Tuesday, April 27, 2004

AVP: Starting to Believe

I wasn't on board with Alien vs Predator when I first heard about it.

It sounded pretty lame to me. Sort of like two little kids arguing about who would win between Hulk and Superman... Rocky and Rambo... Jason and Freddy...

But I've got to admit, the more more I see about Alien vs Predator, the cooler I think it might be. There's a new featurette on line and it's helping to make a believer out of me.

Watch it and maybe it'll make one out of you.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

AtlantaCon 2004 Report

Last week Mike [my oldest son], John Beatty [my oldest buddy] and I drove up for AtlantaCon 2004. The con didn't officially start until Saturday, but we decided to go up on Friday so we would be fresh in the morning when things kicked off.

Actually it was good that we went up on Friday since the con organizers set up a pre-show sketch session. For a $25 donation [which went to Jeff Jones] you could mingle with the artists who were doing really nice head sketches and more. Artists sketching included Phil Noto, Mike Kaluata, Adam Hughes, Brian Stelfreeze, Cully Hamner, Georges Jeanty, and many others. I've got to make special mention of a cool sketch "combo." Georges did a nice head shot of "Captain America looking up into the distance" for one of the fans. Later the same fan returned. Adam Hughes had added a headshot of Bucky looking up in the same direction as Cap with the caption, "Uh, Cap... what are we looking at?" That just cracked me [and everyone else at the table] up.

Mike was making the rounds getting Hellboy sketches while I sat at a table with Big Beatty and Phil Noto who were both sketching. As the sun went down Phil moved to a better light source and his seat was taken by a rotating crew which included Kelsey Shannon, James Howell and others. The table got kind of rowdy as people came up asking Big Beatty for sketches and he determined whether or not it was for a "fetish collection." It was really cool talking movies and comics and "stuff" with everyone at the table or passing by. A guy named "Little John" was gettting sketches and said that he checks out The StalloneZone and ZONE on a regular basis. How cool is that?

The session was supposed to end at 10:00 but went on until 11:00. The artists were really giving the fans their money's worth. Special thanks to the Gaijin folks who didn't even get to sit and eat a proper dinner before they were swamped by fans wanting sketches!

The next morning Mike, Beatty, and I met James Howell at the Waffle House for a hearty breakfast. Then it was off to the con! As we were walking in we saw John Higashi and Steven Lee arriving. Higashi was sporting his StalloneZone shirt!

Beatty and I went up to get our passes. Adam Hughes was there to get his as well. The guy giving out the passes asked Adam if he was an artist! Adam patiently said he was and proceeded to spell his name. No passes. The guy looked in a couple of different places. Still no passes. As Adam looked around for someone he knew [or at least knew him] I asked if the passes might be under Gaijin Studio. Adam asked the man and sure enough, they were. Adam then asked if there was a pass for Allison. Nope, but the man quickly made her one. Beatty and I picked up our passes and followed Adam into the show.

The artists were starting to set up. Most dealers were ready to go and fans were lined up waiting to get in. After a bit of looking Beatty found his table. Mike and I decided to check the place out. My goal was to get Stallone pieces from Jason Pearson, Tony Harris, and Brian Stelfreeze. Anything else would be gravy. A quick circuit of the con and I was able to learn that Jason Pearson had to cancel, Brian Bolland was running a few hours late [due to a flight problem], and other artists were just rolling in. A line was starting to form for Brian Bolland. I got in along with John Higashi, Steven Lee, James Howell and a few others.

I saw Tony Harris starting to set up the Jolly Roger display. The guys said they'd hold my spot so I could go down. There was already one guy in line and knowing that Tony is very slow I decided to take them up on their offer. I was there at #2. [Last year at Heroes I just missed getting my first Harris sketch -- I was next on the list when Tony had to stop sketching so he could get ready for the charity painting session -- and I didn't want to face the same thing again.] Steven Lee was behind me. Things were looking good for both of us. When it was my turn to make a request I told Tony I wanted a Stallone piece. He remembered me from last year. Tony said he'd give it a shot.

Then it was over to the Gaijin booth. The whole gang was there Adam and Allison, Cully, Karl, Brian and Kelsey [who was wearing his StalloneZone shirt!]. Phil Noto was sketching there as well. Several fans were oogling a Brian Stelfreeze painting which was a beaut! I asked Brian if he had started a list and he hadn't. I was first! When I told Brian I wanted him to do a Stallone piece he called out to Cully [who was sitting further down the way], "Hey Cully! I'm being called up to the big leagues!" LOL! Brian said he wanted to give Jack Carter a shot! Cool by me, as that would have been my choice for him as well.

As I walked the convention I met up with fans that I usually only get to "talk" to via e-mail like Terry webmaster of ComicArt Community, Benno, Rich DeDominicis, Ken Danker of Monster Collectables and Scott Blacksher.

Scott Blacksher has a really cool "Astro-Zombies" Theme. We've exchanged a few e-mails over the past year. Scott came by the table and commissioned Beatty to do him an Astro-Zombie sketch.

I could tell that Beatty wasn't feeling well [too much junk food on the ride up is our guess] but before the sketch was done, I thought that he'd recovered. John didn't think so. He told Scott that he was sorry that the sketch wasn't better and he could have it for free.

Scott was really surprised and said the sketch was fine, but Beatty refused to take any money and even said he'd try to come up with a better piece sometime in the future. Scott thanked Beatty and said that he had an autographed copy of "Mark of the Astro-Zombies" that Beatty could have. Big John passed the tape on to me since he knows that I've been wanting to see the movie and I'll get to it before he ever does!

Finally Brian Bolland arrived! By this time Brian had a huge line of people waiting. With almost no time to even catch his breath, Brian began to take time with each fan. Some only wanted a chance to thank Brian for the wonderful work that he's produced [and continues to produce]. Others were hoping for a sketch or even an opportunity to buy one of his prelims. When it was my time with Brian, I thanked him for providing me with many hours of pleasure, asked if he would autograph a book for a friend and pose for a picture with me. Brian was gracious and modest. He was a true pleasure to meet and I hope that he enjoyed meeting his fans as much as they enjoyed meeting him!

It was cool catching up with some artists that I hadn't seen in a while. Dan Bereton and his lovely lady were there leading the celebration of the tenth anniversary of The Nocturnals. Eddie Powell and his wife had some really cool Goon t-shirts [James Howell got the last 2XL before me!], sketchbooks, and more. Gus Vasquez was there and promised to have my Stallone commission ready at Heroes. Gus said he'd do it that weekend, but I want him to take the time he'd like to do it "up right."

Speaking of doing it up right, Sanford Greene has been turning out some great stuff lately. Sanford was sketching away, but did take some time to show us the latest book he's putting together. It's got a really hip look and should be a lot of fun once he gets it rolling. LeSean was also doing some work that really kicks butt. Hmmm... perhaps I'll get them in the Stallone Gallery at some point. Andy Lee was there... and Jason Walker too!

I decided I would head over and see if Brian Stelfreeze had finished my Jack Carter commission. As I got closer to the Gaijin table, a couple of fans who know I collect Stallone pieces mentioned that they'd seen what Brian had done for me and that it totally kicked uh, butt. When I got there Brian was talking to another fan but I could see the completed piece! Man!! Brian had nailed it. His Jack Carter was one bad mofo. Going back to Brian's analogy of being called up to the "big leagues" -- well, if that's the case then Brian hit a grand slam the first time at bat. I couldn't thank him enough for the piece. I did give him a StalloneZone t-shirt though.

I also gave shirts to Cully and Adam since they had completed Stallone sketches before I had the shirts and I didn't want them to be left out. The cool thing is that some fans and pros are wearing the shirts to conventions [and not just to mow the grass]. At this point I'm totally out of shirts and I unfortunately ran out before getting one to Tony Harris [I thought we had put a couple back... but they got away].

Speaking of Tony Harris, I decided to check and see if he had finished my commission since Saturday was winding down. I was surprised to find that Tony hadn't even finished the first sketch yet. Well... at least I was number 2 and Tony was confident that he'd be able to finish before we pulled out on Sunday at noon.

Rob Prior was set up doing some air brush paintings. Rob is quite an interesting guy. He's worked in a number of artistic capactities in the comic and film industry. His most recent work has been on the Buffy, Angel, and Firefly TV shows. I'd heard that Rob was in the process of directing a movie called Shadowwalkers from a story that he'd created. Rob was nice enough to share the story and progress on getting the film made. If everything comes to pass we're going to be in for a very cool couple of hours. The story is ripe for a multitude of venues from other movies to games to a tv series... but Rob is just concentrating on THIS movie now. Rob Prior's a guy to keep an eye on and I wish him continued success.

As the show was winding down Kelsey and I were laughing about the hacki-sack game that he got into at MegaCon. Before you could say hacki- Kelsey, Mike and Big Beatty started up a game. Soon Brian was involved... then Cully... and things were rockin'. I don't know if watching Beatty keep missing with his kicks or Mike's doublekicks had us laughing more. The game was called when the janitors were ready to turn off the ligjhts. [At least it seemed that late!]

John Higashi, Steven Lee, James Howell, Jason Walker, Big Beatty, Mike, and I [along with another six or eight people] decided to have dinner at Road House. The meal lasted literally for over two hours as we all laughed and told "war stories" of conventions and art collecting. After everyone had ordered and some of us had even started to get our food the waitress came back to tell John Higashi that they were out of baked potatoes.

John was pretty disappointed, but not as disappointed as Big Beatty when he was told they were out of club sandwiches! Higashi opted for the onions [don't ask]. Anyway... John's picking at his steak mumbling that he would have really liked his potatoe when the waitress brings out baked patatoes to others! Finally she comes back by [John's finished his steak by now] and she says, "Oh, we've got potatoes now." John [looking sad] says, "No, that's ok... I'm finished now." "But sir, would you like your onions brought out?" John hung his head even lower and said, "No thanks. I'm finished."

Now you might think that a man who was sad about not getting 1/3 of his meal would not be the target of teasing. But if you do think that way, then you don't know Big Beatty. Beatty started in with riffs about Higashi being the infamous Johnny StarWarz ['dat's right StarWarz with a "Z"] and we were all off to the races. Before too long we had Johnny's "gang sign" [making a "J" and a "W" with the fingers on each hand], Johnny pimping out his rental car, making deals for commissions and then his homies bringing up "da cash," Johnny wearing a Death Star medalian for his bling... and on and on and on.

When we finally left the restaurant it was after 10:30... and we were beat. So it was back to the hotel for a bit of sleep... The next morning Mike and I headed back to the Waffle House where we crossed paths with John Higashi, James Howell and Steven Lee. Then on to the convention.

Beatty and I were hanging at his table talking to the folks from Cute Girl Demographics who had the next table. Kelsey came by and hung out for a while. Ya just gotta love Kelsey [even if he did spill coffee on Mike]! After a bit I decided to go down and check on Tony Harris' progress. It's always a good feeling to hear someone tell you how cool your piece is before you get to see it and that's exactly what happened as I approached Tony's table.

Tony had really created a beautiful piece. This is the same guy who told me he had problems with doing a likeness! Man, his Stallone is dead on. Tony always turns out a great sketch and this one was exceptional. Big Beatty thinks it's the best in my collection. And getting any compliment from Beatty is as rare as Higashi getting a baked potatoe at Road House.

I couldn't belive my luck. I was able to get both Brian Stelfreeze and Tony Harris to do Stallone pieces for me... and they both nailed him. Life is good!

As much as I wanted to stay, I knew that we needed to head back to Daytona since we all had work or school the next day. [And in my case I had both since I'm a middle school administrator.] We made a final pass of the convention floor and said our good byes.

We'd had a great time... and are already counting the days untl Heroes!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Bring on Riddick

The more I see about The Riddick Chronicles the more excited I become. As I said in my last ZONE update, I was worried when the storyline first appeared. All of these different races, an intergalactic war, and Riddick becoming the "One" who can end it. It sounded too derivative... and too big.

Now that I've heard more about the storyline and have started to see production photos, I say, Bring it on!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Riddick Looking Better and Better

Pitch Black is one of my favorite movies. Vin Diesel and writer/director David Twohy created Riddick, one of the coolest characters to hit the screen in years. I was hyped when I heard that there'd be at least one more movie with Diesel as Riddick written & directed by Twohy.

The trailer for The Chronicles of Riddick surprised me. I knew that Twohy and Diesel were going for something huge, but I still was surprised at the scope of their plans. I'll admit I was a little worried, but more than willing to go along.

Now that advance reviews are coming in I really can't wait to see this film. I think that we're going to be in for the kind of surprises that Pitch Black gave us.

And that's a very good thing.

Neal Adams' Batman

Yesterday I told you about Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Rizzo's Batman: Broken City graphic novel. Since many of you are Batman fans, I thought that you might be interested in two other graphic novels featuring Batman and with art by Neal Adams.

Neal Adams is the artist who redefined Batman from the kooky tv character to the realistic dark knight that could truly "strike fear into the hearts of evil doers."

There are currently two hardcovers [Batman Illustrated Volume 1 and Batman Illustrated Volume 2] featuring Neal's work and they are a bit pricey, however with the discount offered by Amazon, they're worth the price of admission.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

40 Years Later and Still Trippin'

After nearly forty years, they're coming back for one more show!

That's right! Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, and Carl Reiner, stars of the original "Dick Van Dyke Show" have reunited for the show's "159th Episode," which will air May 11th on CBS. Series regulars Larry Mathews (Richie) and Ann Morgan Guilbert (Millie Helper) will also return. Sadly, Morey Amsterdam, who played Buddy, died in 1996.

Although the "Dick Van Dyke Show" remains a favorite, the last original episode appeared in 1966! That will all change when the new episode airs on May 11th. In the new episode, Rob, who's still married to Laura, gets a phone call from his old boss, Alan Brady who wants Rob and Sally to write his eulogy.

Ray Ramano (Everybody Loves Raymond) will host the episode which will feature clips from the original "Dick Van Dyke Show" episodes.

Who knows, maybe if this new episode is well received, they'll come back in another 40 years and do another!

Exorcist: The Beginning - Trio

Producers of Exorcist: The Beginning are going to release two completely different versions of the horror prequel on DVD! That's right, both the original version which was directed by Paul Shrader as well as the totally reshot version by Renny Harlin which will be released to theaters later this summer will be available when the dvd is released.

The production company didn't care at all for the footage turned in by original director Paul Schrader who had created "a creepy psychological thriller sans the gore." So Renny Harlin was brought in to reshoot the entire movie. Harlin recast roles and went to work. Harlin's version will hit big screens later this year.

The cool thing is that fans will get to see both versions once the dvd is released. And I'll be willing to bet that a good portion of fans will prefer the version that was never released to theaters!

100 Bullets Team Take on Batman

Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Rizzo made their claim to fame [and rightly so] with the classic comic series 100 Bullets. If you ever wondered what they could do with an icon like Batman then wonder no more.

Azzarello and Rizzo's Batman Broken City is being collected as a 144 page hardcover and trade paperback. Want to know more? Ok, how's this sound...

"A woman's body is found in the Gotham Landfill, and as Batman delves into the case, he reflects on the dark city that he made his home. He knows - or thinks he knows - who the killer is, but when the truth is revealed, the Dark Knight might not even know who he is anymore."

If you're a fan of Azzarello, Rizzo, or Batman, then you ought to give this one a look!

Detective Zablo

From time to time, I've been lucky to have friends who have drawn me or placed my name in comic books that they're working on. Mike Zeck and John Beatty put me in Captain America and The Punisher. Jerry Ordway put me in Superman. Bob McLeod stuck me on a wanted poster. My latest appearance comes courtesy of Nick Northey and Jeff Austin in the current issue [124] of Femforce from AC Comics. I show up as war hero Detective Zablo.

Who knows where I may show up next... but odds are it'll be here in a ZONE update!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Double the Zombie Pleasure...

Two new zombie movies are starting to get some good buzz and may be worth a look.

The first is called Shaun of the Dead [gotta love that title!] which is a comedy from the UK. It looks like a lot of fun!

The second is called Undead. Man, I'm still not sure what to make of this one. I watched the trailer... and I'm still not sure what to make of this one...

I, Robot's New Trailer

The new trailer for I, Robot is now online and it kicks major butt.

I had an interest in the movie since Will Smith [Bad Boys II] seems to pick good projects [not counting Wild, Wild West of course], it's based on the classic short story collection by Isaac Asimov, and being helmed by director Alex Proyas [Dark City, The Crow].

I really like the feel of this trailer. If the movie can match it we're in for a great couple of hours.

No Moore on Walking Dead

"Is it going to be as good?"

My current favorite regularly published comic is The Walking Dead. Writer, Robert Kirkman, and artist Tony Moore have created a great comic. Each issue has been more than worth the price of admission and the series continues to get better and better.

Sadly, Tony has decided to move on after issue six.

The good news is that Charlie Adlard [X-Files, White Death, Astronauts In Trouble] is taking over the art chores and looks to be an excellent choice.

Still, until we see the issue, one has to wonder...