Saturday, February 28, 2009

And THAT Is the Rest of the Story...


Radio legend Paul Harvey passed away today at the age of 90.

His broadcasts of "New and Comment" and "The Rest of the Story" ran on the ABC Radio Network for decades.

Always opinionated, sometimes entertaining and sometimes controversial, he always took a look inside the news story as he saw it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wilfred

When I first saw this Australian TV series on IFC, I thought at first it was about furries, but it’s not. It’s just a man dressed in a dog suit, who for all intents and purposes is the dog. Just use your imagination. The thing is, this dog, Wilfred, played by Jason Gann, just happens to talk, and just like the American "Davey and Goliath" or even the Son of Sam if you like, only Wilfred’s mistress’ boyfriend, played by Adam Zwar, can hear him talk.



The subtly hysterical and sometimes downright mean and always raunchy series, created and written by Gann and Zwar, airs on Tuesday evenings on the Independent Film Channel, check it out.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wendy Richard Passes

While most American audiences will recognize her much younger in her role as Miss Brahms in the popular PBS Brit-com "Are You Being Served?" she will always be Pauline Fowler to me. Wendy Richard passed away this morning after a long battle with bone cancer.

The "EastEnders" matriarch ruled on the soap for over twenty-one years, and was also featured in a few of the "Carry On" films. She won an MBE for television in 2000 and will be sorely missed by many all over the world. Albert Square is just a bit more sad and empty tonight.

Here she is in all her glory, fighting the good fight with Peggy Mitchell, as played by Barbara Windsor, also a "Carry On" veteran. Go get 'er, Pauline!

Philip Jose Farmer 1918-2009


According to his website, prolific science fiction and fantasy author Philip Jose Farmer passed away in his sleep yesterday morning.

To many he will be remembered as the creator of the "Riverworld" series of books or maybe as one of the fathers of the new wave of scifi in the 1950s and 1960s. Some may even have noted his style always making use of sexual and religious content. I will remember the first book of his I read, "Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life," and how it brought all those pulp characters of another age to life for me. Farmer did similar things with Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes and other fictional characters that he gave new life to.

We have truly lost one of the greats, and he will be missed...

My American Idol

With all the talk this season at "American Idol" of being more serious and whittling down the more popular freakshow element of the audition phase of the series, it appears that the star so far (at least in my eyes) turns out to be Nick Mitchell AKA Norman Gentle.

If you want to rude about it, you might call Nick this season's William Hung, but that's not right at all. The difference is that Nick is legitimately talented, multifaceted talented. His over-theatrical alter-ego Norman Gentle is hysterical and brought the house down last night, as well as spotlighting an amazing singing voice as well. The judges may not have been pleased, but the audience loved him.

Now if America loved him as much as I do, and the Kodak Theater audience did, this just might be the most entertaining "American Idol" season yet.

Nick Fury Is Back


For all the hardcore comic book fans and those movie viewers who stayed past the credits of last summer's Marvel Comics superhero blockbuster Iron Man, Samuel L. Jackson stole the show with his minute and half as SHIELD Director Nick Fury. It was a dream role for Jackson as the Ultimate version of the character was in fact designed after his own image.

Fans panicked a month or so back when rumors indicated that Jackson would not be returning to this role, especially with the character's integral status regarding current and future Marvel movie characters like Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America and especially the Avengers, the last one being the subject of the above-mentioned film appearance of Fury.

The good news is that Variety reported yesterday that Jackson will officially be playing the Marvel Comics super spy in a total of nine films, including Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. Of course the inclusion of something called "The Shield" among those films seems to indicate that either the folks at Variety have a hearing problem or they're using TV Guide's research people...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Keene Act & YOU

A public service announcement from 1977...



Watchmen opens nationwide on March 6th...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kelly Groucutt of ELO Passes

The bassist of the Electric Light Orchestra from 1974-1983, Kelly Groucutt, passed away suddenly on Thursday from complications of a heart attack. Rock and Roll Heaven just got one hell of a bass player...

Veidt Music Network

Watching the Golden Girls Go Wild

For over twelve years the Dumpsta Players have been producing the best satire and commentary on pop culture and modern society with only costumes and props sometimes dragged literally from the dumpster. This lipsync-drag-cabaret theatre group is one of Philadelphia’s coolest secrets, they should really be getting press and acclaim. Here’s my two cents worth.

With any Dumpstas show there is one rule – nothing is sacred, and the corollary is to expect the unexpected. And that’s the way it’s been for over a decade, and continues this past Wednesday with their latest show “Golden Girls Gone Wild.”

Arriving early for a Dumpsta show is akin to those crazy old movies about Hollywood where a walk between studios one is witness to cowboys, chorus girls and cartoons. This is the atmosphere as a Dumpsta show is prepped in the last minutes before showtime. There were Golden Girls scurrying about as disco, both and old and new school, pumped through the bar’s speakers. Of course, there were a few oddities thrown in like Juice Newton’s “Queen of Hearts” and the “What’s Happening” TV theme. This is the Dumpstas after all.

After surviving a few liquor board inspections the staging area of Bob and Barbara’s (Dumpsta home field) is a bit different, but it gives ample room to strut and perform. And all drag queens (and kings) need room for that, and bottom line, biting sarcasm and political and pop culture satire aside, the Dumpstas are a one-of-a-kind drag show at their core.

Ricky Paul, the founder and driving force behind the group for well over a decade walks purposefully through the bar, saying hi to friends and patrons, but is hardcore in making sure all is ready for the 11 PM sharp showtime. While Ricky is always on top of the production, the shows are also always a team effort. From the oldest to the newest members of the troupe, to folks not in this particular show to even those who are sick or recovering from illness, all are on hand to make sure the show goes on without a hitch.

Tonight’s show are songs and sketches loosely connected by the premise of the Golden Girls on reality television, just a taste of what Dumpsta-mania is all about. Using actual sound bytes from the “Golden Girls” TV series, to get a new roof, the ladies hit the reality shows to raise money. The GG drag is priceless, and John Donges’ deep voiced Bea Arthur/Dorothy brought down the house. So funny I peed just a little bit.

When Dorothy goes on “The Biggest Loser” to Weird Al’s “Fat” I was losing it. I have officially seen enough butt crack to last a lifetime. Next Rose/Betty White, played by Carl Swansen, appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” as Heather Mills’ partner. Heather, Paul McCartney’s ex-wife, was played by a mannequin whose leg, um, well, you get the picture. As I said, nothing is sacred. This segment featured some amazing disco dancing by Ricky Paul as Steve Guttenberg and Jennifer Walker (nepotism is not dead) as Rula Lenska to “Shake Your Groove Thing.”

Choreography is a major part of any Dumpsta performance. Oh sure, you can say these shows are all just lipsync, but you can’t deny the incredible choreography involved. It is the troupe’s forte in many scenes on stage, and Blanche/Rue McClanahan (Lance Pawling) vs New York on “Charm School” is no exception. Great writing, acting and dancing here, and Shannon Wilkes as New York is terrific, and that’s not even mentioning Macy Gray’s “Slap a Bitch” or the fake vagina. Yep, you read that right, fake vagina.

Repeat after me: nothing is sacred, and expect the unexpected. And when Sophia/Estelle Getty, played by Dan Meyer, starts to strip on “America’s Top Model” (also hosted by New York) it’s madness. But it earns a check from Bret Michaels (Cathy Heard) of “Rock of Love” and everyone lives happily ever after to Warrant’s “Cherry Pie.”

The Dumpsta Players at Bob and Barbara’s – a Philadelphia tradition and a Philadelphia experience. Check the website and the MySpace for future performances. You won’t regret it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Frank Miller’s The Spirit


That’s right, this is Frank Miller’s The Spirit, not Will Eisner’s, that’s for damn sure. Frank Miller hates superheroes. I’ve said it before, and I’m pretty sure I’ll say it again. Frank Miller hates superheroes. If The Dark Knight Strikes Back is Exhibit A, then surely this film, 2008’s The Spirit is Exhibit B. I have read and heard that Eisner and Miller were great friends. I can only suppose that they fought before the former’s death because I think this interpretation of his hallmark character may well have him spinning in his grave. Frank Miller’s The Spirit is a hate mail for not just comic book fans but movie goers as well.

Was the Sin City sequel not ready for a Christmas release so the studio grabbed Frank Miller and forced him to rush this piece of crap into theatres? That’s my only guess, because it certainly looks more like Sin City than any possible version of the Spirit. Again I am pulled back to the Miller/Eisner friendship. What did they talk about? Surely not the Spirit because obviously Miller doesn’t have a clue what that’s about.

For those not in the know. The Spirit is an amazing comics character created by Will Eisner specifically for the newspapers, a stroke of brilliance at the time as it wasn’t a newspaper comic strip, but a weekly comic book insert that came in the Sunday paper. The Spirit stories were known for their imaginative and innovative graphic design and storytelling structure – decades ahead of anything that was going on in ‘real’ comic books of the time. Eisner was truly a genius ahead of his time, and one of the masters of the artform.

The character of the Spirit himself was ex-cop Denny Colt. Exposed to a weird chemical he appeared to be dead but was really in suspended animation when buried and written off as dead. Crawling out of the grave, donning a mask and using his now officially dead status as a cover, he became the Spirit and defended the people of Central City from all manner of villain, many of them female, and frequently rivaling the rogues galleries of Batman and Dick Tracy in their strangeness.

How Frank Miller took that and got this movie is something I will never understand. It reminds of “Smallville” in one way – some of the names are familiar but nothing else is. Frank Miller’s Spirit is super-powered where the original never was. He shares an origin with archenemy the Octopus in that a chemical exposure left them both with ridiculous Wolverine-like regenerative powers. They can’t die, and so engage in cartoon-like combat with anvils and infinite bullet holes. I think even Tex Avery would think these scenes overindulgent.

These aren’t the only differences. Most annoying that Miller’s Spirit is all in black, except for the red tie. The Spirit really doesn’t have a costume for heaven sakes, so why is it so hard to get it right? In the comics, simplicity itself, blue business suit, blue hat, blue gloves, blue mask, and red tie. Well, at least he got the tie right. This is a CGI motion capture film, you can’t tell me that blue wouldn’t work, or for that matter, look terrific. Is it really that hard? Comic book superheroes come in colors, for some reason Hollywood mutants forget that. Miller, having worked in the industry, should know better. But then again, it’s probably on purpose, he does hate superheroes, remember?

The casting is interesting. I liked Gabriel Macht in the title role, a lot. It’s a shame he couldn’t be the real Spirit because he would be terrific. Too bad Frank Miller has made it so no one will ever want to make another Spirit movie ever again, so bad the stigma will be from this. Dolan is miscast, and the women are all breathtakingly beautiful, if only on hand most of the time as sex objects. This is Frank Miller after all. Are we sure this isn’t the Sin City sequel? I know he hates superheroes, but I wonder what his problem with women is as well. Maybe he hates everything as everything gets the short end of the stick in this flick. Including Miller’s own cameo –P.U.

Louis Lombardi provides a bit of odd comic relief. Funny only if you are into S&M or the Three Stooges I suppose. He plays multiple clones who are henchmen to the Octopus, killed and mistreated left and right, and assures that Lombardi will never get a serious role again, much less any part of any “Sopranos” or “24” reunions. The clone names, printed on the fronts of their shirts, provide a bit of an inappropriate injoke that can distract from how bad this flick is.

Samuel L. Jackson as the Octopus is a curiosity when you consider, that in the comic book version, you never see the Octopus, never. It’s the trademark of the character. The question is not why was this done, but - can Samuel L. survive this? Can his career recover from this offensive cartoon of a movie? Over the top doesn’t cover the madness of his performance. I’m sure many directors will unfortunately think of his role as the Octopus when considering him for work and just take a pass. I love Sam, but he stepped in it this time.

Frank Miller hates superheroes, and he must really really hate the Spirit. Maybe he saw what a success The Dark Knight was and decided he had to kill this beast before it got too big, too popular. He had to drag comics back into the literary gutter where he thinks they belong. Well, Frank, after seeing your interpretation of the Spirit, all I can say, is “Good job.”

Osbournes Reloaded

Remember back in the 1970s when variety shows were all the rage? Carol Burnett, Flip Wilson, Sonny and Cher (both together and separately), the Captain and Tennille and even Donny and Marie were the kings of the genre.

The networks got so desperate for that type of entertainment, variety shows were given to just about anyone. Among the oddities were TV family the Brady Bunch, mimes Shields and Yarnell and one-hit wonders the Starland Vocal Band.

Well, Fox has got something coming that's no 'afternoon delight' - "Osbournes Reloaded," part variety show, part reality TV and part game show, this mutant blatantly sucks off the several years off the radar "The Osbournes" reality show from MTV.



Fox, where reality lives, not originality. That said, I will still be hand for this train wreck. Misery loves company.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Open for Business...


T-Shirt Hell is not closing as previously reported here, and they never were.

The story from the owner is here. While I do feel a bit used and misled for trying to drum up some publicity for them, I am glad they didn't buckle.

Hurray for freedom of speech, but beware of the boy who cried wolf. Now go get yourself a tasteless t-shirt.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Golden Girls Gone Wild!


The Dumpsta Players are back with "Golden Girls Gone Wild!"

Wednesday, February 18th
10pm doors, 11PM showtime -- sharp!
@ Bob and Barbara's
1509 South Street
Philadelphia, PA
Info: (215) 545-4511
$1.99 cover

GOLDEN GIRLS DO REALITY TV
BLANCHE VS. NEW YORK
DOROTHY GETS EXTREME MAKEOVER

When TV's cherished Golden Girls can't afford to fix their roof, the ladies must pull out all the stops and enter 2009's world of cheap and easy reality TV!

Find out who's The Biggest Loser and what happens when Rose goes Dancing With The Stars' Heather Mills!

Charm School victim New York is out for blood and Monique Osborne is ready to give her drama! What hair metal sensation brings the crowd to their feet in the finale?

Can Blanche whore her way into winning the big money? Will Dorothy get a sex change on Extreme Makeover? Does Sophia have a good story about stripping in Sicily? And can
Tyra count to 12?

Grab a latte, file your nails but don't miss-

"GOLDEN GIRLS GONE WILD!"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tales of the Black Freighter

For those who have read Watchmen, you know all about this - "Tales of the Black Freighter," the comic within the comic, that puts the subtext in the text, is coming to DVD!


Available eight days after Watchmen comes out. Look for it!

Jeers for TV Guide


I realize times have been rough for TV Guide of late. The whole loss of its handy pocket-size format to another boring glossy mag, and of course the fact that most cable systems now have the grid that has all the info we used to get from TVG, has made things pretty bad for those guys. But is that any reason for bad journalism and shoddy research?

This article in the most recent issue of TV Guide is just an embarrassment. Not only is this old news, it's inaccurate news. I just don't know where to start, with the facts, with the execution, or with the spelling and grammar errors. You guys are kidding, right? This is an early April fools thing, right?

"Holy Lesbian, Batman!"??? Let's just overlook the misuse of a forty-plus year old catchphrase for the moment, but that's not all there is to know about the new Batwoman. She's also Jewish, and rich, and a redhead, and dresses like a bat and fights crime. Those are all components of her personality that are as important if not more than her sexual preference. What about exploiting those?

And by the way, TV Guide, in case you didn't get the four week old press releases and media saturation - Batman's not dead. Check your facts!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Torchwood: Children of Earth - Sneak Peak

One of the most anticipated panels of this year’s New York Comic Con was the Torchwood panel featuring special guests all the way from the UK, lead actress Eve Myles and director Euros Lyn.

For those not in the know, “Torchwood” is a BBC series that originally spun off from the wildly popular new incarnation of “Doctor Who.” Kind of like “The X-Files” meets Men in Black with a quirky, very sexy, sometimes scary, adult adventure vibe, Torchwood is an undercover operation that investigates aliens on Earth, and defending us from the ones that mean us harm – which is unfortunately, most of them.

The panel was hosted by the very cool Whitney Matheson of USA Today’s Pop Candy blog. MTV was also there, and BBC America was actively interviewing audience members before the guests showed up. Announcements were made that both the second season of “Primeval” and “Ashes to Ashes,” the sequel to “Life on Mars,” were coming to BBC America this year.

Then we saw a preview of “Torchwood: Children of Earth”


Yeah, baby. It was followed by a few soundbyte-short interviews with cast members, including the mysterious Mr. Frobisher who will be a major part of the upcoming mini-third season. Composed of five one-hour episodes that make up one whole story, the season has the team brought to the edge by an invasion they were created to stop – “a horrific force, a devil coming back to mess with Torchwood.” Then, to roaring applause and cheering, Whitney introduced director Euros Lyn and actress Eve Myles, better known as Gwen Cooper of Torchwood.

The camera flashes were mind-boggling and must have been doubly so for Ms. Myles. I don’t think she had any idea how popular the series had become in the United States. It is, in fact, BBC America’s most popular show. She was indeed the star here, more charismatic and happy to be on hand than other celebrities I have seen on past TV and movie panels. Eve seemed absolutely delighted to be here.

First up for discussion was the end of Season Two where two major characters and cast members were lost. Euros Lyn stressed that is a separation between the old Torchwood and the new Torchwood. They miss the characters/actors no longer with them but this is a new story, a new situation. Move forward, not back.

Questions roll in from the audience like wildfire, as do gifts and autograph requests for Eve. What is John Barrowman, who plays male lead and Torchwood boss Captain Jack Harkness and is considered by many to be the world’s sexiest gay man, really like? “John farts a lot” is Eve’s starting response. The audience hears nothing after that. She later says, “John is beautiful,” and “it’s a cheeky program” when asked who will be kissing who this season. Who will John kiss? “He goes from tables to chairs.” When asked to relate the first time she met John she coyly answered, “I can’t” to much laughter.

What will we see? Who will be back? Fan favorite PC Andy will be back, as will Gwen’s husband Rhys taking a bigger role this time out. The Weevil won’t be back this season, and although it was planned, neither Mickey nor Martha Jones from “Doctor Who” will be appearing because of scheduling difficulties. Both Eve and Euros assured us there are great new characters coming though.

A female fan asked what her favorite American genre series was, Eve confessed to being a huge “Buffy” fan, which is why she had such a geekgasm when James Marsters was on the show. The two women then drooled over the idea of a Captain John action figure coming out. Pun intended, we are talking about “Torchwood” after all.

Speaking of the adult aspect of the show, one ‘cheeky’ questioner asked the guests on the panel if they would be interested in going out and getting f***ed up tonight. We Americans… sigh… Finally a fan made Ms. Myles completely speechless by saying he’d go gay for Jack. See what these Brits are doing to us? ;-)

“Torchwood: Children of Earth” premieres on BBC America in the coming year, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

NYCC 2009 Day Two


Let’s talk a bit about NYC cabbies. They are insane. NASCAR, demolition derby, even stunt drivers have nothing on these guys. Even have a bus an inch away from you in the back seat of a cab, on either side? I have, and while speeding. Insane I say!

The trip back to Javitz this morning wasn’t as exciting as the previous day’s but I did see three Starbucks each on the corner of three consecutive blocks, on the same side. Not quite Lewis Black’s end of the world paradox, but still, scary.

We had a bit of an emergency when The Bride arrived late last night. She realized had forgotten her con ticket way back in south Jersey. Props to the staff of NYCC for handling the situation in a quick and friendly manner. So far the staff here has been pretty amazing, a vast difference from some other cons I’ve attended.

First stop was to say hi to Fat Momma, the runner-up in the first season of Stan Lee’s “Who Wants to Be a Superhero?” The Bride had met her at previous cons but I had not. She’s a very nice lady and we chatted about the Broadway shows she had seen since in town – “Wicked” was good, “Shrek” bad. We also got a signed pic and a copy of her new book from Esteem Comics.

Next stop on the autograph parade was Colin Baker, the sixth Doctor. He was overheard to say he quite enjoyed the new series of “Doctor Who” and loved that they had thousands of Daleks. Very friendly. Said hello to actor Robert Culp, hell of a nice guy. He was selling scripts of some of the episodes of “I Spy” that he had written, some of the better ones I might add. Next to him was his partner in “The Greatest American Hero,” William Katt. I told him how much I enjoyed seeing him recently in The Man from Earth and he signed a copy of the GAH comic for me. And don’t forget to check out the motion comic for iPhone as well.

After a lunch of a wonderful Javitz ratdog cooked in the smoky essence of chicken kabobs, it was off the to the packed-to-the-walls Cup O’ Joe panel. In attendance, besides Joe Quesada of course, were Brian Michael Bendis, C.B. Cebulski, Jim McCann and publisher Dan Buckley. Dan Slott was also seen sitting in the audience off to the side with the rest of us.

There was Ultimate announcements. The line is being canceled and restarted as “Ultimate Comics.” Same characters, same continuity, so I’m really unsure of what the real difference is. There will be four monthlies in the line. Ultimate Spider-Man will have a new #1 written by Bendis and drawn by new regular artist David LaFuente. After a time jump in the continuity it will feature new characters, a new status quo and maybe someone new in the costume. That old gag again. Ultimate Avengers will be by Mark Millar and Carlos Pacheco.

Then the room was open for questions. Bendis said that Jessica Jones will remain a supporting cast member of New Avengers but not a member of the New Avengers. An Alias mini with Miichael Gaydos is coming maybe next year and “asses will be bitten.” Ahem, it was also announced that current Ultimate Spidey artist Stuart Immonen will moving on to be regular artist on NA after issue #55. Wiccan will also be appearing and the line-up will stay as it is for a while, even though it seemed to take Bendis a minute to count down everyone on the current team.

Dan Slott was called up out of the audience at one point, and he sarcastically mentioned being thrilled seeing himself unshaved on the mini-jumbotron in the room. Interesting that the question he was brought up to answer was one of continuity – Norman Osborn knowing (or not knowing) who Spider-Man was. Slott seems to be the go-to guy for fixing continuity. Witness his current handling of the Scarlet Witch in Mighty Avengers. Oh, and the Normie/Spidey thing will be coming up soon by Slott in Amazing Spider-Man.

Publisher Dan Buckley took on the question of the price increase at Marvel and actually gave a pretty logical and honest answer in easy to understand terms. They are raising the prices on the popular titles so they won’t have to raise them across the board, and holding off as long as they can. I don’t like it, but I appreciate the honest answer.

Joe Quesada and Brian Bendis tackled a question concerning a problem I have voiced in my reviews at Avengers Forever on more than one occasion – why covers don’t always reflect what’s on the inside of the book. The fan asking felt cheated by a recent Avengers issue that was a Secret Invasion tie-in with Hawkeye on the cover but not inside. The answer was that the covers were homages to classic covers and specifically were not meant to depict what was inside. They just laughed it off saying Hawkeye was not a draw for a cover anyway. Hmmm, I’d buy a comic with Hawkeye on the cover. Anyone else out there?

Other than a few more hints from Bendis that the Spider-Woman series was going to be digital, and that Echo would be appearing in it, that was about it for this Cup O’ Joe. I went searching for HeroClix after that, only to find one vendor with any sort of selection. On my travails through the con floor I came across Anthony Tollin, comics colorist and probably the world’s foremost authority on The Shadow, and from him I bought my prize purchase of the con. The Shadow: Partners in Peril, love it , love it.

Never underestimate the drawing power of even a partial Pixar film. The showing of the first fifty minutes of Up filled the IGN Theatre to capacity and turned away many folks, my Bride and me included. And the line to get in started well over an hour beforehand.

At that point we were pretty beat and decided to call it a night. Steering this back around to NYC cabbies again, it took almost an hour to flag down a real cab. There were dozens of gypsy cabs but we turned all of them away. How is this legal? It’s like some guy has a car and decides to pick strangers up and name his price. What got me is the amount of con folk who got into these gypsy cabs. I hope none of them end up in ditches come tomorrow morning.

Today’s quotes both come from Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada: “Squirrel Girl stores my nuts for the winter” and “Let’s hear it for whoring.”

Saturday, February 07, 2009

James Whitmore Passes


Emmy and Tony Award winning actor James Whitmore passed away yesterday from complications of lung cancer. He was 87. He will be best remembered for his one-man shows as Will Rogers, Harry Truman and Teddy Roosevelt. He was also nominated for an Oscar for his turn as Truman, the only time a film starring one man has been given the nod. My own personal favorite Whitmore film is Battleground, for which he also was nominated. He'll be missed.

Wonder Woman Animated Sneak Preview



On the first night of the 2009 New York Comic Con, folks got a very special treat – a sneak preview of the new animated Wonder Woman film. My day had been crazed and I didn’t think I would make it but I did, just in time to see it – and I’m damn glad I did.

Before Wonder Woman there were a couple previews, and the one that drew the most response from the building audience was Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li starring “Smallville”’s Kristen Kreuk. Loud booing roared throughout the theatre. Wow, Lana Lang is not well liked at all.

Next up was a Dark Knight action figure commercial, a la Mego from the 1970s, that just kept getting more and more gruesome. Luckily it was a joke. And yeah, the kids saying, “Holy s-” and the Harvey Dent figure half-melting were both pretty sick, but also dead on and damned funny too. heck, Christopher Nolan should’ve made action figures…

And then the real movie started. It begins with the Amazons fighting against the forces of Ares, and specifically Hippolyta vs. Ares. It’s an interesting rewrite of history and continuity. Apparently Polly and Ares were at one time lovers and had a son, one that she slays in battle now. She then turns on the father. When Zeus forbids her from killing Ares, Hera gives her an island to protect her people from man, and a child of her own. When the little baby of clay starts crying and titles roll, the crowd cheers.

We jump to the present, and Artemis and Princess Diana sparring. There is a lot being done to individualize the Amazons here, which is a nice change of pace. We learn about Artemis and Alexa and others. There are tidbits shown that are terrific, like the Magic Sphere. When I saw that I was hoping for the Mental Radio, but I guess that’s asking too much. We do get a nice redesign of the Robot Plane/invisible jet/Wonderdome (what is it called these days anyway?) later on though that rocks.

There’s no war going on as this is present day, but Steve Trevor’s introduction is nearly intact, voiced by Captain Hammer himself, Nathan Fillion, who also intro-ed the showing of the film itself. The entire voice cast is phenomenal, but his humor as Trevor comes through loud and clear. Trevor caught in the grip of the golden lasso is like a perfectly timed and damn hilarious Abbott and Costello routine. You’ll never think of the word ‘crap’ the same way again.

The interaction between Steve and Diana jumps back and forth like dueling Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. This is a light-hearted battle of the sexes done smart for today’s generation. If anything I am reminded of the equality of the sexes argument between Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood at the end of The Great Race. And speaking of sex, and violence for that matter, and a zombie or two or three – this is not for the kiddies, but the grown-ups will love it.

A few closing observations – Dian can kick serious butt in her bare feet, and she’s invulnerable to tequila. The only fault I can find is that toward the end a statement is made that the Amazon lifestyle itself may be inherently flawed. Wtf? Let’s just throw the whole mythos of the character in the trash, shall we?

In summation, holy crap, pun unintended, this has been the best so far of the DC animated films. I really mean that, and yes, I’m including New Frontier. I can’t wait ‘til this comes out and I can buy my own copy. How long until March 3rd?

The 2009 CAG Awards



From the New York Comic Con 2009 Schedule Guide #4:

CAG Awards

The Comicbook Artists Guild is both honored and excited to share with NYCC exhibitors and attendees the 2nd Annual CAG Awards emceed by Catch da Craze host Sam Vera. Join us as we recognize members for their excellence in categories of Best Writer and Artist and new categories including Best Web Comic and Art Direction Excellence.


And from one of their own press releases:

The Comicbook Artists Guild, L.L.C., founded in 2000, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the networking, education and support of comic book creators, writers and artists alike, regardless of amateur or professional status, skill levels or talent divisions. Currently, CAG operates membership chapters out of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Nebraska and a chapter abroad in Brazil, with interest in opening more chapters and continuing to grow. CAG’s goal is to advance the medium of comics through the creative experiences of its members. By bringing them together on projects of their choosing, the Guild perpetuates the positive aspects of the comics industry and its continuing contribution to popular culture.

I’ve always heard good things about the Comicbook Artists Guild, so I wanted to make time to attend this event and learn more about what goes on. There were about sixty folks in attendance for the awards ceremony, including those giving and receiving, and tuxes and eveningwear were optional. And at least this year’s Awards weren’t given out in a pub, even though the rumor is that CAG gives good party.

There were a lot of folks I either recognized or just knew by sight, like Rachel Kadushin, Michele Witchipoo, CAG president and founder Keith Murphey, Steve Kanaras, Everett and Susan Soares, and all the folks at Free Lunch Comics. All very talented people in the independent industry.

The winners this year were:

Best Story Writing: Shawnti Therrien for Meth: A Reason to Live

Best Story Art: Hector Rodriguez for Hell’s Blood

Best Single Story Created by a Team: Hell’s Blood by H. Rodriguez, S. Sheaffer and Murphey.

Best Writer: Everett Soares

Best Penciller: Hector Rodriguez

Best Inker: Alex Rivera

Best Colorist: Liz Ortiz

Best Letterer: Ed Traquino

Best Cartoonist: Matt Ryan

Best New Talent: Liz Ortiz

Production Excellence: Ed Traquino

Art Direction Excellence: James Rodriguez

Best Workshop/Panel: Matt Ryan (for all)

Best Web Comic Creator: ZMAN

And the special award for CAG MVP went to president and founder Keith Murphey

There was a lot of joy, passion, talent and friendship in that room. If you’re interested in joining CAG, check them out here.

NYCC 2009 Day One


FRIDAY

The day was not off to a great start. With very little sleep I made the trek from 30th Street Station in Philly to Penn Station in New York. While waiting for the train, my watch broke. I mean, it was still running, it had just decided to show the wrong time and refused to be reset. Then just before New York the train had to stop “to wait for the other trains to leave the tunnel.” Now I’m not sure if we were waiting for every train in Manhattan to use the tunnel first or not, but we were stopped for well over forty-five minutes.

The original plan was to stop at the hotel first and check in (more on that later) but I was already late so I made my way to the Jacob Javitz Center first to pick up my press credentials and see what there was to see. Seeking out the press room I met a guy from Issues The Series. Go check it out, lots of fun, kinda like “Scrubs” meets Clerks.

Also saw Mighty Avengers artist Khoi Pham waiting in the professional line to get in. He called after me to say hello. I just have to reiterate my estimation that he’s the nicest guy in the comics biz. How many pros go out of their way to say hi to fans. Helluva artist, helluva guy, class act all the way. While I’m sharing plugs, I hung out with my friend Abraham from Avengers Forever and also bumped into the multi-talented Rob from the Aquaman Shrine.

The Schedule Guide for NYCC #4 has a gorgeous cover by living legend Neal Adams featuring the Green Lanterns Kilowog, Katma Tui, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, John Stewart and a weird-eyed Hal Jordan. Everything is beautiful but Hal’s eyes. It’s disturbing. Maybe they’re crossed, maybe they’re not, but either way they seem to follow you around the room. Brrrr…

Inside are sneak previews of Flash: Rebirth #1 by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver and Detective Comics #854 by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III. Other than Kate Kane’s pasty goth skin, the latter actually looks pretty spectacular. The former has me spellbound though. After these five pages I don’t know when the last time I’ve been so excited about a comic. It’s got it all. The Rogues, the JSA, good characterization, respectful characterization, and a Kid Flash is back? I’m going to be loving this book. I can’t wait.

I had to bail on some panels I wanted to see this afternoon to check into our hotel. What a clusterf*ck that was. First there was some confusion over whether it was on the shuttle bus route from the Javitz Center – it’s not, even though folks were telling me it was on the NYCC website. And then there was the question of the non-existent free wireless internet. By the time everything was sorted, the afternoon was gone. But I was determined to get to the Wonder Woman premiere so I went back through crazed taxis and rush hour traffic to get there.

It was well worth it. Also had one of the Javitz Center’s famous (or is it infamous?) hot dogs and saw the CAG Awards as well. I’ll end with a quote I heard as I was leaving the Javitz, “How do the cabs know to stop and pick us up?” Hmmm... and I thought I was out of my element here.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Lux Interior Dead at 62



The lead singer of the Cramps, Lux Interior, passed away yesterday from a pre-existing heart condition. He was a better Iggy Pop than Iggy himself. We've lost one of the great ones, and he'll be missed.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Death of Freedom of Speech


Apparently freedom of speech is politically incorrect. I knew that having a sense of humor, especially a sick one, was, but freedom of speech?

Apparently the KKK or the Neo-Nazis can gather and speak their mind with police protection on most occasions, but if you put a witty if sick phrase on a t-shirt, you’re public enemy number one.

T-Shirt Hell is closing. It’s not because of the economy, like everything else closing of late, it’s because of wrong-minded idiots who refuse to let folks have freedom of speech in America. They are being forced out of business because some people not only don’t understand the Bill of Rights, but they also don’t get that everyone doesn’t have the same sense of humor. Apparently it’s wrong to be stupid or silly or politically incorrect – unless you’re a Klansman or a Nazi. And you folks out there know damn well if Dane Cook or Jim Carrey said some of the things on these shirts you’d laugh, but somehow it being on a shirt and for sale is wrong.

And it’s not like T-Shirt Hell is a fly-by night operation either. They’ve been around forever and have been featured in publications such as Penthouse, FHM, Maxim, Stuff, Playboy, Esquire (yes, Esquire), and on the Howard Stern Show. Granted, it’s niche, but it’s big. And they ship thousands of products every week (still) and to locations all over the world. Seems like only a pocket of vocal people here in the States are the only ones without a sick sense of humor.

Here’s what the owner and creator of T-Shirt Hell, Sunshine Megatron, had to say about this: http://www.tshirthell.com/goodbye.php and also from a soon-to-be-laid-off employee of T-Shirt Hell: http://www.tshirthell.com/goodbye2.php.

So freedom of speech with a sense of humor only has a week to live on the intrawebs, but not on your shirt. The sale is on. Get out there and buy and wear your right to free speech.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Super Bowl Aftermath: Commercials

Despite one of the better (or at least more interesting) commercials this year being banned from being broadcast, there were still a few ads that stood out during this year's Super Bowl.

The main idea is to surprise, entertain, and most importantly let the viewer remember the name of the product when it's all over. I mean everyone remembers the amazing Big Brother commercial from 1984 - but come on, who remembers what they were selling?

Let's start with a good one from Doritos that aired early in the game...

It met criteria by making me laugh and I knew what they were selling. On the bad side, there were a few that creeped me out. Like the NBC ads for "Heroes" where the casts of that show, "Medium" and "Chuck" lipsynced to an old Motown tune. As a matter of fact, all of the commercials for NBC shows were pretty bad, and disrepectful to the shows themselves. Were they trying to turn folks off?

None of the Coke, Pepsi or Budweiser ads did anything for me, and that "Pepsuber" bit not only made me not want to drink Pepsi but also stop watching "Saturday Night Live." Speaking of bad commercials, what was up with that Cash4Gold.com one with Ed McMahon and MC Hammer? Was that for real, or just a cruel joke?

A joke that worked and that I loved was Alec Baldwin for Hulu...

My absolute favorite of the night however was the CareerBuilder.com commercial with the fuzzy logic ad...

Although I could see it getting very annoying if it starts playing repetitively in general circulation.

So anyone know who won the game?

Super Bowl Aftermath: Halftime


Ever since the Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake nipple-for-a-nanosecond debacle of 2004, the powers that be have been determined to make Super Bowl halftime shows short, to the point and family-oriented if possible - clean with no chance of surprise. I just know that they were folks losing their minds last night when Bruce Springsteen not only went over his time but also started ad-libbing with side man Little Steven Van Zandt. But all worked out, Bruce had aged to the point of harmlessness unfortunately.

Now I'm from New Jersey, so we've been putting up with his nonsense, and for the most part enjoying it, since the mid-1970s. So the nostalgic part of me got a kick out of him and the reunited E Street Band jamming like old friends last night. It actually felt rather cozy like seeing them in small club as opposed to the world's largest theatre. And it was good to hear three songs from from different eras of his career as well - been far too long since I've heard "10th Avenue Freezeout."

But it wasn't all nostalgia and flowers. Was it just me or was everyone waiting for that blood vessel on the left side of Bruce's face to just explode? It came close more than a few times. Dude is unfortunately getting old with the rest of us. And I so did not need to see that crotch slide right into the camera either, and almost right into my living room. Sheesh! Good thing that part wasn't in 3-D. All in all though, an enjoyable halftime performance. I've have enough "boss time" to last a little while longer.

Super Bowl Aftermath: Movie Previews

Here's the rundown (or at least my rundown) on the 2009 Super Bowl movie previews...

First we got another look at J.J. Abrams' Star Trek...

as well as previews of Pixar's Up, Fast & Furious, the Transformers sequel which just looks like more of the same and, believe it or not, a live action G.I. Joe movie

Holy crap, that actually looks like it might be cool. We also got the new Jack Black comedy, Year One, and two that will appeal to the baby boomers - a re-imagining of the Witch Mountain flicks from Disney starring The Rock, and this one...

Will Ferrell taking on the drug-induced dino-delica of Sid & Marty Krofft's Land of the Lost. The mind boggles. lastly we got the special 3-D preview of Monsters Vs. Aliens

Now I'm sure the commercials in 3-D were good, as was the movie preview and it looks like the movie itself will be a lot of fun, but - has anyone been able to find those special 3-D glasses? I know I haven't and I think I'll need them for "Chuck" tonight as well...