Monday, April 30, 2007
- I've recently come to the surprising realization that I'm the only person amongst my friends who actually likes Elizabeth Swan as a character. Even those who can't help but acknowledge Keira Knightley's tear-inducing hotness don't like poor Elizabeth. I think she's fascinating; especially after her actions at the end of Dead Man's Chest, but depending on how you feel about it, you may or may not be interested in the new Pirates promo images that have been released and are pretty Keira-centric.
- Iron Man movie director Jon Favreau talks a little on his MySpace page about the movie, and especially the still from it that accompanies this story. Short version: we'll see both the old, clunky-but-cool, gray armor and the modern red-and-gold armor. Both of which are being designed by Stan Winston, which is cool.
- I don't care much for superhero parodies because frankly, I think straightforward superhero comics do a great job of parodying themselves and don't need a "keen" observer to point out how ridiculous they can be. But as I've learned in talking with Jamie Baker, there's a distinction between Superhero Parody and Silly Superheroes. Jamie writes and draws Rocket Rabbit, one of the funniest, silliest superhero books I've ever read. The Tick is another great one, obviously. And now Jamie has also introduced me to yet another: The Possum. It's The Possum that has me posting about this today, but if you don't know Rocket Rabbit already (and you like the Silly), you definitely need to check that out too.
Hm. Kinda slow day, I guess.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Links du Jour: Own the Time Bandits' map, Star Wars Chicken, and why is fantasy more popular than scifi?
- Dadgumit. First Drive; now Andy Barker.
- I haven't given this much thought, so I'm curious to hear what other people think. The Sci Fi Catholic speculates that maybe the reason fantasy is more popular than sci fi these days is that science is moving ahead faster than science fiction writers can keep up. There might be some merit to that, but I'm thinking that it also could have something to do with Peter Jackson and Lord of the Rings. Thoughts?
- Ever wanted to own a replica of the map from Time Bandits? Got $100?
- It was darn near a year ago when they started talking about releasing yet another Director's Cut of Blade Runner for this year's 25th anniversary of the film. According to Joanna Cassidy (who played Zhora the snake dancer), they've even been reshooting some scenes from it. Shouldn't be much longer now.
- My first exposure to Cartoon Network's Robot Chicken was a Star Wars sketch I saw on YouTube. When I checked out the show, it was funny, but I kept wishing that they'd do more Star Wars. Wish granted.
- The Sci Fi Channel has announced the premiere dates for some of their summer shows. The third season of Doctor Who starts July 6; their new Flash Gordon series premieres August 10th.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
- That cool Lost episode about Nikki and Paulo a while back wasn't the original intention of the writers, according to an Entertainment Weekly article. "Originally, the diamond-swiping crooks were to have anchored a winking arc of stories ... But faced with mounting disdain toward the abruptly introduced characters — and ramped-up viewer frustration with the show's aggressively enigmatic storytelling — the producers decided in December to telescope their ideas into a single kiss-off episode." The article also quotes producer Damon Lindelof as saying, ''Back when we had more good faith with the audience, we could have gotten away with these shenanigans. Given the backlash against (Nikki and Paulo), we had to clean up the mess.'' There's other good stuff in the link too, like teasers for the final episodes of this season and a reminder that the rerun-free fourth season probably won't start until January 2008. There's also an interesting quote from producer Carlton Cuse about how Lost has always been "a cult show at heart" and how this season's drop in ratings may just be indicative of its finding its real audience again.
- I've had Crime and Punishment on my bookshelf for years, but have never taken the time to read it. Now is probably a good time because I'm a sucker for sequels to literary works. In the case of Mr. Timothy it was because I love the characters, but for The Gentle Axe (thanks to Bookgasm for pointing it out) I think it may be the writer's hubris in even attempting it that I want to see.
- Dammit! FOX cancelled Drive.
- I'm not ready to watch it yet, but I've been a little worried that when I finally get around to wanting to revisit the 1980 Flash Gordon movie, it wouldn't be available. As of August 7th, I'll be in the clear. And nice cover art by Alex Ross, by the way.
- At the end of an interview about 30 Days of Night, Steve Niles reveals that he's working on a Borg story for IDW's Star Trek comics. I gotta hug whoever came up with that idea. (He also talks about having "a couple new things brewing with IDW and a certain artist," which makes me itchy to know what "certain artist" he's talking about.)
- One of these days, I'm going to have to get around to thinking about why I like Mary Marvel so much. She's an appealing character, but why do I like her more than the other Marvel Family members or Supergirl (in any incarnation, not just the current one)? In the meantime, Newsarama has a nice article about the history of the character.
- Steve Bunche found a frightening still from The Man Who Laughs that's pretty much inarguable proof that Conrad Veidt's character was the visual inspiration for the Joker. You have to see it to believe it.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I'm not a defender of Identity Crisis. As a mystery story, it was horribly flawed. And I do get the anger that a lot of folks feel towards the rape scene. My feelings about that scene pretty much echo Kalinara and Loren's, but they did a lot better job explaining them than I could, so I'll just send you to their blogs if you're interested in an in depth exploration of how it was handled. The short version is: although rape shouldn't be a taboo subject in comics, much like the mystery aspect of Identity Crisis, the rape scene could've been handled a lot better.
But... to say that it was the intention of the writer that we root for the freakin' rapist? Unbelievable.
Yes, writer Brad Meltzer was trying to "explain why Dr. Light was such a moron" in all those '60s and '70s comics. Yes, he wanted to darken Light (I'm aware of the irony) and make him more of a threat. I'd argue that Meltzer did both of those things. But, no, he absolutely did not make Light a sympathetic character who deserved vindication. Nor did Geoff Johns, who wrote the Teen Titans issues in which Dr. Light went after the teen heroes who'd belittled him in the past.
What Johns did was take the new, darker, scarier Dr. Light and sic him on a bunch of kids whom he had reason to hate. It was a vile and horrifying story to tell, and it's okay if that kind of thing isn't your cup of tea, but it was supposed to be vile and horrifying. It wasn't supposed to be about hoping those damn kids -- you know, the frickin' stars of the comic you're reading -- finally get what's coming to them at the hands of a maniacal rapist. When Light talks about it not mattering whether or not he won at the end, as long as the world saw that he was powerful again, we're not supposed to freakin' cheer. We're supposed to think, "What a sick f**k. Thank God they beat him."
I don't know if the writer of that post is honestly that unable to interpret a story or is being intentionally disingenuous in order to further trash a story that he or she didn't like, but either way, it's sad.
- JK Rowling has a great idea for a Harry Potter theme park and there are several groups who want to help her make it, but her idea for the main entrance sounds a bit bottleneck-ish. Hope they can work out the details; I'd love to visit the place she's imagining.
- Josh Ortega sent out an email newsletter about the crazy success of the Death Dealer comic he wrote. "I was completely blindsided this month when Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer became the most successful series launch for Image Comics in over a decade, and one of the biggest independent comic debuts in recent history … heck, the book even sold out nationwide in six hours!" And not only that, but, "Frank Frazetta and his family absolutely love the book, and now there are talks of sequels, other Frazetta projects, slipcase hardcover collections, action figures, even a film … looks like the beginning of something big!" Congrats to Josh and artists Nat Jones and Jay Fotos. I definitely want to see a Death Dealer movie.
- I've been wanting to try out Marvel Adventures: The Avengers for a little while now. Partly because I'm thirsty for a more light-hearted superhero comic than I'm getting from the usual Marvel/DC stuff lately; partly because it's got Dumb Hulk in it and I love Dumb Hulk. Knowing that every four issues are collected in digest format, I wanted to wait until issue #13 came out to start buying the single issues, but unfortunately for that plan, issue #12 was all about Ego the Living Planet's macking on the Earth and I got impatient. Especially after reading this scene that didn't make it into the final version. So, yesterday I broke down and bought issues 1-8 in digest form and 9-12 in single issue form. So weak-willed. I'll try to do better about easing into Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four.
- I wasn't sure how much I was going to like the material reprinted in it, but after reading Dan Kelly's post about it, I'm definitely getting Showcase Presents: Shazam!.
- After Marvel's movie producer Avi Arad made an offhanded comment about how the new movie version of the Hulk would have a "new color" (in addition to new everything else from the first film), fans began posting wildly about whether or not that meant the Hulk would be gray, as he was when he first appeared in comics. Arad later told Empire that folks needed to settle down. "Here’s what it was. There were 30 people around a table, and they said 'is there going to be a grey Hulk?' And I was thinking about it and I said, 'who knows?' It was one of those moments. I had just got back from Japan and I was trying to talk about Spider-Man and this guy was pushing me on The Hulk so I thought I’ll be coy. I don’t know what colour it is, and all of a sudden it’s headline news." He went on to explain his original "new color" comment: "It’s a different shade of green, but the colour is not like the old Hulk." I'm guessing that the "old Hulk" there refers to the one in the Ang Lee film.
- I mention this mainly because they're going to be publishing that King Kong comic and I don't want to lose track of it, but Markosia Publications is merging with its sister company [browse for "25-04-07 - AAM MERGES WITH MARKOSIA" if it's not at the top of the page anymore] Associate Arts and Media and may get a name change.
Stuff Nobody Cares About But Me
- One of my biggest influences as a guy who reviews comics is Roger Ebert. His reviews are always entertaining and thoughtful, but most of all I love how he judges movies based on what they're trying to achieve, not on what he wishes they'd be. Seeing his attitude after having much of his jaw removed due to cancer, he's gone from Influence to Hero. Get well soon, Mr. Ebert.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Well, I'm on the MicroCon website now. They've got the wrong link for my website, but I guess if you're reading this then you really don't need a link to my site, eh?
The real reason I'm posting this though is to show off the snazzy banner that Grant Gould came up with for the show. I love that Grant.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
- As a superhero fan, I love Philip José Farmer's concept that all adventure heroes share a common universe. Other fans of the idea are willing to spend a lot more time on it than I am, but it's still a cool notion. One of those fans is Win Scott Eckert who's published a collection of his essays on the subject. Ron Fortier reviews the collection here.
- I hadn't heard that they're making a National Treasure 2, but I'm in favor of it. The first one was everything that The DaVinci Code should have been. What's especially cool is that I learned about it thanks to this story about the moviemakers' having to displace a prom from its traditional location and how they made up for it.
- Today's the birthday of the mystery novel. Or at least the detective story. It's the day that Edgar Allen Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" was published back in 1841. Garrison Keillor has a short, but excellent article about it and the evolution of the genre it gave birth to: from Holmes to Poirot to Spade and Marlowe to Perry Mason and Easy Rawlins. Happy Birthday, Detective Stories!
- Anyone read any of the Star Trek: New Frontier books? I gave up on trying to keep up with Star Trek novels a long time ago, but the idea of a continuing series that features characters from all the different Star Trek shows, but doesn't have to take TV continuity into account is really attractive to me. And I like the Peter David Star Trek novels that I've read in the past. Just wondering if they're as good in execution as they sound fun in concept.
- Luc Besson was apparently frustrated by the process of making The Fifth Element, but now that special effects have sufficiently advanced, he's going to do some more scifi.
- I was already done with Saturday morning cartoons when Hero High was on, but I'm still kind of interested in it's DVD release thanks to Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family's occasionally appearing on the show. Apparently, Hero High was partly live action and partly animated, and I don't know which part featured the Marvels. I hope it's the live action part, because I like cheesy superhero live action more than cheap superhero cartoons, but really either would be pretty cool. Even though there was a very cool live action Captain Marvel show when I was a kid, I'm betting that the Hero High Marvels are animated, since Hero High shared a time slot with a Shazam! cartoon as part of The Kid Superpower Hour with Shazam. Either way, I'm not buying this until I learn how much Marvel Family I'd be getting. I'd rather wait for a DVD set with just Shazam!.
- Dust to Dust co-writer Alex Ness has a contest at his website for some original Peter Bergting art from the fantasy series The Portent.
- I've found character questionnaires to be more fun than useful, but here are some if you like that kind of thing.
Stuff Nobody Cares About But Me
- I'm a sucker for reading lists. Especially ones compiled by librarians.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I'm an institution I tells ya!
So anyway... yeah, I'll be there hanging out with Alex Ness and Joel Vollmer, aka the rest of the Dust to Dust team. Also, my perennial convention pals Grant Gould, Jessica Hickman, Darla Ecklund, and Paul Taylor.
I've been too busy working on new projects to put together the Art of the Cownt book that I've been meaning to do, but I'll try to have some other Cownt merchandise to sell. Definitely some prints; maybe a mousepad or two. And of course, Tales from the Inner Sanctum. Oh, and I'll be carrying around the inked pages from Kill All Monsters! #1, so ask to see those. They're beeyooteefull!
- Ben Templesmith, the original 30 Days of Night artist, has really proven his storytelling ability on books like Singularity 7 and Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse. So I haven't the slightest amount of fear that his solo take on 30 Days (called 30 Days of Night: Red Snow) will be anything short of spectacular.
- I don't know if it's going to be any good or not, but I like the idea behind Zenoscope's upcoming Dyno Force comic. Basically, it's about alien dinosaurs trying to take over the world. Unfortunately, the introductory issue that was supposed to be ready for Free Comic Book Day has been delayed by what Zenoscope is calling "undisclosed legal reasons," but I'm reading as "we couldn't get our act together." The fact that Zenoscope's website makes no mention of Dyno Force doesn't bode well either.
- Somebody made a Darth Vader hot air balloon, which is cool on a couple of different levels.
- It's been years and years since I've read Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's Watchmen, but my memory of it is that -- like most of the rest of comics fans -- I missed the point. I figured that it was some sort of maturation milestone that superhero comics had finally met. Something we could all point to and say, "See? Now you have to take superheroes seriously." When, as Dirk Deppey so insightfully points out, "Watchmen is a critique of the ludicrous end results awaiting attempts to import 'realism' to superhero funnybooks." Dirk's also right when he says that not only did comics fans miss the point, but Marvel and DC did too, which is why we have events like Civil War and World War III that try to import that realism and in doing so, "(render) it less enjoyable a reading experience in the process." Not that I think the realistic themes aren't worth exploring, but all the darkness and despair and punching through ribcages is making me tired and I don't think that's the intended result.
- As much as I may like Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, the Hulk himself disagrees.
- I'm not enough of an Avengers fan to have read the original story, but I've never heard anyone challenge the general opinion that Hank Pym was at one point a wife-beating jerk. I thought it was something that everyone just accepted. So, I'm a little curious about whether or not this is true: did Peter Parker really hit Mary Jane? Why does he get a free pass and not Hank Pym?
- I'm gaining a greater and greater appreciation for Jim Steranko, so I think it's very cool that buried in this Captain America retrospective, he hints that he's in talks with Marvel about "the possibility of generating a new Captain America series." Just so long as there's room for him and Ed Brubaker's current, excellent run, that's great news.
- I've been unable to become a manga fan. I like some manga series, but I haven't fallen in love with it as a whole. Sort of like I don't like all American comics either. That's why lists like this that make connections between manga and stuff I already know and like are helpful to me.
- Michael Chabon will be at the Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul on May 22nd. He'll be discussing his latest book The Yiddish Policeman's Union as part of Minnesota Public Radio and The Loft Literary Center's Talking Volumes book discussion series. Tickets are $15, but there are discounts available.
Writing is Hard
- Looks like Dust to Dust isn't going to be the only aging-cowboy-meets-young-gangster story in town.
- I've expressed before my frustration over not being able to get a handle on Wonder Woman. Ragnell explains her perfectly, even while lamenting that the current writer doesn't get it (something I haven't talked about, but agree with). It makes sense to me that it's Wonder Woman's confidence that I find attractive (beyond the obvious physical reasons) and in light of Ragnell's observation about how women are generally portrayed in fiction ("Every woman's story in fiction seems to be a coming into herself ... Wonder Woman is not supposed to be like that. Wonder Woman is supposed to already be the woman other women in fiction learn to be. She's at the point where you are done working on your inside and ready to work on the outside world."), I can see why she's an attractive character for women too. Makes me want to write a character like that. Makes me want to read some well-done Wonder Woman too.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The way I first came up with it, the story was too big. I was going for this grand, piratey epic of a thing, but I wasn't enjoying it. Too much focus on themes and building characters; not enough action and just enjoying the setting. So, I started simplifying and reorganizing. Taking out or merging characters and plotlines. I know, I know. I've talked about this already.
But now that I've got the story boiled down to its essence, I'm realizing that I've also been telling it about the wrong guy. The guy I had figured for the hero has some interesting dilemmas, but the story gets bogged down in his sorting them out. By switching the focus to another character and letting the first guy deal with his crap without our having to watch, the story will move faster.
I've also decided to play up the supernatural aspects of the story. They were always there, but I think I was afraid of celebrating them for fear of drawing Pirates of the Caribbean comparisons. That's still a concern, but the story really is completely different, so I'm going to opt for the more fun way to tell it and try not to worry about superficial similarities.
Incidentally, Maxine Cantway has nothing to do with this post except that she had the good taste to dress like a pirate.
- Just learned that Barry Nelson, the first actor to play James Bond, died the Saturday before last, April 7th. Cause of death was unknown at the time, but he was 89.
- As much as I like Ray Harryhausen's effects, they're dated. That's why I'm not dismissing the possible value of remaking Clash of the Titans. I loved the original as a kid, but it's not an untouchable thing for me. Besides, Harryhausen himself is revisiting the material.
- Image Comics is publishing a second volume of 24Seven, the robot-themed anthology.
- Art Grafunkel has a great steampunkish re-imagining of Marvel's scifi heroes, the Starjammers. Project: Rooftop liked it too and reviewed it alongside Nuno Alves' cleaner, but also cool version.
- I say this as someone who likes Eric Bana a lot, but the Hulk sequel just traded up.
- Johanna Draper Carlson notices something that almost makes me want to buy Marvel's The Loners mini-series. If you're a John Hughes fan, you should check out the link, 'cause it's pretty cool. Unfortunately, the comments on the thread suggest that the interior story isn't as awesome as the covers. (Johanna posted this before the July issue was solicited, but it continues the theme.)
- Looking over the solicits for DC's July comics, it looks like a couple of titles I don't usually get have especially good-looking plots coming up. The All-New Atom #13 features "jungle-dwelling little people" and has a cover with a sword-swinging Atom riding a frog while fighting a snake. Aquaman #54 realizes that the fatal flaw with Aquaman comics all these years is that there haven't been enough mermaids. Seems like a no-brainer in hindsight.
- If you needed more evidence that Bono is the coolest man on the planet: according to SuperHeroHype, he and the Edge are writing the music and lyrics to a Spider-Man musical.
Stuff No One Cares About But Me
- My favorite version of A Christmas Carol is the Alistair Sims one, mostly because of how convincing Sims is in the final scenes. His line, "I don't deserve to be so happy, but I can't help it," warms and breaks my heart at the same time. I've never seen any of Sims' other work, so I didn't realize that he'd also been in a series of films in which he played (in drag) the headmistress of what my fellow Newsarama blogger Chris Mautner calls "a posh school full of thoroughly violent and downright viscious little girls." I have got to see those. Incidentally, Chris brings it up because the films are based on a series of cartoons and a new movie is being made with Rupert Everett in the headmistress role. I'll have to see that, too.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
The New Adventures of Tarzan has a pretty good story engine for a serial. Basically, it's just Tarzan and his group trying to catch up with the bad guy in order to recapture the explosive idol everyone wants. The bad guy's always one step ahead of Tarzan, so the story keeps moving. When it starts to slow down, simply throw in an animal attack, have Tarzan get close enough to fight the bad guy (only to have the bad guy narrowly escape), or bring back the angry natives from whom the idol was stolen in the first place.
There's a line in the credits that calls the serial "an Ashton Dearholt Expedition Picture." Ashton Dearholt was one of the producers, but you might remember from my previous post that he also plays the bad guy. The serial was shot on location in Guatemala, and all of this totally reminds me of Carl Denham in King Kong going into the jungle with his actors and camera crew to shoot his movie. Very cool.
Speaking of acting, I don't know if the actors warmed up to their parts as filming went on or if I'm just getting used to them, but they don't sound nearly as wooden to me now as they did when I started. Herman Brix is turning into an excellent Tarzan. Now that his acting sounds more natural, I can see that he's perfect for the part physically. He's probably the most handsome of the movie Tarzans of his era.
I'm falling in love with the character of Ula Vale. She continues working alongside Tarzan and his group, stepping in on multiple occasions to save someone's life, even Tarzan's. It's not hard to imagine her as the star of the series. I love that she came to Guatemala looking for her missing fiancé, and when she learned he was dead, she took some time to grieve and then committed to pitch in against the bad guy. Not out of revenge -- the villain didn't kill her fiancé -- but because it was the right thing to do. And she's been nothing but competent ever since. The last episode I watched ended with her in trouble and because I've become so invested in her, it was actually pretty chilling to watch. I don't doubt that she'll get out of it okay -- and maybe all on her own -- but I'm still a little nervous.
D'Arnot's left the plot. I think they left him to recuperate in a town somewhere along the way. It's disappointing that he was only in it long enough to get the story moving, but c'est la vie.
Flash Gordon is still my favorite of these three. The characters have spent more time with the hawkmen than I'd like (especially the annoyingly boisterous King Vultan), but it looks like that part of the story may be winding down. Overall, it's been a fun tour of Mongo as Flash gathers allies and makes enemies while running from Ming the Merciless.
I love how the story starts out with Flash and Dale's meeting by accident and then stumbling into Doctor Zarkov's mad scheme to try to stop a planet from colliding with Earth. I'd always assumed that Flash and Dale were lovers from the beginning, but we actually get to see them starting to fall for each other here, even though they don't spend that much time together. Flash is always off fighting monsters and Dale is constantly fending off marriage proposals from tyrants, but you can tell that Flash feels responsible for Dale and that she appreciates it and fears for his safety. Flash spends a lot more time with Ming's voluptuous, but selfish daughter Aura, and that only makes him appreciate Dale's selfless concern that much more. It also helps that, while Aura is certainly, um... healthy... Dale is heart-breakingly beautiful. I feel like I'm watching the development one of fiction's classic romances.
I just bought a reprint of the early Flash Gordon newspaper comic strips. I'm going to wait until I'm done with the serial before reading the strips, but from a quick flip-through it looks like the serial is following the strip pretty closely. I'm looking forward not only to reading the strips, but also checking out some of the later Flash Gordon adaptations (including the upcoming one on the Sci Fi Channel).
I go back and forth about Undersea Kingdom. Just when I relax and start having some fun with it, they throw in another cliché character or plot device. Billy the Sidekick's standing on the sidelines, mimicking Crash Corrigan's fighting moves as he tussles with the bad guys, was especially groan-inducing. Also, Billy's so in love with Crash and adventure in general that he doesn't care at all that his dad's mind has been taken over by the evil Unga Khan. That's pretty common for Undersea Kingdom. We're not supposed to think too hard about it or get anything more out of it than some thrills. It's a kids' show.
But, on the other hand, Crash is a lovable guy in a Ben Grimm sort of way, and the series does feature Lon Chaney Jr. in one of his first roles as Lon Chaney Jr. (as opposed to Creighton Chaney). So I waffle.
Monday, April 16, 2007
- "'What is your calling,' she queried, bustily?" The Eye of Argon (aka, the worst piece of fiction ever published) is now available to read online. You'd expect to pay top dollar for entertainment this hilarious, but no, it's free.
- Inspired by a recent gag in a Wonder Woman comic, Every Day Is Like Wednesday is looking for recipes for Wonder Woman and Black Canary milkshakes (Kelis jokes are no longer fashionable, by the way). There are some good suggestions in the Comments section at Comics Worth Reading.
- In regards to an earlier post that Wonder Woman needs some help, I already mentioned on Friday that Gail Simone is going to be writing that comic soon, but it's such good news that I'm repeating it here. She'll start with issue #13 and go for the forseeable future. And she promises that on page three, Wonder Woman punches a monkey off a waterfall. Don't you want to hug her? Also, the art team hasn't been announced yet, but according to Simone, "If the readers all made a list of who the best possible Wonder Woman art team would be, I bet this would be the number one choice." I find that hard to believe because Adam Hughes doesn't do monthly books, but I'm eager to find out who she means.
- Speaking of chararacters who've been made cooler by Gail Simone: Black Canary is getting her own mini-series by Tony Bedard and Paulo Sequeira. It's cool that the mini-series was originally conceived as a Year One companion piece to the new Green Arrow: Year One mini-series DC's doing, but was switched to a current-day story thanks to the wealth of contemporary material that Gail Simone gave the creators to work with when she wrote Black Canary in Birds of Prey.
- There's a real person named Mary Marvel. I wonder if it's a coincidence or if she just had the coolest parents ever.
Stuff Nobody Cares About But Me
- The first RPG convention ever held in a war zone is looking for some help with gaming materials.
- I'm now listed on Authors Blogs.
- I hear that there's something very math-nerdy about fractals, but I don't understand what. It doesn't matter when I look at these though. They're just beautifully hypnotic.
Friday, April 13, 2007
I'll do a full Links du Jour post on Monday. The only other thing I have to tell you today is that I've been invited to pitch for an upcoming project that should be pretty high profile. That's all I can say about it, but I'll spill more later when I'm able.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
None of the other blogger templates are jumping out at me, so I'll probably need to experiment a little.
The reason I'm asking is that I think it would be a good idea to further refine the blog's focus. Instead of general genre-talk, I'd like to just talk about adventure stories. That's still a wide range and includes elements of mystery, horror, fantasy, and science fiction, but it'll let me ignore other elements of those things that I don't care about. So, when it comes to scifi, I can keep talking about Flash Gordon and Star Wars, but I won't feel compelled to discuss Asimov. Where mystery is concerned, I'll mention private eyes, but leave police procedurals alone. With horror, it'll be all about the monsters and nothing about splatter and gore.
It's really where I've been headed with this for a while, but I'm wanting to formalize it. And part of that would be to get rid of the genre headings on the links posts. Unless you guys tell me that you love them and need them to stick around.
What do you say?
- Geek Monthly has a nice interview with Jerry Bruckheimer on Pirates of the Caribbean 3. Not a ton of new info, but there's a bit of explanation there about why the four pirate factions are coming together.
- Today is Tom Clancy's 60th birthday.
- Brendan Fraser has signed on for Mummy 3, but Rachel Weisz hasn't. Miles Millar and Alfred Gough (Smallville) are re-writing the script to explain Weisz's absence.
- Tom Hanks and Ron Howard are getting close to signing up for a movie version of Angels & Demons, the prequel to The DaVinci Code.
- While we wait for the American version of the BBC's Life on Mars, a British sequel is already in the works. I didn't want to read the article too closely for fear of spoilers (the series finale of Life on Mars just aired this week), but the new show will be called Ashes to Ashes and will feature Philip Glenister's returning as DCI Gene Hunt to be paired with another 21st century detective -- a woman this time -- in 1981. The character of Gene Hunt is arguably the best thing about Life on Mars, so I'm way more excited about this than about the American remake of the first series. (Thanks to SF Signal for the link.)
- Principle photography has wrapped on the 30 Days of Night movie.
- Kurt Vonnegut is dead. Lots of people are talking about it today, but the nicest eulogy I've seen so far has been by Warren Ellis on his email newsletter: "14 novels in 84 years. 30 when he published his first novel. Two years older than I am now when he did Cat's Cradle. 46 or thereabouts when he wrote Slaughterhouse-5. Still in his early 20s, working as a POW in an underground factory, when we firebombed Dresden, an act he later described as 'a work of art.' 1984, and Vonnegut attempts suicide with booze and pills, ruefully noting later that 'I botched it.' May 1944, and his mother Edith gets it right. Six months later Vonnegut is captured by the German army after days wandering alone in the countryside. 'Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — "God damn it, you’ve got to be kind."'"
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
- I've been avoiding talking about the rumors around David Goyer's Green Arrow/supervillains-in-prison pitch, because I don't like speculating on rumors. But Variety has picked up the story now and is apparently reporting it as a done deal between Goyer and Warner Brothers. Not that Variety's never been wrong before. Anyway, I don't get the title Super Max. After Green Arrow's successful appearances on Smallville, why not just call it Green Arrow? Or would Hollywood automatically want to force in an origin story if it was named after the hero?
- At first glance, Moonstone's new superhero book CLASH sounded a bit familiar for my tastes. I don't want to read yet another book where the superheroes think they know what's best for the world and begin imposing their will on it. But, looking closer, CLASH has got a cool twist on the idea: humanity rebels. I'd like to see what they do with that.
- Coming to the Ultrascreen on Thursday, April 19th: Ghostbusters.
- Walden Media and the Jim Henson Company are planning a live-action movie adaptation of Edward Gorey's The Doubtful Guest. As a Gorey fan, I'm very curious to see how this turns out. (Though I agree with whoever it was who said that the story's not long enough for a feature movie and we're likely to see a lot of Grinch/Cat in the Hat-ish padding.)
- Oh, man! Check out Guy Davis' Night of the Living Dead drawings for TCM Underground! *swoon*
- I like Marvel's Killraven character thanks to fond childhood memories of this comic. If you don't know him, he lives in a post-War of the Worlds Earth where the Martians took over the planet and enslaved humanity. Killraven decided to fight back. Not groundbreaking stuff by any stretch, but fun enough for a nine-year-old. Anyway, I'm reminded of it because apparently Rob Kirkman and Rob Liefeld are reviving the character for a project next year. As much as I like Liefeld as a person (and I really do), I'm not a fan of his artwork and this will be no exception. So I guess it's a good thing that he's working on a character I just kinda have nice memories of and not one I'm still attached to like Alpha Flight or Shang Chi.
- As long as I'm linking to Rich Johnston and talking about Shang Chi, read further down in Rich's column for an entry called "Blast from the Past File" about how Jim Shooter almost had Doug Moench turn Shang Chi into a ninja until Moench explained, "Mr. Shooter, perhaps you're not aware. Ninjas are Japanese; kung-fu is Chinese."
- According to The Hollywood Reporter, progress has been made on the Sci Fi Channel's Flash Gordon series. Eric Johnson (who played Lana's boyfriend Whitney in the first season of Smallville) will play Flash. They're still looking for people to play Dale, Dr. Zarkov, and the rest.
- Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics, Making Comics) will be at Dream Haven Books here in Minneapolis tonight at 7:30. It's part of his 50-state tour of the US.
- Top Shelf has announced their 2008 releases including the third volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the long-awaited (by me) trade paperback collection of Kagan McLeod's Infinite Kung Fu. Wormwood sounds pretty interesting too, and so do the new graphic novels by Brian Wood (DMZ, Local) and Alex Robinson (Box Office Poison).
Writing is Hard
- Evil Editor has a great quote about the difference between literary and genre fiction: "Literary doesn't mean it's literature; it just means it's boring. My advice: add some sharks and a wolfman, and call it commercial fiction."
Stuff Nobody Cares About But Me
- According to the Disney blog, Epcot is tweaking its Mexico pavilion by having it feature Donald Duck, Panchito, and Jose Carioca (aka the Three Caballeros). The Mexico pavilion's always been one of my favorite of the Epcot countries to visit (I really need to eat in that amazingly atmospheric restaurant one of these trips), but that doesn't mean I think it's perfect just the way it is. A little Caballero action added to it might be cool.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
But I don't want to send you away completely empty handed, so here are the comics I'm looking forward to this month (at least the non-DC/Marvel ones), and here are my reviews of what came out last week.
Monday, April 09, 2007
The New Adventures of Tarzan is different because it takes Tarzan out of Africa and into South America. His old pal D'Arnot from the novels has gone to Guatemala looking for a statue of a goddess that apparently has some kind of formula for a super-explosive encoded on it. When D'Arnot disappears, Tarzan hooks up with a second group of explorers who go looking for it. And of course, to keep things interesting, there's a bad guy trying to get his hands on the formula too.
I can't make myself believe that an ancient statue contains the formula for a super-explosive, but I have to give love to whoever decided to combine the hunt for an ancient artifact with trying to keep a deadly scientific discovery out of the wrong hands. It may not be two great tastes that go great together, but it's not inedible.
Putting Tarzan in South America, on the other hand, is an awesome idea. He still has plenty of jungle animals to fight, but it's unfamiliar territory for him. I also like that his animal companion is named Nkima, like in the books. Unfortunately, Nkima is still a chimp like Cheetah instead of a monkey like the literary Nkima, but it's a step in the right direction. And as I'm watching these old movies, I'm warming to the deviation from the novels. Chimps are undeniably funny.
I don't care so much for D'Arnot in this serial. Tarzan does find and rescue him, but D'Arnot spends most of the time (so far) stumbling around looking like he's just been beat up. Which he has, but the literary D'Arnot went through worse and with a lot more dignity. New Adventures' D'Arnot is rather pathetic.
Something I'm finding refreshing though is another character who's looking for the statue, a woman named Ula Vale (played by Ula Holt, which I can't believe is a coincidence). When she was introduced, I fully expected Ula to quickly get in trouble and need rescuing by Tarzan, 'cause that's what usually happens to women in Tarzan movies. To my surprise, Ula's proven very capable on her own and have even rescued Tarzan's group on a couple of occasions.
So, I'm enjoying the story so far, even if the acting isn't all that great. Everyone, including Herman Brix (Tarzan), sadly, talks like they're reading off cue cards. It's pretty awful. The only one I part-way like is Ashton Dearholt who plays the bad guy. He's not as wooden as some of the other actors and it's especially nice that he doesn't over-act his part. He ends up coming across as a normal guy who just so happens to be selfish and evil rather than a stereotypical, mad villain.
Flash Gordon so far has Flash avoiding giant iguanas, befriending lion-men, trying to survive a giant lobster-creature and an octopus, and fighting beast-men and shark-men. And that's all while trying to keep Dale safe from Ming's hot, but evil daughter, who wants Flash to herself. It's a cornucopia of fantastic scifi-pulp ideas. No wonder it was such a hit.
The special effects blow by today's standards, but that's really part of it's charm because it's so much fun otherwise. This is easily my favorite of the three.
Undersea Kingdom is another fun one, but it's nowhere near being in the same class as Flash Gordon. Flash is actually good, even though it's got dated effects. Undersea Kingdom is absolutely terrible, but hilariously so. If memory serves, Mystery Science Theater 3000 may have done their magic on an edited version of it.
It's all about Ray "Crash" Corrigan -- whom I've always heard of, but didn't know anything about -- and his friends, all of whom are cheesy stereotypes. Crash is a flawless hero and his pals are a brilliant scientist who's developed a world-threatening technology that has to be kept safe from the wrong hands, a scrappy boy-sidekick, a plucky girl-reporter, and a couple of cowardly, comic-relief sailors. All of them hop in the scientist's sub to check out strange goings on in the Atlantic and wind up discovering Atlantis.
The plot and setting aren't that bad actually. Atlantis is a mixture of societies and technologies. The good guys ride horses and are led by a high priest who looks like King Vitamin. Their culture is kinda Roman-esque with their chariots, trials by arena-fight, and whatnot. The bad guys -- led by a Asian-looking tyrant named Unga Khan -- also ride horses, but are supported by robots in hovercars. Fun stuff.
What makes it laughable are the designs. I'll show pictures in one of the future posts, but between the clunky robots and everyone's goofy headwear, it's hard to take any of it seriously. I keep imagining what it might look like with updated effects, cooler designs, and better actors, though and I like it a lot more.
- Seen the new Die Hard trailer yet?
- I've always loved the "gentleman bandit" concept, whether it's Robin Hood, or V from V for Vendetta, or any number of dashing highwaymen in film and literature. The juxtaposition of a guy who can charm you while taking all your stuff is strangely appealing. Which is why I'm thankful for Bookgasm's reminder that Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Thief (along with other French pulp novels) has been re-released and is ready for my enjoyment.
Other Comics News
- Top Shelf is holding a massive sale on its graphic novels. You have spend at least $30 to get the deal, but you can get tons of great books for $1 or $3 each. Even the titles that don't get those discounts are cut back significantly, like 20% off of books like Lost Girls and From Hell.
Writing is Hard
- With the new postage increases coming up, writers may be confused about how much postage to put on their submission SASEs. The post office has the solution: Forever stamps.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Thursday, April 05, 2007
- I haven't heard this reported anywhere else yet, but comiXtreme claims that Gail Simone is leaving Birds of Prey and being replaced by Sean McKeever. I'd heard that she was being considered for the new writer on Wonder Woman (though I don't remember where and Google isn't helping me find it), which would be an answer to my complaint from yesterday, but I'm considering all of this rumor for now. (Update: It's not rumor and I just remember where I read it: Dad Didio's "DC Nation" column this week.)
- Jason Rodriguez is promoting his new anthology Postcards all this week on the Newsarama blog. It's a great concept and from the talent involved, it's going to be a great book. Yesterday, Rodriguez interviewed a couple of contributors including Kill All Monsters!' Jason Copland, and he was kind enough to mention KAM! too.
Writing is Hard
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
- Wonder Woman is a character who've I've always wanted to be interested in, but whose comic I've never been able to stick with for very long. I've got a longer post in me about why that is, but apparently, I'm not alone. The Roar of Comics expresses some of the same feelings I have, and Fortress of Fortitude offers a sound suggestion for how to fix the problem.
- Speaking of Wonder Woman, TV's Wonder Woman Lynda Carter is going to be on Smallville on April 19th, playing Chloe's mom. Now if they'd only get Adam West for an episode or twenty.
- More Draw Mary Marvel goodness.
- I could've sworn I mentioned the Rex Libris movie before, but I'm not finding it in my archives. Anyway, it has a scriptwriter now. Rex Libris is one of my favorite comics. It's about how a librarian/secret agent who routinely has to track down overdue books from alien warlords and the like.
- KITT for sale.
- I've been scratching my head over why DC wants to publish another Green Arrow: Year One mini-series when they've already got a perfectly good one. I wasn't planning on getting the new one until I just learned that Andy Diggle is writing it. I'm curioius though. In the interview behind that last link, neither Diggle nor the interviewer so much as mentions Green Arrow: The Wonder Year and that seems like a huge elephant in the room that they're ignoring.
- Man, I love Jeff Parker. He's doing everything he possibly can to get a second Agents of Atlas series going. First he's got the team appearing in an upcoming story in Marvel Adventures: Avengers, and after that they'll show up in Spider-Man Family.
- SFX magazine just ran a poll to determine its readers' favorite scifi movie. Surprisingly, Serenity came in at Number One, beating out Star Wars. In response, Geek Monthly lists 12 scifi films that are better than Serenity, but also leaves off Star Wars. Are fans getting tired of Star Wars? If so, why?
- If you've been wanting to try a new graphic novel, but didn't know where to start, Tom Spurgeon's Top 50 Comics from 2006 is the perfect place. It's an amazing list. Some of them (like The Ticking and Kampung Boy) I've read and completely agree that they need to be on the list. Others (Absolute DC: The New Frontier and The Complete Peanuts, for example) have been on my wish list for a while now and Tom only strengthens my resolve to buy and enjoy them. But best of all are books like Elmer and The Mourning Star that I'd never heard of and can't wait to read now.
- Paperback Writer is becoming an indespensable site for me. Now she's got a killer list of online dictionaries to bookmark, including the Gun Dictionary, the Knife Glossary, and the Japanese Sword Visual Glossary.
- Illustrator Jesse Hamm has a useful article about things that comics writers have to keep in mind when writing scripts. Though he has a lot to learn about the art of collaboration (he seems to see it as a battle), he makes some great points about thinking visually and sequentially.
- This is roundabout news, but I trust the source. According to Warren Ellis' email newsletter, word from Aaron Sorkin's office is that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is pretty much dead. It was "temporarily" replaced by Black Donnellys to see how that show would do in the time slot, but now that Donnellys has been cancelled, the slot's going to a reality show about wedding crashers. That sucks. I liked Studio 60 a lot, and I loved seeing Matthew Perry on TV again.
Monday, April 02, 2007
- Hot on the heels of Dynamite's announcement of a new Zorro comic comes Moonstone's announcement of a new Zorro prose anthology. It's planned for a Christmas 2007 release.
- Here's a story about a stupid, entitled kid who thought he could exploit freedom-of-religion in order to dress up like a pirate and disrupt his class at school. I'm all for dressing up like a pirate, but claiming to truly believe in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? The kid says, "If this is what I believe in, no matter how stupid it might sound, I should be able to express myself however I want to." To which I agree in concept, but how stupid does he think people are? I hate how much this makes me sound like an old fart, but the kid's arrogance really cheeses me off.
- This is as much horror as it is mystery. I'm not a video gamer because I'd never get anything else done if I played them. But if I was, I'd really want to be playing Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened right now, which combines Holmes with Lovecraftian horror.
- Sam Raimi isn't only producing the current 30 Days of Night film; he's also working on a prequel.
- Dark Horse has released info about the next B.P.R.D. series, called "Killing Ground": "Abe’s encounter in Indonesia has brought a new member to the Bureau, and Johann finds himself in possession of a very valuable commodity. The B.P.R.D. will need all of its resources to handle the sinister forces that have wormed their way into the heart of the Bureau itself, blurring the lines between the hunters and their prey!"
- Today would've been Hans Christian Anderson's 202nd birthday.
Stuff Nobody Cares About But Me
- In honor of yesterday, the Top 100 April Fool's Hoaxes of All Time.
- Zach Braff has a trailer from his and Jason Bateman's new movie The Ex up on his blog. He says, "My easy sell for the movie is this: if you laugh at Arrested Development and Scrubs and prefer your comedy a little on the dark side and always loved it when shows would crossover each other like when Mrs. Garrett left Arnold to run a girls school or when the Globetrotters ended up on both Gilligan’s Island and Scooby Doo, then this is the movie for you." It's definitely the movie for me, then.