Wednesday, June 29, 2005

New Comics Day

Last week I was in Las Vegas but I did track down a couple books...

Shaolin Cowboy

This week was awesome!

Wonder Woman
Doc Frankenstein
Zombie Tales
Shining Knight
JLA Classified
Green Lantern
Solo: Darwyn Cooke
Planetary ??!!
Modern Masters: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

I am always surprised to see an issue of Planetary, it's like I did something special without knowing it and someone decided to put an extra treat on the shelf. If the series is on the tail end, the waits are only amping up the tension. Livewires hit it's next to last issue, Adam Warren returns to his not-uncommon theme of supposedly killing off every character he's forced you to retain interest in. Damn him! I gotta keep mentioning this book because I desperately want it to succeed. Pick it up!! Shaolin Cowboy, damn that kid can draw.

TwoMorrows continues its excellent tradition of publishing books for comics art lovers. The latest volume of Modern Masters shines a much deserved spotlight on JL Garcia-Lopez, truly one of the finest draftsmen in sequential art. The name may not be as well known outside the fold, but his art sure is. Garcia-Lopez's figures were the driving force behind DC's first forays into mainstream licensing, circa 1980 and beyond. If there was a plastic cup, a party favors set, or a phone book ad with any DC character, that art was based on his style guides if not his art outright. As such the icons of the DCU were given unforgettable representation to a non-comics market and I think much of the recognition remains to this day. In fact two of my all time favorite spot illos, one of Green Lantern and one of Wonder Woman, belong to Garcia-Lopez. It doesn't stop with the licensing material, as his comics work is a force to be reckoned with. For me it's a rare artist than can have me pick up a book based on name alone. Fans of comics defining stars, and fans of fine illustration in general, will benefit from the in depth history and interview. Plus it's a great showcase of top-tier artwork!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

All Things in Moderation

Walking down Las Vegas Boulevard on the tail end of a three day bender is an experience unto itself. You're still wearing clothes from the day before, maybe two, you can't quite remember. It's hot, man, an odd hot with heated winds and a whisp of moisture from a summer thunderstorm that lasted all of five minutes. You walk on autopilot, not quite drunk and yet not quite sober. The remnants of alcohol in your system aren't taking sides and your brain is spending little effort to lean things one way or the other. Your mouth and teeth have a fine film of whatever it is that an evening of chain smoking and drinking leave behind, sweat gives you a perceptible glow to those who still care to give you attention. Little matters, your thoughts are constrained to memories of being buried under cheap perfume and silky flesh a few hours and several hundred dollars earlier. Making it back to the hotel for one last stretch of sleep would be nice, but not terribly important... the lights are so pretty.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Bust out the violins...

What is all this crap about dissapointing box office revenues? Batman did 47/70 million for the weekend/week and it wasn't enough? In one week that's not enough for you guys? Hollywood can blow me.

Batman Begins

Man, I was so convinced this movie was going to blow I really didn't know what hit me. Batman Begins is so freaking good I hope it is the first of many, many more. As a first film for a fresh start there are so many great foundations for the mythos and they all ring true to the character. With so many versions of Batman out there, I thought that was an impossible task.

For a comic book movie, it's phenomenal. For a general, all-around hollywood flic, it's still pretty good. There's still alot of things it appears filmmakers of today can't escape from in an action blockbuster, such as:

1. Damsel in distress
2. Close-up, super-quick, rapid editing fight scenes
3. car chase
4. Secondary character gets a shot from the mainline
5. Villain is not the villain

I wasn't sure if they were going to be able to capture what it meant to be Ra's Al Gul but they really nailed it. Right down to Ra's wanting Wayne to be his eventual successor (and even hints of his immortality).

I am a long time Christain Bale fan so it was no surprise to me that he pulled it off.

Michael Caine's Alfed was fantastic. For once Alfred is not a throw away character and is played as the integral character to the story that he is.

Liam Neeson, I could listen to him talk for days. He's pretty much got the mentor thing down pat.

Gary Oldman was really great to watch as Gordon, I never understood the previous casting of the Burton versions. I don't know why they had that whole section with the Batmobile. Well I mean I know why in a hollywood sense, I just wish they'd have found another way around it.

Katie Holmes is pretty to look at, sure,,tho she actually held up better than I thought. It's a long way from Dawson's Creek.

Morgan Freeman is good in everything.

Cillian Murphy, he worked okay I guess. The Scarecrow was played about as well as he is in the comics, really just a foil for bigger things. I thought he was the focus of the film as the villain, but he's clearly just a convenient plot device. It could have been a disaster, but not bad at all.

Overall it's a really good Batman story that for once didn't try to insult my intelligence-- too much. Nolan and Goyer really came through. I hate to boil down the responsibility of a movie to two guys, but those are the names attached to this incarnation along with the cast. Luckily for most of us the machine they oversaw is working.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Apple Futures

-- Geek mode: on --

Check out Steve Job's Keynote Address at this year's WWDC. The big news was of course the move to Intel, and the Xcode update, but there are a few other suprises as well!

-- Geek mode: off --

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Wildsiderz #0

Ummmmm... yeah.

I was hoping for a bit of the actual comic, and perhaps some of Campbell's groovy sketchbook pieces. The comic will be out in August, and the sketchbook is a likely possibility down the road. Instead with Wildsiderz #0 we get a fancy marketing pitch/folio that WildStorm and DC decided to foot the bill for. It looks like a pitch, it reads like a pitch, it bleeds hard sell. Even the pitch within the pitch, a section of pages in the tail end of the book, is constructed like a movie trailer so well you can hear that Lafontaine guy doing the voiceover in your head.

Make no mistake, Cambell's art is the show here, and it's looking as good as it ever has. That has a large part do do with the insane coloring production being done by Edgar Delgado. It sets the style of the book beyond Cambell's (now) signature art and is as about as flashy as things can get. No animation budget would go near it, and it sets any potential big screen budget into the hundred-million dollar range.

Wildsiderz (that's spelled with a 'z' on purpose, so it must be cool) will be a comic, and it will be a Campbell show, with Hartnell and Delgado bringing up the rear for what I'm sure will be a popular book. It's going to sell. So I am a little confused as to what #0 is actually for. It doesn't promote the comic at all-- it promotes the license that Wildsiderz clearly wants to become. In those endeavors I wish the team all the luck in the world, there's alot of talent behind the book and they must be striving for some bigger idea. But Campbell, if you're familiar with the guy as an artist, he's dedicated to his craft and encourages the community of artists and readers that follow him. I would like that to show up in the book that comes out of all this instead of trying to convince everyone what a hot property has been created. I could be reading it all wrong, that may be exactly the plan, but Wildsiderz #0 is clearly for a room full of producers and marketers looking for the next big thing. If you're setting out to make a movie, cartoon, toy line, whatever, you've got the skill to just go and do that ('you' being moreso generic, Campbell happens to be attached to this example). If you just want to make a good comic, make a good comic. "If you build it, they will come."

New Comics Day

Not much from the big two, but the week was saved by Dark Horse, indies, and... WildStorm?

Day of Vengeance
Klarion the Witch Boy
Power Pack
Conan and the Jewels of Gwahlur
Strangers in Paradise
Authority: Revolution
WildSiderz (with a 'Z')

Day of Vengeance... this Crisis stuff is like crack. It's a quick high but you know it's not good for you. I think I've tapped into the secret of Infinite Crisis with the Villains United and Day of Vengeance books. DC readers are being given stories featuring appearances by every 3rd, 4th, and 5th tier villain and various supporting casts. They are all going to die. Or more simply, Infinite Crisis is going to write them out of existence. This is a really a last hurrah for the majority of these characters, because the new status quo, whatever it may be, is not going to include them.

I have no inside information on this, but I've been prophetic about such things before. And while the fate of the Flash himself seems to offer that IC will attempt to cast a permanent shadow on the DCU, many of these other guys probably aren't going to be missed. But it is nice to offer them up one last time, buy them a drink, then leave a 20 for them on the counter as you take a shower.

That whole Flash rumor tho (the one where he "might not survive the Crisis"), that's kinda neat. It ties in to the whole Crisis on Infinite Earths angle, and sets up a rather nice transition for Bart Allen to become the new Flash. The mantle of the Flash has always been transitional, and you don't think they put Bart into the Kid Flash costume for nothing, do you? Bart as the Flash suddenly gives that book/character a serious shot in the arm. Whether or not they go through with it, well 4 months and counting, right?

More on some of the week's other highlights after a good read.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Off the Nightstand: Skin City

So this guy Sheehan, the author, has lived in Las Vegas for like 30 years. And he wrote a whole book espousing the seamy underbelly of the town's sex trade, and I didn't learn a single god damn thing I didn't already know. It was a fun read, but it's like when the cable guy comes over to hook up your internet connection and you just want to yank all the wires from him and do it yourself.

The chapter-based anecdotes and interviews are entertaining enough (I always was a bit curious as to what happened to Ashlyn Gere), but it kind of runs together without really getting into the meaty heart of the subjects. The most intersting segments are where the math is laid out, selling sex (figuratively and literally) in Vegas is just money hand over fist. Huge rediculous amounts of money. Lotta money. The economy of that burg is fed continuoulsy by "partons of the arts" and in return the women feed it right back into the city.

If you're curious about but know absolutely nothing of Las Vegas, strippers, swingers, call girls, hookers, or porn, this book was catered just for you. But if you fell off the turnip truck so long ago you're pretty sure it was a carrot truck, Skin City will offer few revalations. Eerily that speaks more for the author than it does for me... :-Z

Monday, June 13, 2005

Monkey vs. Tiger!

Sun Wukong you magnificent bastard.

Monkey hijinks.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

American Splendor Revisited

I caught this on cable today and was greatly enamored with it the second time around. I enjoyed it alot the first time, but I guess I was just caught up with the story and overly intrigued with the life history of comic book seminal Harvey Pekar and his fellow luminaries. On the second viewing it's hard to ignore the beautiful camera work and lighting, with great shots and settings that linger enough for the eye to take in. Far too common in modern films the camera cuts are by the second, denying any allowance to appreciate the scene. American Splendor is full of picture perfect composition wrapped around Paul Giamatti's engrossing portrayal of Pekar, albeit the portrayal exaggerated for film. The film between the film which features Pekar himself and his real-life counterparts is an interesting deconstruction of the documentary/biopic formula. Outside of the interest it would hold for those who enjoy or work in comics, it's a great movie that finds drama in the banal, just like the comics it celebrates.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Don't give in to "Spin"

I've been reading online the official (read: DC directive) tag for the new DC logo is the "DC Spin."

Fuck that shit.

Join me in declaring it the more eclectic and silly sounding "DC Swirly."

Comics Recap

JLA #115

Dealing directly with fallout from Identity Crisis, this League-centric sorbet proved more interesting than I thought. Suprising considering the majority of the issue was JLA members yelling at each other. Superhero interpersonal relationships can sometimes be as engaging as the slugfests, Johns+Heinberg keep it just above pandering. The real treat is the art by Chris Batista and Mark Farmer, MAN do these guys look good, 'specially Hawkman. Not too crazy about Zatanna's depiction (having Morrison and Sook's version on the same shelf creates an interesting reflection), and I was kinda hoping for an updated look for Star Sapphire. Superheroes are like Barbie, the fashion ought to reflect the times. Alot of diehards prefer the classics, but I'm receptive to well designed, contemporary togs. Anyhoo, art is yummy. That last page with the Secret Society is awesome (special nod to the colorist here).

Rann-Thanagar War #2

Ivan Reis is out of control!!! His recent Superman books brought back some of the raw power the character so sorely lacks, plus he draws an awesome Gog. Here in the galactic-scale war epic that is Rann-Thanagar, this brotha makes my eyes bleed. Inker Marc Campos deserves equal props and perhaps a few lines of coke for keeping up with such insanity.


I've been saying "Thangar" for years.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

New Comics Day

Some decent offerings.

Tom Strong
Rann-Thangar War
Age of Bronze Vol 2

The package Eric Shanower presents with Age of Bronze is a beautiful example of everything that is great about comics. The story is packed to the gills with history, drama, and artistry. The individual issues, which I am somewhat ashamed I don't buy, are fine pieces, but the collections are where the book really shines. I try to make up for not supporting the periodicals by buying multiple copies of the trades for friends and spreading it's gospel whenever possible.

The most appealing aspect of Age of Bronze from my perspective is it is accessible. To anyone. The stars of the book align with the writing, style of art, and presentation to be non-threatening to book readers as well as appealing to weekly comics buyers looking outside the superhero glut. Well I don't want to be too irresponsible... perhaps the younger tykes wouldn't appreciate it, or more-so their parents, since the Trojan War does have a sprinkling of romance. But even those scenes are done with such taste and style that its hard to see any reasonable objections to their inclusion.

Johanna Draper Carlson has a nice wrietup over at Comics worth Reading.

You can also visit the official site of Age of Bronze.

Hell, order the damn books yourself at Amazon.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Small Observation

It is really easy not to blog.

Good things comin', tho.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I hate you, Marketing

It's bad enough Darth Vader is clopping though Burger King commercials, thanks for selling out my childhood, Lucasfilm Marketing Department.

Flipping through this week's comics, you may have noticed an ad for "Milk," specifically, the new movie Batman with a milk moustache.

Batman with a milk moustache? Are you fucking kidding me?

Way to shatter any integrity Batman Begins may have had, Warner Brothers! Instead of follwing up on how allegedly great this film is and how it will supposedly relaunch the Batman film franchise, it would appear Batman is just another corporate whore.

And I know there was an ad a while back with an illustrated version from the comics, that didn't thrill me either. You can see them both at Legions of Gotham.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

"The DC Swirly has begun stamping the books."

Without context that's one of the oddest things I've ever written.

New Comics Day

The DC Swirly has begun stamping the books.

Villains United
Y the Last Man
Shanna the She-Devil

As a long time reader of DC books, Villains United has appeal in an expanded universe flavor, it's enough for me but worrysome on the whole. The books seems unashamedly aimed at DC familiars, because the references, character appearances, and inbred dialogue that are tossed left and right would be completely obtuse to even a semi-regular reader. Lex Luthor has some lines and briefly serves to drive the plot forward, but he's never even mentioned by name. As far as any browser is concerned there are a few panels with some white, bald guy in a black shirt. There is nothing to suggest he's Lex Luthor, other than he's conversing with Black Adam, Doctor Psycho, and Talia-- but my god, man, how many people even know who they are, even by sight, in costume or out?

I don't mind at all catering to fans, I've been guilty of it on past occasions myself. It is odd that a book with ties to Infinite Crisis, "the Big One," is so trenched in DC mythos that it simply takes many inferences for granted. That, to me, takes a book outside the grand art of storytelling. In an example I use often, I say that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is an excellent movie. And not because it's just a cool Star Trek story that really hit a chord with fans. If the movie were simply called The Wrath of Khan, and there was no history, no Star Trek canon, no Star Trek at all, it's still a damn, damn, good movie. It's a masterful work of science fiction centered around a significant human drama. You can choose to forget everything that has come before or after in the Start Trek universe and lose yourself in the story that's being told in the most classic of fashions. You can even go so far as to entirely replace the setting-- I've always imagined what it would have been like with two rival merchant captains out on the high seas-- and the characters, story, and drama fall right into place. The best part is that you don't have to know (or even like) anything about Star Trek to enjoy the film. And that's how Khan transcends both it's history and genre.

Comics are endless sequels, some serial, some literal. It is a rare issue that can hold it's own unto itself. Villains United sells like crazy, so I guess everyone who's into DC is picking it up... but that's a nasty little snake eating it's own tale.


Had a bunch of posts planned, but screw it, went to Vegas instead.

Didn't even pack. Sounded like a good idea for a teusday night so my buds and I got on a plane. 24 hours of smokin', drinkin', gamblin', and pimpin'. Does a body good!

Should my impromtu debauchery knock me out of Laymamerican Idol, well, dude, I was in Vegas.