pointing intensely at the person he's talking to) at one point, but I don't know if he was told to do that or improvised it after watching Cage do it. Either way, regardless of who's doing it or whose idea it was, it's silly-looking.
The worst acting in the film though comes from Eva Mendes. Cage has said that she'd make the perfect She-Hulk, but she doesn't make a convincing reporter for local TV news, much less have the chops for a more complex role like Successful Trial Lawyer Dealing with the Physical Oddity of Being Big and Green. Her performance in Ghost Rider might have been okay had she been playing a reporter for Hard Copy, but she wasn't able to communicate the professionalism of a serious journalist.
She does have the look for She-Hulk though. She's a good-looking woman, no question. And that, plus Nick Cage's humor, plus great effects (both visual and sound), plus Sam Elliot, plus the fact that it's Ghost Rider, all combine to make a movie that I liked. It's just too bad that it had a crappy script and some acting problems to keep me from liking it more.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

To Read: Lester Dent's Zeppelin Tales

Yeah, you know that Lester Dent created Doc Savage and had crazy adventures with Walter Gibson. But did you know he also wrote zeppelin stories? It's true!

Airships are undeniably cool. Except for maybe the Hindenburg, but that's a special case. Who doesn't love the idea of a sky full of giant blimps floating from skyscraper to skyscraper as they deliver mysterious passengers and secret cargo? And now there's a book full of stories about them, all written by the guy who wrote Doc Freakin' Savage. And there are pirates!

Found via Bookgasm.

Review: Tarzan and His Mate

I never did come back and post again about Tarzan the Tiger, but that's because my opinion of it never really changed from what it was three episodes in. Except that maybe I appreciated Jane's legs more and more as it went along.

There was one scene where Jane took everything off and went for a swim and even though she was always shot too far away to ogle properly, I found myself wondering how they got away with that in 1929. Naive me, thinking that nudity was some kind of issue in the late '20s/early '30s. I hadn't seen Tarzan and His Mate yet.

I didn't know it going in, but the Jane-swimming-naked scene in Tarzan and His Mate is infamous. According to the IMDb, it was shot three different ways (with Jane fully clothed, topless, and completely naked), but all the versions were originally removed due to pressure from religious groups. Nothing new under the sun, eh? Anyway, the nudie version is what's on DVD, though it's Josephine McKim, an Olympic gold medal swimmer, and not O'Sullivan who's actually in the water.

I like how Tarzan and His Mate is a true sequel to Tarzan, the Ape Man. Another preconceived notion I've had about the Weissmuller films -- probably due to my sporadically catching them out of order on TV over the years -- is that they're purely episodic in nature and don't cross-reference each other. That might be true of the later films (or not), but TaHM picks up where TtAM left off, only a year later. Neil Hamilton (who would later play Commissioner Gordon to Adam West's Batman), Jane's initial love interest in the first movie, has returned to the jungle to collect all that ivory they found last time. And if he can talk Jane into coming back home with him, so much the better. Complicating matters is the fact that he's brought along his major investor, a cold-hearted cad who's sunk all of his finances into the venture and has also taken a shine to Jane. Can't really blame him.

There's a lot to love about this movie. Some of the special effects are unbelievable. I've spent a goodly amount of time trying to figure out how they shot a scene in which a native is killed without actually killing the actor involved. Another scene that I've mostly figured out involves Tarzan's wrestling an enourmous crocodile. I know it's a fake croc, but there are moments in the fight where I honestly couldn't tell how they were doing it. It's as convincing as most modern CGI.

Not that all the effects are awesome. As in the first Weissmuller film, you can still see the trapeze bars that Tarzan uses to swing on, and the Asian elephants they used still have fake ears to make them look African. Some of the animals are obviously fake -- especially a lot of the apes that Tarzan hangs out with -- and there's also a lot of rear screen projection going on. But that's the kind of stuff that I expect from a '30s adventure movie. The fact that they were still able to fool me on a couple of scenes is remarkable.

About the only thing I didn't care for in the movie was Jane's jungle yell. I guess it makes some kind of sense internally to the series that she have one to go along with Tarzan's, but it sounds so shrill and silly that I cringed everytime she used it.

But everything else is great. I even like Cheetah in it, and I've always found her (always thought she was a boy, but not according to Jane in this movie) to be an annoying sidekick, but she's really charming and heroic here. And that final scene! I won't spoil the specifics, but the idea of having ivory poachers battling natives in the midst of a pride of clawing, biting lions is something to make Grant Morrison jealous. Then you add a herd of elephants to the war and my head explodes.

Wake Not the Dead! (and other forgotten horror)

SFScope has an article about how the University of Tampa is going to be re-publishing a series of "neglected supernatural fiction, mysteries, science fiction, and adventure stories from the nineteenth century." They've already got a couple of volumes out: a ghost story (The Library Window by Margaret Oliphant) and an Egyptian curse story (A Study of Destiny by Count Louis Hamon).
The next volume is a vampire story called Wake Not the Dead! or The Bride of the Grave. More info in the link.

Garrr! Keira, me heartie!

I forgot where I found this, but someone's got new photos from Pirates of the Caribbean 3 up. Mild spoilers (as to story location), so if you're trying to remain pure (bless ye), turn back now.

Happy Birthday, Edward Gorey!

Speaking of creepy cartoonists, according to the Edward Gorey calendar in my cubicle, it's Gorey's birthday today. According to Garrison Keillor, he's 82.

And in related news, if one more person walks into my cube and asks me to explain this month's Gorey illustration to them... I'm gonna snap.

Day the Earth Stood Still remake followed up with Fox on a rumor that the studio is re-making The Day the Earth Stood Still and had it confirmed. Fox plans on releasing the movie for Summer 2008.

No word on a cast or anything. There's not even an IMDB entry for it yet, but I'll be watching for more news. Done well (i.e. updating the effects without screwing around with the story) it could be pretty cool.

To Read: Charles Addams: A Cartoonist's Life

Linda H. Davis has written the first biography of the Addams Family's creator Charles Addams. It's called Charles Addams: A Cartoonist's Life and according to Publishers Weekly, it "dispels the myths surrounding the cartoonist and challenges facile assumptions that Addams was the archetype of his own creepy creations."

Addams was apparently more James Bond than Gomez. He got a kick out of perpetuating a spooky persona by furnishing his home with macabre items like crossbows and torture devices, but his real passions were for things like Aston Martins, cigars, liquor, and dating beautiful women like Greta Garbo and Jackie Kennedy.

PW criticizes the book for not including critical analysis of Addams' work, but I don't see that it claims to be anything but biography. It's not really fair to judge it for not being something it doesn't intend to be in the first place. A critical look at Addams' stuff would be awesome, but we'll have to wait for that.

In the meantime, this volume does contain previously unpublished artwork, photos, and sketches, so for Addams fans, it's a must-read.

Dinosaurs vs. Wonder Woman!

Don't know what the specific story is in the issue, but Brad Meltzer has posted an alternate cover to the upcoming Justice League of America #7.

Even though I'm not the biggest Michael Turner fan in the world, he drew Wonder Woman fighting dinosaurs. That means it gets posted here, because dinosaurs rule.

Lost actress explains DUI

This is getting awfully close to the Celebrity Gossip category, which is not at all what this blog is about, but it's a) Lost-related and b) not gossip because it's from the source and I'm going to refrain from commenting on it. So here goes.

I did my best to ignore all the ballyhoo around Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros' drunk driving arrests a little over a year ago, but I have to admit curiosity about how it all went down. Curiosity sated: Rodriguez explains the whole thing on her website.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Grey's Anatomy spin-off

This isn't really genre-related, but I've made no secret about my love for the character-driven writing on Grey's Anatomy, so maybe it won't be a surprise that I'm talking about it. ABC's looking into a Grey's spin-off starring Kate Walsh as Addison Montgomery.

There's no title yet and the plot is still being worked on, but they're hoping to air a pilot as early as May, according to the Wall Street Journal (the article is truncated unless you're a subscriber, but you can get the whole story at Grey's Anatomy Insider).

Although (Grey's creator Shonda) Rhimes and ABC think Walsh’s character can continue to evolve on Grey’s Anatomy, it became clear in recent months that her position on the show was changing, say people familiar with the matter. Now divorced from Derek and friendly with Meredith, Addison has had fewer ways to keep busy - and fewer fireworks to entertain viewers.

ABC is approaching the spinoff in a smart way, says Norman Lear, the TV producer who refined the art of the spinoff in the 1970s when his All in the Family spawned a record five new shows.

I've grown to love Addison since she first appeared on Grey's. She was introduced as something of a witch, but the writers promised that it would become impossible to hate her, and they were right. Her desperate vulnerability in trying to win back the husband she'd cheated on won me over. As much as I enjoy the heat between her and Alex on the show, if they're struggling to find stuff for her to do, spinning her off into her own deal is great news.

Agents of Atlas meet Bond

Jeff Parker, writer of the excellent spy comic Agents of Atlas amongst other things, has a late opinion on Casino Royale. You gotta cut him some slack though. He's one of those Parents of Young Kids. He's lucky to get to go to movies at all.

Anyhoo, I'm alway thrilled to see another writer I respect "get" Bond.

Clearly (Daniel Craig's) much of what makes the difference, as the first really threatening Bond since Connery. Roger Moore was likeable, but he always seemed to know he was in a movie. Timothy Dalton was dashing and formidable, but no one was interested in production values by the time he came along. Martin Campbell did a great visual job with directing Goldeneye as he does here, but Pierce Brosnan posed no threat. If I saw him coming at me, I’d stand my ground, reasonably sure I was going to win. I’d get the hell out of Craig’s way.

I'm especially happy to see someone talk about Bond without criticizing Timothy Dalton, who was certainly on the right track with the character and got a bum deal.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Stoker nominees announced

The Horror Writers Association has announced its list of nominees for the 2006 Stoker Awards. The complete list is:

Headstone City by Tom Piccirilli (Bantam)
Lisey's Story by Stephen King (Scribner)
Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (Pinnacle)
Pressure by Jeff Strand (Earthling)
Prodigal Blues by Gary A. Braunbeck (Cemetery Dance)

Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (Pinnacle)
The Keeper by Sarah Langan (William Morrow)
Bloodstone by Nate Kenyon (Five Star)
The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff (St. Martins)
Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge (Cemetery Dance)
Hallucigenia by Laird Barron (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)
Mama's Boy by Fran Friel (Insidious Publications)
Bloodstained Oz by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore (Earthling Publications)
Clubland Heroes by Kim Newman (Retro Pulp Tales)

"Tested" by Lisa Morton (Cemetery Dance)
"Balance" by Gene O'Neill (Cemetery Dance)
"Feeding the Dead Inside" by Yvonne Navarro (Mondo Zombie)
"FYI" by Mort Castle (Masques V)
"31/10" by Stephen Volk (Dark Corners)

Aegri Somnia: The Apex Featured Writer Anthology edited by Jason Sizemore and Gill Ainsworth (Apex)
Mondo Zombie edited by John Skipp (Cemetery Dance)
Retro Pulp Tales edited by Joe Lansdale (Subterranean)
Alone on the Darkside edited by John Pelan (Roc)
Destinations Unknown by Gary Braunbeck (Cemetery Dance)
American Morons by Glen Hirshberg (Earthling Publications)
The Commandments by Angeline Hawkes (Nocturne Press)
The Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford (Golden Gryphon)
Basic Black: Tales of Appropriate Fear by Terry Dowling (Cemetery Dance)

Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die by Michael Largo (Harper)
Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth by Kim Paffenroth (Baylor Press)
Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished by Rocky Wood (Cemetery Dance)
Cinema Macabre edited by Mark Morris (PS Publishing)
Shades Fantastic by Bruce Boston (Gromagon Press)
Valentine: Short Love Poems by Corrine de Winter (Black Arrow Press)
The Troublesome Amputee by John Edward Lawson (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
Songs of a Sorceress by Bobbi Sinha-Morey (Write Words, Inc.)
The winners will be announced on March 31st at the World Horror Convention in Toronto.

Journey to the Center of the Earth... in 3D

Did you know that Walden Media, the folks behind the Chronicles of Narnia movies, are working on a new adaptation of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth? And it's going to be in 3D.

Starring Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson and Anita Briem, Journey 3-D is about a scientist who takes his nephew and a mountain guide on an expedition to a prehistoric lost world at the Earth’s core. In the modernized adaptation by scribe D.V. DeVincentis (High Fidelity) the scientist believes that Verne actually made such a trip and left his original manuscript as a map to the fantastic, subterranean environment.

I'm not concerned with how faithful it is to Verne's book, but the 3D element does worry me a bit. Although there are notable exceptions, it seems that most of the time 3D gets involved in a movie, things like story and characterization sorta get forgotten about. And though I'd like to be optimistic that this might be one of the exceptions, the fact that director Eric Brevig is a special effects guru (The Island, The Day After Tomorrow, Pearl Harbor) who's never directed before doesn't bode well.

But, hey. Brendan Fraser is great and it's bound to have him fighting some dinosaurs, so there's reason to hope.

Graphic Classics: Edgar Allen Poe

Just posted a review of Graphic Classics Volume One: Edgar Allen Poe over on Comic World News.

As someone who’s contributed to horror anthologies, I’m well aware of how difficult it is to put together one where each story is as strong as the next. Without exception, anthologies written by multiple authors are going to have stories that vary in quality. Pretty much the only way around that would be to get one writer – and an incredibly talented writer at that – to pen every story in the book.

Of course you see where I’m going with this.

The rest is in the link.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Robots do love the ladies, don't they?

The Fogonazos blog has a cool pictorial of '50s and '60s posters and whatnot featuring robots chasing/ menacing/ hugging/ putting shoes on girls. It's in Spanish, but if I'm translating correctly, they come very close to calling liking this kind of thing a fetish. Not sure that I agree.

I guess some folks might find the juxtaposition of robots and women arousing, but I'm guessing that most of us just really like robots and we really like girls and we think that putting them together is Reese's Peanut Butter Cup all over again. I mean, Anne Francis would still be just as hot without Robbie hanging all over her, right?

Friday, February 16, 2007

To Read: Stealing the Dragon

Stealing the Dragon caught my attention by putting a cute Asian girl on the cover. Bookgasm hooked me by describing it as "pulp, noir and kung fu, all rolled into one" and reeled me in with the story description about a San Francisco private eye and his occasional partner, a lesbian Triad-assassin. Consider me dinner.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

ComicSpace updated

Just did some major (for me) work on my ComicSpace page. Uploaded some of my comics stories into the galleries and added an honest-to-goodness bio. With some pretty cool comics projects in the works for this year (yeah, there are a few I haven't mentioned yet), ComicSpace will be a good tool to let the comics community know what's going on with me.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Another thought about Barbarella

You know how you'll be able to tell if De Laurentiis' Barbarella remake is going to blow or not?

If Duran Duran does the theme song: awesome. If not: blow.

Terabithia's bear

Today is just full of disappointments. I was actually looking forward to seeing Bridge to Terabithia, but have come to find out that the trailer is pretty misleading. All that stuff with fantasy creatures and a magical realm? Doesn't take place until the very end of the movie.

I guess if you know the book, you already know not to expect anything along the lines of Narnia or Alice in Wonderland, because the movie is pretty faithful to the book. It's just not the movie that the marketers are telling us we're going to see. interviews the director and one of the producers in the link above, so you should go read that. The director is a little upset that the movie he made isn't the one that's being advertised. The producer, on the other hand, is more pragmatic. "As a producer I can explain it in simple monetary terms: If you need honey, get a bear. And I can tell you if everyone who read the book brought three friends, then it would still lose money." He goes on to say, "Everyone who read the book and sees the trailer says, 'What is this? This is nothing like the book. What are you doing, Dave?' And I say, 'You know what you're seeing is 15 seconds of a 90-minute film. Give me a little leeway and respect. Go see it, and then tell me what you think.'"

Well, of course he'd like for folks to go see it. He just got finished justifying the fact that the ad campaign misleads audiences in order to trick them into seeing a different movie than they're paying for. It's like he's saying, "Hey, Harry Potter fans! Have I got a movie for you! Come and see!" Then he turns to the folks who prefer the quieter story of a couple of kids trying to escape being bullied at school and whispers, "Don't worry. It's not that kind of movie at all. It's really the movie that you want." He's trying to have it both ways and while I understand his point-of-view, I don't get the part where folks are supposed to "respect" him.

Having said all that, I might still be interested in seeing the movie, but I'd like to see a more accurate trailer to help me make up my mind.

See Barbarella do her thing... again!

Speaking of new versions of things, Dino De Laurentiis has told Variety that he's planning to remake Barbarella as a "female James Bond in outer space."

This is either gonna be the most awesome movie ever or it's going to be the next Ultraviolet. Stay tuned.

Life on Mars also ending

Crap. First Justice, then the BBC's Life on Mars.

At least Life on Mars is ending for a good reason. The show's creators decided that two seasons was enough time to tell the story of the 21st century detective who was hit by a car and woke up in 1973. It's not enough time to satisfy my craving for '70s-style cop shows, but I appreciate their knowing when to quit.

I wonder if the American version will be as wise.

The second season of the British version started yesterday, but no word yet on when we'll get it on BBC America.

Oh. Happy Valentine's Day, by the way.

I totally stole this from Jess Hickman.

Justice cancelled; Garber rebounds

Gah! This'll teach me not to keep up with my TV Guide. FOX cancelled Justice back in November, which really sucks because it was a smart show with some great characters who were just starting to develop. But, hey, it's FOX. They cancelled Firefly too.

Fortunately, Victor Garber's already found a potential new gig on a pilot called Eli Stone for ABC. The show's creator, Greg Berlanti (Everwood), describes it as a cross between Dynasty and Six Feet Under. He calls it "a Field of Dreams-type drama set in a law firm where a thirty-something attorney begins having larger-than-life visions that compel him to do out-of-the-ordinary things." Johnny Lee Miller (Trainspotting) plays the attorney and Garber would play the father of Miller's fiancee.

I don't know if it's the kind of show I'll get into, but with Garber involved it'll definitely be worth at least a look if it gets picked up.

Who's animated

While I've been working on Le Corsaire and Dust to Dust, things have kept right on happening in the world. Like the BBC's announcing that their children's show Totally Doctor Who will feature a Doctor Who cartoon in its second season.

Totally Doctor Who sounds like it's mainly a hype show to get kids excited about upcoming episodes, but the cartoon's a cool idea. Hopefully we'll be able to get it on DVD eventually.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I'm having trouble commenting on blogs lately. Not sure if it's a technological issue on my end or a software issue on Blogger's, but it's a problem. Especially today when I read a particularly enlightening post on my pal West's blog and want to talk about it. So here I am.

West says, "A number of Black Americans are offended by a non-Black person referring to any Black person as 'articulate.' According to many, it is an example of those back-handed compliments to which Chris Rock so humorously, but indelicately refers: '[Saying an educated man] speaks so well isn't a compliment. "Speaks so well" is some $#!+ you say about a retarded person... that can TALK!'

"So, many Blacks see it as an insult and many whites see it as a compliment. Tony Cox, of NPR's 'African-American RoundTable,' (read or listen here) refers to this difference of interpretation as 'a cultural and linguistic divide.' He compares it to the statement from times past, 'You're a credit to your race.'"

West is an intelligent and thoughtful person (compared to anyone) and he doesn't take offense at the statement in general, but I think back on the times that I've paid that "compliment" -- even in my head; unspoken -- and if I'm honest, I have to admit that the parenthetical follow up to "He's articulate" is "for a Black guy." Yes, I've known a lot of African Americans who aren't articulate or "well-spoken," but why does that make it so worthy of notice when I meet one who is? I know a lot of White folks who don't speak well either, but I'm not as surprised when I meet one who does. It's a subtle form of racism, but it's there and I appreciate West's post for pointing it out so that I can be aware of it and work on eliminating it.

Just another reason why his blog is so worth reading.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Dust to Dust script done

I was home with a sick boy all day on Friday. He just had a low-grade fever, but it kept him out of daycare, so home I stayed. That's why no post on that day.

Finished the script for Dust to Dust today. I apparently underestimated the time it'd take me to script a 32-page comic, even one that's mostly been plotted out for me. Anyway, I sent it to my co-writer and he likes it, so now we just see if the publisher digs it too.

In the meantime, I haven't worked on Le Corsaire for a few days while I concentrated on Dust to Dust, so I have some catching up to do. Shouldn't be too hard though. I like more of what I've already written than I thought I would.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Tarzan the Fearless (and Fu Manchu)

I should've done a little reading up on Tarzan the Fearless before I watched it. I saw "Tarzan" and "Buster Crabbe" though and went, "Oooh! Cool!"

What I didn't realize was that I'd gotten a copy of the feature film version that had been made from the first four chapters of a twelve-episode serial. I knew that studios had a tendency to do that -- they did it with Crabbe's Flash Gordon serials and I've been warned against watching those versions -- but I didn't know that they'd done it here. Not until I started watching it anyway.

The movie opens with Tarzan's just swinging around and hanging out with Cheetah, then it cuts to a bunch of people trekking through the jungle trying to find this cute blonde's father, then it goes back to Tarzan who's now hanging out in a cabin with said Dad. That's where I started realizing that maybe this thing had been spliced together. A little while later there was a weird cut right after what would've been a typical end-of-episode cliffhanger and then the sudden introduction of a couple of bad guys who talked like they'd been scheming for a while (and I'm sure they had, only those conversations had been cut out). I gave up after that and didn't even finish, which is for the best since, like I said, it's only the first four episodes and ends in a cliffhanger.

Apparently, you can't get the 12-episode serial anymore, which is too bad because Crabbe is a charming Tarzan. It's annoying that he doesn't talk at all, but only grunts and pantomimes (at least in the parts I saw) and it's especially unfortunate that his loin cloth is a thong, but he's got a lot of personality and always looks like he's having fun. The girl (not Jane, so forget continuity) is also cute, and apparently there's an even cuter La-esque jungle priestess later on, but I never saw her. The plot (the girl's dad is captured by the jungle priestess' followers and needs rescuing) is classic Tarzan movie stuff too, so all-in-all I'm sorry I can't see the real version.

I also recently re-watched Boris Karloff in The Mask of Fu Manchu. Maybe I'm getting more sensitive in my old age, but I was more bothered this time by the racism than I was last time. I've typically been able to acknowledge this kind of thing as a product of its time and just enjoy the other aspects of it, but it's so prevalent in Mask that I had a hard time getting around it. Especially when Fu Manchu shows all of his Chinese followers a white woman and asks -- to thunderous applause -- if they'd like to kill all the white men and take their women. 'Cause, you know, all those Asian women just weren't doing it for them. But it wasn't just that. It was also the references to evil Chinese "gods" and strange Chinese science. I don't know, it just bothered me this time.

I'm interested in checking out some of Hammer's Fu Manchu films with Christopher Lee though. I'd like to see if 30 years made a difference in how pervasive the fear of Eastern cultures is in the films.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Quick excuse -- I mean, update

I'm going to have a hard time keeping up with the blog this week. The Dust to Dust deadline is tight so I'm concentrating on meeting it while continuing to re-work Le Corsaire.

Anyway, if I'm quiet this week, that's why.

Friday, February 02, 2007

New project

I didn't think I'd be doing another project update so soon, but a couple of cool things have happened since last I posted.

Thanks to the input of a couple of other folks involved with Kill All Monsters! we've added a tenth publisher to our list of submission possibilities, and it sounds like a strong candidate.

I've also been offered the opportunity to co-write a comics project that's already been accepted by a publisher. Can't offer any real details right now, but since I'll need to refer to it later, I'll tell you that the title is Dust to Dust.

That's all for now. Carry on.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tarzan the Ape Man; project update

Really busy day today, so this is going to be short and kind of scattershot. Sorry.

Finished watching Tarzan the Ape Man last night. Johnny Weissmuller, as much as he isn't the literary Tarzan, is Tarzan. He's sort of to Tarzan, I guess, what Connery is to Bond. After all, Johnny's yell is a pop culture equivalent of Connery's "Bond, James Bond." And Maureen O'Sullivan, as much as she isn't the literary Jane, is so very very hot.

Someone asked in the comments to the LJ feed how far along I am on Le Corsaire. I've got fifteen chapters done and my chapters average about ten pages. That's pretty much the halfway mark for the first draft, but there's a lot in those first fifteen chapters that needs to be reworked. In addition to beefing up the action, I've got some serious cutting to do as well. There are a couple of characters who should really just be one, there's another character who I follow for way too long instead of concentrating on the hero, and there's yet another character who just needs to be changed completely because I've realized that he's a horror/fantasy stereotype and a pretty dull one at that.

So, yeah. I'm pretty far along, but I've got a lot of work to do. It'll be fun work though.

And nobody asked, but as long as I'm talking about work, I'm ready to start researching potential publishers for Kill All Monsters!. I've got a list of nine right now, but the other creators involved may want to add to or subtract from that list. My hope is to have a final list by this weekend and spend next week compiling the various submissions guidelines.


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