Thursday, March 29, 2007

Off to Vegas

Sin City beckons, so I'll continue the tales of me getting my ass handed to me next week. Until then, remember, "Always bet on black!" (And don't bet on Wesley Snipes unless you're up for some serious legal hassles.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My Brief But Illustrious Pugilistic Career, Part One

I have only been in three-and-a-half real fights in my life. (I'll get into the half-a-fight later.) I am, if you can imagine it, a violent but non-confrontational person. I am fine with the idea of physical combat. I like the sensation one gets from hitting something, be it a heavy bag, a running back or, in the days of my youth, the occasional wall. I studied martial arts for a good long while because I wanted to get better at it, to learn it as discipline. And because I found I enjoyed discovering new ways to crush bones. Even if I never used any of it. (But it comes in handy when writing fight scenes...)

But I've never been the type of guy to leave the house seeking conflict. That doesn't play into my personality. In theory, I'm a live and let walk away kind of guy. Never once got into a bar fight. Never intentionally put myself in a position where a physical confrontation was going to be the only way out. (I've been in them, but they weren't my idea.)

All of that said, most of my fights have ended with me getting my ass kicked.

I was in fifth grade, I think. New to Shubert Elementary School in Baldwin, Long Island. My family had just moved to the suburbs from the Bronx. I can't recall exactly how I got in a fight with a sixth grader (not that it would've been an interesting tale—it's not like we were disagreeing over Carter's handling of the Hostage Crisis). But there I was, faced off against a kid who's name I can't even remember, a few feet away from the industrial-strength jungle gym, surrounded by a hundred some-odd kids who wanted to see what the new guy was made of.

The fight went very quickly. He popped me in the nose, starting a little bleed. I summoned all of my martial arts knowledge—accumulated from years of watching bad Stephen J. Cannell action dramas—and executed a spinning roundhouse kick that would've made Michael Knight proud. Of course, Michael Knight wasn't often wearing shitty Jordache sneakers and standing on a patch of loose dirt. My kick didn't make contact with my opponent, but my ass did make contact with the ground.

It's possible that I could've regained my feet and trounced my opponent...if the Elementary School Thunderdome wasn't laughing hysterically. Demoralized, with my snappy white polo shirt covered in red droplets, I slunk away. Luckily, I only lived a half-a-block from school, so I didn't have to slink far.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Conference Ball

The really strange part about this is that the longer you watch it, the more your brain tries to pretend that the balls they're talking about are widgets or something. Anything but actual balls.

'Battlestar' Finale

I can't claim to have loved least not all of it. Dug the Lee stuff on the stand. While completely inappropriate from a legal standpoint, at least it gave that character something to do. Hated Kara coming back.

And while I didn't mind the Cylon reveal at the end, I intensely disliked the "All Along the Watchtower" method. It just didn't feel right that not only do these four people—and only these four—hear this song, but that the song is one from Earth canon. It bothered me. (Here are the rest of my conflicted thoughts on the finale.)

That said, I kinda dug the cover, so I did a little digging into it and came across the site of Battlestar Galactica composer Bear McCreary, who rearranged the tune for the finale. And I came across a noteworthy nugget of information, among his details of the construction of the cover:

"I happened to catch Ron Moore in the hallway at Universal and, in a brief conversation, got everything I needed to know. I learned that the idea was not that Bob Dylan necessarily exists in the characters' universe, but that an artist on one of the colonies may have recorded a song with the exact same melody and lyrics. Perhaps this unknown performer and Dylan pulled inspiration from a common, ethereal source. Therefore, I was told to make no musical references to any 'Earthly' versions, Hendrix, Dylan or any others. The arrangement needed to sound like a pop song that belonged in the Galactica universe, not our own."
Which sheds a little light. For the rest of McCreary's "Watchtower" tale, head on over.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Highwaymen: Solicited!

Here it is, fresh from the DC Comics website:


Written by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman; Art by Lee Garbett; Cover by Brian Stelfreeze

Two men. One drives, the other shoots. In their prime, they were the Highwaymen; a special breed of couriers capable of ferrying anything, anywhere, anytime. But that was long ago. Now Able "Speed" Monroe and Alistair McQueen are a little worse for wear, almost obsolete...until they are called out of retirement and must cross the river of bad blood between them to deliver some very dangerous cargo for a dead President. If only they knew what is was — and why everyone else wants to kill them for it.

(Of course, we've changed his name from Alistair since this went out. But, whatever...)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Black Like Me

When people ask me to describe The Highwaymen, I launch into The Pitch: two guys in the sunset of their lives who used to be the best at what they do are called back into service for One Last Job. And when I describe what's unique about the story, I talk about how, unlike most comic book heroes, they're old. And an underlying theme of the book is one of fighting the gravitation pull of obsolence.

What I almost never mention is that the main character is black.

Maybe its because I think the book is interesting for a whole host of other reasons. Maybe it's because the life I live is a fairly integrated one and it just never occured to me that Able Monroe's race is something of note. And then I read this story in the Toronto Star, which talks about the dearth of black heroes in mainstream comics.

"According to their own figures, the Marvel universe contains more than 5,000 characters, yet even a generous count reveals that only 100 or so of these are black – less than two per cent of their fictional population. This pales in comparison to the nearly 14 per cent that the U.S. Census says makes up American society at present."

I've never been the type of cat who rallies to causes. Or takes part in movements (of the non-bowel variety). And so the fact that 1/2 of The Highwaymen is an older African-American gentleman is not a statement. It's not meant to be a corrective. I don't have a soap-box that I want to get up and stand on. In the story, Able's race is a non-issue. Not that race shouldn't be an issue—I was really impressed with The American Way, by John Ridley and Georges Jeanty, which deals with a Negro hero during the Civil Rights era—but for me, The Highwaymen isn't 48 HRS. It isn't about partners overcoming the racial divide and getting the job done and learning to respect each other. It's about partners getting the job done and finding a place in a world that might've passed them by.

The fact that Able's a black man is just a natural extention of the story I wanted to tell. And isn't that the best way for change to happen, organically?

And I realize that when it comes time to start the PR machine, one of the threads of the Highwaymen quilt that will get tugged on is the fact that I'm a black comics creator, one who put a black man front and center—and on the cover—of a mainstream comic book. Because I'm a mercenary bastard who wants his first book to do as well as it possibly can, I will chocolate-milk it for all its worth.

(Know what? There's a black dude in Monster Attack Network as well, the hero's No. 2. More grist for the mill. He didn't make the cover, though.)

What's that? Ebony magazine on line 2? Be right there.

Larry Young Knows All

Or, at the very least, everything you need to know:

[M]uscle cars are the new zombies. Which were the new pirates. Which were the new ninjas. Which were the new monkeys.

Not that The Highwaymen has pirates, ninjas, zombies, or monkeys—we'll save that for the inevitable ongoing series (and by inevitable, I mean, please let us continue the story)—but it is packed to the gills with a tricked-out '67 Shelby Mustang doing a whole mess of awesome shit.

Maybe if we do another Monster Attack Network book, we'll stick in a few Dodge Challengers, just for good measure.

Night and 'Day'

The trailer for Daywatch, the second in a crazy-ass Russian sci-fi trilogy.

While there is something preponderously silly about 'The Chalk of Fate," that last bit with the car driving along the building is just bat-shit awesome.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Dumb-Ass Press Release of the Week

Here's another winner. Again, not that there aren't outlets that might be interested in the following ridiculousness, but clearly not Entertainment Weekly.

I will say, however, that any class that begins with the students "defining their sugarbush" gets spotted 50 Intriguing points right off the bat...


Educational opportunities for teachers, history buffs and lovers of natural foods

Temperance, Michigan - Bedford Woods Stables is offering the public an opportunity to learn the time-honored tradition of Maple Sugaring and how it got its start over 400 years ago from the Native Americans. While a major focal point of these excursions is to increase people's understanding of the history of maple syrup production and to help them gain an appreciation for this rich heritage that was so ingrained in the lives of the settlers from this region of North America, a great deal of attention is also paid to teaching attendees every aspect of maple syrup gathering and production.

Those attending classes on the "Art of Maple Syrup Production" will learn every aspect of how to make maple syrup starting with defining their "sugarbush", then gathering and processing, and finally packaging their product, doing so through hands-on participation. Students completing this course will receive a certificate, finish with a comprehensive knowledge of the complete maple syrup sugaring process, and be informed enough to actually set up their own maple syrup facility.

Others, attending family-friendly two-hour guided maple syrup tours, will experience an informational excursion consisting of a hayride through the "sugarbush" for tree tapping and sap gathering. Then they will head back to the sugar shack to witness the production of maple syrup, performed in a rustic outdoor setting.

Classes and tours will only be available on weekends during the sugaring season lasting roughly 4 to 6 weeks in spring. Stable owner Steve Sattler expects the season to last until the first and possibly the second weekend in April.

All attendees will leave with an increased appreciation for this historic craft, and with their very own pure maple syrup.

The stable will be providing two-hour tours for ages 4 and up at a cost of $10 per person: Saturdays & Sundays at 10 a.m., 12 noon & 2 p.m.

Maple Syrup Classes will be provided to adults 18 years and older at a cost of $50 per person: Saturdays & Sundays Minimum 12 contact hours total.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Feel the Hate. Love the Hate.

Every week, I write a review of the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica for I do it because I love the show. LOVE. I think many of you already know this. I don't do it because it's fun—while I like writing, I don't especially like writing about an episode that airs Sunday nights at 10pm. When I don't get a review copy (which happens more often than I'd like) it means that I only start writing at 11pm. And trying to digest a show that can be as meaty as BSG that late, and then write 1000 words on it can be taxing. At the very least, it's not easy.

But I do it because I love the show, and want to spread the word.

However, the people that read my reviews and leave comments on them don't seem to understand that I can love Battlestar Galactica and still be critical of it at the same time. And because I point out storytelling problems or conceptual flaws or thin characterization doesn't mean I don't like it, or that I wish I was watching Law & Order or CSI or, as one poster suggested, Blossom.

Love is not thinking a thing or a person is perfect. Love is accepting the imperfections as well as the strengths.

I'm mentioning this here and now because I know than in a month or so, Adam and I will step bravely into the publicity colisseum for The Highwaymen and Monster Attack Network. And then, when those books come out, we'll be subject to the whims of internet fandom. And, judging by some of the people who hit my BSG reviews, the level of discourse out there is a little worrysome.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I Didn't Expect THAT

$70 million opening for 300. I mean, I knew it was gonna be big—trust me, I was the only dude at work who had any sort of faith it was gonna do anything—but I capped it at $30-35 million. $70 million is huge. 300 will probably go on to make $300 million global, if not's got no real like-minded competition until Grindhouse in early April.

I like what it means, how it could play out.

Because it means that you can open a movie for adults, for action junkies, for men, without compromising. Because that's who went, men. 75% of the audience. And that 75% was split evenly between young and old. Sure, there were some changes made to the 300 story to accommodate women—namely, the Queen Gorgo plot—but by and large this was a movie for boys. And we don't get too many of those anymore.

The Hollywood fixation on making the four-quadrant film—young men, old men, young women, old women—pretty much eliminates the possibility of a film making it through the system that targets just the one, especially if that film costs what a blockbuster costs nowadays. You simply don't make a $250 million movie like Spider-Man 3 or Superman Returns or Pirates of the Caribbean 3 unless you aim as widely as possible. But 300 came in at $65 million. You can almost take a risk with that kind of budget.

(Inversely, this should also prove that targeting any one or two of those quadrants could prove financially viable. Why there aren't more movies like Something's Gotta Give or The Holiday is beyond me. Women will also turn out in droves, especially if the weekend is all about blood and Spartans, and you can make those movies for dirt cheap.)

I hope that more studios will step up to the plate, point to a specific point in the bleachers, and swing away.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My Favorite '300' Headline

Which they, in all their wisdom, wouldn't let me use:

A Handful of Spartans is Better Than A Whole Pack of Trojans

I still like it, and wanted to save it for digital posterity.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I Wanna Know What Pluto Did

Not the planet(oid)—he got punished for just being too far away from home and never calling. No, the dog. He musta done something very, very bad that he's been demoted to a second class citizen. Come, walk with me for a while while we talk.

Now, Mickey Mouse is a mouse, as is Minnie. Donald, a duck. Ditto Daisy, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Scrooge McDuck. All animals in the Disney Universe, and all walking upright and wearing clothes.

Then we get to Goofy. He's a dog. Walks, talks, manipulates objects with his hands, capable of complex, if often flawed reasoning. And then there's Pluto. Also a dog, but wearing a collar, spends most of his time on all fours, barking.

In a world of anthropomorphized animals, Pluto is the only pet. He's unique. I can't imagine the natural forces in that Universe that would render only one animal, of all the others, incapable of Higher Functionality, and willing to accept a life of slavery. The only conclusion I can come to is that Pluto is being punished for something. Maybe he sniffed a little too close to the Private Reserve Cheese. Perhaps he tried to put the moves on Minnie. Hell, maybe he's serving time for chipmunk-slaughter.

But he did something, and I wanna know what.

(This is the kind of shit that floats into the head of a ridiculously bored adult when faced with watching the same three episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for six months straight.)