Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Unless you're a complete pop-culture neophyte, you know that the 2006 San Diego Comic-Con finished up a couple days ago, and even though I was totally on the wrong coast for it, I was there in geek-spirit. In honor of that ever-growing entertainment love-fest, I offer you a little diversion as I write about one of my non-music obsessions. Read this whole thing, and you might just get a prize. No, really...
Keeping tabs on this year's Comic-Con was easier then ever, with regular updates at Newsarama, Between the Panels, Bags & Boards, Heidi MacDonald's The Beat, the Onion's A.V. Club, and on-site updates from my internet crush, Whitney at Pop Candy. My RSS reader was refreshing non-stop.
The A.V. Club offered up four reports (1,2,3,4), The Beat has a bunch of great video posts (divx-style), including one with James Kochalka (who also got a plug at Pop Candy). PC's Ms. Matheson, who usually takes weekends off, did a bunch of overtime with panel coverage and random news bits, as did BtP's Jevon Phillips. All well worth a read through, especially Whitney's pre-Con primer post, 'Comics For People Who Don't Read Comics'. If that sounds like you, dive in.
It's a fine time to be a Mike Mignola fan, for a few reasons: Not only do we still get a regular supply of new Hellboy-related comics (the latest BPRD collection, 'The Black Flame' is excellent), but there's a wealth of other Mignola media available...
The pilot episode for the animated adaptation of 'The Amazing Screw-On Head' is available for free online viewing (it debuts on the Sci-Fi Channel this Thursday, for the bandwidth-challenged). I loved the thing, and hope we get more than just a pilot, which perfectly captured the humor, action, and art-style of the printed work. Great dialogue that often got me laughing out loud in front of my laptop, with a solid voice cast that includes including Paul Giamatti, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, and personal-fave Patton Oswalt (who must be geeking out to be involved, unabashed comic nrrd that he is). Check out a Newsarama interview with animated series creator Brian Fuller (Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me) right here, and if you watch the episode, make sure you fill out this sci-fi.com survey. But only if you liked it, of course. Naysayers keep quiet!
As much as I dug that pilot, I'm even more excited about the upcoming Hellboy animated film, 'Sword of Storms', which appears on DVD in October (and is not to be confused with GRRM's ace fantasy novel 'A Storm of Swords'). I've been following writer/director/producer Tad Stones' blog since it appeared last November, and while he's been offering up some very cool images and insights into the creation process, the mother of all previews came this past weekend at Comic-Con. Check out an entire hour-long panel, with Tad, Hellboy creator Mignola, producer Guillermo Del Toro, screenplay writer Matt Wayne, and character designer Sean "Cheeks" Galloway. The panel includes a 6-minute clip from 'Sword of Storms', which you can grab on its own over here. While the translation of Mignola's signature drawing-style isn't anywhere near direct as it appears with Screw-On Head, they smartly stuck with nearly the same cast from Del Toro's 2004 live action film for the voicework (including Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, and John Hurt). The excerpt smartly shows off a couple of the required storytelling staples: Hellboy smacking around some big-uglies with his stony right hand while saying 'Awww... Crap'? Check. Liz nearly losing control after reluctantly roasting up some of the undead? Roger that. Looking forward to seeing what else they give us in just a couple months.
Assuming that the film, and it's January '07 follow-up 'Blood and Iron', do well enough, we'll be getting more direct-to-DVD Hellboy down the road. Considering that a sequel to Del Toro's live-action film is currently up in the air, let's hope those DVDs sell mightily.
Check out both an interview with Tad Stones and a write-up of the panel over at Bags & Boards, and take a look at this nifty Mignola-illustrated promo-poster for Guillermo Del Toro's next film, Pan's Labyrinth. Quite excited for that one, I am.
Some of the more straightforward superheroes over at DC Comics are are also taking the direct-to-DVD route, with the announcement that one of my favorite stories from a couple years back, Darwyn Cooke's 'The New Frontier' will be getting the movie treatment. Alongside that we'll see an animated version of the classic 1980's Teen Titans tale, 'The Judas Contract'. Loved loved loved that story arc when I was a kid, and it's nice to hear that original creators Marv Wolfman & George Perez will be involved in the adaptation. Also slated for release is a personally less-exciting Superman/Doomsday film. The best part? The whole project is being overseen by Bruce Timm. If you know who he is, you know why that's good news.
A whole bunch of DC characters will also be appearing on TV screens, but those screens will have a gaming console attached to them. The release of the previously announced Justice League Heroes videogame (Xbox, PS2 and PSP) is getting closer, and the offical site has a couple of production blog posts up. A hands-on review was posted after E3, and more recently Justice League Unlimited writer Dwayne McDuffie was interviewed about his scripting work in the game. McDuffie's involvement bodes very well for the storyline and character portrayals, and seeing what he comes up with is probably the main reason I'll be picking this one up. Especially after the finale of the JLU animated series last spring.
While comics-to-screen adaptations are fairly commonplace, TV-to-comics projects are much less so... especially ones I actually care about. Suddenly, there are three books in the works that I'm curious to see...
As they are every year, the 2006 Eisner Awards were announced and presented at Comic-Con, and while a couple of my faves nominees were denied (Zak Sally for a 'Recidivist' story, Warren 'I've never won one and never will' Ellis for Desolation Jones, Fell, & Ocean), there were a bunch of other winners I very much agreed with...
Best Archival Collection - Comic Strips: The Complete Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill WattersonFor a complete list of the 2006 Eisner Award winners, go here.
Speaking of Warren Ellis, I'm eagerly awaiting more details on the new half-hour TV series pilot that he's been contracted to create and write for AMC. It's been described as a "sf/entertainment-industry dramedy". Whatever it is, I'm ready.
And something I'm not sure I'd be ready for: a possible Preacher series on HBO. Don't get me wrong, if my favorite comic series ever gets visualized, HBO would be a fitting place for it, and it'd be nice to have something longer than the stalled movie adapatation. But I'm so close to the books that the whole idea makes me a tad nervous. We'll see if it ever becomes more than a rumor, though.
An adaptation I'm more than happy to see: A drawn b&w version of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami short story 'On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning'. I'm still in a Murakami mood, making my way through his entire bibliography (after a brief detour into Banana Yoshimoto). Just started in on 'Sputnik Sweetheart'.
Some of these are very cool, others are very not: Superheroes incorporated into works of fine art. Equals parts awe and shudder.
Suicide Girls offers up a little light reading to go with your emo-erotica: interviews with a couple of the best comics writers around. Greg Rucka chats about all sorts of stuff (including the fact that a 'Whiteout' movie movement should be happening soon) and Alan Moore talks about Lost Girls, his new fairy-tale sex story, and about the state of television. Nice to find out he's a big fan of The Wire (season four soon!), even cooler to know how much he digs crime novelist George Pelecanos.
I mentioned the unabashed nerd-pride of Patton Oswalt above, and you need no further proof than the unaired Super-Nerds TV pilot over on YouTube. Oswalt plays a comic shop manager, fellow comedian (and comic writer) Brian Posehn plays an in-store hang-arounder, and Sarah Silverman stops in to play the "pretty girl who reads comics?!". Middle America never woulda bought that, right? And it's almost too geeky to hang the plot on a smashed Star Trek statue. Even for me.
Picture books I've been digging lately: Rick Veitch�s epic "Can�t Get No" (reviewed here, buy it here), that aforementioned BPRD book "The Black Flame", and the latest Fables collection, "Arabian Nights (and Days)". Glad to hear Bill Willingham announce a new original Fables graphic novel, "1001 Nights of Snowfall", which arrives in October.
Writer/artist Brian Wood has been getting a bunch of mainstream press this year, thanks to his great work on Vertigo's DMZ series and his other current books, Local (from Oni) and Supermarket (on IDW). Wizard Magazine spotlighted him back in February (read it here and here), and Entertainment Weekly gave the first DMZ collection, 'On The Ground', an 'EW Pick' in its new issue. Local, his 12-issue limited series with Ryan Kelly that sets each story in a different locale, got some love from G4's Attack of the Show yesterday (video clip here). The series is almost halfway done, with the fifth issue out and the sixth in the works (set in Brian's current home-base of Park Slope, Brooklyn), and Brian recently spilled the remaining backdrops. In no particular order, we'll see Ann Arbor, MI, Norman, OK, Austin, TX, and Chicago, IL. Last but hardly least, issue 12 will be set in Burlington, Vermont, our shared childhood stomping grounds. Goes without saying, but I can't wait to see Ryan Kelly's take on some too-familiar sites.
Which brings us to the giveaway I promised way back at the beginning of this epic post. Since I just picked up Brian Wood's 'On The Ground' collection, I've got an extra set of the original five issues found within. Brian was here in town recently for a New England Comics signing, and scribbled his signature in the cover of the debut issue, so if you live in the U.S. or Canada, drop me an email (address in the left hand column) with 'DMZ' as the subject sometime before Monday. I'll randomly pick a winner of that signed copy (along with issues two through five) and send it along next week . And no, I'll not ask you to answer some obscure comics trivia question. As a matter of fact, I'd be psyched if they went to a comics novice. Actually, I'd be very surprised if a comics novice made it all the way to the end of this post...
Tomorrow, back to music, with a live set from Scotland's Camera Obscura.
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
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