Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

David was up at 6:00 this morning, all excited about Halloween. That lasted him through school, but he's napping now; resting up for tonight. When he gets up, Diane will turn pizzas into Jack O'Lanterns for dinner (eaten while watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!); then she'll take David Trick-or-Treating with some friends while I stay home, pop in Return of the Vampire, and man the candy bowl for the neighborhood kids. Man, I love Halloween.

Hope you have a great one too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Godzilla vs. Robbie the Robot!

I meant to share this picture with you earlier. It was given to me at FallCon by an artist pal of mine, Charles Raymond. Actually, Charles gave it to me to give to my son because Charles knows how into Godzilla David is. I love that he included a giant Robbie the Robot for Godzilla to fight.

Get 'em, Robbie! Kill All Monsters!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Low Content Week Begins!

So you know how sometimes you put on your winter coat for the first time of the season and you find a $20 bill in the pocket? The equivalent of that happened to me last Thursday with some vacation time at work. Turns out I'd taken off this week and forgotten about it, so I spent last Thursday and Friday wrapping up some projects that I needed to complete before being gone. Sorry I just sort of disappeared for a couple of days there.

What this also means is that content will be a bit light this week, but I'm going to try hard to still post everyday. I finally got broadband at the house (I know!), otherwise I wouldn't have even tried to post anything this week, but the faster connection has mostly highlighted how slow my virus-infested computer really is, so I'm still not going to be up to full speed till next week.

Like today, for instance. I'm hoping that showing you this fantastic 20,000 Leagues-inspired painting by Patrick Reilly will serve as a substitute for actual news or thought. (Thanks to Grant Gould, who knew I'd love it, for the link.)

Into the Depths

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wonder Woman and friends

Thanks to photo chutney for the picture of Wonder Woman and one of her "friends."

"We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead."

I've been consciously avoiding talking about the Jeff Robinov debacle and how it does or doesn't affect a possible Wonder Woman movie. If you don't know about it, Nikki Finke -- who broke the story -- has the details. Essentially though, Warner Brothers' President of Production Robinov allegedly made a statement that "we are no longer doing movies with women in the lead." Warner Brothers has denied that he made the statement, but it's led folks to speculate about whether it's not a true statement in practicality, even if it's not a written policy.

The reason I've been avoiding it because I don't like to speculate about that kind of thing. I'm all for other people doing it -- in fact, I find that kind of fascinating -- but I don't enjoy it myself. It just gets me ticked about stuff that may or may not be real and I like my blood pressure where it is. If Robinov did say it, of course it's stupid and he should be appropriately disciplined. If he didn't say it... well, I think a close eye still needs to be kept on not only Warner Brothers, but all the Hollywood studios to see what kind of female-led movies they're coming out with. Not a Big Brother kind of eye, but an Interested Consumer kind of eye.

None of this is new though. In fact, I already blogged about it four months ago. The only reason I'm bringing it up again is that the discussion around it has now become a news item (or at least it was two weeks ago, which is how far behind I am in my blog reading). Even the angle on how it affects a potential Wonder Woman movie is a moot point. Even if Warner Brothers was a bastion of feminist movie making, it still follows that the development of the beleaguered Wonder Woman movie will be affected by audience reaction to Wonder Woman in the Justice League movie. I don't see that Robinov's views or WB's policies are going to change that.

Wonder Woman casting news rumors

The latest names thrown into consideration for the role of Wonder Woman are Christina Milian (who will appear on an upcoming episode of Smallville) and Shannyn Sossamon (Moonlight). I'm not fond of either choice from a visual standpoint. Milian has a young, cutesy look that I don't think is appropriate; Sossamon looks too frail. Wonder Woman needs to look like she can kick my ass.

Mahfood's Wonder Woman

Which may be a large reason why I'm not especially fond of Jim Mahfood's interpretation of Wonder Woman for the Wonder Woman Day auction. I love the confidence she displays in the piece, but she doesn't look physically powerful enough. Wonder Woman isn't just a confident woman. She's an Amazon.

But back to casting: Emily Deschanel as Wonder Woman?

Not really, but it looks like the star of Bones is a fan.

Street reaction to Wonder Woman

Valerie D’Orazio, another fan, proves how iconic Wonder Woman is.

Who is Wonder Woman?

Amy Reads didn't have to think as hard as I did about who Wonder Woman is; she knew it all along: "I never felt the need to ask, 'Who Is Wonder Woman?' because I already knew. She was us all. She is me, this Girl-Child turned Woman, this once-wearer of secret identity under banal school uniform. Wonder Woman is, above all else, the potential for greatness."

"Canary needs to learn how to lead."

Changing the subject to Black Canary, Silver Bullet ran an interview with Justice League of America writer Dwayne McDuffie in which McDuffie talked about Canary's leadership ability. I can't read the Silver Bullet site at work for some reason, so I found out about the interview via the CBR message board. I'll let you read his comments for yourself, but I'm impressed (though not surprised) that McDuffie's spent some time thinking about Canary as the leader and how that might work out. I'm looking forward to seeing his thoughts played out in the series.

"'…if I could just…if I could just…there!' Aaaaaand stab." (Green Arrow/Black Canary SPOILERS)

I'm not a Judd Winick fan, much less an apologist for him, but I actually buy his explanation for why Canary stabbed Green Arrow in the throat rather than use a non-lethal tactic. Yes, his Star Wars analogy is lame and yes, his point is that he essentially had to fudge the story to make it work, but I think that his explanation holds up. Especially when you consider that Canary didn't actually believe it was Ollie in the first place.

I also notice that Winick's "Of course we weren't going to really kill Ollie" speech possibly sheds some light on his statement a while back that they were considering "killing" off Black Canary. A real death for either character doesn't make sense. Ollie was just recently resurrected and, figuratively speaking, so was Canary (thanks to Gail Simone and others). Even though Winick doesn't mention it in his explanation, it's not hard to connect the dots and figure out that the original plan was for Black Canary to be kidnapped by the Amazons and have Ollie go looking for her. And while I think it would be really cool that the Amazons wanted Black Canary, having her search for a kidnapped and captive Ollie is by far the more interesting story.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Links du Jour: Gay Dumbledore, Azrael, and Neil Gaiman's Superdog

The Return of Azrael

I don't talk much about Azrael, but there was a time when he was one of my favorite comics characters. He eventually turned into a directionless mess, but when he started out he had a cool name, an interesting origin with tons of potential, a great supporting cast, and the coolest costume in the history of superheroes.

I hate that his ongoing series was allowed to continue far past the point where Denny O'Neil knew what to do with the character. He should've been retired when Denny ran out of ideas, but even though DC rode the Azrael horse until it died, I've always believed that the right creators could revive the character and do something really great with him. There's just too much potential there.

Marc Andreyko started hinting at a possible return in Manhunter and I'm eager to see where that goes when Manhunter finally returns from hiatus. In the meantime though, Comic by Comic notices an Azrael appearance on the cover of an upcoming issue (#8, if my figuring is correct) of Frank Tieri and J. Calafiore's Gotham Underground. Of course, Spoiler -- another dead Batman ally -- is on the same cover, so maybe that issue focuses on fallen friends or something. It's nice to see Az's face on a comic again anyway.

Realism and Superhero Comics

I'm not a Garth Ennis fan, so I've never been tempted by Hitman, but this review (you have to scroll down a ways) made me want to read JLA/Hitman. Mainly the part where Ennis explains why realism and superhero comics don't mix: "because there are real situations where men have to kill to succeed, and Superman and Batman don't really have the 'moral courage' to get their hands dirty." It's an interesting opinion that I don't disagree with. The Never Kill manifesto is something that needs serious exploration and possible change if superhero comics are to embrace "realism" as part of what they are.

I Love My Dead, Gay Dumbledore

I wish I'd thought of that line from Heathers myself, but I totally stole it from my fellow Newsarama blogger Tom Bondurant who said it when the Newsarama group was discussing this story amongst themselves. Anyway, I'm sure you've heard the story by now about J.K. Rowling's recently outing Dumbledore at Carnegie Hall during her Open Book Tour.

I agree with some of Ian Randal Strock's thoughts on it in that if fans want to ignore that bit of information, they certainly can since Rowling never made it part of the stories. But I disagree with Strock's assertion that it just doesn't matter since it's not part of "canon." Fans who want to ignore Dumbledore's sexuality -- as revealed by his creator -- will have to make a conscious effort to do so. Whether it's in the books themselves or not, the fact is now in the public consciousness and Dumbledore is irrefutably gay. Ignoring that fact isn't so much a valid choice as it is simple denial.

And so, to Strock's question, "So what?" I say that this is kind of important because there are Harry Potter fans who didn't think they knew any gay people before this announcement. And now, for the first time in their lives, they realize that someone they really cared about (fictional though he may be) was gay. And it's going to force them to take a hard, inward look and decide how they're going to respond to that news.

Neil Gaiman's Dog Looks Like Krypto

During hunting season anyway.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.

No giant monster links today. Everyone's about the robots lately.

The illustration for this post is from a cool shirt you can order from Threadless.com. It's called Transfarmers. Heh!

Gaga goods has something called a RoboCard that holds CDs and toilet paper! And it comes in Giant and Crazy Monster varieties. So, if you're the kind of person who enjoys giant or crazy monsters and listening to music while you take care of your business, gaga has the product for you.

I've never really wanted to visit Japan until now. It looks like a beautiful country and all, but the real draw would be this giant robot piloting simulator. I think I could get a tax deduction for "research" on Kill All Monsters!, don't you?

Friday, October 19, 2007

30 Days of Night: A Non-Review

I'm so unqualified to write an unbiased 30 Days of Night review. My brother-in-law Dave and I happened to run into Grant Gould at the theater last night, so we all sat together. After the movie, Grant asked me what I thought and my only response was, "Perfect."

Dave pointed out some plot holes to me later and he has valid points, but I can't help but dismiss them. Maybe it's that I'm just really familiar with the 30 Days of Night story and filled in gaps based on what I knew from the comics. Maybe it's just that I was incredibly excited to see this movie after waiting five years for it and the giddiness hasn't worn off yet. Whatever it is, I'm still thinking the movie was pretty much perfect.

SPOILERS BELOW

The only thing I missed from the comic was the scene at the end of the first issue when Eben and Stella look out over the ice fields and see the line of vampires advancing towards town. It's a great moment in the comic and I'm not sure why they left it out of the movie. They hint at it. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the moment is there; you just never get to see what Eben and Stella do at that moment.

Everything else was spot on. The comic's limited by its three-issue format and reads a little choppy in the original issues. It skips from the vampires' appearance at the end of #1 to almost the end of the 30 days as #2 opens. The trade collections fix that as much as possible by adding some extra story pages, but the movie is able to really dig in and explore the entire experience of being stuck up there in Barrow with all those vampires.

It also simplifies the plot a bit from the comic. The comic explains more about who the vampires are and why they're going to Barrow and has some extra characters. There's a group in New Orleans that knows what's going on and try to stop it, and there's some infighting amongst the vampires about whether or not all of this is a good idea. The movie takes that out and does a slick, smooth job of doing it so you never miss it, but I'm curious about what'll happen if there's a sequel.

Both the New Orleans group and the infighting lead to important elements in Dark Days (a movie that it sounds like Raimi would like to make), so it'll be interesting to see how a Dark Days movie solves the challenge of telling the story without them. It can be done and I've already worked out in my head how I would do it, but I'm curious to see how they do it. Dark Days is a more complex story than 30 Days of Night, so it'll require some thought to get it all right. Fortunately, this movie had no shortage of thoughtful people working on it, so I'm not fearful about a hypothetical sequel at all.

See how this isn't even a real review? I'm sorry about that, but I'm just way too deep into geek mode to think critically about it.

What's All This Then?: Michael Myers and Halloween, Part Two

Part One

If you haven't seen these movies, SPOILERS BELOW.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

At the end of Halloween II, it looked like Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis were both burned alive. Fortunately for the franchise, that wasn't actually the case, so here we are several years later and Michael escapes captivity again and decides to go after Laurie Strode's daughter, Jamie Lloyd (named after Jamie Lee Curtis, no doubt). Even the considerably less resilient Dr. Loomis managed to escape the flames.

Since little Jamie is only ten years old, we need another teen-aged girl for Michael to menace. Fortunately again (funny how these things work out), Jamie is a foster child to the Carruthers family who just so happen to have a teen daughter named Rachel.

Laurie Strode is said in this movie to have died in a car crash, but we find out in Halloween H20 that she faked her death. Kind of a jerky thing to do, leaving her daughter to a foster family instead of taking her into hiding with her. Of course, H20 wants to ignore the three movies I'm talking about today so that Jamie doesn't even exist in them, but it's not that easy as far as I'm concerned. I'll talk more about that next time though.

I liked the element of Michael terrorizing a younger child. Not because I'm sadistic, but because I knew that she wasn't going to die (that's against the rules of these things) and I enjoyed watching her match wits against this hulking man who's arguably childlike in his mental development.

Speaking of "this hulking man," I was a bit confused at the DVD documentaries on this movie and the next one where they kept referring to Michael Myers as The Shape. That's not something he's ever called in the films, so I got curious about where that came from. According to Wikipedia (for what that's worth), "Some fans and even cast and crew of the films sometime call the character The Shape, which is what some of the actors playing the character are credited as. This dates back to the script for the first film in which Michael Myers is referred to by name only twice, in the beginning and end scenes; at all other times, with the exception of dialogue, he is simply referred to as a 'shape' due to his face not being visible." So, the way I figure it, calling Michael "The Shape" is the Horror Nerd equivalent of referring to the Marvel Universe as OU812 or whatever it is that Marvel Nerds call it.

The relationship between Rachel and Jamie was really sweet. Rachel isn't played as a complete saint who willingly sacrifices her whole social life to take care of poor, troubled Jamie. She does sacrifice, no doubt, but she has to be reminded occasionally by her dad that that's the right thing to do. Which is nice, because it makes her even more heroic when we realize that she's actually giving something up to watch over her foster sister. And for Jamie's part, she's not just a frightened, little girl. She's also very sweet and funny. I really enjoyed watching the two of them interact.

I haven't mentioned Dr. Loomis much because frankly his role here is the same as it always is. He runs around telling everyone how dangerous Michael is and shows up at the end to freak out and preside over Michael's apparent demise.

The cliffhanger to this one was cheesy, but amazingly effective. It was cheesy because Michael abruptly goes from being simply deranged to being this supernatural force whose Evil Essence can be transferred to Jamie when she touches his supposedly dead body. That's dumb. But seeing her reenact Michael's opening scene from Halloween with her foster mom made me really anxious to see Halloween 5 and find out what was going to happen next.

Four out of five shotgun blasts to the chest.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Unfortunately, the payoff to 4's cliffhanger is lame. Jamie hasn't gone completely evil and her foster mom (inexplicably referred to as her step-mom all through this movie) isn't even dead; just injured. Jamie hasn't spoken since the incident though and has been committed to the mental wing of the local children's hospital.

Michael, who obviously didn't die last movie (I mean, it wasn't even convincing as you were watching the last movie), has spent the last year letting an old hermit nurse him back to health. But it's Halloween night again, which means that Michael suddenly decides to kill the hermit he's been living with for a year and go looking for Jamie again.

Dr. Loomis is still around, and he of course (because he's just about as crazy as Michael, I've decided) interprets Jamie's reoccurring dreams about Michael as evidence that Michael's still alive. Which just provides further excuse for Loomis to run around raving about Michael in yet another Halloween movie. Really, Loomis is tiresome, but not as much as he deserves to be just because I actually like Donald Pleasance in this role. I didn't care for him as Blofeld in You Only Live Twice and he's unconvincing as the President in Escape from New York, but I like him in these movies. He's annoying, but he's also always right about Michael, so I cut him some slack.

Rachel Carruthers is back briefly in this one, but she's killed pretty quickly. The new teen screamer is Rachel's friend Tina who also has a really sweet relationship with Jamie. Unlike Rachel, who was sort of bookish in the Laurie Strode tradition, Tina is a partier. She's the kind of girl you expect to be killed quickly in slasher films because she's always ready for sex and nothing sets off a psychopathic killer like a girl who's just had or is having or is intending to have sex.

(Speaking of which, why is it that teen couples always have such screwed up relationships in these movies? It's always the same: the guy is a total self-centered, drunken butthole and the girl constantly reminds him of it and calls him names, even as she's taking off her shirt for him.)

Anyway, back to Tina. Though she likes to drink, smoke, and fool around, she's written against type in her devotion to Jamie. She visits Jamie at the hospital all the time and talks to her like a normal person, even though she knows Jamie's not going to answer her. It's very endearing.

The cliffhanger on this one is just as good as on 4. Partway through the movie a guy gets off the bus in Haddonfield. We never see his face, but we know he's cool because he wears a black duster and black, silver-tipped cowboy boots. And we know he's mean 'cause he kicks a dog as soon as he's off the bus. When the police actually capture Michael Myers, we see the mystery man go into the jail and then we watch helplessly outside as chaos erupts inside. There's screaming, gunfire, and explosions, then Jamie goes inside to check it out and finds Michael's cell empty with the bars all mangled, leaving a gaping hole.

Who is the mystery man? What does he want with Michael? Why does he have the same tattoo as Michael? Why is that mark also scratched into a wall in Michael's house? Stay tuned!

Four out of five pitchfork impalements.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

This one's most notable for starring Paul Rudd as Tommy Doyle, the kid Laurie Strode was babysitting in the first Halloween. Thanks to Friends, Anchorman, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and Knocked Up, Rudd can pretty much make me laugh just by standing there. Not that this is a funny role for him, but the fondness was already there and I was eager to see him try to kick Michael's butt.

Michael's victim this time is a relative named Kara Strode who's moved with her family into the old Myers house. It's never really explained how these Strodes are related to Laurie Strode, which is kind of frustrating, but between their last name and their new home, they're destined for trouble.

We learn early on that the mysterious man from 5 was a member of a Druidic cult (gotta work that Halloween connection!) and that Michael is their servant-assassin. He was possessed almost from birth by an evil spirit called Thorn that now threatens to possess Kara's son Danny. Also, Jamie -- who I guess was also taken by the mystery man at the end of 5 -- has been raised for the last several years by the Druids and was raped by them in order to produce a child that they could sacrifice. When Jamie escapes with her baby, pursued by Michael, she manages to get the child into Tommy Doyle's hands and the battle lines are drawn. The rest of the movie is Tommy, Kara, and Dr. Loomis (who for some reason no longer has the nasty burn scarring that he's been sporting for the last two movies) trying to keep Danny and the baby safe from Michael (also no longer scarred) and the Druids.

Unfortunately, the Druids aren't really that scary. They are at first, but we eventually realize that they're just businesspeople who hope to use the occult to tap into whatever power Michael has. Just how that's going to work isn't really explained. And Michael's basically acting as their flunky diminishes him. He'd be a good flunky to have, no doubt, but it's sad to see him reduced to that.

Fortunately, he doesn't stay that way for long. Pretty much as soon as we learn the true, disappointing identities of the Druids, Michael decides he doesn't want to work for them anymore and starts hacking them apart. At that point, the movie gets really good again.

Three out of five electrocuted deejays.

Next time: Laurie Strode returns in H20 and Resurrection.

Batman homeless, Steve Canyon on DVD, and Stuff Nobody Cares About But Me

Some quick movie/TV news:

The CW is shutting down the KidsWB! Saturday morning programming block. That had me nervous at first about the fates of The Batman and Legion of Super Heroes, but the most recent update to the article says that those shows will continue as long as they're popular. Just maybe not on CW.

I didn't know there was a Steve Canyon TV show in the late '50s. Now the Milton Caniff estate is trying to drum up interest and funds for a complete restoration and DVD set by selling a sample DVD.

Chris from The Gilmore Girls will soon be smooching Addison on Private Practice. First Lauren Graham and now Kate Walsh? Lucky, lucky man.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What's All This Then?: Michael Myers and Halloween, Part One

I watch a ton of TV and movies, but there still seems to be a buttload of stuff that apparently everyone else in the universe but me has seen. A lot of it seems to be Japanese (Godzilla movies, Akira, Ringu, or any film Kurosawa ever made), but there's also plenty of domestic stuff that I either missed out on or just wasn't interested in when everyone else was. So, I'm starting a new feature called "What's All This Then?" in which I'll try to catch up on bits of popular culture (both Western and otherwise) that I've been lax about visiting. And then I'll tell you if I thought it was worthy of all the fuss.

One thing I've wanted to check out for a while was all those '80s slasher flicks. I'm not interested in the slasher genre per se, but I love mythos and continuity, and franchises like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street all have me curious to see just how they keep the story progressing from movie to movie. In fact, I had zero interest in the Saw movies until I recently saw a trailer for Saw 4 that came right out and said that new Saw movies are now an annual, Halloween tradition. With four in the can and the promise of more, I'm suddenly interested in seeing how the whole thing works together.

So, to kick off my investigation of slasher franchises, I thought I'd start with the first one (not counting Psycho) and watch all nine Halloween films. If you're the only other person in the world who hasn't seen these, be warned: SPOILERS BELOW.

Halloween (1978)

Halloween has bad acting, horrible dialogue, and a ridiculous, early shot of Michael and his parents standing in front of the house as the camera slooooowly pulls back from them. Michael stands there, motionless, holding his bloody knife while his folks patiently wait for a response to their questions that never comes. The movie's also got one of the worst cases of "telling, not showing" that I've ever seen. We get zero insight into why Michael Myers does what he does. I kept trying to make connections between his victims and the idea of babysitters neglecting their charges, but I might have been way off. The sequels certainly never explored that idea. All we have by way of motivation is Dr. Loomis' running around telling everyone that Michael's Evil. I guess we're just supposed to take that at face value.

However, our not knowing Michael's motives makes him unpredictable and that much more frightening. And in spite of it's heavy flaws, Halloween is undeniably spooky. I love that Carpenter makes us wait a good, long time before Michael starts killing. Before it ever gets dark, we're treated to scene after scene of him just standing on street corners and in the bushes, watching his future victims. Even when night falls, Michael spends a lot of time just watching people in their homes. Sometimes from outside; sometimes from in. It totally taps into that irrational fear that Someone's In The House. The killing is a necessary payoff, but it's secondary to the tension that Carpenter creates early in the movie. Some people criticize Halloween for being slow, but I loved that about it.

Also, that cliffhanger ending was teh awesome.

Four out of five knife stabs.

Halloween II

I like that this picked up right where Halloween left off, but I was mostly disappointed. It looks like Carpenter just wanted to keep it going after the success of the first one and because he'd left himself an opening to. Like I said before, the babysitter connection to his victims is discarded and now it becomes all about finishing the job he started with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in the first movie.

In the DVD commentary for H20, Carpenter admits coming up with the Laurie-is-Michael's-sister angle on the fly while writing the script because he'd gotten stuck and didn't know where to take the story. It shows. Halloween II is just Michael following Laurie to the hospital to kill her, but going through the rest of the Emptiest Hospital on Earth first in order to pad the movie out to an hour-and-a-half.

Still, it had some nice, scary moments, so:

Two out of five hot tub drownings.

Halloween III: The Season of the Witch

I knew going in that Halloween III wasn't about Michael Myers, but I was convinced that I wouldn't let that taint my view of it. I would just watch it on its own merits and review it that way.

In concept, it wasn't a bad idea to keep the series going. Instead of making all the movies about Michael, make it an anthology series. Just switch the story to another madman trying to kill a bunch of kids on Halloween.

Only they made the madman an evil mask manufacturer who was planning to sacrifice all the trick-or-treaters to the pagan gods by having their masks turn their little faces to alien-insect-infested goo at a particular time on Halloween night. They never did explain how that works. Or why he used manbots as minions.

Actually, the plot is cheesy enough to be awesome if you're expecting it and willing to just have fun with it. But it's not scary at all. It's not a horror movie, it's an awful scifi thriller. So:

One out of five head melts.

Next Time: The Return, Revenge, and Curse of Michael Myers

Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelly

Looks like Moonstone is wisely changing the title of Dust to Dust to Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelly. Dust to Dust will probably remain as a subtitle, but I agree with Moonstone that having the characters' names as the main title is a much smarter marketing move.

I knew that deep down, but had never vocalized it. Yet another reason why I need an editor and shouldn't self-publish.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rima the Jungle Girl and more Wonder Woman casting

When am I going to stop decorating these Wednesday posts with Victor Santos' jungle girl drawings? When he stops making them, most likely.

Speaking of jungle girls, The Comic Book Catacombs offers a brief overview of Rima the Jungle Girl. My wife and I are Audrey Hepburn fans and saw Green Mansions without ever making the connection that Hepburn was playing a bona fide jungle girl. I need to go back and watch it with that in mind and figure out what's missing. The CBC article notes the same thing, but doesn't try to explain why. I honestly don't think it's that she's not scantily clad or voluptuous. Maybe it's that she lives with her dad and is shy and demure rather than aggressive and strong? That's the impression that's stuck with me, but I could be mis-remembering.

In Wonder Woman news, the director of the JLA movie held auditions last weekend. Amongst the female actors auditioned were Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Live Free or Die Hard), Teresa Palmer (December Boys), Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights), and Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights). Of those four, Winstead and Kelly have a Wonder Woman sort of look (long, dark hair; slightly exotic). Palmer and Palicki are both cute, girl-next-door blondes, which doesn't necessarily mean anything, but makes me wonder if they're not auditioning for a different role.

Odds and ends

Doing a little housecleaning on my links folder.

Thanks to Jess Hickman for directing me to this cool statue by Chris Sanders.

A buddy of mine has started a free, monthly, arts + entertainment magazine called Paperthin. It's mainly focused on Knoxville, Tennessee, but there's lots of good stuff in there no matter where you live.

I'm such a sucker for stories about scarecrows. Especially when the scarecrows have pumpkins for heads. Especially especially when small town folk let one loose every Halloween and try to kill it before it can make it to the local church.

The Newsarama Blog that I contribute to made it onto Publishers Weekly's 100 Favorite Blogs list. I'm going to pretend they were talking about me when they mentioned "insightful creator interviews."

The knowledge that I'll occasionally read posts like this one is why I read Neil Gaiman's blog every day.

Dave's Long Box gives the comic book equivalent to The 100-Page Rule: The Flip Test. It's excellent and I'll be using it from now on, both in my purchasing decisions and in my writing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

On a routine expedition...

How do I suck? Let me count the ways. Didn't post again yesterday, obviously.

Because I pick up my son from school on Mondays and Wednesdays, it's been messing with my schedule and I haven't quite adapted yet. I'll figure it out, but in the meantime, I appreciate everyone's patience on those two days.

Here are the monster/robot links that I should've posted yesterday:

Giant Monsters

I haven't even bought Beasts! Volume 1 yet and they're already announcing Volume 2. I gotta step up my game.

Will Ferrell's Land of the Lost movie is a go. My initial feeling is disappointment that instead of getting a cool, dinosaur adventure movie, we're apparently getting a silly comedy. But when Dan Taylor expressed similar concerns, writer Chris Henchy contacted him and let him know that "everything that fans loved about Land of the Lost will be in the movie… everything. Rest assured, we have the blessing of the Kroffts on this one." So... keeping an open mind.

In a review of Winsor McCay's The Complete Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, needcoffe.com reveals compiler Ulrich Merkl's assertion that "McCay introduced the entire 'giant monster attacks metropolitan city' genre, predating King Kong and Godzilla." I've loved McCay since I got that huge Little Nemo in Slumberland Sundays collection. Now I love him even more.

It doesn't get much better than Powerpuff Girls vs. Giant Monsters.

And I thought the Transmorphers movie was sadly hilarious. Little did I know...

Giant Robots

Some Chinese Transformers nerds have built an $8000, 1300 pound Bumblebee statue.

At least this person made one that you can actually get inside.

I've never really thought of the War of the Worlds Martian tripods as giant robots, but I guess they are as much as the ones in Kill All Monsters! (which are piloted by humans, at least at first). So, in that light, it seems kind of appropriate that I point you towards this cool gallery of War of the Worlds book covers with all manner of tripod designs on them.

Here's a review of Super Robot Wars OVA.

Giant Monsters Versus Giant Robots!

Negadon: The Monster from Mars is an apparently very good, short, CGI film. Just added it to my Amazon Wish List.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Links du Jour: Moneypenny RIP, Lost news, and Star Wars galore

Let's catch up on some movie/TV news, shall we? And for old times sake, I'll divide the links by genre.

Adventure

The Young Indiana Jones DVDs are almost here!

Spies

Miss Moneypenny passed away. Of all the late items in today's post, I feel worst about not mentioning this one earlier. Christopher Mills has a nice obituary.

Mystery

Since the new TV season started without Lost, the show's producers want to make sure we don't forget that it's coming back in January. So they're already talking about what's going to happen in Season 4. I don't know that I'd call what they're dishing "spoilers," but there are some nices teases that I'll send you to the link to read.

One Lost thing that I want to mention though is that Fisher Stevens is joining the cast this season. He's not the kind of actor where I want to track down everything he's done, but I'm always fascinated by his performances and I'm looking forward to his being on the show. He was in one of my all-time favorite episodes of Friends too. "Remember, Monica. It's just a cookie. It's not love."

Just in case Jericho gets cancelled again after this season, they've come up with an alternate ending to tie everything up. I love those guys. Here's hoping they won't have to use the alternate.

Horror

A local puppet studio is premiering their new show Transylvania TV on our CW affiliate at midnight tonight. Sponsored by my comic shop. Definitely TiVoing this one.

Fantasy

One of my favorite cult TV shows that never caught on was Cupid starring Jeremy Piven. Looks like it may get a second life, but without Piven in it, I'm really not interested.

Science Fiction

According to David Duchovny, X-Files 2 starts filming in December.

The Terminator franchise is getting a reboot with a new trilogy of movies in the works. No thanks. Without Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton -- heck, without just Linda Hamilton -- I don't care. Plus, it's already a confusing story. Why make it more complicated?

Did you hear about the Star Wars fans who made a (nearly) functional X-Wing rocket? How about the ones who thought a Y-Wing would work better?

Cartoonist James Baker has a huge set of Star Wars links for you to check out. I'll leave them for you to explore, but among them are possible sources of inspiration for Wookiees and Imperial Walkers, speculation about R2 and Chewie's roles in the two trilogies, and theorizing over whether or not Luke and Leia ever hooked up.

The Jesse James Blues

There are a couple of big Assassination of Jesse James releases in the next couple of weeks. The digital release of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' soundtrack will be October 23 (with the CD to follow early next year).

Sooner than that though -- next weekend, October 19th, in fact -- is the wide release of the movie. Unfortunately, critics in some of the new cities aren't getting to see it early, which has folks wondering just what the heck Warner Brothers is thinking. Critics in the initial cities have been kind to it, so you'd think that Warner Brothers would want to keep that going. Maybe they're hoping that those first critics will be enough to convince audiences to check it out.

Unrelated to the movie -- or to the historical Jesse James in general (or even Sandra Bullock's husband) -- but absolutely fascinating nonetheless, is screenwriter Josh Olson's (A History of Violence) funny, emotional account of a friend of his who had an online romance with a guy named Jesse James. It's a long read, but a riveting one. Olson's a talented storyteller and I started off skimming the article only to get caught up in the story and have to start over to read more closely. It's got everything: 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, forest fires, cowboys, post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer, suicide by gutshot, and Harlan Ellison. You'll be glad you read it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Warrior Women Thursday!

Today's image is yet another by Victor Santos. I'm gonna keep this one short, mostly because I'm a couple of days behind on news and about a week behind whatever the comics blogosphere is discussing.

Wonder Woman

That complete Wonder Woman TV series DVD set I mentioned finally has a price. Oddly though, the list price of $114.82 is roughly twice the cost you'd pay if you bought all three seasons individually. Boo!

The modern take on Wonder Woman in the upcoming JLA movie will apparently focus on her as "the member that acts as defacto humanitarian and face for the League." Which is valid, I guess, as long as she's not all preachy and strident about it.

Jungle Girls

Tippi, the real life jungle girl.

Mighty SweatCon

Dang. It's hard to keep my head above water this week. Sorry about the lack of a post yesterday, too.

I'm going to let the pictures do the talking for most of this report, but what they don't show you is that it was unbelievably hot last weekend for Minnesota in October. Jason Copland stepped off the plane from Vancouver into high 80s temps and what felt like 99% humidity and it didn't let up until he got back on the plane Monday morning. Naturally, I'm blaming him.

FallCon is held in a large, old building at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Early October is usually the perfect time for that kind of venue. It's chilly, but with a light jacket and all the body heat generated by convention attendees, it's usually completely comfortable. Not this year though.

Fellow FallCon guest Rich Koslowski captured the experience perfectly in the sketch above.

Jason and I shared a table all weekend. The convention was well attended Saturday morning and we started out okay, but by noon most of the congoers had abandoned us for other places. Presumably, other places with air conditioning. We didn't end up selling much, but that would've been different had we had copies of Kill All Monsters! there. Even with the small crowd, we had a ton of interest in the book. Everyone who looked at our sample pages declared their love for the concept and Jason's art.




I also handed out a ton of "Amazon Women" previews. And speaking of that project, artist Jess Hickman went around getting people to pose like Dr. Evil for her.



There were more people in costume this year than usually show up for FallCon. It's typically a rather subdued show, but there were a whole mess of folks dressed up like Star Wars and Star Trek characters, as well as DC heroes. Green Arrow and Black Canary showed up on Saturday. (Thanks to Jess for this picture.)



Green Arrow showed up again on Sunday, only with Wonder Woman this time. That playah. (This is them checking out Jess' table.)



My wife and son showed up late on Saturday to visit. David was appropriately dressed.



That's his Halloween costume this year. He picked it out himself and while I don't know why he went with the black costume, I'm a proud dad.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Monsters and Robots. Giant ones.

First of all, sorry about yesterday. The day completely got away from me and I didn't put up so much as an easy post of nothing but someone else's art. That means that today is the day for monster/robot links.

As soon as I get pictures downloaded from my camera, I'll tell you all about FallSweatCon 2007. The short version is that it was unseasonably and unbearably hot, but still a really fun weekend.

Robots

Today's image is from a giant robot T-shirt submission on Threadless.

Giant Monsters Attack! gives Transmorphers (no, that's not a typo) all the attention it probably deserves.

Monsters

Talking Squid has a cool discussion about what monsters will typify the current century. I'm not sure I agree with the premise that certain monsters are closely associated with certain periods of time, but it's interesting to see writer Robert Hood thinking through his answer. He settles on serial killers and ghosts, but also considers giant monsters, saying, "Issues of global environmental destruction suggest obvious possibilities (there is evidence of an increasing trend to re-invent the giant monster, for example), with a strong dose of GM paranoia and a plunge into virtual escapism via digital media and cyberspace offering even more possibilities."

Hood also mentions his story in the Daikaiju! 3: Giant Monsters vs the World anthology where he explores the subject a bit more. "There I take the premise that Godzilla was given reality as a metaphor for nuclear fear and try to envisage a whole series of giant monsters that encapsulate each period of major technological advancement." I've been wanting to check out the Daikaiju! anthologies for a while, but now I really want to.

Speaking of Daikaiju, I just today learned about Daikaiju Enterprises and their G-FAN magazine.

And finally, Dan Taylor has a nice review of Them! that makes me want to finally see the movie. I don't know how I've gone this long without ever having done that.

Friday, October 05, 2007

FallCon goodies

Not much longer now. Jason Copland gets into town in a couple of hours and tomorrow we'll be setting up at FallCon 2007. Here are a couple of goodies we'll be giving away at our table:

Limited edition Kill All Monsters! print signed by Jason and me.



And an ashcan preview book that Jess Hickman and I put together for "Amazon Women and the Nazi Gold."



If you're anywhere near the Twin Cities, come on down to the Fairgrounds and say, "Gimme some free stuff!"

October theatrical releases

Today

The Seeker: The Dark is Rising: I've heard some fans of the book this is based on complain about changes, but I've never read the book, so I don't care. I'm just looking to feed my inner fantasy nerd.

October 12th

Elizabeth: The Golden Age: I didn't hear about this until I saw a poster from it at Wizard World Chicago in August. I just about peed my pants. Geoffrey Rush in Elizabeth was one of the coolest characters in the history of film. And how cool does Cate Blanchett look in that poster?

Michael Clayton: George Clooney as a male version of Jodie Foster's character in Inside Man. Versus Tilda Swinton. In a thriller written and directed by the guy who wrote all three Bourne movies.

Sleuth: (limited release) Michael Caine vs. Jude Law in a mystery written by a Nobel Prize-winning playwright and directed by Kenneth Freakin' Branagh. My head just exploded.

October 19th

30 Days of Night: I've been anxiously waiting for this since the graphic novel came out five years ago. I couldn't be more excited for Steve and Ben and my several other pals who've contributed to the 30 Days of Night mythos. This has been a long time coming and it's finally here!

Wristcutters: A Love Story: This one is also based on a graphic novel I really liked.

October 26th

Dan in Real Life: Steve Carell can do no wrong.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Jesse James: Man of God?

In Dust to Dust, as I've said before, Jesse James isn't a nice guy. He's no "Robin Hood of the West" as portrayed in American Outlaws. We've taken the more historically accurate interpretation that he was an abusive bigot and speculated what might have happened if, after his "death," he found religion.

Alex Ness, my co-writer, and I are both Christians, so we're not trying to point fingers at Christianity as it's supposed to be practiced. But we are painfully and embarrassingly aware that a lot of evil is done in the name of religion and we thought it might be interesting to see how much more dangerous Jesse might've been had he thought he had God on his side.

As it turns out, we're still not far from historical fact. At least, not according to Gene Edward Veith, Culture Editor of WORLD Magazine and the Executive Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary. Veith paints Jesse as "a Bible-reading choir director who just happened to make his living robbing trains, sticking up banks, and murdering some 17 men. But he was a man of principle, refusing to rob preachers and widows. He would write letters to newspapers about how God will continue to protect him as long as he continues to serve Him." Veith goes on to call Jesse "a study in false piety. He seemed to rationalize his predations with a defeated-confederate loyalty, a modern Democrat's hostility to corporations, and--above all--a sense that the world disrespects him and so deserves every blow he can give it."

Though Veith's post if the most interesting bit of Jesse news to me, the big Jesse story this week is about a Missouri lawyer who recently discovered documents describing a lawsuit against Jesse for stealing a horse during a bank robbery getaway. Jesse never showed up for trial and unsuccessfully tried twice to kill the lawyer bringing the suit. The lawyer, Henry McDougal, went on to become president of the Kansas City and Missouri bar associations.

And that's pretty much it for your Dust to Dust-related news. Except maybe for this interview with Assassination of Jesse James' director Andrew Dominik. I'm off to finish up a couple of last minute things for FallCon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Yet even still more Wonder Woman casting rumors

So, Jessica Biel's not going to play Wonder Woman in the JLA movie. Which puts the far less exciting ('cause I've never heard of her, even though I'm pretty sure I saw those Xena episodes she was in) Victoria Hill next up on the rumor list.

I'm getting ready for FallCon, so that's as close to a Warrior Women post as we get this week. I haven't even had a chance to read the Wonder Woman Annual yet, though I'm really looking forward to it. Before the current volume of Wonder Woman derailed, Allan Heinberg was kicking butt on the series (although with huge waiting periods between issues), so I'm excited to see how his story ends.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

FallCon 2007

How about another concept sketch from "Amazon Women and the Nazi Gold?" This is Tok, one of the characters from Jess Hickman and my contribution to When Drive-Ins Attack!.

Jess and I will both be at FallCon this weekend and we'll have some sort of "Amazon Women" sketchbook thingy there to hand out, so stop by either one of our tables. I haven't seen the layout yet, but we're usually right close to each other.

Jason Copland will also be making a rare convention appearance at FallCon. You'll be able to find him with me next to the huge Kill All Monsters! poster.

Dang. I've got a sketchbook and a poster to get ready before the weekend. I'd better get crackin'!

Rex the Wonder Dog, new S.J. Rozan, and Don't Listen to Fans

Rex the Wonder Dog

I've always heard the name Rex the Wonder Dog with a cynical ear. What could possibly be so wonderful about him? Caleb Mozzocco has the answer. I mean, look at that cover I've posted.

I'm ready for my Showcase Presents Rex the Wonder Dog, DC.

The Chopin Manuscript

One of my favorite mystery writers, S.J. Rozan, is collaborating with a bunch of other mystery/thriller writers on a serialized audiobook called The Chopin Manuscript. It's narrated by Alfred Molina, which is very cool. I've been thinking about getting some audiobooks for the car, so this might be a good place to start.

The drawbacks though are a) that they're insisting on releasing it a chapter at a time, and b) that it's exclusively available through Audible.com, which makes you download the book and save it to your own audio player. I'd rather get the whole thing at once on CDs, but I'm old fashioned like that.

Fans Don't Know What They Want, Part 43

Another example of why it's not smart to change your story plans based on what the fans say they want. Because they really don't know.

Remember how everyone (including me) complained about where the heck Nikki and Paulo came from last season on Lost? Their introduction was a response to other fan complaints. According to Carlton Cuse, "People asked questions about the other characters on the beach ... Are we ever going to learn anything about them? ... But once we did it, people were angry that we were taking time away from our main characters and giving it to Nikki and Paulo..."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Up from the depths, thirty stories high...

Today's monster is by Bob MacNeil. (Thanks to the indispensable Giant Monsters Attack! for the link.)

My five-year-old son David is a total Godzilla nerd now. On Wednesdays, I pick him up from school and we immediately head to the comic book store. I also pick him up on Mondays and he always asks me, "Are we going to the comic book store?"

"No, that's on Wednesday."

So, on Wednesdays, when I say, "Yep! Today's the day!," he's all, "Yay! Comic book store! Comic book store!"

Only he's not necessarily looking for comics when he goes. He's looking for Godzilla stuff.

Godzilla comics are okay (we picked up Art Adams' Creature Features a couple of weeks ago), but he'd be just as happy with a toy or a movie if I was willing to shell out that much. One of the employees at the store is also a Godzilla fan and he and David talk Fire Rodan, King Ghidorah, and the origins of Black Mothra and White Mothra as I stand by and realize what my friends and I sound like to my wife whenever the topic of Hellboy comes up.

A little while ago we found a couple of DVDs from the Hanna Barbera Godzilla cartoon. I'd forgotten how much I liked that show as a kid. Godzilla has a cool fight with a different giant-monster each week, the human characters are all likable and pretty smart, and it's amazing that I actually, really like Godzooky. I usually hate the tiny-version-of-the-hero sidekicks, but Godzooky manages to be funny and endearing instead of annoying.

In other giant monster news, Quick Stop Entertainment's "DVD Late Show" reviews some "B" movie DVDs, including Space Amoeba, which I now really have to see.

Last night, I watched Curse of the Komodo and Komodo vs. Cobra. TiVo had picked them up because of the Jungle Island Filled with Giant Monsters angle, but they had way more in common than just that. Curse was filmed in 2004; KvC was made a year later by the same director, many of the same actors, shot at the same location, and featuring the exact same plot with much of the same dialogue. The only difference in the plot was that Curse had a group of thieves stranded on the island with the scientists and monsters, and KvC turned them into environmental activists. And added a giant cobra. (Which is cool, but then KvC lost points for actually making the komodo look worse than it did in the first one. No small feat.) They're in no way "good," but if you have any kind of affection for bad "B" movies, they have their points.

And speaking of bad "B" movies, Dragon War 2 is coming.

So is Transformers 2.

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