Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's cute when the kids play grown-ups

Marvel is showing off their designy covers for the 70th Anniversary specials. These aren't even the regular covers, but variants. You can only stray so far from the ranch, eh?

They are kind of cool, I guess. The only problem here is they say more "poster" than "book cover." Truth be told Marvel's main line title treatments are closer to where they ought to be, and leagues ahead of boring old DC logo design.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Venture Brothers Season 3 is out!!!

The question wasn't whether or not to purchase the latest season of The Venture Brothers, it was which edition to buy: DVD or BluRay?

The BluRay had the advantage of being BluRay, making the entire season available on one disc, along with a bonus soundtrack CD that I'd no doubt enjoy. The BlueRay package is colored blue in a cardboard sleeve around the standard plastic case, retailing for $40.

The DVD on the other hand is a vastly more complementary orange-- in consideration of the brilliant tribute/mockery of videogame packaging from days of yore. Even tho it was shrink wrapped in the store, if past Venture Bros. DVD's were any indication, I knew there would be a fabulous work of art on the cardboard clamshell foldout that the BlueRay clearly lacked. $26.

As you can see from these pics, I was not disappointed. BluRay: Denied.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

No Comics Day (again)

New comics day is steadily becoming new trade paperback, Green Lantern, and Young Liars day. I have been picking up more trades, and have purposely not been picking up comics knowing their collection is a matter of time. For most thing I am patient.

I do know Amanda Conner's Power Girl is just around the corner, and I'm torn between floppies and trade. In this case it may be a catch 22 in needing to support the floppies in an effort to even warrant a trade.

Tho shipping this week, I have decided to drop Wonder Woman. Yes the art is good, the story is interesting. But I'd rather have a compact collection. I truly and dearly love comics, but they do become tiresome. Especially mainstream, to which the floppy format has outlived its usefulness. I've all but abandoned Marvel and am just looking for reasons to drop DC altogether. GL loyalty aside, it's usually art that gets me to pick up a book. And any string of issues by someone I enjoy I'd rather have in one chunk.

Anyways I don't leave empty-handed this week, as yet another fantastic issue of Illustration has arrived. With it I am able to heal my troubled soul.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I am playing pool

Finally raising my head above water after far too much work, I forced myself to get back to one of my favorite pastimes. I hadn't played in a while but getting out that stick pushing rocks around was like putting on an old glove. And this glove put in the nine on the motherfucking break. That is a feeling that stays with you for a while.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Comics Day

Green Lantern Corps
Young Liars

This is the best week of the month, just because these two books regularly ship together. As the Green Lantern Corps marches on to Blackest Night, I find myself once again needing to shout from the rooftops the comic cook insanity that is Young Liars.

Lapham has completely gone off the deep end as storyteller and is swimming like a fish. Past the first arc it appeared that not only the cast had been upended, but their perspectives as well. Now I wouldn't even know how to describe what's transpired, as seemingly the book's core premise has done a mirror-flip that leaves you ruffling through pages in disbelief, frantically trying to find a grip on the narrative. It's a good old fashioned mind fuck around every corner, but its the skill in which Lapham and his nutty cast pulls you in and sucker punches that leaves me wanting more every issue. Matter o' fact, at the counter today, the clerk said, "Oh man I can't wait to read what happens from last issue." To which I agreed, "And it's like that every issue."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Watched the Watchmen

It was a long time coming, but it may be that we finally got the Watchmen film we've been waiting for.

The question is who exactly the collective "we" is in this sceanrio. It's next to impossible to discuss the movie of Watchmen without connection to the graphic novel. So if "we" is the general comics-loving geek crowd who holds the novel in high regard, then mission accomplished. But if "we" heads into the overly critical looking for the end-all be-all of comic book movies, there may be a little left wanting. Since for many Watchmen is the end-all be-all of graphic novels, in some respects its a no-win scenario.

To get the comics comparisons out of the way, Watchmen as a comic is nigh impossible to translate into film. The comic itself is a meta-driven deconstruction of comics. At minimum, all you're getting into a screenplay is an intricate plot. Screenwriter David Hayter takes a workman's approach into dissecting the novel, and does a surprising job of cramming in all of the relevant details. Here's where we need to get specific in regards to the source material. The character translations are really solid overall, however there were some weights shifted to support the film's narrative. Laurie/Silk Spectre is beefed up almost inversely to how she's marginalized in the book. In turn, I felt Ozymandias was short changed as a result. A fascinating character on paper, Ozymandias on film is telegraphed early on as the misunderstood villain and little else.

The main character, if there could be considered as such, is easily Rorschach. He anchors this film and is best represented throughout. Rorschach is superbly acted and nails the essence of the character. Friends and I even discussed afterwards that even though we already knew the outcome, Rorschach got us emotionally invested to the point of tensing up and lamenting his inevitable fate. Coming in at a close second would be the Comedian, who was the one character I wished had more screen time. Both scene-stealer and one you love to hate, the Comedian is also the one character from the group that outshines his comics counterpart.

Meanwhile Dr. Manhattan is also a major player to the storyline, but it was clearly difficult for Hayter to include him to the extent he is needed. Even tho Dr. Manhattan's storypoints are some of my favorites in the book, the film could have easily done without much of it; leaving more of Dr. Manhattan's origins and motives uncovered may have in turn enhanced his disconnected nature and lead to a more satisfying conclusion. Dr. manhattan's origin seen page-by-page as he skips through time is an amazing read, but just doesn't translate to film in the middle (literally) of a complx, developing story.

Lastly, as in the book, Dan/Night Owl remains a neutral character. He's given alot more action on screen, but basically tows the line throughout. It works pretty well considering the larger-than average cast of focal characters. Especially in a superhero movie where the focus is usually on one person's drive and fetish, here with five Nite Owl hops back and forth between action hero and angsty straight-man without stealing the spotlight.

Moving from the structure of the story to execution, Zack Snyder takes a downright amazing and faithful approach to the source. He captures the visuals of the book and extrapolates them into something we all wanted to see-- in giant, widescreen eye-candy. There are scenes in this movie that are flat out gorgeous, impeccably framed. Additionally the attention to detail is at times hard to believe. If you know what to look for, it's there. Snyder plays out Hayter's difficult script like a pro, winding an abnormal amount of exposition between sweeping panoramics and action set-pieces. Everyone and everything is given their due, which may not have been the best way to go, but no one can say the effort wasn't there.

One of the more surprising aspects of the movie is the one thing the comic does not have: sound. Music cues instantaneously set the era and tones for what's going on. Song choices setting up different scenes range from the odd to the sublime, I had a huge smile when Dan and Laurie's dinner meeting was introduced with "99 Luftballoons." Their eventual love scene may fall into the odd category, but throughout the film the music is noticeable and largely complementary. I tell you it's a strange thing, because after years of reading and re-reading Watchmen, not once did I apply an imaginary soundtrack.

But even more surprising than the new element of sound is the unexpected areas where Watchmen truly shines as a film. I've noted in prior reviews that there is little reason to create a literal translation of a comic book onto film-- it defeats the purpose of both mediums. While it's doubtful a more faithful job could have been done bringing the source to screen, where Watchmen strays from that source is the new stuff of dreams. The original material added to the movie is exceptionally compelling, and each little tidbit left me wanting more. The opening montage alone so beautifully sets up the film's world it's hard to wonder what more could have been lurking around in Hayter and Snyder's imagination as an extrapolation of Watchmen rather than an adaptation. Deviation from the core story seems like a trivial matter when there is an obvious care being taken to get the important stuff right. As for the conclusion, which is most removed from the book's (which I love), it's certainly more plausible in the condensed scope of what's presented. If not a necessity given the intricate sub-plots required to see the original's through.

Even still, the movie runs at a heavy 3 hours, and that was more than I was expecting. The first hour is kind of long in the tooth, and almost spelled doom for the whole shebang. The second hour is more up to par as plot lines begin colliding for the uninitiated, while comics fans sit in disbelief at how much is being crammed onto screen. The third hour is top notch, ramping up to a fevered pace and letting most expectations be paid off in full. But given the skill involved behind the scenes, knowing the source as well as I do, and an inkling of what's needed to shore up a good flic, I believe the opportunity was there to make a tight 2-hour movie that would have been more than gratifying. But Watchmen being "Watchmen," I'm sure there was a looming obligation to deliver what was presented. And really none of that was anything I wouldn't have wanted to see.

Watchmen was one of those movies I thought would never get made. A small part of me wanted to keep it that way, knowing the butchery Hollywood is capable of. But damned if the parties involved pulled of what was once thought impossible, with a level of dedication and plain 'ol entertainment "we" can all be proud of.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Staple '09

Just got back from an afternoon at Staple, Austin's own little indy press expo. There was some cool stuff and some great artists there, I took a bunch of cards from people to check out some of their web sites. I think that's one of the great things about being an artist with web access-- not only do you have the chance to look out for artists in person whom you've been introduced to online, but new artists you meet have a portal for you to visit and see more of their work.

I picked up some cool books and t-shirts, and even got some great sketches done. Unfortunately I missed out on meeting Stan Sakai, I knew he was around but I never synced up when he was at his table.

As I was handing out cards for a little self promotion, I did get a small treat when I met an artist who had actually been to my sketchblog, Cup Doodle!

Here are some other cool folk I met, check them out!

Evan Bryce

Martin Whitmore

Kennon James

Dean Trippe

Paul Adam

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

New Conan Day

Couldn't find any floppies to take home, but I did snag the latest volume of The Savage Sword of Conan. I just can't get enough of John Buscema in all of that wonderful black and white. And thankfully on the same nice paper as the last brick (altho mysteriously and sadly absent from the first three). These industry-wide brick collections are great, there seems to be a wide selection for all kinds of old fans and new readers coming out at a steady pace. I really shine on the Conan ones since they were a bit before my time, and this is a great way to have a compact collection of tons of material.

Also of note this week is the collected Jeff Smith's Shazam, great stuff. And a shiney new reprint of Justice League International.