Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No Time Toulousse

Internet's down, been busy like a beaver and haven't had much time to come on and post, hence my tardiness in getting anything new up on the blog. I'm posting from work right now while I watch the phones for the receptionist. If things slow down here I might sneak a quickie post in a bit later.

Until then...


Update: Holy crap! The good news is that the car business is looking good for me right now. The bad news is that I haven't been able to stop for a second today. On top of being the secondary scab receptionist whenever the primary scab receptionist has to leave, I have calls and appointments coming in up the wazoo. Probably means that I'm going to be busy tomorrow, too. Like I said, good news and bad news.

This month I did three times what I sold last month, hopefully this is a sign of what to expect from month three. The goal is to always do a little better than the last time, right?



Saturday, July 22, 2006

Stargate in the News

Not only has MGM's Stargate SG-1 started its record breaking 10th season on the SciFi Network (beating out The X-Files to be the longest running science-fiction series in America) but there's been some fresh news out of the San Diego Comic Con that bears repeating for fans of the original film and the show.

According to Dean Devlin has signed a multi-picture deal with MGM and would like to make two sequels to the original Stargate, completing his mythological space saga the way he and co-creator Roland Emmerich had always intended to. Apparently, like every other filmmaker since Lucas 'pre-planned' the whole Star Wars saga, they originally envisioned the Stargate story to be a trilogy taking a good, long, Conradian look at mythology and its origins and how they all tie in together through the Stargate.

Could be interesting, could be the next Matrix sequels.

On the plus side, Devlin admitted that the Stargate SG-1 series is an international success and commented on how the third Stargate film would ideally end where the series takes off with its first episode/telefilm, "Children of the Gods". Considering he's also stated 'on the record' (through the wonders of DVD commentary on the special edition of Stargate) that he thinks the show is total crap, I'm kind of enjoying the about face.



Friday, July 21, 2006

Frank Miller to Adapt The Spirit

I honestly don't know how to feel about this news courtesy of SciFi Wire regarding the upcoming Spirit film. I was somehow more comfortable having Jeph Loeb behind the wheel. I'm not a huge fan of either creator's ouvre but between the two Miller is definitely the unfavourite, as far as I'm concerned.

On the plus side, I know Frank has an absolute reverence for the work and knew Eisner for years, so maybe it won't be a complete disaster. Still, I can't shake the nightmare image of Denny Colt flying through a twisted, grim and gritty Millerian cityscape spouting poorly cribbed Dashiel Hammett dialogue and calling The Octopus 'Punk'.


Only time will tell, I guess.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Putting the Screws to Bryan Fuller

There's a not-too-shabby interview with Bryan Fuller over at Newsarama regarding his recent adaptation of Mike Mignola's absurdist comic book, The Amazing Screw-On Head.

There were some interesting comments made by Fuller - like when he said Mignola probably hasn't even seen the pilot yet - which was enough to whet my appetite, but it reads like a tweaked e-mail interview since the interviewer never follows up on the juicy bits that Fuller gives him.

I've been there so I'm not trashing the guy, just pointing out the missed opportunity. I mean, my only history with Fuller was giving him a call-in question during a web conference when the Wonderfalls DVD hit the market, so...

Anyways, if you're a fan of uller or Mignola it's worth checking out.



Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Toth Tribute?

As some of you may know I am in the process of interviewing Jeff Parker and John Hitchcock regarding the upcoming Toth sketchbook, Dear John: The Alex Toth Doodle Book. While doing so it has occurred to me that it might be an interesting idea to create some sort of tribute to Toth, much in the same way that I created a tribute to Will Eisner a handful of years ago. Really, it sort of occurred to me because of a comment Chcuk Dixon made to me via e-mail when I was soliciting tributes from various comic creators for the event. He said that while he recognised Will's contributions to the medium, he was more of a Toth fan and that if I ever did a tribute for him he would, I believe the words were, sing me an opera (don't quote me on that).

Anyway, those two things, combined with my eternal regret that I never interviewed the man himself, sort of mixed and jumbled in my head until they congealed into a 'sort of plan' as to how I could do it. I wanted to stay away from anything that would take too much time web-wise, so I would probably stick to the format of my Eisner tribute and fill-in-the-blanks, so to speak. I could send out a handful of e-mails again and get some more industry tributes and if I could think of one other thing (on top of the Parker/Hitchcock Dear John interviews), I would have myself a decent little presentation I could post over at Meanwhile....

Release it all to coincide with the release of the book from Octopus Press and I have myself a mini-event.

I also kind of like the idea of having two of my favourite comic book legends represented like that on my website.

Man, I think I'm starting to talk myself into it.

I'd be curious to hear if anyone would be interested in seeing this happen.



Superman Returns Redux

Just saw Superman Returns again with the wife tonight. She hadn't seen it yet and since the kids were gone we decided to go out on the town, so to speak, and hit a movie after I was done work. She thought it was pretty good (although I don't think anything will capture her heart quite like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest this summer) and I enjoyed it even though I was going in predisposed to finding something wrong with it. I walked away from it the first time absolutely spellbound but after reading so much criticism of it online and in the blogosphere I figured it was my duty as a critic, a blogger and a Superman fan to put the film under greater scrutiny.

Sorry to say, I'm even happier with it now than before having now, officially, accepted Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane and embracing Frank Langella as Perry White (looking back on it now I don't think Hugh Laurie would have made as good a Perry as Langella). I noticed little nods to continuity and Superman fandom that I hadn't before (like the ripped page in the encyclopedia) and appreciated the iconography a little more than the first time.

Since getting home I decided, freak of nature that I am, to read the DC Comics prequels that they published just before the film's release. They didn't look like anything special on the shelf and I largely ignored them because it's pretty rare that anything of any value ever comes of these adaptations and tie-ins. Still, the buzz was strong and they were just sitting there so...

The first issue was essentially a primer for folks who maybe don't own the DVD of the 1978 Donner film. It's all scenes cribbed from that movie's first 20 minutes and operates under the pretense that it is setting you up for watching the new film by giving you the critical backstory. Aside form some really nice Ariel Olivetti artwork, this inaugural issue was largely a waste of time.

The second prequel dealt with Ma Kent - how she's coping with Clark being gone, what she does with her time now and showing us some more backstory through flashbacks to the Donner film, bits of deleted material from the new movie and stuff that I believe the writer, Marc Andreyko, made up from whole cloth. It's readable and even enjoyable in some parts, and the artwork by Kerschl is very nice to look at. While reading this story will do little to enhance your viewing experience of Superman Returns, it's a pleasant digression or sidebar that fills in a few of the gaps left by the filmmakers.

I was looking forward to seeing Luthor take the stage for the third prquel issue, especially since there's a lot of stuff that we didn't get to see in the film (like the fact that Luthor planted the info that Krypton may still be there sending Supes off on a 5 year journey), but instead we get an absolutely gastly comic book and story that loosely fits the continuity of both Donner's film and Singer's. The art by Leonardi was lacking and there wasn't really much there to latch onto as a reader. Maybe there's a Luthor fan out there who thinks the book rocks, but I have to give it a big thumbs down.

As for the fourth one...I don't seem to have it. I was sure I did but I can't find it anywhere at the oent so I'm going to hold off on the Lois Lane issue. I'm not holding out high hopes for it, but you never know. Regardless, I'm going to go and get some shut-eye and try again tomorrow.



Saturday, July 15, 2006

Screw It On!

I have been waiting about 24 hours to be around a comp[uter long enouogh to post about THIS. The Sci-Fi Network is, in their infinite wisdom, previewing Bryan Fuller and Mike Mignola's animated The Amazing Screw-On Head pilot on their website for all to see long before it actually hits the airwaves. All they ask is that you fill out a viewer survey. Doesn't sound too bad to me.

I haven't had a chance to watch it just yet, but I'm planning on heading over soon. I'm a big fan of Bryan Fuller's from his Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls days, and Mignola's Screw-On Head is one of my all-time favourite single issue storylines ever. I can't help but think that combining the two of them can only lead to more fun than should be had on TV.

So, of course, you realise, this will be cancelled.

But until then, click through on the text link or on the image and go check it out for yourselves.



Friday, July 14, 2006

Chuck Jones: Conversations

Okay. Amidst everything I'm supposed to be doing and everything that I'm actually doing, I've managed to get a bit of reading in. In the case of reading Conversations, I think I managed to do the bulk of it at work during a dry spell where the options were to either stand around and talk, throw a tennis ball into a garbage can for cans of pop or sit at my desk and read something I find really interesting. I would have dealy with customers if we had any, but alas...

Anyway, the book was really quite good. As many of you know, I'm an interviewer myself so I'm usually drawn to interview books. Sometimes it's the subject that interests me and sometimes I'm looking at other writer's techniques, but there's usually a format and way about them that I seem to like over your usual biography or historical text.

Conversations was a collection of interviews with animation director Chuck Jones from 1968 to 1999. From right around the time that he was being discovered by the critical establishment to his triumphant return as an animation director. Having read Chuck Amuck, his semi-autobiography, a lot of what he said to the respective interviewers was not anything that I had not already heard or read from him before. In fact, many of the stories were told just the same way in 1968 as they were in 1999, but they never became boring or trite. But with each retelling or each new interview there was always something to take away that added to the overall tapestry that is Jones' career and life.

The interviews cover a goodly chunk of Jones' career so you get to hear some of his thoughts on the occasional new project (somethihng you don't get too often) as well as the odd project that never made it out of the starting gate (one of the first interviews is with Jones and Bradbury who were to collaborate on a Halloween feature together), but most of the interviewers seem only interested in focusing on his Warner Bros. output. Definitely stuff I wanted to read and hear, but I was hoping for something that showed a more personal touch - an interview that dug a bit deeper than the usual "where did the Coyote come from?" question.

The closest the book came to something like that was the final interview which, I guess, was literally saving the best for last. Ron Barbagallo's unpublished interview was a treat to read. He was well informed, had clearly done his research and wasn't wasting his time with tired old inquiries. And to Chuck's credit, he was clearly in a good and talkative mood and freely discussed every question Ron had to ask. This is, by far, my favourite of the book and was a great one to go out on. You always want to leave them satisfied but wanting more, right?

If you're a fan of animation, Chuck Jones or interview books in general, I would seriously recommend checking this book out. It's not a really long read but it's an entertaining one, and if there's one thing Chuck can do it's keep a reader's attention for a couple of hundred pages - I'll guarantee you that.

On a bit of a side note, I've since moved on to reading Gerard Jones' Men of Tomorrow which is wonderfully entertaining but slow going as a result of the car business getting a bit of a boom at the dealership. I'm looking forward to talking about that one here when I make some more headway on it.

And with that...


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Busy Beaver

Just popping on to get a post in before I become too delinquent with the blog entries. I'll try and post something from work today but I can't guarantee anything.

And by the way, if you haven't seen Dead Man's Chest go to it. Very fun, very entertaining. I was really impressed and can't wait for the third, and final installment, now.



Saturday, July 08, 2006

TWW Officially on Life Support

So, like I said, the wife and I were going to give disc 2 a try and try we did. Last night we watched episodes 5 and 6 from Season 5, titled 'A Constituency of One' and 'Disaster Relief' respectively.

Eli Attie, a name I recognise from earlier seasons was the writer of 'Constituency' which featured some, but not all, of the things I listed in my previous post as having gone AWOL from the show. It was comforting to see the walk-and-talk back and the characters were behaving more 'on model', to borrow an animation term for a moment.

I still believe, however, that CJ hasn't said or done anything of any merit since before her trip back home episode in Season 4 (which was under Sorkin's supervision, so I'm not pointing fingers) and I forecast that things are only going to go downhill for her character from here. My wife claims she received an Emmy for this season. Probably since she was allowed to act up and yell at the president and tackle 'real' issues for a change, something her character really shouldn't be doing, in my opinion. There were other more interesting places they could have gone with Janney's character. This wasn't one of them.

Seeing Josh take one on the ego after losing a member of the party to the Republicans was a nice touch. Seeing Will take a new job for the VP was interesting. Seeing Toby go to bat for 'the message' and be slammed down by Leo was, not my favourite thing in the world, but a logical and interesting way to go with the character. Seeing Leo running things while the President remains lost and unable to give leadership is a little lame, but provides a new dynamic which gives them some opportunities to play as long as it doesn't drag on too long.

Something I don't believe it will since the next eisode, 'Disaster Relief' (a fitting name, all things considered), went a long way to letting some of the pressure out of those tires. It pretty much looks like Bartlett will become Mr. President, leader of the free world again by the end of the disc so our hope is renewed, at least temporarily.

That's not to say the show has been given any kind of a free pass, just a reprieve. The life support has been switched on and things have stabilized, but the plug can be pulled any day.

On an unrelated note, I'm reading a great collection of interviews with animation director, Chuck Jones, which I want to post about soon so if you're an old Warner Bros. cartoon fan, you may want to check that out.



Thursday, July 06, 2006

West Wing Season 5 - DOA

So, after burning through 4 seasons of The West Wing on DVD the wife and I sat down to watch disc 1 of season 5 with some trepidation. We knew that Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme were gone. We knew that John Wells had taken over and was left with a relatively lame cliffhanger to resolve (TWW was never really good at doing the season openers and closers). We knew that weird things were going to develop in future seasons (we caught little bits here and there and saw CJ as the Chief of Staff) so, overall, we were cautious but going into it with an open mind.

What we discovered? Many of the show's trademarks were gone. The snappy dialogue, the exposition on the run, the constant running off of statistical information and the strong women characters had all gone into hiding for some reason. In their place we saw verité style camera work, soap opera shenanigans, a greater emphasis on character's personal relationships, Toby wandering around looking lost, Will also wandering around and looking lost and more Martin Sheen in one episode than I remember seeing in all of the first four seasons. Oh, and CJ just walking in on the president to get the Cosby Show summation of events in the season's 4th episode, 'Han'. In any of the previous 4 seasons, you'd have to get through secret service agents, Charlie or either of the president's secretaries before you could actually go in and have an audience with him.

We're going to try disc 2 and see what the next four episodes hold for the show, but we're not holding out any hope for it. It's starting to look like a Gilmore Girls style washout for TWW proving all those 'the show was better than ever' reviews on Amazon wrong.

And if you're going to jump in and say, 'Oh, but you just don't like change', remember that I actually really liked the last three seasons of The X-Files.



Monday, July 03, 2006

Superman Adventures

After watching a couple of discs worth of the Superman animated series I decided to hit the ol' bookshelf and drag out the first trade collection of the comic book based on the series.

I originally bought the book for my son (having already purchased all the individual issues and finding it for a steal in a bargain bin somewhere) only to rescue it several days later, stashing it with my books until he gets a little older. I like to give him comics buy he mostly just looks at the pictures and tears pages out or covers off and then throws them in a corner when he's done with them. Yeah, I'm hoping that changes as he gets older.

But anyway, I digress.

I dragged out the trade because I remembered really enjoying the stories the first few times around. The first issue was written by Paul Dini and was a direct follow-up to the pilot movie, 'Last Son of Krypton'. It kind of featured the aftermath of Superman's batle with Metallo and Luthor's desire to measure the abilities of his newfound nemesis. It syncs up beautifully with the show and is a great introduction to the the next 5 issues which were penned by none other than Scott McCloud.

McCloud may have been an uncharacteristic choice in the minds of some, but if you think of what he was doing before Understanding Comics and becoming the poster boy for the comic book intelligentsia (mainly his Zot! series which was great fun) it's really not that much of a stretch. In fact, the first year of Superman Adventures was probably better than the first year of Batman Adventures (apologies to Kelly Puckett) and definitely the best Superman stories being published at the time. I didn't follow it very closely after McCloud left, but for thirteen glorious issues I had the Superman that I had always wanted to read.

I should also mention the artwork by Rick Burchett which, if you're familiar with his work, is one of the go-to guys when you have one of these animated books to do. His ability to work in the animated style as well as his storytelling skills are top-notch. Actually, his regular comics are pretty fantastic, too. If you've never tried a book by Burchett, go do it now.

Another neat aspect of the monthly was the use of actual series backgrounds on the covers. Burchett would do characters and any objects that were important to the overall 'story' of the cover image, and that would be put over top of one of the Metropolis backgrounds painted for the television show. It was a neat effect and a nice tip of the hat from one medium to the other, kind of saying, you're not the red-headed stepchild of the family, you know?

You can click on and enlarge the images if you wanna get a peek at what I'm talking about.

Anyway, I'm just about to start the fourth issue (a cool Superman's mass is getting out of control story) and thought I should post about the fact that I've dusted them off, maybe turn someone else onto them. Spread the fun, if you will.



Sunday, July 02, 2006

White Limousine Remixes

It's been a while since I've checked in on Duncan Sheik's website and blog so I swung by today to see what was new and discovered this nifty little site dedicated to fan remixes of Duncan's latest album, White Limousine.

When Sheik released Limousine there were two discs in the case - one labelled 'Mine' and one labelled 'Yours'. The 'Mine' disc was the album, there for you to listen to and copy and post on the internet like all the kids are doing these days. The 'Yours' disc had all the individual tracks for each song so that you could mix and remix the songs in whatever form or order you wished. Thus was created as a dump point for these fan remixes. A place to upload your personalized versions of White Limousine tracks and make them available for everyone else to hear.

If you like Duncan, and/or the latest album, go check it out. You might liike some of the work being done.



Cobble Me This

Man, it occurs to me occasionally that were I not to stay up all hours of the night watching cartoons, surfing the internet and reading I may not ever run across things like this:

For anyone who knows anything about Richard Williams or his masterpiece (magnum opus?), you know what I'm talkin' about. For those of you who don't, check out this blog post from one of my new favourite web destinations, Cartoon Brew.

If you do go and visit the site, browse around for a bit. There's more cool stuff to read and see there than just the Thief and the Cobbler news and links. Go to town for a spell and soak up the animated goodness.

Man, I'm so glad that I can finally see a close approximation of the true Director's Cut of this film. On top of watching it on You Tube I'm downloading it off of, as directed to by the restorer, Garett Gilchrist. I guess it's supposed to have some DVD style features on it and the like.

I just stopped vibrating after Superman Returns (did you see it yet?) and now this. My poor dear wife. If she survives July she should be up for some sort of sainthood.


Freelance Police Story

There's been some activity on the ol' Sam and Max front since the announcement of the latest game's cancellation. The current buzz, though, says the game is back on the schedule only not through LucasArts as previously planned. Arune Singh at CBR has the scoop.

You can also check out the new game and some nifty webcomics by clicking through HERE.