Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Change-Bots and Sea Heroes

I'm struggling with allergies or a cold or something today, so if it's all the same, instead of a real post today I'll send you to Robot 6 where you can read my review of Jeffrey Brown's Incredible Change-Bots graphic novels.

Or if you'd rather, there's my article from a couple of weeks ago about my Seven Favorite Sea-Based Superheroes (That Aren't Aquaman or Sub-Mariner). I forgot to link to that one at the time, but people seemed to like it.

Thanks for letting me take the night off. *cough cough*

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mysta, Agent of M.O.O.N.

Continuing to catch up with Sleestak's Mysta Mondays.

This is one of my favorites so far, mostly because Matt Baker drew it, but also because it has a strong secret agent vibe. Mysta's "vacationing" undercover at a resort when she gets word that a scientist acquaintance of hers (who's been experimenting with some weird stuff called Electro-Ions that Mysta's loaned him) sends word that he's in trouble. I put "vacationing" in quotes because - as Sleestak points out - it's suspicious that she just happens to have chosen a resort very close to where Dr. Svord is conducting his tests.

There's a pretty assistant, tragic murders, secret call signs, a sinister villain, and a brutal henchman, all of which remind me of Bond films. There's even the "gadget" of the Invisibility Cloak (predating Harry Potter by almost 50 years), which Mysta seems more interested in than the Electro-Ions that created it. Curious to see if she uses it in future adventures. It sure sounds like she wants to.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Land of the Lost (2009)

My plan worked. Extremely low expectations married with a view of the movie as a film-within-the-show allowed me to make it all the way through without ripping out my eyes and ears. It would be an exaggeration to say that I enjoyed it, but I was at least able to enjoy parts of it without despairing over What Have They Done to the Show?

I knew I was going to have problems with Land of the Lost as soon as Will Ferrell was announced as the star. I don't much like Will Ferrell's work. Not even Anchorman, the movie everyone reminds me about as soon as I tell them I don't think Will Ferrell's funny. I tolerate him in Elf because I love Christmas movies, but I can't make myself watch it every holiday season. Haven't yet seen him in Stranger Than Fiction, though my resistance to it is weakening. At any rate, Land of the Lost did nothing to change my mind about Ferrell's style of comedy.

I did however like Danny McBride and Anna Friel. This is where it came in handy to see the movie as something that the Marshalls might have had to endure once they got home. Otherwise, I would've been extremely frustrated that Rick Marshall's kids have been transformed into a love interest and an idiotic guide.As it was, I laughed at McBride a lot and Friel was less annoying than she was in Pushing Daisies.

Yes, I know Pushing Daisies was a critical darling and I liked it for the most part, but not for the part where Ned and Chuck couldn't touch and it was Rogue all over again. Or the constant reminder that Ned was keeping a huge, horrible secret from her. Friel was fun and likable in the part, I just didn't dig the uglier side of the show that her character represented.

Holly of course has none of that. Instead, she has the unenviable job of having to admire and respect a character played by Will Ferrell. A character - I'm quick to add - that is designed specifically to be unworthy of admiration or respect. This isn't an Anna Friel flaw, it's a fundamentally ridiculous problem in the script. Nice job by Friel for making Holly attractive and charming in spite of that.

Cha-Ka was stupid though. The less said about him the better.

What I was most curious about - and the reason I wanted to see the movie at all - was what they did with the show's mythology. How much would they include? How much would they change? I like that Grumpy was there (and that Holly named him) and that Enik's an important part of the story (though his motivation has completely changed from the show). I was elated to hear someone mention the Zarn until I saw what they actually did with him. I liked that he had Leonard Nimoy's voice, but he's the Zarn in name only, having nothing in common with the inter-dimensional traveler from the show.

But you know, if I'm a person living in the world of the TV series and this movie is all I know about the Marshalls' adventures, I don't hate it. It's not Good in any sense of the word and parts of it are downright horrible, but other parts are enjoyable and even funny. As a whole, like so many other movies, it's mundane and ultimately forgettable, but that's a blessing and a vast improvement over what I expected going into it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bonnie Lass #2

Last month, I checked out Red 5’s inaugural digital-first comic, Bonnie Lass and wrote about it for Robot 6:
[It's] surprising in a couple of ways. For one thing, it’s bawdier and sillier than the other Red 5 books I’ve read. Bonnie Lass isn’t just a description of the main character, it’s also her name. So, as you can tell from the pun, the humor is pretty low-brow. There are jokes about Bonnie’s breast size and plenty of physical slapstick; not really what I’m used to from the company that publishes Atomic Robo and Neozoic.

But just as I was ready to write it off as a disappointing gag-book, it clicked in with an exciting action sequence and finished the first issue with an interesting villain. It also revealed that the story doesn’t just take place in a fantastic version of seventeenth-century Earth. It’s an amalgamation of that and Westerns with a bit of Film Noir and some modern technology thrown into the mix as well. The result is a light-hearted adventure story that owes as much to Indiana Jones as Pirates of the Caribbean. Which, now that I think of it, is exactly the kind of thing that Red 5 publishes.
Now that I've read the second issue, I like the series even more. I'm used to the light-hearted, slightly naughty tone now and appreciate even more a world in which better pirate ships are equipped with GPS. I also like that co-writers Michael Mayne (no relation) and Tyler Fluharty have dedicated a substantial part of the issue to rounding out Bonnie's motivation for wanting to one-up her famous pirate father. That doesn't mean that there's no forward movement on the treasure-hunt plot, but it's nice that Bonnie has good reasons for feeling the way she does and that she's a deeper character than just Cute Pirate Girl.

Mayne and Fluharty have some hard work ahead of them to make Bonnie's slacker friends and brother as sympathetic as she is, but they've already started laying some of that foundation. Bonnie Lass holds a lot of promise.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thundarr Hates Cephalopods

Mysta of the Moon vs the Plant-Monsters of Vitan

I've gotten way behind on Sleestak's Mysta series, so I'm going to spend some time catching up. I've moved most of the comics linking to the Annex, but Mysta's different because - like Sleestak - I enjoy reading between the panels and trying to figure out the subtext. Since I want to keep on doing that, I'm keeping Mysta here.

One of the coolest things about deciphering the story-behind-the-story is that Sleestak and I have come up with different takes on Mysta's tactics. We agree that she's benevolent in her intentions, but passionately protective of what she considers to be dangerous knowledge. Where we differ though is in how far her influence extends and to what lengths she goes to control power. I see Mysta as a mostly benign gatekeeper of knowledge who - with the support of Earth's government - sometimes has to act violently to protect the galaxy at large. I hope I'm not misrepresenting Sleestak, but his Mysta is harsher and controls the government.

In Part 18a, Mysta travels through time and fights killer plants. From which we learn a couple of things: 1) that future bio-chemists wear awesome helmets, orange-scaled Speedos, and little else, and 2) that history seems to remember Mysta kindly. When she goes to the future and visits a school, she overhears a lecture about her in which the professor calls her, "our beloved idol."

That seems to support my view of Mysta, but I can't ignore the possibility that she had a really excellent PR firm spinning her legacy in a positive direction. Even if I'm right though, I can't argue with Sleestak's interpretation of that last panel. Mysta's clearly been kissed. Hard.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Valley of the Dinosaurs on DVD

Hanna-Barbera only made 16 episodes of Valley of the Dinosaurs, which probably explains how I not only completely missed it as a kid, but also forgot it even existed until a year ago. Since I was reminded about it though, I've been extremely curious to see some actual episodes. Now that's possible thanks to Warner Bros.' Archive collection. It's overpriced at $30 for 16 episodes, but they've got me hooked anyway and are reeling me in.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Marineman Hates Cephalopods

Although technically it's not a cephalopod, I think we can all agree that it's close enough. Marineman - being a marine biologist and ocean activist - probably doesn't hate actual cephalopods, but I'll still claim him for our team.

And Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! By the time anyone reads this I'll be on the road to Chicago for C2E2 and - if I'm lucky - seeing the green river a la The Fugitive.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Disrupto Man

The countdown's on to C2E2, so posting's going to be lightweight the next couple of days before dropping off completely on Friday. I may take Monday off too if I haven't recovered by then.

Remember how I told you about the Quartet of Crime, the super villain team that the Cownt was once a member of? Super villains of course need super heroes to fight, so my brother-in-law and I created some of those too. These were based on some characters we'd created for a super hero RPG (I forget which one; we played two or three of them). Gav Spence drew them as designs for the comic we wanted to do, based on Dave and my descriptions.

Disrupto Man was Dave's character. As his chest symbol so subtly indicates, his power is to shoot distrupto-beams from his fingertips. If memory serves, he believes he gets his powers from his mystic tiki mask, but may be stark raving mad, which would cast some doubt on that theory. I forget what the forearm-mounted gun does.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Amazon of the Week: Solara

I don't think The Book of Eli holds up all that well as a movie, but that doesn't stop me from appreciating the character of Solara (Mila Kunis). She doesn't start out especially tough - she's as frightened and dominated by Carnegie (Gary Oldman) as the rest of the town - but she's brave enough to take her chance at escape with Eli (Denzel Washington) when she sees it and soon becomes outright heroic.

Kunis is a huge part of what makes Solara a successful character. Even during her time playing the annoying Jackie on That '70s Show, Kunis brought a lot of strength and intelligence to a character who on paper only needed to be pretty and bitchy. She continues giving those qualities to her film characters, which is why I love watching her movies even when she's not wreaking holy vengeance with a submachine gun.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Savage Beauty #1 now on sale!

I'm embarrassed, but I totally whiffed on mentioning last week that you could've bought a comic with writing by me in it. I didn't write the comic itself, but in the back of Savage Beauty #1 is a text piece I wrote about jungle fiction in general and jungle girl stories in particular. 

The reason I forgot to bring it up here was that I was busy getting my interview with Savage Beauty's real writer, Mike Bullock, ready to go for Robot 6. Part of my fascination with modern jungle comics is how writers avoid the offensiveness of some of the genre's tropes. I talked to Mike about how he balances fun adventure with the horrific, real-world elements that he weaved into The Phantom and now Savage Beauty.

Check and see if your store has a copy of Savage Beauty #1. It promises to be a cool, interesting series.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Michael goes Mondo (Sasquatch)

Casey Criswell (Cinema Fromage) has announced a Bigfoot anthology that he's co-editing with Louis Fowler (Damaged 2.0) and Rod Lott (Bookgasm, Flick Attack). As the title Mondo Sasquatch suggests, it's a collection of sasquatchian short fiction, which would make it worth picking up even if it didn't have an awesome cover by Jim Rugg (Afrodisiac) and I didn't have a story in it.

But it does and I do. So even better!

When Fowler opened the door for submissions, here's how he described what they were looking for:
Anyone can do a typical Bigfoot-scares-teen-campers tale…we want something different. Stories can put the creature in any time or any place or any situation, as long as it is entertaining! Think your story is too “B-movie”? Chances are we’ll like it even better. Think your “take” is too insane? We want to read it!
So, yeah. Should be a lot of fun.

I certainly had fun with mine. It's called "Bigfoot and the Bone Face Murders" and it's a Western steampunk murder mystery with Bigfoot as the detective. The first sentence goes, "Bigfoot came to Wolf’s Creek looking for the man who killed his bear."

The book's scheduled for a May release and I'll definitely keep you updated as new details are revealed. For now, check out Cinema Fromage for the full list of authors and story titles.

Speaking of hairy creatures, new Kill All Monsters! pages are up and the Kill Team runs into a monster considerably smaller than the kind they usually fight. Too bad they aren't in their robot suits at the time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Land of the Lost: Season Three (Series Finale: Medicine Man)

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, Ten, Eleven, and Twelve..

Episode 13: “Medicine Man”

The last episode of the series starts off on the right foot with Holly and Cha-Ka’s cooking dinner for the family. In a reference to a first season episode, Cha-Ka observes, “Cha-Ka like stone soup more better.” We’ve established that these are an alternate reality’s version of the Season One characters, but it’s nice to be reminded that some things are the same.

There’s also some genuinely funny banter between the two of them, but while they’re inside the temple gathering vegetables, someone makes off with their pot of water. When Jack and Will return with firewood, Jack goes into the jungle to search for the thief and is attacked by an American Indian in traditional clothing. Jack beats the Indian easily and it’s only then that the Indian realizes that Jack isn’t who he thought he was.

The Indian explains that his name is Lone Wolf and that he was trying to get back to his tribe with some medicine for a fever epidemic that's killing them. He’d ridden into a dust storm, was thrown from his horse, knocked unconscious, and woke up in the Land of the Lost. He admits to stealing the water to make some traditional medicine for himself, because he also has the fever and the White Man’s medicine he was carrying is in his saddlebags with the horse, wherever that is.

Luchadores Hate Cephalopods

[Brother Cal]

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Amazon of the Week: Wonder Woman

Meant to get this posted yesterday. Oops.

I've been resisting featuring Wonder Woman as Amazon of the Week for no other reason than she's an easy, obvious choice. But if I keep putting her off, she's just going to become the Elephant in the Room that I'm trying hard not to talk about, so I might as well get her out of the way. After all, she's obvious for a reason.

I've already talked at length about the comic book version, so I think today I'll focus on the TV version instead. That's the way that most people - myself included - first experienced her.

Like a lot of guys who grew up in the '70s, I had a huge crush on Lynda Carter as a kid. I'd be lying if I said that her costume wasn't part of the show's attraction, but it wasn't the main draw. She was a superhero and I was all about the superheroes. I couldn't afford a lot of comics, but I could watch TV for free, so she and The Incredible Hulk and Super Friends and re-runs of Batman and The Adventures of Superman were my first and primary exposure to a lot of these characters.

In spite of the gender difference, I never saw Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman as being different from the other heroes, which is pretty remarkable considering the times. That's not reflective of any especially enlightened thinking on my part; it's all to the credit of the show and how the character was written. Wonder Woman was as capable and heroic as any other superhero on TV and she never mooned over Steve Trevor or any other man. She was obviously fond of him, but I always got the feeling that she was laughing at him a little bit (and Lyle Waggoner's Steve Trevor was very often laughable in his ineptitude; when he was head of the IADC, his first reaction to a villain's scheme was always, "Let's call the police!"). Without preaching or even really mentioning it out loud, the show taught me that women could be strong and independent and I've enjoyed knowing women like that ever since.

Ben Caldwell's Dracula

Ben Caldwell sent me this picture from his excellent book, All-Action Classics: Dracula, easily the best comics adaptation of Stoker's tale ever published. If you at all consider yourself a Dracula fan, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

And because Ben's awesome, he also sent some behind-the-scenes designs and other miscellanea for us to look at. It's from an art book he's putting out for all the All-Action Classics he's done. Cannot wait to see that.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Con Tour 2011

I think I've got my convention schedule figured out for the rest of the year:

C2E2 is in a couple of weeks (March 18-20) and I'll be there to write about it for Robot 6. With any luck, I'll have some Kill All Monsters! ashcans with me too. Since I'm there as press, I won't have a table, but there are a few panels I know I'll be going to:

  • Archaia Presents: How to Make a Great Indie Graphic Novel (Saturday, 2:30 - 3:30 pm)
  • Webcomics Roundtable (Satuday, 4:30 - 5:30 pm)
  • The Lost Genre: Getting Wild with Jungle Comics (Sunday, 2:30 - 3:30 pm)

Those won't be the only ones, certainly, but those are my Can't Misses. If I can make it to the Oni and Dynamite panels, I will, and there are a few writing ones that sound interesting, particularly the one on Horror comics from a writer's perspective.

Anyway, if you spot me, please stop me and say hello even if you don't want to buy a KAM! book. Running into people from online is one of the best parts of conventions.

I've sent in my RSVP and confirmed that I'll be attending SpringCon again this year as a Guest Creator on May 21-22. I should have KAM! ashcans there as well to sell. Mine probably won't have a Jason Copland original sketch inside, but you can still own a printed version of Chapter 1 for your very own.

I'm also planning to attend FallCon on October 15, but that's barely a gleam in anyone's eye yet. I don't expect to be able to confirm anything until probably around the end of summer.

Finally, I'm especially excited that I'm going to be one of the curators at the Minneapolis Indie Xpo on November 5-6. That was a great show last year and it's going to be awesome to be one of the people bringing in artists for it this year. I'll probably have more to say about this as I learn more. Right now, I'm just really, really thrilled.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Kill All Monsters! update

Kill All Monsters! continues to update every Friday and if you haven't checked in in a while, now would be a good time. The Kill Team are out of their Bots and exploring Paris on foot. Even though they've got rid of the giant monsters plaguing the city, that doesn't mean all danger is past, as they'll soon see. And their being on the street also means that we get to see Jason's glorious, up-close depictions of the ruins of Paris. If you at all dig post-apocalyptic adventure, this should scratch that itch very satisfyingly.

I think I've finally hit on a nice formula for the KAM! blog too. The original tagline for it was Not Just a Production Blog, but I feel like I went too far in the other direction and made it Not At All a Production Blog, so I'm working to correct that. Next week I'm going to start sharing stories of how KAM! has developed from concept to its current form and I've already started linking to Jason's process posts that he's been doing on his own blog. Not that I'm abandoning the extra stuff like art posts and links to giant monster and giant robot comics.

I'll also link to reviews and KAM! got some cool ones this week. Jay from the Exonauts blog (and a frequent commenter here) has some extremely nice things to say about the comic and Steve Niles gave us a mention in his weekly Creator-Owned Spotlight column at Robot 6. Much thanks to Jay and Steve for not only reading, but for writing about it too.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


One of Gavin Spence's early drawings of the Cownt in his bat form. And further proof that Gav is a mad genius.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Amazon of the Week: Deadly Little Miho

I'm not sure I can explain what's so cool about Miho from Sin City.

So cold. So deadly. So mysterious. Trying to describe what makes her cool is like trying to describe why you like Wolverine. "I don't know. She's just cool!" Only she's not completely overcooked the way he is. She's new. She's fresh. She's drawn by Frank Miller.


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