Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Something I Could Never Say No To

I just saw some very good news on this week's All The Rage over at my old stomping grounds, Silver Bullet Comicbooks.

According to guest Rager, John Voulieris, Connor Hawke will be getting his own mini series written by his creator, Chuck Dixon. Connor's stint as Green Arrow remains one of my favourite runs on a comic book ever, and I try to make it a point to pick up any of his appearances if ol' daddy Dixon is writing it. So, as you can probably guess, this is very, very good news for this jaded reader.

The only thing that could make this a monumental event for me is if DiMaggio came out of hiding to draw it as well.

Man, I can't properly put into words how excited I am about this project.


Job Hunting...JSA Style

I'm sure everyone and their dog in the comics blogosphere has linked to or posted this video on their site already but I was cleaning up some bookmarks and figured I may as well join the fray, as it were. The video is a short fan film featuring the maid of steel (or is that might?), Power Girl, and her hilarious search for a day job.

Videos by vMix Member:


Monday, May 29, 2006

Alex Toth (1928-2006)

If you've had an interest in comic books or animation it is more likely than not that you know the name of Alex Toth. A great artist and a brilliant designer, Toth's impact on both fields is enormous. He was a giant. He was one of those guys who made just about everybody's "who are your influences list" and never stopped working. Never stopped moving forward.

I'll admit that I was pretty flabbergasted when I first heard the news yesterday. I mean, I knew that he was just in the hospital and that his health wasn't great, but I guess being the eternal optimist I just assumed he would pull through and be one of the ones who managed to slip by fate unnoticed, squeaking in another handful of years before passing.

This, unfortunately, would not be the case.

This is the official notice from the Toth family, written by Eric Toth (Alex's son), which was posted to the SuperHeroNews newslist:


I am Alex Toth's oldest son Eric. I meant to be the one to let everyone know that my father did pass away this morning drawing/writing at his table. I do not have any further details other than I will forward an address for those interested in sending cards. We will arrange something appropriate at or around the convention this summer in San Diego. As John shared, all of your cards and letters of the recent past were very much appreciated by my father. Only in these last years did he begin to understand and accept the fact that his work had touched so many people's lives. In time, more information will follow.

Thank you.
Eric Toth and family.

I'd like to extend my deepest condolences to the Toth family and to everyone who was touched by the work. Toth will be missed by all of us.

Many other sites, many more qualified than me to be commenting on his work and life, are featuring memorials to Toth's memory. There's a good list of them over at Tom Spurgeon's The Comics Reporter and worth checking out if you want to see just what an impact he made.


Friday, May 26, 2006

New Trailer

The trailer for the new Ghost Rider movie starring Nicolas Cage is finally out. I'm reserving judgment until I can watch it with sound, but I gotta tell you, as a silent collection of images, it's not so engaging.

Seeing the old western Ghost Rider was cool, though. I'm curious to see how that fits in to the story.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Been Busy

I thought it would be a bad idea to let the blog sit for another day without a new post, so I'm going to do a bit of a quickie here.

The only real news this week is my wife convocating. She doesn't really see the need to do the whole walk across the stage but she's going through with it anyways and I'm going to try and finangle my work schedule to be there. As I've said before, I'm really proud of how well she's done and what she's basically accomplished. Graduated with a BA in History, High Honours and now a Masters degree, something nobody on either side of the family has ever done (the Masters degree, that is). I may yet try and give her a run for her money, but that's a whole 'nother post.

And while I'm pointing out what an awesome wife I have...

She couldn't bear to see me living in agony after spotting Homicide Season 3 at a local bookstore for $29.99 and not being able to pick it up. She pretty much took pity on poor me and bought the set as an early father's day present.

I've already started in on the set. I'm three episodes in and enjoying the hell out of the show. I won't dwell on it here and now, but I'll try and post some thoughts on the series when I have some more time.



Thursday, May 18, 2006


Just caught this bit of news over at DVD Times. It appears that the V For Vendetta DVD (special and regular editions) will be hitting the street August 1, 2006. A quick click over to the site will enlighten you as to the Extra Features for both versions (which look decent, but not altogether impressive) and artwork (the 2-disc being pictured to your right in glorious postage stamp size).

I liked this movie quite a bit but I have to admit the overall buzz from its theatrical release has sort of worn off. I may have to go see it again at the local second run theatre before it disappears and see if it brings the magic back in time for the DVD release.


Black Kiss

Jen tells me she wants to go to McNally Robinson, a local bookstore, after my doctor's appointment this morning and I agree despite the discomfort in my foot. As a 'treasure hunter', I always welcome the chance to plumb the bargain shelves of book merchants and music and video stores hoping to find that elusive great deal. Not too long ago I snagged an inexpensive copy of Bronwen Hughes' Stander on just such a trip, not to mention the 2-disc collector's edition of A Series of Unfortunate Events.

While browsing through the section I see a familiar image - a set of blood-red lips on a blindfolded, bare-chested, choker wearing bombshell with a pair of black-gloved arms seductively cupping her breats. Even though you can't see her eyes, there's a look of being in on a joke that the viewer has yet to be told. Alluring, yet dangerous. Across the bottom of the cover in bold but simple type is the equally eye-catching title of the book in matching red, Black Kiss.

This was, admittedly, the last thing I expected to find there, but what a prize. For anyone who is familiar with Howard Chaykin's body of work, BK was a sort of outrageously outrageous send-up, tribute or fuck you (I've never quite decided on which one...knowing Howard, it may be all of the above) to the whole industry (again, to which one, take your pick). A true product of the period it reflects, this story (originally published in 1988 as 12 comics from the fledgling indie company, Vortex) was Howard completely unhindered. If there was any censorship, it came from Chaykin himself, and what he crafted was a perversely fun, pulp fiction noir porno with a twist. And the beauty of the whole thing, as with anything in gross quantities, you're almost totally numbed to the sexuality of the content before you're even half-way through the story. Matt Fraction's review of the book said it perfectly when he stated:
With no fence to keep his id in check, Chaykin's sexual iconography becomes so deliberately well worn by book's end that even the naughtiest of naughty black negligees packs little more erotic punch than a janitor's uniform. The final irony of BLACK KISS is that Chaykin holds his subject matter, medium, and (one presumes) his audience in such contempt that he wont even let them enjoy the fucking in this, his dirty little fuck book. BLACK KISS is poisonous and bitter, an absurdly funny sucker punch demanding to be spat out.

To have the novelty of it stripped away like that and still have a complex and interesting noir story to follow is no mean feat. I don't think many writers/artists this side of the Atlantic would be able to pull it off with such relish.

I never did manage to complete my collection of original floppies, cheap as they tended to be, when I started picking up Chaykin's stuff in the back-issue bins, so this is a real treat to have it all right here, beautifully bound in the perfect cover for only $5.99 Canadian. The thing was so cheap, I wanted to grab another for a spare or to lend out as a reading copy to friends (although one could question how long they would remain your friends after the fact).

As an interesting side note, I hadn't seen any of Chaykin's work in black and white for some time so I was amazed at how similar this stuff looks to much of Frank Miller's output. The cover, and especially the lips, bring to mind images of Sin City when I look at them somewhat askew, and the interior linework has that rough and gritty edge to it that is kind of like Miller's Daredevil stuff. Considering how many times I've seen Miller's artwork in the last few years (much to my chagrin), I'm surprised that I never caught on to how much he's been riffing on Chaykin's stuff all this time. It makes me think that they should have made the on-again-off-again Black Kiss movie fifteen years ago when they had the chance instead of the murky and 'groundbreaking' quagmire that we got a while ago in cinemas.

Shame on you Frank.

For more on BK, check out the Wikipedia entry here.

That reminds me. I should format and post my old Chaykin interview over on Meanwhile..., too.

Anyway, I'm going to head back and watch the strangely watchable Dungeons & Dragons 2: Wrath of the Dragon God (or is that Elemental Might?). I've only got about 40 minutes left and then I can dispose of it, safe in the knowledge that I never paid a cent to watch it or its predecessor.



Tuesday, May 16, 2006

If Adventure Has a Name...

Could there be any news bigger or better right now (don't ask my wife, she'll give you a list as long as my arm, I'm sure)? Lucasarts have unveiled details, screenshots and a trailer for the new Indiana Jones 2007 console game which they claim will revolutionise the way people play, and what they demand of their games.

According to the website, the game will be the "first collaboration of talents and technology between LucasArts and Industrial Light & Magic" and will debut the "revolutionary new euphoria technology from NaturalMotion, which delivers never-before-seen lifelike action and awareness to every character in real time -- so you'll never see the same thing twice." If you get past all the gobbledygook, what this really means for the average joe on the street is that this new game, this next chapter in the continuing adventures of everyone's favourite archaeologist, will probably add up to being whole schwack of unprecedented Indy-riffic fun!

I'm really excited to see what this game looks and plays like. I honestly haven't even watched the trailer yet but the screenshots look very sweet and everything else I've read makes me think this is going to be a home run without exception. Lucasarts puts out 3 or 4 Star Wars games every couple of months, it seems, while original Indy games have numbered in single digits. The award winning Fate of Atlantis was good fun and groundbreaking at the time of its release in 1992 but it took years before we saw another game based on the character and his world. In fact, it was the emergence of Tomb Raider that finally got the Lucasarts brass of their collective duffs. They didn't want to get beat at their own game and went into development on The Infernal Machine, another great game for its time. This was followed by The Emperor's Tomb, taking Indy to China and bringing him fully into the console adventure game world.

Three games in the last 15 years. To paraphrase one of the customers from work last week, "is that any way to run a franchise?"

Anyway, the level of anxiety is building now and I'm likely going to be watching for any new developments or Indy related treats online. I'll also be linking to the official site on the sidebar next time I update the template.

I think I have to mow the lawn, now. Have to give the ol' mower a tune-up and take it out for a spin, so...


What's Next?

I was at my local comic store today after work and I found myself asking James (the guy behind the counter) if he knew anyone who would be interested in maybe drawing a story like Smitten. I was a little surprised with myself since I'd mentioned it, like, last night as a joke in one o fmy posts and never intended to seriously solicit help fropm anyone in specific. Still, I feel like I may have started the ball rolling, to a limited degree, and I'm feeling confident that things will only get more interesting from here on in.

And while I'm on the topic of doing things that I didn't expect to be doing, I'm considering entering NextFest again this year. I really had no intention of doing so, especially since a move this summer would have taken me two or three provinces away from the festival, but now that we're hunkering down for one more year I'm debating on whether or not I want to get embroiled in the whole 'making-a-movie' thing again. I'd be pitching for the DG48 competition which is a 48 hour digital guerilla thing. You have 2 days to shoot and cut your movie using the limited resources provided to you by the festival organisers. It's a manic period with no sleep, but it's not drawn out like the DG14 which was 2 weeks of my life that screwed up 2 months of sleep and eating habits.

The process for the DG48 is to have an original script and idea and pitch the project to a commitee who then decides if it is worth producing. If they agree, you get a green light and 2 days to make the thing. If not, you try again next time. With the DG48 you supply the equipment while they give you a theme, genre and prop which must appear in your film. You then have 2 weeks to write a 7 to 10 minute movie around those elements. Your film is judged on overall quakity and whether or not you implemented the three criteria well.

I have a script that I've been wanting to shoot that would fit well in the DG48 competition. My greatest weak point right now is my utter lack of warm bodies to make it with. I know no actors or crew right now and it's sort of something you have to have in place before you start. Everything else seems to be in order, though, so maybe I'll sniff around and see what I can come up with, regardless. Submission deadline is sometime in June, I think, so who knows, that may be enough time to rally some troops behind me.

Ah well, food for thought, I guess.

I'm gonna head off for bed, now.



Sunday, May 14, 2006

State of the Union

It's been another while since I've posted, so I thought I would do a little bit of catch up.

For starters, there's some good news on the moving front as I alluded to in a previous post. The wife and I have decided to stick it out here for another year in order to shut some things down properly and to get some closure that we maybe wouldn't had we found some way to bolt this summer. This ends up working better for everyone, I think, since it gives me time to find something decent to do and gives Jen time to apply for some grant money and apply to Queens her PHD. I'm actually pretty excited that she's considering going the academic route because it's something she's quite good at. She may not be able to find her keys on a hourly basis, but I know that brain power is being pout to good use elsewhere. I'm really proud that she slogged through the quagmire that has been the last couple of years of our life and managed to finish her Masters with flying colours. Next step for her is to do some publishing, I think, so I hope she finds some opportunities there.

On my end, the job hunt continues. I've got the heads up on a couple of things I may be able to get into but there's nothing for sure yet, so I'm not going to talk about it yet. If any one of them becomes a more solid prospect, I'll back on with a 'Mike-Found-a-Job' post post haste.

I'm still working on the treatment for my Smitten story which is coming along well. It keeps growing beyond its initial outline which is kind of exciting and a little intimidating. The characetrs are becoming more and more real every day, though, so I can't think anything but good things for the new direction.

I'm also thinking of it more in terms of a comic script than a screenplay which is a nice change. Smitten started out as a film script and it took the longest time for me to shake that perception of it. Having it grounded to the page now makes the plotting and staging quite a bit easier for me. There's a better rhythm to it, now. I think when I started conceiving brand-new scenes I moved beyond my preconceived notions of how it was going to play out. My original vision for how flesh-and-blood actors would be handling the lines and drama just doesn't fit with what I have anymore.

As Martha says, "and I think this is good."

There was actually a comic company doing an open call for submissions and I considered putting Smitten in for consideration but I don't have an artist yet so I doubt it would end up going anywhere. No-name talent with a no-name idea and no artist to speak of - no characetr sketches, no panel work, no nothing. Doesn't sound like a winning idea to me just yet.

So, if you're an artist and you're reading this and you like romantic dramadeys, fire me a link or an e-mail and we'll chat.

Yeah, dream on, Mike.

Then again, that's pretty much how Ed Flynn hooked up with Darren Aronofsky for the Pi comic, so...

Anyway, I'm just yammering like an ass now, so I'm going to cut things short. I'm just going to mention that there should be some Giffen-related reviews hitting the Dispatch soon so if you're into that sort of thing, be sure to keep your eyes peeled. Also, whatever you may be doing at the moment, go out and buy yourself (or illegally download, I don't care) some of Yoko Kanno's Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex soundtracks. The stuff is incredible!

And with that, I'm outta here!


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Raising Hell With Our John

If you ignore all the other real life things I did today, it could be said that I spent the day reading Hellblazer comics and reacquainting myself with John Constantine and the creative teams that have been handling him for the last five years.

I've been a Constantine fan for many, many years now but this latest burst of interest started a while back with an urge to see the movie based on the series again. For whatever reason that particular desire was never met despite my owning the damn thing, but what happened in its stead was my taking out a Hellblazer trade collection out of the library to get my fix. I don't recall if it was "Setting Sun" or "Rare Cuts", but whichever it was started a chain reaction that has led me to digging out my old Hellblazer pamphlets and finishing off "Red Sepulchre" and "Good Intentions" (with the latter as a reread) tonight, with "Freezes Over" sitting by my bedside in a holding pattern for when I can next get to it. I'm even considering hunting down other trades or back issues to fill the gaps left when I stopped buying the book monthly.

Most of the stories I read in the last while were drawn by the incomparable Marcelo Frusin, whose Constantine I fell in love with from the first panels of "Good Intentions". Other artists have done the character justice, but there's a strange combination of malevolence and heroism in the way Frusin depicts our John. I also really dig the ensemble he sported during Mike Carey's tenure as writer on the series. The signature trench was almost always there but the tieless, buttonless tops and all black pants and shirts gave John a style on top of his attitude that made him as cool as he is dodgy. Frusin's use of composition and shadows also puts him somewhere in my top 3 artists of the series (the other two being Sean Phillips and...ummm...hmm, I'll have to think about that one a little more).

Tonights reading was courtesy of the aforementioned Mike Carey and American writer, Brian Azzarello. Carey's stuff was just what the doctor ordered with a nice balanced mixture of atmosphere, mysticism and adventure to keep the doldrums at bay. He had all the beats necessary to tell a solid Hellblazer yarn and I can't think of a single issue of his yet that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed (bear in mind I still have only read a quarter or less of Carey's run, mind you). As for Azzarello, his stuff was solid, interesting and moody but slow to unspool. I still like his stuff and I consider his run to be one of the better on the title, but I think I was more in the mood for Carey's John than Azzarello's tonight.

I also snuck in one of Warren Ellis' issues, "Telling Tales", also drawn by Frusin. That went down pretty smooth as well.

Anyway, the whole point of this post was to drop some of my thoughts on the books and sing the praises of Mr. Frusin, which I have, so I'll pop off again into the ether and be back again, hopefully, soon.



Not in the Mood or What I've Been Doing 'Til Now

Man, I have just not been in the mood to hang out on the internet, much less post anything on the ol' blog. I have been keeping busy, however, and not just lying idle like I have been known to do in the past. It's kind of ironic, really. I probably have more to talk and post about right now than I have in months, but the muse is currently on extended leave.

In the meantime, though, I have been recharging my batteries the only way I know how: rest, movies, music, reading and family. I've been putting in a lot of time with all of the above and have been making big plans for the next year with the wife, so don't be surprised if there's a big news on the move post in the near future. I did Free Comics Book Day with the kids and that was a big success. I rented Cromartie High Vol. 1 on DVD and so far my oldest and I are enjoying it. It's also got me in an anime kind of ood because I'm digging up all the stuff I have that I have yet to watch, like GITS: Standalone Complex, Planetes, Lain and I anticipate that I'll be dusting off the Champloo, the Wolf's Rain and possibly even the golden goose itself, Cowboy Bebop.

I've recently taken an interest in Lemony Snickets' Series of Unfortunate Events books after seeing the underrated film starring Jim Carey and some very talented young actors. I've also started in on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with my kids, which is kind of exciting. They're really enjoying the Narnia series so far and are looking forward to seeing the movie when we finish the book (too bad it's only on DVD and not in theatres, thoguh).

I've read Frank Miller's 300, which I mention here because I want to post about it later, as well as Meanwhile... favourite Stefan Petrucha's second Nancy Drew book, "Writ in Stone". I also finished Cromartie High School Vol.2 (the manga, that is) which tickled the ol' funny bone in ways I didn't expect it to.

There's a new Superman Returns trailer which I think everyone should see, so click on through and feel free to come back and share the love.

And lastly, this clip off of SpikedHumour.com made me laugh for its clever concept and fun ending. I should search around and find out what show this came off of originally. Nick Frost appears at the end and it's got my curiosity up.

Anyway, that's it for tonight. I'm going to finish disc 2 of GITS: SAC and go to bed. Got work tomorrow, y'know.



Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Addicted to the AvocadoLite

I was reading some of Andi Watson's posts over at his LiveJournal the other day where he mentioned becoming addicted to this game called Farm Hustle. I decided to check it out (being a fan of Watson's work I figured what he found interesting I may find interesting) and found myself in much the same predicament. The mindlessly repetitive and simple matching tile game has completely subverted me.

As of this writing, I have achieved level four and continue to play because I find it strangely soothing. It's like, with everything else going screwy in my life around me, this bit of internet fun is something I can focus on and keep my bearings. A tether, I suppose. Or maybe it's just a time killer.

"Farm Hustle is the time-killer."

Sorry. I've been reading Dune related stuff and I couldn't help myself. I probably should have used that for the title.

Anyway, off to play some FH.


Update: Make that level 07. Woot!