Friday, March 30, 2007

Links du Jour: More Draw Mary Marvel, fish souls, and a better Potter cover


  • I knew people were gonna jump onto this Draw Mary Marvel thing. I'm glad, too.

  • I'd forgotten that Mark Twain wrote a mystery novel with Tom Sawyer as the detective until Joe Hilliard recently reminded me of it. It's called, oddly enough, Tom Sawyer, Detective and you can read it online for free.
  • Every time Ed Gorman writes a new column for Bookgasm, my reading list gets longer. This time it's because of his recommendation of Mystery Scene magazine, which Ed describes as "the pre-eminent news and feature magazine of the mystery field. Hard-boiled or cozy, old novels or new, movies, audio, TV … whatever aspect of mystery fiction interests you, you’ll find it in Mystery Scene. And presented in a package that’s professional, easy to read and worthy of design and layout awards." I'm getting a subscription.

  • Bookgasm also has an interview up with horror/suspense writer Gary Williams who's apparently having a lot of success with a self-published trilogy about "two friends ... who uncover ancient artifacts – tools – in Florida, which are integrated into local history and ultimately linked to the Old Testament." Williams says that "the tools, however, have been contaminated and their ancient purposes mutated. As other forces seek to gain their control, the underlying purpose as to why the tools have been discovered in the present day leads to a startling revelation." He also says that reviewers are comparing him to Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, with some Stephen King thrown in.


  • Wow. I much prefer the cover to the British adult version of the new Harry Potter book. There's also some extra text on the flaps that tell a bit more about the story: "Harry has been burdened with a dark, dangerous and seemingly impossible task: that of locating and destroying Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes. Never has Harry felt so alone, or faced a future so full of shadows. But Harry must somehow find within himself the strength to complete the task he has been given. He must leave the warmth, safety, and companionship of The Burrow and follow without fear or hesitation the inexorable path laid out for him...
    "In this final, seventh instsallment of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling unveils in spectacular fashion the answers to the many questions that have been so eagerly awaited. The spellbinding, richly woven narrative, which plunges, twists and turns at a breathtaking pace, confirms the author as a mistress of storytelling, whose books will be read, reread and read again."
Science Fiction

  • I don't know how I forgot to post about this yesterday, but here's all the info on the Star Wars stamps and other mailing paraphernalia that the post office has. I've found the Artoo mailbox in Saint Paul, too. As soon as I can get over there with a camera, I'll get a picture of it.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Kill All Monsters! update

Jason made a slight tweak to the robot's arm and inked the proposed cover, so now it's ready to go into the pitch package. The first issue's being lettered and I'm working on a cover letter for the pitch.

We're getting close.

Lost: "Exposé"

Re: last night's episode of Lost.


There was a point near the middle at which I turned to my wife and said, "This is either pretty clever or the worst episode in the history of the show." Two loser wannabe characters fighting desperately for significance in a show they don't belong in. We've been wondering all season why the Lost writers would want to stick two brand new characters in the show as if they've been an important part of things all along. Yeah, I know there are lots of other survivors from the crash that don't get mentioned, but I'm perfectly comfortable with their just milling about in the background providing color. By the third season, I don't need for any of them to suddenly become important.

And I especially don't need their importance to be "validated" by an episode that goes back and re-tells the entire series from the beginning, only sticking Nikki and Paulo into memorable scenes and having them secretly discover all of the island's secrets before anyone else did. Lame.

And seeing Shannon and Boone again? Just reminded me why I didn't like them in the first place. I grew to like them over the course of the first season, but we got none of that here, just whiny Shannon and her jerk of a brother Boone.

It was nice to see Ethan and Dr. Artz again though. And Lando Calrissian makes everything better.

And by the time I got to the end of the episode, I actually liked the unexpected -- by me, at least -- ending. It turns out that it was pretty clever, because it wasn't actually trying to show how important Nikki and Paulo suddenly were. It was just trying to tell a cool little one-shot horror/mystery morality tale (a la those old EC horror comics) in the Lost universe. My assumption of what I thought they were trying to do almost ruined it for me, but what they were actually doing was pretty darn cool.

Link du Jour: The X-Files 2, Superman loves Black Canary, and the death of the Honeynut Cheerios Bee


  • There are only two things I miss about not watching 24 anymore. One is seeing Jack Bauer kick bootie every week. The other is Mary Lynn Rajskub as Chloe. When I was watching the show, she was one of my favorite characters on TV. Which is to say that I'm pretty excited that she's on the cover on the next current issue of Geek Monthly. It's weird seeing her all sexied up in the pictorial (previewed on GM's website) -- 'cause that's not what she's about for me -- but dang if she isn't pretty.
  • One of my new, favorite blog's is Every Day is Like Wednesday. This post on how Superman totally has the hots for Black Canary is a perfect example of why.


Science Fiction


  • I've always thought that someone should make a cartoon in which all the breakfast cereal characters crossed-over with each other. Breakfast of the Gods is the next best thing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Links du Jour: Nothing Better, the business of writing, and Garfield's not funny

  • Tyler Page (Stylish Vittles) has been serializing his latest work, a college drama called Nothing Better, on the web for free in hope that it'll drive interest in a trade paperback collection. The first volume of that collection is now available for pre-order, so if you've been enjoying the comic online, now's your chance to get your very own copy. If you haven't tried it online yet, click the link above and check it out. Or, you can take my word that it's really good stuff.
  • Everyone knows that Garfield isn't funny. Smoking Tree goes the extra step to explain why.
Writing is Hard

  • I don't mind thinking about the business aspects of writing so much. I just don't like actually managing them. Paperback Writer has some great tips about how to do that with the least amount of pain, particularly in regard to tracking expenses for tax purposes.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kill All Monsters! cover idea

And lest we forget about the other comic I'm working on, here's an idea Jason Copland did for the cover of Kill All Monsters!. I'm getting goosebumps, this thing's so close to being done.

Update: Change "goosebumps" to "tears of joy." I just looked at Jason's completed pages and I'm actually getting emotional here. He nailed every scene; every facial expression; every everything. You guys, this is going to be so good.

Dust to Dust to be published by Moonstone

I've been teasing about Dust to Dust for a little while now, but I've just been given the okay by the publisher to start talking about it in detail.

I co-wrote it with Alex Ness, founder of Pop Thought and a genius with high concepts and plots. He came up with the idea for a one-shot ditty about a tough, old Jesse James fighting a young, green Machine Gun Kelly in the streets of an Oklahoma ghost town. Emphasis on "ghost."

I was fortunate enough that he asked me to take his idea and plot outline and make a comic out of it. Lead's gonna fly.

A local guy named Joel Vollmer is illustrating it and Moonstone is publishing it. It's too early to know exactly when it's coming out, but we're hoping to see it on shelves later this year. That's all I wanna say right now, though I'm sure I'll figure out more to talk about later. I need to come up with a personal marketing plan (as opposed to supporting whatever official plan Moonstone has) for this thing, which'll be an adventure all its own. It's a really fun book; I just need to figure out how best to let people know about it.

Links du Jour: Galactica spoilers, new Stargate series, and the Harry Potter cast

  • In the back of DC's weekly 52 series, they've been running these two-page origin stories of the various DC superheroes. At the end of each one, they give a short list of "Essential Storylines" of the character. Every Day is Like Wednesday has been reviewing not just the storylines, but the lists themselves, and adding other essential material to it. It's cool reading if you've ever wanted to know more about a particular DC character, like I have about Zatanna (it's the fishnets).
  • I totally missed that Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu appeared in last month's issue of Wisdom. Gonna have to go back and get that one.
  • Today's Quentin Tarantino's 44th birthday.


  • Though Emma Watson made fans sweat a little, they can rest easy now. Watson and the other two main Harry Potter actors have all signed on to complete the movie series.

Science Fiction

  • Geek Monthly has a nice recap of a couple of interviews that Battlestar Galactica co-creator Ron Moore has given lately. As Geek says, "It is clear that he is thinking of an endgame for the franchise, but won’t say for sure if season 4 will be the final voyage." There are a couple of spoilers about Season 4 there, some clarification about the Season 3 finale, and story details about the direct-to-DVD movie coming out this fall. Good stuff for BSG fans.
  • Looks like there's a new Stargate series in the works: Stargate Universe.
  • I'm too old to have grown up with the Transformers, so I don't have an ingrained fondness for them, but I now have a reason to be excited about the new movie: Hugo Weaving is voicing Megatron.

Other Comics News

  • Man, I wish I lived in New York so I could go to Autism Awareness Day at Shea Stadium and hang out with Kyle Baker and a mess of other comics professionals and journalists. Sounds like it's going to be a blast and for a fantastic cause. If you live in the area, check the link for updates about ticket prices, because they're cheaper if you get them in advance.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Links du Jour: Draw Mary Marvel, what makes a superhero, and plushy Fone Bone

Light day today.


  • Fantasy casting doesn't usually interest me, but dang if The Braxcave hasn't done a nice job with a hypothetical Alpha Flight movie. I even like the idea of Chris Jericho playing Sasquatch.
  • It seems like every time DC does something questionable with one of it's girl superheroes, artists start creating their own versions of the character in an attempt to hold on to the elements of the character that are being neglected in the comics. Not that I'm complaining, 'cause it's led to some fantastic art. Looks like Mary Marvel could be the latest.
  • Quick Stop Entertainment has a great article (actually a review of Peter Coogan’s Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre) on defining the superhero genre and determining what makes a character a superhero. It's a long piece with lots of examples, but it's interesting reading. Boiled down: super heroes are people with costumes, code names, and defined missions who exist in modern day settings. The setting, according to the article, is vitally important. It's the reason that Batman is a superhero, but Zorro isn't. Or that Green Lantern is, but Flash Gordon isn't. The article also makes exceptions for people like Zatanna or Rogue who may lack some of the defining characteristics, but are considered superheroes because either their creators or the characters themselves obviously intended for them to be. It goes to show that the superhero genre is next to impossible to define, but they make a fascinating job of trying.

  • Jeff Smith's showing the prototype for a new Fone Bone plush toy. Hopefully it's the first in a series.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Links du Jour: Mummy 3, film noir, and downloading comics


  • The Mummy 3 is in the works. Looks like Jet Li will be the bad guy and it's being written by Smallville's Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, which is all fine. Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious, xXx) is directing and that's okay too. I'm just concerned that Stephen Sommers' producing credit means that we'll still get cheap, video-game-quality special effects for it. But maybe that's Cohen's call and I just don't know enough about how movies are made. Actually, if it is Cohen's decision to make, I'm very happy about that because the effects in his other adventure movies have been pretty darn cool.



Science Fiction

  • Siskoid's Blog of Geekery should be called Blog of Awesomeness. He's been reviewing every episode of Star Trek, including the cartoon series, and is up into the movies now. I'm hoping he keeps it going through Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and the others. He also sprinkles in plenty of comics posts for variety. This is a blog I'm going to have to go back and read from its beginning.
  • Grant Gould's got another Learn to Draw installment on This one on drawing R2-D2.


Writing is Hard

  • Just discovered a cool site called First Writer with lots of advice and resources for beginning writers. They help find agents, publishers, contests, magazine markets, and lots of other stuff.

Stuff Nobody Cares About But Me

  • Men in Trees has been renewed for another season. Yeah, it's a girly show, but it's got great dialogue and interesting characters. I like it as much as I liked the first couple of seasons of Gilmore Girls, and that's a lot. (In that same link, Lost and Grey's Anatomy have also been renewed, but those are news to nobody.)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tarzan Escapes

I liked the first two Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies so much that I was sure I'd also enjoy the third, Tarzan Escapes. Not so much though.

The plot's pretty simple, but that's not the problem. The plots were simple in Tarzan, the Ape Man and Tarzan and His Mate too. In this one, a couple of Jane's cousins have come to the jungle to bring her back to England so she can claim an inheritance that they hope to share. They're not as mercenary as that makes them sound; they really do love Jane. Unfortunately, they hire an unscrupulous guide to help find her, but don't realize that his motivation for doing so is to capture Tarzan and show him off as an exhibition.

There are a couple of cool parts in the film. Tarzan immediately dislikes the guide and there's a nice tension between the two of them through the movie. You get the sense that Tarzan's starting to learn his lesson about civilized folk and their disregard for the jungle. But even better than that is the fancy treehouse that Tarzan and Jane have built. It's very Swiss Family Robinsion, but long before Disney made that film. Putting aside for a second that it means Jane is domesticating Tarzan, it's an undeniably cool place to live.

But I can't leave Tarzan's domestication aside for too long, because that's one of the big problems I have with Tarzan Escapes. The Weissmuller films obviously take a very different approach from the Burroughs novels and that's okay, but I'm starting to not like how they're portraying the Ape Man. It was fine for a while that he could only speak in grunts and monosyllables, but by the time Tarzan Escapes rolls around, he's been with Jane for a while and you'd think that an intelligent person would've picked up more English. He hasn't though, and I'm guessing that he doesn't for the rest of the series.

It makes Tarzan look stupid. Jane talks to him more like a pet or a child than her husband. You never doubt that she loves him or that the jungle is exactly where she wants to be, so it's not like she's being condescending. She genuinely struggles to communicate with him, like she's not sure that he understands. And frankly, neither are we. Tarzan should be a guy who's very presence communicates with you on a primal level and lets you know that you do not want to mess with him. Bad things may happen to him, and it's okay to empathize with him when they do, but he's not supposed to be an object of pity like a defenseless kid who gets picked on at the playground.

Another problem I have with Tarzan Escapes is that they re-use a bunch of footage from Tarzan and His Mate. Not just shots of Tarzan swinging through the jungle or stock footage of animals, but whole battle sequences and fight scenes. You definitely get the idea that MGM realized it had a hit property and figured it could just hack out whatever and still make money. They even frumped up Jane's costume into a one-piece mini-skirt.

At least they spent some dough on the treehouse.

Links du Jour

  • I'm really looking forward to Marvel's World War Hulk storyline. I've been reading The Incredible Hulk ever since some of Marvel's hoighty-toightier "heroes" tricked him and exiled him to outer space, and I cannot wait for him to get back and smash the crap out of them. Especially Iron Man, who somehow turned into my new favorite Marvel villain over the course of the Civil War event. Anyway, the reason I'm bringing this up is that one of my favorite up-and-coming artists, Chris Moreno, is going to be drawing back-up features about a bunch of goofy superheroes trying out for Rhode Island's official, new superteam in the World War Hulk: Frontline mini-series. Which makes me even more excited about it all.
  • I missed Oni's Northwest Passage mini-series the first time around, but promised myself that I'd catch it in the trade paperback collection. Looks like it's going to be a far prettier collection than I thought.
  • I'm a big Captain Marvel fan. DC's "Shazam" one, not Marvel's outer-space hero one. Looks like 2008 is going to be a big year for him and his supporting characters, including an animated series and a new toy line.
  • Speaking of which, Mary Marvel fans are in an uproar about her possible role in DC's upcoming Countdown series. Mary's always been a character who's remained unexploited by DC and folks are concerned that that's going to change in Countdown's "Seduction of the Innocent" storyline. Their fears aren't groundless, but I'm not ready to get out my torch and pitchfork just yet. One of the reasons that Mary's never been exploited by DC before is that frankly she hasn't been in their books a whole lot outside of the various Shazam series and an occasional guest-appearance. I'm not saying that I want her to become a dark and dirty character; I'm just not convinced yet that that's the ultimate plan DC has for her.
  • Seen the new Pirates of the Caribbean trailer yet?
  • Speaking of swashbuckling, you can now read the entire first issue of the excellent Black Coat mini-series online for free. There are also five-page previews of the other issues in the series.
  • And in still more swashbuckling news, Michael Chabon's (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay) new novel Gentlemen of the Road will be released in November from Del Rey. It features "a pair of wandering adventurers—swords for hire, horsethieves, flimflam artists, unlikely soul mates—who get caught up in the schemes and battles that follow a bloody coup in the great medieval Jewish empire of the Khazars."
  • Kevin Smith's Green Hornet movie may not have gone anywhere, but that doesn't mean there won't be a Green Hornet movie.
  • Dynamite Entertainment's giving a Zorro comic a shot. Zorro's a hero who sometimes works better for me in concept than in execution, but I'm looking forward to seeing their take on him.
  • I think I heard about this a long time ago, but I'd forgotten that there's an Underdog movie in the works. Can't say I like the direction they went, but it looks like it's just about ready.


Other Comics

  • Civil War writer Mark Millar is known for making loud, self-hyping, and often controversial statements. Too bad they aren't always true. He recently claimed that his work on Civil War would spill over and benefit poor, little books like Captain America that "hasn’t sold over 45K in half a decade." Now, he speculates, "they’ll be regular 90K-plus books and even more for a little while." Only problem is, according to Captain America writer Ed Brubaker, "Cap 1, which came out two plus years ago, sold in the mid-70s, and the regular monthly book has been selling in the mid-50s since around issue 14, I believe." Not that Brubaker's claiming that Civil War won't help boost those numbers, but Captain America wasn't quite as beleaguered as Millar made it out to be.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Links du Jour




  • Did you know that while you're touring the Lord of the Rings locations in New Zealand, you can also stay in a Hobbit motel?
  • I've already got Disney's Peter Pan on DVD and don't care enough about special features to buy it again, but even if I wanted to upgrade, I wouldn't get this recent version. I'd wait for the next one. (By the way, even if you're not interested in Pan, that last link is worth reading for confirmation that studios really are actively trying to make you buy the same film over and over again.)

Science Fiction

  • Did you know that while you're touring Star Wars locations in Tunisia, you can also stay at the Lars farm?
  • Not really scifi related, but Nathan Fillion (Firefly) has a new movie coming out where he gets to hit on Keri Russell (Felicity). Looks pretty good too.

Writing is Hard

  • Miss Snark says, "Don't ever talk about your novel to anyone socially until it's published. Ever." Then explains why. I wish I'd learned that lesson ten years ago. I still get the occasional, "How's the novel coming?" To which I have to reply, "Which one? I've discarded and restarted so many over the years that I forget which one you know about."
  • More on how readers don't know what they want.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I started reading H. Rider Haggard's She not too long ago and put it down. It's not that it was awful, but for a jungle adventure, what it really did was get me in the mood to read some more Tarzan, which is what I did. I'll probably come back to She, but it took a while to get going good and I got impatient.

Besides, I figured I could watch the movie and get a taste for the story. Might help keep me motivated next time I try the book. After all, it was produced by Merian C. Cooper (King Kong). Had to be good, right?

Not really.

It's got some lavish sets, but that's about all that's going for it. It substitutes a cave-dwelling society in the Arctic for the novel's jungle setting and poor Randolp Scott has never been the most exciting of actors. In the book, Leo is an attractive, charismatic guy. I guess Scott is handsome enough, but charming he ain't. It's hard to believe why the women in the movie are fighting over him.

If you're not familiar with the plot, Scott plays a young man named Leo who's called to his uncle's deathbed to receive a strange request. He's to complete a multi-generational quest for a mysterious fire that grants eternal life to anyone who passes through it. One of Leo's ancestors found the fire, but left it without capturing its power. Ever since then, Leo's family has been trying to find it again.

So, Leo and his pal Holly put together an expedition and head North. They hook up with an unscrupulous Arctic trader and his pretty daughter who volunteer to act as guides. Some of the party makes it to an ice cave in which an ancient civilization still lives and is ruled over by She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, the only person who knows the secret to the eternal flame.

What follows is supposed to be a game of seduction as She and the trader's daughter compete for Leo's affections. She is beautiful and powerful, but cruel. The daughter is pretty and kind, but simple. It's not a bad story, but I kept thinking that it would make a better episode of Classic Star Trek than an adventure movie. There's not a lot of action until the end; mostly just people talking about what they want other people to do.

And speaking of the end, without spoiling it I'll just say that it doesn't make sense. The plot drives towards a crucial scene, but when the scene occurs, it plays out in an inexplicable way that looks more designed to wrap things up quickly than to provide a satisfying conclusion to the story. I'm hoping the book does a much better job than that.

Links du Jour

  • Dan Taylor, creator of the super-fun Hero Happy Hour comic, has T-shirts for sale featuring the Hideout Bar and Grill logo from that series.

  • I'm a little late with this one, but the superhero redesign blog Project: Rooftop just finished a Supergirl week that was pretty awesome, especially considering the beating that DC's current Supergirl design has taken from fans.


  • Christopher E. Long (The Easy Way) and Chee (Wake the Dead) have a new comic book thriller coming from Image/Shadowline called Ward of the State. The Easy Way was a surprisingly good thriller, so this one definitely bears checking out.


  • Sam Hiti's Fist-a-Cuffs blog is a place where artists create monsters in order to have them duke it out in a Tournament of Death. Blog readers vote to see which monsters prevail and move forward in the brackets. Very, very cool.


  • The movie adaptation of Alternative Comics' suicide fantasy Pizzeria Kamikaze is set for an August release. Read my review of the original graphic novel here.

Science Fiction


  • If you're the kind of comics reader who's upset over Marvel and DC's huge, multi-title-spanning epics that are screwing over your favorite characters, Jeff Parker tells you what to do with your angst: Really, I don’t want to be preachy here, but if you’re one of those readers outraged at the big media stunts and going on a tirade about characters being desecrated, etc.- the ONLY thing that will make Marvel or DC listen to you is to vote with your purchases. Here’s where Leonard starts on our Avengers book, with the Giant-Girl origin issue, heroes as you claim you want them. The Adventures books sell way more in chain stores than they do in the Direct Market, so if there’s a surge in sales from comics shops, it will be noticeable and read as a buying trend. There, tough guy, I’m drawing the chalk line on the sidewalk, step over it. Or do you not have enough money because you spent it on the heavily promoted book you want to complain about?

  • Why I Love Kyle Baker No. 84: Autism Awareness Day.

  • Other Heroes, an exhibition of comics and comics-inspired artwork focusing on African American creators, characters & archetypes, will be on display April 5-25, 2007 in the Jackson State University Art Gallery in Jackson, MS. It features the work of Denys Cowan and Kyle Baker, among many others. Sounds well worth checking out for anyone in the area.

  • Tim Bradstreet -- cover artist for Criminal Macabre, The Punisher, and sometimes Hellblazer -- isn't the first name you might associate when you hear someone talking about rapper 50 Cent. That could change though.

Monday, March 19, 2007

3 Ways to Improve My Blog

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to try something new to see how I like it. Rather than post news items separately, I'm going to post them together as a list of links. I'll comment when I have something to add, but I'm hoping that this will let me post about stories that I don't necessarily have an opinion on, but find interesting anyway. That should let me post more stories than I currently do , while freeing up some time to focus on other things, like actual content.

The stuff I get the most comments about are the reviews and other content pieces, so I'm going to try to do more of that.

I'm also going to change the name of the blog to something permanent. It's gone from being self-titled to Son of Michael to the current Michael Confession. My idea was to change the name every year, but now I'm thinking that that's going to get confusing if folks don't update their links every year, and I'm not about to ask them to do that just to accommodate my wishy-washiness. So, I've settled on a title that I can live with indefintely and will occasionally change out the sub-title to reflect my inability to leave well enough alone.

Friday, March 16, 2007

BBC's Robin Hood

Man, I've missed Xena.

I gave up watching Warrior Princess in its last season because it got all feely and spiritual, but in a really gloomy, dark way that just wasn't fun anymore. When my wife started watching it -- and got me and all my friends to start watching it too -- it was about the time that Joxer and Calisto were becoming regular characters. It was an awesome show with lots of fighting and laughter and cheesy effects. I looked forward to that show like I don't any other show on TV these days. But that might change.

My friend Shara recently mentioned watching Robin Hood on BBC America. Not the old Jason Connery one from the '80s with the Clannad soundtrack, cool as that was. But a new one. Like her, I've got a very old fondness for the Robin Hood legend and it may be Disney's fault. I remember begging my parents to let me go see the Disney version when it was released in 1973. What I don't remember is if I was already a Robin Hood fan by then. I probably was, though I don't remember my initial exposure to the stories. Regardless, the Disney version definitely solidified my love for Rob and his band of Merry Men.

So, I had to check out the BBC's version.

I kept thinking about Xena.

The first episode opens with the famous poaching scene that seems to make it into just about every Robin Hood movie. Although, unlike the Howard Pyle version of the legends that I grew up reading, the movies always make the poacher someone besides Robin so that he has to rescue them. In the BBC version, the poacher is Allan A'Dale.

The relationship between Robin and his manservant Much is totally reminiscent of Hercules and Iolaus from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, but the similarities to Hercules and Xena don't end there. Shortly after saving Allan, Robin and Much stop to help a cloth merchant do some work in return for some dinner. Unfortunately for Much, the merchant has a hot, heavily mascaraed daughter in a low-cut dress who wants to smooch on Rob. The merchant catches them and sword-fighting ensues, complete with "whooshing" sound effects and the kind of combat acrobatics Xena fans love. I'm telling you, my heart sang.

We eventually learn that -- like in Prince of Thieves -- Rob and Much are returning home from the Crusades to find England much different than when they left it. The old sheriff (who happens to have a daughter named Marian) is no longer in charge and the new one is... well, you know what the Sheriff of Nottingham is like. Sir Guy of Gisborne has taken up residence in Locksley Manor and is managing Robin's lands in his absence. Naturally, Robin bristles at the changes.

As much as the Xena-ness of it all, what I loved about the first episode (the only one I've seen so far, but TiVo has another ready for me) is the conflict that Robin of Locksley has to go through in order to become Robin Hood. In Prince of Thieves, it's an easy transition. You killed my father; prepare to die. Here, Robin has to struggle with it. Sir Guy readily gives up Locksley Manor to its true master once Robin returns and it would be very easy for Robin to sort of just go with the new status quo. Unfortunately, the sons of one of his close friends are arrested for robbery and sentenced to hang. The old sheriff counsels Robin to wait and consolidate some power before taking on the new sheriff. The boys will die, but it's the only way for Robin to eventually win. Robin believes this, but he's horrified by the fact that the can't save the boys. To save them, he'd become an outlaw and have to give up his lands and power and everything he knows.

We all know what choice he eventually makes, but it's really well played out in the story and we feel how difficult a decision it is for Rob. In Prince of Thieves, the decision is made for him. He has no choice but to fight Nottingham. The Robin in this version is much more heroic.

The cast is all great. I wasn't impressed with the look of Robin (from the stills I saw) until I watched the show and saw how completely dashing and swashbuckling Jonas Armstrong is in the role. Keith Allen is a brilliant Sheriff of Nottingham. He's cruel, but likeable.

Hopefully, future episodes are as fun and well-written as this one. If they are, I've got a new favorite show.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Review: Dracula on Masterpiece Theater

About a month ago I TiVoed the Masterpiece Theater version of Dracula and just got around to watching it.

It's not at all a straightforward adaptation. The major difference is that Lord Holmwood has inherited syphilis from his parents and is desperate to cure it before he consummates his marriage with Lucy. To do that, he strikes a deal with a secret, occult society who promise to bring to England the one man who can cleanse Holmwood's diseased blood. So, it's this secret society who arranges for Dracula to come over from Transylvania and hires poor Jonathan Harker to arrange the deal.

Other changes include Van Helsing's being held prisoner by the society until he's rescued by Dr. Seward, who's investigating Lucy's death. Van Helsing was hired by the society to research ancient folk legends, but now he knows too much and has to be kept locked away.

Even though it plays loose with the source material though, it's no worse in that regard than any other adaptation of it. Maybe it's just that I like secret societies, but I thought that bit added a nice element to the story that explained some motivations and tied everything together instead of leaving a bunch of coincidences.

I even liked the changes in characters. Van Helsing is a frightened old man in this version, but he's far more interesting that way than the know-it-all monster-hunter in most versions. Dr. Seward is also given a lot more to do than usual and for all practical purposes becomes the hero of the story. He's a handsome fellow, but Holmwood is prettier (and richer) and we can easily buy that Lucy likes them both, but chooses Holmwood. Lucy, for her part, is heart-breakingly gorgeous and -- unlike in the Coppola version -- it's totally believable that she's the object of so many men's affections.

The only disappointment was that Seward's becoming the hero takes that role away from Mina. In the novel, she's the only one who figures out what's going on and all the guys are like, "Poor Mina. She's only a girl. We'll handle this." Meanwhile, Dracula gathers more and more power because no one's listening to Mina. I love Mina in the book. I don't hate Mina in this version -- she's a nice girl who's having a hard time dealing with Harker's disappearance and Lucy's death -- but she's not Mina in the book.

Marc Warren does an excellent job as Dracula. He's the perfect balance between seductive and scary-as-hell. Totally unrecognizable from when he guest-starred on Doctor Who.

The story in this version wraps up a lot quicker than in the novel, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing. It's not rushed within its own context, it's just not the book. And its not being the book is really the only criticism that can be levelled against it. On its own, it's a perfectly valid adaptation and I'd stick it up against any of the others. It's not Bram Stoker's story, but then, it's not supposed to be.

Life on Mars remake pushed back

Variety reports that the American remake of Life on Mars has been pushed back. Apparently, David E. Kelly is having a hard time finding the perfect lead, so he's waiting until after pilot season and will target the show as a mid-season replacement.

I'm still nervous about an American remake, but I like that Kelly's taking his time with the casting in order to get it right. Bodes well for the attention he gives to the other aspects of the show.

Found via Geek Monthly.

Kill All Monsters!

Jason Copland posted this panel from Kill All Monsters! (the comic that we're working on together) on his blog, so I am too!


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Venture Bros.: Season Three

Venture Bros. fans are going to have to wait a while before seeing any new episodes. According to creator Jackson Publick, "Doc and I are in training for the upcoming production marathon that will be Season 3 of The Venture Bros. Rising no later than 5:30am (EST), our regimen consists of various isometric exercises, wind sprints, calisthenics, and spirited games of steal-the-bacon followed by a 'power shake' of Pixie Stix and coffee, for protein."

Unfortunately, "The bad news about production is you won't be seeing any new episodes until probably this time next year, since we won't start getting them back from Korea until around the first of the year or so. Such is the nature of traditional cel animation. We did experiment with concocting a super-hurry-up production schedule that would enable us to air the first four episodes of Season 3 in December, but that proved pointless because we would end up with a frustrating, Lost-like scenario wherein the season would be broken up by a three month hiatus, just when it was getting interesting (unlike Lost). Also, I've been informed that nobody really watches much TV in December and the ratings suck. "

The good news though is that they've been picked up for Season Four.

New Pirates trailer

I'm going to have to TiVo Dancing with the Stars next Monday (March 19th). I don't usually watch the show, but they'll be premiering the new trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean 3 then.

Of course, it'll also be available everywhere online immediately afterward.

This post brought to you by my blog's constant need for more Keira Knightley.

New Tolkien: The Children of Hurin

So, has anyone read any of the extra Tolkien stuff that Christopher Tolkien has edited together? There's a new volume just out with illustrations by Alan Lee and I'm interested, but I'm not sure how interested.

Are these things something that the casual fan can get into or are they just for the Hardcore?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tintin: The Movie

Tintin is something that's been on my Things to Get to Eventually list for a very long time. It's constantly getting mentioned as an influence of writers I admire, but the plethora of stories and my not knowing where to start digging into them has allowed me to get distracted by other things.

Which is to say that I'm very interested in the character, but don't know much about him. The covers of his books are cool though. Looks like he fights Nazis, explores tombs, discovers islands, searches for treasure, and does all sorts of exciting things. I'm bumping him up on my list of things to check out.

What reminded me about him is that Dreamworks is interested in making a Tintin movie. No word on if it's live-action or cartoon, or any other details for that matter. Just that Spielberg wants to do it eventually and all the stakeholders have started talking. More as it develops, I guess.

To Read: King of the Khyber Rifles

Talbot Mundy is a pulp writer who you don't hear mentioned very often. In fact, I'd never heard of him until Bookgasm reviewed his book Caves of Terror. But Caves wasn't Mundy's first book about Athelstan King, Anglo-Indian captain of the Khyber Rifles, and I'm too obsessive to start in the middle of a series. So what's going on my Wish List is the first in the Athelstan King series, King of the Khyber Rifles.

There's nothing in the plot that particularly stands out to me, but enough people compare Mundy to H. Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, Robert E. Howard, and Edgar Rice Burroughs to get my attention.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Young Indy coming to DVD (and Star Wars TV news)

iF Magazine covered the 24th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival recently, focusing particularly on its Evening with George Lucas. I promised you some Star Wars news last Thursday and it's at the bottom of this post, but even more exciting than that is how much Lucas talked about The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, particularly the bit about the series' finally being released on DVD.

As for the pending DVD release, Lucas says that it’s taken some time for Paramount to come around to releasing them, but now that there’s a team of people in that division who understand the value of TV Shows on DVD, the set will finally be coming out the way he envisioned it.

"There was a basic attitude at Paramount for years that there wasn’t any money in DVD," says Lucas. "Then they said you couldn’t release TV shows on DVD. Then we said ‘We have 100 half-hour documentaries on the various people featured in the episodes,’ but they’re saying ‘there is no school market.’ We even offered to buy back series back."

iF says that the series is being remastered right now and speculates that it'll be released to coincide with next year's Indiana Jones sequel.

Now for your Star Wars TV show update. Only it's about two TV shows, not just one:

"We’re doing an animated TV show called the CLONE WARS," (Lucas) says. "We’re doing it using 3D animation and making it more like the movies and creating the ambiance of the movies with this style of animation. It’s different from the other CLONE WARS cartoon we did. There’s no money in TV animation. We have made this like a feature film and it’s a pretty good adventure. It’s basically the movies. We also don’t have to deal with the Skywalker story. We’re dealing with this large epic and TV allows us to do that and tell what happened during the Clone Wars. We’re doing an episode that's just about the Storm Troopers. One episode is about Kit Fisto. So we’re making 100 episodes and then we’ll make a deal for someone to show them."

As for the previously announced live action show: "That’s one show split up into 4 shows with each show about a different character." Still a few years off though.

Found via Geek Monthly.

Young Frankenstein: The Musical

Hey, it worked for The Producers.

According to Broadway on Yahoo!, Mel Brooks has just finished the first draft of a musical version of Young Frankenstein. Shuler Hensley will (sort of) reprise his role of Frankenstein's Monster from Van Helsing, Kristin Chenoweth (the Pink Panther remake) will play Terri Garr's Inga character, and soap actor Marc Kudisch will play Police Inspector Kemp. The New York Post reports that Brooks wants Cloris Leachman to play Frau Blucher again. No word yet on who'll play Frederick Frankenstein or Igor.

They've finally figured out how to get me to New York to see a Broadway show.

Found via The Horror Blog.

Shyamalan's next movie

Variety is reporting that M. Night Shyamalan's next film won't be the Avatar: The Last Airbender adaptation he's currently writing, but another thriller called The Happening. 20th Century Fox has green-lighted the film for a June 2008 release.

Apparently, the movie will be rated "R" and will be about "a family on the run from a natural crisis that presents a large-scale threat to humanity."

While I don't necessarily love everything that Shyamalan's done, I tend to like his stuff more than your average person who loved The Sixth Sense and expects him to just keep making that movie over and over again. It's a shame that folks have pegged Shyamalan as the Plot Twist Guy and go to his movies looking only for that. His movies always have a point far outside of the Twist. But it's also a shame that Shyamalan tends to play right into those expectations, even when mocking them like he did in Lady in the Water. I've been looking forward to Avatar because it's an opportunity for him to move past the Plot Twist Guy stereotype.

Still, even if his next movie is a thriller, I know that it'll be interesting and will make me think, regardless of how quickly I'm able to predict the Twist. So I'll look forward to it too.

Found via SCI FI Wire.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A little Dust to Dust news in lieu of anything else

Another busy day at work and I really needed to do some catch up on headlines for Comic World News, so no post here. Didn't even get completely caught up at CWN.

I did hear today that Dust to Dust has been officially green-lit by the publisher, so that's cool. I'll still wait for them to announce it first before telling you who's publishing it and what it's about. Have a great weekend and I'll play catch up on genre news on Monday (hopefully).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

New pitch

Man, what a day. Busy at work and any downtime I had was spent ironing out a pitch for a potential project.

So that's all I can tell you today. Back tomorrow to talk about Robin Hood, Star Wars, and Young Frankenstein, among other things.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Summer Glau joins Sarah Conner Chronicles

I've been waffling about whether or not to get my hopes up over the Sarah Conner Chronicles TV show. Comparing it to The X-Files bodes well (though I'll reserve judgment on how appropriate that comparison is, thanks). Replacing Linda Hamilton with Lena Headey does not.

Casting Firefly's Summer Glau as a Terminator? That just made me a fan-for-life. I might not be rooting for the good guys though.

Other news about the show: it'll pick up right where T2 left off, will also star Owain Yeoman (The Nine) as another Terminator, and hasn't yet been picked up by a network.

Disney's Rapunzel

It's the popular thing to do now to rag on Disney for "watering down" the classic fairy tales and fables, as if Disney's somehow ruined those stories so that they can never be enjoyed again. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the original, darker versions of these stories too, but there's no reason that they shouldn't be tamed a bit to give young children a safe way to try them out. My five-year-old son is still uncomfortable with parts of Disney's Snow White and The Jungle Book, so dumping the originals on him is out of the question. I'd rather his introduction to these stories be a positive experience so that when he's ready, he can be excited about exploring the original versions on his own terms.

So, I say all that to say that I'm excited that Disney is apparently not only getting back into the 2D animated feature game, but that it looks like they might be doing it with another classic fairy tale: Rapunzel.

Update: John from The Disney Blog clarifies in the comments to this post that when Rapunzel's all done, it'll look like a 3D CGI film, even though they've used traditional animation in the process. But he also says that Disney is returning to 2D with The Frog Princess.

To Read: Napoleon's Pyramids

You know how I love the historical mysteries, right? Well, this one's got a swashbuckling hero with connections to Ben Franklin, a cursed Egyptian medallion (won in a card game, no less), Gypsies, spies, scantily-clad women, murder, and world-hopping adventure. And it's all wrapped up in a package that Publishers Weekly calls "unbeatable."

Found via Bookgasm.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Charlie Chan

Because I was so bothered by my recent viewing of The Mask of Fu Manchu, I was a little nervous about watching the Charlie Chan movies for the first time. Shouldn't have been though.

I'm not inherently offended by yellowface. I would be if it were to take place today, but I don't feel the same ickiness watching it in its historical context that I do when watching Bing Crosby do blackface in Holiday Inn, for example. I don't know why that is and it's possibly indefensible, but in the case of the Charlie Chan movies -- at least in the Warner Oland ones -- I was able to accept it and move on. Maybe it's the fact that Oland (unlike, say, Boris Karloff) makes a pretty convincing Chinese man. Or maybe it's the fact that the other Asians in the series were played by actual Asians. Or maybe it's just the fact that Charlie Chan is such an intelligent, likable character anyway and I was utterly charmed by him.

It's amazing to me that the same time period that spawned the Yellow Peril movies also saw the popularity of the Chan films. You might not have been able to cast an Asian man in a lead role in the '30s, but that you could make a main character out of one is remarkable. My first thought -- overly sensitive maybe from the Fu Manchu experience -- was that Chan is so humble and self-deprecating that he may have put audiences more at ease. He certainly does embody some negative stereotypes. But they're far outweighed by the positive image he portrays and I don't think it's fair to say that the negative ones are what endeared him to moviegoers.

He doesn't play dumb because no one will accept a Chinese man as a serious detective. That's obviously not the case because in the four films I watched he's taken very seriously and is highly respected by everyone who knows him. He makes light of himself because he knows that criminals will underestimate him and slip up. He's sort of a precursor to Columbo that way.

Charlie Chan in London is the fifth Chan movie to star Oland. The first one, The Black Camel, is still around, but it's apparently not representative of the series. The next three have been lost, so London is the first one of what people usually think of when they think of Charlie Chan movies. In it, Chan transports a criminal he caught in Hawaii to England and gets asked to prove a murder convict's innocence by catching the real killer. It's a nice little cozy mystery; all takes place at an English country manor, complete with fox hunt.

Charlie Chan in Paris has him continuing his world tour by investigating a French bank suspected of forging bonds. It captures the flavor of Paris in the same way that Disney's Epcot Center does, but even if it's not authentic, it's a wonderful, romantic view of the city where even the sewers look like fun to roam around in. It's also a notable movie because it introduces Chan's son Lee into the films. I'm the oldest son in my family and my dad often called me "Number One Son" when I was growing up. I've always known that was a Charlie Chan reference, but this was the first time I'd actually seen Chan and son operate together. Keye Luke is awesome as Lee.

Next is Charlie Chan in Egypt, which would be my favorite of the four I watched except for one element. Stepin Fetchit is at best annoying; at worst an incredibly offensive '30s stereotype of Black men. He's a controversial figure though, because while most non-White actors in the '30s had a hard time putting food on their tables, Stepin Fetchit was the Eddie Murphy of his day (in the sense that he was hugely popular with moviegoers) and made a fortune playing the character he created. I guess White audiences loved his act back then, but he's rarely funny (he did have a couple of good lines) to today's ears. I finally decided that the best thing for me to do was to imitate Chan in the film and just ignore him as much as possible.

What's great about Egypt though is its Scooby Doo plot with a hidden treasure, an Egyptian curse, lots of suspects, and a villain who dresses up as a ghost to scare off the curious.

What ended up being my for real favorite was Charlie Chan in Shanghai which reintroduces Keye Luke and has Chan working with American Intelligence to catch some smugglers. I don't want to give anything away, but there's some great cat-and-mouse going on as Chan and the bad guys try to outwit each other. Keye Luke as Lee Chan is especially cool this time as he tries to manage a love life around his responsibilities to his dad and the case. Charlie never does call Lee his Number One Son though. Maybe that comes later in the series.

All in all, the Warner Oland Chan films are a lot of fun, mainly because the lead character is so lovable. I'm very curious now to check out the Sidney Toler version and see how those compare.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Tarzan RIP

I just started watching the 1935 serial The New Adventures of Tarzan over the weekend. I wasn't going to bring it up because I'm only one episode into it, but I just learned that Herman Brix, the guy who plays Tarzan in it, died on February 24th due to complications from a broken hip. He was 100 years old.

Go read his obituary at SFScope. He was an amazing guy. Learn how he pep-talked his way out of a gold medal at the 1928 Olympics, went skydiving at the age of 96, and stayed married to the same woman for 67 years. I'll be watching the Tarzan serial with a new respect for the guy.

Star Wars Steampunk

This is all over the Internet, but in case you haven't seen it yet, check out Eric Poulton's steampunk versions of Star Wars characters. Coolest mix of scifi subgenres ever.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Dust to Dust approved

Sorry there wasn't an update yesterday. Spent the day dodging snow and being a dad. Not that there was a lot of news to report. There still isn't today.

So, in lieu of news about other people's stuff, I'll just quickly tell you that Dust to Dust (co-written by me) seems to be a "go." I'm still playing secretive on details because nothing's been officially announced yet, but I'm hoping that it'll be released towards the end of the year.



Related Posts with Thumbnails