Thursday, June 26, 2008

We're here

Safe in Chicago. Tomorrow I'll have pictures and a report, though it may be at the Newsarama blog if my editor there wants it to be. I'll let you know either way.

For now though, I'm completely exhausted. It's been a long couple of weeks and I got about three hours of sleep last night.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Adventureblog Theater: Alice in Trancerland, Life on Mars US, King Solomon's Mine, and the Enterprise has a pretty relaxed definition of NSFW

Stop motion graffiti

This is the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life.

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Alice trance

Or maybe this is.

US Life on Mars trailer

I was a huge fan of the British version of this show. It was an excellent homage to '70s cop shows and clearly defined for me why I can't get into Law and Order or CSI. This trailer for the US remake version makes it look goofier and lighter-hearted than I think it probably is. I can see the cool elements of the show in there, it's just that the announcer keeps orally winking at us like it's sort of a gag. Regardless, Colm Meaney is genius casting for Gene.

Speaking of which, does anyone know if BBC America ever got around to finally showing the second season of the British version? I kept the Season Pass on my TiVo forever, but finally gave up waiting.

Naughty V'ger!

The Enterprise crew watches porn. There's no nudity, but the sound makes it NSFW. It goes on a bit long (sort of like Star Trek: The Motion Picture), but it's hilarious.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Pon Farr Edition) from Darth Mojo on Vimeo.

The entire 1937 version of King Solomon's Mine

Monday, June 23, 2008

Awesome List: Talking owls, the return of Vin Diesel, why Star Trek sucked, Peter David's Peter Pan, and more

The Monday post date on this one is a lie. I actually started it late last week and didn't wrap it up until Tuesday night. Unfortunately, the extra time I spent on it does not mean a corresponding increase in quality. It just means that I'm getting ready for Chicago and am falling behind.

Guardians of Ga'Hoole

They're making an animated movie from Kathryn Lasky's Guardians of Ga'hoole series of Young Adult books. I haven't read the series, but I'm down with a Watership Down/Secret of Nimh-esque fantasy quest movie about talking owls.

No drunken Tony Stark?

This is pretty old, but just in case you missed it: Jon Favreau on why Iron Man 2 probably won't feature the "Demon in a Bottle" storyline about Tony Stark's struggle with alcoholism. Hint: it's Will Smith's fault.

Babylon A.D.

Welcome back, Vin.

Three Musketeers prequel

A new movie featuring Athos, Aramis, and Porthos? I'm all for one. (Sorry.)

Stan Winston RIP

See how far behind I am? Stan Winston's passing deserves its own post, but by now everyone's already said everything that needs saying about how awesome and influential a designer he was. Robert Hood has my favorite tribute with a huge, excellent gallery of Winston's work. I'm gonna miss him.

Why Star Trek sucked

Ronald D. Moore has done mostly wonderful things with Battlestar Galactica. It's hard to believe he was one of the guys under whose watch the Star Trek franchise started sucking so hard. He explains why in this interview, mainly blaming in on an over-abundance of continuity and in the process predicting why he thinks JJ Abrams' version will rule.

We'll see. Voyager needn't have been continuity-laden, but they chose to go that direction and more or less repeat Next Generation. Yes, continuity was undoubtedly a problem, but it was a problem they seemed to bring on themselves. I'm all for starting over; I'm just skeptical about anyone's being as awesome as this guy.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Construction of the Harry Potter theme park is progressing nicely, including a new, park-exclusive mini-movie written by JK Rowling and starring the film series' cast.

The Saint Paul library rules

Sorry for the regional news, but if you live in the Twin Cities there are a couple of reasons to visit the Saint Paul Public Library this summer. One is their outdoor film festival featuring movies based on books (including comics) and movies about politics. The other is a continuing discussion of graphic novels by Jewish creators.


A friend emailed to tell me about a couple of fantasy books I need to read. I'll tell you about the other one later, but the first one is Tigerheart by Peter David. I like David's comics work pretty well, but I'm not such a huge fan that I pay attention to absolutely everything he does. He's way too prolific for that anyway. But he's got a wicked sense of humor that I enjoy and the thought of him writing a Peter Pan sequel is irresistible. Read more about his take on it in this interview.

Devil May Care not so hot

Speaking of pastiches, Double O Section has the only review of the new Bond book that I need to read. It doesn't make me completely uninterested, but it sure pushes the novel further down my reading list.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Giant Robot Spider vs. the Futuretron

P6140032, originally uploaded by MichaelMay.

Technically, this is the last set of our vacation pics, but "Vacation photos: Saturday" doesn't do justice to the Awesomeness of the day. We saw steampunk machines, mechanical animal musicians, and giant robots galore and ended up with David expressing his love for Kong.

Duma Key

I'm not a Stephen King fan per se. I used to think I was back in high school when I first read Night Shift. Up until then I only knew King through his movies, but that short story collection convinced me he was a genius. I followed that up with Pet Sematary and though it wasn't as awe-inspiring as the short stories, it was still creepy as hell and my opinion of King went unchanged.

For whatever reason, I didn't immediately go back to check out King's early stuff. The next novel of his I remember reading was The Tommyknockers. It still had it's moments, but it felt overly long. I also remember being disappointed in it for reasons similar to my disappointment about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I went back and checked out Carrie and 'Salem's Lot and was much more satisfied, but the disappointment of Tommyknockers stuck with me and King had become one of those hit-or-miss authors in my head. Weird how one book will do that for you.

I kept watching the movies though and it always seemed like the best ones weren't horror films. I mean Carrie and The Shining are classics, but the truly great movies were Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, and Misery. Okay Misery is a horror film, but not in the same way that King's supernatural stuff is. I got the uninformed notion that King had literary aspirations (and good for him if he did), but I wasn't that interested in following him there. I'd gladly stick with the movies.

If you remember my mentioning Disney's Marketing Rules, I said that Duma Key fails to follow one of them. That one is, "You don’t sell products, you sell an experience." Figure out what the experience is that you want readers to have and then figure out how to give them a taste of it before they buy. The marketing for Duma Key doesn't do that. It relies on your familiarity with (and supposed attraction to) King, but otherwise doesn't try to prepare you for how freaking scary and cool the book is.

The front cover flap calls the book "terrifying," but only after spending much more time discussing "a terrible construction site accident," an ending marriage, "two lovely daughters," "rehabilitation," "a rented house on Duma Key," "movement out of solitude," "a kindred spirit," and finally hints at "a sick old woman" and "the ghosts of her childhood." It wraps up by telling us that the book's about "the tenacity of love, the perils of creativity, the mysteries of memory and the nature of the supernatural." It sounds a lot more like The Green Mile or Hearts in Atlantis than 'Salem's Lot, but it's not. Because King definitely hits those other two Disney rules. Hard.

"It’s not what you see, it’s what you don’t see." "Learn to turn work into play." In other words, good writing isn't something where you have to stop and think about the choices the writer made, but it is something where every page has something on it that not only makes it worth reading, but makes you excited about moving on to the next one as well.

The writing on Duma Key is very, very good, but King makes it look easy. His style isn't distracting. I found myself admiring it, but I was never pulled out of the story by it.

More importantly though, Duma Key is really, really long, but every page is a joy to read. Rather than construct an entire community of people you have to get to know - most of whom die as soon as their four-page introduction is done - King sticks to a small cast of really likable characters. Every page is spent either showing you why you hope everything turns out okay for them, or deepens the mystery that makes you think it probably won't.

Edgar Freemantle is the main guy. He's the wealthy contractor from Minnesota's Twin Cities who nearly loses his life in an on-site accident and does lose his marriage thanks to the rage he struggles with afterwards. His therapist suggests a change of scenery, so Edgar finds a rental house off the west coast of Florida. Edgar used to get some enjoyment from drawing a little, so his therapist recommends he spend some time doing that. It was this Minnesota-Florida connection that made me buy the book when I was needing something to read in Florida back in April.

The book's told from Edgar's perspective and King builds instant empathy for him, not only with the tragic accident, but with a sense of humor that - though occasionally, and understandably, perverse - gives Edgar a noble resiliency that you can't help but root for.

In Florida, Edgar hires a good-natured college student named Jack to run errands for him. Jack doesn't know the pre-accident Edgar, so he accepts him exactly as he is now without comparing him to - as Edgar calls it - his "previous life." Jack's easy-going affection for Edgar shows him that there's still a lot to like about him. In spite of the rejection of his wife and one of his daughters, he still has value and realizing this encourages Edgar and brings out his better qualities even more. Jack's a heroic character.

Down the beach from Edgar's rental place is a sprawling mansion owned by the elderly Elizabeth Eastlake. Elizabeth suffers from Alzheimer's and is cared for by a man named Wireman who's recovering from injuries of his own. Elizabeth is a sweet woman who takes an instant liking to Edgar whenever she can remember who he is. Wireman likes Edgar too and the two men form a fast friendship built on the similarity of their experiences.

Wireman is an annoying character with the habits of referring to himself in the third person, spouting Spanish phrases for no reason, and following up quotes of movies and songs with the source of the quotation. But he's a kind-hearted man and he's exactly who Edgar needs in his life. As great and genuine as Jack is, he's still Edgar's employee. Wireman is Edgar's friend just because.

The last character I want to mention is Ilse, Edgar's younger daughter. She's really a supporting character, but because she's the only person in his family who still seems to care about him, she's a joy. I should clarify that King doesn't make villains out of Edgar's wife and older daughter. He paints them as real people who simply can't cope with how Edgar has - not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally - changed. And in the older daughter's defense, Edgar freely admits that he was always partial to Ilse and did a lousy job of hiding it.

As we get to know these people, we also discover that there's something of a mystery to Edgar's new home on Duma Key. He begins to paint and is much, much better than he remembered being. But sometimes his right arm - lost in the construction accident - begins to twitch and he feels the urge to get out the art supplies. When he does, strange things end up on his canvasses. It's like he's channeling images from somewhere else. Eventually he starts to wonder if he can control the process and use it to see the future or keep tabs on his wife back in Minnesota. And if he can do that, maybe he can control it even more and use his painting to shape events too.

It's a frightening power and Edgar is careful with it, but he's also curious and he begins trying to figure out where it comes from. And the more he uncovers, the more horrifying the mystery becomes until you're looking up from the book every once in a while because you thought you heard a noise. Or you're not sure you want to go to bed because you know that when you close your eyes you're going to replay the scene you just read and you don't want to do that in bed with the lights out.

Except of course that you sort of do, because it's really fun being this creeped out.

I haven't followed King's career closely enough to announce that He's Back, but Duma Key certainly deserves to be on the shelf next to Carrie and 'Salem's Lot and that's not at all what I expected out of it.

Five out of five Girl and Ship paintings.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wizard World Chicago

Like I said, I'm going to be at Wizard World Chicago next weekend. I'm even listed on the Who Is Coming page of the website under Artists Alley right after David Mack.

I don't really have my own table and I won't be selling anything, but when I'm not out collecting blog-material for Newsarama I'll be hanging out with Jessica Hickman and Darla Ecklund at their table. So if you're going to the show, please stop by and say hello.

Killer Croc by Christopher Jones

This is the other commission I had done at MicroCon for David. His other favorite comic book character as drawn by The Batman Strikes artist Christopher Jones.

Vacation photos: Friday

P6130032, originally uploaded by MichaelMay.

On Friday, David and I visited a jungle-themed water park and went to see The Incredible Hulk. Awesome day.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Lizard by Grant Gould

I commissioned this from Grant Gould at MicroCon. The Lizard is one of David's favorites.

Vacation photos: Thursday

P6120025, originally uploaded by MichaelMay.

On Thursday, David and I ate breakfast with Paul Bunyan, rode ducks, and checked out the damage from the emptying of Lake Delton. Click the duck above for the pictures. The ones of the empty lake are pretty wild.

Writing is Hard: Creating Compelling Characters

EE Knight has the best advice I've ever read for bringing your characters to life. Here's an excerpt:
Now, the most important thing a reader needs to know is exactly what the character looks like. It helps them better imagine the person as they create the scenes in their heads. For that, you need lots and lots and lots of detail, and the sooner it appears in your story, the better. You’ve got to be careful that your audience sees exactly what you do when you imagine your character. Otherwise they might mess up and just substitute someone from their own experiences.
Now, if you're shaking your head in disbelief: good. Click through and keep reading. It's brilliant.

Adventureblog Theater: The Power of the Force

What was the deal in the '80s with reimagining classic TV shows as scifi cartoons?

The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang

Gilligan's Planet

Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space

Oh, yeah. That's right.

Speaking of which...

Darth Vader: Lord of the Blues Harp

What Looks Good?: June Theatrical Releases

Oops. I forgot to do this earlier. Here's what looks good this month at the movies.

June 6

You Don't Mess with the Zohan: The Michael May from early June was way looking forward to a movie with a laugh-out-loud trailer in which Adam Sandler plays a bullet-catching super-spy. That's the only reason I'm listing it. The current Michael May is hearing that it's even worse than Little Nicky. That's impossible, but my interest in it is still severely diminished. Still, I'll give it a look on DVD and find out for myself.

Mongol: (Limited release) I know precious little about Genghis Khan, but I've always been curious about him. Plus, the trailer for this looks amazing.

Kung Fu Panda: Already saw it. It was exactly what I expected: a fun movie about anthropomorphic animals kicking each others butts as only CGI martial artists can. The theater where we saw it lost sound for about ten minutes, but I liked it enough that I'm interested in sitting through it again to fill in what I missed.

June 13

The Incredible Hulk: Seen it. Liked it.

The Happening: This is another one that I'm less excited to see now that it's been out and people aren't saying very nice things about it. Then again, people tend not to say nice things about Shyamalan movies and I tend to like his stuff anyway. Still, I was hoping that the buzz would be more positive.

June 20

Get Smart: Everything about this looks hilarious. Steve Carrell and the Rock can do no wrong anyway, but even Anne Hathaway - whom I can usually take or leave - looks very, very takeable here.

June 27th

WALL-E: I'm not as excited about this as I think I should be (too much emphasis on the Cute in the marketing probably), but it's Pixar and I trust them.

Wanted: Now this I'm excited about. And only a little because it's Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. Mainly it's the level of energy I've seen in the trailers. I'm expecting great things.

What looks good to you?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

David Draws: The Hulk

I got this on Father's Day. The text says, "Me and Dad went to The Incredible Hulk."

Man, I love that kid.

How to make Battlestar Galactica 1000x better

I'm still catching up on Battlestar Galactica this season and I'm just now up to the part where it's starting to get good. It's been a pretty dull season so far.

But even at its best, BSG has never been as good as it would be if it looked like this.

How come no one asked for GQ's input when they were developing the show?

Click here for Humongous Version.

Adventureblog Theater: Iron Man vs Batman, sports fans are nerds, Wolverine and the X-Men, Kevin Pollack Star Trek, and Attack of the Giant Leeches

Iron Man vs. Batman

Sports fans are nerds

I've been saying this for years. Nice to get some affirmation.

Thanks, SF Signal!

Wolverine and the X-Men

It's long and it doesn't start looking good until about the 2:30 mark where you get the sense that they're going for something epic. It ultimately catches my attention with a Hulk appearance and a partial shot of something that looks like it could be Wendigo. I'm not expecting Spectacular Spider-Man, but I'll give it a try.

Wow. Could I be more blasé about this? I really used to like the X-Men too.

Thanks to Slashfilm for the link.

Kevin Pollack does Star Trek

Thanks to SF Signal for this one too.

Attack of the Giant Leeches

This one's courtesy of the ever-lovin, blue-eyed Robert Hood.

Awesome List: Mermaid Island, Zatanna ongoing, John Carter of Pixar, Burn Notice novels, new Holmes movie, and more

Mermaid Island

There aren't enough mermaid movies featuring giant sea monsters, if you ask me. Too bad the Catwoman director has to be the one making it.

Zatanna ongoing?

Great news!
Captain Carrot and the Final Ark was definitely an entertaining little series. Any plans to pick up on it's mysterious ending? Didio hopes so, "Did we ever announce the Zatanna book?" The panel became confused. Did they just slip up? It was said something with Paul Dini and Zatanna was a possibility during the NY Comic Con panel but no, nothing had actually been announced. Didio needed to go hypothetical again, "If Zatanna had her own book, you might see something along those lines somewhere down the road. Just saying if."
"You could be happy here. I could take care of you. I wouldn't let anybody hurt... AAAH! NO, ET! NO!" *SPLURCH!*

Eliot's new friend.

Pixar's John Carter of Mars movie confirmed

According to The Pixar Blog
The disclosure came at the end of the short, but extremely enjoyable, discussion (excerpts of which will be published here soon), when a writer from asked about [writer/director Andrew Stanton's (Finding Nemo, WALL-E)'s] next project, to which Stanton mentioned (not too loudly) 'John Carter of Mars'.

Doubting what I'm hearing, I interject, "What is that?" "John Carter of Mars", Stanton replies. "You're confirming John Carter? Are you serious?" At this point, I turn my tape recorder back on, "...say that on tape!", I tell him. Stanton: "I am writing John Carter of Mars right now." "Oh man, you just doubled my page views!", I say. Everybody laughs.
Cannot wait.

Skulduggery Pleasant

There's always room on my bookshelf for a skull-faced detective.

The future's getting closer all the time

I've been wanting an excuse to finally visit Disneyland and Vegas. A 300 mph levitating train ought to do the trick nicely.

Burn Notice novels

I'm a big freaking Burn Notice geek, so I'm way tempted by the idea of continuing Michael Westen's adventures via novels. These things are rarely as satisfying as watching the show, but I suspect that my curiosity may make me find out for myself this time. (Thanks to Double O Section for the heads up.)

Wizard World Chicago

I'll be heading to WWChicago in another week. If my vacationing luck holds up like it has so far this year, I expect aliens to take over the convention center and hold us all hostage. But at least I'll have Warren Ellis to keep me company. He's making a rare convention appearance there this year.

Via his email newsletter:
I'm at the Chicago con next week, and I'll be doing one of my marathon Q&A talks on the Friday night. Details:

The talk is actually at the convention center. We don't have a room number -- they're actually going to be removing walls from adjoining rooms to make a monster hall that'll seat 1500.

The room will open at 9PM. There will be a bar in this room, so people can get good and drunk before I go on.

I go on at 9.30PM. And we will just bullshit until they throw us out.

This is NOT a ticketed event. No-one is on the door, I'm told. First come, first seated.
Lord help me; I sorta want to see Lost Boys 2 now

I don't really know why and I can't defend it, but seeing pictures of the older Frog Bros. and their new vampire enemies has me kind of curious.

Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes

Guy Ritchie will be directing a Holmes movie for Warner Bros. who're comparing it to Batman Begins in tone. They say it'll focus more on Holmes' adventurous, swashbuckling side. I think that's a valid approach, so now the question is, who to play Holmes?

As soon as I heard Ritchie's name, my mind went to Jason Statham, whom I love, but think would be pretty awful for the role. Hugh Laurie would be a great - if obvious - choice though. What do you think?

Vacation photos: Wednesday

P6110045, originally uploaded by MichaelMay.

Diane had the day off on Wednesday and wanted to spend it hanging out in Baraboo. We found a park with a small zoo attached and had a good time wandering around the town square where we ate lunch, bought some candy, and I found an old copy of Porto Bello Gold at a cool, little bookstore.

We also tried visiting the Circus World Museum that's located on the grounds where the Ringling Bros. used to winter their show. Why anyone would want to winter in Wisconsin when they've already got a headquarters in Sarasota, Florida is something I hoped to learn, but unfortunately the museum was closed. Remember Lake Delton's emptying out on Monday? The waters had reached Baraboo and were threatening the outdoor parts of the circus museum. You can click on Hugo Zacchini above to see what it looked like.

(Incidentally, some Googling tells me that Baraboo was the home of the Ringlings and starting in 1884 was the first winter headquarters for the show. John Ringling moved the HQ to Sarasota in 1927 with at least one other HQ location - Bridgeport, Connecticut - in between.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Writing is Hard: Disney marketing rules

I'm always interested in marketing and I'm a big Walt Disney World fan, so this post on Disney Marketing Rules is fascinating to me. Steve Spalding doesn't have any inside information, he's just an observant fan of the park who's noticed some things. Three, to be exact.

I thought it might be a good exercise to see if I could apply them to promoting books.

"It’s not what you see, it’s what you don’t see."

I think that - when it comes to books - this might be more of a craft concern than marketing. I know when I'm reading, I don't want to be distracted by the mechanics the writer went through to create the story. That's difficult for me because I'm always thinking about that on some level, but it's such a joy when I read those rare books where the storytelling is so easy and seamless that I can forget about what the writer's doing and just enjoy the tale.

In other words, good writing isn't something where I want to stop and marvel over the choices the writer made. Those choices should be transparent. That's really hard to do, but it's an important rule.

"You don’t sell products, you sell an experience."

This one's easy enough to apply to writing, but difficult to execute. When promoting a book, you've got to convince potential readers that they'll feel something as a result of reading your stuff. And that means so much more than just telling them that your book is "funny" or that it'll "leave you in tears." Nobody believes that. Nobody buys a book because that's written in a blurb about it.

Figure out what the experience is that you want readers to have and then figure out how to give them a taste of it before they buy. The first one is free; they've got to pay for the rest.

"Learn to turn work into play."

The idea here is to take the most negative thing about your product and turn it into a positive. With books, the biggest negative for me is how much time it takes me to get through them, because I'm always wanting to get to the next book in my reading pile.

The easy solution (again, easy to determine; extremely difficult to do) is to make your book so engrossing that readers don't mind spending a lot of time in it. Every page should have something on it that not only makes that page worth reading, but makes the reader excited about moving on to the next one as well.

If I'm correctly applying this rule to writing, this one's also more about craft than it is about selling. I admit that hearing the words "page-turner" applied to a book gets my attention, but I'm also a bit skeptical about it. I'll be the judge of what gets me turning pages, thanks. So, yeah, you can tell people that you've got a fast read, but it's another thing entirely to actually write one.

Stay tuned, because later on I'll post a review of Stephen King's Duma Key and talk about how he nails two of these rules, but doesn't do so hot on the third.

Vacation photos: Tuesday

P6100001, originally uploaded by MichaelMay.

We kind of laid low on Tuesday. David and I watched a lot of TV and went to see Kung Fu Panda. I'm not going to do a full review of it, but it was a fun movie and we liked it. Didn't take any pictures of that though.

My mom and nephew stopped by for about an hour on their way to Michigan to visit my aunt and uncle. Got some pictures of them and David feeding the ducks in the pond behind our condo.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Incredible Hulk (2008)


Well, obviously it was way better than Ang Lee's version. It's not as good as Iron Man though and I'm disappointed about that. I've never cared about Iron Man, but I'm a huge fan of the Hulk and I wanted it to be the better film. It's still really good, but Iron Man is darn near perfect. Tony Stark's cameo in The Incredible Hulk made me want to go see Iron Man again.

One of my favorite things about Iron Man is Tony's character development. How he goes from being a lonely, selfish butthole to become a hero. There's character development in The Incredible Hulk, but you have to look a lot harder for it.

Bruce Banner begins the movie on the run from the government and looking for a cure to his curse. I love that they didn't try to retell the origin, but quickly covered it in the opening credits. I especially love how much of an homage that sequence was to the TV show's opening credits. But Banner spends most of the rest of the movie doing exactly what he's doing at the beginning: running from the government and looking for a cure. As an action-adventure plot there's a lot to work with there, but I wanted more story.

Yeah, there's the romance angle, but that's not a story. Betty Ross is just a love interest. Liv Tyler did a fine job with her and there were some truly touching moments between her and Bruce, but there wasn't any substance to that part of the movie either. It generated some pathos, but I'm trying to figure out how the movie would've been different without Betty and I'm not coming up with much. She was all in it, but she just wasn't that important.

I didn't care much for General Ross either. Surprisingly, that had nothing to do with William Hurt's performance, which was fine. But General Ross has always been a favorite antagonist of mine in the comics because I always knew that as abrasive and bull-headed as he was, he was doing what he thought was right for his country. The Incredible Hulk's Ross is a villain through and through. The Hulk came to be in an experiment Banner was doing on Ross' behalf and now Ross wants Banner only so they can continue the project. Of course, he justifies it because the project is supposed to create a better breed of soldiers to defend the US, but that's a lot shakier ground than the comics' (and Ang Lee's) version who just wants to defend the country against the Hulk.

You have to do that same kind of twisty justification to understand Banner's development too. I didn't even see any development in him at first, but like I said earlier, thinking more about it, it's there. I'm going to have to see the movie again to test what I think I've realized, but the final scene with Banner reveals that something's changed in him.

The last time we see Banner, he's willing himself to change into the Hulk and he smiles when he realizes he's going to succeed. That's a huge difference from the guy at the beginning of the movie who was trying so desperately to control his anger and avoid changing. I think there's intentional irony in his using the same technique to trigger the change at the end that he was learning at the beginning in order to resist it.

What I want to go back and see is how that development plays out over the course of the movie. What clues are we given that it's taking place? It seemed really abrupt when I saw that last scene, but maybe it's more gradual and I just missed it.

Apparently, it would've been a lot less subtle and open to interpretation if Ed Norton had had his way. In Norton's version of the script, the movie opens in the Arctic where Banner has gone to try to kill himself. Marvel demanded that scene be edited out of the movie, but you can see a shot from it in the trailers. Had it been left in (along with other dialogue Norton wrote), the utter misery of Banner would've been more keenly felt at the beginning and would've contrasted even more with that scene at the end. I suspect that the movie would've flowed better and been stronger with Norton's additions, but unfortunately Marvel - desperately afraid of the ghost of Ang Lee - wanted to get to the action more quickly. Hopefully that stuff will all go back in on the DVD, but it's sad that Ang Lee's version haunted the production of this one and made it a weaker film.

Even though the story's not as strong as I want it to be, there's still lots to like about The Incredible Hulk. There are lots of homages to the comics and the TV show (reporter Jack McGee even makes an appearance) and fans of the comics will be able to figure out who the villain will likely be in the presumptive sequel. I'm not sure I like Captain America's origin being so closely tied into the Hulk's, but I don't hate it either. It's interesting. And I hear that when we do finally get to see that opening Arctic scene, we should keep our eyes open for an even bigger Captain America reference.

Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno both have cameos again, but they're actually important to the story this time around. And apparently that's Ferrigno's voice speaking the Hulk's few lines of dialogue. Pretty cool.

Also, I don't think they ever officially name Ty Burrell's (Back to You, National Treasure 2) character in the movie, but he's credited as Dr. Samson, so that's way cool. Not sure how they're going to work that out if they let the movie version go where the comics version goes though. I like Burrell a lot, but they're going to need a different actor if that happens.

The transformations and action were all great (though not as Awesome as the one scene Ang Lee nailed in his version: the fight in the desert). The Hulk's clap brought tears to my eyes and once I realized that the Hulk's design really does look the way he was drawn back in the '70s and '80s, I eased up on it for not being the Kirby version. The scenes between Betty and the Hulk were also reminiscent of a lot of classic Hulk comics. And when the Hulk got angry, I could feel his rage through the screen. Nicely done.

I'm not a big fan of the Abomination's new look, but I knew to expect that and had gotten used to it.

I may have been disappointed, but that's because I was hoping to give it a five-star rating and I can't. It was still a really good movie though and something I'll want to see another time or two in the theater.

Not sure why the very last scene with Ross in the bar came before the credits and not after. The scene right before it was obviously designed to go right before the credits with the Ross scene to go after, but they didn't do it that way. Not that I'm complaining. That means I can leave during the credits on subsequent viewings.

Four out of five Smashes.

Adventureblog Gallery: Sea monster, War of the Worlds, dino hunters, jungle girl, and Spidey vs. Hulk

Sea Monster!

By Jesse van Dijk. (Thanks, Brass Goggles!)

War of the Worlds

By Frank R. Paul.

King of the Dinosaurs

By (I'm pretty sure) J. Allen St. John.

Jungle Girl

By Caroline Dy.

Spider-Man vs. the Hulk

By Christian Nauck.

Adventureblog Theater: Hulk and She-Hulk

Gonna review The Incredible Hulk in a minute here, but first I thought it would be fun to look back at the old school versions.





And just for kicks, Jennifer Walters really likes turning into She-Hulk.

And kicking Johnny Storm's booty.

Awesome List: Indiana Jones, robots, zombie French girls, Bilbo Baggins, the Coen Bros. spy movie, and more

Indiana Jones makes Life better

My automatic dislike of licensed versions of classic boardgames is pretty much suspended where Indiana Jones is concerned. And Pirates of the Caribbean.

Warren Ellis on Obama

I'm not going to link to it, but I recently found out that another Michael May runs a conservative political blog. I don't really feel like this is the place to talk about politics, but just to balance things out a little, here's a link to Warren Ellis' thoughts on Obama. They pretty much mirror my own:
I like what I know of Barack Obama. I’m glad it’s him. I have concerns — about the strength and breadth of his platform, and, frankly, about his safety, in a country where supporting a black man over a white woman is apparently worth confronting someone in email over — and I distrust the messianic Obamania I see here and there. I understand the sentiment and its roots, but I don’t like it: it invites the universe to fuck with your life. But, from my perspective over here in Britain, he has something America needs in a leader right now.
Indiana Jones is better than commies

Well, that pretty much goes without saying, doesn't it?

Is Sydney Pollack's directing interfering with your phone call?

I've seen the Martin Scorsese one at the theater, but I didn't realize there were others. Man, I'm going to miss Sydney Pollack.

What the heck. Here's Scorsese's too in case you haven't seen it:

Zombie Cosette

I'm not a big zombie fan. I know... heresy. Grab the stakes and torches. I just don't care about Evil Dead: The Musical. I am a big Les Miserables fan though, so this poster for the zombie musical cracks me up.

World War Robot

Isn't that the best title for a comic ever? And Ash Wood's art for it is especially good.

Speaking of robots

The third issue of Femme Noir will feature a robot mobster. How cool is that? Writer Christopher Mills has a preview at his blog.

The "real" Indy

Not really, but it's still a cool story about a real-life adventurer.

Who is Bilbo Baggins?

Guillermo and Peter ain't saying who'll play Bilbo in the Hobbit movie, but they've definitely been thinking about it and this quote from Del Toro sounds very promising:
We are writing based on [Ian Holm's performance], but other than that, we have ideas [of who could play him] ... I can tell you that it's down to a few names that we all agree upon. And that our first choice ... completely, magically, we said the same name. All of us!
Burn After Reading

I love the Coen Brothers and I don't think I've ever been this excited to see one of their movies. Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and JK Simmons in a spy comedy? September can't get here fast enough.

Vacation photos: Monday

P6090129, originally uploaded by MichaelMay.

Okay, truly, I'll have some honest-to-goodness content later today. Just want to make sure I stay on top of posting these.

On Monday, Diane had the morning off so we went to the International Crane Foundation near Baraboo. We actually did most of our sight-seeing in Baraboo this trip. I sort of hate the Dells themselves (except for a couple of attractions I'll talk about later in the week) and small town Baraboo is a wonderful get-away from the kitschy, tourist-trap madness of the Dells.

So anyway, click on David and the crane for more pics from the Crane Foundation.

I should also mention - as long as I'm talking about last Monday - that the weather adventures started on Saturday as we drove to the area. We got caught in a thunderstorm, but I've driven through those before and it didn't worry me. When we stopped at a truckstop for a bathroom break though, we were told that there was a tornado warning in the area, so we hung out for a while drinking coffee and eating pie.

Eventually the weather cleared enough that we got back on the road even though the warning was still in effect. We raced the weather to the Dells and got caught in the thunderstorm again. No twisters though.

I tell you all that to say that on Monday the Dells' big, man-made, recreational Lake Delton overflowed its banks, washed away a small dam and a nearby road, and cut a new channel to the Wisconsin River, completely emptying out the former lake. I'll show you pictures from that and tell you how it affected our trip later in the week.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Vacation photos: Sunday

P6080081, originally uploaded by MichaelMay.

Hard to believe that a week ago we were in the Wisconsin Dells. My wife works as a nanny and every year they let David and I tag along when they all go on vacation. This was our second year in the Dells and it ended up being an eventful trip. Lots of flooding in the area kept things exciting and challenging.

I think to keep this manageable, I'll just post the pictures a day at a time as the vacation occurred. So here's Sunday. Diane was working, so David and I went back to a cool, but kind of creepy pizzeria/brewing company we visited last year. We followed that up with a trip to a local candy company in the small town of Baraboo just south of the Dells.

Click on the picture above to see the rest of the Sunday photos.

New Wave of the Week: Icicle Works - "Whisper to a Scream"

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Just got back from Wisconsin a couple of hours ago. The trip was great except that there was no Internet.

Actually, that's probably for the best too. I got a ton of reading done and caught up on some DVDs I took with me. Saw Kung Fu Panda and Incredible Hulk too. Guess I have a lot of reviews to write.

Anyway, home safe. Hope you liked Gallery Week. I'm starting to get some nice comments from a few of the featured artists and that makes me happy. The Internet is a wonderful thing.

Geez, I'm feeling lovey today.

It's going to take me forever now to catch up on my 'net reading, so bear with me while I sort through the backlog. Of course, you always do.

It's good to be home.

Friday, June 13, 2008


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