Friday, November 27, 2009

Elsewhere on the Internets: Cownt Tales, Tumor, and Rogue

Here's what else I've been up to online lately...

Cownt Tales interview



My Robot 6 cohort Tim O'Shea was cool enough to interview me about the Cownt this week.

In other exciting Cownt Tales news, the book is finally available to order on IndyPlanet for anyone who prefers to do it that way. I've updated the Cownt Tales entry in the sidebar to reflect that too.

Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs

Tumor isn't exactly the kind of comic I usually pick to talk about here. The gangsters aren't monkeys and the cops don't wear jetpacks. It's a mystery, but it's not a murder mystery. It is, however, exciting to read and - though dark at times and touching at others - a great deal of fun. It's a crime comic - noir in every sense of the word - and the emotional depth that Fialkov and Tuazon give the main character makes it an engrossing experience I didn't want to finish. So while it may not be a big adventure comic, it is excellent.

It's the story of an elderly private investigator named Frank Armstrong who's hired by a crime lord named Gibson to find his missing daughter. Obviously it's not going to be as simple as that and as Frank begins his investigation he starts to ask questions about Gibson's motivations for finding the girl. There's rumors that she ran off with some money. Is Gibson trying to get her out of trouble or planning to kill her? How is Frank's old cop pal involved? Hell, how are all the cops in LA involved for that matter?

Answering these questions would be hard enough without the brain tumor Frank's carrying around. He's in his last days, struggling to stay on his feet, fighting the seizures that are coming more and more frequently, and helpless against the hallucinations and memories that threaten to overtake him. It doesn't help that the girl he's looking for looks a lot like Frank's dead wife. Or that the situation with Gibson's daughter seems to mirror the events that led to Frank's wife's death. With Frank so sick, he's having a hard time keeping it all straight. Past and present are merging.
Read the rest and see Phil Hester agree at Robot 6.

What Are You Reading?



I used to talk about Rogue quite a bit here, but since dumping single issues for trade-waiting, I've had to take a break and let the collected volumes catch up to where I left off. They finally have and I talked about it for last week's Robot 6 group feature. The sort version is that I love Mike Carey's story and I'll definitely be buying the next collection.

And Now the News: One of these things is not like the others

Chuck and Lost premieres



Chuck gets going again on January 10. The final season of Lost kicks off February 2.

Burn Notice renewed

In related news, the sun will also come up tomorrow.

Gilmore Girls movie still possible



Not likely, necessarily, but it's still on everyone's wish list, including the series' creator and stars. I know this falls far outside the field of what this blog's about, but I can't help it. I loved that show.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'll probably be taking the next few days off to eat turkey, shop, and chop down an evergreen to put in my living room. In case I don't get back here during that time, here's a short documentary to help us keep in mind what the holiday is all about:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Lost Continent (1968)



And I thought War-Gods of the Deep was mis-leading.

I thought that maybe this was a re-make of 1951's Lost Continent starring Cesar Romero, but that's arguably my own fault. The poster doesn't claim that at all, and since that movie was of fair quality at best, it's not necessarily a bad thing that this one has nothing in common with it.

But the poster does make other claims that the movie isn't equipped to make good on. The biggest one - and, interestingly, this was also a problem with the 1951 movie - is that there's no lost continent. In '51 there was at least an island that the characters actually set foot on, but '68 doesn't even have that. There's a land mass with some people living on it, but we never get to visit it. The entire film takes place at sea, with the "islanders" (we're never told how big it is) coming out to meet the ship.

More insulting than that though is those cephalopod tentacles on the poster, because there's no such creature in the movie either. What those actually are are plant tendrils. The main threat in the film is killer seaweed.

And that's what's kind of sad about the marketing for this movie, because I'm here to tell you that there's absolutely nothing wrong with killer seaweed. And there's not much else wrong with this movie either; it's just a very different film from the 20,000 Leagues-esque film promised on the poster.

Although it predates most of the movies I'm thinking of, The Lost Continent reminded me a lot of a '70s disaster flick. There's a large cast of strangers - each with a mysterious background or something they're running from - that's thrown together just in time to face something horrific. We're not sure who's going to make it through to the end, and oftentimes we're not even sure who we want to make it.

I had a hard time finding someone to root for during the first half of the movie. None of the characters are very likable, though they're all interesting. Take the captain and his first officer, for example. The movie opens with a beat-up old tramp steamer as it busts out of an African port, pursued by customs ships. It escapes and we quickly learn that the steamer's owner/captain is crooked. His ship's falling apart and he's gambled the lives of his crew and passengers on a scheme to smuggle illegal, highly explosive material to South America. If he makes it, he'll have enough money to retire on.

The first mate is new to the crew. He's young, completely by-the-book, and horrified at the captain's unconventional behavior even before he finds out about the cargo. He's also a craven coward, reactionary, and an idiot. In contrast, the captain - though selfish and mean - is brave, decisive and smart.

Who do you root for between those two? The movie doesn't make it easy to decide and it's the same way with the other characters. People you begin the story hating become your favorites by the end. People you think are pretty okay at the start turn out to be despicable. The cast is awesome in its complexity.

Know what's even more awesome than that though? Killer seaweed. After various disasters that I wouldn't dream of spoiling, the cast ends up trapped in an ocean of sentient seaweed. In order to escape they'll have to overcome giant arthropods and rescue an island girl from a ship of Spanish inquisitors and conquistadors who have their very own theocrat and an accompanying Sarlaac pit in which to throw infidels. The special effects are all rubber monsters, but with a little imagination from the viewer it's spectacular.

My only real complaint about the movie is that it's resolved a bit quickly, which means that some loose ends aren't resolved at all. It's easy to fill in those details yourself, but I was caught off-guard when the closing credits began.

Four out of five Inquisitorial Sarlaacs.

Monday, November 23, 2009

And Now the News: It's guarded by some sort of demon

Prince of Persia trailer



I don't play video games (because I'd never get anything else done, ever, if I did), so I haven't had a lot of reason to be excited about the Prince of Persia movie. Not until I saw the trailer, anyway.

Little did I know, I've been waiting for this movie for a long, long time. Like ever since they rolled the closing credits on Raiders of the Lost Ark and I wanted to see another movie just like it. There's no way this can be as good as I'm hoping, is there?

The Looking Glass Wars movie



I should get caught up on Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars series because I read the first book and really liked it. It's not attempting to mimic the tone of Lewis Carroll's stories; it's a big, epic re-imagining of Wonderland and its inhabitants. As long as you can buy the premise that Carroll's stories were based on his misunderstanding Alice's genuine recollections and that this is the real version of the events, it's a fun, well-written book. The Hatter alone is by far the coolest version of that character ever, Johnny Depp or no Johnny Depp.

Anyway, they're making a movie out of the series and I couldn't be happier.

The American



I'm in the minority amongst my friends, but I love George Clooney. So the news that he's playing an assassin in a Bourne-like spy thriller is welcome indeed. I say Bourne-like because he's a top assassin who wants out of the business and may find love in a picturesque European village if his job doesn't kill him first. But really there are a thousand different ways you can play that and there's no reason to believe that director (and iconic photographer) Anton Corbijn is going to mimic anyone else's.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Morning Matinee: Didn't You Wear That Like Five Years Ago?

Counting with Movies



The New A-Team in action

BA still don't wanna get on no plane with no damn fool...



The Return of Captain Mal

In case you didn't get to see the Castle episode everyone was talking about...



Put That Thing Away!

How that trash compactor scene should have gone...

Quotes of the Week: Aquaman, Editors, and Snowflakes



I've never really understood those who say they don't know what to do with Aquaman. It's not just that he can breathe underwater, there's a whole mythos to the character, and powers that may not have been adequately showcased before.
--J. Michael Straczynski, scratching his head at Dan Didio and others who claim not to be able to get a handle on Aquaman. (Though I suspect that Didio's comments are more of his usual coy teasing than actual indecisiveness. I'd bet money that DC has very specific plans for Aquaman right now; I'm just not willing to guess what those are or when we'll see them played out.)

I think part of what people are struggling with over there is the idea that the culture you live in doesn't necessarily care about you personally or seek your approval as an individual unique snowflake. Culture mercilessly goes on without you, and without me, and without lots of us, at times.
--Linda Holmes, on how your opinion of something doesn't dictate how Important it is.

The directorial equivalent would be James Cameron and Steven Soderbergh coming in to replace Stephen Sommers.
--/Film's Brendon Connelly, on a) the undervalue of film editors, and b) how one last round of tweaks for the Wolf Man re-make may actually be a positive sign for the movie. I appreciate the first sentiment, but in terms of the second, I remain aloof.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday Night Art Show: Menace from the Murky Depths!

The City of Tyre



By NC Wyeth [Golden Age Comic Book Stories]

The Phantom



Artist unknown [Jon Knutson]

Monstro!



By Jack Kirby [Poulpe Pulps]

Shark Girl



By Byron Leboe.

Kelp-Haired Survivor



By Eric Zermeno.

Tiger Lady



By Mel Milton.

Basilisk



By Brian. [Vedunia]

The Flying Monkey



By Jeremy Vanhoozer.

Witch World



Artist Unknown [Pulp of the Day]

The Planet of Peril



I don't recognize this signature either. [Galactic Central]

Exit Life



Artist unkown [American Pulps and Magazines]

Friday, November 20, 2009

And Now the News: The Gigantic Robot is Revealed

Hunt at World's End



The third installment in Hard Case's pulp-style adventure series is out. Here's their description of it:
Three jewels, lost for centuries and scattered across the globe, hold the secret to a device of unspeakable power, and only Gabriel Hunt can prevent them from falling into the hands of an ancient Hittite cult—or of a rival bent on world domination...
The Gigantic Robot



An art comic about a... well, you know. There's apparently no marauding in the book, but that seems to be the point.

Warlord of Io #3



Now available for download at SLG. The first one was awesome; no reason to think this won't be equally so.

Michael's Cool Collaborators

Some cool stuff happening with some of my artistic collaborators:

Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelly pencils



Greg Jolly's sharing some of the pencils from Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelly, which I scripted.

Paul Taylor wins the Friends of Lulu!



Cownt artist Paul Taylor has won the Best Female Character Friends of Lulu Award for Monica from Wapsi Square. Congratulations, Paul!

Jason Copland and Perhapanauts



And congrats also to my Kill All Monsters partner Jason Copland! The issue of Perhapanauts he drew has been solicited by Image for February:

THE PERHAPANAUTS: MOLLY’S STORY (ONE-SHOT)
story TODD DEZAGO & SCOTT WEINSTEIN
art & cover JASON COPLAND
flip cover CRAIG ROUSSEAU
FEBRUARY 17
32 PAGES/FC
$3.50

Finally it can be told! The story that everyone's been waiting for, as we reveal the tragic tale of the Perhapanauts’ resident ghost – Molly MacAllister– and how she came to be! Stand alone story! You don't need to know any continuity or anything!

Elsewhere on the Internets...

I've been fighting a cold the last few days and unfortunately I'm losing. The Friday Night Art Show will have to be a Saturday Night Art Show this week. In the meantime, lemme catch up with a couple of other things, like what else I've been up to online lately. (Not much, actually.)

Five for Friday



In honor of Veteran's Day, last weekend's Five for Friday assignment was to Name Five Good Characters With A Real Or Fake Military-Style Rank. I almost missed the "Good" qualifier and had to redo a couple of answers before sending them in, but here's who I ended up with:

1. Lt. BD
2. Captain America
3. Col. Steve Trevor
4. Sgt. Frank Rock
5. Cobra Commander

Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs



Taking a break from Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon, this week I spent some time with Al Williamson's version.
I grew up reading Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson’s Star Wars strips and I was always impressed with how real Williamson’s characters looked without looking exactly like the actors. His use of models sometimes meant that figures looked posed and static, but it also leant credibility to the fantastic stories he and Goodwin were telling. As did his talent at creating lush, detailed worlds. It was almost like these were the real adventures of my favorite Rebels and Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford were just actors playing the parts.

I’d never read Williamson’s Flash Gordon stuff before this collection, but the same traits are all there. If you like his Star Wars stuff, there’s no reason you won’t enjoy this too, especially with Archie Goodwin joining in on some of the writing. But what surprised me about the book was its diversity. All the stories share some common Williamsonisms (giant mushrooms and alien animal life decorating the landscapes, for instance), but it’s interesting to see the different ways of doing things that Williamson employed depending on the particular project.
More here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spam Spam Spam Spam

I'm on my second day in a row deleting spam comments by this jerk from old posts. That's getting a bit ridiculous, so I'm turning on the comment-moderation function for any post over a couple of weeks old. That shouldn't affect most of you guys, but in case it does I thought you should know why.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

War-Gods of the Deep (1965)



War-Gods of the Deep is a pretty misleading title, but then, almost everything about this movie is misleading. It has some really awesome parts, but there's also a fair bit of disappointment.

For one thing, there are no war-gods. In fact, there's no war. That part of the title is apparently meant to disguise for US audiences that this is a British adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's "The City Under the Sea." Which is itself a bit of subterfuge because it stars Vincent Price and is clearly meant to cash in on Roger Corman's series of Price-starring Poe adaptations. The sad part is, it doesn't even need a war or any gods. The story is just fine on its own, though it could use some tightening up in places.

The movie starts off brilliantly with a creepy voiceover of Price reading Poe's poem and the discovery of a body washed up on the British shoreline. The corpse is discovered by some fisherman and a visiting American engineer named Ben (Tab Hunter) who recognises it as the lawyer for Jill Tregillis (Susan Hart), the only other American in the village. For some reason, Miss Tregills (which I kept mis-hearing as Mister Gillis) stays in a creepy old mansion on the cliffs overlooking the sea. I think it's supposed to be a hotel, but that was never made real clear.

Anyway, Ben goes to tell Jill that her lawyer's dead, but when he sees her he's distracted by such important concerns as the presence of a painter named Harold Tufnell-Jones (played by David Tomlinson from Mary Poppins and Bedknobs & Broomsticks) and his pet chicken. Even with the murder mystery and the creepy mansion, I was concerned about the story because Ben just kept forgetting to tell Jill what he'd gone there to tell her. He manages to mention the lawyer's name at some point, so Jill thinks that Ben wants to visit the lawyer and escorts Ben to the lawyer's room. It's not until they reach the bedroom door that Ben suddenly decides to blurt out that he found the poor guy on the beach.

Tab Hunter's not exactly bad in the movie, but he doesn't do anything to raise his character beyond the unbelievable dialogue either. At another point, Ben goes on and on about how his work as an engineer requires him to be highly observent so that he doesn't miss any opportunity to seize profit for his employers. That line may have played better in 1965 than it does in 2009, but even so Ben brags about it like it's some kind of super-power.

Back to the awesome parts though: the power's out in the mansion so it's all candles and oil lanterns when Ben discovers and fights with a seaweed-covered gill-man who enters and escapes the lawyer's room through a secret panel. In a second attack, the gill-man captures Jill and disappears with her, leading Ben and Tufnell-Jones (and the chicken) to track them back to an underwater city where Vincent Price rules as captain over both the gill-men and an immortal pirate crew. Like I said, you really don't miss the "war." There's plenty of awesomeness to keep it going without that.

Unfortunately, the movie doesn't really make good use of its gill-men and immortal pirates in their Vincent Price-ruled undersea city. Ben and Tufnell-Jones are captured and the rest of the story takes it's lead from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as our heroes keep trying to escape and Price tries to prevent them (he's in love with Jill, you see, because she looks exactly like his dead wife). The gill-men are stuck in the water outside the city, basically just an obstacle for the heroes to eventually overcome if they're to get back home. There's an underwater chase sequence where everyone's wearing cool-looking deep-sea suits, but it's too long and so crappily edited that it's impossible to tell who's chasing and/or fighting with whom.

Still, some of the effects are very good, the sets are fantastic, the gill-men look great, and the exterior shots of the underwater city and the cliff-side mansion are amazing. Price is also delightful as usual and Tomlinson always makes me smile, if only because I grew up with him and it feels good to see him in something "new."

Three out of five secret tunnels to the sea.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And Now the News: A Ship of Doom!

Tales of the Gold Monkey on DVD



Back in the '80s, shortly after Raiders of the Lost Ark became a big hit, there were lots of similarly themed movies and TV shows that tried to cash in. My recollection is that this was one of the better ones.

Guess who's going to be on Chuck?



John Doggett. That's who.

Just when I thought the show couldn't get more perfect. (Yes, I realize it's only for one episode, but let's just dream big and call that "for starters.")

Monday, November 16, 2009

And Now the News: French Girl Reporter vs. Mummies and Pterodactyls

Adèle Blanc-Sec



The poster looks like a thoughtful Merchant-Ivory film, but we're assured that it is, in fact, going to be a kick-ass movie about a mummy-fighting girl reporter battling a pterodactyl that's on the loose in early 1900s-Paris. Undead Backbrain has more details and some scans from the comic it's based on.

If you haven't already... meet your new A-Team



This has already made the rounds, but I'm still catching up from Halloween. The picture both thrills and terrifies me at the same time. In a world that allows Will Ferrell to star in Land of the Lost, there's no way this can be as awesome as it looks like it's going to be. It's got to be some kind of joke. [/Film]

Dark Days Update: Meet Stella



The adaptation of my favorite 30 Days of Night story continues to move along. It's too bad that they couldn't get Melissa George to reprise her role as Stella, but Kiele Sanchez deserves a fair shot. I didn't like her character on Lost any more than anyone else did, but that was all about the writing and nothing to do with her performance. If anything, she actually made we want to get past the ungraceful shoehorning of her character into the established cast.

At any rate, I refuse to have anything but optimistic thoughts about the Dark Days movie. I don't know that it'll be a perfect adaptation, but I'm excited to see what it's like. [AceShowbiz]

Conan Update: Character Descriptions



I won't post any spoilers here, but /Film has casting breakdowns from the Conan movie that's currently in development. They talk about the backgrounds and motivations of various characters in the movie. Unfortunately, none of it's faithful to existing stories, nor does it bring anything new to the sword-and-sorcery genre in general.

Bone Update: A Trilogy?



Jeff Smith says that he's very happy with the progress on Warner Brothers' Bone adaptation so far and that it'll likely be a CGI-animated trilogy of films. That all sounds good to me, though my preference would be for live actors and location-shooting with CGI creatures.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So, how'd that signing go?



I never reported back on how the signing went a couple of weeks ago. Short version: it was a lot of fun and we sold more books in one day than we did during all of FallCon. I'm assuming that the increase in sales was because we were only competing with the New Comics rack instead of hundreds of other live creators, but there were also people who came in specifically to see us, either because they knew us or because they'd seen the announcement in the store's newsletter and wanted to support local creators.

I noticed that Matt Maxwell (Strangeways) was also significantly more successful at his recent in-store appearance than at an earlier convention. There are significant differences in our stories (for one thing, he was at Borders and we were at a comics specialty shop), but even if Matt's observations about that experience don't directly apply to this event, he makes an interesting point that I want to explore some more. Namely, that people coming into a general book store were not at all resistant to checking out and spending money on comics. Much less resistant, oddly, than people at an actual comics show. As Matt puts it, "Perhaps that audience that everyone has been waiting for is actually out there."

Matt's quick to acknowledge that this isn't at all a scientific examination, but it does open a couple of mental doors that I hadn't even considered checking to see if they were locked. I'm not sure a short comic like Cownt Tales is the right one to experiment on, but when I eventually have an appropriate book, I'd be foolish not to explore some appearances at local bookstores as well as comics boutiques.

Anyway, back to the signing, we had a couple of people from this blog stop by to say hello and pick up copies, so that was a treat. My Mom also came by with a mutual friend of ours and that was cool too. Especially when the two of them spent almost an hour shopping around the rest of the store. The Source has a pretty diverse clientele, but you still don't typically see a lot of the women-over-60 crowd there.

I also have to single out Grant Gould, a) because he's awesome, and b) because he took the picture above.

Thanks again to everyone who came out. It was great seeing you again and I hope you liked the book.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Quote of the Week: The Overly Big Book of Stephenie Meyer

"Stephenie Meyer grew up in the Southwest, got married, had kids, wrote some books about vampires and got rich. Batman."

We threw "Batman" in there to make it more exciting.

--Chris Sims, explaining why you don't really need 28 pages to tell the Twilight author's biography in comic book form.

Saturday Matinee: Steampunk Robot Duel

Pomplamoose's "Single Ladies"

At last, a version that I don't have to feel guilty listening to...



Remember the original Raiders of the Lost Ark from 1951?



Filmabrams' Star Trek



The Doom-O-Matic!



Leviathan



A Gentlemen's Duel

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Night Art Show: Achtung, Squiddie!

Excuse me, Madame



By Jeremy Vanhoozer.

Squiddie



By Kyle Hunter. [Sketchy Business]

Triton



By Monsterpocalypse.

First in the Future



By Frank Frazetta [Golden Age Comic Book Stories]

Marrina



By Jesse Hamm. Lots more Alpha Flight art in that link. I especially dig his Heather Hudson and Sasquatch.

The Sea Girl



I don't recognize that signature. Anyone know? [Galactic Central]

Aquaman, Anyone?



By Jesus Saiz. [DC Universe: The Source]

Aquaman vs. Nazi Fish



By

Spawn of Space



Artist Unknown [American Pulps & Magazines]

First Wave



By Rags Morales [DC Universe: The Source]

Catwoman



By Alex Ross. This will always be Catwoman's costume to me.

Golem



By [Sketchy Business]

Play Time



By Sam Hiti. Check this one out too. It's sort of a sequel.

Don't Feed the Bears



By Mel Milton.

Wooden Ninja



By Eric Zermeno.

Odin



By Pere Pérez. [Victor Santos]

Ride of the Valkyrie



By [Sketchy Business]

Zoom Quilt



By lots of people. You have to click through and watch this. It's a Flash animation that zooms inward, taking you deeper and deeper through a continuous series of paintings and eventually looping on itself. Amazing.

Space Lion



By Jeremy Vanhoozer.

Teeth



By Scott Burroughs.

Space Squadron



By Sol Brodsky (maybe). [Collectors Assemble]

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