Friday, September 28, 2007

You can never go back home.

Ty Templeton and Juan Bobillo's HOWARD THE DUCK #1 is out next week. I want to hate it. It's a pointless exercise. Surely, that ship has sailed. Howard without Gerber? It seems as pointless as the Fantastic Four without Kirby. That awful redesign. Yet, those pages draw me in...

Yeah, but what's the odds, eh?

More comics-to-movies news that makes my remit: David Goyer (ugh, BLADE 3) to direct Mike Mignola/Christopher Golden's BALTIMORE. I haven't read the full novel yet, though I did buy a convention sampler from it on Ebay a while ago. Given some restraint, it'd make a cracking entry into that most underused genre of movie: the war/horror crossover.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Some stuff about some other stuff, an' that.

Harry Knowles reckons Patrick Sauriol knows a thing or two about how the JLA movie will play out. Sounds less crappy than some earlier rumours, certainly. Better to base the movie on Mark Waid's TOWER OF BABEL arc than the dire OMAC PROJECT, as previously bandied about. While he's at it, he also says some nice things about homeboy Brendan McCarthy's work on MAD MAX IV. Only without mentioning him by name. Typical, wot?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Review: FEARLESS #1&2.

I promised P.J. Holden I'd review his new comic from Image, seeing as he was kind enough to furnish me with previews of the first couple of issues. It was the least I could do, seeing as he didn't even flinch when I made an atrocious pun at the expense of the books co-writer, Dave Roth, basically accusing him of being one of the most irritating frontmen in hair-metal history. Then things went silent. Not only am I the latest in a long line of awful procrastinators, I actually *shock* horror* got busy at work, and found real life impinging on my online time. Bollocks to all that - I've got comics to read!

At first look, it's a very traditional superhero story, but with one very clever inversion. The genre is full of masked millionaires fighting crime, "men without fear" and "those who strike fear into the hearts of criminals". The protagonist of this series, Adam Rygert, is instead utterly consumed by fear himself. He suffers from vertigo and asthma. He suffers from high anxiety, to the point of hallucinations. He's got every phobia going, and so uses a gas made of "a normal anti-depressant, (and) a bunch of chemicals with names nobody can pronounce" in order to change himself into a reckless daredevil. As I said, it's very traditional: it's an updating of several tropes we've seen before in comics, going right back to Batman. His costume is like a really rather funky redesign of the original, Wesley Dodds, Sandman. His dependency on a drug to give him short-term powers reminds me mightily of the Golden Age hero Hourman. The gangsters he fights are straight out of the Big Bendis Book Of In-Fighting Mobsters. There's something about the way the story rolls out that reminds me of Sam Raimi's DARK MAN, too.

I was rather surprised by the conservatism of the book's set-up: my only exposure to the co-writer, Mark Sable, before this was from his series GROUNDED, which was a more freewheeling treatment of standard superhero tropes. It reminded me of nothing less than Pete Milligan's work on X-STATIX. Roth, however, I know nothing about, other than he shares a name with a certain high kicking rock'n'roller. I'm led to believe he's a screen writer/script doctor, so I'll take it that he is the steadying hand reining in Sable's more playful tendencies on this project.

So far, so negative, right? Hardly - though straightforward, the plot moves with the clockwork precision of a Hollywood film (I could see this getting optioned, easily). The dialogue won't set the world alight, but neither does it sound stilted, or drop any clangers (unlike some good looking Image titles - no names, no pack drill - alright, you twisted my arm - *cough* BOMB QUEEN*cough*GIRLS*cough* PIRATES OF CONEY ISLAND*cough*). The fact is, the Anglophone market wants straightforward, conventional superheroics. As such, this title could easily be the sort of crossover hit Image have had with other, similarly traditional, superhero titles (INVINCIBLE, DYNAMO 5). Quirk will only get you so far these days (see: again, X-STATIX, NEXTWAVE). And this book has two things really going for it. P.J.'s art and Nick Filardi's colours. Holden's work has seldom been slicker, and working over a larger format than the usual 2000AD-length episode means he is developing the one thing that eluded his work previously - consistency. His previous strengths are here in spades: a likeable style comparable to D'Israeli or the under-rated Anthony Williams; great character design (the Fear suit especially); a mastery of facial expressions up there with the likes of Steve Dillon; and deft storytelling. Nick Filardi does a great job here, too. He's a colourist whose work I first noticed on GODLAND, doing a mind-bending, eye-popping, job. In fact, I'd love to see him take that approach and colour some real Kirby for either of the big two, rather than Casey & Scioli's ersatz (but loveable) turn. That said, Filardi is more than a one trick pony: here he does a great job providing Holden's work with a subtle, muted palette that reminds me of Big Dave Stewart's work on HELLBOY - no higher praise in that field, I think you'll find.

So, if you want some straight-up, good looking superheroics, give FEARLESS a go.
Plus, if you're a comics buyer in Norn Iron - it's yer duty, dammit.

The Milo-meter.

Yesterday, I narrowly chose to leave Milo Manara's name off my list of fur'ners I'd translate and publish after winning the Euro-Lottery rollover, mainly because NBM are already publishing some of his more, urm, specialist works. Y'know, the ones you'd read with one hand. Then, by some cosmic coincidence, I get an email from these guys today: it's a free online comics magazine from Argentina. There's a great interview with Manara in it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

IN SEARCH OF MOEBIUS aka MOEBIUS REDUX

Just watched another documentary in the COMICS BRITANNIA series tonight, IN SEARCH OF MOEBIUS. It was alright, I suppose. I often find the most interesting thing about Moebius is the juxtaposition of his careers as Jean Giraud and as Moebius, how the man could shift from being this consumate storyteller of straightforward genre fiction, to being this revolutionary who shook up an entire field of publishing. And yes, his work, alongside Druillet and Bilal, at PILOTE and then METAL HURLANT was literally a revolution at the time, one which helped legitimize comics as an artform on mainland Europe in the early 1970s, decades before such legitimacy was claimed for Anglophone comics. Yet after reaching this position as a countercultural icon, he could then travel back and forth between the two trajectories of his career (traditionalist and revolutionary) until Charlier's death, and after - even now, he's working, as Giraud not Moebius, on a volume of Jean Van Hamme's (good but derivative) spy thriller XIII. This docko rather glossed over that, giving the viewer the impression that there was a clean break at the time METAL HURLANT began, concentrating on Moebius the groundbreaker, the visionary, and the collaborative artist (though giving his work with Stan Lee more screen-time than his work with either Charlier or Jodorowsky seems rather daft).

Anyway, it remains one of life's great mysteries that there isn't a publisher dedicated to keeping Moebius/Giraud's work, translated into English, in print (and Druillet, and Bilal, and Pratt, etc, etc, etc). Chalk that up for another job I'll just have to do myself, after winning the next Euro-Lottery rollover.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Animation across de nation.

Remember that little THE NEW FRONTIER trailer from YouTube I showed here a while ago? IESB.net have a new, expanded, 10 minute preview up at their site.

I wonder if this was leaked out early to counteract the mixed reviews the first DVD in this series, SUPERMAN - DOOMSDAY, is getting? I'm still looking forward to it - everything negative I've heard has been pretty much fanboys whining that it deviates too much from the source material or Timm's previously established animated DC universe. I couldn't give a monkey's - I've never read/will never read the original DEATH OF SUPERMAN comics, and I always knew these DVDs were their own entities.

Brendan McCarthy on Jonathan Ross on Steve Ditko.

When IN SEARCH OF STEVE DITKO was about to be broadcast on Sunday night, my first thought was, hey Mark, y'know who you should ask to review it? Self-confessed Ditko super-fan and British comics leg end Brendan McCarthy. So I did. And here it is:

Hallo Mark,

Well, I eventually saw the Ditko documentary, which I
enjoyed. It's quite bizarre that the UK's main chat
show host should be a closet Ditko fanatic!

Given that we shouldn't expect anything on Steve Ditko
at all, I think Mr Ross did a great job. Even the
uninvited visit to Mr Ditko's office in New York from
our resident British "cheeky-chappie" (with that other
black-clad goth writer who tagged along) was great, in
that Steve Ditko still had absolutely no interest in
being interviewed.

My only slight irritation was with Alan Moore (and the goth
dude once more) getting away with calling Ditko "mad".
This from a guy who (by his own
admission) is a practising "magician" (not sadly,
from the school of Tommy Cooper) and who apparently
really and truly summons up demonic serpent entities
at will! Or at least with the help of "The Hoary Hosts
of Hoggoth!"

Now, I've nothing against Alan messing about with
all that 'magickal malarkey', but just
because Ditko has a (valid) political philosophy that
was at odds with 60's liberalism (another valid
position), he is dismissed as another right wing kook.
I haven't seen any other major comic book creator lay
out through their work, their own political position
like Ditko has. Far from being "mad", I think Ditko's
only crime is to have been judged "un-Hip".
Stan Lee was also a high point of the show, and
although I disagree with his position on the credits,
that doesn't make him "mad" either!
But, nothing can diminish the pre-psychedelic
magnificence of the "wondrous worlds of Dr Strange"
and the beautiful ballet of Spider-Man in web-slinging
action.

Well done, Mr Ross!

Brendan McCarthy

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jay and Silent Bob - go Straight To Hell, boys.

Just saw this over at Splash Page Art - an illustration by Duncan Fegredo from the Artists Of Splash Page Art book they were selling at this year's SDCC. Nice.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The noodles and the damage done.

Lots of lovely PHOO ACTION information up at Film Ick. Starting to feel hopeful about this 'un.

You can't judge a Marvel comic by its cover...

...because the covers usually look good, while the contents are the same old same old. But still, loved this IRON MAN cover. Love the t-shirt, love the fact that the low-tech hi-tech in the piece's background all seems to be made up of guitar effects boxes (look closely, upper right corner). Next, funky Frazer Irving demonstrates why never to invite Wolverine around for Christmas dinner. Messy.
And finally: I've been waiting for this all my life, it feels. Sweet, and indeed, Christmas!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Paul Pope draws The Silver Surfer...

...for some cover or another. Great camera placement.

Bryan Hitch draws THE AVENGERS...

...and look - it's the ugliest Wolverine ever!

keepin' it Estoreal.

Just got around to reading this, and it's great - our homie Rab takes Kirby to the people. The people react favourably. Of course.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fan service ahoy!

Dark Horse solicitations are up, and the two covers to the latest issue of BUFFTY THE DRAGON SLAYER caught my eye. For a start, series artist Georges Jeanty does a well-intentioned if somewhat freaky homage to THE AVENGERS. But it's the other one that'll make more headlines, seeing as it features a rather photorealistic representation by Jo Chen of Eliza Duckshoot in the raw. B-doi-ing!

London is a Guitar Town these days.

Here's the intersection between two of this blog's favourite themes - illustration and Gibson guitars. Spot the SG custom painted by comics' own Jock! Which multi-millionaire seen looning about here with a 10-foot Les Paul, paid well over the odds on Ebay for first editions of all seven issues of IDENTITY CRISIS, then complained bitterly about the cost of postage and packaging? Clue: it wasn't Paul Weller. Picture still to come: Jamie Hewlett's design for Pete Townshend. Which should have P-90s loaded in it, but won't.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

BRUCE TIMM is in my remit

I loved all of Bruce Timm's DCU animated series, and look forward to the output of his direct-to-DVD department for WB. Here's an interview with the man concerning the first one out of the stable, SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY. Some peeks at the new character designs he's done, too. Interesting, if a tad conservative compared to the levels of stylization he's exhibited in the past (what's up with Superman's cheekbones, dude? A bit too Ramona Fradon for my liking).

Monday, September 10, 2007

I'm a man of my word.

Bryan Talbot. Lovely guy - but I've told you that before, right?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

lackadaisical post

Did everyone read Bryan Talbot's 3-page history of British comics in yesterday's GUARDIAN? No? Uh, well, maybe I'll borrow it from work and scan it, then.

let's see how quickly this gets lifted by "blog@newsarama".

I showed the knitted Hellboy link to Mignola's collaborator on the character, and longtime favourite-of-this-blog Duncan Fegredo: he sez "Blimey! They could sell a ton of those cuties!". He would however, like to direct your attention to the work of Ivar, a Hell-board regular from Estonia. And yes, this stuff is fierce. It's professional standard, looks as good as, or better, than any 3-D version I've seen extrapolated from Mignola's defiantly 2-D expressionism, and looks ready to go straight into production (if the dudes making these sorts of decisions over at Dark Horse have any sense)!

finally saw SUPERMAN RETURNS and...

Finally got around to watching SUPERMAN RETURNS last night as it premiered on Sky Movies. Yes, it had all the flaws the fanboys warned me about: it was too long; it was too slow; it was pretty much a remake of Donner's 1978 version, a movie that really didn't need remaking; being so faithful, Singer even goes so far as to make the same narrative mistakes as Donner; Kevin Spacey's Luthor is as dreadful as Gene Hackman's; and it focused way too much on the (currently popular over at DC) messianic reading of the mythos' subtext.

But other than that? I liked it a lot more than I ever expected to. Routh was channeling Christopher Reeve so much that every time he came on screen I wanted to give him a big hug. The script was witty, and had a good way of handling all the classic, corny, turns of phrase that come with the characters (Perry White's "does he still stand for truth, justice and all that stuff?" being, as Brendan McCarthy pointed out at the time, loaded with political commentary). The action sequences have a touch of the spectacular about them, even if they take too long coming. The cinematography is gorgeous: the thing looks great throughout. And Singer does include some lovely, lingering images - he understands the iconography of the character.

Still, I'm not exactly baffled as to why this movie under-performed with the fans and the box-office. The Donner-faithfulness gives the movie an air of "been there, done that" that's hard to shake. The only truly new element Singer, Dougherty and Harris add to the legend is expanding the Lois-Clark-Superman love triangle to include James Marsden's Richard White, and the love-child Superman never knew he had, Jason. These additions infuriated and baffled the internet trolls. I liked 'em, and thought this angle was, if anything, under-explored. That said, it added an adult storyline into the movie that the stereotypical, notoriously developmentally-arrested, comicbook fan might balk at: it's hard to relate to parenthood, when you're so desperately busy clutching on to your childhood. I'll be saddened if the rumours are true, and Singer and crew's script for the sequel excises these additions in a gruesome fashion. I'd rather DC embraced the changes, 'cus if Superman and Lois' bizarre inter-species marriage is allowed to stand, why not let 'em have a kid, too?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tat for your mantel-piece.

As these things go, this isn't bad-looking at all.

more DRAWN! finds

Everyone loves DRAWN!, right? Here's a jolly nice link. And this? This is a thing of fucking genius my friends.

Robert Rodriguez to direct PREACHER pilot?

I can get behind that.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Big day for Apple watchers

Lots of shiny new gadgets. This is probably the reason why Blogger seems to be running a bit slow tonight.

Comics Britannia

Prepare for the Comics Britannia season on BBC4 (great mini-site, BTW - check the video footage of Alan Moore and Leo Baxendale) by reading this interview with series producer Alastair Laurence.

DHP an' that.

The new issue of groovy online anthology DARK HORSE PRESENTS is due to hit sometime today, but while waiting for it, do visit their site and read the first issue. Especially Joss "Buffty The Dragon Slayer" Whedon and Fabio "Casanova" Moon's Sugarshock, which is a cute little piece of rock'n'roll magic realism, more like early Jaime Hernandez or Phillip Bond than anything you've come to expect from Whedon (vampires, demons, space cowboys, etc).

the Girliest superhero comic book...

...ever!

Monday, September 03, 2007

2009 set to be a slow year for fans of DOCTOR WHO.

The BBC's masterplan to keep hold of David Tennant and Russell T Davies a year longer than everybody thought is published here. Just three specials in 2009? I've got five words on how to make that work: Do. The. Bleeding. Time. War.
Oh, and get everyone and their dog back for it. Paul McGann, sans wig. Christopher Eccleston. Billie Piper. John Simm.

Or will they keep all that for the movie?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

leitmotif, plus a memo to Tharg.

Here's a return to one of my recurring themes: Ashley Wood posts something groovy on his blog and I link to it. In this case, click on the picture to see the full size version, and check out the A.B.C. Warriors shot in the top left. Wish Tharg would wheedle a contribution of any shape or size out of the guy again - I'd be happy with a cover or two, but would love to see his current style on a Dredd strip. Or better yet, a Judge Anderson short. Go on, Matt - there's still time to beef up Prog 2008.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

DOCTOR DANGER and THE INVISIBLE GUNMAN!

Always seems to me that the Powers That Be at Marvel never really pay tribute to Kirby in quite an effusive enough manner. Yeah, they'll continue to reprint his work, pay him some lip service, but suddenly go quiet whenever fannish chatter talks about giving his estate any retroactive royalty arrangements, or slices of the big licensing pie that uses his characters and his imagery. Anyway, here's the merest teeny-tiny baby step in the right direction: Marveldotcom's Jack Kirby Cover Gallery.

It had to happen eventually.

It's the intro to THE SIMPSONS only with the cast of STAR WARS. Not bad at all.