Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Person I Find Most Attractive In This World

Conveniently, I'm married to her.






This is the last item from Calvin's List. It's been fun, but I'm going to have to find something new to do on Sundays now. Or not. It might be nice to have a day off.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Quotes of the Week: A very twisted way of thinking



I don’t view Eric Powell as a competitor or Mike Mignola or Terry Moore. I don’t have to take from someone else to gain something. That’s a very twisted way of thinking in my book. We’re all fighting the same fight. Sure, we’re all going for a slice of the same pie, but believe me, there’s plenty for everybody, and if we work together we can actually make the pie bigger again, like it used to be.
--Steve Niles

[Books are] very old, cats and kittens, but before we had them we had scrolls and before that we had tablets and before that we had oral traditions. The codex—a book with a cover and pages—hasn't been around forever and it won't be around forever, and the sooner publishers, booksellers, and other industry insiders realize this and not only accommodate but embrace the changes that are revolutionizing the way people read, the better.
--Eric Blank

The multiplex audience...seems to lay down money for the right to sit in front of the movie and do whatever they want. That's different [from the art-house theater crowd], and I don't like it as much. It's colder. I don't think it's that the people are any better or any worse; I think it has to do with how much they love being at the movies. And for me to love being at the movies, I have to be with other people who love being there, too.
--Linda Holmes

Friday, January 28, 2011

Island Intelligence: Aquawar

I'm abandoning the "Awesome List" title for news round-ups. Sometimes stuff isn't awesome, but I want to talk about it anyway (see: the way DC's handling its Aquawar storyline).



Comics

*A collection of Aquaman "splash" pages (get it?) by Jim Aparo. [Diversions of the Groovy Kind]

*DC teases some of its Aquawar storyline coming up in Brightest Day. I've been easing back into periodical comics after abandoning them for a year and I'd love for Aquaman's story to be one of the ones I can read as it comes out. Unfortunately, since it's part of Brightest Day, the only way I can read it is to endure the stories of a bunch of other characters I don't care anything about. That's not something I'm willing to do. I'll have to continue to keep up via The Aquaman Shrine's excellent summaries. [The Source]

*Greg McElhatton reviews Marineman #s 1 and 2. [Read About Comics]

Movies

*Marvel's working on a Black Panther movie. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Miscellaneous

*An undersea hunter in Indonesia is able to hold his breath for five minutes and stalk his prey on the ocean floor. It would be unbelievable, except that there's footage. [Awesome Robot!]

*If the T-shirt he wears on stage is any indication, the lead singer of The Kickback is an Alpha Flight fan. The band also has a song called "Alpha Filght." I need to listen to some Kickback, I'm thinking. [You Ain't No Picasso]

*Project: Rooftop, Warren Ellis, Superhero Cocoa, and Superhero of the Month are banding together to ask artists to redesign Aquaman. [Project: Rooftop]

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Elsewhere...Harryhausen's Sinbad sails without Harryhausen



In lieu of actual content today, I hope you're okay with my pointing you to this week's Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs post:
Bluewater sent out a press release last week to announce that Morningside Entertainment has optioned the film rights to Bluewater’s Sinbad: Rogue of Mars comic from 2007. There are several interesting things about that.

According to the press release, Morningside has optioned the comic in order to adapt it into a feature film for 2012. Not a reboot, the movie is intended to be an extension of the Sinbad films that started with 1958’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and continued into the ‘70s with The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.

The release went on to quote Executive Producer Barry Schneer as saying that Rogue of Mars would be the first film in a new trilogy. “I’m thrilled to continue the amazing legacy my uncle, Charles Schneer began with 7th Voyage and to bring to the screen the Sinbad movie that he and Ray Harryhausen never got to make.”

Since Bluewater published Sinbad: Rogue of Mars as part of its Ray Harryhausen Presents line of comics, I started wondering how this fit together and who owned the rights to what. I assumed that Morningside already owned at least a portion of the rights to the Sinbad films. Since Rogue of Mars was based on those movies, why would Morningside need to option the story from a comic book company that had bought the license from them in the first place? What exactly was Morningside optioning? And how does Ray Harryhausen himself fit into all of this?
I asked questions and got some answers, all of which you can read in the link.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pass the Comics: Panther People

Oyster War



An oyster-fishing town fights back against oyster pirates. [Oyster War, by way of Robot 6]

Pirate Max Overacts



Wait'll you hear what Max and Klaus consider "relevant information." [Occasional Comics Disorder]

Young Tarzan



I didn't have a subscription to Pizzazz as a kid, but because it ran these John Buscema Tarzan stories (as well as a recurring Star Wars strip), I wanted one. The best I could do was try to find new issues when they hit the drug stores, but of course I missed some. It's very cool to see them collected in one place. [Diversions of the Groovy Kind]

Princess Pantha, Corporate Tool



I love the art on Princess Pantha, but she's a lousy hero. This comic concludes the multi-part storyline in which she plays Carl Denham to M'Gana's Kong for a paycheck from a cigar-smoking fatcat back in the States. [The Comic Book Catacombs]

Marga the Panther Woman on The Lost Plateau



Marga's much cooler. When a scientist takes his family on a scouting expedition to look for a radium deposit in the jungle, the pilot insists on bringing Marga along as a guide. The scientist objects at first, but soon learns her value when a rival group who also wants the radium attacks the party. [The Comic Book Catacombs]

The Phantom fights The Beasts of Madame Kahn



Were-beasts, that is. [Diversions of the Groovy Kind]

Monday, January 24, 2011

Art Show: Zombie Spoor

Pirate



By Jim Silke. [Illustrateurs]

Mermaids



Artist Unknown. [Never Sea Land]

Tannhauser at Hoerselberg



By Willy Pogany. [Golden Age Comic Book Stories]

Namor Meets the Beatles



By Chaz Folgar. [Puffdoggydaddy]

Somewhere I Want to Visit: Three places in Europe

Can't believe I'm almost done with Calvin's List.

There are a handful of places I want to visit before I die.

Scotland



Photo from Learn NC.

I don't know where the Mays come from. We've been in the US going back to Colonial days and no one in my family has been able to trace us back across the Atlantic. Growing up, I'd always heard that we were Welsh, but there's no hard evidence for that and I know that there are also French and German Mays. My favorite theory though is that we're Scots. There was a May sept of the MacDonald clan, so - lacking any proof to the contrary - that's who I claim.

It fits well with my mom's side of the family, anyway. Her father was a McGee and her mom was a Macoy, so there's not a lot of question about the kind of blood I inherited from her. I've never been to Europe, but when I do, there's no question either about where my first stop will be.

London



Photo from Novel Destinations.

As long as I'm in Britain, I'll have to visit the hometown of so many of my favorite literary heroes.

Paris



Photo from Willy Gommel's Third Domain Home Page.

Because I was an Anglophile for so many years, I grew up not really appreciating the French. Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and Gaston Leroux changed that though and I really want to spend time in Paris visiting literary sites and eating eclairs.

Those three places are the short list. There are plenty of other spots I'd also love to see. Diane's set on Italy, for instance, and I can't imagine having a bad time there myself. I'd stick the Caribbean on here too, but that couldn't really be considered a "visit." Once I get there, no one's going to be able to make me leave.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Elsewhere...Spelck!



Who’s this handsome fella? We’re not telling yet, but you can see him in action in this week’s installment of Kill All Monsters!.

Over at Robot 6 this week I reviewed (Critiqued? No, I can't make myself call it that.) Brecht Evens' Night Animals, a book that's as awesome to look at as it is disturbing to think about.

I also did a good job of keeping up with my new blogs. Both Amazon Village and Dear Dairy featured the same kinds of art posts, comics linking, and news you're used to seeing here, but I also started an Amazon of the Week feature (Which Companion of the Doctor kicked it off? Only one way to find out.) and shared some Cownt fan art by an artist from White Wolf Games. And of course, don't forget the Kill All Monsters! blog, focusing on giant robots and giant monsters.

Criticism vs Reviewing



I think reviewers are offering advice to consumers, while critics are engaging in a more canonical discussion.
--David Welsh

This was going to be my Quote of the Week, but two things changed my mind. 1) It's two months old, and 2) instead of just throwing it out there, I want to spend a little time with it. Usually when I pick an old quote it's just because I'm late seeing it. I saw this one when Dirk Deppey posted it back in November, but all I did with it at the time was think, "Hm, that's interesting" and go about my business. I haven't quit thinking about it since then though.

As someone who writes a lot of reviews, it's a really useful description of two reasons to do that. I've seen my role as advice-offering for a long time, but ever since I read David's comment I've been thinking more and more in terms of canon. As in: which comics deserve a place on the list of great work? The difference is art vs. commercialism. Criticism engages the work purely from an artistic standpoint. Reviewing, on the other hand, has commercial interests: Should you buy this? Had someone pointed this out to me earlier, I imagine I would've changed my motivation for writing about comics a long time ago.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Awesome List: Octochair



Comics

*Greg McElhatton reviews David B's The Littlest Pirate King. [Read About Comics]

*Marvel shared their April releases this week. Sigil #2 reveals that their new Crossgen mini-series aren't necessarily rebooting just the comic in their titles as the pirates of El Cazador also appear in this issue.

There's a new issue of Namor: The First Mutant of course. I've been wanting to try this out and just picked up the first issue of the new storyline after the opening X-Men-crossover storyline finished. I'll let you know what I think.

Dinosaurs are going to get plenty of attention in April too. Reptyl naturally appears in Avengers Academy #12, and Ka-Zar and the Savage Land appear prominently in both Skaar: King of the Savage Land #s 1 and 2 and Spider-Man #13.

*Dinosaurs are also big players in DC's April comics. Magic ones (summoned by Zatanna, for some reason) are featured in Power Girl #23 and Secret Six: The Reptile Brain collects a storyline in which Bane and some cohorts conduct a mission in dinosaur-filled Skartaris.

*Adventure! thought of another jungle girl they missed in their list last week: Tawana from Abbot and Costello Comics.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pass the Comics: Eve among the chimps

Monsters from the Sea



A short essay by Tony Isabella and Ernie Chan. [Diversions of the Groovy Kind]

Come Back to Tlakluk



An American WWII pilot returns to the island where he was once stranded with a Japanese pilot. It's not exactly Hell in the Pacific. [Diversions of the Groovy Kind]

Korak, Son of Tarzan visits The Hidden World



An uncomplicated, but sweet story with absolutely gorgeous art. [Gold Key Comics!]

Monday, January 17, 2011

Art Show: Where do all the Croco-People go?

Love at First Sight



By Mattias Adolfsson. This is just a detail. Click the link to see the whole thing.

Aquaman



By Dave Barking.

Namor vs. Shagreen



The artist is keeping anonymous, but he or she blogs at Marvel Flipside.

Rusty Recon on Gear Island



By Jeremy Vanhoozer.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Drawing by Diane May



This week's item from Calvin's List simply asks for "A Drawing." It doesn't specify who the drawing should be by, but I expect it wants one from whomever's completing the list. You don't need to see my scribbles, but I didn't want to post a drawing by just anyone. I do plenty of that every week already and the idea behind going through the List is to share more personal information than I usually do.

So here's a drawing by my wife, Diane: a scene from the summer camp she went to as a kid. She does one of these every year and donates it to the camp's annual fundraiser auction.

Elsewhere...New Blogs!

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



We started Chapter 2 of Kill All Monsters! this week. I'm curious to know what people are thinking of it so far, but I also realize that it's early days yet and a lot of you are waiting until we have more up so you can read in larger chunks. No worries, I do that too. But if you are keeping up and have thoughts (encouraging or constructive), I'd love to hear them.

I reviewed Return of the Dapper Men for Robot 6. It's a lovely steampunk fairy tale and goes in my Top Five Stories Ever About Childhood and Growing Up (alongside stuff like Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan). It's as thought-provoking as it is charming.

And finally, I apparently went crazy on Friday and started two new blogs. Both are spin-offs of this one, featuring stuff that I used to cover a lot of here, but have had to cut back on for various reasons. Dear Dairy: The Cownt's Blog will cover vampires and other classic monsters while also digging a bit deeper into the Cownt's world. Amazon Village is all about tough, heroic women.

The reason for spin-off blogs is that I still want to talk about monsters and adventurous women, but can do without having that content increasing the size of my daily pile. So this blog will get top priority (focusing mostly on sea and jungle adventures) and I'll work on the other two as I find time. Hopefully that will be regularly. Add them to your RSS reader. Follow them. Love them.

Quotes of the Week: One Big-Toothed Cat Short



I laughed when the article said Skaar's adventures will include meeting up with prominent Savage Land character including Ka-Zar and Shanna, as I think that's pretty much one big-toothed cat short of all the prominent Savage Land characters.
--Tom Spurgeon

Everyone in Hollywood knows how important it is that a film is a brand before it hit theaters. If a brand has been around, Harry Potter for example, or Spider-Man, you are light years ahead. And there lies the problem. Because unfortunately these franchises are become more ridiculous. Battleship. This degrades the cinema.
--James Cameron

In creating a movie or a book or a comic, it’s not a mathematical equation. 2 plus 2 doesn’t always equal 4. It can equal 0 or a hundred. There is no way of completely duplicating the success of something you’ve seen. So much relies on instinct, voodoo, luck and, the main thing, the talent and vision of the people involved.
--Axel Alonso

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Awesome List: Triceracopter



Music

*My local radio station doesn't play enough Pirate Core. [Kevin Hendrickson]

Books

*The Best Dinosaur Books for Kids. [Dinosaur Tracking]

Comics

*Top Shelf has released their publishing schedule for 2011 including June's Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken, Book 1: Troublems with Frenemies and August's Dragon Puncher, Book 2: Island. [Top Shelf]

*A great, illustrated list of jungle girl characters. [Adventure!]

*Classic jungle girl Sheena will participate in Moonstone's big crossover this May alongside Captain Action, Honey West, Kolchak, Domino Lady, and The Spider. [First Comics News]

*Marvel's jungle heroes Ka-Zar and Shanna are going to get a challenge to their supremacy in the Savage Land by the Son of Hulk. Writer Rob Williams promises "giant dinosaurs, giant robots, and giant dinosaurs fighting giant robots." [Marvel]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Land of the Lost: Season Three (Episode Eleven: Ancient Guardian)



Season One: Part One, Two, and Three.
Season Two: Part One and Two.
Season Three: Part One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, and Ten.

Episode 11: "Ancient Guardian"

On the run from a party of Sleestaks at night, the Marshalls enter a part of the Valley that they’ve never been to before. Near a cliff, they find a large, wooden statue carved to look like a Sleestak. There are strange symbols all over it and the Marshalls naturally assume that the statue’s purpose is to point the way out of the Land of the Lost. How could they not?

They don't want to decipher it in the middle of the night though with the Sleestaks and Grumpy the T-Rex on the hunt, so they decide instead to haul it back to the temple where they can study it at their leisure. They don’t spend much time with it before they realize that they’ll need Enik’s help. Will volunteers to ask the Altrusian come morning.

He and Jack spend the rest of the evening imagining what it would be like to finally get home. The only reason I mention this is that Jack speculates that most people won’t believe the Marshalls’ stories of the Land of the Lost. “On the other hand,” he notes, “somebody might want to write a book about it. Or a movie.” And just like that we have a way to make the Will Ferrell movie – however awful and unfaithful to the show – fit into official continuity. If it’s a movie within the show I feel like I can watch it and satisfy my curiosity without getting all ticked off at it. I’ll just imagine the Marshalls watching it too and rolling their eyes about how Hollywood got the details wrong.

Meanwhile, back at the cliff where the statue was, a large, shaggy creature emerges from a crevice and climbs over a pile of rubble to terrorize the Sleestaks in their caverns. Enik’s able to drive it away with a laser-shooting crystal before it reaches the hatching chambers, but the reptile-men are understandably distraught. Enik and the Sleestak Leader ask the Cave of Skulls why the Ancient Guardian has forsaken them and learn that the Marshalls have taken the Guardian. The Leader wants to kill the humans in retaliation, but Enik sees some benefit in talking to them first. He doesn’t believe that they know what the Guardian’s for.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pass the Comics: Mysta meets her match

Time to catch up some on Sleestak's collection of Mysta of the Moon comics. I'm behind by about six issues, so I won't catch up completely today, but let's make a dent.

Mysta and the Flaming Column of Earth's Core



In this adventure, Mysta continues her role as a sort of one-woman Science Police, making sure that corporations and individual scientists aren't misusing knowledge or exploiting resources they shouldn't. For instance: harnessing energy from the Earth's core and not only seriously angering the ape-men who live there, but also giving said ape-men the opportunity to retaliate against the surface world.

One of my favorite things about that post though is Sleestak's observation that with Golden Age stories, it's  necessary for readers to fill in details that the ultra-compressed storytelling leaves out. Doing that - and seeing how my details differ from Sleestak's - is a large part of what makes these stories so much fun.

Mysta vs. the Jovian Bat-Men (Not to be confused with Jovial Batman)



A science project from Jupiter goes astray and crashes near Mysta's moonbase. The monstrous scientists who created it then go to great and complicated lengths to get it back, hopefully destroying Mysta in the process. Be sure to read Sleestak's commentary on how the animal-men possibly fit in to the larger, mostly human culture in the solar system.

My own alarm bells went off when Mysta admitted that their technology reveals "a knowledge of science that far surpasses my own." I didn't think such knowledge existed and it's kind of scary to think that it's controlled by such dastardly (though cool-looking) villains.

Something else that gets me wondering is Mysta's claim that she can tell the technology was created by "diabolical minds." I'm not sure how that's possible unless she noticed a weapon or some other kind of violent application that she doesn't mention to "Bron." Sleestak's darker take on Mysta is probably rubbing off on me, but part of me suspects that Mysta's simply afraid and possibly jealous about someone else's technology exceeding her own. However, the optimist in me likes to think that she's just that smart and can tell from looking at the tech that its creators are up to no good.

Mysta on Strato Garrison X-9



When a military outpost requests a Force Screen from Mysta, she sends Bron to deliver it so that she can continue some important research. The scenario raises a couple of questions: what's the garrison for and why are they requesting military equipment from Mysta? The answers aren't hard to guess. With all the Jovian Bat-Men, mad scientists, pirates, and other ne'er-do-wells operating in interplanetary space, Earth has begun to protect the space lanes. And it's not surprising that Mysta is still acting as gatekeeper for all technology with a military application.

What is surprising is how little influence Mysta has over the military. When Bron arrives at the garrison, he discovers that it's been taken over by a band of villains and that it was these who requested the Force Screen. He's captured, but gets word to Mysta who in turn calls in Earth Fleet, led by a Colonel Sarku who's already in the area. Mysta recommends courses of action from the Moon, but Sarku refuses and proceeds in his own way. Mysta is of course proved right, but it's fascinating to me that she has to resort to trickery to do it and never once tries to pull rank, presumably because she has no rank to pull. By the end of the story, Sarku admires her subterfuge and declares that there's nothing to forgive because her plan worked and she just played the game the only way Sarku's rules would allow her. I like this guy. I doubt he'll be back for future stories, but I sure wouldn't mind it if he were.

There are a couple of other interesting things about this story. One is the villains' plan to use girls to keep the garrison's regular soldiers drugged. To pull this off, the bad guys have to also keep the girls drugged, which seems overly complicated. The only explanation I can offer is that the girls - who usually aren't allowed in the garrison - are enough of a distraction to keep the guards from realizing there are strangers in their midst. Torg and his pals probably wouldn't be able to get close enough to the real soldiers to drug them, but the girls can.

The other interesting development is that Mysta shows a bit of jealousy with Bron's being around all those other women. She covers it up quickly, but she's already expressed feelings for him in the past and she slips up again here.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Pictures of where I'm from: Tallahassee and Northern Florida

I had to forget about Calvin's List during the holidays, but let's dig back into it. Even though this week's item calls for just one picture, I'm going to do better than that. Once I started looking up photos of Tallahassee and North Florida, I couldn't stop. I lived there from ages 5 to 21, so it'll always be my hometown even though it's been 20 years since I've been back.

Apologies to the many blogs and websites I boosted these images from. I'm on too tight a schedule today to attribute credits.



The state capital. The old one in front is pretty much just a tourist attraction now. When they built the new, 22-story one behind it, they didn't want to tear down the historical one. I always appreciated that dedication to history.

I interned as a page during one congressional session when I was in high school. I wish I could remember more details than the maroon suit I wore and how sore my feet were at the end of each day.



Florida State University. I actually went to high school on this campus in a research school they ran. What that meant was that we would occasionally get pulled out of class to participate in research projects that the university conducted (without having to make up the work). Projects could be anything from cognitive testing to volleyball skills to letting college students measure our body fat with plastic pincers.

Every day after school my younger siblings (it was a K-12 school) and I would walk across campus to our church building on the opposite side where my mom would pick us up after she finished work. I never went to college at FSU, but I had a lot of friends who did and I attended a lot of football games. Still a Seminole fan today. And our high school graduation was in the building you see in the picture.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Elsewhere... Best Comics of 2010



Hm. I should've done this yesterday to follow up the movies posts, but bucking years of tradition (and contrary to my earlier prediction), I came up with a list of my ten favorite comics from 2010. I share that link with the other Robot 6eteers, so there are lots of great comics to be discovered there. And for even more comics recommendations, check out Comic Book Resources' Top 100 list. I got to do a few of the write-ups for those too.

It's kind of interesting, I guess, that not all the books I picked for Tom Spurgeon's year-end Five for Friday made it into my final list, but there are a couple of reasons for that. First is that Five for Friday's rules require fast thinking and I never do my best thinking quickly. But I also took to heart Spurgeon's criterion that we simply list five books that we liked without having to take into account their quality relative to everything else we read during the year.

Anyway, you can easily guess my Number One pick and I did a full review of it for Robot 6. I also managed to squeeze in another critical favorite before the end of the year, Charles Burns' X'ed Out. And to start 2011 off, I questioned how much of the Silver Age should really be a model for adventure comics today.

One final piece that I'm pretty happy with is the interview I did with Archaia's Editor-in-Chief Stephen Christy and the creators of Mouse Guard (David Petersen) and Return of the Dapper Men (Jim McCann and Janet Lee) about the sell-outs of Dapper Men and the Mouse Guard spin-off, Legends of the Guard. As I say in the interview's intro, I usually ignore press releases about sell-outs, but Archaia's a great company and at their C2E2 panel I was impressed with how honest and forthcoming they are about their business strategies. Enough so that I felt like this was an opportunity to learn more about what selling out really means - at least for them as a small publisher - and what they did as a company and creators to make that happen. They were even more open and helpful than I hoped and I learned a lot. Hopefully readers will find something enlightening and interesting in the interview too.

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