Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Picture Is Worth...

The international poster for "Die Hard 4.0" is a throwback to the good ole days of action movies. It's a simple but effective shot of Bruce Willis as McClane, looking banged up, dirty and ready to kick some terrorist butt.

Let's just hope the movie is as good as the poster.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

King Loves Huston

One of the cool things about running the ZONE is getting to be one of the first to tell you about cool movies, comics, tv shows, artists and authors.

I've been talking up Charlie Huston since his first novel, Caught Stealing. I selected him as my favorite author of 2006 HERE. Guess who else is a Charlie Huston fan. Stephen King!

Stephen King said this about Charlie Huston in a recent interview: "When you came in we were talking about Charlie Huston, this guy who has written a trilogy. One’s called Caught Stealing and one’s called Six Bad Things and the last one, which I’m reading now, is called The Dangerous Man. I feel the same way..." don't want the series to end.

Just another example of ZONErs being ahead of the pack!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Making Like Neo

Last Thursday, Antonella Barba dodged a bullet when she missed being elminated from American Idol. As I told you HERE, on Friday, "racy photos" of Ms. Barba began appearing on the net. Because some of the photos were very "racy," I thought that Ms. Barba would probably be asked to leave the show. Things may have changed though.

Today Barba's best friend, Amanda Coluccio was quoted in The Star-Ledger of Newark as saying, "The really bad ones aren't her. I've studied them. It's not her nose. She's never had (acrylic nail) tips (like the woman in the photo) in her life. She's the least slutty person I know."

If that is the case, Ms. Barba has probably dodged another bullet.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

American Idol: Picture That

Antonella Barba is one of the contestants on American Idol. Although she is a pretty young lady and can sing [well enough to make the show anyway], I thought that she would probably get the boot in the first round of eliminations. I was surprised when she made it to the second round.

If you've read this far then you've probably heard the news that "racy photos" of Ms. Barba have been popping up all over the internet since Friday. The first photos were of Ms. Barba posing with friends on the beach [topless but covering themselves with their hands] and of her in sexy outfits / poses. Then another round of photos came to light and they reportedly were of Ms. Barba engaged in a sex act. Still more photos of Ms. Barba are making their way to the net. My guess is that Antonella Barba will be asked to leave the show before the second round of eliminations begin... which is what I thought should have happened in the first place.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another Youtube Gem

It never ceases to amaze me the things that can discover on I've found everything from clips from old Sammy Terry shows to news about a fire that took out much of the downtown in my home town of Terre Haute back in the early 60's. I've found intros to tv shows that I haven't seen in 40 years and fan made trailers as good as what you'd see in theaters.

Today I found video of a wrestling match that took place in the early 70's pitting The Blackjacks [Mulligan and Lanza] and their manager "Pretty Boy" Bobby Heenan against Dick the Bruiser, his cousin The Crusher and midget wrestler "Little Bruiser." What makes this match so appealing to me is that in addition to it being over 30 years old, and featuring my favorite wrestlers of the time, I actually saw this match live!

Well, maybe I did. See, I did see these same guys wrestle each other in Indianapolis live, but they probably wrestled against each other around the country and the video may have been from one of those matches. Either way, it was still a hoot seeing it after all of these years.

I'll continue searching out Youtube for cool videos. I'd love to find intros to "T.H.E. Cat" [I can't imagine that it was good as I remember it being] and "Garrison's Guerillas." Hey, and if you find any cool videos, post the links here. I'd love to see what gems you've come across.

Friday, February 23, 2007

What I Do Know

I'm sure that most ZONErs have, by this point, heard about the break-down that Britney Spears went through this week. She checked herself into rehab, checked herself out, went out on the town, got a new tat, and shaved her head. Rumors are rampant about the reasons for Britney's breakdown. Some say drugs, some say she never has gotten over Justin Timberlake and some claim it was because she read THIS.

I don't know the cause of Britney's problems, but I do know THIS is well done.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Invaders

I'm not sure how many ZONErs will remember or be aware of the tv series, "The Invaders." It ran for only 43 episodes in 1967 - 1968. I was 8 years old when the series premiered and since I haven't seen an episode since it went off the air, I don't really know how well it would hold up. If it was any where as good as this intro or this promo, I think I'd still enjoy watching it!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Already Dead Gets New Life

Remember when I first told you here about how much I enjoyed Charlie Huston's writing? And then here when I wrote that Huston placed 2 books in my top five for 2006? [Actually it was 4 out of the top 7, if you want to get technical about it.]

Anyway, seems like I'm not the only one enjoying Huston's work. Already Dead has been optioned for a potential movie franchise. You can read the full story here.

Just another example of ZONErs being ahead of the crowd!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Which Bot is Best?

I took the photo above at MegaCon on Sunday. There was a company there that had life-size recreations of famous robots.

For my money, these three are probably the MOST famous robots in the world. There's 3CPO from Star Wars, the robot from Lost in Space, and Robbie the Robot.

Given my pick, I'd take the Lost in Space robot. Of course, I grew up watching Lost in Space. If I was a child of the 70's, I'd probably want 3CPO and someone a bit older than me would want Robbie.

Would a child of the 80's want KITT?

Monday, February 19, 2007

One Mega-Great Day

Usually when I'm going to a comic convention, I try to post the news well in advance in case there are other friends/ZONErs who are planning to be there. A lot of the fun of these shows is hanging with friends you seldom get to see! I hadn't posted anything about this weekend's Orlando MegaCon because I had decided not to attend. Just two weekends ago I was at FX and decided that my wallet needed a break. So even though Darwyn Cooke was scheduled for MegaCon [and I really wanted a shot at a Stallone piece from him], I figured that I would sit this one out.

You can imagine my surprise when at 7:30 on Saturday morning I received a call from my good buddy, John Higashi. John knew how badly I wanted a Stallone piece from Darwyn and he called to say that it might be possible! Darwyn was sketching and his prices were very reasonable. Unfortunately, there was no way that I could get over there on Saturday since I had made plans with my son Chris [who only moderately enjoys comic conventions].

At 11:30pm John Higashi called me again. He said that Darwyn still had a couple of slots open and if I could get there bright and early on Sunday, I might still have a shot at one! To sweeten the deal, John [knowing that I was trying to watch my $$] had managed to come up with two one day passes! [Talk about a true friend!] I spoke with Chris and he wanted to go [if only to hang with the crew].

That's Chris and "The James" Howell looking all gangsterish. Now back to the con report... Chris and I get up bright and early and drive over. I'm the first one at Darwyn's table. Right behind me comes Randy Martin who's hoping to get a piece for his Edward Scissorhands collection. A few minutes later and the line behind us is huge! When Darwyn arrives, he says that he has room for just two more sketches. I'm in! As long as Darwyn doesn't run out of time, I'll get my Stallone piece!!

Usually when I hit cons, I have two or three days [depending on the show] to hang with friends, set up sketches and look at what the dealers are hawking. Since this was the last day of the show, I had to make the rounds fairly quickly. I was able to visit briefly with Cadre and his crew, Alex Saviuk, as well as Joe Pekar and Alberto Ruiz. [That's Joe and Alberto in the photo above. Alberto's the one flashing the lettuce!] Keith and Monica Mallow were there. They joined Chris and I for lunch at the convention center cafe. Chris is pretty reserved the first time he meets someone, so he REALLY didn't know what to make of Mallow, who's a joke a minute guy. [Unfortunately his funny jokes only show up every five minutes or so... but I kid...] Keith is planing a one day show in Port St. Lucie, Florida on April 22nd. I'll post more about that as the date draws near.

After lunch Chris and I headed over to hang out with the guys from Tsunami Studios [Gary McKee, Mike Torrance, and Jason Walker]. "The James" has been friends with the guys for years, and I've hung with them since I started doing shows again. They'd prepared a studio sketchbook. It was a bargain, especially since they all drew small headshots free with every purchase. I'll post up mine later this week.

The cool thing about hanging at the table is you get to see the guys working on the sketches that fans commission, plus you get to see other artists who stop by, as well as the folks who come to the show in costume. [Hopefully "The James" will post some of the photos we took on his blog.] Although he wasn't in costume, I was surprised to see Jimmy Sanders III! It had been about 12 years since I last saw him. He'd made a splash in the comic biz as an inker and was going full bore for a while. Then a lot of things happened and he seemed to have dropped off the planet. He said that he's hoping to back into comics.

As the afternoon wore on, I began to wonder if Darwyn would get to my sketch. He always seemed to have a huge line of fans who wanted to shake his hand, get a photo, and have him autograph a stack of comics. Darwyn was always friendly and took the time to make sure each fan left happy. He was making progress on his sketch list, but the clock was ticking.

Matt Halloub hung at the table for a bit. He picked up some great additions to his collection. Hawaiian Dave visited and shared some of the great pieces that he scored at MegaCon. John Higashi would suddenly teleport in, and then just as quickly be off again. "The James" rounded up all the sketches that he'd set up. I had come to the show hoping to set up one sketch with Darwyn Cooke. I'd been able to, but the show was almost over when...

...word got back to me that Darwyn was working on a drawing of Sly! I swung by his table and it was ready! I thanked [and paid] him. I then made my way back to table Tsunami. After just a few minutes the end of show announcements started. Before we said our goodbyes, Chris snapped a photo of us. That's Gary looking proud of his pencil, and Jason to our right. I'm behind Gary, and Mike Torrance is behind me. Hawaiian Dave is directly behind "The James" who seems to be putting the Vulcan grip on Jason.

Before I go... let me leave you with a shot of Darwyn and his take on Sly as Jack Carter!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

100 Greatest Love Songs

Recently Jim Farber, the New York Daily News music critic posted his list of the 100 Greatest Love Songs of All Time. Here's what it took to qualify:

"Eligible songs had to have endured at least a decade in the public consciousness, if not two or three. And they had to have been popular enough to have ranked among the top 20 pop songs in whatever year they were released. These aren't necessarily the sexiest songs. If they had been, you'd see cuts by James Brown and Prince. But they are all classic serenades to a love achieved, the kind of songs meant to make listeners swoon."

I took a look at his list and compiled my top ten favorites [ranking could switch depending on my mood]...

"Wonderful Tonight" Eric Clapton
"You Are So Beautiful" Joe Cocker
"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" Roberta Flack
"Killing Me Softly With His Song" Roberta Flack
"(You're My) Soul and Inspiration" The Righteous Brothers
"When a Man Loves a Woman" Percy Sledge
"This Guy's in Love With You" Herb Alpert
"The Long and Winding Road" The Beatles
"How Deep Is Your Love" The Bee Gees
"Just the Way You Are" Billy Joel

So ZONErs... do you agree?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What's Next for Mr. Tarver

I happened to get a few minutes to talk to Antonio Tarver tonight. Yes, the former Light-Heavyweight Champion of the World. Yes, the guy who played Mason Dixon in "Rocky Balboa."

Mr. Tarver was at the high school, where I work, to watch his son play in the first round of the state basketball playoffs. We are the district champs and hope to move forward toward the state title. At any rate, Mr. Tarver arrived early and we chatted for a few minutes.

He said that he never did as many interviews as he did while promoting "Rocky Balboa." He was very gracious about the praise he and the movie received. Antonio enjoyed working with Sly. Antonio's next fight will be at the end of April and will be televised on ABC. He's got another movie lined up which will be a comedy. As always Antonio was very cool, very approachable.

And, yes, our team won [and won big]!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Another "300" Trifecta

It's time for another "300" trifecta...

Click HERE and you'll get an interview with Spartan King Gerard Butler.

Click HERE and it's an interview with the "God King" Rodrigo Santoro. a

And finally, click HERE and you'll get an advance review of "300."

All of this low-cal, low-sodium goodness is brought to us from the good folks at

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Batteries to Power...

If I was a rich man, this would be my ride.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pics from the D.A.D, Launch Party

Remember when I first told you about the Drink and Draw Social Club? Then I told you about the launch party for their cool art book The Drink and Draw Social Club Vol. 1.

Now I'm here to tell you that you can check out some cool pics from the launch party posted by LeSean Thomas and Dan Panosian.

So check out the pics, order the book and thank me later!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"Big" John Checks In

For all of you following "Big" John Beatty's trip to Manila... we've received our first e-mail from him. He made it [despite a late connection from Japan].

He's met Bella. John said that the camera did lie to him... but it lied in the "opposite way"... she is even prettier than her pictures! John says that he'll write more later.

I just wonder if Bella thinks John's prettier than his pictures?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Don't Walk, Start Ronin

It's time for our hourly "300" update...

Newsarama is reporting that "300" producer Gianni Nunnari, was asked about other comic projects is working on and he responded by saying Frank Miller's Ronin!

Ronin was a six issue miniseries published by DC after Frank's initial run on Daredevil. It's the story of a young Ronin in feudal Japan who seeks to avenge his master who was killed by a demon.

If the story pans out and the producer can get a director with the same passion that Zack Snyder has shown in translating "300" to the big screen, we could be in for another great ride. To check out "Ronin" click HERE. To get the full details from Newsarama, click HERE.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A MAGICal Night

This evening I attended the Orlando Magic / San Antonio Spurs game. If you're a hoops fan, my guess is that you already heard about "THE DUNK."

Before I tell you about the amazing ending to one of the best comebacks ever, let me tell you that it was a perfect evening. My son is a Magic fan and for Christmas I got him tickets to see them play against San Antonio. Our drive to Orlando was smooth and we arrived exactly at the planned time. I had pre-purchased a parking ticket for the lot directly across from the arena. We drove right in [despite the game and all parking lots being sold out]. Before the game we were able to go down almost courtside and watch the players warm up. It's easy to forget just how BIG these guys are in real life. At half time, they brought out Chris Leak, the Heisman-winning quarterback for the National Champion Florida Gators [which just happens to be my son's favorite college team].

Now back to the exciting climax... Despite being down as much as 20, and behind most of the game, the Magic tied it up with less than a minute left in regulation. Then when Tim Duncan's attempt at a winning shot was rejected by Dwight Howard, the Magic grabbed ball and called a time out. They had 8/10's of a second left on the clock to win the game. They didn't even need that much time. Hedo Turkoglu lobed the ball towards the goal and Dwight Howard soared over Tim Duncan and slammed home a one-handed dunk to give the Magic the lead and the win.

It was an amazing ending to one of the most exciting basketball games I've ever had a chance to witness. More importantly, my son said it was the best game that he'd ever seen and he saw it in person. Talk about a Magical night...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

9112 Miles to Graceland

"Big" John Beatty boarded a plane this morning for the start of a journey that may last him the rest of his days. You see, he's off to meet a young lady that may be the love of his life. John and Bella met nearly six months ago through the internet. They've been talking and e-mailing and video conferencing nearly daily since then. So they decided it was time to meet face to face!

This morning John boarded a plane that will fly him from Orlando to Detroit to Japan to Manila. Whew! That's one heck of a trip. Big J says that he'll e-mail when he can, and update his blog if possible.

Let's all wish the big guy a safe trip. If he doesn't scare off Bella when he meets her after spending all those hours on the plane, this thing may just work out!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Interview with the King

It's time for our hourly update on "300." This time we have a link to an interview with "300" star Gerard Butler brought to us from the kind folks at!

The Meaning of "Grindhouse"

You've heard me talking about "Grindhouse" a lot. Want to know where the term "Grindhouse" came from? Ok, but what if you were hearing it from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez? Yeah, I thought that might change your mind. So click HERE.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

FX, Day 2

FX, Day 2, got off to a much better start. I was able to breeze right in. John Higashi was already there and we met at Jason Palmer’s table. Then it was over to Matt Wagner. Matt said that he had finished my Jack Carter sketch, but wasn’t happy with it and wanted to re-do it. I told him that I didn’t want him to have to do double work, but he said it was no problem.

John and I decided to walk artists’ alley. We visited with Andrew Robinson, Mike Perkins [I set up a Judge Dredd Stallone sketch], Gene Ha, Whilce Portacio, Billy Tucci, Andy Smith, and others.

I swung by Miguel’s booth where I met up with some Stallone fans that were familiar with my site. Miguel and I talked about the Rocky Balboa card sets that he’s putting together. Stallone / Rocky fans are going to love them.

I saw that Matt Wagner was getting ready to have Q & A session and headed over. The 45 minutes flew by as Matt talked about his career in comics. It was interesting to learn that Matt postponed doing Mage when he learned that DC was doing a take on King Arthur with Camelot 3000. Then after seeing what they had done, Matt decided that Mage would still be a new spin on the legend… and the rest is history. It’s hard to believe that Matt has been in comics for 25 years. It’s cool to see how his style has changed and he has matured as an artist. It’ll be interesting to see where the next 25 years takes him.

After the Matt Wagner panel, I swung by Steve Niles' table to get a couple of books autographed. Steve said that the “30 Days of Night” movie is going to make a lot of fans happy. Of course, I can’t wait to see it! Then I made my way to Mike Higgins' table to pick up my Stallone Judge Dredd sketch.

Joe Pekar and I shot the breeze over a couple of Cokes. Joe’s a guy to keep an eye on! I hope to get a Stallone piece from him at some point.

Higashi and I met up again. We stopped by to talk to Andy Smith, Gene Ha, Bill Tucci and others. Although Bill is best known for his creation Shi and drawing the female form, he showed us a cool Sgt. Rock piece that he created for a proposed series. We stopped in for a visit for Dave Johnson and then back over to Matt Wagner’s table. Matt had started the second attempt on the Jack Carter sketch, but wasn’t happy with it and decided to take a third stab at it. Higashi agreed to pick up the piece for me since I wasn’t coming back on Sunday.

Then it was over to Miguel’s booth again to touch base. The "Rocky Balboa" card set will be out in March featuring 72 cards from the movie. Originally, the card set was going to cover all of the Rocky movies, but after seeing how well received “Rocky Balboa” was, Miguel worked out a deal for two separate card sets. The second set, out later this year will cover all five Rocky movies. Each will be sold as complete sets in custom binders. I’ve seen mock-ups of some of the cards and the binders. Stallone / Rocky fans are going to love them! I’ll premiere the items and post updates on the SZ as they become available.

FX 2007 was a worthy show. It had something for everyone. If they can get back artists like Dave Johnson and Matt Wagner, I’ll return next year. And who knows, maybe by then they'll have the opening day kinks worked out.

Monday, February 05, 2007

FX Day [A Long Day] One

FX 2007 billed itself as “the coolest show on Earth.” After looking at their guest list which included comic superstars: Matt Wagner, Dave Johnson, Michael Golden; film and tv celebs such as Michael Biehn, Lance Henrikson, and many others, I decided to check out the show for myself.

Unfortunately the convention got off to a shaky start. None of the con workers seemed to know their roles. The lines for “will call” tickets as well as the “day of show” tickets were backed up and it was long past the early opening time before things got rolling. I had purchased an advance three day ticket knowing that the odds of me attending on Sunday were slim, but because advance ticket holders were allowed into the show an hour early, I figured that the extra cost was worth it since I really wanted a sketch from Dave Johnson. Unfortunately advance ticket holders did not get in an hour early, nor did they get the promised “goodie bag” [which didn’t bother me]. To slow things even more, all advance ticket holders had to wait while a con employee stuck a temporary tattoo on them so that they could gain admission the following days. Sheesh!

When I got into the show I made a beeline for Dave Johnson’s table. I already had one sketch by The Potentate in my collection, [a cool Rocky Balboa] and was hopeful that I’d get another to compliment it. Reverend Dave arrived about 15 minutes later and seemed surprised that he had people waiting. I spoke to Dave about my admiration for his work and he was genuinely humble. As he looked at my Stallone sketches, he commented about ones that he particularly liked. I think it’s always cool to hear artists talking about their craft and other artists that they admire. We agreed on the price and Dave said that he’d do me a nice Jack Carter.

My next stop was Matt Wagner’s table. Matt, like Dave Johnson, is one of my favorite comic creators. I’ve followed Matt’s work since his Comico days. Mage remains one of my all-time favorite graphic stories. I knew that Matt’s sketches were out of my price range, but I still wanted to meet the legend. Matt was as down-to-earth as Dave Johnson. We talked for a bit while I was looking at his pre-done con sketches. They were all sweet. Of course there weren’t any of Stallone. ; ) During the course of our conversation though, Matt agreed to do a smaller Jack Carter sketch that would work with my budget.

Getting a sketch from both Dave Johnson and Matt Wagner made my show. I wouldn’t be looking for more sketches despite the fact that it was a slow day for the artists. Still, I did make my way around the show to visit with Miguel at his Rocky Balboa booth, Andrew Robinson, Joe Pekar, Andy Smith, and the guys at Cadre’s Corner. In fact while I was talking to Cadre another guy came up and had a couple of pictures taken with some of the crew. As the guy was telling them how much he enjoyed their work, I realized that it was William “The Greatest American Hero” Katt! He must have noticed me looking at him because he reached out to shake hands and say, “Hi.” Surreal.

I decided to walk around the tv and movie celebrity section. It was cool seeing MichaelTerminator” “Aliens” Biehn and Lance “Aliens” “Near Dark” Henrikson. They had huge lines of fans waiting to get their autographs. I’ve always liked Michael Biehn and look forward to his role in Tarantino and Rodriguez’s “Grindhouse” this summer. A couple of the stars of the hit series “Heroes” were there, but since I don’t follow the show, I can’t tell you about them. I also Peter “Mission Impossible” Graves, King Kong Bundy [not as big as I thought he’d be], Ron “Serenity” Glass and a few others.

John Higashi showed up and we hung out for a bit. It’s really hard to keep pace with Higashi when he is in full-con mode. He was like a shark in fish-infested waters as he made his way from artist to artist, setting up commissions, buying sketchbooks and laying the groundwork for later art deals.

Dave Johnson finished my Jack Carter piece. It was a knockout… absolutely perfect. Then to top it off, The Potentate presented me with an autographed copy of his latest sketchbook as a bonus! [Later that evening, as I was looking at my sketchbook, I was surprised to find that my Rocky sketch was in it! Too cool.] It was a great ending to a fun day.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Drink and Draw Launch Party

Remember when I told you about the Drink and Draw Social Club?

Ok. Do you remember when I told you about their cool art book [The Drink and Draw Social Club Vol. 1]?

Well, you won't want to forget this... especially if you're able to attend. [And if you do make it, be sure and tell Reverand Dave that the I sent ya!] Anyway, the Drink and Draw Social Club is having a launch party for their new book on February 10th from 6pm until closing at the Meltdown.

Drink and Draw Social Club founders Dave Johnson, Dan Panosian and Jeff Johnson will be joined by LeSean Thomas, Josh Middleton, Felipe Smith, Jim Mahfood, Tragnark, Michael Avon Oeming, Kat Von D and many others.

If you can't attend, you can still get a copy of The Drink and Draw Social Club Vol. 1 by clicking on the link. And if you do go, be sure and get some photos!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Wanna See A REALLY Big Ring?

Pretty cool picture, huh?

No, it's not a still from Star Trek or Star Wars or anything like that. It's truly a photograph of an actual floating ring that's the size of a galaxy! No joke.
Every day you can see a new image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer simply by clicking HERE.

Thanks to Ernest "Jazzman" Resendes for providing the link!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Big Beatty Reveals All...

My buddy, "Big" John Beatty is back, baby!
He's started up his blog again, and if you check it out you'll learn:
  • why John is flying half-way around the world

  • about a comic book signing that John is doing

  • how he got the name "Big Beatty"

  • why he's no longer than man behind "Big"

Who knows what other vital info you'll learn just by clicking HERE.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Heroes Helped by Heroes

It's sad to say that many older comic book writers and artists end up financially strapped in their "golden years." An organization called Heroes Initiative works to "provide a financial safety net for yesterdays creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life and an avenue back into paying work."

One of their recent efforts involved recruiting over 80 comic book artists [and even a writer or two] to draw a custom sketch on the blank cover of a specially produced issue of Ultimate Spider-Man #100.

Thanks to the good folks at, you can see nearly all of the covers by clicking HERE.