Thursday, December 27, 2007

Three Years

Happy anniversary to me.

It was three years ago today that I decided to hit the web and create one of those blog things everyone and their dog was talking about. It was something that I avoided for a while, mostly because I'm generally slow to jump on any internet bandwagon, but also because I was never really sure what to do with one if I started one up.

For all intents and purposes, I still don't know what to 'do' with it other than use it as an occasional soapbox or a way to keep the writing muscles from completely atrophying. I've tried the regular review thing and that doesn't seem to be working too well for me. I've also tried the online diary thing, the linkblog, and toyed a bit with an interview blog, but the 'glove', as it were, doesn't quite fit just yet.

Hopefully in the new year I'll do a little more in the way of regular posting and, fingers crossed, get to writing some of the things I discussed in the last few posts, like my Indy reviews and what-not (I know you're all biting your nails through waiting for me to get right on that, by the way).

Anyway, we'll see you in 2008!

Onwards and upwards!


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I Am Lethargy

Well, that might be taking it a little too far, really, but it has been waaaay too long since I made a post on the blog. There were a couple of attempts in the last week or two, but nothing that really made it through. We have been pretty busy, of late, what with Jen finding a job and me taking the promotion and Christmas being here and all that. Still, like most bloggers at one time or another, I just couldn't find the time, or energy, to sit down and contribute a post for whatever reason.

This time out, I wanted to extend my heartiest Christmas wishes to everybody out there in the blogosphere and beyond, and to wish everyone all the best in the New Year (in case I don't make it on again until then). I probably should be on in the next day or so because I did want to talk about the new film I Am Legend, which I just saw tonight, and also to commemorate the blog's anniversary which is coming up in a scant few days (if I'm feeling productive, I may even join the masses and cook up a year end list like proper bloggers do).

Take care everyone, and to all a good-night.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Promotion Time

Well, it's official. I got a promotion at work the other day and I will be the new GD2 at the Co-op Home Centre on Avenue C. It's not a bad deal, really. I get a pay raise of about a buck, my wage cap is raised, and I have a little more that I'm supposed to do around the store. I'll be managing the electrical department, which is funny since I don't know much about electrical stuff, but time and a little work should make all the difference.

In a couple of months or so I'll probably try and make another jump to Building Materials Clerk which will be nice cash-flow-wise.

Then we just need to set up Jen with something and we just might achieve that comfort zone we've been trying to hit for the last few years.

Knock wood.

Onwards and upwards!


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Time is Not on My Side

Man, I'm just not finding the time to come on and blog these days. Between my work, the kids' stuff, and Jen looking for a job, what little time I do have during the day I don't generally spend sitting at the computer. I feel bad, though, especially after making plans to do a bunch of reviews (all of which I will get to, in time). Still, if your heart's not in it, your heart's not in it.

Anyway, I just wanted to get a post in before it dragged on for too long without and to update the situation for anyone who actually bothers to check this blog out.

I'll be back when I can.

Onwards and upwards!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

See First Pic of Dark Knight's Joker

Empire Online has this neat little page revealing Heath Ledger as The Joker in the new Chris Nolan film, Batman: The Dark Knight.

And, yes, I am aware that I have yet to post any of the previously promised things. They're still coming. Maybe this weekend.


Onwards and upwards!


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Grey Cup & the Weather

I think I know why Saskatchewan finally won the Grey Cup. After walking outside into blistering cold weather yesterday, I realised that Hell had, indeed, frozen over.

Coincidence? I think not.


Friday, November 23, 2007

On the Computer After the Concert

I just got back from the Stars show here in town. They were touring their amazing new offering, In Our Bedroom After the War, and I hit the shoiw with brother, Ed who got back from Calgary just in time to see it.

Got to hear some great tunes new and old, got to talk to the band (sans Torq), and will post show review and thoughts when it's not 3 a.m. (not that it's going to be easy to sleep after this).

Take me to the riot, baby!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones

As many of you probably know I have been on a bit of an Indy kick lately. Ever since the announcement of the new film, I've been positively buzzing with excitement. It has become a common occurrence in the Jozic household to have members of family and friends passing through be subjected to an array of on-set videos, images and trivia regarding Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. They know my intentions are good so they mostly tolerate the fanboy behaviour.

As a result fo this so-called kick, I've been indulging in several Indy related things and eyeing several others to work it out of my system. For example, I'll probably dust off the first three films soon and give them a once over, and I'm thinking of going back and rereading some of my Indy novels that cover the period between 1920 and 1935, written by Rob McGregor, Martin Caidin and Max McCoy, respectively.

For the time being, however, I've been getting my kicks from a couple of different sources. The first is the Young Indiana Jones DVDs that I mentioned in a previous post. I've really been enjoying revisiting the old show, particularly since I haven't seen every episode (surprise of all surprises) so there's still that spark of newness to it despite being 10+ years old. I've also been delving into the Indy comics published by Marvel called, The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones. In the past I read a handful of these issues but pretty much dismissed them, mostly for not being official Lucasfilm canon. Looking back on the series, though, there's a lot of interesting talent on hand in this series and I think it's probably worth a second look.

The likes of Howard Chaykin, John Byrne, Denny O'Neil, Gene Day, Steve Ditko, Herb Trimpe, Michael Golden and others make it a worthwhile effort to go back and explore these stories, and since I'm a lot less fussy about what is and what isn't official Indy canon, it might be a lot of fun, too.

After making the decision to rearead the old series I also made the decision to read and review/profile each issue as I go along here on the blog. Worst case scenario, I cave and stop after doing a handful of issues. Best case scenario, I manage to fill the time between now and the May 2008 release date of the 4th film and generate some worthwhile content for the blog.

I'll try and get the first two issues by Byrne and O'Neil up by tomorrow, and then try and do one a week from there on in. We'll see how it goes.

To quote the man in the hat, "I'm just making this up as I go along."

Onwards and upwards!


Monday, November 12, 2007

Another Post


I accidentally put this placeholder here with every intention of getting to it the same night, but the best laid plans...

It's been pretty busy here at Jozic HQ so I'm just going to mention that I'm watching the Young Indy DVDs for now and that I'll be posting a review and some thoughts on revisiting the show so many years later.

Upwards and Onwards!


Friday, November 09, 2007

Listenin' to the Podcast

Throughout the first two seasons of Galactica I followed the Ronald D. Moore podcasts religiously. I sort of let it slide with season 3, for some reason, but with the upcoming film, Battlestar Galactica: Razor, hitting the Sci-Fi channel in a couple of weeks I figured I'd give myself a bit of a Galactica refresher.

I usually listen to commentaries and interviews on my iPod as I'm going to work, while I'm on my coffee and lunch breaks, and as I'm coming home, so I've been putting the Galactica podcasts on there and going through them starting with the first two-part episode. I'm remembering some of the things that are being said because of the first time I listened to them back when they were originally posted, but I'm also picking up new observations and accomplishing my overall task of getting my brain wrapped up in the Galactica universe again.

It's tough when a show goes off the air for months at a time. It's been a while since season 3 reached it's strange and baffling crescendo, and from all the information I've seen since, it will be some months before we officially return to the continuiing storyline in season 4. It sort of takes you out of the story to the point where you stop caring what's coming up. You can only sustain that cliffhanger interest for so long and when you live without it around for that long, with no satisfying conclusion of any kind, it just tends to fade away.

So, hopefully the podcasts keep the interest level high and Razor does its job of keeping the home fires burning while we ramp up to the season 4 premiere. I do miss the show, and this will be the last season, so I want to go into it with the right kind of headspace.

Onwards and upwards!


Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Comic Haul

Another day, another batch of books up for review. As per usual I'll be covering some older books along with the new and possibly a trade or two in-between.

Tank Girl: The Gifting #4: This book has the distinction of being one of two comics to make me laugh uproariously and repeatedly as I was reading it. Not an easy task, let me tell you.

I very much liked Alan Martin's mix of prose, comics, poetry and gags and even appreciated how, intentional or not, things seemed to ramp up with every issue. I don't know what was the overall cause for the trend, but the gags and the action all seemed to get more outrageous as each issue came out, culminating in me laughing my ass off while my wife and children stare on and wonder what's got into daddy.

And not only was the writing spot-on-perfect, but the amazing Ashley Wood somehow managed to make me forget that Jamie Hewlett is the only person alive who can truly draw Tank and the gang. I'll grant you that it took an issue or two to warm up to him, but Wood's style suited the book perfectly and gave it a very modern, stylish look while maintaining all the dynamism and zaniness that Hewlett originally brought to the character and her world.

I will be very sad indeed if this is the last we see of Tank, Booga, Jet, Barney and Boat Girl (snicker). If this is a just and rightous world, Martin, Wood and IDW will have another mini on the stands before we know it.

The Spirit #10: I'm going to open this one up with, "WOW! What a cover!" I think this is possibly the one image by Darwyn that I have seen so far which is the most evocative of Eisner's work. I love the rain, the shadows, the looser linework and the muted colours. I would be one of the first in line to buy it if they ever turned it into a nice sized poster. I've actually included a larger image if you click through to get a better idea of what it looks like.

Great cover aside, the story within gives us the return of Ginger Coffee (who we met in the first issue) in a tale that's laced with not-so-subtle commentaries on cable news networks and their controversial personalities. The Spirit, who doesn't do very much this issue, ends up joining forces with Ginger to investigate the mysterious murders of these over-the-top newscasters as they are picked off one-by-one by an unknown assailant.

"Death By Television" was a good story, but by no means was it a great one. Don't get me wrong, it's not like Darwyn phoned this one in, it just didn't register like I had hoped it would. To its credit, the art was solid, the storytelling was there, it's just that something vital at the heart of it was missing. Like the spark that you should get when one of the best talents currently working in the industry is crafting stories for one of the most beloved and important characters in its history. These are two ingredients that should be working better together but they're not.

I'm not sure if it's the modernity of the stories (the use of the thinly veiled YouTube clone, BoobTube, being a good example), the new characters, the format (remember, Spirit stories in the past were 7 or 8 pages long), or my expectations for the whole thing, but so far there have only been a couple of issues that really stood out for me so far in this run and #10 is not one of them, even if it does offer one of my favourite Spirit lines in the series to date.

Strangely enough, this issue felt very much like an old episode of Batman: The Animated Series in structure and execution. I'm sure Darwyn's art had something to do wiith that, as well.

Will I keep buying it? You betcha! Despite any of its proposed 'problems' or lack of va-va-voom each issue still has more class and craft than a lot of books currently on the stands. Does it measure up to my high very expectations? Not so much, but we'll see how Cooke wraps up his run with the next two issues. It could all turn around for me over the course of the next 40 pages or so, not to mention the fact that I'll probably be rereading the whole thing from ground zero and see if my opinion changes.

Usagi Yojimbo Book Seven: There isn't enough time in the day to say everything that I could say about Stan Sakai's brilliant anthrpomorphic samurai epic, so I'll just go on record as saying that these seven volumes have been some of the most enjoyable comic book reading experiences that I've ever had. The characters are engaging, the stories are full of drama, humour, depth and adventure. They have an enduring quality and never feel dated.

Sakai masterfully tells single-issue stories, often based on Japanese folk tales and legends, and will seamlessly slip into a five or six part adventure without losing a step. He is equally comfortable with the short or long-form story and at no point do you feel as if he is dragging things out to make a page count. In the current market, that's not something you see very often. There is an economy to Sakai's storytelling. He never overstays his welcome and he always leaves you wanting more.

It makes me wonder why I never jumped on the monthly bandwagon years ago.

Anyway, you pretty much can't go wrong with these books. Try one out.

Stewart the Rat: This was a strange but happy discovery for me. I was at the comic store a few months ago and out of the corner of my eye noticed the names Gerber, Colan and Palmer peeking out at me from one the racks. Now, these were the same guys what brought us Howard the Duck and right next to their names was a strange little picture of a rat with a pair of glasses on. Whatever this book was, I knew I had to have it.

I had never heard Stewart the Rat before but quickly found out (from the back cover) that it was originally a graphic novel published by the now defunct Eclipse back in 1980, post-Howard. Instead of taking place on the streets of Cleveland, they set this new story in Southern California. Instead of hanging out with a former art model like Beverly Switzler whose high school sweetheart has turned into the menacing Dr. Bong, Stewart's companion is a screenwriter being plotted against by her failed writer/ex-boyfriend who starts a self-help movment based on producing or acquiring units of noog.

There are so many similarities one has to assume that in the wake of their troubles with Marvel, the group probably decided to go and create something similar that they owned with all the same hallmarks as Howard. The biting wit, the sharp satirical voice and the same surreal, frustrated sense of humour that made the duck such a success are all present in Stewart, although the latter was not restricted by the Comics Code Authority and had a much more adult nature. It should also be noted that when Gerber returned to Marvel to write Howard once again under their MAX imprint in 2001, he turned Howard into a rat. I can't help but think there's a connection.

If anyone knows more of the history behind Stewart, I'd love to hear it.

Anyway, being a big fan of Howard the Duck from way back, I picked up Stewart hoping to achieve the same basic buzz I got off of the duck stories and, I have to admit, it was all there in spades. The writing is sharp, the artwork by Colan and Palmer is fantastic to look at and the story's scathing commentary on California life, the self-help craze and excesses of the 80s, and Hollywod in general all still ring true today. If you have a chance to pick this one up, or even just to read it, I highly reccomend it.

Howard the Duck #1: The second book this month to make me laugh loudly and heartily.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this new incarnation of Howard but the name of Ty Templeton definitely caught my attention and there was something oddly compelling about the artwork of Juan Bobillo - just different enough to be interesting and not a tired rehash of what has come before. Sure, it wasn't a Gerber penned Howard but I picked it up anyway based on how much I enjoyed Templeton's short Howard tale in the Civil Wars: Choosing Sides one-shot. I figured, if it was half as entertaining as that, it would be worth the few dollars I spent on the thing.

A quick disclaimer, here. A lot of people are not happy that a writer other than Gerber is writing Howard, and I know where they are coming from. Every attempt to do the wise-talking anthropomorphic fowl since Gerber left the book has come up painfully short. Everything from Mantlo's handling of the character to Lobdell's (in the pages of Generation X, I believe), has been lacking one important ingredient: the intelligence of the satire. Howard is not a straight comedy character. He doesn't do this for the yuks, and Gerber never wrote him that way. He was cranky but not outright mean and trying his best to cope in a world he never made.

What impressed me about Templeton's take on the guy is that he seems to get it like no other writer since Gerber has. This is smart, funny, bitingly comic satire. And more than that, this is a fun comic book featuring characters going through their own personal non-cross-overable post-Civil War tie-in in four parts story. It's a little old school and that is appealing to me like nobody's business right now. The same goes for the art of Bobillo. The look of the book is not too cartoony but not entirely grounded in reality, either. Many of the characters have a stylized look and there is a playfullness in the work that comes through, yet Bobillo also does a nice job of having these characters running around in a very real looking world. There's a nice balance and I look forward to seeing what he has in store for the rest of the series.

I should make a few comments on 'the look' of Howard since Bobillo has redesigned the Duck. Like everone else, I'm sure, I'm assuming this is related to the Disney gripe that Howard is too similar to Donald. If I'm not mistaken, that was part of the reason Howard was turned into a rat in the last Gerber written mini-series. Still, I can't really fault the creative team for wanting to give the book a slightly different look, to make it their own, as it were. It's a bad analogy, but think of this version of Howard as you would the updated Battlestar Galactica. A lot of changes have been made, sure, but the heart of the original is very much still there and the creators handling the characters and world have a great respect for what has come before and the folks who created those characters and worlds.

I've read a few interviews with Ty regarding the mini-series and he seems to hold a certain reverence for the original series and Gerber's take on things, so, hopefully fans of Howard, and possibly Gerber himself, will forgive these guys for trying.

Oh, and I can't end this review without mentioning M.O.D.O.T.. If you thought Jeff Parker's use of M.O.D.O.C. in Marvel Adventures: The Avengers was hilarious, wait'll you get a load of this. In the immortal words of Giffen and DeMatteis, "Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!".

The Batman Strikes! #38: This issue, written by Russell Lissau and illustrated by Christopher Jones and Terry Beatty, was an encouraging read. As I've stated in other reviews of this title, the stories have often felt rushed and overly simplistic, something early episodes of the television series faced as well. There was the odd issue that really stood out, but nothing that came close to recapturing any of the greatness of previous animated Batman series'.

"Pretty Poison" starts off strong and Lissau's dialogue and pacing go a long way to making this one of the better issues I've read in a while and Jones' artwork remains strong, particularly through the quieter moments. Poison Ivy is, by no means, my favourite villain from this new version of Batman but I really enjoyed her here. There was nothing over the top, her motives were simple and led to a nice exchange between her and the Bat at the end.

Sometimes you just want to read a comic book, not get embroiled in a universe spanning epic saga or the shakedown of an entire company's stable of characters. It's why I pick up, and will continue to pick up, books like The Batman Strikes!.

That's it for now. I have stacks of stuff still sitting there waiting to be read so I'll probably add to this post later in the day.

Onwards and upwards!


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Barbarian Diary

I can't remember how I originally found Andrew Helms, but I've been enjoying his work for some time. Today I swung by his LiveJournal site and found these great strips called Barbarian Diary. They're simple, straightforward, and funny in a quiet sort of way.

Here's a sample...

Anybody who is a part of the blogosphere or a member of any of the other journal sites out there should be able to relate to Barbarian. According to Andrew, these are "a result of reading some "journal" or "diary" comics online and not really knowing what to make of them".

With any luck we'll get regular doses of Barbarian Diary. If you dig the strip, make your voice heard.

Onwards and upwards!


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Veronica Mars: The Season That Wasn't

Since Jen and I recently finished watching the third season of Veronica Mars I thought I would post a couple of clips from YouTube which feature the Pitch for Season 4 that Rob Thomas shot in the hopes that the network might bite on a Veronics Mars: FBI series. These are available on the season 3 DVDs, along with some other cool features, so I'm looking forward to picking this set up.

Onwards and upwards!


Monday, November 05, 2007

The Comic Haul

I have been getting pre-release preview notices from Zenescope Entertainment for some months regarding their titles Return to Wonderland, Se7en and Final Destination: Spring Break. A few times I clicked over to see what was up but I had kind of retreated from the whole comic book commentary scene so I never bothered to do a proper review of anything I saw. The last notice I received included the final issue of their prequel/adaptation of David Fincher's Se7en which features artwork by Brett Weldele, who also did the artwork for the Richard Kelly prequel comic, Southland Tales. I really liked what Brett did on the latter series, so I thought I would take the time to check out this latest effort.

Se7en #s 6-7: The first of the two issues, "Envy", is written by David Mack and drawn by Leif Jones, while the latter, "Wrath", is written by Mike Kalvoda and illustrated by Brett Weldele.

I've got to say right off the bat that this is both one of the most unexpected licensed books I've ever encountered and one of the more interesting comics I've read in a while. I am a huge admirer of the film and when I first heard that Zenescope was going to produce a comic book based on Se7en I chortled heartily and wished them luck on what I knew would be a failed venture. Seeing the books on the stands I never bothered to go beyond a casual glance at the covers and possibly a flip through the interiors before putting them back on the shelf and moving on. I mean, they looked different and were definitely riffing off of some of the imagery in the film, but the writers and artists were people I knew nothing about so I never gave it a second glance.

It was the Mack connection that finally managed to draw me in. I was curious to see what he would do with the book and, admittedly, it gave me an excuse to actually read an issue and find out what the whole mini-series was trying to accomplish.

Essentially, the series tells the story of John Doe and acts as a prequel, of sorts, to the movie. It shows formative moments in Doe's life, develops the character a little bit further (since we saw virtually none of him in the film) and attempts to apply some motive/background to the crimes that he has committed, the results of which we see in the movie. The story also weaves back and forth through the film's narrative showing the reader moments where the two parallell stories intersect and giving you a slightly diferent perspective on the activities of Somerset and Mills, mostly through the eyes of Doe himself.

The artwork by Leif Jones and Brett Weldele is both evocative and suited to the task of bringing this world to life on the printed page. I was very pleased with what I saw and appreciated the restraint they both displayed when portraying what Meatwad on Aqua Teen Hunger Force would call a 'mature situation'. Tracy's grisly demise, the film's finale, even John Doe's attempt to strip himself of any identifying attributes is handled tastefully and, like Fincher's movie, only shows you how much you really need to see.

I'm not sure what previous artists accomplished in earlier issues but Leif Jones' work looks like a cross between Paul Pope and Eric Powell, while Weldele's muted pages and uncomplicated compositions are reminiscient of Ben Templesmith's work. Both artists manage to maintain a continuity between issues despite working in different styles. I liked the work done on both stories very much and will probably keep an eye out for any of their future works.

Like the movie, Se7en, this is not a happy fun read. If you're looking for a pick-me-up, you'd be best served by moving on to something else. If you're looking for a dense, atmospheric, and darkly rich crime drama, however, you could do a lot worse than picking up this book. It's a nice companion piece to the film.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

12 Questions With Steve Niles

I missed out on the original flurry of activity and attention that followed the release of the insanely popular 30 Days of Night by creators Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith. I think I, personally, caught the buzz as the third issue was coming out and by that time the previous two issues were so scarce that I figured I’d wait until the trade came out to read this story that everyone was talking so much about. Little was I to know that, initially, the trade would prove to be just about as hot as those original three issues and I’d have to wait, yet again, to snag myself a copy.

Shortly after the books release I decided to contact Niles and see if he would be interested in an interview. I was working at the time for Silver Bullet Comicbooks as the Features Editor and thought it would be nice to have the book and one of the creators represented on the site. Steve agreed and questions were quickly worked up and sent over to Niles HQ.

Ultimately, the interview was never completed, and what you see below has never seen the light of day until now. The whole experience came as something of a surprise to me. It was the first time I pulled the plug on a piece and chose not to run it. I mean, I had 800 words or so, and as you can see by the interview below, it’s not like I couldn’t have published it as is, but a combination of Steve being super busy and unavailable for follow-ups and this interview here sort of made the decision for me.

I had run across Daniel Robert Epstein’s Newsarama piece while I was researching Niles online and thought it was the best interview with the guy I had read up to that point. It was very thorough, covered material pre-30 Days and beyond (something most of the stuff I ran across couldn’t or wouldn’t do), and was just a really entertaining read from beginning to end. I took one look at it and decided the definitive Steve Niles interview for early 2003 has been done. There was nothing more I can add there.

Flash forward 4 years and the movie for 30 Days of Night has hit theatres, is doing very well for itself, and something which I, personally, have gone to see twice. I remembered after coming home the first time out that I still had this old unfinished Niles piece sitting on my computer and thought it might be fun to put it out there.

So, without further ado, I present…

12 Questions With Steve Niles

This interview was originally conducted in February, 2003.

MIKE JOZIC: Where did the idea for 30 Days of Night come from? When someone told me what the series was about, I just thought to myself, why hasn't anyone done this before?

STEVE NILES: Well, evidently a lot of people have! Ever since 30 Days came out I get approached by writers telling me they had the same idea, but never got around to writing it.

JOZIC: What, or who, would you cite as your influences while putting together the story for 30 Days? Is there a little John Carpenter in there?

NILES: There’s a little Carpenter and some George Romero and Richard Matheson too.

JOZIC: Obviously the book has done well for you guys, but do you feel the three act structure of 30 Days was a successful one, or even noticed by the public at large?

NILES: Well, it worked in that it got the story across, but I think it could have been longer. That’s one complaint I hear about 30 Days: there should have been more!

JOZIC: There are a lot of extra pages in the trade collection of 30 days. What was the process by which they were excised from the original comic book?

NILES: It really wasn’t a case of including what was cut from the original series. Everything for the trade was created for the trade to give the reader a little extra bang for their buck.

JOZIC: There seems to be a trend, and a solid one at that, of smaller publishers going for a more DVD Special Features approach to their trades. Was this a consideration when putting together the collection for 30 Days?

NILES: I think we - IDW and I - just wanted to make the trade special because of all the good fortune we’ve had with 30 Days. It’s not that hard to go the extra step and include extra pages, or a script or unseen art. That’s why I love working with IDW. They get a kick out of making a package the best it can possibly be.

JOZIC: Raimi, Tapert and Campbell have all said that they were going to reunite to work on something smaller and independent, which has everyone immediately thinking Evil Dead 4, but I wondered if maybe 30 Days was the project in question?

NILES: As far as I’ve heard, it isn’t, but I wouldn’t complain!

JOZIC: In a funny way, even though you're no longer adapting other people stuff, you've begun adapting your own. Is that a surreal experience for you in any way, or just part of the ongoing career trajectory?

NILES: As apposed to adapting Barker or other writers I feel a bit more free to cut something or run with an idea!

JOZIC: What sorts of changes have you made to the story in translating it to screenplay format?

NILES: I wouldn’t classify any of it as changing. More like expanding on ideas I didn’t have the chance to do in the original three books. There are characters and scenarios I only had the chance to hint at, that I’m now having the opportunity to fully realize.

JOZIC: With the film deal done and the project underway, do you see more of your projects being optioned, like Cal McDonald?

NILES: Man, that would be great.

JOZIC: Speaking of Cal McDonald, you have a brand-new mini coming out from Dark Horse called, Criminal Macabre: A Cal McDonald Mystery. Now, originally, his first appearance in comics was with DHC, but then there was a one-shot from IDW reprinting those stories, and now you're back again. Why the return to DHC and what can we expect from the mini-series?

NILES: Actually Cal first appeared in a story called “Big Head” that we have posted on the website for free if people want to take a look. The DHP story came a few years later.

There are two Cal novels Savage Membrane and Guns, Drugs and Monsters from IDW. Mike Richardson approached me about doing a Cal comic after reading the first novel and I thought it would be great so I came up with Criminal Macabre.

Ben Templesmith will be doing the art, Scott Allie is editing. It’s coming along great.

JOZIC: There seems to be a lot of new titles coming out of DHC reflecting a renewed interest in horror comics. Do you have any plans to continue developing projects with them?


JOZIC: In general, there seems to be more of an acceptance to the horror genre now (and I'm not talking Scream-style horror) than there was 10 years ago. Hell, even five years ago. Do you have any ideas on why that is?

NILES: That’s the way it is with horror. It comes and goes in cycles. There are some who believe that this is connected to the world and what’s going on. That fear creates a need to confront fear. I think some of that is true, but I prefer to believe people need a release and they need variation from the same old thing.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

All Hallow's Eve Post-Game

Halloween has always been a favourite time of year for me. When I was much younger, it was all about the costumes and the candy, but as I got older, it kind of became a time when I could indulge my interest in the horror genre and other ooky things without drawing too much undue attention.

Although there were times where we wanted to, we've never bothered going all out with the decorations or attended many Halloween costume parties in the past. Post high school and post parenthood, it just wasn't ever very practical. In many cases, we've been so busy with school or jobs or kids stuff that the 31st just sort of sneaks up on us and we don't really have time to put anything together specifically for us. Now that I think about it, we did manage to hit a party a couple of years ago that some people from University were putting on but that is usually an exception to the rule. I'm not sure if there are any pictures from that night. I do remember that I was Woody from Toy Story but I can't remember what Jen was done up as.

I also remember that was the night I got my The Office DVDs.

But I digress.

This year I wanted to make a bit more of a showing in the effort department and invited some friends to come over after the kids were done trick-or-treating and watch a horror movie. I invited a couple of people from my side and a couple from Jen's. My brother Ed and Jen's friends Kim and Jillian were the three who showed up (shame on you Bonnie, shame, shame).

My brother Ed and I got a bit of a kick start to the festivities by going to see 30 Days of Night on the Monday before Halloween (my second time, his first) so I wondered if he was going to subject himself to more goop and gore, but he seems to be growing accustomed to horror movies these days (a genre which he stayed well clear of for years) and even enjoyed himself on both occasions. I had already gotten my spook on with a bunch of related shows and movies, catching up on some of the Masters of Horror episodes I missed and watching the 30 Days of Night: Blood Trails short film on FearNet. I even pulled out one of my Books of Blood and started rereading 'Son of Celluloid'.

On the Wednesday we ended up watching George A. Romero's Land of the Dead 'til the wee hours of the night and, thankfully, it was a better movie than anyone expected. Jillian was the only one who showed up in costumebut I think she secretly finds any occasion to wear the Hogwart's uniform she put together.

Overall it was a fun night, I think everyone enjoyed themselves (with the exception of the Zombie clown that freaked Kim out so bad she got up and ran away from the TV for a while) and I have a slew of ideas for what we could do with the place and the night next year. There were a few decorating ideas I had to set on the back burner this time around, so hopefully I'll prepare better next time. Heck, doing a costume night may even be the way to go.

So, thanks again to those who came out and here's to next year!


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Clip-O-Rama 2007

Last year I did a series of posts over the week leading up to October 31st called the Halloween Clip-O-Rama. Each day I posted a new clip, unceremoniously embedded courtesy of YouTube, from one of my favourite horror films of all time. Since I always had intended it to be a yearly sort of occurrence, and since I haven't posted a single thing in the last week that resembles a Clip-O-Rama, I'm going to squeeze the whole bunch into one post and try and keep my comments to a minimum.

First up for '07 is a movie which many, many, many people loathe but I found oddly satisfying. Silent Hill is a visually stunning film that features good performances from its nearly all-female cast and, in my opinion, a pretty good story to boot. I've liked Radha Mitchell since Pitch Black so it was nice to see her here. Likewise with Laurie Holden who I miss since her days on The X-Files. Anyway, here's the clip if you're not already familiar with the movie:

Next up is my latest buzz film, 30 Days of Night. I'm going to post an official review of this movie so I'm not going to talk too much about it, but let's just say that this is one of those simple, high-concept pictures that is executed beautifully and stands up to repeated viewings. Here's the trailer and a scene from about half-way through the movie:

The Descent is another film that fires on all cylinders. Originally I was going to ignore it, thinking it was just another flick in a long line of torture porn movies, but when Joss Whedon gave it props I figured I'd try it out. Hell, it was from the same guy what did Dog Soldiers and that made the list last year...

I recently watched The Legend of Hell House and enjoyed it quite a bit. It's basically The Haunting a la Richard Matheson but holds its own fairly well. The movie does show its age in certain areas, but the storyand mood of the picture quickly smooth over any of the rough edges the film may have. If you like an old fashioned haunting, check this one out.

Pay heed Johnny Depp fans! A Nightmare on Elm Street was supposed to make last years list but missed out for some reason (there may not have been a satisfactory clip to pull, I don't know for sure). I'd be remiss if I left it off another year running so here's the first 10 minutes of the movie in all of its glory.

Not much needs to be said about Saw other than the fact that I'm a little surprised to be adding it. I'm not a fan of the series but I did 'enjoy' the first installment for having fresh take on the genre, some decent performances and a great twist ending. It's unlikely that I'll watch the second third or fourth Saw movies, but I do own and like having the first. There, I said it. Here's the clip:

It took me a while to track down The Devil's Backbone so it holds a special place in my DVD collection. It also helps that it's a great ghost story by the inimitable Guillermo del Toro with everything one comes to expect from his Spanish language films. Strong characters, rich themes, nice imagery, and an ending that you may, or may not, see coming. Here's the trailer:

Welp, that's seven films for seven days worth of Clip-O-Rama posts. I apologise for condensing it all like this but I guess in the long run it doesn't really make a difference. That's the beauty of the internet. Everything you view or do is in your own timeframe.

As always, I'd love to hear comments if you have them. Which movies would make up your Clip-O-Rama?

Onwards and upwards!


Monday, October 29, 2007

'Net Outage

The internet's been down here for most of the weekend so I didn't have a chance to post regarding 30 Days of Night which I saw on Saturday and a few other things. It also appears that the Buffy Post-Mortem may not be as finished as originally believed.

I'll try to post more when I get home from work.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Return to Byrne

While I used to consider myself a devotee of John Byrne fandom back in the day, I haven't found much of his work of late worth checking out, or even remembering. As such, it's been a long time since I've had any desire to revisit Byrne's past body of work but, lacking something shorter to read this evening, I grabbed a copy of The Thing #2 that was lying around and gave it a once over.

Reading the story I was made aware of a number of things:

1) I'd forgotten how many captions and thought balloons they used to use to tell a story back then.

2) I'd forgotten just how much Byrne made these comics feel like updated versions of the Lee/Kirby storytelling style. Everything from panel layouts and the positioning of characters on a page to how the four members spoke to each other, Byrne was channeling something (that something could have been a volume or two fo the Marvel Masterworks).

3) I'd forgotten how colourists used to colour a scene (ie: green to indicate background, blue to indicate foreground and yellow to give highlights where necessary).

4) I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed reading these comic books.

With Ultimate Fantastic Four now on my regular pull-list, the notion had struck me that it might be fun to drag the ol' Byrne FFs out and give them a reread. After reading this issue of The Thing, I'm thinking that's more of an eventuality than a possibility, at this point. Heck, I'm even tempted to track down some of those old Thing issues since I never collected them at the time. If they're all of the same quality as the second issue, you could do a lot worse.

Hmmm, speaking of old Marvels, I'm suddenly getting a strange hankering for some Ann Nocenti/John Romita, Jr. issues of Daredevil. Does anyone remember how cool those were?

Onwards and upwards!


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Necessary LinkBlog

I was looking at some of the bookmarks I have accumulated and decided that I should post a linkblog to clean some of them out. In my effort to try and make my more recent posts a little more meaty, I've made an effort to avoid posting blurbs, random links of interest and quizzes to find out which character from (insert film, TV show or book title here) you are. I haven't, however, curbed my tendencies to bookmark points of interest.

So, in the interest of keeping my browser less cluttered, I offer you...

News on the upcoming Tintin film. It would seem that Coupling creator Stephen Moffat is going to take a pass at the Herge character for Spielberg and Jackson. I'm curious to see how this'll turn out.

The MTV Movies Blog reports that the rumoured Goonies sequel is dead in the water, but may be revived as an animated film. Hit the link to read more with quotes from Corey Feldman.

Some Moorcockian news cropped up at the begining of this month regarding some new stories, including a couple of brand-spanking-new Elric tales.

Anyone wondering what Rob Thomas is going to be doing with his time post Veronice Mars should look no further than this link. I liked the original Cupid, whatever my wife may think to the contrary, so I'll be interested to see how this flies without Jeremy Piven.

I've been reading Sam and Max: Surfin' the Highway with the kids here at Jozic HQ and it was good news to hear that Telltale Games, the company responsible for the new S&M game, is reprinting the fabulous trade. Wired talks a bit about it here.

As a big fan of Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin series of books, I was happy to catch this bit of news regarding the film rights being snatched by Dreamworks. I hope this comes through and doesn't end up in development hell.

I stumbled on this a couple of months ago and just really liked the song. I think I may have followed a link through a blog or something, the specifics of the whole thing elude me. Anyway, if you really hate Tom Waits, don't click through.

Just to show you how behind the times I am with this stuff, here's an image I should have posted 5 months ago courtesy of Chris' Invincible Super-Blog:

There. Now I can consider myself a conscientious comic blogger again. If it means anything, I'm still totally down with the sentiment.

Jim Uhls, screenwriter of Fight CLub, talks to the Arizona Daily Wildcat online.

Matt Wagner talks Grendel over at CBR.

Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle, creators of the wonderfully entertaining Kim Possible, wrote a book called Liar of Kudzu. It looks interesting. Here's the Simon & Schuster listing for it.

Death Star Designer. Need I say more?

Seth has an online comic strip with The New York Times. Check it out here.

It's a bit dated now but here's an interview with Joss Whedon about Buffy Season 8 courtesy of TV Guide.

Hmmmm...I think I'll leave it at that for now. At least my bookmarks toolbar isn't hemorrhaging anymore.

I also wanted to give a quick shout out to fellow blogger Johnny Bacardi over at The Johnny Bacardi Show where he's both celebrating his 5th anniversary and also calling it quits on the blog front. I always enjoyed reading his reviews and posts and appreciated his own particular POV when it came to movies, music, books and comics. It was a good run and I'll miss seeing new material from the guy. Take care, JB!

Onwards and upwards!


Monday, October 22, 2007

Tragedies of English Language Use

#2 in a continuing series.

The word for today is origin.

I'm gonna pretty much keep mum on this one other than to say that, according to all the pronounciation guides I've consulted, it's pronounced OH-ri-jin, not oh-RIJ-in. I don't know why you folks say it the way you do (and you know who you are), nor do I understand why you persist on saying it after you've been corrected, but there it is.

Onwards and upwards!


Thursday, October 18, 2007

In Search Of Steve Ditko

About five minutes ago I finished watching the Jonathan Ross/BBC documentary, In Search of Steve Ditko and I have to say that I was entertained. After getting over the initial excitement of anybody making a documentary on Ditko I read through some of the internet responses and not all of them were positive. Many chided the interviewees, particularly Alan Moore, for considering Ditko to be a mad recluse when he's just a guy who wants to be left alone, not the next JD Salinger.

Personally, I found the interviews to be well done and had the distinct impression that the questions asked were suitably probing but not argumentative. The Stan Lee segment was the best example of that. The way Ross had him humming and hawing over the question of who truly created Spider-Man was something I've waited aloooong time to see. As a comic fan, a Spider-Man fan, a Steve Ditko fan and a historian, this is the moment I'd been waiting years to see. Having Stan Lee speaking publicly about that time at Marvel without all the huckster trappings was so refreshing, and the way he can't quite give Steve all the credit but willing to give him some credit if it'll make him happy but deep down believes the credit to be his, priceless.

After hearing the various theories on whyDitko left at Spider-Man's height and then seeing Stan asked some honest questions, I'm betting his reaction has a lot to do withDitko's departure whether it be spoken or just below the surface.

Oh, and just when I thought I'd seen something totally new, Ross and Neil Gaiman go to Ditko's place of residence and come out looking like two 10 year olds who just met the Lone Ranger or something. I've never seen Gaiman so giddy or dumbstruck before. For someone who used to be a gigantic Gaiman fan but hasn't connected with the guy's work for years, I was glad to see him acting just like one of us - a fan and a reader.

I just hope that everyone and their dog doesn't decide to show up at Ditko's place now, especially since Ross would not divulge any of the details of their conversation.

All-in-all I really liked this show and hope that it finds some life outside of
the BBC on DVD or one of our many cable networks.

Onwards and upwards!


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tragedies of English Language Use

#1 in a continuing series.

Although I am, by no means, infallible, there are a number of misuses of certain words and bits of grammar in the English language that drive me crazy in the same way that nails on a chalkboard can drive some people to tears or the ability of the common person to navigate an uncontrolled intersection can send others running for the hills. I thought it might be fun to come on and post about certain instances when I run across them, more for the pure cathartic release of the act than to try and position myself as some high mucky-muck who knows his English better than you do.

And just so you know the ground rules, I'm not going to come on and point out that someone failed to distinguish between and 'it's' and an 'its' cuz that's like pointing out the sky is blue to someone who is lying in the grass looking up at the clouds. No, I'm only going to post something when it really stands out, like the use of the word moot.

I recently read a post by someone (who shall remain unnamed) on their blog (which will also remain unnamed) where they used the word moot. We've all used it at some point, and 99% of us probably used it in the way which we've all become accustomed to it being used - incorrectly. More often than not the word moot is used as in the phrase, "the point is moot," or, "this is a moot point," and is usually intended to mean the argument/discussion of a topic has come to an end. Something within a given situation has essentially trumped whatever point you were trying to make, therefore there is little point in continuing with the discussion.

As the definition below shows, the true meaning of the word is anything but:

moot [moot]
1. open to discussion or debate; debatable; doubtful: a moot point.
2. of little or no practical value or meaning; purely academic.
3. Chiefly Law. not actual; theoretical; hypothetical.

[Origin: bef. 900; ME mot(e) meeting, assembly, OE gemōt; c. ON mōt, D gemoet meeting. See meet]

The definition above was cribbed from

I used to use it like everyone else, but ever since it was pointed out to me, it stands out like a sore thumb whenever I see it used improperly. Kind of like when someone tells you that you can see Harrison Ford's reflection in the glass panel between him and the cobra in the snake pit. Once you know it's there and seen it, you can never un-see it (that is unless Spielberg and Lucas go in and digitally remove it - which they did, by the way).

I'd be curious to know of any language transgressions that just irk the hell out of you. If you've got a good one, drop it in the comments.

With that, I take my leave of you to go and watch special features on my newly acquired copy of A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Onwards and upwards!


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Black Dossier

This is kind of cool. Entertainment Weekly has a 5 page preview of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's upcoming League of Extraordinary Gentlemen follow-up, The Black Dossier.

I'm equally looking forward to this hardcover and also dreading it a bit from a financial standpoint. I kind of wish that they released this third installment as a mini-series as well since I don't think I'll be able to fit The Black Dossier into my budget anytime soon, but it's not like this thing is going to go out of print or anything. It'll be a bit of a wait to read it but I'll grab it sometime, I'm sure.

Check out the pages if you're curious.

Onwards and Upwards!


Monday, October 15, 2007

My Two Cents

Actually, it'll probably be more like a penny for my thoughts since I don't really think too much about the new Cap, the prospect of who is the new Cap, or when exactly this Cap will disappear to make room for Steve Rogers to return as an LMD, a Marvel Zombie or to wake up from his grisly Civil War dream.

I like Ed Brubaker's stuff a lot. I've even started reading his run on Cap this week out of curiosity (once again, I heard an interview with the guy and I'm probably gonna check out Criminal, too) but this whole brouhaha over the death of Cap...meh. He's been dead before.

To be honest, I might actually be a bit more interested if Alex Ross wasn't involved with the redesign. If my humble opinion means anything, Ross is possibly one of the most overrated artists in the industry getting a lot of attention for peaking early with a couple of dynamic, high-profile projects, and then never really doing anything quite as interesting ever again. Sure, Marvels was great, and I still hold his U.S. project with the always entertaining Steve Darnall as one of the best Vertigo minis ever, but when was the last time Ross showed us something different? This costume redesign is a perfect example of that. I mean, I'm looking at this Cap costume and it seems strikingly similar to the Spider-Man concept sketches from back in 2001.

I nabbed this image from Ross' site where you can see more examples of the design he came up with for Sony Pictures and the first Spidey film. It's hard for me to look at the two and see many conceptual differences. Sure, the new Cap has boots and gloves to riff off of the original costume but I'm sure if Spidey wore boots and gloves there'd be a similar sort of motif running in these film designs.

I'll probably post again on the subject if I manage to read up to and through the Death of Captain America storyline. I don't doubt there's some good work being done on the title, so we'll see how things pan out.

Onwards and upwards!


Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Comic Haul

I've been on a bit of a comic book reading spree this past week. I'm not sure what, exactly, has gotten into me, but it would appear that, for the time being, I am very much back in the habit! Now, to be fair I never really gave up on reading my usual stuff, and I always picked up a trade or two whenever I went to the library, but the sheer volume of stuff that I've been going through, old and new, has me a little surprised for someone who was pretty much fed up with the big two for a while.

Anyway, enough mental meandering, on the the reviews...

Annihilation Conquest: Starlord #3 - I was a bit surprised by this issue. I went into it expecting more of the same but 3/4 of the way into this mini-series, Giffen has decided to slow things down, get into the character's heads, and mix up the story in such a way that I'm honestly wondering how he's going to wrap everything up with only one more issue left in the series.

Starlord also continues to be the best looking of the Annihilation minis, and debatably on of the best looking things Marvel is publishing period. Timothy Green II never ceases to delight both in the quiet moments between characters and the action scenes. His storytelling is fluid and, when combined with the rest of the creative team's efforts, make for a very enjoyable package.

I should also give a shout out to the cover artist, Nic Klein, who is also doing a (pardon the pun) stellar job. Normally, a series of head shots or team poses don't do much for me overall, but all three covers so far would make for great posters and I wouldn't hesitate to pick up one or all of them if they were offered as such.

I have to say, it's been a while since I've enjoyed Giffen's writing this much and I'm eager to see how it all turns out in the end.

The Spirit #9 - I know at some point I'm going to have to go and reread every issue of this series because I do feel like I'm missing something. All the elements are there for this to be thegreatest book on the stands, and I know a lot of people are enjoying Darwyn's take on things, but for the most part, I'm not finding this series to be a 'can't wait to get and home and read it' kind of book for me. That being said, I have enjoyed a number of the issues so far, this one being a good example of that.

The story of El Morte felt more atmospheric, more mysterious, more noir, like some of the best Eisner penned tales. The supporting cast all played their roles admirably and very much in character (I just can't get enough of Darwyn's Ebony), The Spirit was faced with an antagonist who posed a genuine threat and was someone who shared a past with Denny Colt and The Spirit's origin. The whole thing just played out very nicely and actually felt like a genuine Spirit story for a change.

Vimanarama - I heard a recent interview with Steve Rude where he claimed that there were no fun comics anymore. Personally, I just don't think he's looking hard enough.

Case in point, Vimanarama.

The desire to finally read Vimanarama two years after the fact was inspired by another interview I recently listened to, this one with Grant Morrison. What I discovered once I settled in was an incredibly fun and very witty end-of-the-world tale of first loves and second chances beautifully illustrated by the always enjoyable Philip Bond. Bond has always been a personal favourite for me and it's always a joy when he gets to dig in and really have fun on a project.

I'm sorry I waited this long to read Vimanarama. There were a couple of lines in the story that gave me a heartfelt belly laugh which was not only needed, but also not an easy thing to achieve. Morrison and Bond have spun gold with this one and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quick but thoroughly entertaining read.

Marvel Zombies - Originally when I'd heard about this series I thought it was possibly the worst idea put to paper since Secret Wars II. Sure Kirkman is a great writer and his Walking Dead series is sheer brilliance, but Marvel characters as zombies? Do we really need to see more lame marketing stunts like that last Marvel super-hero-as-Transformer thing a year or so ago?

What I didn't know at the time was that this was a story inspired by something kooky done over in Ultimate Fantastic Four, a book which I was also avoiding until about 5 months ago. Then I listened to an interview with Robert Kirkman and certain phrases stood out for me. For the life of me the only specific example I can remember is Kirkman describing how some kid is going to have found Hawkeye's head and hung on to it, or something like that. He was laughing, the interviewer was laughing and so was I. This sounded like a fun read and I made a point of checking out.

Well, I read all five issues tonight in one sitting because I couldn't stop. I had to know what happened next everytime I hit on the cliffhanger ending. Everything from Spider-Man moaning about eating his aunt and MJ, the Hulk being the hungriest one there is, to the whole gang trying to eat the Silver Surfer was so ridiculous it cracked me right up. It wasn't until the final couple of issues, though, when Galactus shows up and you just know they're going to try and eat him that things get too much. I actually squirmed in my chair with glee when the Surfer said his master was coming because I knew what that would lead to, and the payoff was absolutely satisfying.

I should also point out that any art by the great Sean Phillips is always welcome and the riffs on classic Marvel covers by Arthur Suydam were a nice touch. A nice package overall.

I hear that there's supposed to be a sequel coming out soon (if it's not already out). I'll have to look into it. If it's half as much fun as this it'll be a good ride.

Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus #1 - Just to show you how out of the loop I was/am, I didn't even know about this mini until I read a review of it over at Johnny Bacardi's blog. He didn't like it very much but, curiosity and pocketbook in hand, I headed down to my LCS and grabbed a copy for myself before it disappeared into the nebulous world of, "I can backorder that for you if you want."

Anyway, I brought it home, read it over, and while it doesn't offer anything new to the Hellboy universe or to the genre in genral, I still found it to be a very enjoyable book. Maybe I was just in the mood for it but it was atmospheric, hit all the beats that it was supposed to, and featured some very lovely art by Jason Armstrong (looking a bit like a cross between Gary Gianni and Mignola himself). I won't be beating down doors or anything to get the next three issues, but I'll certainly make an effort to pick them up. If you're a Hellboy or B.P.R.D. fan, this is something you should be giving the once over.

Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin #1 - You know, the funny thing about this mini is that I never even made the connection to the Iron Man movie coming out. I just thoguht to myself, "hmmm, here's a completely superfluous mini-series spinning off from a perfectly superfluous parent title." Can you tell I'm not an Iron Man fan? Still, the names of Joe Casey and Eric Canete do carry some weight in my books, so I checked out the first issue and was pleased with what I found.

The artwork was a bit scratchier than I'd anticipated, but Canete brings all his animation skills to bear on the storytelling and does a wonderful job of bringing Joe Casey's scripts to life. Casey does his part by not writing a dull tale by any stretch of the imagination. The only thing I'm concerned about is the fact that this is supposed to be a six-issue mini-series and we have already seen in one issue what it would normally take four in any other book being published by Marvel. The book ends with Iron Man and the Mandarin in a final fateful clash of titans, looking to the casual observer like the overall climax of the story. What Casey will do for the other five is anyone's guess but I'll stick around long enough to find out, if that's any consellation.

Oh, and I couldn't do a proper review of this book if I didn't mention that great deco cover. Is that a poster or is that a poster?

It's getting late and I think I'm going to call it a night for now. catch you on the next Comic Haul!

Onwards and upwards!


Friday, October 12, 2007

Overheard @ Work

One of the new kids at work, Andrew, was approached by a customer who asked if he had fine threaded nuts.

Andrew waited a beat and replied, "I really don't think that's any of your business."

'Nuff said.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

What Warner Bros. Should Be Doing With the Harry Potter Franchise

I was talking to Jen a few weeks ago about the new Harry Potter film, Order of the Phoenix. One of her comments on the adaptation was that the filmmakers left out some really significant things this time, moreso than with The Goblet of Fire, which is fairly understandable considering both books are heavy enough to fell a grown man or perhaps maim something the size of a housepet. And really, it's not like anyone is surprised by this, but it did get me to thinking about an idea I had some time ago (circa Chamber of Secrets movie, perhaps?).

Knowing that there were some hefty volumes to come I figured the screenwriter, Steve Kloves, would be challenged to bring as much detail and attention to the script as he had with the the films based on much smaller books. One of the things I remember hearing after the first movie was, "they were exactly the same. You really don't have to read the book if you see the movie and vice versa". This was also a time where the certainty of the three main cast members going the distance (not to mention the fiolm series as a whole) was still up in the air and the idea of having to cast new Harry, Ron and Hermione's was something I, if not the folks behind the scenes, had considered.

My solution? Take the three movies and leave them as a trilogy. Trilogys work. People like things being in a nice, neat troika despite what they say otherwise. Sure, we want another Indy movie, but it throws the balance of the series off just a smidge, don't you think? The same goes for the Die Hard series. Personally, I loved the new film, but it's still the red-headed stepchild of the series.

But I digress.

Mini-series. Make it a four or six part mini-series on cable and it would not only accomodate the longer stories Rowling was writing in the books but it would possibly take some of the heat off of the young actors and make for a nice transition to a new cast. In my eyes, problem solved, not to mention big money made on DVD releases.

Obviously, none of that came to pass. The fourth movie proved that the franchise was still a solid money maker for Warners and their four film option would officially extend to include all seven in the series. Also, the three actors decided to dig their heels in and go the distance as well making this the longest film series (as one complete saga) in film history.

So, back to the present. I'm talking to Jen and she says things are left out of the movie that probably should be there. The kids cleaning Sirius Black's house after his death, for example. In the book, I'm told, this is when they find some important magical object (a horcrux?) which is supposed to play into the next book, The Half Blood Prince. Leaving this bit out creates a narrative hole that the screenwriter for the next film will have to overcome (is Kloves still writing these things? I can't be bothered to check), and this is not the only example to speak of.

What I think Warners could have done with the series is to do a longer version of the film incorporating these little tidbits and details, seeing as they have everything and everybody in one place as it is. Keeping an eye on a theatrical release, they cut the film as a two-and-a-half hour movie and let it loose in the theatres just as they always have done. While that hullabaloo is going on, they finish up their longer version and wait for the theatrical version to run its course. Then, on a cable network like HBO (which is owned by Warners, if I'm not mistaken) they release a mini-series version made from the longer cut of the film, partly to satisfy fans wanting a beefier story, and partly to bridge the gap between the theatrical film leaving theatres and the DVD release. Then, when you eventually get to the DVD release, you pull a Lord of the Rings style one-two punch. The regular edition hits shelves and rental outlets and everybody buys it. Then, either simultaneously or a short time apart, they release the extended version to much fanfare and Potter freak appreciation. In the time it takes all of this to happen, they prepare the next film and start the process all over again. If you consider the books release dates over the years, they could literally have had Potter goings-on throughout the whole year keeping the franchise buzzing and their coffers fat.

I think it reeks of absolute brilliance, but then I work in a hardware store and haven't even read the series, so who am I to talk.

Onwards and upwards!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Kind Of Moody

I just got back from work and figured I'd sit down to do some long overdue blogging but I find myself in a strange humour and I'm not entirely sure what to write. I had intended to do another Comic Haul since I've been reading quite a few comics lately, but the mood to be all reviewey isn't too strong right now. I also considered doing a linkblog, but that just seems tacky.

I will mention one interesting thing I read recently. A friend sent me a link to Empire Online where Neil Gaiman jokingly asks people to give Terry Gilliam 70 million dollars to make a Good Omens movie. Sure, you chuckle at first when you think about it but really, why doesn't Gilliam set up a PayPal account or something and raise the money that way. It couldn't be any harder or less reliable than studio funding (Man From La Mancha anyone?). When you think of all the people that love that book, and how many people would front a guy a few dollars, it's not an entirely bad idea.

I mean, Darren Aronofsky financed much of Pi that way. He sent letters to everyone he knew and to prominent people in his community asking for $90, or some number like that. He managed to raise a decent amount of money that way and if you watch the tail end of the credits you'll see a looong list of names which happen to be all the people who wrote him a cheque back when he was scrounging up money for the picture.

I know I'd send some money to the Good Omens fund. Buy a few shares, if you will.

They could even make it something cool by having a web page or blog or internet presence of some kind and let the folks who donated cash get sneak peeks at stuff, like seeing some rushes or first look exclusive news. Kind of like the Star Wars Hyperspace access, only instead of a fan club, it'd be a financiers club. Access to sneak previews of the film when it opens...the list could go on and on.

Even if the thing tanked Don Quixote style, it would be an interesting way to spend a few dollars, meet some people (virtually or otherwise) and be part of something fun. And for those of us who love the book it would be a chance to give something back to Pratchett and Gaiman (as long as the movie doesn't suck eggs).

Somebody tell me why this isn't a great idea, cuz I'm lovin' it.

Onwards and upwards!


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pleased and Pissed

I'm a little bit tweaked about this book that I just received today. I was very much looking forward to getting the hardcover version of The Fountain graphic novel, partly because it was kind of my 'official' birthday present from Jen and partly because I was just really looking forward to it. I haven't seen the film in its entirety yet but I loved what I saw, and I didn't want to settle for the paperback edition of the graphic novel because of the original art that was commissioned for the hardback, including a piece by Seth Fisher who we lost recently and who was very much admired by Darren Aronofsky.

I ordered the book that is featured on my sidebar at the end of last week, I read the product description, I checked (or I thought I checked) the publication details and did my level best to make sure that this was the one that I wanted to get.

I'll admit that I should have picked up on the cover image not being very Kent Williams-ey, and I should have also noted the lack of any Vertigo mention or logo anywhere visible, but I guess the heat of the moment had me clicking away through the checkout process and instead I received a coffee table book.

I'll give you it's a beautiful coffee table book. From the cover to the original screenplay embedded in the back cover, this is a really purdy package. The art pieces inside are also remarkable, all based on scenes from the film manipulated in a computer to give slightly different interpretations of the story and the images within.

To ease the 'pain', I managed to find this very nice little piece in The New York Times that offers a slideshow with some commentary by the artists themselves. A nice little extra touch that I wouldn't have gotten from the book had I managed to actually buy it. I particularly enjoyed the commentrary by Barron Storey while loving the pieces by Seth Fisher, James Jean, Phil Hale, and Dave Gibbons.

I will eventually get my hands on the book I intended to buy, hardcover or softcover, I guess it's not a huge deal anymore. Especially since the hardcover is out of print now and it will require some extensive searching on the internet to find one for a reasonable price. In the meantime, though, I think I'll just finish the movie, check out my book with the screenplay, and be glad for happy accidents. I think more than anything I just needed to rant and ramble until I felt a little better about my purchase.

Onwards and Upwards!


P.S. I just hit the Rizzoli site (which is the publisher of the book I bought) and it says that there is supposed to be commentary by Ari Handel and Darren Aronofsky in the book. Othe than a brief End Comments at the back of the screenplay, there isno commentary to speak of.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Filthy Luchre

Hey, folks. I'm experimenting again with this stuff, specifically their aStore program. I've added a link to the new Meanwhile... House of Swag under the My Websites category and what I'm basically planning to do with it is add everything I've included on the sidebars to the aStore. If the spirit moves anyone, or myself, to click through and actually purchase something from the site that would be cool (more for the fact that you've taken a reccomendation than for any monetary gains I may incur) but I'm not expecting to quit my dayjob or anything here.

It's kind of like assembling a mixed CD of all the things I've run across and found cool. Check it out if you're curious and any opinions, as always, are welcome.

Anyway, errands to run, computers to price.

Onwards and upwards!


Saturday, September 29, 2007

To Build or Buy?

That is the question I am now facing with my computer situation. Jen and I have been talking about 'upgrading' our computer but we can't decide on whether or not that means buying a new one outright, or purchasing the components to upgrade the one that we currently have. Normally in these situations, I would consult my buddy Brad and throw some ideas around before making a final decision, but it looks like I'll have to go it alone this time seeing as he's a province away and probably glad to not have to worry about me and my computers anymore.

The factory machine I'm looking at is nicely put together but has most of its hardware onboard. I could almost live with the non-component nature of it but also I found that there aren't any real TV outs to speak of (that I can see, anyway). The overall price of it would be around $750 so we started talking about what I could do if I hit the local computer store and picked up the pieces individually. I'll probably head down there Monday and see what I can put together with one of the guys there, but until then my head will be a little spun, I'm sure.

Jen is also trying to get the system out of the living room and into the bedroom (which I really do not agree with) but that's a rant for another time.

Onwards and upwards!


Friday, September 28, 2007

The Comic Haul

My last comic haul post was about a month ago, so I figured it was time for another.

There has been quite a mix of books on my bedside table over the last 30
days, some new, some not-so-new. We'll start off with...

Annihilation Conquest: Starlord #2 - Giffen's still phoning it in with this mini-series but that's not really as bad as it sounds. This is all stuff we've seen before but Keith keeps it pretty lively with somewhat interesting characters who don't get along too well with each other and the artwork by Timothy Green is out of this world. There's an interesting contrast between the atypicalline work (which feels more European than American) and the cliché guys who don't like each other try to achieve the impossible hero story. I look forward to issue #3.

Giant-Size Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #1 - Fun fun fun fun fun fun! Although I am a big fan of Jeff Parker, I am not a great fan of Parker's
Marvel Adventures: Avengers run. Maybe it's the curmudgeonly old continuity troll in me having difficulty with Storm,Wolvie and Spider-Man on the team, or maybe it's just not my cup of tea. Still, team these guys up with the cast of my absolute favourite Marvel book of last year and you have a winner. The story is essentially a
What If...with Kang duping the Agents into freeing Captain America from the ice several years too early, thus changing history and allowing Kang to conquer the past. I'm going to scurry off to my LCS and nab the Spider-Man Family with the Agents. There is just not enough of these guys on the market.

Danger Girl: Back in Black #1 - I know this mini is a couple of years old, but I did say there was an odd mix on my nightstand, didn't I? Anyway, I really enjoyed the original Danger Girl series back in the day so when I found this in the dollar bins at myLCS I thought, what the heck, try it out. Nick Bradshaw is a great artist but he's still finding his way here, I think. The work he does on this issue is a little clumsy, which seems to match the writing of Andy Hartnell which fails to capture the spirit of fun that I remember from the Cliffhanger days. It may be due to the absence of Campbell but I don't know how much he contributed to the writing of the original series so I can't say for sure. The story seems like a venue for a lot of pointless cheesecake but lacking the tongue-in-cheek sense of humour that made such a ridiculous concept work so well. I have a few more of these on the unread pile so my opinion may change as the story progresses, but I doubt it.

Batman: Dark Victory - I liked this story much more than I did "The Long Halloween" partly because it didn't seem quite as locked in to a format as the holiday themed issues of its predecessor, and partly because I found the mystery far more compelling than simply, "Who is Holiday?" I did find the big extravaganza ending a little much, but the overall feeling about the book was definitely a positive one. Some of the better Batman stuff I've read in a while.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #45 - Definitely a step in the right direction as the Four go from doing absolutely nothing to doing something. I'm actually embarrassed to say that I never picked up on the bad guy as being Psycho Man. I think with the Surfer connection, and my relative unfamiliarity with the Ultimate universe outside of the FF and Spidey, I just assumed that this was a Galactus re-imagining. I like it much better knowing that it couldn't be farther
from the truth. It also makes me think I should maybe go back and reread the previous issue seeing as how it may have an entirely new spin on it now. At the very least, I am still enjoying this story and I'm looking forward to how it's going to end. That, and to see what Carey has up his sleeves for the next arc (not being tied into the
'must-have-a-Surfer-story' because of the movie and all).

JLA: World War III - I know the idea here was to have
Morrison go out with the biggest bang possible but all he really managed to accomplish with this storyline was 6 or 7 issues of total gobbledygook. It was no mystery that Morrison was taking the 'widescreen' approach with this book and he was playing to the fact that these are the Earth's mightiest heroes from the very beginning, but he was always able to tether these crazy ideas and epic battles to something real. The first story with the white martians ("New World Order") was
entertaining, the recruitment drive was entertaining, ConnorHawke running around the Watchtower fighting the Key with his dad's old trick arrows, pretty much everything right up to the World War III story had some balance and was fun on some level.

Not so much here.

And I don't even want to talk about the 'artistic contribution' by Howard Porter.

I guess if one is to look at the bright side of things, it did help with the overall transition to Waid as writer, although the darker tone of his run is something to be discussed at another time.

That's it for tonight. I should be back with some thoughts on Umbrella Academy #1, the new issue of The Flash and some other stuff.

Onwards and upwards!


Worried About The Spirit

I just saw this article on ICV2 and I have to say that my worries about Frank Miller handling the Spirit film are not unfounded. That tagline, "Down these mean streets a man must come. A hero born, murdered, and born again.", and that image make me shudder. I never thought Miller was the right guy for the job and the more I see and hear about this project the more I feel convinced that I'm right.

Shooting starts next month and my opinion may change once I start to see stills and the early reviews eventually roll in, but I'm not going to hold out hope for this one. I know Miller is a huge fan of Eisner and The Spirit but I think I would have rather had Jeph Loeb stay on as screenwriter. Loeb's body of work is hit and miss with me but Miller's output since 300 (and in some cases, even before 300) has stunk to high heaven (Dark Knight sequels or All-Star Batman & Robin anyone?).

I guess I should hold out a little hope that Miller will not turn this into another Sin City and stay faithful to the (pardon the pun) spirit of the source material.

Ugh. I just can't stand seeing that picture.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Full Moon Fever

How can I tell it's a full moon? Everyone around me goes a little wonky, that's how. My children and wife sleep restlessly, the customers at work get stranger and stranger as the day approaches, tensions in the workplace build to a boiling point and generally anything that could go wrong inevitably does. I've heard from some friends that they also see the evil and weirdness in their lives bubbling to the surface when the moon is full, so I know it's not just me. Our experiences are probably not as strange as, say, that of an ER or police services are, but the ER doesn't have to deal with my burnt out passenger side headlamp or my wife's retarded boss.

Anyway, it's been a bit since I've posted so I figured I'd give a bit of a State of the Union as my kids get ready for school (for anyone who cares).

September was birthday month for Jennifer and I and, as is usually the case, we had some fun for hers and mine sucked eggs. I posted about the long sordid history of my birthdays a couple of weeks ago, so I won't repeat the grisly details, but for Jen's we sort of celebrated all weekend. We had a very good and fun lunch at Montana's (a ranch-themed steakhouse in town) with a massive dessert that was the literal icing on the cake that afternoon. Jen also rented Bandidas (which turned out to be very entertaining and written by Luc Besson) and Rent (which turned out to be not-so-entertaining and proved that I just can't get into musical theatre). The weekend then ended with a successful supper over at Jen's parents, with mine also in attendance.

My crummy day was totally trumped, however, by the fact that I received the Emma Peel DVDs which have already brought countless hours of pure, unadulterated joy into my life and are apparently preferred by Jen as my late night viewing of choice since it replaced The X-Files in my DVD player (she hates the music and all the audio floating upstairs while she's trying to sleep). I'm 6 episodes and 2 discs into the set now which leaves my 15 to go. Woot! Right now my favourite episode is called "Death at Bargain Prices" and features some wonderful Steed and Emma dialogue and a perfectly written scene with Steed getting some information out of a female food clerk at a department store. As I told a friend recently, they don't make 'em quite like that anymore.

I also seem to have a convert to the Avengers fold. Jen doesn't care for them too much but her friend Jillian thinks they're pretty cool and stayed after Jen had gone to bed to actually watch an episode with me. It was called "Castle De'ath" and it was appropriately campy and fun to match the title.

Good times.

here's the opening titles for the show after they went to colour:

Actually, I should also mention that before I received the DVD set, I discovered that on the 9th of September, Lucasfilm announced the title of the new Indiana Jones movie, which I considered to be a gift since it happened right on my birthday. As a huge Indy fan, how could I not consider it deliberate?

The fourth film will be enetitled Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, for anyone still not 'in-the-know', and the actual press release can be found at the official Indy site.

I'm thinking this post is getting a bit long so I'm going to cut it off there. I have the day off, however, so I may be back in a bit to get some more stuff out of my brain and onto the e-ther. Also, I have to go make my kids lunches for school, so...

As always, onwards and upwards!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Birthday Present to End All Birthday Presents

After much anticipation, window shopping, and web surfing, I've finally gotten my grubby little hands on the Complete Emma Peel Mega Set of The Avengers. 17 discs of Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee and the bonus disc has such cool, fun stuff on it.

I'm in heaven, what can I say.

I'll post a review or something when my brain has stopped processing this.


Monday, September 17, 2007

All Good Things...

Just to prove that the world is a cruel and unjust place, I've just read news that Abadazad book three, "The Puppet, the Professor and the Prophet", has been pulled by its publisher, Hyperion Books for Children, and will not be seen in bookstores this side of the Atlantic. To add insult to injury, they will also no longer be publishing any Abadazad books, effectively cancelling the series where it is at book three.

For more info, check out J.M. DeMatteis' Amazon blog here and to purchase your copy of book 3 go here.

I'm going to go soak my head or something.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Pre-Birthday Address

Well, it looks like I'll be turning the big 3-4 tomorrow. Another year, another birthday.

More than likely it'll be a bit of an anti-climax as so many birthdays and 'special' occasions tend to be for me. I probably won't be doing much since I gave up on the idea of 'doing something' to celebrate the passing of years a long time ago. I know that sounds a little bleak but I still remember the last real party that my wife tried to organize for me. I think it was 4 or 5 years ago and nobody could come. Friends, family...absolutely everyone passed on the invitation. That was not one of my best years.

I keep my expectations prettyb low these days but I used to get kind of grouchy when stuff like that would happen. Birthdays were always a big thing with me. Christmas and birthdays were the two 'holidays' or celebrations during the year where I really cared about who was around and what I/we were doing. I figure Christmas is supposed to be about family and goodwill and togetherness (which so often gets lost during the chaos), and the purpose of birthdays is to celebrate a person's coming into the world. If someone has had an effect/impact on you or your life, birthdays are as good a time as any to pay tribute to them. There's also an intimacy there since usually only friends and family bother with the whole birthday thing, so I think that's part of what's always made it sort of special in the past.

Oh, and I should give some credit to my friend Karl. That year everyone declined, he was one of those who had decided not to come for whatever reason but when he heard that nobody else was coming, however, he dropped whatever it was he was doing and came anyways. We met at a local burger joint and had a really good time.

So, if you're reading this, Karl, you'll always have points for that one.

Yeah, so, not to be broody or anything, but the main point of this post was to mention the two 'gifts' I picked up today. I was at my LCS and found the first issue of Glister by Andi Watson and the third volume of Southland Tales by Richard Kelley and Brett Weldele.

Glister is about a girl of the same name who has supernatural experiences: haunted teapots, disappearing houses, that kind of thing. There's a slight nod, I think, to books like the Courtney Crumrin series (or at least the material that originally influenced Ted Naifeh) and Watson has adopted a different style which has a Watson meets Ed Gorey kind of vibe to it. Having a new Watson book for my birthday was a treat and a half and I adored the material, especially the Skeleton Key back-up story, 'Rock, Paper, Scissors'. I miss those characters like nobody's business and it was great to see them again. Also cool to see them in the new style. I am very much looking forward to the second issue.

I have yet to finish Southland Tales but it reads much like the second volume. Richard Kelly is a relatively new discovery for me and exploring this world so soon after seeing Donnie Darko for the first time is an interesting trip. A lot of similarities and a lot of differences. The art reminds me of Ben Templesmith's 30 Days of Night and Fell stuff. Looks like the movie will hit in November as well, so we'll hopefully make it out to that when it arrives.

And before I sign off, a tip of the hat goes to the mother-in-law whose monetary gift provided the means to purchase these two books.

With that, I'm gonna blow. I'll try and blog tomorrow as well.

'Night all!