Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Batman and the Monster Men

While we're on the topic of comics to watch for this November, you may want to consider Batman and the Monster Men. It's a six issue series written, pencilled and inked by Matt Wagner.

Batman and the Monster Men takes place in Batman's second year. His first year was spent fighting crime... but is he prepared to face "the new menace facing Gotham: super-powered villains?"

For more info on the series, click HERE or HERE. Then be sure and let your local comic shop know that you'll want a copy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Going Down in November

"Five years ago, a narcotics cop was sent undercover, down into the criminal structure of the city. He never came back. He went native. Five years later, he’s running the city’s prime drugs gang.

Today, a second cop – a woman in the midst of career flameout, having shot down the entirety of the main mob’s only rival gang - is sent undercover, with orders to pull the first one out. In a bodybag if necessary. "

If this sounds like your cup of tea -- bitter with no sugar -- then plan on checking out Down 1 in November. It's the first of a four issue mini-series written by Warren Ellis. The art for issue one is by Tony Harris [who provides all 4 covers]. Cully Hamner provides art for issues 2-4.

Want to read more about it, then click HERE or HERE. And be advised, this comic ain't for kids.

Monday, September 26, 2005

A New Menace in Mackey's Life

The Shield is so good that waiting for new episodes to start up is like waiting for Christmas to come when you're a kid. Actually since The Shield doesn't start up until January, it's actually worse than waiting for Christmas!

The great news is that Forest Whitaker is joining the cast as "a new menace in Vic Mackey's life." Whitaker will play an ambitious Internal Affairs agent "who is tasked with investigating rogue cop Mackey."

Oh man, this should be good. Now if only January would get here.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Getting a Crowd to Prey Alone

While surfing the net, I came across the short film Prey Alone. Shot entirely on a green screen a la Sin City, it features no name actors or directors, but is as good as most of what you'll find in your local multiplex.

Stephen St Leger and James Mather teamed to write and direct Prey Alone. Amazingly, it took only 4 days to shoot the actors' scenes and just 3 months in post-production.

So what are you waiting for? Click HERE to see it yourself... and let me know when you figured out the twist.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Steranko Time Machine

I can remember the first Jim Steranko comic book that I ever read. It was Nick Fury #1. I was 9 years old. I'd been reading comics for years... Batman, Superman, Spider-Man... but Nick Fury [as written and drawn by Jim Steranko] was like a movie come to life [even though it was on the printed page].

As I become older, I always kept my eye out for comics by Steranko. They were few and far between [and sometimes only covers], but boy, were they worth it. The man is a legend despite the fact that his primary work in comics was less than ten years and consisted of approximately 30 stories.

Years later I attended my first comic book convention. My goal was to buy Steranko's run on Nick Fury in mint condition. Not only was I able to score the set [and at a good price], but I ended up becoming friends with the dealer, Mike Kott. I was surprised to learn that Steranko had branched out into publishing. At the same show I picked up my first issue of his publication, Mediascene [which featured an interview with Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy].

Steranko had moved away from comics, instead he spent his time concentrating on painting [he did a series of covers for The Shadow paperbacks reprints] and publishing [Mediascene which later became Prevue]. When Steranko offered some of his Shadow "pencil paintings" for sale in the early 80's, I splurged and bought one. I was newly married, in college and the $225 bucks it cost seemed like a fortune. Steranko was nice enough to send along an autographed copy of his book Unseen Shadows.

If you're a Steranko fan, then you know what an interesting life he's led. In addition to being a comic book artist, a publisher, a painter, a professional magician / escape artist [in his youth he traveled with carnivals and circuses], a musician and more. If you're just discovering Steranko, then you're in for a treat!

Steranko is still a huge draw at conventions around the country. Last year he was a special guest at FX 2005. [In fact it was his cover for the program book that inspired this post.] I was unable to attend the FX show, but even if I had, there would have been no chance of a Steranko piece for my Stallone Gallery. Steranko doesn't sketch at shows and seldom does commissions... and those that he does do cost thousands!

Every so often I love to pull out my Chandler graphic novel, or the three issues of Captain America that he did... but my favorite is still his run on Nick Fury. Over 35 years later, I still get the same rush as that 9 year old seeing it for the first time.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A Blog By Any Other Name

My buddy, John Beatty has started up a new blog where he posts his art and thoughts on just about everything. The thing is that in the last three days he's changed the blog's name three times! The blog was first called, appropriately enough, Read Me First. Then it became XXL Artist... and now it's Big Beatty's Blog O'Rama.

It was kind of funny as we discussed possible names for the blog. Beatty liked the name Art Whore, but [fortunately] that was taken. BBB [Big Beatty's Blog] was considered. So was Diary of a Fat Man: The Road to Less [a GREAT name for a blog about weight loss, but Beatty's new blog isn't, so the title was rejected].

Beatty also rejected some of my suggestions such as: Beatty Watches Ethan... So You're Bored Too? ... A New Name Coming... Are You Looking At Me?... and settled on Big Beatty's Blog O'Rama [a nod to his nickname and first web site].

My guess is that Big John has at least ONE more name change coming, so I saved the best suggestion for now. Since Beatty's blog is about nearly everything he could call it Beatty On Nearly Everything... BONE!

Uh... on second thought maybe that isn't such a great name for his blog.

I'll bet ZONERs can help come up with good names should the big guy decide a new one is needed!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Welcome to the Party!

Way back on November 16, 2003, I posted an item about the first issue of a comic that I'd read and fell in love with. That comic, The Walking Dead, was one of the freshest comics

that I'd read in years. It instantly made my "pull list."

A few days later, I posted that the first issue was quickly selling out along with a link to an interview with Robert Kirkman. In February of 2004, The Walking Dead was already my favorite monthly comic!

In April of 2004, I reported that Tony Moore, the regular artist on The Walking Dead
had decided to leave and that Charlie Adlard would be taking over with issue 6. The quality of The Walking Dead didn't miss a beat.

With the recent success of comic books turned into movies, Jeb Whitlock of suggests that The Walking Dead get the chance.

All I can say is, "Welcome to the party, Jeb!"

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Close to a Perfect Moment

I used to buy stuff fairly regularly off of e-Bay. Usually the items that I won were either hardback novels or items for my Stallone collection. In the last year or so, it's been pretty rare for me to find ANY THING that I really want.

That changed last week when I saw a belt buckle that Sylvester Stallone had commissioned for folks who worked on his movie "Paradise Alley." It was pretty cool in that it featured the title of the movie, the lead characters and the year the movie took place on the front. The back had the quote, "Never perfect people, only perfect moments" and was signed "Sly." Yeah, the buckle would make a nice addition to the collection.

No one had bid on the buckle. I decided to watch the auction. Days went by with no bids. Winning the buckle for the opening bid of less than ten bucks was becoming a REAL possibility. The auction was set to close yesterday and I wasn't going to be able to be home. Only one thing to do... call in Beatty. Big J and I agreed that a bid of $20 would probably win it.

Big John was set to place a bid for me right as the auction was closing. At 4:59:45 another bidder dropped in with a bid of $23.98. Beatty knew that I wanted the buckle and so at 4:59:57 he popped in a bid of $25.67.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

We had the high bid...for 20 seconds, then with just 7 seconds left in the auction the first bidder came back with a bid of $26.67 to win.

Oh well... I still may be able to find some hardbacks...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Everything Happens for a Reason

Like most of you, I am anxiously waiting for the return of Lost. Last season's cliffhanger is one of the best in recent memory. I love how what seem to be chance or random events come back to have meaning... in fact it seems that everything happens for a reason.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Over There to be Seen Over There

The other day I posted that Over There is my favorite show of the summer. So you can imagine how happy I was to hear that Over There will soon be seen in about 100 territories around the world.

The fact that Over There has been picked up in so many territories increases the odds that the series will be back next season. And that just makes my day.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Ultimate Sin

YES! The news that we've been waiting for...

The deluxe dvd edition of Sin City [Recut & Extended] will be available starting December 13th at about $39.99. The dvd will include the 124 minute theatrical release and a new 147 minute extended cut with both presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, along with English DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround tracks.

Extras will include three commentary tracks: 1] with directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller; 2] Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino; and 3] the Austin Premiere crowd reaction!

Additional extras include a 15 minute film school with Rodriguez, 17 uninterupted minutes of Tarantino's segment, footage of a Sin City cast/crew party, featurettes on the cars, special effects, make-up, costumes, props, how they convinced Miller to assist with the film; casting, Tarantino, plus trailers, bloopers, and an interactive game. Topping it all off will be the complete Sin City graphic novel The Hard Goodbye.


I... can...not... wait...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

No Time To Get Dressed

I had thought that Blondie's 75th Anniversary cross-over event was over. Yesterday's strip, posted above shows that I was wrong.

I guess that The Phantom was in a hurry to make the plane since he didn't have time to put on his full costume. [Another tip of the cowl to Mark Evanier!]

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A New Season of "Must See" TV

The new tv season is nearly upon us and so I thought it might be fun to take a look at the shows that have made my MUST SEE TV list:

Sunday has traditionally been one of the weakest nights of the week and the new season looks to be more of the same. The only show that I plan to watch is West Wing [NBC]. Although last season was one of the best for West Wing, the new night could spell trouble. Since the Bartlett's are on the way out, fans may decide that they should
be as well. I hope not.

Monday looks to have just the right mix of shows. At 8PM, I'll check out Surface [NBC]. This show has a lot of potential - an "adventure-drama" about what happens when sea creatures [monsters?] are discovered all across the world's oceans. At 9PM, I'll switch over to FOX and check out Prison Break and at 10, it'll be back to NBC for the highly under-rated Medium.

Tuesday belongs to 24 and The Shield, but since they won't start up for a while I plan to give WB's Supernatural at 9PM a shot. Given the WB's track record with making my MUST SEE TV list, this could be bad, especially since my wife will want to watch The Amazing Race on CBS.

Wednesday is the greatly anticipated return of Lost at 9PM on ABC. I'll also probably dvr E-Ring on NBC at the same time. At 10, I'll keep it on ABC and check out Invasion. Seems that creepy is back in with Invasion, Supernatural and Surface all premiering this season. I wonder how many will last for two.

Thursday was for years THE night for tv. Not anymore. Survivor on CBS at 8PM will continue to be a family event. At 9PM, I'll switch over to ABC and give the Night Stalker a shot. I remember watching Darrin McGavin in the original Night Stalker movie back in 1972. It was a fun movie... but I didn't much care for the tv series that followed. Maybe this one will be better.

Friday is the second worst night of the week for tv [thank goodness for dvds]. I will give Threshold at 8PM on CBS a try since it has the same Invasion/Supernatural/Surface vibe.

Saturdays is the pits. I always hope that the SciFi Channel will have a halfway decent flick but that's rarely the case... still I continue to tune in.

Before I bring this post to a close, I want to mention the shows that I've enjoyed this summer: Hell's Kitchen hooked me and I wasn't sure I'd care about it at all; So You Think You Can Dance is as much fun as American Idol; Hogan Knows Best shows a side of The Hulkster that makes you wish he was your neighbor; Celebrity Fitness Club had me watching celebrities that I didn't even watch when they were famous [well, except for Gary Busey!]; Wanted has characters quirky enough to elevate it from the run of the mill cop show; The Ultimate Fighter is like The Contender on steroids; and my favorite summer show has turned out to be Over There.

Well, that's what I'm looking forward to from the new season. Have I missed anything?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bob Denver's Legacy

Bob Denver, the clueless hero of "Gilligan's Island" has died at the age of 70.

Denver, as Gilligan,. set sail on what should have been a three-hour tour but instead ended up being a 40 year adventure entertaining several generations of fans.

I was five years old when "Gilligan's Island" premiered and I can remember watching each week. They castaways were funny. Especially Gulligan.

The show ran for only three seasons. The funny thing is it never died. Bob Denver has 25 credits listed in the Internet Movie Database. Eight of them have direct ties to Gulligan's Island. Talk about creating an enduring and endearing character.

I didn't care much for Gilligan's Island once I was older. I remember watching Rescue from Gilligan's Island and thinking how stupid it was. It wasn't stupid though, it was silly. The kind of silly that little kids eat up... like I did when I used to watch Gilligan and the castways in their initial run.

Bob Denver's three hour tour will never end. He'll continue to entertain generation after generation. Smiles and the sounds of laughter is a great legacy.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and fans of Mr. Denver.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Talk About Sick Covers

Over at Dial B for Blog they've posted The Top 5 Sickest Comic Book Covers Ever!

Their choices include:

5] Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen
[#110] operating on Superman's brain and turning him into a computer [potentially sick, but really more silly]

4] Star Spangled #124 which features a man being lured to commit suicide by two ghostly figures [maybe scary, but hardly sick]

3] Superboy [#189] walking in to find his father has hung himself [now that's sick for a kid's comic]

2] Adventure Comics #269 showing a powerless Krypto forced to watch home movies [now that's kind of funny!]

1] Sandman Mystery Theater #58 which features a close-up of man who's been shot in the head lying in a pool of blood. [Ok, that is sick]

Now I realize that they were talking about sick comic covers that were geared towards kids, but when I read the topic I immediately thought of the two covers posted here and here.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Tampa Was a Blast!

Last weekend, Big Beatty, John Higashi and I made our way to the Tampa Comic Book and Toy Show.

As many of you know, it's my favorite little convention. But if Tim Gordon continues to put on such great shows, it won't be little much longer. It's held three times a year and has added the Tampa Indie Film Fest to a program which already includes celebrites signing autographs, artists sketching, a costume contest, prize drawaings... there's ALWAYS something going on to interest everyone.

Beatty, Higashi and I drove down the night before. It's become a tradition that we go down a day ahead of the show, hang out with other collectors and eat dinner at a place called Sweet Tomatoes.

This time Randy Martin joined us for dinner. Afterwards we went over to his place to hang out. Randy has thecoolest Edward Scissorhands art collection that you can see if you click HERE.

The next morning, Beatty, Higashi and I headed over to the show. Higashi was on a mission. His goal was to get to Ethan Van Sciver to add to a sketch that he'd started a few shows ago, and to set up a commission with Pablo Marcos. My plan was to meet Pablo Marcos and possibly get a Stallone sketch from him. Beatty was there just to stir up some fun.

Higashi started getting that predator look in his eyes and I knew that soon he would be in full con mode. The doors opened and the crowd headed in. As we were walking to the artist area, I saw Randy Martin had set up and so I stopped to chat with him. Higashi continued to make his way to Ethan's spot center stage.

A few minutes later, I headed over to the stage area. Higashi was waiting for Ethan to arrive. I said, "Hi" to Marty Nodell and his son. I was just hanging out waiting for Big Beatty to mosey over when Cindy Morgan walked up to me and introduced herself. Cindy was a guest of the show and is best known for her role as Lacey Underall in Caddyshack. She asked if I was with the show. I told her I wasn't. As luck would have it, Tim
[who runs the show] was passing by. He stopped and was able to answer Ms. Morgan's question. There was a bit of small talk and then she excused herself to set up. Tim and I spoke a bit before he went on stage to introduce the guests and welcome the crowd.

I decided to head over to the film room when suddenly Captain Battle and his Battle Team appeared.

His Battle Team was filming fan reaction as he walked through the crowd meeting and greeting young and old alike. I shook hands with the good
Captain and was awarded his first dvd movie. I'll write more about that soon.

In the film room, Beatty and I watched a retrospective on Irwin Allen. Allen was first known for his tv shows, Lost in Space, Voyage to the
Bottom of the Sea
, The Time Tunnel, and Land of the Giants. He then went on to become the King of Disaster Movies with The Posideon Adventure, and The Towering Inferno. Higashi came in. He'd been successful in getting Ethan to add more to his Star Wars piece. The three of us watched a short film called Contact from Beyond. The people who made the film were in the audience and the crowd enjoyed the experience.

That's the look that Wild Bill Black had on his face when he saw Beatty and I re-enter the convention hall. Bill was talking to Marty Nodell and had made the trip to Tampa just to hang with Marty for the afternoon. It's always great to see Wild Bill, who is busier than ever with his comic and dvd businesses.

I spent some time talking with Jesse "Cadre" Hansen and Mitch "Bubba the Redneck Werewolf" Hyman. It's always a blast speaking to these guys as they love what they're doing and their fan base continues to grow. Beatty came over to see some new stuff that Cadre had created. When Beatty gives praise, you know it's earned. He and Mitch talked about Beatty doing a cover for a future issue of Bubba -- so that looks like it's going to happen.

Then is was time for the costume contest. It's surprising to me, because of the size of the show, how many really good costumers are always there. You have to admit that it adds something to a show, when you see characters walking around and they look like who they're supposed to be. The winner was a guy dressed as The Shadow -- at the last show he came as Marv. In the picture above, that's me with The Scarecrow from Batman Begins and Kevin from Sin City.

The only thing left to do was for Higashi to set up his Star Wars commission. That's Pablo and his lovely wife pictured above. Higashi and I were in line as Pablo sketched for fans. Higashi asked me if I was going to try for a Stallone sketch. Because of the time factor, I said that I didn't think so. We watched as Pablo completed a beautiful Vamperella sketch... then a Zombie pencil sketch... and then a Conan. Man, each sketch was a beaut. Higashi set up his commission which
Pablo was doing as a take-home piece. I then arranged to have a Stallone sketch done and mailed with Higashi's. I don't know which character Pablo is going to do... but you can be sure, it'll be sweet.

Sadly it was time for us to get on the road. Higashi had been able to get Ethan to add to his piece and Pablo to commit to a commission. I had been able to arrange for a Pablo sketch as well. We'd been able to visit with old and new friends, see some fun films, check out some wild costumes, and just have a great day. Tim's next show is in November. If you're able to make it, I can promise that you'll have a fun time. Heck, you may even get to be in a picture with Steve, Big Beatty and Wild Bill!