Thursday, May 31, 2007

Caveman Robot

He's a caveman, and a robot. If you don't get what's fun about that, we're probably not going to get along. Look at a free, legal sample story here.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Video Paper!

You know that video-paper stuff they have on Firefly? Well, it's been invented in real life! Check the link: video paper. Very cool.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Classic Cover

Here's one of my all-time favorite covers. I fondly remember picking this one up from the magazine rack at the Snak Pak, a convenience store down the road from our house. (They had also had some good baked potatoes there, and that weird Pleiades video game.) The great Walt Simonson drew this one. It blew my elementary-school mind because the logo was incorporated into the scene, and it wasn't even at the top of the page! Notice how Bats' and the Joker's figures, and the logo, make a roughly circular form that always draws your eye to the characters in conflict. And the carved face that's partly covered by Batman's foot has it's mouth open, like it's yelling, "git yer foot outta my eye!"

I was tired tonight, so i just went to the grocery store then vegged out in front of the tv. So You Think You Can Dance is mildly funny, but probably only when you're tired. The other show about wanting to be a director was interesting. Too bad the girl from NC got kicked off, but she shouldn't have trusted that guy to be the director of photography (why isn't it director of filmography?) -- she should have done it herself. And it's amazing that that one guy did all that special effects work basically overnight.

Oh, i also watched the first episode of The Lost Room, which was cool. It didn't seem quite as grrreat as i'd heard, but it was only the first episode. The key that opens doors to anywhere is one of the best ideas ever. As soon as they showed the guy stepping through a door in a hotel room and out of a door in Tahiti, i wanted from the depths of my soul to have that key. As someone who's only real recurring dream is of escaping from various confining places, that is my dream magic item. The show also proves that urban fantasy can work well on tv.

I wish they'd established a better sense of place. IIRC they never mentioned where this was taking place. It was Anytown, USA or English-Speaking-Canada.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I had an idea for marketing/branding/structuring DC superhero comics this morning. It consists of three sub-brands. Here they are.

DC Now - The main DCU as it already exists, with all the continuity, crossover, etc. This would be aimed at the specialist/niche market of the more hardcore superhero fan/enthusiast.

DC Timeless - This is where the most iconic versions of the characters would be. Continuity would be light, crossover minimal, and "world changing events" practically non-existant. This would be the Classic version of the DCU, the one "everybody" knows. This line would be for the general audience and the more casual fan. It would be pushed on newstands and bookstores far more than comic shops, and wherever kids are. Personally, i'd place Action Comics and Detective Comics in this line, featuring Supes and Bats, and revive another older title like Adventure Comics or All-Star Comics to feature the iconic Wonder Woman. The page count would be higher, with backups featuring other characters.

DC Boundless - This would be the label for all the non-prime-continuity books. I.e., a new Kamandi book set in its own frame of reference, would go here. Any of the series set on the 52 multiple Earths would go here. Elseworlds, "imaginary stories", whatever, it would go here. This line would probably be mainly a specialty shop thing, but obviously some properties would work well in the general market.

A vigorous, regular trade program--and in some cases, skipping periodical and going straight to long-form/bookshelf--would be a priority. Each sub-brand would have its own, slightly tweaked version of the DC logo and trade dress, so that readers who knew about and cared about the difference could quickly distinquish them.

I imagine ad copy for this set-up going something like this.
You could spread that across a one-page ad or multiple pages, and it would work well as a flash-animated ad on websites.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Scott Pilgrim!

Ah, yes, a preview page from Scott Pilgrim volume four, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together has been posted on Bryan Lee O'Malley's flickr page! Feasteth thine eyes!

Sunday, May 20, 2007


My survey of HBO shows has now brought me around to Carnivale, a good vs. evil allegory that centers around the people who make up a travelling carnival in 1930s America. Often, good vs. evil allegories turn me off. Allegories in general turn me off. They feel dishonest. If somebody wants to tell me a story, they should just tell a story, and not tell a story that pretends to be about A when it's really about B.

That's isn't an issue here, though. At least not so far. I watched the first two episodes this weekend. For one thing, i like the setting. It's very Americana, and i've enjoyed other stories set in that era. Also, the allegory is both blatant (making it more "honest" per my idiosyncracies) and unclear (making it more interesting). How? Well, it's blatant in that it uses real world beliefs. It's unclear in that we don't know which side the series' two foci--the Farmboy and the Preacher--represent. The Preacher is a preacher, so you'd think he's the good guy (unless you know about irony, then you might think he'd be the bad guy, but if the writers of the show know about iron, and suspect that the viewer does too, then maybe they'd be double-ironic and make the obvious good guy the actual good guy, or...), and the Farmboy is an escaped convict, so you'd think he's the bad guy (again, unless the irony...) . However, the Preacher mostly scares the living crap out of people, and the Farmboy can heal people. The preacher does help people, but apparently feels really bad about scaring the crap out of people. The farmboy can heal people, but his mom takes it as a sign of the devil.

The dialog is great. They use a lot of period slang. I love how the English language can be so indirect and yet so evocative at the same time. There's a character named Samson, who's a little person with some undefined role of authority in the carnival. He talks a lot. In one scene, he's trying to convince Ben (the farmboy) to work for the carnival. When he admits that the job pays nothing to start with, Ben sulks off towards a farmhouse, presumbably to find work there. Samson yells a tirade after him, ending with "when John Law shows up, you ask him what kinda wages he's payin' for breakin' rocks!"

The carnivallians include a card-reader in a coma, a giant (that guy from the movie Big Fish), a pair of siamese twins, a couple of "cooch dancers", an ex-baseball player with a bum leg, and the mysterious, unseen "Management".

There are some very creepy scenes, like whenever Justin, the preacher, performs one of his wonders, some instances of telekinesis, and a few surprises that shouldn't be ruined.

The supernatural and mystery aspects are intriguing, but i think i could be just as into this show without that stuff, based just on the setting, characters, and dialog.

Side note: All of HBO's shows have these really complex intros! It's like they're saying, look how much time and money we spent on the title sequence--you know the show is going to be good! Or maybe it's that they don't have real intros on broadcast TV anymore, so producers go nuts when allowed to use them. (Curb Your Enthusiasm is an exception, and i don't remember Entourage's intro.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Spider Baby

Why does this creepy gem merit only two stars at Netflix? It would seem that the folks who'd rent it would be likely to appreciate it. I liked it.

Spider Baby (according to IMDB it's subtitled "The Maddest Story Ever"; 1964) is about the Merrye clan, a degenerate family of blithe murderers. The tone is consistent, yet unorthodox. It's a bit funny, a bit horrific, and a bit bitter sweet.

I don't recall the location ever being stated, but the feeling is definitely Southern Gothic. The Merryes live in an delapidated manse not unlike the Radley house, with the occassional deranged shut-in peeping out the front window. Ah, but sadly, there are no scruffily sweet children playing outside to touch the remaining heartstrings of these monsters.

The Merrye clan is: sisters Emily and Virginia, brother Ralph, guardian Bruno, and a couple of aunts and an uncle who are kept in the basement (more a sub-basement, technically; or perhaps simply a pit). They all, except Bruno, who entered the clan as a chauffeur, suffer from an eponymous syndrome which causes their minds to revert to childishness, and on into infanticism and ultimately, inhumanity (marked by cannibalism).

Emily and Virginia are the stars here. They're crazy in a fun way. Virgina is a bit like Wednesday Adams sans self-control. She likes to fancy herself a spider, and unfortunate strangers are her bugs. Emily is highly concerned with good and bad, but you never doubt which way she'll go when the pressure is on. Ralph's condition has progressed to the point that he's essentially a wordless infant in a man's body.

Bruno doesn't have the family's disease, but years of living amongst them has clearly cracked him. He sincerely cares for them, and has a strong (perhaps too strong) loyalty to them. He is played by Lon Chaney, Jr., who gives an affecting performance. One scene in particular stands out. The girls have dispatched with a visitor to the house ("she would have told" afterall), and are afraid that Bruno will be angry with them. "Now you'll hate us," they cry, yet he assures them that no, he will never hate them, never ever. It could have played ridiculous, or arch, or cruelly ironic, but it plays sincere--mad, yes, but heartfelt.

The disc i rented is a Special or Aniversary Edition, and as such, much spiffier than your average b-movie release. The images are crisp, without any obvious (to me, at least) damage to the film. It's even presented in its theatrical aspect ratio. That was a pleasant surprise, since a lot of old movies only exist in the pan-and-scan versions that were made for TV.

It's definitely worth a viewing if you like classic b-movies, horror, or black comedy a la Charles Addams.
Local #9

I just read Local #9, which came out this week. Wow, that was such a strong issue. I've enjoyed all of them, to varying degrees. This one delves into Megan's history with her mother, and really defines a huge part of what motivates her through the whole series. It ended in a quietly stunning panel that wrapped in conflicting emotions. There was doubt, hope, loss, love--all brought together in one panel by the course of word and visual through the issue. It all felt very real to me, too.

Ryan Kelly's art has been a huge draw for me in this series. While reading #9 the quality that the screentones bring to the images. They add a lot of texture. In the past i thought of them (nearly subconciously) as a fast-and-cheap technique. For the first time i'm thinking they're completely legit, like crosshatching or shading.

Oh yeah, it might be helpful to say a bit about what Local is about! It's about Megan, a young woman who has hard time finding her place in life. This manifests itself most obviously in her moving to a new town every year (more or less), often adopting an entirely new identity at the same time. Each issue takes place in a different town in North America. Kelly uses a lot of photo references (many sent in by fans) to make the locations authentic. That's where the "local" comes in.

So, each issue is a self-contained story, but read together, they make a bigger tapestry. This issue works by itself. If you only ever read this issue, you'd get a whole, satisfying story. In addition, if you've read other issues, #9 illuminates Megan's life in a deeper way. Neat, huh? ;)