Sunday, December 28, 2008
But it's the end of the year and, as such, time to reflect. And, because I'm an entertainment junkie, naturally I use pop culture as my lens. So, here's the shit that I loved this year:
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. Good God, if you haven't seen this you really should. A fable, to be sure, and an incredibly vibrant and moving one. Danny Boyle is giving Steven Soderbergh a run for his "I'm gonna make a film in every genre and make it well" money.
FALLOUT 3. Thoroughly realized post-apocalyptic setting + excellent role-playing engine = 40 hours happily spent at the Xbox.
CASANOVA. Someday I'll unhinge my comic writing so that it's as follow-your-bliss as Matt Fraction's. At times it feels like Casanova is the man's subconscious idea of what a spy movie ought to be – and that Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba have tapped right into that subconscious. And other times it's just brilliant.
THE DARK KNIGHT. Well, duh.
WALL*E. Just beautiful, heartfelt filmmaking. The purest romance I've seen all year. And that's counting Slumdog.
GRAND THEFT AUTO IV. So what, it's essentially the same open-sandbox crime game as the last three. I don't care. Rockstar does this kind of shooter better than anyone. Their recreation of the New York metropolitan area was scary in its verisimilitude. And fun to blow shit up in.
IRON MAN. Yes, I've got a problem with the second act – in that there isn't really a second act, just a dude working in his garage – but given that Iron Man is just a dude in a suit, Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. made sure that dude was interesting to watch.
DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-A-LONG BLOG. I want to be Joss Whedon's squire. And I had no idea I liked Neil Patrick Harris so much. Go figure.
IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA. Caught up with this show on Hulu. So wrong, in so many ways, that it's right.
FABLES & NORTHLANDERS. Brian Wood made me a believer: Vikings do rock. And Bill Willingham had a plan all along, and watching it play out was a joy to behold. Vertigo can still deliver the goods.
BURN NOTICE. Smart, funny, and educational…if you're looking for an education in pseudo-spycraft. Jeffrey Donovan is perfect as the ex-spook stranded in Miami and looking for a ticket back to the bigs – his off-kilter smile never extends to his eyes.
LEFT 4 DEAD. The multiplayer game of the year. Nothing is as thrilling as rolling through a zombie-occupied burg with three buddies, shooting everything that moves, watching each other's backs, and holding off the Horde while waiting for the chopper to lift all of you to safety.
DEATH RACE. Gives me hope that you can do a basic exploitation flick these days. Simple formula, pulpy execution. Nothing but fun.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
"Much like Larry Hama did with "Spooks Omega Team," WIldstorm wunderkinds Adam Freeman and Marc Bernardin showcase some team dynamics between professionals, all of whom exhibit mental powers. Telekinesis, mental suggestion, precognizance, even taking latent impressions from inanimate objects. In a relatively small amount of space, they're all given some chance to shine. All of which brilliantly sets up the twist at the end, and this is an interesting start to a new project, and yet another home run for Bernardin and Freeman, who are surely showing up as some of the most interesting new voices in comics."
And here's an (edited for space) excerpt from Tom Spurgeon's take on The Comics Reporter:
"I hate saying this, because creating is hard, and people almost always work on things with the best of intentions and with as much integrity as they can muster, but this is almost a parody of a certain kind of adventure story, where the entire world presented bends itself to an inauthentic plot line and demands of the genre as if they were the Holy Scripture made real at a wild-eyed camp meeting.... It's like something a machine might create cutting and pasting from old Caliber comics and grocery store serial adventure novels. I guess it could work as a film because it's certainly a blank slate of comfortable plot elements that someone could make come to life.... But as a comic, particularly a comic for anyone who's read any type of similar work at any time in their lives and doesn't have a bottomless appetite for seeing one more thing working that same tired ground, Push #1 doesn't say a whole lot and what it does it says in a very, very tired voice."
Well, we got tagged. As ever, I'm okay with negative criticism, provided that criticism comes from a well-reasoned, well-argued place. I don't need to agree with it—and, for the record, I think Push is just as good as Mr. Tabu says—but having been a critic, I can respect it. And I won't hide from it.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Flash forward to this past weekend. My wife and four-year-old son, Luc, come back from running some errands. Luc bounds over and says "Daddy, you got a prize."
"Really?" I say. "What'd did I win?"
"No, you got a surprise. Number 56."
Barely stifling my laughter, I say "No, buddy...you're supposed to keep a surprise to yourself."
"A blue 56. On a shirt. For you."
The cutest ruining of a birthday surprise EVER.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
It's the closest we've come to writing company-owned characters—not counting a four-page Lobo story we did for a DC Halloween anthology last year—and, I've gotta say, I'm not in love with it. Can we do it? Sure. But I find myself way more invested in a story when it's a wholly organic creation. It was an interesting exercise, though, but I don't relish the extra work that goes into work-for-hire.
If I'm pitching a creator-owned book, there's one story: the one I want to tell. If the editor doesn't like it, he passes on it, and I move on to the next lucky victim. And if no one bites, the idea goes in a drawer, to be brought out when time passes and either I make it a better pitch with the benefit of fresh eyes, or the person who passed on it is replaced by a fresh editor with regular eyes. But if I'm coming up with springboards for Batman or Spider-Man, I'm doing a lot more work with a lot less opportunity for reward. Plus, that's story generation with only one possible market. And, you know what? I'm a busy guy.
I don't write comics to keep the lights on, or my kids in new shoes. I'm doing it because I love it. I want to love the entire process, from beginning to end. I've got a full-time job in a deadline-oriented business. I've got a family that I want to see—a lot. If I don't love the thing that I'm doing that takes me away from those two, then it's not worth it. And, frankly, I don't love thinking up 10 different stories that have probably already been told in different ways about a character that's been around since WWII. I'm not gonna crack it. Or, if I did, they're not gonna let me do it.
I had an idea a few years ago that centered around Bruce Wayne having a son that he didn't know, or know about. I thought it was a pretty neat way to play a little Count of Monte Cristo in the Batman Universe. I sent it to a guy I knew in the Bat-office. Never heard anything back. And I wasn't surprised. Because would-be freelancers don't get to tell those stories, Grant Morrisons do. And I understand why only dudes like that get to monkey with continuity. Doesn't mean I have to agree with it. Instead, freelancers have to pitch sitcom stories for superheroes: tales that start and end with the characters in the same place they began, both emotion-wise and continuity-wise. "Put the toys back where you found them, in the same condition." I've got nothing against the guys that do that work, and do it well. Power to 'em. But, I'm sorry, that's not the way I want to spend the little free time I've got.
Are there conditions under which I'd consider it? Absolutely. You wanna talk about more than an inventory story that's gonna lie around for years before getting dusted off and slotted in? You wanna talk about examining, evolving, and in some cases, killing the characters? Awesome. Like the man said, sometimes folks just need killing. But I'm not up for spinning the wheels.
So, hey, go buy Push. It was an experiment for us. Not sure how many more experiments like it we'll do, so get it while the getting's good.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
But most of all, I loved the car. That screaming orange 1969 Dodge Charger with the doors welded shut could outrun anything, anytime. It could fly over ravines and barricades. It kicked up rooster tails of dirt even when it was rolling on pavement. I was a model builder when I was a kid, and the General Lee was one of the first cars I ever completed, and I took great pride in the finishing touches: making sure the paint was as smooth as shitty brushes would allow, ensuring that the plastichrome pieces were super-shiny, and using a protractor to get the Confederate flag on the roof perfectly aligned.
It never occurred to me, until very recently, what my parents must have thought of this. My father, an immigrant from the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, and my mother, who was a girl during the Civil Rights era—they must've been appalled that their young black son was infatuated with this show that glorified the very symbol of southern aggression and oppression. That he was playing, every day, with the a toy emblazoned with a flag that had been co-opted as a banner of hate.
But they never said anything. Never a word of discouragement, never a hint of disapproval. They just let me play, knowing that, in time, The Dukes of Hazzard would dim in my estimation, to be replaced by something else just as temporary. And that, someday, I'd learn who General Lee was, what the Civil War was, and why the Dixie flag is such a firestarter.
They never said anything. The strength it must've taken to remain silent, when what I was doing must have bristled against the very core of their being.... They didn't teach hate even though it'd be perfectly understandable if they did. Only a parent can understand that sacrifice in the service of making a better world for their children. A better world that takes root in each small mind.
I thought about that a lot these past couple of days; what it must feel like to finally gaze upon that better world.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
"This will come as no surprise to you, but books based on females, in general, do not do as well as books based on men. Yes, I know we can both come up with exceptions, but it is still a handicap. (And, yes, I know that’s the entire point of this series in particular—I get that. I’m just trying to point out to you what the suits are probably going to say first thing.)
"It feels right now like about four issues, and maybe even only three. Obviously, you could make this five or six or twelve—that’s all implicit but not currently explicit.
"You know, this seems like it’s got the makings of a hell of a slam bang adventure story, with great visuals and lots of attractive and totally kickass, incredibly competent women...but I’m not sure I’m getting Robin’s character arc. Other than proving she’s as capable as any man—which seems to be obvious from the very beginning—where does she grow? I mean, WE know her true worth from the first page, and so does she—so what makes her the protagonist? Or am I misreading it and she’s not actually the protagonist?
"This is a great opening, and absolutely makes me want to see more. I have no doubt the rest of her team are going to turn out to be totally wicked awesome too and very much look forward to you proving me right."
This buddy—who agreed to allow me to publish his comments in exchange for anonymity—has got a point or two. So, let's see if I can work some stuff out.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Okay, that's not entirely true. I never read all of Watchmen. When I first came across it, I was maybe 14 years old. I was a recent convert to DC Comics after years as a pure Marvel-head—Dark Knight Returns opened the door, and I walked right in. And I remember seeing the covers for the single issues on the racks and was totally intrigued. I bought them, read them, and completely didn't understand them. Later, when I picked up the collection—before we started calling them "trades"—I reread it...but skipped the prose/text supplements. At the time, it was not what I wanted in a comic book. Not that I minded reading, you know, typewritten words—I inhaled books at that age—but those textual interludes disrupted my flow.
So I skipped them.
I read the illustrated sections of Watchmen, dug it, and then proceeded to never read it again.
Yesterday, I decided to pick it back up and get the whole cover-to-cover Watchmen experience. (I did the same thing in advance of Fellowship of the Ring coming out—because when I was a kid, I never made it past the dreadfully boring Tom Bombadil stuff. 200 pages of walking and singing is tough for a kid to get through.)
I know I'm preaching to the choir, but...holy shit. No wonder.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
I was at an emergency gathering of the Minority Geek Council over the weekend—the missus was having a Girl's Night In at the house, and I felt the need to be with dudes and holding a virtual fight club—and we started talking about Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Here's sorta* how the conversation went:
ME: You know, I kinda dug it. Especially the Yoda episode. I could go the whole series without seeing Anakin and his Jedi intern.
MARTY: Watching him kick ass is always refreshing. But, I gotta tell you, the Star Wars Universe is starting to make me uncomfortable.
MARTY: Because I don't like hearing that many people referred to as "Master." I mean, I get it, but there are but so many places where the use of that word is acceptible—
ME: Roots, a dominatrix's basement...
MARTY: —and I just wasn't prepared for how many times I'd be hearing "Of course, Master," "You're very wise, Master," "Shall I lower the blast shields, Master?" while watching prime-time television.
ME: Are you saying that Star Wars is a racist enterprise?
MARTY: All I'm saying is that "Master" is going to become part of a whole new generation's vocabulary. And, really, is that a good thing?
MARTY: Now, man up, bitch, or I'm gonna Tekken your ass into a pulp.
*It was a late night, and my memory is a teensy bit fuzzy. Plus, the videogame-induced epilepsy might've set in.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?
BARTLET Well ... let me think. ...We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I’m a little angry.
OBAMA What would you do?
BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!
OBAMA Good to get that off your chest?
BARTLET Am I keeping you from something?
I didn't realize how much I'd missed dear old Josiah...
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Anyway, I was in a restaurant, and the person I was dining with excused herself to hit the head (Why don't women ever refer to the bathroom as the head? For that matter, why the hell am I?). When I checked my email, the one at the top of the queue made me think I was in the middle of some crazy time-travel adventure.
The sender was "Bernardin" and the subject was "Help."
Of course, when I opened the message, it was from my mother, looking for advice on buying my wife a birthday present. But for the briefest of moments, I actually thought I was sending myself messages from the future...and I desperately needed my own assistance.
I read too many comic books.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I was wrong.
See, about a year ago, I wrote a post about potential casting for The Highwaymen movie, and when musing about who'd be good for Grace—our third lead, a young redhead who learns she's more than meets the eye—I ran the following picture of That '70s Show's Laura Prepon:
And that's what drives about 80 percent of my traffic: people Google-searching for pictures of Laura Prepon. (Rhinoplastique shows up right at the top of the second page of the image search.) Nice pic, to be sure. I've got a pretty good eye—maybe I missed my calling as a soft-core photo editor. Or I should turn this blog into a comic-book-adaptation-casting-think-tank, replete with lots of pitchers of well-endowed young women.
So, hey, welcome to the party, redheaded-ex-sitcom-babe fetishists. Hope you stick around to, you know, read. After all, you only need the one hand to scroll.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Okay, after a good long while, I've finally knocked this thing out. This is the same kind of one-sheet we used to sell The Highwaymen and Genius (and a couple of other things I can't talk about yet), so it's worked for me in the past. So, let's see what happens, shall we?
ROBIN BANKS AND THE LIBERATORS
A proposal for a six-issue mini-series
Written by Marc Bernardin
“They say that a person is trapped by their name. That what a man or a woman is called has a quantifiable impact on the future he, or she, can make for himself. My name is Robin Banks. Guess what I do for a living?”
Robinson Banks—named for her father's favorite literary character—is a safecracker. There's not a lock she can't get through; she's got the tools and the talent. But she's fed up working in a field dominated by men…men who, more often than not, spend more time looking at her ass than keeping an eye out for the cops. Her last straw: She's hired by a two-bit meathead for a safe job. She does her thing and gets into a super-tough old safe. Problem: The damned thing is empty. Turns out, they weren’t hired to break into the safe…they were hired to steal it. The contractor is a collector, and this safe is a lovingly restored safe once blown by Butch and Sundance. Can't put a scratch on it. Such is her life: surrounded by idiots who don't pay attention to what matters.
After some quick thinking—a little plastique and a laundry cart does the trick—she gets her payload out, safe and sound. But that's it. Robin tells Manson—the criminal-world version of an executive recruiter—that she's out. She's going out on her own: finding her own jobs and working them with her own crew. A crew made up entirely of women who all share her “slippery morals.” A driver. A pistolera. A demolitionist. And a heartbreaker—who breaks bones pretty good, too.
Of course, her success—she pulls off the Great Train Robbery (by stealing the train) and stealing the Monaco Grand Prix trophy (by winning the race)—doesn't go unpunished for long. Manson puts together a very special crew designed to put Robin and her Liberators out of business. Permanently.
ROBIN BANKS AND THE LIBERATORS is a high-fashion, high-tension, high-camp swinging-'60s book about very pretty girls doing very bad things.
So, there it is. Let's see what happens next.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Here's it is, the first issue, free of charge. Go and read, and tell me what you think.
"You've gotta hate to lose more than you love to win."
Feels like dime-store motivational psychology, but that doesn't mean it's not on the money.
Monday, August 25, 2008
When we unleashed Genius upon an unsuspecting populace we expected it to be a divisive book. It is, after all, about a young woman who kills cops. (Actually, let me clarify: That's not what she does, that's what she's willing to do. There's a difference.) We knew some people would respond to the story and the storytelling, if not the subject matter, just as we knew that some people would hate it, occasionally sight unseen. The first page is a litmus test: If you can get past the splash image of a cop getting his jugular perforated, then maybe you can understand what we were going for. If not, no harm, no foul.
Is she a bad guy? I honestly don't know. As with all things, it depends on your point of view. They always say that every villain is the hero of his or her own story and if we identify with that story, he or she becomes our hero as well. George Washington was a villain to the British. Luke Skywalker was the villain to the Empire.
But even if Destiny Ajaye is a villain, even if she does vile things for reasons known only to her, that doesn't mean her story shouldn't be told. Lest we forget, the entire Star Wars saga tells of the creation, and eventual redemption, of Darth Vader. The villain.
If you don't like Genius, that's fine. Feel free not to like it because you don't dig on the writing, or the art, or the execution. I am secure enough in my own self-worth to weather such criticism—in fact, I welcome it. But I call bullshit if you don't like it because of who Destiny is or what she does (and I've read or listened to more than one review that took that kind of offense). Especially if you're a comics fan.
If you're the kind of person who can read the gazillionth issue of Superman, where Big Blue faces off against the intergalactic despot of the month; if you can read Black Adam, where a genocidal maniac searches for his lost love; if you can read any issue of The Punisher—you know, starring the vigilante who kills, wantonly, and remains the hero of his own book…if you're that guy, or gal, then you don't get to whinge about Genius' content.
For the record, let me be clear about something: I have nothing but respect for police officers. They do a job that I'd never volunteer for. I know more than a few and would trust any of them with my safety, and that of my family. But I'm not blind to the fact that there are some cops who don't live "to protect and serve," just as there are some politicians who take money for votes, some teachers who don't give a shit, some clergymen who molest children, and some firemen who are dicks. They are human beings, and they have their foibles, just like anyone else. To say that they can't serve as antagonists in a story with an inverted protagonist is both narrow-minded and reactionary.
So, hey, vote for Genius if you liked it; or understood what Adam, Afua, and myself were going for; or just want Top Cow to continue publishing comics that aren't afraid to reach for something...and, in so doing, risk failing in the attempt. If you don't want to vote for it, that's fine, too.
But don't withhold your vote because you think the subject is unworthy of consideration. Because, frankly, there is no such thing.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
To give you an idea of how crazy the schedule is, we signed on to do the book a couple of weeks before San Diego. The deadline for the first script...was a couple of weeks before San Diego. We've been working double/triple time to get this thing done—as all six issues need to be out before the movie opens. First two issues ship in November, I think. I can't keep it straight—we're just putting the words on the page.
But the art team on this'n is spectacular. The incomparable Jock is doing the covers (which, if judging by the first issue's, will be all kinds of shades of awesome) and a dude named Bruno Redondo is doing the interiors—and, like our Highwaymen artist Lee Garbett, this guy could work in the States for as long as he wants to.
Friday, August 15, 2008
If I had the power at my fingertips, I'd send in the hot hail.
Yes, he's a great athlete. Yes, he may be the best swimmer in history. If I was on a doomed oceanliner, I'd be Rose to his Jack if he'd freestyle us out of there. (I'd even let him sketch me nude, if he wanted to.)
But he is not, as some dick claimed on The Today Show on Wednesday, The Greatest Athlete in the History of Everything. A) That's a claim impossible to defend, as comparing him to Michael Jordan, Pete Sampras, Tiger Woods, or Muhammad Ali is like deciding who'd win in a fight, Moby Dick or King Kong. B) Despite what I just said, it's still just plain wrong, as there ain't nobody hitting him while he's swimming.
Beyond that, he's not even the greatest Olympian. To me, those who are chosen to represent their countries in the Olympic Games should not only be the best athletes and competitors within the borders of the nations they call home, but they should be the best people—shining examples of what it means to be an American, or a Lithuanian, or a Nigerian.
It's a lot to ask of someone who has spent the better part of his or her life apart from the populace of the country they represent, holed up in gymnasiums, or swimming complexes, or weight rooms training for those brief minutes where they either win or go home. But that is what it means to be an Olympian. And that is why we're so betrayed when they let us down, like Marion Jones or Ben Johnson or most of Germany's female athletes in the '80s.
So, for my money, these two guys will stand forever on the Olympic podiums, speaking volumes without saying a single word:
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Monday, August 04, 2008
As you all know, Adam and I wrote a comic book called Genius, as part of Top Cow's Pilot Season program (you vote for the one-shot issue you like the most, and it goes on to become a series). And the voting is now open, from today through the end of August. So...
- If you liked the book and want to read more about what happens to Destiny and her War...go vote.
- If you like the idea of getting to have a say in the comics you read...go vote.
- If you want to see more diversity on comics pages...go vote.
- If you like watching shit blow up...go vote.
- If you're tired of giant-hyper-mega-global crossovers that require $40 a month just to get the story straight...go vote.
- If you really like internet polls...go vote.
- If you relish rewarding the new, the different, the slightly left-of-center...go vote.
- If you wanna make my mom happy (even though she wasn't thrilled at the profanity)...go vote.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
And then it hit Aint it Cool News, and it just made my friggin' Sunday.
(Oh, and I know they probably won't care, but I decided that I wanna see Nathan Fillion as Nate Klinger. Because A: His name is already Nate, and B: He's the goddamn cat's ass.)
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
"Sorry, you can't go back there."
"No, I work for Entertainment Weekly."
"No press allowed."
"But this is an Entertainment Weekly panel. We're running it."
"No press, sir."
"Entertainment Weekly is right there in the name. Entertainment Weekly Presents The Visionaries. Look, my badge says I work for Entertainment Weekly. I need to get back there."
"Without a backstage badge, I can't let you go."
"This is kind of ridiculous."
"It is what it is. No press."
"I'm not press, now. I'm just a dude who wants to thank Fraction for showing up."
And on it went until our Special Projects Editor—the brave, talented, resourceful, and all-around-awesome Lisa Simpson—saw me trying to use the Force to overpower weak minds and rescued me.
I understand these guys were just doing their jobs, and I'm sure they were besieged by fanboys trying to harvest the sweat from Grant Morrison's head or clone their very own Zack Snyder from stray hairs plucked from his wavy mane, but I'm a big fan of processing information as you get it and deciding upon action based on that information. Clearly, independent thought wasn't on this redshirt's allowed-to-do list. Just one more item for the Cons of Con list.
With that, I'm done.
(Adam has a rundown of the business-y stuff we did over the course of the last week, for those of you interested.)
Sunday, July 27, 2008
That it's great to do the hard work before the show. We had already locked up Push (licensed six-issue series from Wildstorm, out starting this November) before the con even started. Same with with another Top Cow book. And, contracts willing, another mini with a promising upstart publisher. It made for a pressure-free show, comics-wise.
I love funny people. The panel I hosted—in Hall H—might've been a clusterfuck had it not been for Kevin Smith and Judd Apatow. Moderating a single-topic panel (say, for Battlestar Galactica or Ghost Whisperer or Watchmen) isn't easy, but at least everyone on said panel has the work in common. ("Who's the last Cylon?" "How are you dressing up Jennifer Love Hewitt's boobs this year?"). There's only but so much that Frank Miller, Zack Snyder, Kevin Smith, and Judd Apatow have in common besides being awesome. (And I gave serious thought to doing the whole panel like Chris Farley: "Remember that time, in Dark Knight Returns, when Batman beat the snot out of Superman? That was awesome.") So I had to lob a whole mess of general-question softballs over the plate, and hope someone would step up to the plate. Kevin and Judd are fucking sluggers. Zack gets on base more often than not. And Frank's the dude who surprises with a clutch double just when you think he won't.
The secret to getting people to attend your panel is in the name. We were on an AiT/Planetlar panel, hosted by Larry Young. We thought it was gonna be, like, AiT's 2009 lineup—and he asked us to be on it because we had the Disney deal to announce. Instead, Larry called it "So, You Wanna Make a Graphic Novel." And the room was standing room only. Hundreds of people. Because, while people might be mildly interested in the AiT slate, they're overwhelmingly interested in being in the OGN business. And it was an hour of very lively Q&A. Smart man, that Larry.
Liquid courage works. I met a bunch of people this year who've I've long been interested in meeting, and probably wouldn't have without a couple of drinks in me. (Yes, it helps that EW can open a few doors, but still.) Damon Lindelof, Tahmoh Penikett, James Callis, Darwyn Cooke, Josh Friedman, Felicia Day, Javier Grillo-Marxuach (god, I hope I spelled that right), and I reinforced the bond of brotherhood/man-crush with Nathan Fillion. But, damnit, Joss still eludes me. He tasks me, but I will have him.
I am an old man. My hips hurt. I've never said that before. And I didn't even walk the floor until Sunday. Most of my con was going from booth-signing to booth-signing, with off-site meetings tucked in there. And is was staying at the Hilton, right across the street. And my hips are funky, my calves are sore, and my dogs are barking. When did 36 become the new 50? Egads, I sound like Warren. But it's true.
One of these years, and probably soon, I think I'll skip it. It's fun and all, and I really like the people, but if we can continue the trend of locking work up before the show, there will come a time where it's not going to be entirely worth the time away from my family and the roughness of the reentry back into the real world. Plus, I didn't see a single panel that I wasn't involved in either the planning or moderation of. I'm a geek, and I missed 95% of the geek crack. I know there's no way I'll be able to do this show as a pure fan again and, while I'm not saying there aren't some perks to being a pro, I do kind of miss that innocence. The weird thing is that while I'm well aware that I gave some of that innocence up willingly, the show is responsible for some of it vanishing as well. Just five years ago, you could run from a panel in Hall H to something in Ballroom 20, hit something in Room 6A, and then back again, and get seats in all of them. Not any more. Having fun shouldn't be this much work. It is, as they say, what it is.
Oh, and flight-delaying weather systems that strand a fella in an airport for hours suck. I'm just saying.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Genius signing at the Top Cow booth (#2329)
Monster Attack Network signing at the AiT/Planetlar booth (#2001)
Milling around EW's Comic Creators panel (Room 6A)
AiT/Planetlar graphic novel panel (Room 3)
Genius signing at the Top Cow booth (#2329)
Milling around EW's TV Showrunners panel (Room 6CDEF)
Moderating (!) EW's Filmmakers panel (Hall H)
Genius signing at the Top Cow booth (#2329)
Monster Attack Network signing at the AiT/Planetlar booth (#2001)
Friday, July 18, 2008
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
I guess I can sort of understand mountaintops: If you can make it to the top of Everest, then you get a view that only a rare few have ever taken in. But these schmucks that climb the New York Times building in Manhattan? Three guys in six weeks have just up and scaled it's rod-encrusted walls...for what? To get a good look at a city that you can see from any one of a dozen legal observation points?
I went to an event at the Explorers Club Mansion on the Upper East Side last night, primarily to see inside the Explorers Club Mansion. And it was cool, in a "it'd be really neat to throw a small wedding in here" sort of way. But it wasn't, as I expected, like the Batcave, with giant pennies and stuffed T-rexes and glass cases containing Sir Edmund Hillary's climbing gear. (To be fair, there was a stuffed polar bear and a canoe that must've been someplace cool.) There were other floors that were roped off, ostensibly for members only. I guess that's where one finds the super-sweetness, the rooms that look like the headquarters for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
As I left, I grabbed a brochure—really just to prove to myself that I'd been there. And on the last page there's a bit about becoming a member. To do so, one must "demonstrate credible contributions to field research, scientific exploration and educational dissemination of that knowledge."
Where's the "sitting on one's ass thinking up cool ways to blow shit up with lasers while drinking Bass Ale and eating nachos" club?
Oh, right. San Diego.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
"Jolie is a happy distraction from a lot of twaddle (the movie is based on a comic-book series)..."
And I'm sick to death of that, the idea that simply because something is based on a comic means that it inherently is starting from a place of inferiority. What is it going to take for some people to understand that "comic book" is not an adjective, not a paint-brush term with which you can instantly convey juvenalia?
I get that many magazine writers, hell, many mass media professionals got their first exposure to comics, and movies and TV shows based on those comics, when they were uniformly shitty, with the rarest of exceptions. At times, I've had to serve as a watchdog for that knee-jerk application--I made it my mission to make sure that "comic book" wasn't used as an interchangeable stand-in for "silly" or "stupid" or just plain old "bad." And I'd like to think the writers I worked with got on board. But in a day and age when Persepolis, Ghost World, From Hell, V for Vendetta, American Splendor, Spider-Man, and Batman Begins can all emerge as mature films that can stand next to any movie based on the more cognoscienti-friendly novel, it's time for folks to wise up.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
And she needs a crew. Gotta have a crew...what's a thief without a crew? Lonely, that's what. One of the things I'd like to play with is the idea of a woman who's tired of working in the world of men. Or, at least, tired of working for men. It's the '60s, after all, when the ladies were beginning to step out, when Women's Lib was gaining traction.
The first issue of this miniseries would have Robin on a heist that goes badly, for the most part because the men who brought her in on the job didn't pay attention when the details were laid out. And it was compunded by the fact that, during the gig, they were too focussed on her ass instead of the job at hand.
So Robin forms her own crew, a crew that's used to dealing with a female safe-cracker, made of thieves able to do the job without wondering if they're going to get "a job" when it's over. In other words, a crew made up of other women.
(Yes, I realize that it could have a Fox Force Five vibe, and I don't care. Superteams are awesome. Period.)
If Robin is the safe-cracker/lead planner, she'd need a couple of other disciplines to complement her: a driver, a pistolero, an electronics/communications wizard, and a legbreaker. Five beautiful, multiethnic women, all masters of their craft and all dedicated to a life of crime.
They need a name. Sort of like a girl group--this is the 60's, after all. At first I had Robin Banks and the Crackers, but that sounded both racist and salty.
Robin Banks and the Liberators. They "liberate" your hard-earned wealth. And it plays nicely into the Women's Rights theme.
Done. On to the proposal...
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I'm not sure how many of you know this feeling, but I've encountered myself in places I never expected to. I'm a geek, as previously stated. And, as a geek, there are people I'm a fan of, and have been following for years...in some cases, decades. Neil Gaiman, for one. I discovered The Sandman in college--an artist friend was a devotee and all but forced me to read it. And I loved it, much like the rest of the English-speaking world. As time went on, and I got me some internet, I bookmarked Neil's blog/site, and made it one of my daily reads.
Flash forward a few years, and I'm at EW, editing our comics stuff, and I've an occasion to commission a piece on Neil's update of The Eternals. Written by Neil and drawn by John Romita Jr. Sweetness abounded. And Neil and I emailed back and forth a couple of times, got a little friendly, and thus as it ever was. One of the highlights of my professional career is the relatively frequent opportunity to meet people whose work I respect and admire.
Yesterday, I'm looking at his blog, as I do every day, and have the incredibly weird sensation of seeing my own name there.
I don't do this to name drop, or brag, or make it clear that not only do I know Neil Gaiman, but that he knows me. I'm just trying to get across how profoundly odd it is to come across yourself in the incredibly familiar place you still least expect.
Now, hearing Kevin Smith talk about me on SModcast was just fucked-up cool.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Weekly Comic Book Review
And, finally, the top of Comic Book Resources' Buy Pile
The people, they seem to like it. And at the signing we held last Friday at Jim Hanley's Universe, we sold out of their entire shipment of 35 books in the first hour. Afua had to send her boyfriend to Midtown Comics to buy out their stash, and bring it on back—and by 9:00pm, we only had 5 copies left.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
From Ain't It Cool News:
There are some that may be intimidated by the content in this, one of Top Cow’s first issue “Pilot Season” issues. A brilliant military and strategic mind, much like the brainchild of Napoleon, Hannibal, Patton, is born and raised in South Central Los Angeles and starts an uprising against a corrupt system. It’s one of those scenarios that’ll be sure to make suburban white American readers cringe a bit. But this first issue seems to handle this heavy concept with a serious tone and never hams it up for shock value or preachy reasons. I like the imagery as our star genius, Destiny Ajaye, is able to see what’s going to happen three or four moves ahead of her opponents. The art by Afua Richardson is extremely strong here with Cully Hamner/Tony Harris-esque mixes of exaggerated body posturings coupled with minimalistic lines suggesting dynamic shapes and movements. The writing is crisp too, from the guys who brought you MONSTER ATTACK NETWORK; Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman. I haven’t read many of these “Pilot Season” books, and it’s up to the readers to decide which one moves on to become an actual series next year. All I know is that this is a strong candidate. We previewed the book in last Monday’s SHOOT THE MESSENGER Column. Check it out. -Bug
And from Comic Book Resources:
"Every generation has one: Hannibal, Alexander, Washington, Patton. We might just be dealing with the greatest military mind of our time. A genius." That's the paraphrased, PG version of the dialog from Reggie, a detective on the LAPD. The genius is a 17-year-old named Destiny who leads folks in her neighborhood with charisma and a quick pistol-hand.
And therein is the first small issue I have with this book. The main characters are not completely identified for us. Not that I need a flow chart or a program to read this story, but it would certainly help to know who the players are on the field.
The story, regardless of knowing the stats of the players involved, is straightforward and easy to follow. Sometimes, however, it seems to take itself a little too seriously and tries to stress its own seriousness through a liberal use of the f-bomb. Bernardin and Freeman offer a tale that, like all comics, asks you to suspend your disbelief, as an organization of gangs being able to escalate to this point without any notice, concern, or infighting seems almost as credible as a flying man with heat vision. This is comics, after all, so I suppose anything is possible, but I get the notion this story isn't quite complete with this issue.
And it's not. This is the Pilot Season event from Top Cow. "Pilot Season" is Top Cow's annual initiative to attempt to let readers take control and vote on which one shot they'd like to see made into a series the following year. The problem with this story hooking into the Pilot Season initiative is that it's not complete enough to truly leave me wanting more. It reads as an interlude. This story is a clip on the evening news that blows by, never to be revisited again.
Afua Richardson hits the pages with some artwork that is brilliant in spots and rushed or incomplete in others. Some pages are well composed, some are more traditionally composed, and some are experiments that try, but fall short. I'd like to see more of her art, as I appreciate the effort and the talent. I'm just not completely convinced that her arsenal couldn't be a little sharper.
Overall the story feels kind of flat. For an issue that needs to build excitement and generate some buzz, this title just shows up. Sure, it's a new take on an older concept. The art is different than a lot of art on the stands, but nothing in this book really blew me away. I'm sure some folks would enjoy an ongoing featuring Destiny and her efforts to bring her war to those who deserve her righteous fury, but this story just didn't hook me enough.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Genius is a far cry from the futuristic fantasy of Lady Pendragon. The latest Pilot Season book takes place in a modern-day South Central L.A. neighborhood, a place where violence and animosity have long ruled the streets. However, things have changed as of late, with different gangs and rivals coming together and working as one, despite their differences. The reason? Destiny, a short, skinny young woman with the mind of a military genius. Under her tutelage, the residents of the neighborhood have been training for war with their one common enemy: the cops. This war, she believes, is the only way to take back her neighborhood.(I wonder why people think Afua's a he? Needless to say, they wouldn't if they saw her.)
I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of this book the first time through. It took a second read for me to really get into it. It’s not that it’s not a good, well-written story, because it is. Bernardin and Freeman have carefully crafted each line of dialogue and every move in this war for South Central. I just wasn’t sure about Destiny’s message, that the only way for her to makes the streets safe was to kill every police officer who dared come into the area. Sure, the residents are no longer fighting each other, but with the streets still running red with blood, were things really any better?
Of course, that’s the point–like the neighborhood men and women who have been instructed in the ways of military tactics by Destiny, the reader needs to trust her instincts. She’s a girl with a mind like Bobby Fischer and absolutely no formal training. However, she sees how everything is going to play out before it actually happens. That is who she is, and everyone else needs to get on board or get out. By the time I finished reading Genius the second time, I was anxious to find out what was going to happen next.
Richardson’s artwork really stands out as well, largely because of the different perspectives he gives the reader. Different points of view, like through a sniper rifle, from the ground, from a rooftop, make every frame seem unique. Without fantasy elements like magic and dragons, it can be a little harder to make your artwork stand out. Richardson gets the job done, however.
Genius #1 will be on sale tomorrow, June 18, so be sure to check out your local comic shop if you want to see more of Destiny’s war to take back her neighborhood. Man, if the rest of Pilot Season continues like this, it’s going to be really hard to pick favorites!
Monday, June 16, 2008
From the dramatic first page, a Splash panel in which we see a cop being shot, blood flying, you can tell that this is something slightly different. Set in South Central, Los Angeles, Genius is centered around one ‘Destiny Ajaye’. A 17 year old girl, she has united her community with one purpose. War on the LAPD! The police are no longer welcome in her neighbourhood, Destiny has declared Martial Law, HER law!
This is a nice ‘Pilot Episode’ for a series. A simple premise effectively executed, Genius introduces us to the characters quickly, setting up the plot and direction of the story without bogging itself down with unnecessary exposition. Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman are obviously very talented writers, as with seemingly little effort they have made the characters interesting and intriguing. I, for one, would like to know more about them (the characters, that is).
Afua Richardson has a simple, clean art style that I wasn’t sure about to begin with. I initially felt that the comic would have benefited from a darker, grittier look, with a bit more detail. However, as the story progressed Richardson’s style grew on me. It’s a nice contrast between the darker elements of the story and the art, which works quite effectively. The action sequences are particularly good. Richardson manages to give the comic a cinematic feel.
All in all, I would welcome Genius to return as an ongoing series, but I guess that’s down to the voting public. This is a comic as written by Spike Lee, with a little of TV’s The Shield thrown in. Highly enjoyable and a welcome change of pace….Recommended.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
So I decided to set Robin Banks in the mid-1960s. Not only do you get the kind of retro-Bondian tech and people who crack safes using stethoscopes and touch, but you get the terrific mod/deco look.
Did I mention that this would be set in Los Angeles? Because if ever there was a city that thought it was set in the future, it's LA.
Plus, in the '60s, you get the backdrop of the Women's Liberation movement. And given that the heroine is a, you know, heroine, that's really intriguing.
Up next: Robin's posse got velocity.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
But I think it's interesting to have someone "trapped by their name" into a line of work that traditionally falls to the opposite sex. Not that women can't be bank robbers....
Saturday, May 17, 2008
So I've decided to use this, for the time being, as a workblog. I've got an idea for a new comic book—and no more than the idea. And I'm gonna work on it in public, in plain view, so y'all can see what goes into the process. My process, anyway. We'll take it from idea, to proposal, to script, to publisher, to release...or as far as it gets.
(Oh, and lest you think me an idiot, if you check down at the bottom of the sidebar, you'll see the Creative Commons widget down there. This mutha's mine, unless and until I say it ain't.)
Now, on to the idea. Or, rather, the barest hint of an idea. What you're about to read popped into my head as you see it back around when Adam and I were toying with renaming The Highwaymen's Monroe and McQueen. So, this is where we start:
“They say that a person is trapped by their name. That what a man or a woman is called has a quantifiable impact on the future he can make for himself. And I buy that. Like, I honestly don’t believe we’re ever gonna have a president named Tim. Just isn’t gonna happen. And if your name is Crystal, I think you’ll find the rungs on the ladder to corporate success are made of hollow plexiglass and filled with swimming goldfish. Your name is your destiny. My father loved adventure books. Loved. Wouldn’t put ‘em down. That’s why my mother eventually left him. Didn’t deter old man Banks, though. Just kept on reading. Anyway, he named me after his favorite. Robinson. But I’ve always gone by Robin. Robin Banks. Guess what I do for a living?”
Friday, May 16, 2008
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
So, who do we cast? Because that's all part of the pitch: building an image in the pitchee's head of the movie it would be. We've got three main leads, and a villain. Our hero, Nate Klinger, is a four-square tough guy with a sly sense of humor. If this was 20 years ago, you'd want Harrison Ford. Thirty years: Burt Reynolds, or maybe Clint Eastwood. Sadly, we pretty much don't build actors like that any more. But I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that, strangely, we'll find the guy we want overseas. Ewan McGregor could pull it off, but he can read a little slight. Russell Crowe's a hair too old, but could work. Hugh Jackman might fit right in. But the dude I really like? Kevin McKidd, late of Journeyman and Rome. A real solid dude, with on-screen heft, who's face looks like its been hit once or twice. Salt of the Earth.
Now, for our female lead, the sultry, mysterious Lana Barnes. The temptation is to go straight to Rosario Dawson. As the saying goes, I wouldn't kick her out of the movie for eating crackers—and she'd be totally fine—but I like Moon Bloodgood for this one. Exotic without looking weird. Drop-dead gorgeous. And she'll be coming off the new Terminator flick, so maybe she'll have some heat.
Nate Klinger's second-in-command at the ol' Monster Attack Network is Zeke Holder. Big, black, and dapper. (And gay, but not that you'd know it.) Again, there's a knee-jerk desire to see Michael Clarke Duncan here, and he'd be fine. But I'm gonna throw out two more: Common, the rapper who was in Smokin' Aces, shows up in Wanted (I think), and also signed on for the new Terminator movie.
And, go with me on this one, Michael Jordan. When we were explaining how Zeke should come across to Nima Sorat, our artist, we told him to imagine a basketball player in one of those flashy post-game suits. Big, and muscular, but not hulking. Smooth. And Jordan always had charisma coming out of his gilded arse. It'd be surprising, and I think people still have a lot of love for him.
Finally, the villain. We described him as Malcolm McDowell-meets-Donald Trump. But I don't know if that guy really exists. Thinking about it now, it'd be a hoot to get someone like Tom Selleck. Especially after seeing Ted Danson as a baddie on Damages; maybe there's something to taking old friendly TV faces and subverting that perceptional-baggage for evil.
So, is that a cast you'd pay to see...as they run from massive beasties? I would.
Monday, May 05, 2008
And, because this is just how I roll, when it came to vote for Best Limited Series...I rocked a Write-In for The Highwaymen. If you're a professional, and you love me (or would like to be) you'll do the same.
A vote for The Highwaymen is a vote for America!
Friday, May 02, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
I moderated the Battlestar Galactica panel at the New York Comic Con over the weekend. Before me and the cast members I was "grilling"—Tigh (Michael Hogan), Anders (Michael Trucco), and Tory (Rekha Sharma)—went on stage, they asked me if I was nervous. I told them that whatever happened, it couldn't be as uncomfortable as the last time I did this, at the 2007 San Diego Comic Con. And I told them the story I'm about to tell you:
I get into the green room (really, just an inconspicuous, cordoned-off meeting room in the convention center) about 30 minutes before the "Women of Battlestar Galactica" panel was set to start, to meet the cast and to go over the protocol of the panel: how it was supposed to flow, etc. Meeting everyone was perfectly shiny; they were all, to a person, quite nice...and I've already made my feelings for Mary McDonnell known. I sat down to go over my questions one last time (and try not to vomit on anyone), and one of the Sci Fi Channel publicists comes over and says, "Okay, our big surprise for this panel is that we're going to bring out Lucy Lawless—who's returning to the show as D'Anna—mid-way through. How do you think we should do that?"
So I said, "Why don't I ask Tricia Helfer, 'What was it like to share Baltar with another woman?' And then the Other Woman would walk out..."
"Perfect," replies the publicist, and she bounded away to deal with something else, leaving me to stew in my thoughts and try not to look at the crazy-bare-backed dress that Katee Sackhoff was wearing. And continue not vomiting on anyone.
Showtime rolls around, and we all start walking to the San Diego Convention Center's second-biggest ballroom, which holds something like 6,000 people. We're in a loading hallway, all of us like NASA astronauts heading to the Apollo capsule. (Or Spinal Tap.) Just as we get backstage, the publicist runs through the order of the panel one last time: "First, you head out. Intro the clip, then intro the panel. Couple of questions, then 'What was it like to share Baltar with another man,' Lucy comes out, more questions, toss to the crowd for fan questions, wrap it up, drink heavily."
Of course, I corrected her: "What was it like to share him with another woman." "Yeah...duh," she said.
What do you think I said, in front of the 6,000 people sitting in the crowd (and the other 300-400 standing in the aisles)?
So, Tricia, what was it like to share Baltar with another man?
Out comes Lucy, who hugs everyone else on the panel, turns to me, and flips me the middle finger. And I just took it, because there's no coming back from that. You just gotta swallow the faux pas, take your shot to the nuts like a man, and keep on moving. Which I did.
But you never forget your first time...being flipped off by a warrior princess in front of the entire geek nation. (The fact that it lives forever in online-video infamy is just icing on the cake.)