Tuesday, August 28, 2007

20 Better Ways for Owen Wilson to Kill Himself

20. Buy a really expensive car and wrap it around a tree.
19. Skydive without a parachute.
18. Run with the bulls.
17. Donkey show.
16. Head to the 20th Century Fox props room, grab the sandwich board that Bruce Willis wore in Die Hard 3 ("I hate niggers"), and take a stroll around Compton.
15. Take a stroll around Compton.
14. Head to, say, Botswana and have unprotected sex with all of its prostitutes.
13. Move into a Penthouse at The Palms in Vegas, run up as much of a gambling debt as humanly possible, and wait for the mob to come and collect, Smokin' Aces-style.
12. Solo piranha-fishing trip down the Amazon.
11. Firing squad in some Central American squalor-country.
10. Go hot-air ballooning with a box of cigars.
9. Tiger pit.
8. Kumite.
7. Climb Everest. And then jump off.
6. Pinch Mike Tyson's ass.
5. Enlist.
4. Home-made matter collider.
3. Fight club.
2. Strapped to the front bumper of the Lord Humongous' post-apocalyptic dune buggy.
1. Shotgun to the face, Cobain-style.

At the very least, all of them are more becoming of a young movie star. And they bespeak a man who lived life as a man. They weren't kidding when they said that the only men left in Hollywood are teenage girls. At least they flame out in entertaining ways. Sad, but entertaining.

Why am I so glib about this? Why don't I respect his wishes to leave him alone so he can cope with his pain? Because fuck him and his pain. What on Earth could have left him so bereft? Did Kate Hudson leave him? C'mon, dude...she's Kate Hudson, what did you expect her to do? Is his career not on track? I can list thousands of character actors who are currently demeaning themselves in new and interesting ways to get on an episode of fucking Reba.

How is his life so hard that there's no making it better? He's handsome and rich. There's nothing you can't get out of by being handsome and rich. Check yourself into resort-rehab. Go on a ridiculous spending spree. Bankroll a shitty movie your brother can direct. Call McConaughey and go on a Texas-boy Winnebago trip. Kill a Tijuana hooker.

Whatever it takes, get over it. Move on. Don't be such a goddamn pussy. If a single mother can leave her studio apartment with bars on the window, drop off her kid with substandard child-care, take a subway two hours to her first job emptying trash cans at a law firm, pull down a night shift at a diner where the regulars think a boob-brush comes with the coffee, and go over her older kid's homework before getting three hours of sleep, and waking up to do it all again—if people can do that without calling it quits...

No, I don't have any sympathy. No, he doesn't know pain.

EDIT: I've been told to add 21. Get into comics.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

We got "Fresh Ink"!

A little love from the G4 network's resident comics doyenne, Blair Butler. (She gets to The Highwaymen #3 right after Black Adam.)


Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Freaks Come Out on the 8:05am

There I was, sitting like a good commuter on the train this morning, listening to my iPod. I've taken to buying stand-up comedy albums and funneling them in there. I've already become bored of the 3,200 songs in my library, and don't want to get so involved as to listen to an audiobook. I prefer my books on papyrus. Rolling papyrus.

So I'm listening to Patton Oswalt's second CD, and he launches into this bit about Robert Evans doing the voiceover for these ESPN radio spots. And each one gets progressively dirtier. This train, mind you, is standing room only. I was lucky enough to get a seat, but I'm crammed in with people right next to me, and people standing above me. No one's talking, as we've all tacitly agreed, even with friends and loved ones, not to speak and instead give our brains time to boot up.

The whole time, I've got my arms crossed, and my fingers pressing on the bridge of my nose, trying to stifle the laughs that are starting to build.

And he gets to this passage, where he describes Loretta Swit's pubic hair as large enough to hide a VCR, and I lose my shit. In the cacophonous silence of that metal tube, the sound of my laughter echoed for what felt like a minute.

Of course, I can't tell anyone what I'm laughing at. Because that would be wrong.

And, apparently, you can't cover that kind of outburst by raising a clenched fist to your mouth and pretending it was a hi-LAR-ious cough.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ain't It Cool News Weighs in

On Monster Attack Network:

This book is a bit of a change from the other books I have read from Ait/Planet Lar, but it shares the same attention to fine storytelling. This drama set in a world where giant monsters attack on a frequent basis was a fun yarn. The blasé way the main characters do battle with these big beasts was thoroughly entertaining to witness. The art is loose and I have to admit, at times, I was a bit at a loss as to what was happening in some of the tighter panels, but when artist Nima Sorat pulls back in the large panels, they are quite a sight to behold. There is a real VENTURE BROTHERS feel to this comic with overly-muscular men and sultry babes battling giant things science and nature shouldn’t have spawned. There’s a lot of fun in between the covers of this book and it’s a welcome change from some of the more serious or fact-based books from Ait/Planet Lar. —Ambush Bug

By the way...

Despite all that highfalutin racio-sequential-art examination of the previous post, I'd have loved to write a totally blaxploitation Black Lightning: Year One book.

If only so I could write the sentence: "Now that's one crazy electric nigger!"

(Which, of course, would never have seen print. But I'd have gotten to write it.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Heroic Creation Myths

Walk with me for a bit.

Bruce Wayne + Asian vacation = Batman
Lamont Cranston + Asian vacation = The Shadow
Stephen Strange + Asian vacation = Doctor Strange

Now, I know that a good deal of this is a by-product of the era (apparently, there was a great deal of cultural fascination with the Far East pre-WWII), as well as some wanton plagiarism (in the same way that Doc Savage was the Man of Bronze and Superman was the Man of Steel). I guess uniqueness wasn't valued all that highly when creating pulp heroes.

And I was almost thinking that white heroes were the only ones with such a firmly encoded origin—but when you look at black or native american heroes, they've got the same ticks.

Jefferson Pierce + ghetto = Black Lightning
Luke Cage + ghetto = Power Man
John Proudstar + reservation + Vietnam = Thunderbird
Forge + reservation + Vietnam = er, Forge

There are, apparently, no black heroes not from the Hood and no Native American heroes not born on a reservation. While those locales can be defining elements, they're not exclusive. John Proudstar couldn't have been from Santa Fe? Luke Cage couldn't have been raised in the rural south? He couldn't have been the child of freedom riders? Sure, you get your odd men out like Black Panther, ruler of an African Kingdom, or Storm, goddess of the African plains, or Blade (wait...a vampire hunter from the ghetto), every now and again, but they're the exceptions, not the rules.

And, jeez, try finding an Asian character not adept in the martial arts (I'll give you Jubilee, find another one). Maybe that's not entirely fair. I've been combing through the Marvel Universe and pretty much every character is "an expert in various forms of martial arts."

Maybe the get-rich scheme inside the Marvel world is to open a friggin' dojo. In the hood.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Some Newsarama MAN love

Check the technique (scroll a bit):

Monster Attack Network Graphic Novel (AiTPlanetLar Reviewed by Tim Janson): Ever wonder who gets to clean up all the damage crated by the giant monsters in those Japanese monster films? Who rebuilds the cities and infrastructure? Well, it’s the Monster Attack Network. This new graphic novel from AiT Planet Lar shows just how the men and women of the Monster Attack Network deal with giant monster attacks. The setting is the South Pacific island of Lapuatu. Nate Klinger is the group’s leader and we first see Nate coming to the aid of residents who are trapped in their building during one of those attacks. All buildings are built to have special escape chutes to be used when some great beast rises out of the pacific to attack the island. For the residents, it’s as if they live in tornado alley…giant monster attacks are just something they live with. The Team gets a new employee, Lana Barnes who Nate suspects has some secrets in her past that she is trying to hide. Funny thing is, ever since Lana, and an unscrupulous land developer have shown up on the island, the monster attacks have increased in their frequency as well as their intensity. Nate smells something bad and it’s not the stench of rotting monster bodies. For fans of Godzilla films and the like, Monster Attack Network is a blast. Loaded with action and sarcastic humor, this is a wildly entertaining book. The dialog is razor sharp and the black and white art by Sorat is lush and expressive. Giant Monsters have not been this fun in a long time!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Everything's Coming Up Redheads

Two more for the casting rondelay:

Lauren Ambrose, and

Megan Fox (who may come off a tad too slutty).

It has, also, been pointed out that in the coif-tech future we're living in, hair color is infinitely malleable. But while this "film" still exists only in our heads, let's keep it pure.

EDIT: Adding Laura Prepon—thanks, Alex!—who was a much hotter Donna as a redhead:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Stupid Lindsey

I wish that Lindsay Lohan wasn't such a goddamned train wreck. Yes, I feel bad and all, and "what a shame that her parents didn't do what parents are supposed to do and keep their children from fucking up their lives."

But, honestly, she'd have made a great Grace Anderson for the inevitable (if I keep saying it, maybe it'll come true) Highwaymen movie. She's young, a redhead, and can actually act. The list of redheads who fit that bill is, sadly, very short. Isla Fisher. Alyson Hannigan.

Who else, because after that I'm drawing a blank?

EDIT: Now that I think about it, Alyson Hannigan is probably too old. Grace is a college student and Ms. Hannigan (Alyson if you're nasty) is around 32. Though, she plays young pretty well. This, I say, as if we're actually casting the movie.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Strange, Hollow Sadness

Found out today that comics artist Mike Wieringo died over the weekend. Massive heart attack, apparently. 44 years old. I've never met the man, but we sorta crossed paths a few years ago, back when we were looking for artists for Monster Attack Network. He was one of the first guys that Larry thought of, and we'd have been thrilled to have him.

If the email he sent back to Larry is any indication, he was a hell of a guy to know:
And so, all that goes to say that I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to work on the MONSTER ISLE project. And I probably wouldn't have had the time, in any case. But I have to say that I'm incredibly flattered that I'm the first person that Marc thought of....! When I get some free time, I'm going to settle down and read the script... I'm sure it's a hoot.
Kept his sketch-a-day blog bookmarked. He was one of those artists I came across that I was hoping to, eventually, get to work with. And to have a drink with.


Friday, August 10, 2007

News Flash: San Diego 2008

The Hyatt, the Marriott, and the Omni hotels are already booked. For an event that's 11 months and two weeks away.

Scored a room at the Hilton...for twice what we paid for our room this year.

Holy crap. We'd better have something to push.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

If they ever make a Stones movie...

this dude (Jemaine Clement, from Flight of the Conchords) should play Mick Jagger.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Girls Next Door

I was at a birthday party over the weekend, held at a home in a chi-chi gated community. This party was for a grown up, so there were no children present. Just lots of booze and white people. (And me.)

At some point, after the very expensive wine was flowing for a while, the DJ threw on a little 50 Cent, "In Da Club." And, to a woman, every thirtysomething suburban housewife there completely lost their shit. Once the choruses of "Go shorty, its your birfday" died down, Akon's "Smack That" came on...and these SUV-driving, brood-ferrying ladies proceeded to spank each other like porn stars.

Power to 'em...I just missed the pop-cultural moment when Caucasian women on the cusp of middle age decided to go buck-wild for hip-hop.

By the time the party was over everyone, and I mean everyone, had been in the pool. With their clothes on. (Yes, including me.)

There's some freaky shit going on behind those gates, I tell you whut.

There's a M.A.N. Stuck in the Pipeline

Augie De Blieck over at Comic Book Resources' Pipeline weighs in:

"Dialogue is important to comics, in much the same way as sound is important to a good movie.

Let's see if I can explain what seems like something that's so obvious. I plugged in the DVD for SAVING PRIVATE RYAN the other night to see how it looked on my relatively new television set. It looked fine, but I didn't feel it. There was something missing that took a lot of the impact away from that harrowing early scene on the beach. It was the sound. Listening to it in stereo as opposed to 5.1 surround sound makes everything feel flat. If you can't hear the bullet buzzing past your ears, then you're not getting the full effect.

In high concept comics, the thrill is in seeing how a crazy idea can be executed. Whether it's pirates stuck in the modern world, or Zombies fighting Robots, or a Robot and an Angel learning life lessons from each other, you're sucked into the comic from an always-farcical sounding pitch. The crazier, the better. The plot is important. The art is important. And the dialogue needs to match that level of energy.

MONSTER ATTACK NETWORK has all of that in spades. The new original graphic novel from AiT/PlanetLar is the story of an organization much like Marvel's Damage Control, entrusted to protect a Pacific island from the monsters the humans cohabitate the island with, and then clean up any of their messes afterwards. The pitch from Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman is killer, the kind of thing to spaek any comic reader's imagination. The art from newcomer Nima Sorat is a true discovery. I know nothing about Sorat, but the art looks like something a fashion design artist might render, complete with wonderful gray tones and a thick brush strokes. There's movement in every panel. While you could make an argument in a couple of spots that some storytelling suffers for it, there's always enough there that you get the gist, can follow the story, and have a good time without stumbling.

On top of it all, though, Bernardin and Freeman didn't skimp on the dialogue. It would have been very easy for them to let the art tell the story and NOT add that extra spark. They didn't. There's great rapid-fire banter and one-liners throughout the book, all without dragging the book down. Characters are best defined by their actions, true, but you can learn a lot about them from dialogue that cleverly expresses their personality as much as their action. The authors never get lost in expository dialogue, or conversations that last too long. Nothing has a chance to overstay its welcome in this book, as it just moves too fast, and that's a good thing. This is an action comic about men fighting monsters. You don't need to weigh it down with expository dialogue. You don't need to deeply explore the monsters' motivations. (You see how well that did for the HULK movie.)

MONSTER ATTACK NETWORK is the best offering from AiT/PlanetLar, I think, in some time. It's snappy, fast-paced, high-concept, and oodles of fun. It's available today for a mere thirteen of your hard earned greenbacks."

Monday, August 06, 2007

Embarrassing Geekery

I left out this story out of my pre-San Diego LA wonderfulness recounting, partly because I'm so damned ashamed of myself. If I had a geek membership card, I'd have to turn it in.

I was meeting my friend Phil* for dinner in Glendale which boasts a terrific little downtown area as well as, according to Phil, the home base to a bevy of Armenian mobsters, all with horrible driving skills. We left said friend's house, drove a couple of blocks to a parking spot—hey, it's LA—and walked to the Tiki-style steakhouse that Phil enticed me with.

As we were walking, Phil points to a storefront. There were a couple of random paperbacks on risers in the window, with drapes concealing the store's interior. The glass doors were blacked out, so we couldn't see inside. "This is one of the last great sci-fi bookstores," Phil tells me. "If you want, we could take a quick walk through." I dig me some sci-fi, and I'm a sucker for buying books I'll probably never get around to reading, so I agree. The ravenous beef hunger can hold for a few minutes.

We open the door and, right there in the vestibule, is a small crowd of people. Maybe 25. And they're looking dead at us, as if we interrupted some cabal meeting. Which, it turns out, we did.

Because right to our left, sitting next to each other at a small folding table facing the crowd with their backs to the windows, was Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen. In case you don't know—and, if you're reading this blog, I'm probably pointing out scripture to the choir—these two gentlemen, the two Rays of sci-fi/fantasy, are responsible for many a warped childhood.

Bradbury is a titan of science fiction literature, having written Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes, etc. And Harryhausen is the stop-motion wizard behind Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, 20 Million Miles to Earth, One Million Years B.C., and so on.

These guys were holding forth, like preachers in the Church of Christ Science Fiction, and we just stumbled into it. Cool, right?

Yeah, but we were hungry. So hungry, we tracked down the manager—who was so jazzed that she had these two legends in her store—and asked her to let us out the back door. Because we didn't want to look like the dicks we so clearly were by walking past the Rays to head back out the front door.

As we walked to the steakhouse, we couldn't even look at each other, the shame was so thick between us. So, whomever is the Secretary of the Geek Society, you can come and collect my membership card whenever you're ready.

* His name has been changed, so as to not tarnish his own good geek reputation.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Bacardi M.A.N.

From The Johnny Bacardi Show:

"Hey, somebody got their Japanese giant monster movie in their romantic comedy! Moonlighting meets Gammera the Invincible and perhaps Marvel's old '80s series Damage Control as we get the adventures of a group of men and women who deal with crises involving oversized behemoths, who tend to level cities at the drop of a hat. We center on Nate Klinger, head of our particular branch, and the new recruit, a gorgeous young lady from the island nation of Lapuatu. They meet cute, fight creatures, bicker, and have a little bit of the old in-out in-out until the frequency of monster attacks causes suspicion to fall on a visiting industrialist...and perhaps even the new recruit as well. A wise man once said, "Creativity is the art of disguising your sources", and while there are many sides to this we've all seen before, they're presented in such a breezy, fast-paced fashion that one is inclined not to care and just go along for the rollercoaster ride. Between this and The Highwaymen, I believe Bernardin and Freeman are looking like rookies of the year as far as giving us entertaining comics so far. Sorat's art reminds, as so many these days seem to, Paul Pope or a looser Becky Cloonan—in fact, he's often too loose and coherence is often sacrificed at the altar of swooshy speed lines and exaggerated anatomy during the course of the story. It's a problem, but not a big one, and I expect him to get better as time goes on. Inoshiro Honda would be proud, I'd bet. A-"

Facing Poker

I have this theory—which, when I told my wife about, shocked her for its uncharacteristic-of-me superstition—about card games. And by card games, I mean Blackjack and Poker. (I don't play anything else. I thought about playing baccarat once, when I was in Monte Carlo, but they kept yelling at me in French, so I beggared off.)

The theory goes something like: There is but one well from which all cards come. And don't pull from the well if you don't have to.

I play online poker every now and again. Never for money, because I know myself and know that that way lies madness and brokeness. Just for fun, because I like poker and don't get to play with real people all that often. I've also got a stupid little poker app on my cell phone, for those times when I'm standing on the long train ride into Manhattan and don't feel like maneuvering a book. Same with blackjack: computer & cell. Whoopie.

Last night, I was invited to play in a poker game; first time with these bunch of guys. All strangers, save the ringleader, who I'd been email-friendly with for a couple of years but never actually met. My wife asked if I'd been practicing in anticipation of the event. And that's when I hit her with my theory. And she hit me with her something that tasted like a mixture of incredulity and scorn.

I won't play fake cards if I'm in the near future hoping to eventually catch real ones. I was going to need all the good hands I could get, and I didn't want to waste them for nothing.

And it paid off. Once you take away my $100 buy-in, I walked away with $1515. Which is the most I've ever won gambling anywhere.

Don't ever laugh at my theory.

(But I am so fucking tired.)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Newsarama Follow Up

In which I respond to JK Parkin's thoughtful, tender questions:

JK: When you look back at San Diego 2007, what memory do you think will stand out more than others? (Besides what you mentioned above, of course …)
MB: Aside from taking a whiz next to the sheriff from Eureka and having Lucy Lawless flip me the bird in front of 6,000 people? It was sitting down at the DC booth for our first signing. DC’s Con wizard Fletcher Chu Fong disappeared into his Bag of Holding and pulled out a couple of cardboard name placards that had our names on ‘em and the Wildstorm logo: “Marc Bernardin. The Highwaymen.” It felt like we weren’t crashing the party anymore…we’d been invited.