Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dave Cockrum, 63, Comic Book Artist, Dies - New York Times

Dave Cockrum, 63, Comic Book Artist, Dies - New York Times: "Dave Cockrum, an illustrator who in the mid-1970s helped invent a dynamic new look and intriguing new characters for the moribund “X-Men” comics, paving the way for what became America’s most popular comic books and a billion-dollar movie empire, died on Nov. 26 at his home in Belpon, S.C. He was 63.

The cause was complications of diabetes, Andrea Kline, his former wife, said.

The X-Men are mutants who as a result of a sudden leap in evolution are born with latent superhuman abilities that usually manifest themselves at puberty. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, two creative legends at Marvel Comics, created the odd group in 1963, but by 1970, fan interest, never great, had petered out. Marvel put new X-Men adventures on hiatus.

Enter Mr. Cockrum, who with the writer Len Wein, under the direction of the editor Roy Thomas, was assigned to restart the series in 1975. After an issue and a half, Chris Claremont replaced Mr. Wein.

New international characters with strange new powers sprang to life. They included Thunderbird, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Storm, and they joined compelling standbys like Wolverine to eventually be the heroes of a dozen comic book titles, cartoons and video games, as well as three movies that have together brought in more than $1 billion in worldwide box office receipts.

Mr. Cockrum saw the characters as dark and appealingly dramatic; they became weathered adults instead of smooth-faced children. Comics Reporter noted the handsomeness of both men and women, as well as an overall “sumptuous, late-’70s cinema style.”


Early Astronomical ‘Computer’ Found to Be Technically Complex - New York Times

Early Astronomical ‘Computer’ Found to Be Technically Complex - New York Times: "A century ago, pieces of a strange mechanism with bronze gears and dials were recovered from an ancient shipwreck off the coast of Greece. Historians of science concluded that this was an instrument that calculated and illustrated astronomical information, particularly phases of the Moon and planetary motions, in the second century B.C.

The instrument, the Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the world’s first computer, has now been examined with the latest in high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography. A team of British, Greek and American researchers deciphered inscriptions and reconstructed the gear functions, revealing “an unexpected degree of technical sophistication for the period,” it said."

And I thought the Mac Lisa in my basement was ancient!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

IGN: Top 50 Lost Loose Ends

IGN: Top 50 Lost Loose Ends: They're driving me crazy, but frankly, I'm losing a bit of interest.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The funnies are still funny online - Los Angeles Times

The funnies are still funny online - Los Angeles Times: "IT WAS EITHER A GENUINE sign of the end times or proof that hipsters can get into anything, but this summer and fall Aldomania sparked a national 'Mary Worth' craze.

In case the above sentence makes no sense to you, 'Mary Worth' is a 68-year-old soap-opera comic strip about a nosey, passive-aggressive widow who is now (and always has been) about 68 years old. And Aldomania was a fan eruption over Aldo Kelrast, a Captain Kangaroo look-alike who was stalking the strip's titular heroine in a plot that was at once surprisingly suspenseful and deliciously bizarre.

The Palm Beach Post published 2,100 words on the phenomenon. Fans snapped up Aldomania T-shirts that proclaimed, 'I refuse to believe you prefer to be alone' — one of the stalker's dafter pronouncements. The morning after a dejected Aldo drove off an ill-placed cliff, bottle of cheap hooch in hand (no, really), there were three tribute videos posted to by 9 a.m.

These are not even the heights of the passion 'Mary Worth' inspires, nor is 'Mary Worth' the only comic that gets this kind of attention. Not long ago, I thought I was pretty much alone in my deep affection for Margo Magee, a sexy, manic and amoral publicist living in the oddly chaste bizarro-Manhattan of 'Apartment 3-G,' another long-running soap strip.

But that was before I started, where I analyze, deconstruct and mock the comics. This site, which I thought would merely entertain my close and indulgent friends, receives about 13,000 visitors and 200 reader comments, every day. I say this not as some sort of sad boast about my 'mad blogging skillz' but to point out just how much gleeful energy there is in the comics community."

Comics Curmudgeon is one of my favorite daily-visit blogs. Check it out!

Best spiritual books of the year

DAVID CRUMM: Enlightening reads: "Our spiritual options are exploding: from the ever-widening styles of worship in congregations to inspirational movies we can pick up on DVD along with our groceries. As we shop, even some brands of food and drink are hawking transcendent values now.

It's only natural that spiritual publishing is diversifying just as rapidly. This column marks the 10th anniversary of the Free Press' Top 10 Spiritual Books of the Year, a list we started in 1997, near the start of the religious-publishing boom.

The expansion hasn't stopped. This year's list is the first to honor graphic novels, a publishing form that might seem like glorified comics until one looks at the reflections in these artful books closely. And this is the first time we've listed a recipe book; this creatively crazy little volume is no ordinary cookbook."

Interesting list... but a little odd too.

Time's All-TIME 100 Albums

The All-TIME 100 Albums: "So here's how we chose the albums for the All-TIME 100. We researched and listened and agonized until we had a list of the greatest and most influential records ever - and then everyone complained because there was no Pink Floyd on it. And that's exactly how it should be. We hope you'll treat the All-TIME 100 as a great musical parlor game. Read and listen to the arguments for the selections, then tell us what we missed or got wrong. Or even possibly what we got right."

Check 'em out.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Beatles 'Love' Site

The Beatles have launched a special 'Love' Site.

"This week the new album LOVE was launched worldwide, and we have created a new microsite at for its release.

You can find out more about the album, enjoy previews of the tracks, video clips, download screensavers, wallpapers and more. We will be adding new features including a radio documentary, and more audio and video items over the weeks to come."

Check out the video about the production.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Atlantic: Top Living Influentials

Top Living Influentials: The Atlantic polled a bunch of important people and compiled various lists of influential people in America... including this list of living influentials... Check out how many impact pop culture, including Stan Lee at #26!

1. Bill Gates (No. 54 on the Top 100)
2. James D. Watson (No. 68)
3. Ralph Nader (No. 96)
4. Bob Dylan
5. Steve Jobs
6. Steven Spielberg
7. William F. Buckley Jr.
8. Muhammad Ali
9. Sandra Day O’Connor
10. Oprah Winfrey
11. Billy Graham
12. George Lucas
13. Norman Borlaug (founder
of the “Green Revolution”)
14. Michael Jordan
15. Shirley Temple
16. Walter Cronkite
17. Gloria Steinem
18. Phyllis Schlafly
19. Norman Mailer
20. Sid Caesar (the soul of Borscht Belt comedy)
21–24. Vinton Cerf, Robert E. Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, Lawrence Roberts (the four “fathers of the Internet”)
25. Helen Gurley Brown (legendary editor of Cosmopolitan magazine; author of Sex and the Single Girl)
26. Stan Lee (founder of Marvel Comics; inventor of Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and other superheroes)
26. Bill Cosby (tied)
28. Henry Kissinger
28. Chuck Berry (tied)
28. Bill Clinton (tied)
31. Martha Stewart
31. Clint Eastwood (tied)
33. Tiger Woods
33. Hugh Hefner (tied)

NYT on "The Fountain"

The director Darren Arononsky discusses the creation of a scene from "The Fountain," with video and exclusive images from the production.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

100 Notable Books of the Year - The New York Times Book Review - New York Times

100 Notable Books of the Year - The New York Times Book Review

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

The classic WKRP in Cincinnati episode for your enjoyment...

CSI: Miami-- Caruso's Cold Opens

I have never watched this show, and now I'm glad I haven't... from Short Ends:
"If it seems like David Caruso ends every CSI: Miami cold open by strangling the life out of an already cheesy one-liner, well, that's because he does." And watch how many times he pauses and puts on his shades... cheeeeeeeesy!

Fox News Funnies

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The New Yorker: Ware Covers & Interview

The New Yorker has posted the four Chris Ware covers and an mp3 interview.

USAToday: Gary Larson is drawn to the wild side

Larson interview at "Sightings of retired Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson are about as rare as the exotic vipers, rhinos and cheetahs that graced his daily strip for its 15-year run from 1980 to 1995.

Like deer avoiding gun-toting hunters in his panels ('Do I know this guy?. .. I've got to think,' one says as he hides behind a tree), Larson is elusive prey. He rarely gives interviews. He refused to have his picture taken for this article, preferring to remain anonymous in his home of Seattle, where his T-shirt-and-jeans wardrobe give him protective camouflage against would-be fans who might beg him to pick up his pen again.

But he agrees to endure a face-to-face interview ('Going into it, my only goal was to survive,' he says later in an e-mail) for something he cares deeply about — wildlife. Larson's cartoons abound with animals: elephants, wildebeest, frogs, bears, horses, salmon, birds, alligators. The world, however, hasn't been as kind to such creatures. Larson's hope that his work might aid in ending the destruction being wrought upon them and their habitats, especially in Southeast Asia, has brought him a tiny way out of retirement."

Lying in the Gutters: Frank Miller's The Spirit Movie

Comic Book Resources: "The hottest comics collectable right now? The movie treatment of 'The Spirit,' being used to sell the upcoming movie directed by Frank Miller to industry people. The treatment is peppered with Eisner art, but it has a cover with the Spirit drawn by Frank Miller. Which has caused copies to be ripped from the sweaty hands of AFM attendees.

And here it is."

Film director Robert Altman dies

Film director Robert Altman dies (AP): "Robert Altman, the caustic and irreverent satirist behind 'M-A-S-H,' 'Nashville' and 'The Player' who made a career out of bucking Hollywood management and story conventions, died at a Los Angeles Hospital, his Sandcastle 5 Productions Company said Tuesday. He was 81."

How not to fill air time: Katie Couric

Ouch, this is embarrassing. Last night's CBS Evening News with Katie Couric ended a good bit early due to technical troubles... and Katie had to stand there forever while the music played and credits rolled... and even with some commercials, they came back for more! Painful...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Newsarama: Theakston on Toth

NEWSARAMA has a piece Greg Theakston, comics historian and good guy, wrote about one of the masters: Alex Toth. Check it out.

George Martin to retire...finally (but not too soon)

Beatle producer announces retirement after new "Love" soundtrack: "Famed producer says his work on 'Love' soundtrack, featuring the Beatles' catalog, will probably be his final effort as he nears the age of 81."

Newsarama: Madman coming to Image Comics

Newsarama has all the great Madman news--hooray!: "He’s been here, there, and (almost literally) everywhere, and in February, Mike Allred’s Madman will find a new home at Image Comics. The new partnership between the creator and publisher will kick off with Madman Gargantua!, an 852 page, full color hardcover that collects every Madman story from Madman, Madman Adventures, Madman Comics, the Madman Super King-Size Groovy Special and a load of additional material.

'From the first page I drew, I knew Madman was exactly what I wanted to do in comics,” Allred said in a release. “I'm proud to be working with Image – the only company that really gets what creator freedom is all about – to bring Frank's stories back in the way I've always wanted to show them!'

The collection is just the start of the character at Image, as April will see a full-fledged return to Snap City, as Allred will launch Madman Atomic Comics, a new monthly series. 'Artistically, this is my best work ever,' Allred said. 'The first storyline is called ‘Jumping Silent Cars That Sleep At Traffic Lights,’ and it will turn the Madman world upside down. It's designed so that new readers can jump on, but buckle up, because it's gonna be a strange and scary rollercoaster ride!'

'Image has always been the company designed by creators, for creators, and we're honored to welcome Mike aboard!' said Image Executive Director Eric Stephenson. 'He's always had a great vision for his comics, and we're excited to be the ones to bring his vision out to the world.'

Madman Gargantua! will carry a $125.00 cover price, and will be limited to 2,500 copies. Gargantua! will not be reprinted in this format."

I'm gonna have to start saving up for that one.

Chris Ware to do New Yorker variant cover series

Arts, Briefly - New York Times: "The next cartoon issue of The New Yorker, dated Nov. 27 and on newsstands next week, will feature four different covers by Chris Ware. The magazine is calling it a narrative cover, with each image depicting a Thanksgiving scene, two set in 1942 and two today. The stories become intertwined in a fifth installment, a comic strip that will appear on the magazine’s Web site ( It is the first time The New Yorker has published four covers at once on the newsstand. Mr. Ware, a graphic novelist known for his intricate draftsmanship and wry humor in the “Acme Novelty Library” series and “Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth,” had a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago this summer."

Just discovered: Very Short List

Very Short List: "Very Short List (VSL) is a free, daily e-mail newsletter that points to excellent new (and sometimes vintage) entertainment, media, and cultural things you may not know about because they haven’t been hyped to within an inch of their lives. Each weekday, we tell our subscribers about a single recommended gem from among the vast pile of feature films and documentaries (in theatres and on DVD), television, novels, nonfiction books, magazine articles, Web sites and services, music, radio, and more. The focus is on cultural products that really deserve attention but aren’t already subject to giant media pile-ons.

Or, to put it another way: We write about things we’ve discovered that please us so much that we can’t wait to tell other people about them."

Sounds like fun.

Evanier on Captain Kangaroo

news from me: "A great way to waste hours on the Internet is to watch the oral history interviews of the Archive of American Television. This Academy-run project is interrogating significant folks in the world of broadcasting and from time to time, they put some of the videos up on Google News so we can all enjoy them instead of getting our work done.

There's a great one up now: Seven parts which comprise a 3-and-a-half hour interview with Bob 'Captain Kangaroo' Keeshan. It was recorded in 1999, five years before he passed away. I'm about halfway through it and his perspective is quite interesting. I got to spend some time with Mr. Keeshan when we worked together on a show and I found him to be a thoughtful and serious gentleman with a genuine concern about the impact of television on kids. We had a few friendly debates about rather trivial aspects of the whole situation...and let me tell you: It ain't easy arguing with Captain Kangaroo. I mean, come on. Even out of costume, he's Captain Kangaroo. I was terrified of offending him and not just because I was afraid Mr. Moose would drop ping-pong balls on me if I did.

Despite that, I felt he paid great attention to what I said and gave it proper consideration. At one point, he said — and I wish I could remember the exact words but this is close — 'I hope you understand that I respect your viewpoint. At times, I fear I have the tendency to come across to adults as if I'm treating them like children...when in my mind, the opposite is true. I always believe I'm talking to children like they're adults.' The secret of his success may lie somewhere in that belief."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

AWofK&C: Michael Chabon pulls plug on his cool website.

The Amazing Website of Kavalier & Clay - News: "Say good-bye to

Since February 1999, Chabon has designed and maintained his own Web site by himself. Today, though, the author announced he was shutting it down.

'I'm in the first stages of shutting down my website at least in its current form,' Chabon said in an e-mail. 'My wrists hurt and I'm bored with it.'

Chabon has been suffering from Repetitive Strain Injury for several months, which 'makes typing a chore and clicking an agony,' he said on his Web site.

'As I have been spending less time online I have found that I’ve lost interest in the web as a whole, and in my site in particular,' he said. 'I’m tired of having to maintain, but I hate that it gets stale, and so quickly. Yet I don’t feel comfortable with or have any interest in getting somebody else to do it for me. So I’ve decided, not without regret, to take it down, a little at a time, starting with the posting of my monthly Details column.'

Chabon said the site was never intended for self-promotion 'but simply to publish writing that would otherwise have gone out of print and to inform anyone who cared about my reading and lecture appearances.'

Some form of a schedule will probably remain, he said, either on his site or somewhere else. Many unpublished stories shall soon disappear too.

'Someday I might collect some of the longer pieces or columns in a book, but I have no plans to do so,' he said.

While by far the biggest change to Chabon's online habits, it's not the first time he's disconnected himself in some way from the Web. Chabon took down a link to his personal e-mail address from an earlier version of the Web site shortly after the publication of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

His wife, Ayelet Waldman, came closer to this latest move in February 2005 when she shut down her blog.

What his next plans are remain uncertain. In the meanwhile, Chabon directed visitors to this site, 'where the amazing Nate Raymond maintains the freshest information at a low, low price.'

'I’m sorry. See you around.'" Frank Cho on the Mighty Avengers FRANK CHO & HIS MIGHTY AVENGERS: "We get a few short but sweet teasers from Frank Cho about his work with Brian Michael Bendis on one of Marvel's superteams debuting after The Civil War, The Mighty Avengers." This looks cool!

Every James Bond Film Opening

City of Films: "The Bond films are known for their theme songs heard during the title credits, sung by well-known popular singers (which have included Tina Turner, Paul McCartney and Wings, Tom Jones, Carly Simon, Madonna, and Duran Duran, among many others.)"

Check 'em out!

Monday, November 13, 2006

'Better, Worse' creator ready for last laughs

From Grand Rapids Press: "April Patterson will never make her mother, Elly, nervous by driving a motorcycle like her big sister, Elizabeth, or joyous by marrying and having children like her brother, Michael. She will never again own pets like Farley, who gave his life to save her from drowning, or his fuzzy faced successor Edgar.

These things will not happen because in the fall of 2007, after 28 years, April, Elly, John, Michael, Elizabeth and the rest of the beloved Patterson family will give their creator, Lynn Johnston, a much deserved rest."

So the strip may go to reruns, and the characters may live on in new books or other ways... interesting story.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Smashup: Office Space as a Thriller

Watch funny videos online, what a concept

NBC has launched a new website with all kinds of comedy videos, from stand up to snippets from sitcoms (even Leave it to Beaver!)... check it out!

NYT on Dark Horse Comics

A Quirky Superhero of the Comics Trade - New York Times: "YOU may not know a little publishing company called Dark Horse Comics, but if you are a fan of Concrete (whose brain was transplanted by aliens into a stone body), Hellboy (he of the sawed-off red horns, satanic red tail and gargantuan red fist) or Sin City (the violent, edge-of-desperation town where people and principles are routinely bought and sold), then you certainly know its characters and its comic books.

And if you are a Dark Horse aficionado with an insatiable appetite, the company has more in store for next year. A new comic book series about Buffy the Vampire Slayer is on its way, written by Joss Whedon, who wrote and helped produce the popular television series of the same name. Dark Horse will also release “Star Wars: Legacy Vol. 1,” chronicling the distant future of the Jedi, as well as “300: The Art of the Film,” an account of the movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s comic book mini-series about an ancient, epic battle between Spartan and Persian soldiers.

By nurturing and backing a quirky, brooding and inventive stable of writers and artists, Dark Horse has spent the last 20 years carving out and maintaining its place as a scrappy comic book franchise in an industry dominated by Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Kevin Smith Interviews Stan the Man

Comic Book Resources: "Last week, CBR news caught a screening of 'Spider-Man 2' at the world famous Grauman's Chinese theater in Hollywood, California. It's a safe bet that every audience member in the packed house had already seen the film, but that's not why the comics fans came out in droves that night: They were there to see the Q&A with Spidey creator Stan Lee himself and special guest host Kevin Smith.

The film and the comics legend both were introduced by a hapless host, who was admittedly a good sport when the audience chided her about her marked ignorance of comics culture, epitomized by her butchering of the pronunciation of Magneto.

In his remarks before the film, Stan revealed that the now-legendary phrase 'With great power comes great responsibility' came about as a happy accident. 'I had written the story, and I always put the dialogue in after the drawings are done. So I wrote the final caption, and there was a little space left over, and it looked like it needed a few more words,' Stan said. 'It filled the space perfectly! I didn't realize it was gonna be like 'Friends, Romans, Countrymen' someday.'

The cameo-hungry comics legend lamented his scant few seconds of screen time in the second installment of the Spider-Man movie franchise, but Stan did dangle a few breadcrumbs about his Hitchcockian cameos in the upcoming 'Spider-Man 3' and 'Fantastic Four 2.'"

Spider-Man 3 trailer online!

Thursday, November 09, 2006 - Reviews - Casino Royale - Reviews - Casino Royale: "For once, there is truth in advertising: The credits proclaim Daniel Craig as 'Ian Fleming's James Bond 007,' and Craig comes closer to the author's original conception of this exceptionally long-lived male fantasy figure than anyone since early Sean Connery. 'Casino Royale' sees Bond recharged with fresh toughness and arrogance, along with balancing hints of sadism and humanity, just as the fabled series is reinvigorated by going back to basics. The Pierce Brosnan quartet set financial high-water marks for the franchise that may not be matched again, but public curiosity, lack of much high-octane action competition through the holiday season and the new film's intrinsic excitement should nonetheless generate Bond-worthy revenue internationally." To power franchises, we may need another hero - To power franchises, we may need another hero: "As Variety's Gabriel Snyder and Pamela McClintock reported this week, many venerable movie franchises are 'played out or aging,' triggering 'a furious hunt for a replacement crop' of tentpole-worthy concepts. Yet when it comes to the perilous if potentially lucrative leap from comics page to bigscreen, Tina Turner misspoke in that 'Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome' song: Maybe we do need another hero.

Special effects have evolved to the stage where it's easy to 'believe that a man can fly,' as the 1978 'Superman' promised on its memorable one-sheet. As a consequence, after years of uninspired, campy takes on beloved heroes, studios can 'put something on screen that you never thought you could see with that level of realism,' as DC Comics editor Paul Levitz said in a recent interview.

The irony, however, is that while virtually anything is now possible visually, there's a dearth of recognizable characters capable of attracting a mass audience without provoking snickers among the uninitiated, making their elevation to 'franchises' a super-human task."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Lockhorns: The Movie preview!

H/T Comics Curmudgeon:

TIPC: Review of Batman: Face the Face

This is Pop Culture makes some good points: "Batman has been 'grim'n'gritty' for a solid 20 years now--ever since Frank Miller presented a darker than dark Caped Crusader in the 'Dark Knight Returns' in 1986.

What started as fresh approach to Batman--post-modernly bringing him back to his 1930s roots as a ruthless vigilante--soon became the defacto take on the character. Miller's Batman appeared initially in 'mature readers' comics available only in the direct market. But eventually, this darker Dark Knight was present in every comic Batman appeared in, even those originally aimed at the then 'mass' market of 10-12 year-old readers.

Every writer who handled the character blindly imitated Miller. And why not? Miller sold lots of comics. He became famous. He wrote and, eventually, even directed movies. He made loads and loads of money. He's still making it in fact, mainly by performing the same simple hat trick over and over again: Making comic books, which are supposed to be for kids after all, ironic and 'dark.'

Eventually, Batman became even more of a cartoon than he was in the Adam West TV show days. Unsmiling, grimacing, nasty. Maybe this Batman was novel during the four-issue run of Miller's original 'Dark Knight' series, but it soon became apparent--to many longtime fans of the character, anyway--that he really wasn't too compelling. He was predictable. Cardboard. And, most significantly, lacking in humanity and heroic qualities.

The original Batman writers--Bill Finger, Gardner Fox and others--realized this 50 years ago. That's why the original Batman didn't remain a sour-pussed, gun-toting vigilante for long. It's hard to like a guy with no sense of humor, with no emotions other than anger. The Batman of the mid to late 1940s was still plenty tough and his villains sinister. But he'd still take time to crack a smile or joke once in a while.

But the dark Batman comics have kept selling, nevertheless, as superhero comics will. Many superhero fans tend to be undescriminating, reflex buyers. So long as it says 'Batman' on the cover, they'll keep buying it.

But, finally, DC Comics has decided that, hey, maybe it's time to tone down the darkness in Batman a bit and bring in a little more humanity. He's been the Punisher too long. The reasons for this change aren't clear. Batman, after all, continues to sell plenty of comics in today's small market. But maybe the marketing folks figured a shakeup of some sort might help the books sell even better."

Lost Takes a Break

Lost - TV - Report - New York Times: "After little more than a month of thrills and twists that have some fans feeling that the show is at its best ever, “Lost” is disappearing into the wilderness.

After tonight’s episode, only the sixth of the still-young fall television season, ABC will take “Lost” off the air for 13 weeks. The show will return on Feb. 7 for a run of 16 or 17 new episodes that will carry viewers into late May.

But the midyear split season is a scheduling gambit that could have enormous consequences not only for ABC, but also for the entire genre of serialized television drama, testing whether audiences are loyal enough to expensive, complex shows to weather long midseason interruptions."

For me, I haven't liked the mean-spiritedness of the Others this season, and though I understand now that the death of Mr. Eko was understood by the actor and producers for some time, I was upset that he was taken off, as he's one of the most interesting characters.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Robert Downey Jr. Talks Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. Talks Iron Man - Superhero Hype!: "'The suit for 'Iron Man' is so complex and does so much stuff that except for once or twice or from the chest up, I'm not required to do all that much,' Downey Jr. told us when asked if he'd been fitted for the armor yet. 'What I will do is a lot of motion capture so that the movement isn't just some random stunt guy. A lot of time I look at CGI and I'm like 'What's the reference for this? This looks like a cartoon reference not a person.' So I said I want to do all the motion capture work, which is like eight months after finishing shooting, but as much as it as I can do, I will.'

'I went after it like a greyhound after a rabbit,' he said when asked whether Favreau approached him or whether he went after the part. 'I loved Marvel and 'Iron Man' to me is the goods. To tell you the God's honest truth, I'd thrown them all away for Sgt. Rock, because I really grew up on Hogan's Heroes, Sgt. Rock. I'm still addicted to the History Channel and the Military Channel is my thing, but Tony's the best because I could never be Sgt. Rock. He's a little bigger and more butch and has a cigar, I don't see it. Tony's a perfect fit for me, and if I was ever going to do this type of thing, I thought, you know, like early '40's. Great, because when you hang up your 'macho hat' and start directing or doing other stuff, it's not an embarrassment to be doing this in your late '40s still if we wind up doing three of them.'"

This is gonna be cool.


DIAL B for BLOG ends its nearly daily run of outstanding comicky goodness, with the revelation of the author's identity, and this footnote: "All back issues of 'DIAL B for BLOG' will remain here, at this URL, indefinitely. Tomorrow, a 'DIAL B for BLOG' back issue index will appear as our new, permanent home page. Now, the good news: 'DIAL B for BLOG' will return in about six months to present an all-new 60-minute video documentary examining my all-time favorite character. Since this character's owners are notoriously litigious, I prefer not to specify his identity at this time. A clue to his identity can be found in DIAL B for BLOG #386. Read it, and you'll know. See you in the Spring, reader!"

We'll miss ya, Robby.

PW: Best Graphic Novels of the Year

Best Books of the Year – Graphic Novels - Publishers Weekly: "The year's best graphic novels span the range of material from a Chinese-American boy trying to come to terms with his heritage to a self-centered ad-man finding salvation in a post-9/11 road trip; from the quiet musings on the meaning of life from a cartoony everyman to a handful of Japanese school kids battling for their lives following a traumatic train wreck."

Check 'em out.

Monday, November 06, 2006

TIPC: New Hulk Movie Announced

This is Pop Culture: "Marvel Comics has announced the release 'The Incredible Hulk' in theaters June 27, 2008. It looks this film is a 'do-over' rather than a sequel to the poor, and poorly performing previous 'Hulk' movie.

Directed by top rising star Louis Leterrier (Transporter 2, Unleashed), The Incredible Hulk will return to the roots of the long-running comic series, combining a well-developed storyline with incredible action and fun. Zak Penn, who previously collaborated with Marvel on X2 and this summer's smash hit X-Men: The Last Stand, is writing the script. The project is being produced by Avi Arad, Kevin Feige and Gale Anne Hurd and will be executive produced by Michael Helfant, David Womark, and Ari Arad. Marvel Studios is currently casting the project. "

Happy 68th Birthday, Steranko!

Comic creator: Jim Steranko

H/T Spurgeon's Comics Reporter.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Brit critics excited about new Bond

Telegraph | News | Strong yet sensitive, introducing the Bond that bleeds: "'It's terrific,' said one critic. 'This is going to be the prequel to all other Bonds. There are a lot of fans who prefer either Moore or Connery but Craig could be better.

'This will make Craig a worldwide star. The James Bond films are watched absolutely everywhere.'

'Casino Royale is the story of how Bond got started, before he became 007,' he said. 'Daniel Craig is such a good actor. He plays him as strong but emotionally vulnerable. For the first time you see Bond's sensitive side.'

There is no sexual innuendo in this film; Craig's Bond is more sophisticated than that. And the film makers have been sure to show the consequences of violence — he bleeds."

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman - NYT Book Review

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman - Books - Review - New York Times: "Before he was a relentlessly prolific author of adult and children’s fiction, and a British expatriate living in Minnesota, amassing literary awards the way couch cushions accumulate loose change, Gaiman made his name writing comic books, at a time when the medium wasn’t known for its creative liberation. His breakthrough series “The Sandman,” published from 1988 to 1996, ostensibly chronicled the adventures of Morpheus, a gothic embodiment of the god of sleep and dreams who, after having been captured and released on Earth, must rebuild his neglected netherworld while occasionally righting wrongs on our plane of existence."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Chronogram: R.O. Blechman

Chronogram: R.O. Blechman, illustrator of squiggly style, and one of my favorites for years, is profiled.

The Beatles: LOVE coming soon

Check out and if you register you can hear four tracks from the new George Martin & Son produced CD, LOVE, the soundtrack for the latest Cirque du Soleil. Sounds fun to me!

TiPC: Lost Synopsis

This is Pop Culture: 11/02/06: "'Lost' clues: 'The Cost of Living' Ep. 5, Season 3"

They have, as usual, links and pix. I was stunned to see the denouement of this episode. I really liked the Eko character. Ugh.

Back on a Mac

Well, I have come full circle.

The first computer I ever used was an old bulky (yet small!) Kaypro when I started working at Walk Thru the Bible in 1984. The old green characters on black screen with tons of code. I could pack that thing up and carry it home to work. But in a few years, we had investigated computers, knew we wanted to go desktop publishing, and checked out these funky Macintoshes, the tiny upright box with a tiny screen that was so cool because it was WYSIWYG. I was in love. I worked on those Macs for several years and then quit my job to save my sanity (and my soul) and started working at the ad agency in Atlanta. Macs have long been associated with the creative arts, and ad agencies by and large use them for their work (I assume that's still true). This agency had not been computerized yet, and one of the things I did when I started was to be the Mac expert as they bought computers and started using them for all the design and production of ads and brochures. I was there for 11 years, all Mac.

Meanwhile, my first home computer was an ancient Macintosh I bought refurbished. One of the original Mac XL (or Lisas) that had been upgraded to the current Mac system. It was much wider than the little Mac box and had no hard drive, just diskettes. I wrote three books on that thing. Next came a new Mac desktop (the first of those produced that had a separate monitor). That's the one I got started online with, eventually discovering all my internet buddies!

And then I changed jobs again to work at this small nonprofit that produced a radio program. Our audio engineer had long used a Mac to edit the audio programs. But everything else in the office was PC-based. Including the laptop I inherited. Since everything I was working on as the executive was on the PC, I ordered a Dell desktop for office use. And because I had to work back and forth (and at that time it wasn't as seamless a transition for files between a PC and a Mac) I replaced my home Mac with a Dell desktop. When that grew slow and aging, I replaced it was a spiffy Dell Inspiron laptop, which has been a great little machine.

But at work, our new tech division head (yes, we've grown as an organization!) is a Mac man to the max. So when my 5 year old Dell desktop was getting way too slow to keep up with things, I went Mac. I have a gorgeous iMac all in one (back to the original concept!) which a beautiful screen and incredible features. Since I had used a Mac, the operating system had been reinvented, and it took a while to get used to the changes--not only from the PC but from the old Mac system I had left nearly 6 years ago. I also bought my own iPod, an incredible 60gig video which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

I had the bug again bad. So, using some freelance money I recently made, I decided to switch my personal computer at home to a Mac as well. I ordered a 13" MacBook 2GH/512/60Gigs/White from MacMall and got a good price, a $100 rebate, a free laser printer, and other rebates totaling upwards of $150. It arrived yesterday and I spent last night putting it all together and loading my files, music, photos, software, etc. It's gorgeous. I'm happy. I'm home.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Comics This Week

Pretty big haul for me today at the comics shop, including several #1s:

- Fantastic Four: The End #1 of 6. Alan Davis story and art! So it's gotta be decent.

- Midnighter #1. I'll see what the brouhaha is about.

- Superman Confidential #1. This looks like fun. Retellings of early Supes tales by Darwyn Cooke (writer) and Tim Sale (artist), but how many such titles can we stand?

- Avengers Next #1. DeFalco and Lim restart the "next generation of Earth's mightiest heroes" in the Spider-girl universe.

- Mystery in Space with Captain Comet #3. Almost passed on this. It's kinda fun, but I have no history with Captain Comet (and he kept saying "it's just Comet now" in the last issue). Starlin is in fine shape as writer and also artist on the second feature, The Weird. But we'll see if this'll do it for me.

- Agents of Atlas #4 of 6. Really enjoying this mini.

- The Vault of Michael Allred No. 2. I thoroughly enjoyed the first edition of this essentially self-promoting book. It's like looking at Mike's personal scrapbooks. Good stuff.

I also yielded to temptation to pick up the very handsome trade paper edition of "Wally's World," from Vanguard, written by Steve Starger and J. David Spurlock. This is yet another take on the "brilliant life and tragic death of Wally Wood, the world's second best comic book artist." Mostly B&W but with some color pages of great Wood samples included. And an intro by Peter Max.


I changed the photo with my profile. Somebody told me the one that I had been using reminded them of John Mark Karr. While I don't want to encourage that comparison, ironically the photo I replaced that one with was taken earlier this year in Bangkok--from whence they dragged Mr. Karr back to the U.S. in all the brouhaha over his psychotic murder confession.

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side

Courtesy of Google video:

Salon: Excerpt from Neal Gabler's acclaimed new Walt Disney bio

Life before Mickey | Salon Books: "In an excerpt from Neal Gabler's massive biography of Walt Disney, the young animator arrives in Hollywood -- and gets his break."

The Gospel and SciFi

From Publishers Weekly--a new book coming out in January looks interesting:

The Gospel According to Science Fiction: From the Twilight Zone to the Final Frontier
Gabriel McKee. Westminster John Knox, $14.95 paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-664-22901-6

Aliens, spaceships and giant robots may not seem to have much in common with matters spiritual, but in the mind of Harvard-trained writer and blogger McKee, they hold important theological insights. McKee's knowledge of science fiction is impressive. He quotes esoteric short stories from the 1930s alongside contemporary sci-fi and fantasy films, showing an encyclopedic command of the genre. It serves him well as he combs the genre for examples of religious themes such as sin, faith, religious experience, the apocalypse and the afterlife. The author all-too-briefly touches upon the issue of science and faith, but this can be forgiven in a book primarily about science fiction. "The main goal of SF [science fiction]," writes McKee, "… is to show us how we can face the future and overcome the new challenges that our changing world may develop." By utilizing a solid theological background and culling the world of sci-fi literature and films for help, McKee illustrates that organized religion should have a similar goal: "It must be willing to face whatever changes may come and adapt itself to the spiritual questions of the future." This fascinating hybrid of theology and science fiction is creative, lucid and contains impressive scholarship. (Jan.)

Viggo Mortensen's Unusual Role: Indie Publishing Mogul

Viggo Mortensen's side job described in the New York Times: "Pity Viggo Mortensen, the director of the Center for Multireligious Studies at Aarhus University in Denmark. He edited an anthology called “Theology and the Religions: A Dialogue,” and all it does is make people angry. They order this $35 paperback by mistake. Then they grouse about it online, because they thought it had something to do with the “Lord of the Rings” guy.

It’s easier to mix up these two than it might seem. The Viggo Mortensen who acts also has his literary side. He is the author of art books that combine painting, photography, poetry, journal entries and whatever else he cares to include, with interests that also extend to fervently antiwar politics and music.

If his books and CDs seem remarkably free of constraints, that’s because they are. The dreamboat actor runs a fine little publishing house, too.

Indirectly, Mr. Mortensen’s Perceval Press is a “Lord of the Rings” offshoot. It began operations in 2002, soon after Mr. Mortensen had finished playing the warrior-king Aragorn in the movie trilogy. His first book, the poetry collection “Ten Last Night,” had been published nine years earlier. And by 2002, his art gallery exhibitions and books were arriving on a regular basis. Thanks to “the movie, you know, notoriety,” as Mr. Mortensen mumblingly describes his career trajectory, they were selling nicely too."

TUCKER'S TAKE on "The Black Scorpion

Movie review by Lyle Tucker:

1957, starring no-one I've heard of and directed by some guy I've
never heard of, but, man, this is one of the good ones! Giant
scorpions threaten Mexico City after a volcano goes nuts and they
are released from the underground caverns where they existed
for untold millenia. Willis O'Brien, of KING KONG fame, supervised
the stop-animation of the scorpions, and it is wonderful. Not only that,
our two intrepid heroes, geologists Hank Scott and Arturo Ramos,
get lowered down into the caverns and encounter another giant
creature, an armor-plated, two-armed 30-foot long worm, and a
giant spider that doesn't rely on the old tarantula-model chestnut -
both the worm and the spider are excellently designed. Sure, large
portions of the movie are cheesy as hell, but that's a large part of
it's charm. And sure, the ubiquitous little kid who gets into all kinds
of trouble and dangerous situations because, well, he's a kid (named
Juanito), yeah, you want to shoot him first thing and get him out of
the way, but, hell, they *still* use that one today. And yes, the
Mexican patroness is sexy in a kind of squeaky-clean Annette-
grown-large-but-still-in-her-cowgirl-duds way, but the budding
attraction between her and geologist hunk Hank Snow is handled
in a 50s machismo fashion and straightforwardness that would
never play today. Plus, if you get rent the DVD you get extra
features that are well worth checking out! Highly recommended.
Rated "F" for FUN.