Thursday, September 30, 2010

Incognito

I love the cover to this forth coming run on Incognito. Ed Brubaker is the writer, and he has written a lot of good comics like Captain America (Marvel super hero), Scalped (crime), and Incognito (pulp inspired) to name a few. I became aware of him, when he first started writing his real life comic, Low Life. I enjoyed those, although, I think the art work, which he drew himself, might not be everyone's cup of tea leaning more towards an alternative/indie art style. But that didn't bother me, a lot of comics within that genre have that style: a more personal, homemade or less professional look to them. For me though, that's not a bad thing, just a different look, and sometimes that works well with the comic storytelling. In Low Life, Brubaker portrays himself as a slacker, aimless as most teenagers, though funny, and could be thought-provoking, generally having something to do with teen subculture: music, working dead end jobs, drinking, dating, hanging out with friends, etc.

He has since to gone on to write high profile jobs with Marvel and other companies, and has become one of the current hot writers. I'm not real familiar with Incognito, but just the look to the above cover is enough to gain my interest. I enjoyed reading stuff like that back when I was buying and reading comic on a regular basis, and reminds me of stuff like some of the Batmans, The Question, Vigilante, and The Shadow, Jon Sable, and so forth. There's a current interview with Brubaker over at www.ifanboy.com if you care to listen in or save it to listen to later. I like iFanboy and go there nearly every week to listen to their podcast and watch their video cast. It sort of satiates my fan boy and comic book enthusiasm. I don't collect comics like I used to anymore, they're just to darn expensive, and I don't have room to store them either. I think the best way to revive that hobby is perhaps the e-comic when they iron out all the details. I certainly wouldn't have any objections to just reading comics on say an I-Pad (although I don't own one yet), particularly if they'll lower the price. If they wanted to charge the same price, I have to question that: there would be no printing cost, no distribution, no paper cost, why is the price still the same? Granted, I know you'd still have to pay for electronic storage, and so forth. At any rate, if you want to check out the interview with Burbaker, head over to iFanboy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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Here's a free online comic called Gyakushu! by Dan Hipp. It has pretty nice art, and the story is one of revenge. It's sort of dark and violent, but no more so, I don't think, than what one might encounter on TV, the evening news, or any action blockbuster film that shows during the summer. Hipp is American, but from just reading a bit of his manga-influenced comic it seems he has done a fair amount of reading manga and infused that style and made it his own. Tokyo Pop has picked up his comic and published them, but if interested you can read them online for free: http://www.thethiefisdead.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 26, 2010

batman and guns

A friend and me used to talk comics over pizza along with other topics, but he queried about a Frank Miller article, who is famous for writing the limit series comic The Dark Knight Returns. At any rate Miller stated that the Batman used to wear a gun, and people seemed to have forgotten that. I forget why he even mentioned that, unless he used a gun in one of the Batman stories he had written. At any rate I seemed to remember the same article or either we both saw it on television or somewhere, and it sort of stuck with me: When did Batman carry a gun? I've certainly never encountered it. Granted I don't have a PhD, in Batman History, heck, I don't even have a Masters degree in the Doom Patrol. All kidding aside though the question has always been in the back of my mind. Well here the other day, I posted the question on an internet comic site, I figured there's gotta be a comic fan around there to point me in the right direction. And sure enough, someone sent me a link to go to.

Rather than swipe this guy's thunder, I'll just give you the link and if interested you can see the examples he gives with the whole Batman and gun thing:

http://sacomics.blogspot.com/2005/08/batman-and-guns.html

Now I probably know what you're thinking. Yeah, ok, you got me, there are some references with the Batman and guns, but I also feel this is sort of stretching the point a little to make a point.

batman and guns

A Couple of Movie Reviews

I tend to watch all sorts of movies. Here a a couple I caught off of TCM channel recently.

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Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows

An interesting documentary on Val Lewton, narrated by Martin Scorsese. I'd often heard of some of his films, but had not seen any until recently so it was good to gain a bit of insight into the man's life as well some of the movies he'd made. He started out in Hollywood working under David O. Selznick who produced Gone With The Wind, and later was offered jobs at another studio by Selznick. Lewton was in charge of editing scripts and later went on to write them, producing films such as Cat People, I Walked With A Zombie, The Body Snatchers, and others. His films have a sort of melancholy atmosphere to them, which in some ways echoed his own life. Even though shot on a budget Lewton was able to make pictures that had a certain gravity and class to them that are still considered classic and studied today.

For a modern horror fan these films are going to seem pretty dated, and they may not have the patience to even watch them. But if you don't mind watching some of the seminal influences of the genre and probably influenced other films outside the horror mold as well, these films can be of interest. Of the films I've seen by Lewton, though I did enjoy Cat People, I enjoyed The Body Snatchers best. Like I said, it was fun listening to Scorsese commentary, and seeing scenes from some of these films.

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The Wrong Man

Another good drama by Hitchcock that unfolds pretty quickly. Henry Fond does a fine job of acting as a family man and bass player in a nightclub band that gets accused of robbery. The world gets turned upside down for him as his alibis start to disappear as well. The whole time I watched this story I wondered if something like this could really happen, and since it's taken from a true story, evidently it can. (Plus check out the documentary by Erroll Morris, The Thin Blue Line, about a man falsely accused of killing a cop in Dallas, Tx.) I just wondered how true this story was to the original one. Either way, one can't help but identifying with Fonda's character and his family's plight as they try to find a way out of this dilemma.

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The Snake Pit

Engrossing drama about a young woman whose problems with her mental illness spins out of control, and she has to be institutionalized. The whole story had a lot going for it, and I think the way they portrayed her condition was spot on: she hears voices, her paranoia and delusions, and so forth. The story starts out with her meeting a man, they fall in love, but something seems wrong from the onset with this woman. She's distant, yet seems to want what others have in life--a family, spouse, and happiness. Soon though her condition worsens and she gets put in the hospital. Once in the hospital, we get to see flashbacks from a bit of the woman's background and upbringing, and what may have caused some of her condition. All in all a well conceived drama. This reminded me also of the Jessica Lange film, Frances Farmer (1982), which is also another recommend.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

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A Life of Fandom


It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. So wrote Charles Dickens in his famous classic, A Tale of Two Cities. Whenever I hear someone complain that they are bored, I cringe a bit. How could one possibly be bored in this day and age? This is the best of times, well, with the exception of going to work, making out bills, fixing small problems around the house, and so forth, but that does come with life. Now that I think about it, it can’t be great all the time. I guess Dickens was right on the money with those profound words, but I digress. I guess my point is I can’t see how one can be bored with all that life has to offer today. I have so many interest and hobbies that I can’t find the time and energy to pursue them all. Recently I’ve been reading a fan press book by Jim Van Hise called Rocket Blast and the Comicollector. I highly recommend picking up a copy if you are a fan of comics, pulps, comic artists, or anything around that periphery. In issue number two that I was reading, it contains a large portion devoted to the author Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, and several other memorable characters. However, in the introduction of this book, Hise, relates how he grew up in the 50's and got engrossed in fandom. I was totally engrossed by this article and could relate very well to his words as I grew up around that same time frame. Televisions were black and white, there was no remote control, they didn’t think about a target audiences as most things were made for the adult audience, and cable had not been invented yet. People hooked up their sets through an antennae and there were just three channels: ABC, CBS, and NBC. So if you happen to catch a movie or program that appealed to you, it made special impact. Plus there were no VCRs, so the only way to catch it again, really, was just by chance, unless it just happened to be a program that came on weekly like The Twilight Zone, for instance.

My earliest recollections of childhood viewing consisted of watching cartoons of all kinds, the old George Reeves’ Superman show, Howdy Doody (a marionette, variety program for children), Little Rascals, The Lone Ranger, The Three Stooges, some of the old Republic serials, and kid shows like Sky King (a series about an airplane pilot and his daughter, Penny), and several other adventure or humorous programs. When I was younger I remember hearing, not actual viewing as I was sent to bed, King Kong, as it came on too late for me to say up and watch, plus my parents probably knew it would disturb me. So me and my brother got sent to bed while my Dad and sister stayed up and watched it. I listened, however, intently from my bed and was terrorized as the jungle drums began, and later as King Kong showed up to battle horrible dinosaurs, and later on spread terror to Manhattan. All that blood curdling screaming and growling and Fay Wray shrieking in terror, well, that was enough for my overactive imagination, and it gave me nightmares anyway for the next week. But at the same time it was one of my earliest introductions to the world of sci fi or speculative fiction that has stayed with me today.

After that I wanted more, and I remember going to the only in-door theater in our town to see other such features, or those my parents would allow. Movies like Swiss Family Robinson, Walt Disney cartoon features, Journey to the Center of the Earth, the Ray Harryhausen films were all movies that seem to draw upon my imagination. It was also around this time that Marvel started putting out its Silver Aged super hero books. Now being a kid, my income was limited, but back then comics cost just a dime (later going up to a whole twelve cents), I could easily pick up a few comics a week along with some candy or sport cards. I remember picking up Fantastic Four, Superman, Batman, the Flash, Turok, and even kiddie comics like Richie Rich, Dennis the Menace, Baby Huey, Hot Stuff, Casper, and several others.

I remember the first double billed sci fi film I saw with a friend. He told me about it at school, and pretty much hyped it up, and asked me to go. My Mom was a bit reluctant having gone through some of my midnight terror problems from the past. But after a little begging, she relented. The double bill was none other than I Married A Monster From Outer Space along with the now classic, The Blob with Steve McQueen. Well, it didn’t take long, about the middle of the first film, that I knew I was going to be scarred to death around midnight. And sure enough, for weeks thereafter I suffered nightmares and paranoid feelings about creatures under the bed behind doors and so forth. Well, aside from these few misgivings; it did not deter my thirst or interest in sci fi, high adventure, and flights of fantasy.

I remember watching many of the early Twilight Zones with my Dad after we’d all had supper. He enjoyed westerns a bit more, but also like sci fi. I remember pretty well watching the episode of Twilight Zone where aliens had landed. They posed as being benevolent beings, and offered a rosy picture to mankind of how they would cure disease, increase prosperity, and so forth. They even offered free trips aboard their flying saucer to visit their homeworld as a friendly gesture. A scientist found a book from them he was trying to decipher. Many space flights had already begun taking earthlings to their alien homeworld. Many had begun packing their belongs wanting to join the aliens on their homeworld as it seemed paradise. The show ended as more earthlings had boarded the space ship, the scientist finally breaks the code to their language in the book. As the door closes on the space ship, he pleads, “Don’t go, don’t go aboard. It’s a cookbook!”

Oddly enough at this time, even though I was a fan of this stuff and actively pursued it, the thought of fandom never occurred to me. It was just something I enjoyed, along with maybe my brother and a few friends. There weren’t any fanzines so to speak of like Starlog or whatever to even keep one informed of upcoming things of this nature. Oh sure, Marvel and DC comics still had their blurbs in them of upcoming comics to keep an eye out for, but unless you were very astute and knew of a great pharmacy, grocery store, or magazine shop, you’d probably end up missing them anyway. I never really paid much attention to who even drew the comic or wrote them. I just liked the characters and the wild adventures, and that was about it. Attention to those details didn’t come along until later.

My Dad got transferred with his job to Ft. Worth, and shortly thereafter to Big Spring, Texas.. Usually when a move happens, families lighten their loads, and try to move light. My Mom therefore found no use in our old, moldy comics, and the plastic models of Universal monsters or car kits we’d put together, so out they went, along with the baseball and football cards. Hey, urban legends have to come from somewhere, and I guess there might be some grain of truth to some of those legends. Granted, the comics and stuff she threw out were not in mint shape as being pretty young kids, me and my brother would read them multiple times at the kitchen table whenever we ate. So some, if not most were pretty mangled and I’m pretty sure had mustard and ketchup stains all on them, along with missing covers and such. So, I’m sure my college education could not have been funded by these childhood treasures.

When we moved, I guess the adage, out of sight, out of mind proves relevant, as my interest in comics disappeared. I was not anywhere near a comic shop or place to buy them. I was beginning a new school year at a new high school, and in a different environment. But fandom was still near me. There was this wild TV program coming on after I got home from school. It was space opera, and had this crazy alien on it with pointy ears. The stories were out of this world and full of rough, tumble adventure. Well, Star Trek, over time, evolved into its own fandom spinoff. But also I remember a strange black and white soap opera that came on around this same time frame. It was weird. For one, why was a dang old soap opera coming on at this hour of the day? Plus it had horrific, gothic mystery overtones to it. They all lived out in this mansion and all sorts of spooky things were happening to them. Barnabas Collins, a guilt ridden, 175-year-old vampire, and the townspeople of Collinswood, evolved into another small cult phenomenon called Dark Shadows. It aired on ABC also about the time I got out of school from 1966- 1971. Of course, there was another hip show on around the same time that all the kids were watching. It was the Batman show with Adam West and Burt Ward. I think we liked that over the other actually. We’d always want to see who the new villians were, and being already aware of the Batman through the comics it was a natural. Sure today it seems a little corny and out of date, but back then in the swinging 60's it was a huge hit. Zap Bang Pow! I am also a big music fan, and have followed it with enthusiasm even before the Beatles and the British invasion. At around the same time there was another hit TV series on the airwaves. The show had these four mop top, crazy Americans calling themselves the Monkees. That was another hit in our house. I bought their albums, and watched that show week to week. Talk about a show though not exactly aging well... Although I still find their movie, Head, sort of fun and interesting. We were also fans of the Smother’s Brothers show. I enjoyed their brand of folkie, hip humor, and they always had cool bands on their program too like The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and the like.

I think around this time, even though there was still no computers and no Internet, no real magazines like Starlog or such that I could find or at least that I was aware of; I still considered myself bonafide fan. I had all these interest that I enjoyed pursuing that has held to this day. I was a hopeless fanatic, a tizzy devotee, and there was no turning back now–not that I ever wanted to. Fandom has brought a lot of pleasure to life.

I’ve continued to follow my muse. I remember well enjoying the first Star Wars film and the sequels and prequels thereafter–I love that stuff. There are now Star War books, comics, and even an official Star Wars magazine that diehard fans can follow. I’m a buff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’m addicted to reading about the spice on Dune and enjoyed watching the made-for-TV movies on the Sci-Fi Channel about them (there is even now computer games about Dune as well). I’m drawn or seduced by the one Ring that rules them all in Lord of the Rings. I’ll be back too, whenever a new Terminator film shows up and watched Neo unravel the mysteries of The Matrix. Marvel has started getting on the silver screen recently as well. Now we can watch our favorite mutants battle for truth and justice and our favorite web-slinger swing from building to building searching out the bad guys. The amount of speculative fiction these days is simply amazing and overwhelming.

I also got back into comics once I got out of college and started working to where I could splurge a bit on buying comics. There’s some great stuff out there: Watchman, Dark Knight Returns, Marvels, Kingdom Come, Sandman, manga, and the list goes on and on. Once you delve into the whole realm of sci fi, speculative fiction, horror, and fantasy the amount of worlds and ideas offered up is really amazing. Plus what still amazes me is that I know I haven’t seen it all. There are still hundreds upon hundreds if not thousands of books, films and things I have yet to discover. So life is good. It’s rewarding, and I’ll continue to seek out new worlds. I find it hard to think of living in any other time in history, and no, I rarely get bored. And yes, most of the time, I do think these are the best of times.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Best Movies Ever

movie posters

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If I've seen a movie around three or four times it generally means it's going on my list of favorite films ever. I don't know what movie I've watched the most of, nor do I rate them in any order--that would be too hard. For one thing, I think it depends upon one's mood as to what sort of movie you are in the mood for. But a good movie to me would be one that comes on TV and even though you own the DVD, VHS, or seen it many times before, you catch yourself watching it or parts of it. I watched parts of Fargo yesterday, and when Cool Hand Luke came on television a few weeks back, I got caught up in the story of it again, and watched it until the end.

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Blue Velvet I saw at the beginning of summer as it came over network TV, again I have the DVD of this, but it drew me right into the story, so sat and watched it. The same thing for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (by the way, that poster above reminds me of Nicholson in The Shining for some weird reason), in fact it repeated again on the same network, and I watched parts of it again. All of these movies I own, except for Cool Hand Luke and The Road, which I just haven't gotten around to owning yet.

movie posters

There were a lot of mixed opinions about The Road. I enjoyed it. The relationship between the father and son was handled very well. You felt that the father would have done anything to protect his son even in such a brutal environment. I'll grant you it's a bleak and violent film, but with that father and son relationship, and the thought of finding a better place is what resonated with me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

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I haven't done too much lately other than domestic chores. After the move, a lot of my paperwork has been shuffled to one place or the other, stuffed in boxes and even plastic grocery bags (I kid you not) so I spent the better part of last week dealing with that. With all the bills, statements and other documents now entering the home front, people are absolutely drowning in paperwork. I wish I knew the perfect way to go about doing this little chore, but I don't think there is one really, other than just doing it. Personal finance is tough. You have to keep up with it somewhat or it can get overwhelming. I don't think this is one of life's lessons that's handed down from parent to child, and we don't get it in school either. They teach economics, marketing, and accounting, but not really personal finance, and I think they should. There should be a high school elective course in this subject. Perhaps some progressive high schools offer this, but I suspect that most overlook it. It's a shame too as this is probably one of the reasons most people live off of credit card balances, have declared bankruptcy, don't save a dime for a rainy day, don't know diddle about stocks, IRAs, and ways to save and invest their hard earned money; and causes the overall economy to sag.

But no matter where you fit into the overall scheme of the economy, the good thing is to practice good savings, watch your spending, and learn to organize one's personal finance. At least you'll be proactive, and that's a start, and I think it makes you feel better once you do some of this stuff.

Deciding what to toss can be a difficult decision. It helps to have a paper shredder too, so you can shred those unwanted credit card statements and paperwork. Here are some tips I've found to make your life and this challenge easier:

Toss it:
Phone bills
Grocery receipts
Utility bills (After you've looked at them.)

Save it for a year:
Canceled checks
Store receipts
Credit card statements

Save it for three years:
Bank statements
Short-term warranties

Save it forever:
Loan agreements
Receipts for major purchases
Tax returns and forms
Insurance policies
Home inventory
School transcripts
Diplomas
Passports
Social security cards
Marriage certificate

Once you decide what to save, make a commitment to keep it organized and filed away, and set up some system (file cabinet, etc.) so you are able to review it from time to time--you'll be on the road to successful personal finance. Not only will this make things more accessible and secure, your house will be rid of the little stacks of paper that threaten to take over! (Easier said than done, I know.) If you wish to further your knowledge in personal finance, there are many good books. One I highly recommend is: You Have More Than You Think by David and Tom Gardner. They also have a web site at: www.fool.com There are many other personal finance gurus with books or TV shows, which you might find of interest like Suze Orman, Jim Cramer, Clark Howard, and many others. You just have to find one that fits your needs.

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Sketch artist, Howard Brodie, died the other day at 94. He got his start working in California as a sports artist, but when WWII hit, he joined up and became a sketch artist for Yanks magazine, which included the European and Pacific theaters. During his time in combat, which went through four wars: WWII, Korean, French Indochina, and Vietnam, he never carried a weapon, instead preferring a pencil to chronicle the war. He drew and painted many scenes from Guadalcanal to the Battle of the Bulge.

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Mr. Brodie covered major news events for CBS, including the Watergate hearings, and sketched at court trials, including war criminal Klaus Barbie in France, Black Panther Bobby Seale tied to a chair during the Chicago Seven trial, and Charles Manson and members of his murder cult in courtrooms in Los Angeles.

He also drew pictures at National Football League games, including the Super Bowl, at horse races and during the filming of war movies — Gregory Peck in "Porkchop Hill," John Wayne in "The Green Berets" and Francis Ford Coppola during "Apocalypse Now."

Oddly enough I assume there must be hundreds of sketches that he produced, but when searching the web trying to find images to post, there really wasn't that much. There is a book and DVD special called They Drew Fire, which is about Brodie and other such war artist. He received a Bronze Star for his service.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

movies

Movies. I still love them, they can be a great escape. But I think as time marches on I am increasingly becoming an grizzled, grim old fogy. Remember the skit on Saturday Night Live where there were some old folks who would reminisce and rant about the "good old days," and would end it with, "and we liked it." Well, that's how I feel at time, if not just a bit alienated from modern culture at times. Now I'll fully disclose that I'm a big pop cultural type guy, so even though lately I've tended to enjoy more older movies these day to the modern ones, I still find time and have the interest to see modern movies. Heck I can name off some that came out over the summer, and I'll probably rent them thru Netflix: Toy Story 3, Iron Man 2, and Inception for starters. I've got Roman Polanski's thriller, The Ghost Writer at home right now, it's just a matter of watching it. Plus now is really the time fame that Hollywood releases its hotter movies of the year, so I'm sure more will come out to put on my queue of movies to watch.

But anyway, I've watched several older films on TCM, and they've been all really good too. Today I watched Lassie Come Home. I fondly remember the TV series that came on Sunday nights with June Lockhart and Jon Provost as Timmy. At any rate, I'd never seen the movie of Lassie Come Home made in 1943 until today, and it was pretty much a classic. It starred Elizabeth Taylor in one of her first roles as she's still a child. Taking place in England a family has to sell their family pet, and Lassie escapes from a home in Scotland and travels back to home, meeting several people along the way. She stops and stays with an elderly couple out in the country for a while, and then takes up with a pots and pans traveling salesman, and also has several other run-ins along the way. The film has some wonderful cinematography of the English countryside. Like I said pretty much a classic.

Captain Horatio Hornblower starred Gregory Peck as the British naval captain in the Napoleonic wars. It's a war epic, but also has a middle plot that involves a romantic interest, which leads to a lot of heartbreak, particularly when the character returns home. But there's plenty of sea battles and action too, plus some great scenery, so it was a good movie too. Peck made many good movies.

Touch of Evil starred Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, and Janet Leigh, among other actors. It was a crime noir that starts out with a car that explodes and Heston is a detective that starts to investigate the crime. He locks horns with Welles' character who turns out to be a shady cop. A lot of twist and turns, but a well made classic.

Get Carter starred Michael Caine who is a London gangster. After he finds out that his brother has died he tries to find out who did it. He heads to his hometown in Newcastle and tries to find out how he died, and who, if anyone was responsible.

The Haunting (1963)--there were two versions of this, but the original was spookier and I'm referring to that one. It's a haunted house story, and well done and creepy. Hill House, a ninety-year old house in New England has had a long history of mysterious accidents and happenings. Finally many years later after the last accident (a woman hanging herself), a group of people are recruited by a paranormal investigator to examine the incidents at Hill House. Originally a novel by Shirley Jackson, the film has mood, and does a lot of neat tricks with the way the photography is phased and played with in the film. It's a pretty good horror tale.

Val Lewton's The Cat People I've read about and finally got around to viewing. It's a 'B' film, but not without merit. The basic story is a man falls in love with a woman, who has just moved to the states from Serbia. She feels that a curse was put upon her people that can transform her into a large cat, similar to a panther. The film is moody and atmospheric, and a pretty good watch. Is the curse a myth? You'll have to see the film.

Lonely Are The Brave--is a modern western where Kirk Douglas plays a loner cowboy that gets thrown in prison to help a friend escape. His friend has chosen to walk the straight and narrow (as his time is about up anyway and wants to make amends to society), so Douglas goes it alone. Once he breaks out of jail, the lawmen start their hunt to come after him. It's an odd film, in that Douglas plays a flawed character, I wouldn't say he's a criminal, but causes a lot of his own problems as well.

Make Way for Tomorrow is an interesting film of a by-gone era although still relevant by today's standards. An older couple loose their home and have to split up to live with their children due to the economy. Overall it's a sad film, but punctuated with scenes of humor that made me laugh out loud, as well as scenes of sadness and poignancy. As the couple try to get accustomed to their new environments they start to feel loneliness (for the other spouse), alienated at times, and maybe a bother to their children (and their spouses). There's a certain vibe to the film that reminds me of other films wherein the relationship of family becomes the main theme, and I'm reminded of films like Meet Me in St. Louis, It's A Wonderful Life, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and several others that also have a thread of Americana woven through them.

Friday, September 10, 2010

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Wilson is by Daniel Clowes, which I've yet to buy and read, but is still on my comics to buy list. He's probably one of my favorite creators still working and publishing comics. His work is best described as alternative comics. They are satirical, sad, funny, and sort of an outgrowth of the sort of humor Mad magazine invented, although with a more modern, updated spin on life. There have been two movies made from his previous work: Ghost World and Art School Confidential. Both pretty good movies, and although taken from comics, you wouldn't think of those movies first when thinking about comic book adaptations. Generally the public thinks of super heroes when thinking of comics. I enjoy a good super hero yarn here and there, and when I got back into comics during the late 80's I started buying super heroes, but also enjoyed a lot of these off-the-cuff creators like Clowes, Peter Bagge, Chester Brown, Charles Burns, and a lot others that were inspired I'm pretty sure in the beginning by super heroes, but also underground comix, SF and horror movies, and a lot of other things and just started making comics with their own unique vision. At any rate, if there were two comics that could be adapted for movies, I'd probably pick Wilson for one of them.

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I'd pick the comedian Louie C. K. to play Wilson as they look so similar anyway it's a given. He has a current show on the FX channel, and the show has this dark undertone to it. The show itself is pretty blue in nature, so it's not meant for kids and teens, plus it comes on late at night, so they should be in bed anyway, unless they are already juvenile delinquents paint huffing out in the alley and end up on the show Intervention (just kidding, my bad).

Anyway, the other comic that could make a good movie if handled by the right director (along with all the other travails of Hollywood) would be Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth.

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Jimmy Corrigan is a complex graphic novel in that it's not easy to describe. For one thing Ware uses flashbacks, parallel lives, and it's hard to distinguish between what's the actual storyline. But from what I understand, Jimmy is a grown-up middle aged man, relieving his past childhood. He lives alone with his overbearing mother. The child genius of Corrigan is a fantasy aspect. The middle aged Corrigan lives in a fantasy world, he sometimes remembers events with his grandfather, and other events of his past life, which makes a linear story hard to sort out. Not everything works for me in it, but when it does, it's highly enjoyable. I think of it at times like reading a prose novel. Sometimes when reading a book, do you ever like certain characters over the other ones or story lines over other ones that the author is weaving in the text? While reading, on one level does your mind goes: no, no go back to the other character, I like that one more or go back to that other storyline, I was getting into that one? Well, the same is true for Jimmy Corrigan in some ways, some parts of it appeal to me over others. Either way, it's an interesting read, and the art and layout are drafting table masterpieces. I'd heard that Chris Ware does all the art by hand, even the lettering, and when you look at it, it's jaw-droppingly detailed. If I had a minor quibble it's that just some of the panels are so small or more to the point, the lettering is so small, it's hard to read. But all in all, as I've said this could probably be done well in some sort of movie if handled properly. I think a good way to do Jimmy Corrigan is a combination of the film Harvey with Jimmy Stewart, in that the character was drawn into a fantasy world or daydreams and Slaughterhouse Five in the way the timelines were presented, nonlinear. If you've seen either of those movies, that might give you an idea. If you've never seen either movie they are worth checking out, as are the graphic novels mentioned. By the way, here are couple of podcast: one with Daniel Clowes

http://www.maximumfun.org/sound-young-america/dan-clowes-comic-artist-wilson-interview-sound-young-america

And the other with Chris Ware with Ira Glass's This American Life:
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/178/superpowers#slideshow

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010



And now for a little old school Japanese anime. I'm not familiar with Grendizer. It looks to be another giant robot Japanimation. I enjoyed Gigantor though with its clunky robotic theme song. There's something nostalgic and a bit charming about some of the early anime that you don't get with the newer stuff (not that I dismiss them, some are pretty neat too). I watched the first episode of Star Blazers the other night, and the same rings true for that series. I never watched it when it originally ran, but now that Netflix has them, I put the first disc on my queue.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Graven Images

I've been rereading the book Graven Images by Ronald V. Borst. It's a cool coffee table book that is about the genre of horror and science fiction. I heard about it a long time ago on the Syfy Channel (what used to be the Scifi Channel) in one of their weekly installments of SciFi Buzz. That was a program that was sort of devoted to fandom, and one that I wished they resurrect. At any rate, Graven Images is a fun book, and has a lot of cool movie posters in it from the movies that the writers in the book talk about. The forward by Ronald V. Borst is a neat little window into his life growing up in a very small town, one that didn't even have a theater. So if a horror or scifi movie that he wanted to see happened to be showing, he'd have to get his parents to take him to the next town over to see it, which was about fifteen miles or so away. That sparked his imagination and his interest in genre fiction. He now owns a poster and memorabilia shop in Hollywood, CA., along with his wife.

There's also an introduction by Stephen King, wherein he relates how horror movies and their respective posters are like dreams, and his take on it all. He also gives the reader his top ten horror movies, and top ten movie posters.

Then book is broken up into decades: The Teens and Twenties has an essay by Robert Bloch, The Thirties by Ray Bradbury, The Forties by Harlan Ellison, The Fifties by Peter Straub, The Sixties by Clive Barker, and an Afterward by Forrest J. Ackerman. The essays that make up the chapters are all fun to read and help to appreciate the form all the better, and actually make me want to re-watch some of them, and jot down a few to add to my Netflix queue to watch as I never have seen them before. Plus the color and images of the posters that are included in the book are wonderful to look at.

The posters as one writer relates are what drew an audience into the theater in the first place. In one passage Stephen King relates how studio entrepreneurs, Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson at American International Pictures, were known for their budget "B" pictures. Even so, the studio was a financial success even during difficult times, and one reason for that was the posters. This was also a time for a newly arrived teen audience: 50's rock and roll, hot rods, and teenage trends were starting to turn heads. Arkoff and Nicholson saw an opportunity there and capitalized off of it. Sam Arkoff said that the title and poster always came first for them. If they came up with a title like The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes, they'd send it around to some distributors and some theater chains and if they got a nibble that there was some enthusiasm for the film, then they'd make a film about the subject. Back then, the shooting schedule was around two weeks and the budget was under $30,000.--sort of unheard of in modern times. But it worked back then, and they were very successful at it. So as Stephen King says in the book--what follows, then, inside the book are dreams of dreams: incoherent, unbelievable, but strangely lovely. It's a neat book.

Graven Images

Saturday, September 04, 2010



I ran across this 10 part Youtube video today about superheroes called Once Upon A Time the Super Heroes. It has several guest interviews like Joe Kubert, Stan Lee, Neil Adams, Alex Ross, John Romita, and others. I don't know that it sheds new light on any new ground, but it was fun to watch.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

go ape!

Just a quick posting today. If you are a child of the 60's/70's era and enjoy that type of SF, you might also enjoy Christopher Mills' blog. He has several, but it seems his Space 1970 and DVD Lateshow are his most popular. You can find the link here: http://space1970.blogspot.com/ His writing, enthusiasm, and insights are spot on and he has a knowledge of that type thing beyond most fans. He would have fit right in with the little Dr. Who club I used to go to many years back. I enjoy reading his blogs, you might too.

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I ran by Big Lots and found a copy of the Ray Harryhausen film, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad for $3.00, a great price if you enjoy these films. My favorite movie by him is probably Mysterious Island as I remember seeing it at the cinema back when I was younger. He's the type of creator that I enjoy watching over and over so I've started buying movies of his whenever I run across them at a good price.

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Also since I was out I went by Hastings again, as they've had some pretty good deals on movies that they are cutting out of their movie rental system. I started to pick up a Yes concert DVD (which I may still do, I'm mulling it over still), but found a copy of Ray Harryhausen's 2-disc set of 20 Million Miles to Earth, so snagged it as well. I'm on a Harryhausen roll...

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And last, but not least, I found a copy of the George Pal movie, The Time Machine, which I watched last night. For me it's far superior to the remake with Guy Pearce, although I like Pearce as an actor, the remake of The Time Machine just fell way short. The DVD comes with a few special features on how the Time Machine prop got bought in an auction for $10,000. then lost in time (so to speak, excuse the pun), and then resurfaced in some second hand store years later, and re-bought by Bob Burns and remodeled. There's also a neat extra where the stars of The Time Machine, Rod Taylor and Alan Young, after something like twenty five years later (in real life), reprise their respective roles in the film, and have a little fun acting in a newly written story arc for the film.

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