Thursday, September 27, 2007

Warrior Women Thursday!

Still busy, so don't be surprised if I don't update tomorrow, but I said I'd be back today with a Warrior Women post and I am. The illustration on this one is from Mike Cavallaro's contribution to this year's Wonder Woman Day charity auction benefiting domestic violence shelters.

Wonder Woman

Jessica Beil is supposedly under consideration to play Wonder Woman in the JLA movie. But then, lots of people have been rumored for that role, so back up that dump truck full of salt to take this with.

If it's true though, I won't complain. I'd rather see someone Mediterranean in the role, but at least it's not Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Rumor also has it that the JLA movie will be a hopeful launchpad for Wonder Woman and Flash franchises.

Black Canary

Thoughts on the Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special:
  • Amanda Conner should draw every comic DC makes.
  • Apart from some continuity errors (particularly Barbara Gordon's being excited about the wedding announcement when in Birds of Prey she was clearly the opposite of excited), not a bad story for a Judd Winick issue. I actually laughed out loud in a couple of places.
  • I don't have the same problems with the end that some other folks do. Yes, it came out of nowhere, but that's sort of the point.
  • I don't believe that was Ollie. If it was, that's the worst piece of writing ever because, yeah, why did Dinah resort to a lethal option when she had numerous, non-lethal ones available?
  • Since it was written by Winick, my confidence that this was completely thought through isn't 100% here, but assuming a rational DCU, I can see the scenario playing out as it did if Dinah realized that it wasn't Ollie and freaked out about it enough that she immediately went for the lethal attack.
  • But yeah, "rational DCU" might not be a safe assumption considering things like Amazons Attack. Still, I'm willing to keep reading and see where it goes.
Jungle Girls

I didn't know about the real life jungle girl in Cambodia. Looks like she's gone back home.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Can't blog. Working.

Too busy for a real post today. I'll do a Warrior Women post tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'll send you back over to Victor Santos' blog for more jungle girl drawings.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reviewing Image covers for December 2007

Another follow up from last week: I mentioned that it might be interesting to review monthly comics solicits to see how effective their covers are at making me want to buy the books. Since the Image solicits came out right after that, let's give 'em a go.

I thought about reviewing every single cover solicited, but that would take way more time than I've got to give this, so I'll just tell you the general reasons why the covers I don't mention below were ineffective:

A) Too artsy. This is especially a problem with Jonathan Hickman's books A Red Mass for Mars and Pax Romana. The cover designs are beautiful and serve Hickman's brand by giving his books a distinctive look, but if you don't already know his work, they don't really tell you what the books are about.

B) Too pin-uppy. There are several with this problem, but Spawn #177 immediately comes to mind. All the cover tells you is that this is a Spawn comic. If you've already been buying the series, you're informed that this is the next issue, but there's no reason for a new reader to pick this up and give it a look.

C) Just not my taste. And there's the hitch. Some of the covers give a good try at teasing you about what's in the issue, but taste being subjective, I'm not going to be attracted to each image. Fearless #2, for example, shows the hero surrounded by syringes. That might be a compelling image for some, but it's a turnoff for me. Same with the whatever-that-is coming out of dude's mouth on the cover for Overman #1. Totally not fair, but there you go.

These are the ones that make me want to plop down my money:

Bonds #3: Even though it's the last issue of a mini-series, the guy (oops; just realized that's a woman) with the wolf's head, the tatooed chick with the staff, and the gasmasked bodies are all interesting elements and make me want to at least flip through this book to see what I've been missing.

Cryptics #3: I'm a Steve Niles fan, but even if I didn't know this was one of his books, those monsters and penguins make me giggle enough that I'd want to open the book and see if there were more laughs.

Fantastic Comics #24: I don't know that this is for me, but the pulp-action cover makes me want to find out. Those red sandals are goofy though.

Steve Niles' Strange Cases #3: Again, Niles' name is a selling point, but even if I didn't know who he was, the Yeti would have me.

Tim Sale: Black and White:This is a pin-up, but it's for an art book, so it's appropriate. Actually, even if it was for a comic, my jungle girl fetish is strong enough that I'd still want it.

So, what about you? Which Image covers for December make you want to buy the books?

Mini-series: RIP?

It's funny (or not), but Jason Copland and I were just having a conversation a week or so ago about whether Kill All Monsters! would work better as a mini-series or a complete graphic novel. Almost immediately, Marc Bernadin asked his question about the failure of Highwaymen.

Although my thoughts went immediately to branding, others thought that the mini-series format was the key. Steven Grant, for example, said, "As many have pointed out (I did a column on the subject a couple months back) mini-series are now often dismissed out of hand by readers who fully expect any mini-series worth mentioning to show up sooner than later in trade paperback collection. (Though I realize it borders on fraud, if I were a publisher today I'd never again allow the phrase 'mini-series' to be used in conjunction with any of my books under any circumstances, regardless of the series' intended length. From a marketing standpoint, stamping any series as a mini-series except posthumously is getting suicidal and the general level of mini-series success is such that publishers now may as well skip the minis and go straight to the trades, since that's where all the money is now anyway.)"

One of the "many" he mentions who've pointed this out is Johanna Draper Carlson, who points out that the mini-series format was her reason for not buying. And though in the specific case of Highwaymen, my decision was based more on marketing and my not knowing whether or not it was a comic I'd enjoy, I agree with her that there are many comics that I do fully expect to enjoy, but hold off on until the trade collection comes out. So, should we be pitching KAM! as a graphic novel?

This isn't a new question for us, and I had to think back to a conversation that I had with Josh Fialkov in San Diego last year when I was first pondering it. Josh experienced quite a bit of trouble selling his Elk's Run mini-series only to have it picked up as a complete graphic novel by Random House. In spite of his adventures, Josh surprised me by saying that he was still for releasing single issues as a mini-series prior to collection.

But his logic was solid. All the promo work he did on the Elk's Run mini-series and all the critical attention he got from it helped get Random House's interest. And I dare say that it got readers who passed on the mini-series interested in buying the graphic novel too. I don't know if Josh still feels that way, but it makes sense to me. I'm interested in seeing how Highwaymen does as a trade collection, and I'm curious about whether it would do better or worse had it not been released first as a mini-series. There's no way for me to get the answer to that, but I suspect that the mini-series buzz (and all this post mortem attention) will only help the sales of the tpb.

So, maybe mini-series aren't entirely dead, but should be thought of as loss leaders for the eventual collection? Just thinking out loud.

Pirats, Dark Crystal manga, and Lois Lane is an idiot

With the announcement that he's writing a comic called Pirat Tales, it's become obvious that Dan Taylor is now writing comics particularly for me. (And just what is this Buster Blaze he teases me with?)

Funniest Superman comic ever: "I only pretended to fall out the window."

Remember that Dark Crystal manga I mentioned ages and ages ago? It's still coming out in November, and Publishers Weekly has a preview.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Monster-Killing Monday!

For a movie like Dragon Wars, I don't trust the critics' opinions of it. I'm not looking for art here, so it's fan reaction that I'm most interested in.

The Standard Online's review is by someone who claims to be a giant-monster fan, but warns us away because of a directionless plot, a lame ending, bad fight choreography, and '90s-level CGI. But then he mentions "all kinds of things stomping around ... with rocket launchers on their backs." How is that incentive not to see it? In the end he admits that "maybe I've left my Power Ranger days too far behind me now." Which makes me wonder if I'd enjoy it if I went in with the mindset that it's going to be awful, but fun. After all, I liked the absolutely horrible Last Legion.

Sean Collins is much kinder. He defends the less-than-cutting-edge effects ("you could tell King Kong was stop-motion animation, couldn't you?") while admitting that the story is lacking and the acting is rather phoned in. But even with a sloppy story, "I mean, I wasn't expecting Ursula K. LeGuin, I just wanted some basic set-up for the giant monsters, and that's what I got." So, I'm encouraged. Not "this-is-going-to-be-the-next-LotR" encouraged, but "I-can-see-not-hating-myself-for-seeing-it" encouraged.

Louis Fowler (who also reviews comics for Bookgasm) goes ahead and pushes me into the theater: "Seriously—if you walked into this fifteen minutes after the credits, you’d think it was Michael Bay filming a rather high-quality episode of Power Rangers. This film is no different, whatsoever, than his horrible Transformers from earlier this summer ... Plus it’s seven hours shorter ... D-War is by no means a 'great' film. But it’s a good enough film, and between this and The Host, it’s a reasonable enough request that the Koreans make nothing but giant monster films for the next twenty or so year, because they’re the only ones doing it right. They should just go ahead and do some giant robot movies as well, because it’s the only way I’ll be pleased."

Speaking of Korean giant-monster movies, SciFi Japan takes a look at their first one, Yongary, Monster from the Deep.

In other giant-monster news, Dreamwork's entry in the genre, Monsters vs. Aliens, is being pushed forward a couple of months in order to get a jump on the 2009 summer movie season.

Kevin Church clues us in on Johnny Hiro, a series about a fella who's known to fight giant monsters.

Not exactly monsters per se, but Ron Mueck’s sculptures of giant humans sure are creepy!

Jason Copland, that sexy Canadian who's illustrating Kill All Monsters!, has a three part interview at Indie Pulp. He talks about Kill All Monsters! and shares some pages and a look at his process, so definitely check that out.

You know what your baby's room needs? A giant robot.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Lucasnews and Jungle Cruise

George Lucas was all up in the news this week.

First, he explained why it's really okay that Sean Connery's not in Kindom of the Crystal Skull: "In the beginning, he was just in a little bit of it, and I think with the strength of Sean Connery, people would've wanted him to go all the way through the whole thing, and the story really didn't work that way. And so I think there would've been some disappointment that [his character] dropped out partway through the movie." He goes on to explain that they re-wrote the story so that another character now fills the function that Indy's dad would've. He also says that Connery thought about coming out of retirement to do it. "He was very tempted, you know, and we talked for a long time. But in the end, he just said, 'Eh, I'm playing golf.'"

Next, Lucas gave an update on the Star Wars TV shows: "Well, Clone Wars has got all the characters in it — Yoda and Anakin and Obi Wan and the Emperor and all that — so it's basically the movie. The live-action [series] is not the movie. It's the Star Wars universe, but it's characters from the saga who were [previously] minor, and it follows their stories. It's set between [movie episodes] III and IV, when the Empire has taken over. It's like Episode IV in that the Emperor and Darth Vader are heard about — people talk about them — but you never see them because it doesn't take place where they actually are. There are storm troopers and all that, but there are no Jedis."

Ah... "No Jedis." Those magical words. Say what you want about how the acting or the dialogue or Jar Jar Binks was the prequels' problem. I say, "Too much Jedi; not enough scoundrels." I'm hoping the live-action series corrects that. Having Vader and the Emperor as background threats is a good move too. It'll make them that much more mysterious and threatening.

And finally, remember how Lucas had approached David Lynch to direct Return of the Jedi? That's not the only whacked out avant garde director he talked to.

And in one, non-Lucas item this week, the Blue Sky Disney blog posted a list of Disney movies in the works, including one that I've been curious if someone was thinking about making: a film based on Disney's Jungle Cruise ride. That could be so cool.

According to the post, "The story involves a journey down a jungle river for a magical cure. No director is attached as yet. The screenplay is being written by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar (Smallville)."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Meme: Coolest crossover ever!

I don't usually do memes, but this one sounds fun (if long) and what the heck -- it's a free day!

First, select your ten fictional characters (from any medium) by whichever method you like best.

I'll just pick my favorites in the order they occur to me until I reach ten...

  1. James Bond (the literary one)
  2. Sherlock Holmes
  3. Tarzan
  4. Wonder Woman
  5. Sasquatch from Alpha Flight
  6. Black Canary
  7. Rogue
  8. Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu
  9. Chewbacca
  10. Worf

Divide the list up by even and odd.

Team 1: Bond, Tarzan, Sasquatch, Rogue, and Chewbacca

Team 2: Holmes, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Shang Chi, and Worf

Which group of five would make a better Five Man Band (like a Power Rangers team)? Who would you slot in each position: Leader, Lancer (second-in-command), Big Guy, Smart Guy, The Chick?

Team A:

Leader: Tarzan-- At first I thought maybe he's too much of a lone wolf, but I was forgetting about the numerous times he's led groups of men. He's always the emergent leader wherever he goes. People are naturally impressed by him and look up to him.

Lancer: Bond -- It looks like we're building some kind of strike team and Bond's got the most field experience.

Big Guy: Chewbacca -- Not as strong as Sasquatch, but strong enough. He'd also be a good candidate for the Smart Guy, but...

Smart Guy: Sasquatch -- I don't know that his IQ's higher than Chewie's, but he's certainly had more formal, scientific training.

The Chick: Rogue -- I'd love to play against stereotype and not have the only woman on the team be The Chick, but Rogue with all her whiny angst actually fits the role pretty well.

Team B:

Leader: Wonder Woman -- She's a natural.

Lancer: Black Canary -- As much as I like Black Canary's leading the JLA right now, I'd like to see Wonder Woman do it more. But Canary would make a hell of a lieutenant.

Big Guy: Worf -- Not as strong as Wonder Woman, but the strongest of the rest of them.

Smart Guy: Holmes -- Easy one.

The Chick: Shang Chi -- He sort of falls here by default. I'm not really sure what defines the "Chick" role, but he is the odd man out in the group.

If you think the team would be improved by swapping one character between the even and odd groups, which ones would you switch?

Just because Chewie and Sasquatch are so similar, I'm gonna switch Chewie with Shang Chi. Chewie's got some feminine qualities and Shang Chi more than makes up in skill what he lacks in brutishness.

So, new teams...

Team A:
Leader: Tarzan
Lancer: Bond
Big Guy: Shang Chi
Smart Guy: Sasquatch
The Chick: Rogue

Team B:
Leader: Wonder Woman
Lancer: Black Canary
Big Guy: Worf
Smart Guy: Holmes
The Chick: Chewbacca

I think Team B is the healthier, more powerful team.

Gender-swap 2, 8 & 10. Which character would have the most change in their story arc? Which the least? Would any of these characters have to have a complete personality change to be believable as the opposite sex?

That's Holmes, Shang Chi, and Worf.

Shang Chi would have the most change in his story arc because of his father's attitude towards women. Fu Manchu had a daughter in the one movie I've seen so far and he was pretty willing to just whore her out. Whereas Shang Chi was trained in kung fu in order to be an assassin.

Worf would probably change the least because he was raised in the Federation, which is much more egalitarian in its treatment of women than Victorian society. In other words, Worf would still be able to advance in Starfleet as a woman in the same way he did as a man. Holmes, on the other hand, wouldn't have been as popular with the police and his other clients.

Compare the matchups of 1 & 8 and 5 & 9. (Ignore canon sexual preferences for the moment.) Which couple would be more compatible?

That's Bond and Shang Chi; Sasquatch and Chewie.

I can't imagine a more different pairing culturally than Bond and Shang Chi. And neither are very open people. They'd respect each other, but they'd never be close.

Sasquatch and Chewie, on the other hand, I think would be great friends. They're very similar.

Which couple would be more plausible to people from either principal's home culture?

Ironically, the least compatible couple is the most plausible. At least they're both members of the same species.

Your team is 3, 4 & 9. The mission consists of a social challenge, a mental challenge and a physical challenge. Which team member do you assign to each challenge?

Tarzan, Wonder Woman, and Chewie. Though Wonder Woman would excel in all three, she gets the social challenge because the other two would be so bad at it. Chewie's pretty smart, but he's easily rattled, so I'm putting him in the physical challenge and letting the cooler Tarzan take the mental one.

7 becomes 1's boss for a week in some plausible fashion. How's their working relationship?

Bond working for Rogue? Heh.

I don't think Bond's a misogynist, but he does see women as having definite roles and (Judi Dench aside, since we're talking about the literary Bond) I don't see him answering to a woman very well. Nor do I see Rogue putting up with his crap. At all. This isn't going to be pretty.

2 finds him/her/itself inserted into 6's continuity. As far as anyone other than 2 or 6 is concerned, they've always been there. What role would 2 be presumed to have had in 6's story, and could they fit in without going wonky?

Holmes visits the modern-day DCU. Didn't that sort of happen?

As far as fitting Holmes into Canary's story, that's pretty easy since they're both basically in the same line of work. Canary's cases are more fantastic than Holmes', but it's not a stretch to imagine their paths crossing at some point.

3 and 5 get three wishes. The catch is that they have to agree on all three wishes before they get the benefits of any of them. What three wishes would they make?

Tarzan and Sasquatch. This is hard. Tarzan's a pretty content guy as long as his friends and family are safe. Sasquatch is a seeker of knowledge. Their goals are pretty different.

So, I'm going to cheat and go for easy ones:

  1. World peace.
  2. An end to poverty.
  3. Twenty billion dollars to split between the two of them.

1 and 2 are brainwashed by a one-time artifact that works even on people immune to mind control to attack and kill 4. They keep their normal personality, skills and competence level, except any Code vs. Killing has been turned off. Can 4 survive? How?

Bond and Holmes attack Wonder Woman? Good luck, fellas. The question isn't how Wonder Woman's going to survive. It's, "How will they?"

6, 7, 9 & 10 must help an orphanage full of small and depressed children have a merry Christmas. Who does what, knowing that at the very least the kids will be expecting a visit from Santa?

Black Canary, Rogue, Chewie, and Worf.

Ha! Worf's the only choice to play Santa and he'd be hilarious! I can see Chewie giving Wookiee rides to all the kids while Black Canary and Rogue entertain them with stories and treats.

3 and 8 are challenged to circumnavigate the Earth in eighty days or less, using only forms of transportation invented before 1900. Can they do it, or will they be fatally distracted by sidequests or their own personality conflicts?

Tarzan and Shang Chi.

These guys would get along pretty well and both have the willpower to stay on task. They also both have personalities that would be intrigued with the challenge. They'd make it.

Stuff Nobody Cares About But Me

The Map of HumanityI've been trying to save Thursdays for Dust to Dust-related news and links, but all that's going on there lately is that The Assassination of Jesse James premiered and apparently there are a lot of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie fans. Who knew?

So, since I kind of have a free day, let's take care of some odds and ends.

I've ordered my Map of Humanity. No idea where I'm going to find wall space to hang it, but I had to have it. I'm a map nerd and it's so beautiful.

The Funniest Blogger in the Universe wrote a play. It's probably best if I let him describe it:
First of all, it's really long. Not so much long for a play, necessarily, but way too long to fit here comfortably; it's about seven pages according to Microsoft Word, and that seems kind of extravagant for a blog.

Second, it's not really all that great, taken out of context. I was assigned the first and last lines I was to use ("I didn't mean to hurt you... really. But it felt so goddamned good" and "I figured it should be less than 3,000 pages... All the best books have less than 3,000 pages," respectively) and had roughly five hours to write the whole thing (not counting the time I spent fighting with my computer, or getting sidetracked by KIDS director Larry Clark's endearingly clumsy 2005 film Wassup Rockers, which despite the absence of Lou Barlow or Daniel Johnston songs was pretty interesting). So the best you can say about it is "for something produced under considerable constraints, it succeeds on its own terms!"

Third, it's called "Jolly Jolly Jinglebeans." Probably because I hate theatre.

You should definitely read it.

Artist du Jour: Lilo & Stitch director Chris Sanders. Yowza.

It's no secret that I love pirates, so you might think that I'd be into International Talk Like a Pirate Day (which was yesterday). But you'd be wrong.

I'm all for a day when folks stop to contemplate the glory that is pirates, but the idea of a bunch of pirate nerds talking like pirates all day long irritates me. Not nearly as much as it irritates Mighty Godking, but mostly for the same reasons.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Warrior Women Wednesday!

Today's Warrior Woman illustration is by Matthew Allen Smith.

Wonder Woman

Philippos Fourty-Two is still thinking about Wonder Woman and asks, "What's with Wondie's current concept?" He (I think? Sorry if I got that wrong.) seems to have trouble putting his finger on what the problem is exactly, but notes, "it feels really arbitrary, & kind of odd."

My thought is that I like the concept of her having a secret identity and being a spy, but that gearing up for and being a part of Amazons Attack left zero room for the writers (or us) to settle in and get comfortable with it. It sounds like Gail's going to be sticking with the concept for a while though, so hopefully she'll be able to ground it. Right now, it was just sort of thrown at us and we've been asked to simply accept it without being invested in it as AA raged on.

No word on pricing yet, but rumor has it that the complete Lynda Carter series will be available on DVD in November. Looks like my procrastination in picking up the individual seasons has paid off. Yay, procrastination!

Tura looks at Golden Age Wonder Woman comics and wonders, "if maybe the comics code was such a bad idea after all." I can't tell if she's joking or not, but if not -- as wrong as she is -- at least she's honest about it. I keep hearing that as the subtext to a lot of criticism, but this is the closest I've seen to anyone's stating it outright.

Mary Marvel

I agree with Kevin Melrose that I'd totally buy an all-ages Mary Marvel series by Colleen Coover.

Jungle Girls

X-Y-Z-Cosmonaut's CosmoBlog has a gallery of posters, stills, and covers from various jungle girl comics, movies, and TV shows. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Dynamite's released previews of Jungle Girl #0 and #1, both of which (oddly) come out today. The dinosaurs are encouraging.


Josh Fialkov is a pal of mine, but my real interest in his Cyblade one shot is his description of it as "more or less a spy book" and I am all about spy books right now. I've never cared about Cyblade before, but Josh is a talented dude who routinely makes my sides hurt from laughing too hard, so yeah... gettin' this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

When Drive-Ins Attack!

I mentioned that Jess Hickman and I are working on a short, jungle girl story for an anthology, right? And that I'd let you know more about it when I could? Well, how about the title?

It's called When Drive-Ins Attack! and, as the name suggests, it's an anthology of stories inspired by drive-ins and grindhouse movies. I just saw a list of the creators signed up so far and since I probably shouldn't say anything definitive about them just yet, I'll just say that I was pleasantly surprised at some of the names I saw. As if working with Jess again isn't enough, I'm in some really nice company on this one.

But speaking of Jess, how about some more character sketches from our story, Amazon Women and the Nazi Gold:

Man, I love Jess' pencils. I've always wondered how they'd look inked though.

Turns out, really damn good.

Comics marketing: publisher branding and covers

I want to read this comic.Another huge comics discussion this week was around why Marc Bernadin’s (Monster Attack Network) Highwaymen series didn't sell. I can't speak for anyone else of course, but Valerie D’Orazio steals my answer here: "What IS Wildstorm? A wing of DC? A publisher of 'Old Imagey' type comics like Gen 13, etc? The edgy publishers of The Authority? Purveyors of fine Alan Moore products? A prestige artist's studio? Vertigo II? Publisher of licensed product like World of Warcraft?" Then she boils it all down to this perfect question: "What does the Wildstorm brand promise me so that I would run into The Highwaymen in the store and take a chance on it?"

It all comes back to branding. Creators need to do it, and so do publishers. I'm not at a point yet in my career where I'm turning down offers from publishers, but in my head I've already made a list of publishers I wouldn't want to work for. Some of it is because of my own branding: I don't like the product certain publishers put out and wouldn't want my brand to become associated with theirs.

But some of it's because the publisher hasn't figured out their own brand. I hadn't thought about Wildstorm in those terms until D’Orazio mentioned them, but there are other guys who are similarly all over the place.

Speaking of marketingy stuff, Steven Grant has a great article about the purpose of comics cover art. In short, "to catch the eye and suck the reader in so that they want to read the comic." He links to some great Kirby galleries that show how it should be done, and talks about how these days, comics covers are mostly about pin-ups. I wanna think more about this. Maybe start reviewing the monthly comics solicits for how effective the covers are at making me want to read their comics.

Genre comics odds and ends

One of the biggest topics in the comics blogosphere this week started because of this post by Noah Berlatsky about how there needs to be a happy medium between superhero comics and art comics: "Why on earth is autobio and memoir the standard for art comics? Is there an imaginable genre which makes less use of comics' inherent strengths — the ability to represent fantastic, magical situations with charm and ease?"

The conversation turned into a discussion on the merits (or lack thereof) of literary fiction and autobiographies in comics, which is too bad for me, because I'd rather have seen it turn into a discussion about worthwhile genre comics.


The drawing above is from a side project that Erik Larsen is doing to kind of take a break from Savage Dragon and stretch his legs next year. He's not telling what it is, and I totally don't think this is really it, but doesn't it remind you of Scooby Doo?


I interviewed my friend Alex Ness over at the Newsarama blog about a book he put together of narrative poems illustrated by some top comics talent. I'll follow it up later this week with a roundtable with the artists and some sample illustrations.

Science Fiction

I got into the Legion of Super-Heroes waaaay after Jim Shooter left it (Legion Lost, if you're interested) and I recently got out of it again after Mark Waid left, but I've heard so much praise for Shooter's run on the series that I can't help but think that maybe I should hold off a bit before completely dumping the series.


John Seavey nails the problem with Marvel's Thor comics. I've always like Thor the superhero and his interacting with the Avengers, but Thor the fantasy hero frankly bores me and any time the comic starts focusing too much on that aspect of him, I lose interest.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monster-Killing Monday

Your Giant Monster and Giant Robot links for the week:


The trade paperback collection of Steve Niles and Nat Jones' Giant Monster comic is coming out November 28th.

Aliens vs. Predator 2 was scheduled for a Christmas release this year, but it's been pushed back to January 18th, the day that J.J. Abrams' giant monster movie comes out. Gonna be a fun weekend.

Giant Monsters Attack! links to giant-monster (among other things) painter Bob Eggleton.

Blog Critics reviews The Deadly Mantis.


Radioactive Panda has a cool giant-robot T-shirt. Scroll down to "Skyline T-shirt." Every skyline needs a giant robot. Indeed.

"Smash-Or is a Giant Robot and he is my best friend in the whole world."

Friday, September 14, 2007

September theatrical releases

Almost forgot to do this again today. Where's my head?!

Last Week

3:10 to Yuma: Saw this one last night, actually. On the way to the theater I was wondering if the classic Western is so dead so that all neo-Westerns have to have some kind of Point to them like Unforgiven and The Assassination of Jesse James do. Made me wonder what the Point of this one was going to be.

If 3:10 to Yuma has a point, it's that you can still make killer Westerns -- including some standard genre tropes like the railroad coming through and the common man's standing up for himself against tougher, legendary outlaws -- without having to suggest a deeper meaning. Thought-out characters, powerful themes, and non-stop ridin' and shootin' make for a great movie too.

Shoot 'Em Up: As much as Paul Giamatti bugs me in the trailer (I usually like him, but he's the exact opposite of threatening), the thought of seeing Clive Owen shooting bullets and derogatory comments at him makes me want to see this.


Eastern Promises: I love mystery stories and I think Viggo Mortensen is a genius choice to play a crime boss. I'm not a huge Cronenberg fan, but I'll give it a shot.

Silk: (limited release) Keira. Knightley.

December Boys: (limited release) I'm sort of interested in seeing what else Daniel Radcliffe can do, but not enough to just try anything he's in. The trailer to this won me over though.

Dragon Wars: D-War: (limited release) Rumor has it that this is a stinking pile of giant monster poop, but I'm hoping that if I go in with low enough expectations that I'll find something to like in it. I mean, it's giant monsters wailing on each other. How bad can it be? (He asked naïvely.)

September 21

Resident Evil: Extinction: I know I'm not the only one who kinda dug Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Right?

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: (limited release) Are you kidding me? It's all I've been talking about here.

The Jane Austen Book Club: (limited release) I know. I know. Me. Girl. The trailer doesn't even look that interesting. It's those damn Stephanie Barron Jane Austen mysteries I mentioned last month. They make my ears perk up every time I hear "Austen."

September 28th

Lust, Caution: I keep telling myself that I'm interested in this for the espionage angle, but I'm pretty sure it's mostly for Wei Tang.

The Kingdom: The plot for this holds no interest to me, but I really miss Jennifer Garner in Alias. Jamie Foxx and Chris Cooper are also strong reasons to see a movie, but I think I'm still bound to be disappointed.

The Darjeeling Limited: (limited release) I'll see anything with Owen Wilson in it.

Feast of Love: Same goes for Morgan Freeman, but the trailer for this strengthens my wanting to see it. Freeman's voiceover about the gods and the connection between love and laughter totally sold me. I love a well-told love story and it looks like a lot of thought went into this one. Plus: Selma Blair. Plus plus: Greg Kinnear.

Friday Night Fights: These jungles are protected!

I mentioned the Phantom below and that reminds me that I've been wanting to get in on this whole Friday Night Fights thing for a while. Reviewing one of Moonstone's Phantom trades this week gave me just the right place to start.

I'm just putting my toe in the water, so I'll offer this one without commentary.

But really, does that need commentary?

Old jungle saying: No smoking in the Bahlactus Cave.

Couple of other movie/TV links

In other movie thinking, Mike Sterling has completely killed my desire to see J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movie starring someone besides Shatner as Kirk. Scroll to the bottom of this post to remind yourself why it just won't do.

Completely unrelated to that: Warner Brothers has released some images from the season premiere of The Batman featuring a certain Man of Tomorrow.

The Indiana Jones/Phantom crossover that wasn't

So the big movie news this week is that the new Indiana Jones movie has a title now. I love it. It's pulpy. And it reminds me of The Phantom movie, which was also about crystal skulls. Now there's a team-up I'd love to see.

Okay, maybe not.

Anyway, the Star Wars blog has some cool Indy/crystal skull-related links, including an Aztec/Mayan scholar on the possible meaning of the title and a look at previous crystal skull adventures in the Indy extended universe.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The real Jesse James

Your Dust to Dust-related news of the week:

I can't believe I live this close to Northfield and have never been to Defeat of Jesse James Days. It was last weekend though and I needed a break after spending the previous two weekends at the Minnesota State Fair and the Renaissance Festival. At least Rough Draft has the report on DJJD to console me. I'll have to plan better for next year though.

Related to that, Travel & Leisure has a list of other places you can go visit in the footsteps of Jesse James.

A couple of other articles on Jesse went up this week thanks to the movie. Since the movie premiered Brad Pitt's been talking about the link between the events of Jesse's life and the celebrity-worship that still goes on today. The Assassination of Jesse James is mostly about that and how the phenomenon turned deadly for Jesse. The Washington Post covers that part of the story pretty well and also talks about how Jesse's legend -- even during his lifetime -- was exaggerated by the dime novels of the day. Not only was he made famous; his exploits were glamorized to the point that he became known as a Robin Hood figure. I mean, he was played by Roy freakin' Rogers, for crying out loud.

But, as U.S. News and World Report points out, "James himself would have considered this notion a great joke. He more likely would have agreed with a famous bandit of a later generation, Willie Sutton. When someone asked Sutton why he robbed banks, he supposedly replied: 'Because that's where the money is.'"

The article goes on to analyze Jesse's motives in depth and connects them to the Civil War: "These guerrillas were anything but the poor farmers of folklore. Many of them (like James) came from families that were three times more likely to own slaves and possessed twice as much wealth as the average Missouri family. James fought during the war against emancipation and after the war against the Republican Party that freed and enfranchised the slaves. Many of the banks and express companies struck by the James gang were owned by individuals or groups associated with the Republican Party. Like the Ku Klux Klan in former Confederate states, the James gang did its best to undermine the new order ushered in by Northern victory in the Civil War."

That's something that Alex Ness and I latched onto in the backstory for Dust to Dust. Our Jesse is no hero. He's not even an anti-hero. He's a ruthless bigot who's grown more dangerous with age. He may be old, but he's more than a match for poor Machine Gun Kelly (another man whose legend was distorted by the media of his day) who makes the mistake of wandering into Jesse's town to set up a still with a Black man in his gang.

Anyway, Jesse's celebrity is interesting and all, but more than anything else, it's this idea of him as a Southern patriot that I'm most curious to see if the movie portrays.

Thoughts on Black Canary's Wedding so far

I meant to talk about this yesterday, but forgot. The Black Canary Wedding Planner was mostly a harmless piece of fluff. I totally don't get Black Canary's dismissal of the Internet to help her plan, but whatever. It was a fun book, though I can see how some folks might be a bit miffed that Dinah was mostly unable to plan the wedding and needed Ollie's help for just about everything. Although, as someone who was very interested in planning the details of his wedding, my personal feeling is that Dinah should've included Ollie from the beginning anyway.

Although it highlights the disfunction of their relationship that he obviously had opinions in the matter, but apparently didn't voice them until Dinah started running into trouble.

My only complaint about the issue is the art. Ollie's beard is all wrong, his hair color fluctuates between blonde and red, and the anatomy on everyone is just weird. They even manage to make Wonder Woman in lingerie look unattractive.

In contrast to how low-key the Planner is, the JLA Wedding Special feels big and portentious. There's some fun wedding stuff, mostly concerning Ollie's bachelor party (and there's another telling moment here when Hal Jordon has to cancel the strippers due to Ollie's request), but there's also a lot of tension-building as Lex Luthor, Joker, and Cheetah put together a new Injustice League and make plans to destroy the JLA.

I love how the JLA in the title isn't just there to sell the comic; it's actually descriptive of what the comic is: a prequel to Dwayne McDuffie's upcoming run on Justice League. And from the looks of this, it's going to be a fantastic run. Not being well versed in the Green Lantern mythos, I've always been kind of "whatever" about John Stewart, but because of this comic I'm now excited about him and can't wait to see what McDuffie has in store for him. I also loved how McDuffie handled the Firestorm part of the comic, and how Lex Luthor has now officially put behind him his days as corporate villain and fully embraced the role of world-conquering lunatic. It's about time, Lex. And the Injustice League's new headquarters is absolutely nerdarific. The Green Arrow/Black Canary wedding promises to be good, but Justice League of America is going to be even better.

(I had a weird thought though as I was reading this and thinking about the speculation that something awful is going to happen to Ollie. What if that's not the case at all, but DC's just screwing around with us by not putting Ollie on the covers of his own comic and hinting vaguely about "what's happened to Green Arrow." Like I said, just a weird thought.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Warrior Women Wednesday!

The illustration du jour is by the muy talented Victor Santos, who's been drawing lots of jungle girls lately.

Wonder Woman

pHilippos adds to the "Who is Wonder Woman?" discussion with a link to... the DC Message Board? Holy Crap. I'd given up on that place as a source of intelligent thought a long time ago, but damn if jv2000 didn't come up with something smart to say:

WW should NOT be a title about a woman who feels bad about herself or her mother or her upbringing. She should not have to go around apologizing ad naseum. Nor should she be looked upon as the pariah of DCU. Its time for someone to put the COMIC back in this comic book. And while they are at it, please remind the rest of the writers at DC that good writing doesn't equal depressing writing or killing off a character every third issue or scripting the bloodiest fight scene ever.

I would challenge the writers to write GOOD stories where our heroes feel GOOD about themselves. Or is that beyond the ability of the caliber of writer who writes for the serial form? Or is it some sick form of dealing with their own inferiority complexes? "Look, how great I am. I can make Superman and Wonder Woman feel bad. I can bring them down a notch." Or is it just a bad formula? "Issue 1- Superhero feels good. Issues 2 through 5 - Make superhero feel bad. Issue 6 - Superhero wins, but somebody close to him/her dies. Superhero feels bad."

When was the last time that WW actually used her mind to figure out a solution to a problem? When was the last time she actually outsmarted an opponent? As opposed to just beating them up.

There's more smart stuff in the linked post, but those are the parts that struck me as being important to who Wonder Woman is: smart and not at all angsty.

Oh, well. Gail's coming.

On writing women

Speaking of Wonder Woman, one of the writers who seemed to really get her, Greg Rucka, talked on his LJ about accusations that he's sexist because he makes bad things happen to female characters:

Seems there's a tirade over my treatment of Sasha on scans_daily coming out of the "CheckOut" storyline, and including her behavior in Checkmate 16. Apparently I've turned into a sexist bastard and didn't get the memo. "This would never happen to Batman." No shit. Batman isn't infested by nanobots and being examined by a madman vivisectionist. Doctor Mid-Nite asks if she was sexually assaulted, and that's a problem? Why, because it acknowledges that rape is a crime that happens? Would it have been more honest to simply pretend it wasn't a possibility, rather than treat the scene with maturity, and have Sasha answer and confirm that, no, she wasn't? Or is the problem that I dared broach it at all, that "there's no room in comics for that kind of thing"? Or is it because the fact that women are the victims of rape far more often than men are is something that we'd rather just all ignore? People read for what they want to read, I guess, rather than reading what was written.
David Welsh responds:

Super-heroic fantasy is at least partly about portraying a better world than the one we live in. There are lots of societal trends, positive and negative, that aren’t proportionately represented in comics, and arguing that you’re just being honest by folding in some of the fouler ones strikes me as specious.
I've unfairly boiled their arguments down to a paragraph each, so if you're interested you should definitely click through and read the rest of their thoughts. Because I like both of these guys and believe that each of them has given their opinion plenty of thought, I'm inclined to think that they're both right. Rucka has always pursued honesty in the comics of his that I've read and hasn't been shy about including some brutal stuff if that's what he thought the story called for. On the other hand, David is exactly right that those kinds of comics stories aren't for everyone. Some folks want lighter, escapist tales and there's nothing wrong with that. Rucka's comics aren't for those folks though, as Rucka himself points out in his post.

Still, I can't fault David for seeing Rucka's work in the broader context of the way women heroes have traditionally been portrayed in superhero books.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Couple of quick writer links

I've promised myself not to self-publish or start my own small press, but dang it if Amazon's CreateSpace doesn't make it look like fun. Once I've explored some, I might have to play around with it a bit. I can see using it for convention giveaways and whatnot.

Caleb Monroe proves once and for all that he's the Coolest Guy on the Planet. His thoughts on comics writing and marketing are always worth listening to, and the incredible legwork he's done on behalf of writers everywhere has yielded an indispensable set of links on craft. If you're a writer, you're gonna want to bookmark this one.

Comics/horror odds-and-ends

Top Shelf is sharing the covers from the next couple of volumes of Korgi. My five-year-old and I loved the first volume, so I'm very excited about getting these.

Don't know how I missed the first Igor book (especially since it was from SLG whom I keep a close eye on), but there's another one coming and I'm going to have to check them both out now.

Crap. By the time I heard about these cool, knitted Hellboy dolls, they were sold out. Maybe they'll make some more.

Hm. Not comics, but I'll mention it here anyway. A while back I wrote about wanting to read Ray Garton's Live Girls. I haven't gotten around to it yet, but Garton stopped by in the comments yesterday to mention that he's just sold the film rights to Live Girls. So congratulations M. Garton!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Friday, September 07, 2007

Warren Ellis scores Jesse James movie

No, not that Warren Ellis. This one. And Nick Cave. The Assassination of Jesse James just got even better.

And in case you don't believe me about the quality -- since I haven't seen it yet and all -- howsabout the opinions of 80% of the Rotten Tomatoes critics? (Okay, only five people have reviewed it so far, but four of 'em liked it!)

Speaking of Jesse James, I'm thinking that the name Jezebel James from FOX's mid-season sitcom The Return of Jezebel James isn't just coincidentally similar. It refers to the childhood imaginary friend of one of the characters, who used to use Jezebel as a scapegoat for her mischief. ''It wasn't me, it was Jezebel James.''

Okay, that's a pretty tenuous connection to this post, but I'm using it because I'm really just excited that Jezebel James is the new show from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. And that there will be more of "that trademark Gilmore banter."

Yes. I'm a girl.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Warrior Women Wednes-- um, Thursday

Can you tell that Labor Day threw me off a day?

Wonder Woman

First things first: the illustration that accompanies this post is by the fabtabulous Katie Cook. If you didn't know Katie's stuff before now, you're welcome.

This cool Wonder Woman jumper has been making the Internet rounds, but I first saw it thanks to Ragnell.

Scipio has some interesting thoughts on Wonder Woman, particularly about how important her sense of humor is. I hadn't thought of that aspect in particular when I went on and on about her, but I agree that it's an important quality. If her self-confidence is Wonder Woman's defining quality, that should naturally manifest itself in an ability to joke. Overly serious people are compensating for something and I don't think Wonder Woman has anything to compensate for. Not that she should be Spider-Man; chronic jokesters are compensating too. But there should be a balance and Wonder Woman certainly ought not to be dour.

In the same link, Scipio also criticizes Amazons Attack for getting completely wrong the message that the Amazons are supposed to be conveying to the rest of the world. And I agree with him.
"In the Golden Age, the Amazons (and their emissary to Man's World) brought Americans promise of peace and the hope of a better way of doing things. In the Modern Age, they bring Americans Amazons Attack and good guys fighting good
guys, like in a Marvel comic. They are no longer positive examples, but negative ones. They are dupes, who allow themselves to be misled by an addled and irrational leader under the sway of evil influences into a war on foreign soil, for no apparent gain and with little apparent provocation. Amazons, go home; Americans can provide that example themselves, thank you very much."
He also rightly decides to regard Amazons Attack as a fatally flawed concept, but to lend it no more power than that. Instead he looks forward to DC's hopefully correcting all this with Gail Simone's upcoming run on Wonder Woman. I wish more people could do that instead of ranting about the "damage" it's done to Wonder Woman as if this was the last story that was ever going to be told.

DC is apparently aware of the problem, so I'm just looking forward to what's coming next.

Black Canary

Thanks to reprints and archive collections, I've got pretty much every Black Canary appearance up to the point where she joined the JLA. While I wait for the Justice League Archives to catch up to me, M.O.B.L.O.G. is doing a fine job of summarizing what happened in those issues (starting here).


Smallville's Supergirl has her costume all picked out. And contrary to some opinions, it doesn't make her look "exactly like one of Michael Turner's characters."

Self-indulgent comics blogging

One of the first comics I ever read as a kid was Master of Kung Fu #17. A couple of years ago, I started tracking down other Shang Chi comics and bought Special Marvel Edition #16, which was the issue right before the one I'd read (the title having changed with #17).

It's a cool comic and I especially liked how Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin created a real threat for Shang Chi. His real nemesis was still going to be Fu Manchu, but no one ever thought that Shang Chi and Fu Manchu were going to duke it out once and for all. So, we got Midnight, Shang Chi's adopted brother who was still loyal to Fu Manchu and almost as good as Shang Chi was.

He and Shang Chi liked and respected each other, so Midnight would've made a great recurring villain in the series as each fighter tried to bring the other over to his point-of-view. Unfortunately, he died in the same issue he first appeared in.

Except not really. Apparently, Ron Marz brought him back briefly in Silver Surfer as sort of a Kree-created zombie and left him hanging out with the Inhumans on the Moon. Where he still is, waiting for his guest-appearance in Heroes for Hire where Shang Chi's currently hanging out.

What do you say, Zeb Wells?

Mostly unrelated (except that this is also about comics characters no one cares about but me), Alpha Flight #6 (from John Byrne's run) was one of those wacky Assistant Editor Month books that used to try some daring things, often to humorous results. In this particular comic, Snowbird fought a weather-controlling Great Beast who called in a blizzard to help unbalance the fight in his favor. You've heard the old gag about leaving a blank piece of paper and calling it a picture of a polar bear in a snow storm. That's pretty much what Byrne did with this issue, so the whole fight is nothing but blank panels with some word balloons and sound effects. It was nuts, but it was fun too and I never felt cheated.

I tell you all that to tell you that someone's come up with a dang clever way of using that book to collect convention sketches (you gotta scroll down a bit to see). I'd love to see scans of the whole thing when it's done.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Jesse James Day

I won't have time to post for real today, but it's Jesse James' birthday and I couldn't let that go without mentioning.

Happy 160th Birthday, you old coot.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monster-Killing Monday -- er, Tuesday

Your Kill All Monsters!-related (that is, giant monsters and giant robots) links for the week:


Giant Monsters Attack! has the skinny on Dreamworks' upcoming animated giant-monster flick: Monsters vs. Aliens. (Yet more validation that Robots vs. Monsters wasn't the right title for Kill All Monsters!)

When I was at San Diego Comic-Con last year, Jason Copland and I met Chris Wisnia, the guy behind I'd forgotten it since then, but was recently reminded that Tabloia has a cool gallery of giant-monster fan art.

Lady, That's My Skull has created some Land of the Lost postage stamps that I wish were real.

A friend of mine sent me this link about a giant, creepy spider web in a Texas state park. I'm slightly arachnophobic, so every time I see something like this it gives me the heebie-jeebies. Especially when there's no spider in the web. It gets me looking around and wondering where the hell the spider is that could create something so monstrous.

I must've been really busy and distracted by other things not to have talked at all about the Beasts! book when it came out. That's the only explanation for why I didn't mention it. Anyway, I just learned that there's a blog. has some images of various monsters from the upcoming Dragon Wars movie. This feels like a cheesy movie to me, but the designs are pretty cool, so I'm actually getting kind of anxious to see this one.

Toho plans to do some more Godzilla movies eventually. Just not right now.


Full-scale Iron Scopedog woos women while invading Japan. It's both scary and thrilling how much that image looks like a live-action shot of something from Kill All Monsters! #2.

Chizumatic thinks way too hard about giant robots in order to explain why they wouldn't really work, but it's interesting reading.

Oddball Comics wants to remind us about Tomahawk #70, featuring everyone's favorite, Native American giant-robot: Iron Chief.


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