Tuesday, February 28, 2006

MegaCon: "I'm Not Wearing a @#$%# Costume!"

Here's part one of my MegaCon report...

I arrived at the show early... early enough to be #2 in line. My good buddy, John Higashi had already claimed the #1 spot. We spent the time until the show opened looking at art, talking to other collectors as they arrived, playing "war" [at one point I had Higashi down to just two cards and he came back to take the lead... finally I begged for mercy and a stop to the madness].

When the show opened Higashi and I made a bee-line to Adam Hughes's table. Allison was trying to bring order to chaos. There was something like 22 dealers already in line before the doors opened. Higashi and I made the list as #1 and #2 for the "fan list." We visited with Allison for a bit and then Higashi was off and I was in his wake... but before I scooted, I was able to set up a commission with Phil Noto!

Our next stop was Josh Middleton's table. Josh does great work, but it just wasn't in the budget this time. Someday... I hope!

I then headed over to John Beatty and Alberto Ruiz's table. We were laughing and cutting up when James Howell walked by. I asked James if he wanted to take a walk around artist's alley. He said, "Sure."

So here we are strolling through artist's alley. Talking to artists, checking out the folks in costumes, greeting other collector's and just having a fun morning.

All of a sudden a guy steps in front of James and swings up his camera. James brings up his arms in a "What the heck are you doing gesture." The guy lowers his camera and points at James. The guy then brings his camera up for a picture.

I'm looking at both of them wondering what the deal is when James suddenly yells, "I'm not in a @$%*%! costume." Then it dawns on me. The guy thinks that James has come to the show dressed as Kevin Matchstick from Mage.

I bust out laughing which makes James turn a darker shade of red. James looks at me and says something to the effect of "He thought I was in a costume." I'm fighting back the tears as I point to him and answer, "You are!"

Monday, February 27, 2006

Dennis Weaver and a Different Kind of Three

What's that saying about deaths of famous people happening in "threes? Today, I'd like to discuss a different kind of three.

It was announced today that Dennis Weaver passed away on Friday. Weaver, was by any definition a celebrity. He has over 100 credits listed on his filmography. Weaver was an actor, director, composer and more.

My fondest memories of Dennis Weaver always involve my grandfather. We'd watch Gunsmoke [Weaver played Chester the deputy who always seemed to be yelling "Mr. Dillon, Mr. Dillon!"] and later McLoud [the country cop who ended up in New York City]. My grandfather and I really enjoyed Dennis Weaver in any role. So wouldn't you know it, we watched the world premiere of "Duel" [directed by Steven Spielberg]. I can remember, during commercials, my grandpa and I talking about how exciting the movie was.

Of course Weaver was known for many other roles. He starred in the Gentle Ben tv series, had a role in Orson Welles' classic "Touch of Evil," memorable guest appearances on all kinds of classic shows and headlined dozens of other movies. Still it is those three roles that I cherish most. It's obvious why.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Dennis Weaver's family, friends, and fans.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Don Knotts & Darren McGavin: RIP

Pictured above are Darren McGavin and Don Knotts who appeared together in Disney's No Deposit, No Return. As many of you have already heard, both recently passed away within a day of each other.

Don Knotts, best known as the bumbling but loveable Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith show, died on Friday from pulmonary and respiratory complications. Knotts appeared in more than 25 films and seven tv series but it was his role as Barney Fife that brought him the most awards [five Emmys] and fan recognition. Looking at Mr. Knotts' filmnography, it's obvious that he would have had a successful career even without the role of Barney Fife [over 50 years in the business, movies, tv, etc.], but the world would have been a bit sadder place.

Darren McGavin, 83, passed away on Saturday from natural causes. Although Mr. McGavin had a long, successful career in movies and on television; there were two roles that standout for me. The first was as newspaper reporter, Carl Kolchak who discovered a real vampire in modern day LA in the made for tv movie "Kolchak: The Night Stalker." [Although I was never a fan of the series that the movie spawned...] The second role was that of Ralphie's dad in the classic "A Christmas Story."

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends and fans of both Mr. McGavin and Mr. Knotts.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Frank Miller: In His Own Words

The other day I linked to an article that discussed Frank Miller's upcoming graphic novel, Batman: Holy Terror!

Miller's novel is getting a lot of press and it doesn't even have a publication date yet. Of course the subject matter [Batman takes on al Qaeda] is pretty controversial.

If you want to see what Miller actually said about Batman: Holy Terror!, his work on Sin City, Daredevil and more, then click HERE for a transcript of an interview posted at Newsarama by Charles Brownstein.

Wolverine: Cool Again?

Wolverine used to be one of my favorite comic characters.

Of course that was back in the day. At that time, he was the mysterious little guy with the beserker rage. Chris Claremont or Frank Miller were penning his stories and John Byrne & Terry Austin or Miller & Joe Rubinstein were providing the art. Yeah, like I said, it was years ago.

Still the latest issue of Previews had two covers featuring Wolverine that were pretty cool. The first, the cover to Wolverine: Origins #1 is by Joe Quesada. The second, the cover to Wolverine #41 is by C.P. Smith.

I haven't read a great Wolverine story in years. Maybe one of these issues will break that bad-luck string.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

AH, Everyone Wants Something

Yesterday, my buddy, John Higashi and I got together over lunch to discuss our "strategy" for next weekend's MegaCon.

For those of you who don't know, John Higashi is considered the "master" in the art of getting commissions from artists. Don't believe me, then take a look at John's personal collection.

Unbelieveable, huh?

We're both hoping to get on Adam Hughes' sketch list. If you're not familiar with Adam Hughes' art, here's a link to his site. Check it out and I'll be here when you get back.

Wow! You were gone quite a while. I can't blame you though because Adam is such an amazing artist. Now you can see why everyone - including John Higashi and me -- hope to get something from him next weekend.

I'll be sure and let you know how it turns out.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Zeck, The Punisher and a Grafitti-Filled Wall

I came across this cool Mike Zeck Punisher piece the other day. It was first used as a pin-up in an issue of Marvel Fanfare and then later turned into a poster.

When Mike decided to do a pin-up of the Punisher with a huge gun against a grafitti-filled wall he was left the the problem of what to use for the graffiti. He decided to fill it using the names of friends. In some cases the friends were "couples." As a joke he listed "Zablo and Sly" because of my admiration for Sylvester Stallone.

If my memory serves me correctly he poster was made about about 15 years ago. [Yep, years before the StalloneZone was created!] Unfortunately some of the folks listed on the poster have passed on. And in many cases the couples have split up.

Last I heard though, Zablo + Sly were still going strong.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Two Millers on Me

I know that many of you ZONErs [like me] are big fans of Frank Miller.

If that's the case, then check out THIS ARTICLE to find out about Miller's Batman: Holy Terror! graphic novel which pits Batman against al Qaeda!

You can also click HERE to check out Newsarama's coverage of a Sin City screening with Frank Miller.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

No Tone

I was looking over the guest list for this year's MegaCon and was sad to see that Tone Rodriguez wasn't listed.

Tone's not only a talented artist, but is an absolute blast to talk to. He's got a great sense of humor, enjoys meeting [and messing with] the fans... and of course draws a mean sketch. Here's an example, and another and yet another from last year's sketchbook.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Batman Works

If push came to shove and I had to name my all time favorite comic character, it'd be Batman.

Maybe it's because he's grounded in reality. Well, as much reality as you can get in the super hero genre. Batman doesn't have super powers. Anyone with the same determination, will power and, ahem, bank account could become Batman.

Another reason that I like Batman so much is that there are so many takes on the character that work. Think about it...

Adam West's tv Batman was camp.

Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams' Batman was the world's greatest detective.

Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers [along with Terry Austin] explored the struggle for balance between Bruce Wayne and Batman.

Frank Miller brought us the Dark Knight as Dirty Harry.

Doug Moench, Kelly Jones and John Beatty looked at the horror/supernatural aspect of Batman's universe.

I could go on and on but the point that I want to make is that each of these takes is different, but they all work.

Currently Matt Wagner is doing a riff on Batman in a six issue mini series called Batman and the Monster Men. It's a story of Batman's first encounter with super villians.

And you guessed it, it works.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Raf's Blog

My buddy, Rafael Kayanan has started his own blog. Raf's a really talented individual. He's a highly skilled martial artist who trains celebrities and works as a technical advisor in the film industry. Raf's also an accomplished artist who has illustrated for comic books, film, games and tv.

And now Raf has started his own blog. It's going to be on my daily read list. Check it out and you may find it on yours as well!

A Really Big Mega Convention

If you're anywhere near Orlando, Florida from February 24th - 26th, you may want to check out the MegaCon convention.

In addition to George Perez, who is the Guest of Honor, there are going to be a ton of comic book artists and movie / tv celebs on hand to sketch and sign autographs. Of course there will be a ton of dealers selling the latest comics, dvds, graphic novels and who knows what else.

I'll be there looking to pick up a few more Stallone sketches. Big John Beatty will be there as a guest [sharing a table with the incredibly talented Alberto Ruiz]. If you can make it, swing by Big Beatty's table and at least say, "Hi."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It's Not Your Dad's Running Scared

Up until a few minutes ago I don't think I'd ever even heard of Running Scared. No,. it's not that old Billy Crystal movie, this "Running Scared." is being released on February 24th and stars Paul Walker.

It's not that I'm a big Paul Walker fan [although I did like him in The Fast and the Furious].

It's not that I'm a big Wayne Kramer fan [although The Cooler did get very good reviews].

What it is, is... I thought the trailer looked pretty interesting and the website even better. Let's hope that the movie doesn't let us down.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Roy Rogers...

My buddy, "Wild" Bill Black is a writer, penciler, inker, editor, publisher, chief cook and bottlewasher for AC Comics, an independent comic company that he created over 20 years ago. Bill has been favorably compared to Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Roy Rogers -- and that's just the comparisons that Bill uses when talking about himself!

Okay, okay... all kidding aside. Bill has been running AC Comics [the company that he really created] for over 20 years, but now he's bringing his comic creations to the silver screen... or at least your tv screen... if you have a dvd player.

Click HERE to read all about it.

I guess now Bill will add Roger Corman to his list of comparisons!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Grizzly Man: Questions...

Last night I watched a riveting documentary called "Grizzly Man" which is running on the Discovery Channel. For thirteen years, Timothy Treadwell spent his summers living among Alaskan grizzly bears. Treadwell went in armed with just a camera and no backup. The footage that he captured is amazing. What's even more amazing is that quite often Treadwell was within feet of the bears as the rested, fought, and ate. On more than one occassion Treadwell would reach out and touch them.

As I said, the footage was riveting. Knowing Treadwell's story takes it up another notch. You see, he and his girlfriend were killed [and eaten] by a grizzly. The documentary makes this clear from the very start. It also lets you know that the deaths were recorded [audio] but that you would not hear the sounds in the documentary. [You do see Werner Herzog, the man who created the documentary listening to them -- and that is quite enough for your imagination will do the rest.]

Treadwell's story is compelling and Herzog doesn't sugar coat the man. Treadwell had issues, and definitely was a bit off center, but he lived and died doing what he loved. And that is where the controversary begins...

Should he been allowed to follow his dream? Was he violating the law? Was he helping or hurting the animals that he so dearly loved?

I'd love to hear reactions from anyone who has seen the film. "Grizzly Man" rates a B+.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

RIP Al Lewis aka Grandpa Munster

Al Lewis [born Alexander Meister ], who was best known as Grandpa Munster, died yesterday at the age of 95.

I can remember watching Lewis on "Car 54, Where Are You?" and later "The Munsters" when I was very young. Lewis seemed old then... but as the years passed he didn't seem to age. Another benefit of growing older was that with each passing year Lewis seemed to get more and more popular. He was always a LIVELY guest where ever he appeared.

Lewis is survived by his wife, three children, four grandchilden and generations of fans. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone of them.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Who is Keyser Soze?

The February 10, 2006 issue of Entertainment Weekly is a special double-sized issue which looks at the Academy Awards. That's not why I'm suggesting that you check it out though. The reason that I think that you might want to pick it up is for the article that tells the story behind the making of "The Usual Suspects."

Chris Nashawaty's excellent article takes us back to the very origins of the screenplay and then sheds light on the process that brought it two Academy Awards. Part of the fun is Nashawaty provides us with little tidbits that fans of the movie will love. [Did you know that Keyser Soze's name was based on a real person? That Christopher Walken, Tommy Lee Jones, Jeff Bridges, Charlie Sheen, James Spader, Al Pacino and Johnny Cash [Johnny Cash!] turned down role offers?]

Reading Nashawaty's piece not only reminded me how much I enjoyed "The Usual Suspects" but makes me want to pull it off the shelf and watch it again. "The Usual Suspects" rates an A+.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Hamner Trifecta

Today's comic book cover features the work of one of my favorite comic artists, Cully Hamner.

Probably best known for his excellent work on the Batman miniseries Tenses, my personal favorite Hamner artwork can be found in the Red miniseries that he did with writer Warren Ellis.

I absolutely loved Red... so much so, that I'm going to give you a look at the covers for each of the three issues [ 1, 2, 3].