Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Anita Blake: comic-book heroine

Dabel Brothers Productions has obtained the rights to produce a series of comics based on novelist Laurell K. Hamilton's best-selling series of Anita Blake novels, according to a press release posted at Newsarama. According to the release:
The first book in the series, ANITA BLAKE: VAMPIRE HUNTER in GUILTY PLEASURES, will hit shelves in June, 2006, featuring amazing art by a soon-to-be-announced illustrator and a faithful script adaptation by Stacie M. Ritchie that will have fans of the novels savoring the first chapter in Anita Blake's adventures once again. The adaptation will also be published in two graphic novel volumes, available respectively by January and July, 2007.

The news was greeted with speculation online, with Hamilton's fans wondering how much of the sometimes explicit sex of the novels, especially in later volumes of the series, will find it's way into the comics. As one Newsarama reader suggested, "The first six or so books are among my very favorite books but the latter titles made [me] quit reading the series. If they 'faithfully' adapt the later books they will have to be sold from behind the counter."

Dark Horse doubles manga efforts

Dark Horse Comics plans to double its output of manga titles in 2006, editor Carl Horn announced at New York Comic-Con this past weekend. ICv2 reports:
Among the new manga licenses that Dark Horse announced at the NYCC were: Shin Lone Wolf & Cub by Kazuo Koike and Hideki Mori (a 6-volume sequel to the classic series); Translucent by Kazuhiro Okamoto (the story of an eighth grade girl with a disease that turns her translucent); Who Fighter by Seihou Takizawa (about a WWII fighter pilot who shoots down a UFO), and two series drawn by Housui Yamazaki, Mail and Kurosagi Delivery Service of Corpse.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The new "Action" team

Rich Johnston reports that the new writing team on Action Comics will be Geoff Johns and Johns' former boss, Superman movie director Richard Donner.

He also reports the old, but still cool, news that Joe R. Lansdale is writing a five-part Conan miniseries for Dark Horse.

"Ultimate" delay

Cartoon Network's broadcast of Ultimate Avengers, has been pushed back from March until April 15, reports Toon Zone. The move makes way for a Hayao Miyazaki film festival running on the cable channel throughout March.

Ang Lee meets Shang-Chi

Oscar-nominated director Ang Lee reportedly is still producing a movie version of Marvel's Shang-Chi: Master of Kung-Fu with famed Hong Kong fight choreographer and director Woo-ping Yuen slated to direct.

Speakeasy, R.I.P.

Newsarama reports that Speakeasy Comics closed its doors this afternoon. I'll be shocked if this is the last such announcement we see this year. The way I see it, IDW, Dynamite and Devil's Due are the only full-color publishers in the back of the Previews catalog that seem safe.

Behr to be the Man Without Fear?

The rumor mill claims that Jason Behr (Roswell) is up for the role of Daredevil in a possible sequel. I give this rumor a credibility rating of Baron Munchausen.

"Pants of Delight"

OK. I have nothing to add to this story from the Mainichi Daily News:
It's gross, filthy and disgusting, but Japanese erotic manga fans can't get enough of a comic that comes with a pair of pre-school girl's panties as a promotional item, according to Cyzo (March).

Pretty much anything goes in the world of Japanese erotic manga, but "Sekai Hatsu Shiawase Pantsu Shokai Gentei" (World's First Limited Edition Pants of Delight), one of the most wildly popular manga on the market, goes beyond being sickening.

Even Cyzo, a glossy monthly that could kindly be termed as "broad minded" is disgusted, saying "Has the world of Rorikon stooped this low?"

Rorikon, the Japanese word for pedophilia, is a contraction of the borrowed English words "Lolita," after the girl in Vladimir Nabokov's book of the same name, and "complex."

Comic-book movies that time forgot

This is the first of what may become an irregular feature about comic-book movies you've never heard of or might wish to forget.

1973 gave us Baba Yaga, based on Italian cartoonist Guido Crepax's Valentina comics. Also known Kiss Me Kill Me, Baby Yaga was released on DVD by Blue Underground in 2003, a release which includes a Crepax documentary, Freud in Color, and a comics-to-film comparison. Here's Blue Underground's description of the film:

Legendary sex symbol Carroll Baker (BABY DOLL, THE SWEET BODY OF DEBORAH) stars as a mysterious sorceress with an undying hunger for sensual ecstasy and unspeakable torture. But when she casts a spell over a beautiful young fashion photographer (the gorgeous Isabelle De Funes), Milan'’s most luscious models are sucked into a nightmare world of lesbian seduction and shocking sadism. Are these carnal crimes the result of one woman's forbidden fantasies or is this the depraved curse of the devil witch known as BABA YAGA?

I have Baba Yaga in my DVD collection because I have almost every Italian horror/thriller/supernatural film ever made in my DVD collection. But when I last watched Baba Yaga, it was really late at night, and I don't remember much. I do remember that Crepax, or an actor portraying Crepax, appears early in the film and talks about cartooning, discussing in particular the subversive nature of Snoopy and Peanuts. Unfortunately, Movie-Crepax doesn't elaborate on this.

According to the Internet Movie Database, Baba Yaga's director, Corrado Farina, has made only one other film, which may also help explain why I remember so little of the movie. Oh, wait, I remember there being lots of nudity. But then I always remember that.

(See the Baba Yaga movie trailer here. Not work safe. See also DVD Drive-In's review.)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Missing the manga movement

The Patriot-News (Penn.) reports on the popularity of manga. A sidebar story then delves into how comic-book stores have not shared in the manga boom, largely because of their inability to compete with chain bookstores and online retailers. The sidebar quotes The Comics Journal's Dirk Deppey:
Deppy [sic], who derided the U.S. comic industry for failing to capitalize on the success of manga in a recent issue of the Journal, said American comics publishers like Marvel cater to such a niche market that they might have alienated folks who would otherwise frequent their local store.

"American comics went into retirement," he said, "catering more and more to hardcore fans. It's a one-genre medium, and the books have become more arcane."

A (graphic) novel idea

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the trend of novelists and screenwriters turning to writing comic books:
"We get compelling storytelling and a fresh outlook on over 40 years of character continuity," says Ruwan Jayatilleke, director of development at Marvel, in New York. "And obviously we're going for a crossover audience. Increasingly we're seeing these [comic] books collected into graphic novels.

"When you have stories from well-known creative types like Joss Whedon or [sci-fi author] Orson Scott Card, or Reggie Hudlin," he continues, "there's more of a mainstream audience going to Barnes & Noble or Amazon or even discovering their local comic book shop."

Baltimore Sun: Mad about manga

The Baltimore Sun is the latest mainstream newspaper to discover that strange manga stuff all the hip kids are into nowadays:
[Y]oung fans can always get their fix at the library. The Baltimore County Public Library has been adding to its collection and now has more than 2,800 volumes in its branches, 330 different manga titles in all.

"It's definitely one of our highest circulating collections," says Jeff Doane, a librarian in the Towson branch young adult section. "The whole system is suddenly realizing [that manga isn't] a one-hit wonder. These books are read to pieces. That's pretty cool."

The story also cites manga circulation figures from ICv2.com:
[S]ales in the U.S. have more than doubled from $55 million in 2002, according to ICv2. USA Today reported that its 2005 best-selling book list included a number of graphic novel titles, more than triple the number as compared to the year before, and the most popular form was manga. Harlequin Books has started publishing some of its romances in manga form.

Mainstream press on NY Comic-Con

Both USA Today and Publishers Weekly have round-ups of New York Comic-Con. (Second link via The Beat.)

Octavia Butler, R.I.P.

Science Fiction writer Octavia Butler has died. She was 58. According to the Associated Press, Butler, "the first black woman to gain national prominence as a science fiction writer, died after falling and striking her head on the cobbled walkway outside her home, a close friend said Sunday."
Butler began writing at age 10, and told Howle she embraced science fiction after seeing a schlocky B-movie called "Devil Girl from Mars" and thinking, "I can write a better story than that." In 1970, she took a bus from her hometown of Pasadena, Calif., to East Lansing, Mich., to attend a fantasy writers workshop.

Flash, ahh ahhhhhhh!

Defenders of the Earth, the 1980s animated TV series produced by Marvel Productions and featuring King Features Syndicate comic-strip heroes Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, and Lothar (promoted from being Mandrake's sidekick), is reportedly coming to DVD in the near future. BCI Eclipse has the rights.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Oh, She's a Lady

DC Comics' latest iteration of Phantom Lady seems to have all of the, um, essential attributes of her predecessors. The new Phantom Lady is either the third or fourth incarnation of the character, depending on whether you regard Fox's take on the original Sandra Knight version of the Golden Age as a distinct character.

(Artwork via Newsarama.)

Darren McGavin, R.I.P.

Darren McGavin, star of Kolchak: The Night Stalker and A Christmas Story, has died, according to Ain't it Cool News and McGavin's authorized web site. He was 83.

He also starred in two films with Don Knotts, who died late Friday at 81. The films are Hot Lead and Cold Feet and Disney's No Deposit, No Return.

While an ABC television revival of The Night Stalker (starring Stuart Townsend) flopped, McGavin's original Carl Kolchak has found new life in a comics series published by Moonstone Books.

Gaiman is "Eternal"

Neil Gaiman's Eternals miniseries is set to debut in June, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada announced at New York Comic-Con. John Romita Jr. will pencil the miniseries.

Dripping with Venom

Yes, I've seen the Spider-Man 3 publicity photo of the black Spider-Man suit. Yes, it has the fanboys buzzing about a possible Venom appearance. No, I'm not happy about this. But I still have confidence in Sam Raimi not to screw things up.

Taking the Big Apple

The New York Times visits New York Comic-Con. I love how the Times tries to sum up Marvel and DC's latest high-profile projects:
In "Civil War," the heroes are engaging in a debate over whether to register as government operatives; "Infinite Crisis" involves galactic warfare.

Of course, this is the same newspaper that gave us Jayson Blair, so what do you expect?

On the other hand, this is what Marvel and DC get for returning to continuity-heavy crossover "events."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Making Mine Marvel

Lots of interesting tidbits came out of Marvel's panel at New York Comic-Con, according to Newsarama's account. The best news is that there will be a new Doctor Strange miniseries, this time written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Marcos Martin. You can bet Neilalien will be all over this. Also, issue No. 8 of The Thing, written by Dan Slott, promises to be lots of fun, with the newly wealthy Thing hosting a high-stakes poker tournament.

Lastly, we can expect three to five MAX books later this year, none dealing with superheroes. So, Marvel hasn't given up on mature-readers titles yet.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The two Koreas

The Hartford Advocate reviews two graphic novels that offer glimpses into North and South Korea, Pyongyang by Guy Delisle (Drawn & Quarterly) and Buja's Diary by Seyeong O (NBM).

100 Years of Batman

The Portland Mercury reviews Paul Pope's excellent Batman: Year 100 No. 1.

Cylons for a quarter

Dynamite Entertainment's Battlestar Galactica comic will debut with a 25¢ No. 0 issue in May, according to the publisher's press release:
WRITTEN BY GREG (X-MEN, HULK) PAK, ART BY NIGEL RAYNOR, COVER ART BY STEVE (CIVIL WAR) MCNIVEN (50%) AND SIX PHOTO COVER (50%). The wait is over, the new adventures of the crew of the Battlestar Galactica begin here with DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT, writer GREG PAK, and artist NIGEL RAYNOR! Dynamite Entertainment proudly presents their all-new Galactica series with a special #0 issue featuring an original story with a "dynamite cliffhanger" ending that leads into the ongoing series! PAK is an exclusive writer for Marvel Comics, but has carved out this series for DYNAMITE and he's turning out a comic that fans both new and old are going to love. And we're so sure they're going to love it, that this introductory issue is available for just one thin quarter! And what would this issue be without a RED-HOT Photo cover featuring the beautiful Cylon - Number Six! PLUS: A Special preview of Brett Matthews and John Cassaday's Lone Range comic book series from Dynamite will also be included! Future covers by Billy Tan, Michael Turner and more to be announced!


Wonder Woman the sexy subversive

The cryptic teasing of DC's "One Year Later" books continues at Newsarama with writer Allan Heinberg discussing his plans for Wonder Woman. Of course, one comment stands out:
"The Golden Age Wonder Woman's story was originally set in motion by her attraction to Steve Trevor," explained Heinberg. "Her uniform and her sexuality were revolutionary in the 1940's and a huge source of her subversive power at the time. So, inspired by that version of the Wonder Woman, (artist) Terry (Dodson) and I are hoping to bring some of her subversive sexiness to the modern age character and to the book, as well."

Somehow, however, I don't think that means a return to bondage and spankings.


The big geek news out of Hollywood this morning is that Warner Bros. is moving forward on sequels to Batman Begins and Superman Returns, even though the latter has yet to hit theaters and reportedly is one of the most expensive films in Hollywood history. Of course, I'm not sure what the "news" is; didn't we already know sequels were in the works? I sure thought we did.

Marvel beats expectations, but profits down

Marvel Entertainment reported today that fourth-quarter profits fell 14 percent due to a one-time charge (early termination of the licensing agreement with its toy licensee, Toy Biz Worldwide Ltd.), but the company still beat analysts' expectations, as Marvel's fourth-quarter revenue grew 17 percent to $117.1 million from $100.5 million last year. According to the Associated Press, analysts had expected earnings per share of 31 cents on revenue of $112.1 million.

For all of 2005, Marvel posted net income of $102.8 million, or 97 cents per share, down from $124.9 million, or $1.10 per share, in 2004. Revenue fell 24 percent to $390.5 million from $513.5 million. However, Marvel raised expectations for 2006, raising its revenue forecast to $320 million to $350 million, from the previous $270 million to $300 million, and lifted its earnings-per-share projection to 44 cents to 55 cents per share from 37 to 52 cents.

Final "Justice"

The Knoxville News Sentinel's Terry Morrow praises Cartoon Network's Justice League Unlimited, recently reported to be in it's final season.

Good for me, bad for you

Bookslut founder Jessa Crispin defends the double standard of self-publishing. For books, it's a sign of desperation, but for comics, it means heightened credibility.

ABC orders sci-fi anthology series

ABC has ordered four episodes of Masters of Science Fiction, a TV anthology series from the producers of Showtime's Masters of Horror. IDT Entertainment will produce at least six episodes and as many as 13, Sci-Fi Wire reports. IDW Publishing, meanwhile, is publishing the comic-book adaptation of Masters of Horror.

"Ultimate" Toonami

If you're not prepared to plunk down for the DVD, Ultimate Avengers will air during Cartoon Network's Toonami block March 11, reports ICv2.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Marz vs. the Internet

Quoted in the new Wizard magazine, Ron Marz sounds off on the Internet:
Well, there are certain creators who shall remain nameless who spend more time cultivating their Internet personas than they do actually turning in their work. But fans buy into it, so I guess if that floats your boat ... all right.

He also refuses to start his own blog:
[F]rankly, if I'm going to be writing something I'd rather get paid for it.

News in brief

According to Newsarama, brothers Andy and Adam Kubert will be drawing Batman and Action Comics, respectively, beginning with each comic's July issue.

Wizard magazine reports that Allan Heinberg (The O.C., Young Avengers) will write the first four to five issues of DC's relaunched Wonder Woman series.

Darkest before the dawn?

CNN Money senior writer Paul R. La Monica is bullish on Marvel Entertainment in 2007, but the company must get through a slow 2006 first:
Investors are worried about how lousy of a year 2006 is shaping up to be. Revenues are expected to drop 24 percent and earnings are expected to plunge 51 percent.

However, as the company continues to generate more and more of its revenue from lucrative licensing deals and less from its low margin publishing and toy businesses, the company seems primed to bounce back sharply in 2007.

But what about 2008? At present, Spider-Man and maybe Fantastic Four are Marvel's only reliable movie franchises, especially now that X-Men 3 is being billed as the last of that series. Will shareholders be content with the profits generated by direct-to-DVD animated films? Will the live-action hits outnumber the misses? Will Peter Parker get the cash to pay Aunt May's mortgage on time?

Passing up free publicity

This post contains spoilers for the most recent issue of Nightwing...





Given the amount of press that the Black Panther/Storm wedding has generated for Marvel, was DC Comics stupid to keep Nightwing's marriage proposal to Barbara Gordon a secret? I mean, the average man or woman on the street is going to relate to a Robin/Batgirl union a lot more than to the merger of any two Marvel characters.

New network, new Aquaman

Confirming a rumor that's been floating around (pun No. 1), The CW, successor network to the floundering (No. 2) UPN and WB, has thrown back (No. 3) underwear model Will Toale and reeled in (No. 4) soap opera actor Justin Hartley (Passions) for the title role in the Aquaman TV series. Only time and tide (No. 5) will tell if Hartley will sink or swim (No. 6).

A marriage of convenience?

The pending Storm/Black Panther nuptials get play in today's Houston Chronicle: "On the groom's side will be producer/director Reginald Hudlin, who resurrected the Black Panther series in 2005, to describe the action. Giving away the bride will be best-selling novelist Eric Jerome Dickey, who is penning his first comic book."
Maggie Thompson, editor of the monthly Comic Buyer's Guide, says bringing in Hudlin and Dickey to write the series was a smart move.

"They grew up reading these characters and obviously enjoyed these characters, and it's kind of a natural to put them together," Thompson said.

Thompson expects more excitement after the happy couple exchanges vows.

"Hudlin has said, 'My goal is to make people (say) I can't believe you did that,' " Thompson said. "Obviously, that's more than they just get married. In terms of surprise you already know that, so that's not going to be the big pow moment."

Mind you, not everyone is buying the idea that Storm and the Black Panther are a perfect couple. As Paul O'Brien writes:
Indeed, the whole thing seems to be premised on the idea that a marriage between Storm and the Black Panther is inherently plausible simply because... well, they're both African, aren't they? And they must have so much in common, what with Africa being a continent of 840 million people spread across almost twelve million square miles. It's an attitude that suggests a very American way of looking at Africa - not a real place, so much as a source of ethnic identity for Americans. To an extent that sort of attitude isn't a commercial problem, because it's shared by many of the readers they're targeting. But when the characters are slung together as suddenly as this, it can't help but feel like an arbitrary exercise in pairing up the black people.

Eye of the fanboy "Storm"

The Philadelphia Daily News chats with novelist Eric Jerome Dickey, the latest author to make the jump to comics with his upcoming six-issue Storm miniseries for Marvel Comics:
The series follows African Prince T'Challa (the future Black Panther) meeting with Ororo (the future Storm), their unfolding romance and their joining together to fight a mutual enemy.

"I'm like - What issue can I raise? What can I tell about Storm that we don't already know?" Dickey said. "You want something that's different, but you don't want it to ring false.

"Because if I hit a false note all the readers will be like, 'Oh, hell no! Oh, hell no! Go back to writing books! Go back to writing books!' "

But the Daily News doesn't stop there, going on to interview BET head honcho Reggie Hudlin:
But Hudlin isn't just BET's programming chief, he also finds time to write the "Black Panther" comic book for Marvel, and he's brought the Gulf Coast tragedy into that series' storyline (see issue No. 12).

"That's the only comic book story that I know of that's set in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina," he said.

While Hudlin could have settled for making points metaphorically in the story - New Orleans has become a "city of vampires" in Katrina's aftermath - he instead tackles the subject in a very direct way.

"People are really quite shocked... because we just go there," he said.

There are pointed jabs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, racists and wealthy New Orleans residents who believe "the flood has washed away many of our city's undesirables."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"Where are you comin' from, Spider-Man?"

The Best of the Electric Company, a four-disc DVD set containing episodes of the classic PBS children's show, is hitting the shelves. Of note to Graphic Novelties readers, The Electric Company featured the first (I'm 99 percent sure) live-action appearances of Spider-Man, who spoke only via word balloons. Of course, in the Mighty Marvel MannerTM, Marvel Comics released its own Spidey Super Stories comic to tie into the media crossover.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Nerd culture: A boy and his toys

What has Japan's manga culture wrought? The Associated Press reports on 30-something male manga/anime fans who have taken to collecting near-life-size dolls of their favorite cartoon females:
A grown man living in his apartment with two nearly 5-foot-tall dolls--and dozens of smaller figurines--would seem bizarre anywhere. And indeed, Masa keeps his full identity hidden and his curtains drawn to avoid ridicule by outsiders.

But he also is on the cutting edge of a billion-dollar "nerd culture" that has grown so enormous it has taken over an entire neighborhood in Tokyo and is making inroads into the mainstream.

The culture is firmly rooted in Japan's enduring fascination with manga comic books and animation that have won fans and critical acclaim worldwide.

But Masa and others like him--known as otaku--have taken that trend to another level by collecting dolls like Konoha or flocking to cafes staffed by waitresses dressed as comic book maids. They stock Web pages with photos of their dolls posing along country roads or taking a dip in hot-spring baths.

There but for the grace of God....

Superman: "Kind of goofy"

Maisonneuve magazine's Francis Joseph Smith ponders grim-and-gritty superheroes vs. Grant Morrison's Silver Age-style "All-Star" Superman: "Ultimately, he's the kind of guy who decides to call himself 'Superman,' which is to say -- he's kind of goofy."

War Between the Superheroes

Marvel's Civil War miniseries/event makes today's New York Times (free registration required):
"Civil War" provides problems in spades. The story opens with a reckless fight between a novice group of heroes (filming a reality television show) and a cadre of villains. The battle becomes quite literally explosive, killing some of the superheroes and many innocent bystanders. That crystallizes a government movement to register all super-powered beings as living weapons of mass destruction. The subsequent Registration Act will divide the heroes into two camps, one led by Captain America, the other by Iron Man. Along the way, Marvel will unveil its version of Guantanamo Bay, enemy combatants, embedded reporters and more. The question at the heart of the series is a fundamental one: "Would you give up your civil liberties to feel safer in the world?"

Also, the Times reports on Tuesday's release of Ultimate Avengers on DVD.

January by the numbers

ICv2 has released its direct-market sales figures for January. The good news, year-to-date sales of comics and graphic novels are up for January 2005. The bad news, sales for 16 of the top 25 comics fell in January vs. the previous month. Only four titles, all from Marvel Comics, had month-to-month gains. See also: the top 300 comics in sales and the top 100 graphic novels.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

It's all Godzilla's fault

Blame Godzilla. If not for Godzilla, I might never have started reading comic books. Sure, I had already read some Star Wars comic books, and possibly one or two DC Comics treasury editions, but I didn't really get into comics until the late 1970s, and it was all Godzilla's fault.

By the late '70s, I had been exposed to a steady diet of Godzilla movies on Saturday-afternoon television, so I was the target audience for Marvel Comics' licensed Godzilla: King of the Monsters series.

Godzilla was an oddity. While Marvel's other licensed titles were set in worlds all their own, separate from the Marvel Universe, Godzilla was firmly grounded in the MU. Godzilla tangled with SHIELD, the Fantastic Four, the Champions, and the Avengers.

For a newcomer to Marvel's roster of superheroes (apart from Spider-Man and the Hulk, of course), Godzilla was a crash course. Thanks to Godzilla, I quickly became a fan of the Avengers, and Iron Man in particular. From there, things spiraled out of control.

But now you know whom to blame.

Hail to the King, baby!

Bruce Campbell signs my copy of Dark Horse Comics' Man With the Screaming Brain No. 1 in Nashville on Aug. 23, 2005. This terrible photo was taken by a member of the staff at the Barnes & Noble where the signing took place. I am not responsible. For the record, I have lost a lot of weight since then, too.

"Governments should be afraid of their people."

The Toronto Star interviews former Toronto resident Paul Pope about his new DC Comics miniseries, Batman: Year 100, and finds that Pope's libertarian sympathies are at the forefront of this tale of the Dark Knight taking on an oppressive government in the year 2039:

It's Pope's way of commenting on the homeland security policies the US government have put in place in the wake of 9/11.

"The Patriot Act is less fearsome than the media would have you believe, but there are a lot slippery slopes in this burgeoning third world," says Pope. "What I find most alarming is how passively people have (accepted) this encroaching large government."

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Cities would burn

Just imagine, if most Americans were like Islamic extremists, how many riots would have broken out over Rob Liefeld's depiction of Captain America?

Tiny footprints... in my brain!

Speak of the devil, ACTOR is auctioning off lunch with Brad Meltzer at the New York Comic-Con with proceeds to go to ACTOR's efforts to help comic-book creators in need.

I know it's a good cause, but I just know I'd spend the entire lunch thinking about tiny footprints in my brain.

Alas, poor Willie...?

The story about the impending deaths of two members of the Fantastic Four has led to much tongue-in-cheek speculation that one of the FF members to buy the farm will be lovable letter carrier Willie Lumpkin. (Perhaps after Willie "goes postal" and tries to kill the FF with an army of Doombots... wait, that's the kind of story Brad Meltzer would concoct.) But if Willie does die, won't the question be, why does Joe Quesada hate Stan Lee (at left as Willie Lumpkin in the FF movie)?

Fantastic, no; but fun...?

I finally watched Tim Story's Fantastic Four movie. It's not very good. I could go on all day about the script, the special effects, the costumes, the make-up, the bad acting (I'm looking at you, Miss Alba*), and the obvious fact that none of the suits responsible for making this movie had enough confidence in it to film it as the epic adventure it should have been (and still it is one of Marvel's bigger movie hits).

But, damn it, the whole cast of Fantastic Four clearly is having so much fun it's hard not to enjoy the movie, anyway.

* Mind you, looking at Jessica Alba isn't exactly a chore.

Initiate sensor scan

A new trailer (QuickTime format) for director Richard Linklater's is-it-live-or-is-it-animation adaptation of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly has hit the web. Enjoy.

"Phantom" artist speaks

Phantom comic-strip artist Graham Nolan (Detective Comics and Rex Morgan, M.D.) talks with Washington Times columnist Joseph Szadkowski about his comic book/comic strip career.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Peer 2 Prison

Three people, including the owner of a cyber cafe, were arrested in Tokyo on Tuesday on suspicion of violating copyright laws by posting manga online. As The Japan Times reports, "The arrests, the first in Japan related to the online distribution of 'manga,' came after the 'cyberpatrol' unit of Fukuoka Prefectural Police examined the Web site dubbed 464.jp in October. The three are suspected of scanning comic books and storing the data in a computer server in the same building as the Ota Ward cafe so they could be viewed on the Internet."

Still an X-Man

Director Brett Ratner's upcoming X-Men 3 film has found a perhaps unlikely defender, former X-Men director Bryan Singer, who says, "I've known Brett a long time. We're good friends. He's extremely talented. ... I know he's very dedicated to the project, but it's daunting because you're trying to do something you haven't lived with for a number of years. ... My feeling is that it'll probably surprise you and be really, really good."

"Stars and Stripes Forever"

Stars & Stripes, the official U.S. military newspaper, has picked up on the story of Frank Miller's Batman vs. al-Qaida comic, Holy Terror, Batman!

Death be not fantastic

Joe Quesada tells us to expect two members of the Fantastic Four to take a dirt nap, as in "these people actually die," which is a problematic statement given how we're not talking about people at all but characters -- characters at a publisher that is known for resurrecting the dead on about a quarterly basis (e.g., Bucky).

The "Cat" won't come back

Halle Berry promises there will be no sequel to Catwoman. Well, that's one less thing to worry about.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Memo to Marvel

Dear Marvel Comics,

I had to disable part of my computer's firewall in order to get Marvel.com to work properly and download your nifty desktop wallpapers. This is very annoying.



Holy punchline, Batman!

Frank Miller's upcoming Batman story in which Batman goes after al Qaeda has made David Letterman's monologue. The punchline: "So that's Bush's plan!"

Japanese imports

Of course, the mainstream media is still, even at this late date, figuring out manga. Take for example this Washington Post story:

The big-eyed ones walk among us.

Without attracting much mainstream attention, such diverse Japanese 'toons as Astroboy, Puffy AmiYumi and Naruto have infiltrated American culture.

Ah, well.

Manga musings

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the dearth of manga news of late? Is this an indication that the industry has found a happy level, down from its peak but still healthy enough to suggest that fears (hopes?) of a bubble bursting are unfounded? We still must see how the Suncoast/Musicland implosion shakes out, but I think manga is now chugging along at a respectable and sustainable pace.

That's in contrast to superhero comics, which seem to be getting by on an unsustainable glut of fanboy-pleasing "events" and multiple covers. Has DC Comics even had a comic in the past year make Diamond's Top 5 without sporting at least two covers? If so, it's news to me.

First things first

And so I inaugurate this, my third blog and the first devoted exclusively to comic books, graphic novels, and their multi-media spin-offs, with a simple question: Does anyone know what the delay is with Dynamic Forces' American Flagg! hardcover collection? I mean, really. We're approaching Kevin Smith levels of lateness. I'm sure Dynamic Forces has an excuse, but, really, there is no excuse for this nonsense.