Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Daft Punk blows up Vegoose!

This past weekend Kate and myself went to Vegoose 2007 (here in Vegas of course) and it was Daft Punktastic! I've liked Daft Punk since I first saw their video Around The World on MTV's 120 Minutes years ago when MTV still played music videos (reality shows killed the music video stars as the Buggles would sing). Well nothing prepared me for how awesome Daft Punk would be live and as they got on stage, I was as the kids say, "out of my mind" when the first electronic note and visual onslaught began!

Daft Punk is a two man French techno band (Guy-Manuel de Homen-Christo and Thomas Bangalter), in the fine spirit of the German pioneer techno band, Kraftwerk. They've been recording since 1993 and 2003 saw Daft Punk in an excellent anime called Interstella 5555, which used the music from their 2001 release, Discovery (actually the whole movie is just anime and Daft Punk music - no talking). They'll release a live album called Alive, November 19th of this year. One of their songs on Discovery is called Superheroes, so I feel justified in talking about Daft Punk on my Ich Liebe Comics! blog !

Anyway, Daft Punk was the closing band on the first night of Vegoose and it's a good thing they were because I don't see how anyone could follow their performance. As the curtain was raised they played a few of the musical notes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (one of my all time favorite movies) so I knew they could do no wrong the rest of their set! Then the lights came on and Daft Punk (in their robot helmets, perched in the middle of this glowing, pulsating pyramid) launched into Human Robot. I don't think I've ever bopped my white boy ass off as hard as I did during Daft Punk's set - thanks France!

The photo above is of one of the three stages used and if you look really really closely you can see Michael Franti & Spearhead, who put on an excellent reggae set Sunday afternoon.
Kate, with one of the best costumes I saw all weekend, a guy who was calling himself Tyrannosaurus Sex. More people dressed up on Saturday than Sunday, but there were a lot of good costumes both days. Right away when we got to Vegoose Saturday afternoon I knew it was going to be a good time because there was a great vibe in the air (or was that the abundance of marijuana - actually even those who weren't smoking probably got high by proxy)!
Even one of the Green Lantern Corps managed to break away from the Sinestro Corps war going on in the DC universe to attend Vegoose!

Besides the uber excellent Daft Punk show, other acts I enjoyed playing Vegoose were: Blonde Redhead (whom I hadn't heard before, but they put on a great show - they've got a bit of a Sonic Youth sound going on), STS9 (another band I hadn't heard before - they had a cool techno, jazz, hip-hop sound), Queens of the Stone Age (just a great rock it hard band whom we've seen before), Michael Franti & Spearhead (got my reggae on with this band), Muse (another hard rocking band, and their drummer was wearing a Spider-Man costume - the one from the movies, in which his mask hardly stays on), and some little mellow band called Rage Against The Machine that closed Vegoose Sunday night. Rage Against The Machine was the band that definitely brought the people out to Vegoose (as well attended as Daft Punk was Saturday night and the other acts like Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, I'd say it was Rage that was most attendees main reason for coming). And Rage Against The Machine gave the people what they came for, a high energy show with their politically charged lyrics that had the audience head banging and dancing - if that energy could be harnessed, our political landscape would be very different from what presently exists (sorry for the digression). Rage Against The Machine is one of Kate's favorite bands and they definitely delivered what she was hoping for (Kate's also the bigger Queens of the Stone Age fan between us, but I enjoy them also).

So overall I'd give Vegoose 2007 an A+! Besides the great sounds, everyone there was having a great time (well actually we did witness a couple of people that had too much fun with alcohol), the weather was great, good mix of vendors, and they even had vegetarian food (curry and Thai food). I'd heard that last year's Vegoose "only" had 15,000 people and that they needed to have more than that this year or Vegoose wouldn't be coming back. Well I don't know what the official numbers were for this year's Vegoose yet, but it looked really well attended to us (actually if there would have been too many more people, we think it would have been somewhat uncomfortable and could have been a real logistic problem), so I'm encouraged that there'll be a Vegoose 2008 (bring on Kraftwerk and Bjork to make it a dream ticket for me!).

Daft Punk has left this blog!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Doktor Sleepless

Doktor Sleepless is my favorite book that Warren Ellis is currently writing (art by Ivan Rodriguez). The closest comparison I can make as to what Doktor Sleepless is like is Ellis' Transmetropolitan (I like Doktor Sleepless a lot more though). Actually I'm not here to tell you what Doktor sleepless is about, just wanted to share the following passages from this week's issue (#3):

"Sometimes, the rain makes no sound. I wear a glove made of your skin. It's the colour of your skin. It's the colour of rain, soft and grey. It makes no sound, now as I flex my fingers inside it."

"I want to touch myself and pretend it's your hand. Love as leather. But I know I'm too far gone even for that now. I'm just a human bin filled with prescription pills, rinsed down with rainwater mixed with stolen medical alcohol and served in old vegetable tins."

..."The me you used to kiss thrashes like a cat in a sack, somewhere in the back of my head. ...You wouldn't know it to look at me. I am perfect and still and strong."

..."Moving only to stroke your skin. Sometimes, living makes no sound."

Truely powerful, obsessive prose - it's like Ellis is channeling Alan Moore!

The above cover is from upcoming issue #5, I love the tagline: "Your Imaginary Friend"

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Christos Gage signing

Last night I was happy to host Christos Gage for a signing here at my store and a great time was had by all! Thanks to everyone who came out and big thanks to Christos Gage for stopping by!

Christos Gage's first comic gig was the Deadshot mini series for DC a few years ago and since then he's written series for Marvel, DC (and Wildstorm), including Union Jack, Stormwatch PHD, World War Hulk: X-Men, X-Men: Endangered Species, Batman Legends of the Dark Knight, and Annihilation Conquest: Quasar. Presently and upcoming Gage is writing Authority Prime, Wildstorm Armageddon, What If? Civil War, and House of M: Avengers. He's also written episodes of Law and Order: SVU and Numb3ers (with his wife) and his experiences writing them were interesting to hear.

Christos Gage is a fairly young guy, which surprises me because from reading his comics, anyone who has read comics for a long time knows that Gage has done his research. I talked to Christos about this and he said he started reading comics when he was about three years old (so he's been reading comics for almost as long as me, but he started at a younger age)! I've especially enjoyed his Union Jack mini series he did last year with artist Mike Perkins (who'll be the artist on House of M: Avengers) and am looking forward to many years of Christos Gage written comics!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Whisper of the Heart

Whisper of the Heart is not just one of my favorte animated movies (or anime as the Japanese call animated features), it's one of my favorite movies ever. Whisper of the Heart is a Studio Ghibli production, but wasn't directed by the master, Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki did write the screenplay though as well as doing some of the storyboards and serving as the general producer. Whisper of the Heart was the only film directed by Yoshifumi Kondo, who was maybe poised to be a protege of Miyazaki, but sadly he died in 1998 of an aneurysm. Whisper of the Heart very much looks and feels like a Miyazaki film, with its strong female lead character and doesn't need any good guys or bad guys to drive the story.

Whisper of the Heart is a coming of age / young love story. Shizuku is the main character of Whisper of the Heart - she loves to read, has a great imagination, but is unsure what lies ahead for her in the future until she meets Seiji, an aspiring violin maker, who inspires her to pursue her writing. I love Whisper of the Heart because it has great likeable characters as with all of Miyazaki's movies, but it also has great quiet scenes in which the landscapes seem to speak. Other then one brief imagined sequence which illustrates Shizuka's writing, Whisper of the Heart is just a great people story and I always highly recommend it to guys and gals of all ages.

The main thing that sold me on Whisper of the Heart was the way it uses music, specifically John Denver's 1970's hit Take Me Home, Country Roads, as a major part of the story. Whisper of the Heart opens with Olivia Newton-John doing a cover of Take Me Home, Country Roads, as the credits are rolling and we are seeing some of the city in which Shizuku lives. Then about halfway into the movie, Shizuku sings Take Me Home, Country Roads in Japanese as Seiji accompanies her on violin. It's one of my favorite scenes of any movie ever. It amazes me that a song like Take Me Home, Country Roads, which is so associated with 1970's USA is used to such beautiful effect in a Japanese movie. I'd recommend first watching Whisper of the Heart with the original Japanese vocal track even though I think that the english dub is strong (and with all of the Miyazaki movies that have come over here, this is the one I was most concerned with - also even surprised that it was released here).

The above photo was taking at Anime Vegas 2007. They had a nice display of most of Studio Ghibli's movie posters. I like the one on the left the best because I think it better captures the spirit of Whisper of the Heart. The Cat Returns is another studio Ghibli feature that is sequel of sorts to Whisper of the Heart, but it has more fantastical elements and can be watched independently.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

more great comics!

This week had a higher than usual ratio of good to bad superhero comics and the following are amongst my favorites:
This month's Catwoman and last month's written my Will Pfeier and drawn by David Lopex and Alivaro Lopex were especially good issues for a title that's fairly consistant. Having heard about a new direction for Catwoman from some future issue solicitations, I was worried that they were going to go to a dumb place with Selina's daughter, but I was happy with how this issue was resolved.

Birds of Prey
is another constistantly entertaining superhero book (even post Gail Simone). Tony Bedard has written the last couple and Sean McKeever is coming on board soon so it should remain solid. Most issues are drawn by Nicola Scott (and she knocked Gail Simone's last issue #108 out of the ball park!), but other artists have also been good on this title. This week's Birds of Prey #111, focused on Oracle who had a meeting of sorts with the Calculator (a villain) and is a good done in one issue that takes place at a computer convention. Lots of fun bits and Barbara Gordon (Oracle) is used to great effect.
>Brave and the Bold by Mark Waid and George Perez featured Wonder Woman and Power Girl so with this title, Catwoman, and Birds of Prey, those who like to see strong female superhero characters were doing pretty good. Brave and the Bold is another consistantly well done superhero title where you can just tell that the creative teams are paying attention to storylines that have happened in the past, but yet aren't inaccessible to new readers.

This is Dwayne McDuffie's third Justice League of America issue (counting the Wedding Special) and for me this is the issue where he starts bringing in his good writing chops he displayed on the cartoon Justice League Unlimited. Some of the art is a little too cheesy, but the story of the new Injustice League up against the Justice League is really getting ramped up and the pacing of this title looks to be back on the upswing after what I thought was largely not previous writer Brad Meltzer's finest hour (his 14 issue run would have made a better, tighter six issue story).

great week for comics!

This week had some especially good releases. My pick of the week goes to Umbrella Academy #2 by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba (with The Sword #1 almost taking the top spot). Umbrella Academy is written by Gerard Way, the lead singer of My Chemical Romance (and I know for some people mentioning that would be considered a minus, but I like the songs I've heard and I think people who wouldn't try Umbrella Academy because of that fact are missing out) and this definitely continues all of the intrique and quirky elements of the first issue and expands on what exactly is going on. I love the title of this issue "We Only See Each Other At Weddings And Funerals." And with a new villainous group calling themselves the Orchestra Verdammten, how can you not like this book!? This isn't just a weird for weird sakes book though and has nice Mignolaesque art by Gabriel Ba (Casanova).

Ex Machina
, like Brian Vaughan's other creator owned title, Y The Last Man, is just about always on with every issue. With the end of this issue it looks like things will be turned up another couple of notches. The central character of Ex Machina is Mitchell Hundred, who's the mayor of New York City and also used to be a superhero called The Great Machine (because he can communicate with machines and as silly as that sounds, Vaughan makes it work). Ex Machina has never been anything even remotely resembling a superhero comic (not that that's a bad thing) with politics almost being a secondary character while at the same time not being done in a boring Face The Nation fashion. I'd be remiss in not mentioning the always beautiful art of Tony Harris and Jim Clark with lush colors by JD Mettler.

Another great debut this week was Suburban Glamour written and drawn by Jamie McKelvie (artist on Phonogram). Suburban Glamour starts off appearing to be just an ordinary alternative "cool Kids" title, but by the end it goes into another direction and I'll be interested in seeing how Jamie McKelvie maintains a balance or whether he'll just go in one direction entirely. And while I've liked McKelvie's art in black and white the addition of color is good eye candy as well.

Marvel Zombies
volume 2 #1 continues the craziness that Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips started with Marvel Zombies volume one. This series takes place forty years after the last series and is the same turn off your brain non stop fun with demented visuals by Sean Phillips (Criminal). It is pretty amazing that the whole zombie thang hasn't played out yet (although Marvel's October zombie varients on many of their titles may be pushing things). If you haven't read the previous Marvel Zombies (collected in hardcover), all you have to know about this series is that just about everyone in this universe are zombies including the superheroes and they're constantly hungry.

The Sword

Yesterday The Sword #1 came out by the Luna Brothers and Image. The Luna Brothers are Joshua Luna, writer, and Jonathan Luna, artist. The Sword is their third creator owned project from Image and like their previous series, Ultra, and Girls, The Sword opens really strongly and I'm going to guess that anyone who picks up the first issue will definitely be back for more. Both of the Luna Brothers previous series have been collected so there's no reason to think that The Sword won't be collected, but the Luna Brothers are amongst the exceptions of creators who do innovative exciting work and also do it monthly, so there won't be any crazy waits between issues. In the first three fourths of the first issue of The Sword we're introduced to Dara Brighton and some of her friends and family and it's a nice look into what appears to be just a regular day in the suburbs, until halfway through dinner some people come looking for a sword. I'd be okay if the Luna Brothers didn't have anything fantastical going on because they make their characters so interesting, but when the fantastical stuff enters the picture it's all the more powerful because they're really good at set up (without the padding that goes on with some writers who are just stretching out an idea).
Girls was the Luna Brothers second series through Image and is collected in four trades - basically it's an M. Night Shyamalan (Sixth Sense, Unbreakable) kind of story in which some really weird things are going on and it's not until almost the end when we know what is behind the weird things.
Ultra is the Luna Brothers first project for Image and with the first issue, you could tell that these guys were going to just get bigger. Ultra's central characters here (as with all of their work, now that I think about it) are female and this is one of those titles that has super powered stuff and super heroes running around, but again because the Luna Brothers are so skilled at doing the everyday people stuff, when the powers aspects enters the story they have more power (no pun intended) because we, the readers, have more frames of reference. The dialogue at first reminds one of Bendis' work in Powers and Alias without being derivative, with characters that are strong, funny, and fallible, often at the same time.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sequential Tart on comics journalism

Today on Sequential Tart, www.sequentialtart.com, Kate has an excellent editorial on what is comic book journalism, specifically investigative comics journalism, and who benefits from this kind of journalism within the comics community / industry.

As many of you know, Kate is my wife, but that's not why I'm recommending that people read this week's editorial (Sequential Tart has new content every Monday). This is a topic that's been floating around on the internet for a couple of weeks and Kate's editorial is a response to those who are stating that there isn't much in the way of investigative comics journalism and implying that said type of journalism is the only valid type of journalism. As Kate states in her piece, the comic industry is really small in comparison to other mediums and everyone seems to know each others business. I've always been very interested in the behind the scenes aspects of the comic book community, but really for the most part a lot of it is not my business (at the same time, I will read items that "expose" why things are as they are in this industry or why this or that creator does this or that, but I don't think I'm "owed" this infomation).

I'll be really interested in reading what others write when they read Kate's editorial here and elsewhere on comic book messageboards and blogs, especially in regards to comments by people on what they think investigative comics journalism is (hopefully with examples so that those that write about comics know what is actually meant when someone says there needs to be more investigative comics journalism). I'm sure that there will be many interesting responses to Kate's editorial in the next few days on the internet, but if anyone who reads this and visits some other comics messageboards, blogs, or live journals and would link this piece from www.sequentialtart.com, that would be greatly appreciated and will hopefully create a more balanced dialogue.

My biggest shock however in reading this weeks Sequential Tart was Laura Martin's (award winning colorist on Planetary, Astonishing X-Men, Serenity, and many others) review under The Report Card heading: music, where after her review of a Winger Demo cd, she admits to being a Winger completionist (the horror! - actually I'll admit I enjoy the sap and overly produced Barry Manilow and Abba so I shouldn't throw stones at others!)!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Across The Universe

I went to a late night showing of Across The Universe and it was absolutely Beatletastic! Across The Universe is director Julie Taymore's musical / love story of Jude (Jim Sturgess)and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) told over the tumultuous decade that was the 1960's.

The following are my spoiler free impressions (like most of the comics, books, movies, etc. that I talk about on my blog) of Across The Universe:

The best thing about Spider-Man 3 (actually the only good thing about seeing that movie, other then Kate and myself getting to MST3K the movie as there was only one other person in the theater) was seeing the trailer for Across The Universe. Before seeing the trailer, I hadn't heard of this movie, but they had me at the title (my favorite Beatles song) and the fact that it was a musical using Beatle songs - how could you go wrong!? Actually reviews for this movie are coming in right down the middle, with critics / people who've seen it either loving it or hating it. Some are saying that the visuals are great (and they are), but that they don't buy the love story or what Across The Universe does with the 1960's decade. I'm sure that there's also rabid Beatles fans that don't like some of what's being done with the Beatles songs or the way that they are sung, but I'll say for myself as a rabid Beatles fan, that much love was given to the songs of the Beatles in Across The Universe.

The audience I was seeing Across The Universe with was half full and looked to be mostly made up of young people (teenagers and people under 25 years old). They seemed to be totally enjoying the movie, although I was wondering how familiar with Beatles songs many of them were. I don't think you have to know all of the Beatles song catalog to enjoy Across The Universe, but I think if you do you'll get even more out of this movie. All of the characters have names from Beatles songs and there are all kind of nudge nudge, wink wink visual things that long time Beatle fans will "get". Maybe Across The Universe will create even more rabid fans of the Beatles after hearing how rich these songs are lyrically and how almost every song tells a story unto itself.

I was really impressed with the sheer number of Beatles songs used and the transition from one song to the next was amazing. All of the actors sang Beatles songs to advance the story and the variety of musical styles and vocal work is stellar. I really can't see anyone other then maybe those Beatles purists who don't like other interpretations of those songs, not loving the way the Beatles songs are sung, arranged, and used in Across The Universe. I think the test of how much a person will enjoy Across The Universe relies somewhat on their enjoyment of people breaking out into a song constantly and or their enjoyment of musicals. I can see Across The Universe becoming a cult movie that some people will want to watch repeatedly and share with others as an experience. I'd love to see a movie like this done with the music catalogs of 10CC, Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), and Supertramp.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

John Lennon

Today John Lennon would have been 67 years old.

I first started listening to the Beatles in 1975 and instantly became a rapid fan. While I've always liked all of the members of the Beatles and a lot of their solo work, I'd say my favorite Beatle was John Lennon because his songs seemed more intospective and intelligent.

My favorite Beatles song is Across the Universe, just look at this first verse:

Words are flying out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

My favorite song of all time is John Lennon's Imagine, here's the first two verses:

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

I was a senior in high school (San Antonio, Texas) in 1980 when John Lennon was killed. I remember that night I was watching the Johnny Carson show when they broke in with the news that Lenon had been shot (most of the country was watching Howard Cosell Monday Night Football) and I was in shock. John Lennon had just returned to music after a hiatus with his newly released Double Fantasy album with his wife Yoko Ono. On Double Fantasy, John Lennon was singing about the happy place he finally viewed his life to be and the songs were odes to Yoko and his son Sean (and Yoko's odes to John and Sean). I remember going to school the next day and to me it seemed that none of my fellow students cared (I'd only gone to that school during my senior year so I didn't really know that many people as my other three years of high school was in Germany), so that made the day even worse because I had no one to share this huge loss with until I got home and turned on the radio where several stations were playing John Lennon / Beatles songs around the clock. Still today, whenever I hear a song from Double Fantasy, especially (Just like) Starting Over, a well of sad emotions will sweep over me as I think about what a huge loss John Lennon's death is and what could have been.

Check out www.beatlesradio.com to listen to great Beatles music around the clock. Amnesty International recently released a benefit double cd called Instant Karma The Campaign To Save Darfur which has 23 John Lennon songs covered by artists such as Regina Spektor, Corinne Bailey Rae, R.E.M., Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Jackson Browne, Snow Patrol, Flaming Lips, and many others.

36 days - Black Dossier!

Well it's only thirteen months late, but League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Black Dossier is arriving in stores Wednesday, November 14th. Black Dossier will be a 208 page hardcover (all new story, not serialized like the previous two Leagues). Alan Moore has said that Black Dossier isn't the third League book (that's next years Century, being told in three graphic albums taking place over the course of a century), but rather a look at the various other characters that were in different Leagues throughout history with Mina Murray and Allan Quartermain acting as our tour guides. Alan Moore has said that Black Dossier started as a sourcebook, but since all sourcebooks are crap, Black Dossier will actually have a narrative structure (but I'm going to guess a not very conventional narrative structure). In a Wizard interview Moore gave about a year ago, he stated that: "The Black Dossier isn't the best comic I've ever written, not the best comic ever, it's the best THING ever." In another recent London Telegraph interview, Moore said: "Black Dossier is better than the Roman civilization, penicillin...creation. Better than the Big Bang. It's quite good." Now usually I'm concerned when a creative person says this about something they've got coming out (and saying stuff like this creates unrealistic expectations that the work usually can't live up to), but Alan Moore hasn't ever hyped up a project of his like this before its release, so I'm going to guess that Black Dossier will truely be all that. To say I can't wait is an understatement.

I've never seen the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie, nor do I plan to after hearing it's just a loud action film that has nothing to do with the books. As a sidebar for those wondering why the League movie is so different: Alan Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill sold the movie rights to League while they where still working on the first story. The studio was attracted to the title and the concept and just went their own direction working with an alleged plagarized screenplay script (Alan Moore actually had to go to court to address this even though of course he didn't have anything to do with the movie script which had nothing to do with his League comic), so ultimately he regretted selling the movie rights to League and this incident became another in a long line of reasons for why he distances himself from Hollywood, especially any "adaptations" of his books.

So while waiting for the Black Dossier, I thought it'd be a good time to reread the first two League of Extraordinary Gentlemens (well it's always a good time to read Moore books!). For the three people reading this post that don't know what League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is about, it's a gathering of Victorian fictional characters brought together to help out London in times of crisis, kind of a Justice League of America, except these characters haven't worked together except maybe in some alternate reality (grin) or fan fiction stories (speaking of fan fiction, the only negative things I've heard about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Lost Girls is that they are glorified fan fiction and that the original creators wouldn't be happy about their characters being used in this fashion - I, of course disagree, but that's a post unto itself for the future).

The first League volume is mostly an introduction of the characters who make up the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and as much as I enjoyed it, it's really not until volume two where our familiarity with what Moore and O'Neill are doing with these characters gets into overdrive (with H.G. Wells War of the Worlds martian invasion being the big threat and is foreshadowed in volume one several times) and we see how these characters, all with very colorful pasts of their own, clash and work with and against each other. Kevin O'Neill's art is perfect for this series and it would be hard to imagine anyone else drawing League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I understand that for some people O'Neill's art could be considered an aquired taste (like Mignola, Kirby, and to some degree Quitely, other artists with distinctive styles that can divide people), but I'd say that anyone who'd read a good block of League of Extraordinary Gentleman, would come to see that O'Neill is indeed perfect for this series. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is one of those concepts that people are amazed hasn't been thought of earlier (just as it's amazing that no one's has ever thought of vampires in Alaska before 30 Days of Night) because it's rich with so many possiblities especially when idea man and wordsmith extraordinaire Alan Moore is at the helm. Like Moore's other great works, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen defintely rewards the reader each time they reread these volumes because you can appreciate how multi-layered each volume is unto themselves and to each other.

Postscript: As I'm finishing up this post a young couple comes in from Dallas, Texas (he said he goes to Zeus Comics there and that it's a great store - I told him I know, as my wife is good friends with the owners and they won the Eisner comic retailer of the year in 2006), looks around the store, stops by my Alan Moore section, looks at the first volume of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and wonders outloud if it's like the movie. So of course I go over and talk to him and tell him that the book and movie are two entirely different creatures (I also asked him if he'd read any Alan Moore before and he said yes). I told him that it's a money back guarantee book and asked him if he lived here in Vegas and that's when I found out that he was from Texas. I always get a warm fuzzy feeling when I sell an Alan Moore book because I know that the person who reads said book will totally be getting their moneys worth as well as getting the finest this artform has to offer (and don't let my warm fuzzy feelings scare any of you out there away from picking up an Alan Moore book here at my store or anywhere else!).

Monday, October 8, 2007

kids love Eastern Promises!

Kate and myself went to see David Cronenberg's new movie Eastern Promises yesterday and loved everything about it especially the smart story and the cast led by Viggo Mortenson, Naomi Watts, and Vincent Cassell.

Sitting behind us was a mother and her ten year old son. I told Kate that they'd probably last 20 minutes tops before they left. Well they didn't leave and although the son and mother made some gasps of shock at some of what was going on in Eastern Promises, actually they weren't as annoying as I thought they'd be. Still, you'd think that anyone with half a brain would know not to bring a kid (under twelve at least, but I realize that some kids are more advanced then others) to a Cronenberg movie (and in this day and age it's quite easy to do a search on an R rated movie to get a sense of whether it's a good idea to bring a ten year old to - again who knows, maybe she did do this). I'm actually surprised that this movie didn't get an NC 17 rating. After the movie, I told Kate that now the kid is ready for Blue Velvet! Actually this reminded me of when I went to see Pan's Labyrinth with a friend and a father had brought his 8-10 year old son with him, but with that movie I can understand a little because some of the previews made it look like the Jim Henson movie Dark Crystal - they ended up leaving about 20 minutes into the movie. So who knew that Eastern Promises would be the feel good movie of the year for the whole family?

Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies is a new ABC show that just started last Wednesday and is my new favorite show (I actually don't watch a lot of tv, not to be a tv snob, rather watching tv requires too much commitment and it gets in the way of my comic reading, anime watching, and trying to solve quadratic equations).

Basically Pushing Daisies is about Ned, who has this ability to make dead things (people, animals, plants, etc.) come back to life by touching them. If he touches them again, they'll stay dead and if he reanimates someone who was dead for more then one minute then someone else will die in their place. Like my friend Joel commented when he was first told me about Pushing Daisies, it really seems like a Showtime or HBO show and not something the networks would do. It's probably the best reviewed show of the season so far but it does seem to be one of those dividing shows that you'll either love or hate (if you don't like the first episode I'm going to guess that you probably won't like this series). All the actors are good and I was especially pleased to see that Ellen Green (from Little Shop of Horrors) is going to be a regular.

I liked Pushing Daisies within the first five minutes of the first episode and can tell that this is going to be one of those odd, quirky shows that has likeable characters and is funny in a left of center way. Pushing Daisies was created by Bryan Fueller, who also created the short-lived (but also much loved in smaller circles) series Wonderfalls for Fox a few years ago. I've heard that Pushing Daisies won its time slot last Wednesday and that it's not up against any real heavy hitters so that encourages me that maybe Pushing Daisies will stick around for a while. It'll be interesting to see how many people that watched the first episode will be back to watch the show this week. Part of me thinks that maybe Pushing Daisies should have been a mini series though because as much as I liked the first episode, I wonder how long Pushing Daisies can substain its smartness and charm. Anyway, as long as the quality of Pushing Daisies lives up to its first episode, I'll be happy to put aside my comics for an hour Wednesday nights at 8pm on ABC.

On the ABC website there's also an online Pushing Daisies comic with the two artists being Cameron Stewart (Seaguy and The Other Side) and Zack Howard.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Eww, Robin was a girl

So about a couple of years ago or so, DC had Stephanie Brown, aka Spoiler (Tim Drake / Robin's flame) become Robin - how dare they!? Actually, this move wasn't met with much disapproval from the fan base that I can recall and everyone knew that Tim Drake would be back as Robin at some point. What people didn't expect was that Stephanie would just be Robin for such a short time, that her stint as Robin wouldn't really be explored, and that she'd end up having a stupid death and get no tribute in the Batcave as Jason Todd did (the second Robin).

It was Bill Willingham's (Fables) idea to have Stephanie become Robin as he was writing the title at the time. Due to circumstances beyond his control, Robin and all of the Bat titles around that same time were involved in a dumb crossover and it appeared that Willingham had to scrap his original plans with where he was going with Stephanie as Robin, to fit this new editorially driven storyline.

One of the reasons companies such as DC or Marvel will have character and title crossovers is to create a more unified impression that those characters and titles exist in the same universe and or that those events will have long reaching ramifications (another reason for crossover events is the hope that people will pick up titles that they normally wouldn't). I generally don't like when titles are "forced" to participate in these events because too often they seem forced and we end up with bad story arcs like Batman: War Crimes, a storyline which in addition to being where Stephanie received one of the worst treatments a comic character has received in recent memory, it's also where long time strong Batman supporting character Leslie Thompkins received her character assassination.

I think if DC hadn't shoe horned the Batman: War Crimes crossover into the Bat titles at the same time that Willingham had decided to make Stephanie Robin, that we could have been treated to at least a couple of years of fun storylines where we saw Stehanie grow into her Robin tights (no pun intended) and that there could have been an interesting dynamic going on within the Bat titles where how Batman related to having a female Robin was explored. Instead we have a scenario now in the Bat titles in which just the existence of Stephanie isn't even acknowledged (let alone given tribute to) and Leslie Thompkins isn't used, so her character that was strongly established for years is wasted. I think all of Batman: War Crimes was badly planned (was it planned at all?) and this story arc will be viewed for years to come as the story fans and DC wished didn't happen and they'll probably somehow retcon what they did to Leslie Thompkins anyway. Batman: War Crimes ranks (pun intended) with what Marvel did with Aunt May post Amazing Spider-Man #400 (where she "really" died) and the non mentioning of whatever happened to Peter and MJ's baby. DC could make a lot of people very happy by simply placing a Stephanie Brown memorial in the Batcave. Presently there a good amount of DC fans that have been ringing in on this for years and will continue to do so, so DC doing this would be an acknowledgement by them that they listen to their fans and that they do care about their character's legacies (and I know they do, contrary to what some of their storylines suggest).

This illustration is by Mike Maihack and appeared on Project Rooftop where different artists redesign superhero costumes. The above illustration is by Dean Trippe. Check out Project Rooftop for more on how the character of Stephanie Brown was wasted. Another long running site, Girl Wonder, also has excellent continuing in depth coverage of Stephanie Brown, aka Spoiler, aka Robin.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Invincible - the comic!

Invincible was created by Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead, Marvel Zombies) and Cory Walker. Cory Walker was the artist on the first seven issues, but is still involved with the title on a design / consultant basis, with Ryan Ottley joining Kirkman as the Invincible artist since issue #8 (the title is on issue #42 presently). Ryan Ottley hasn't missed a beat since he became the Invincible artist and his style was an easy transition from Cory Walker's. There's eight trade paperbacks collecting Invincible with each volume titled after tv shows from yesteryear, such as Three's Company, Perfect Strangers, and Head of the Class.

I just finished reading Invincible volume 5 The Facts of Life and this is a refreshing super hero book, with great characters, humor (although when it gets dark, it's fairly dark, but without leaving a tone to the series that is just grim and gritty), and actual plot and character progressions. There's quite a twist that happens, but I'm not going to say what that is or when it happens because it's best discovered while reading (and I feel a little bad about just mentioning a twist because now people who haven't read Invincible will be looking for it and trying to guess - but I think mentioning this lets people know that there's something else going on in Invincible and it's not just a standard super hero book). I like the names of some of the other super heroes that Invincible works with from time to time such as Dupli-Kate, Rex Splode, and Atom Eve. Invincible reminds me of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's run on Amazing Spider-Man (#1-#38).

Monday, October 1, 2007

Doctor 13

Doctor 13 Architecture & Mortality, written by Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets) and drawn by Cliff Chiang (Human Target, Beware the Creeper), published by DC Comics, collects the eight part series from Tales of the Unexpected. Doctor 13 is the world's biggest skeptic who investigates things of paranormal origin and in this volume he runs into other old DC B or C list characters such as I...Vampire, Anthro, Haunted Tank, and Infectious Lass. No prior knowledge of these characters is required to enjoy Doctor 13. If you like comic books that have that nudge, nudge, wink, wink quality written by a writer unafraid to in essence bite the hand that feeds him (including not so thinly veiled shots at four prominent DC writers and jabs at "event" storytelling), well Doctor 13 is the book for you.

Actually, Doctor 13 isn't really mean-spirited because a love of the wacky fun that only comics can do (especially DC Comics from the 1950's and 1960's) is evident as is Doctor 13's love, concern, and care for his daughter, Traci Thirteen. Artist Cliff Chiang always makes for good eye candy (with wonderful colors by Patricia Mulvihill), go to www.cliffchiang.com to sample more of his clean line, fun style (and he'll be the artist on the upcoming new Green Arrow / Black Canary comic)!