Graphic Novelties

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This blog has been superseded by my Culture Shock blog.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Zombie Zombies

Rob Zombie talks about his animated horror film, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, based on his comic-book characters:
"It's a beautiful-looking movie," he told the DJs [Kevin & Bean]. "All these animators from studios like Disney came to work on it, and [they're thrilled because] they get to work on something filthy. It's probably rated XXX now, but we'll have to cut it back to an R."

Getting your "Freak" on

Comedy Central has ordered seven episodes of the animated series Freak Show, executive produced by H. Jon Benjamin (Dr. Katz) and David Cross (Arrested Development). The series centers on a group of freak-show performers who moonlight as second-rate superheroes and will debut in late 2006 or early 2007.

My future pull list

As far as DC goes, given their promotional secretiveness, I'm only really looking forward to Grant Morrison's upcoming Batman run. But as for Marvel, I see much of interest on the horizon, and none of it has anything to do with that annoying "Civil War" crossover. The Eternals by Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr.? Check. A new Ghost Rider series? Hey, it's worth a look. Doctor Strange by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin, set in the normal Marvel continuity and ignoring J. Michael Straczynski's hackneyed revamp? That's the best comics news I've heard in a long time. Frank Cho on an ongoing series? You have my attention. Peter David writing a retro Hulk vs. The Champions story? I'm there, dude.

And now, the bad.

If you follow the link above, you'll see lots of preview art, and one thing is really bugging me. The preview pages for the New Avengers: Illuminati one-shot show a fight between Iron Man and Namor. Now, Iron Man is one of the smartest guys in the Marvel Universe. So, why would he fly out over water and then go underwater where Namor is at his most powerful? Can you say, "bad writing," boys and girls? 'Cause when you write smart characters as stupid, that's what it is. (And don't tell me that Iron Man was flying away from populated areas. Iron Man can outrun Namor by a considerable margin.)

Friday, March 03, 2006

"Teen Titans" TV's most violent kids show?

The busybodies are at it again. This time, it's the conservative Parents Television Council, led by the smarmy L. Brent Bozell, going after violence in children's television:
The PTC study reviewed programming shown during three weeks from the summer of 2005. It examined shows on four broadcast and four cable networks: ABC, Fox, NBC, WB, ABC Family, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.

The group's 2002 study of prime-time TV reviewed six broadcast networks.

The study found the Cartoon Network had the most violence overall, while the Disney Channel had the least.

It singled out the "Teen Titans" superhero cartoon, shown on the Cartoon Network and the WB, as the most violent show for children.

Naturally, not everyone is buying this.

"This group has a history of making sensational claims in order to push government control of content," said Jim Dyke, executive director of TV Watch.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dr. Wertham, call your office

George Clooney says that when he played Batman in Batman and Robin he played the character gay:
"I was in a rubber suit. I had rubber nipples. I could have played him straight but I didn't I made him gay."

"Justice League" DVD update

TV Shows on DVD reports that the season 2 DVD set of Justice League will be presented in widescreen, not in full-screen format as was announced Wednesday.

Also, the site says to expect two more single-disc releases of Justice League Unlimited before Warner Bros. releases full-season box sets.

Marvel animation and movie speculation

  • In addition to Ultimate Avengers, Cartoon Network will air two other Marvel direct-to-DVD animated releases, Ultimate Avengers 2 and Iron Man. A statement from Cartoon Network made no mention of Marvel and Lionsgate's fourth confirmed animated feature, Doctor Strange, which probably will not see it's DVD release until early 2007. Cartoon Network also will air the original movie Teen Titans Tokyo, based on the recently canceled DC Comics TV series Teen Titans.

  • Dimension Films has purchased the rights to the superhero-parody spec script Comic Book: The Movie, which is funny given that (1) Dimension's parent company has already released a Mark Hamill-helmed mockumentary also called Comic Book: The Movie, and (2) Dimension is already producing a superhero-movie parody film, titled Superhero!, from the makers of Scary Movie 3. There is speculation that Dimension will combine the two parody projects, although I think it may be that Dimension wanted simply to buy out the competition.

  • Assuming V for Vendetta is a hit, the film's (nominal?) director, James McTeigue, wants a shot at adapting another Alan Moore graphic novel, Watchmen.
  • Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    I've been saying this for years

    The Beat links to a blog that dares blog the unthinkable: Chris Ware is overrated. Writes David Apatoff at Illustration Art:
    Ware's work combines three disciplines: artist, graphic designer and writer. Taking them in order, it is hard to argue that his "art" -- the actual drawings inside the panels -- is anything better than competent. He draws in a monotone, with little of the variety, the sensitivity or wisdom of line, the composition, design, or the other qualities that have traditionally been the hallmark of great drawing. Ware would have made an excellent key liner, and that was an honorable profession, but anybody knowledgeable about sequential art or illustration should have no trouble identifying 500 superior artists. As an aside, Ware also hasn't discovered that an artist who wants to depict a repetitive and bleak life cannot simply resort to repetitive and bleak drawings. Important lesson.

    Get ready for the biggest shockwave to hit the comics world since Ted Rall stomped on Art Spiegelman.

    Marvel stock upgraded

    JPMorgan upgraded Marvel Entertainment's stock Tuesday from "neutral" to "overweight," which doesn't sound like an improvement to me, but I'm sure these are technical terms. Marvel closed the day up 99 cents to $18.52.

    Marvel has recently been buying back stock, and "[s]ince launching its buyback program in July 2004, Marvel has purchased 25.5 million shares, or 26 percent of its float."

    Analysis are also bullish regarding Marvel's 2007 film prospects:
    [JPMorgan analyst Barton] Crockett said Marvel's 2007 movie slate is shaping up to be "unusually strong," with "Spider-Man 3" slated for May, "Fantastic Four 2" for July and "Ghost Rider" for February.

    (Google is your friend: "'Overweight' means a stock is projected to outperform on a 12-month risk-adjusted basis.")

    Smith swears off superhero movies

    Kevin Smith reveals that he doesn't want to direct a comic-book movie:
    [T]he reason Smith doesn't want to direct a comic book movie, as he was once in line to do with "Green Hornet"? He thinks shooting action is boring, and it's better suited to those who love it. "Sam Raimi does more cool sh-- in two minutes in 'Spider-Man' than I've done in seven movies," he conceded.

    "Justice League" on DVD, take 2

    The second season of Justice League is due out on DVD on June 20, according to TV Shows on DVD. The four-disc set consisting of 26 episodes will retail for $44.98. But contrary to previous reports, the set is listed as being full-screen instead of widescreen. TV Shows on DVD notes this may just be an error on Warner Bros.'s press release and is seeking to confirm the screen format of this set's episodes.

    (Image via Toon Zone.)

    Tuesday, February 28, 2006

    Anita Blake: comic-book heroine

    Dabel Brothers Productions has obtained the rights to produce a series of comics based on novelist Laurell K. Hamilton's best-selling series of Anita Blake novels, according to a press release posted at Newsarama. According to the release:
    The first book in the series, ANITA BLAKE: VAMPIRE HUNTER in GUILTY PLEASURES, will hit shelves in June, 2006, featuring amazing art by a soon-to-be-announced illustrator and a faithful script adaptation by Stacie M. Ritchie that will have fans of the novels savoring the first chapter in Anita Blake's adventures once again. The adaptation will also be published in two graphic novel volumes, available respectively by January and July, 2007.

    The news was greeted with speculation online, with Hamilton's fans wondering how much of the sometimes explicit sex of the novels, especially in later volumes of the series, will find it's way into the comics. As one Newsarama reader suggested, "The first six or so books are among my very favorite books but the latter titles made [me] quit reading the series. If they 'faithfully' adapt the later books they will have to be sold from behind the counter."

    Dark Horse doubles manga efforts

    Dark Horse Comics plans to double its output of manga titles in 2006, editor Carl Horn announced at New York Comic-Con this past weekend. ICv2 reports:
    Among the new manga licenses that Dark Horse announced at the NYCC were: Shin Lone Wolf & Cub by Kazuo Koike and Hideki Mori (a 6-volume sequel to the classic series); Translucent by Kazuhiro Okamoto (the story of an eighth grade girl with a disease that turns her translucent); Who Fighter by Seihou Takizawa (about a WWII fighter pilot who shoots down a UFO), and two series drawn by Housui Yamazaki, Mail and Kurosagi Delivery Service of Corpse.

    Monday, February 27, 2006

    The new "Action" team

    Rich Johnston reports that the new writing team on Action Comics will be Geoff Johns and Johns' former boss, Superman movie director Richard Donner.

    He also reports the old, but still cool, news that Joe R. Lansdale is writing a five-part Conan miniseries for Dark Horse.

    "Ultimate" delay

    Cartoon Network's broadcast of Ultimate Avengers, has been pushed back from March until April 15, reports Toon Zone. The move makes way for a Hayao Miyazaki film festival running on the cable channel throughout March.

    Ang Lee meets Shang-Chi

    Oscar-nominated director Ang Lee reportedly is still producing a movie version of Marvel's Shang-Chi: Master of Kung-Fu with famed Hong Kong fight choreographer and director Woo-ping Yuen slated to direct.

    Speakeasy, R.I.P.

    Newsarama reports that Speakeasy Comics closed its doors this afternoon. I'll be shocked if this is the last such announcement we see this year. The way I see it, IDW, Dynamite and Devil's Due are the only full-color publishers in the back of the Previews catalog that seem safe.

    Behr to be the Man Without Fear?

    The rumor mill claims that Jason Behr (Roswell) is up for the role of Daredevil in a possible sequel. I give this rumor a credibility rating of Baron Munchausen.

    "Pants of Delight"

    OK. I have nothing to add to this story from the Mainichi Daily News:
    It's gross, filthy and disgusting, but Japanese erotic manga fans can't get enough of a comic that comes with a pair of pre-school girl's panties as a promotional item, according to Cyzo (March).

    Pretty much anything goes in the world of Japanese erotic manga, but "Sekai Hatsu Shiawase Pantsu Shokai Gentei" (World's First Limited Edition Pants of Delight), one of the most wildly popular manga on the market, goes beyond being sickening.

    Even Cyzo, a glossy monthly that could kindly be termed as "broad minded" is disgusted, saying "Has the world of Rorikon stooped this low?"

    Rorikon, the Japanese word for pedophilia, is a contraction of the borrowed English words "Lolita," after the girl in Vladimir Nabokov's book of the same name, and "complex."

    Comic-book movies that time forgot

    This is the first of what may become an irregular feature about comic-book movies you've never heard of or might wish to forget.

    1973 gave us Baba Yaga, based on Italian cartoonist Guido Crepax's Valentina comics. Also known Kiss Me Kill Me, Baby Yaga was released on DVD by Blue Underground in 2003, a release which includes a Crepax documentary, Freud in Color, and a comics-to-film comparison. Here's Blue Underground's description of the film:

    Legendary sex symbol Carroll Baker (BABY DOLL, THE SWEET BODY OF DEBORAH) stars as a mysterious sorceress with an undying hunger for sensual ecstasy and unspeakable torture. But when she casts a spell over a beautiful young fashion photographer (the gorgeous Isabelle De Funes), Milan'’s most luscious models are sucked into a nightmare world of lesbian seduction and shocking sadism. Are these carnal crimes the result of one woman's forbidden fantasies or is this the depraved curse of the devil witch known as BABA YAGA?

    I have Baba Yaga in my DVD collection because I have almost every Italian horror/thriller/supernatural film ever made in my DVD collection. But when I last watched Baba Yaga, it was really late at night, and I don't remember much. I do remember that Crepax, or an actor portraying Crepax, appears early in the film and talks about cartooning, discussing in particular the subversive nature of Snoopy and Peanuts. Unfortunately, Movie-Crepax doesn't elaborate on this.

    According to the Internet Movie Database, Baba Yaga's director, Corrado Farina, has made only one other film, which may also help explain why I remember so little of the movie. Oh, wait, I remember there being lots of nudity. But then I always remember that.

    (See the Baba Yaga movie trailer here. Not work safe. See also DVD Drive-In's review.)

    Sunday, February 26, 2006

    Missing the manga movement

    The Patriot-News (Penn.) reports on the popularity of manga. A sidebar story then delves into how comic-book stores have not shared in the manga boom, largely because of their inability to compete with chain bookstores and online retailers. The sidebar quotes The Comics Journal's Dirk Deppey:
    Deppy [sic], who derided the U.S. comic industry for failing to capitalize on the success of manga in a recent issue of the Journal, said American comics publishers like Marvel cater to such a niche market that they might have alienated folks who would otherwise frequent their local store.

    "American comics went into retirement," he said, "catering more and more to hardcore fans. It's a one-genre medium, and the books have become more arcane."

    A (graphic) novel idea

    The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the trend of novelists and screenwriters turning to writing comic books:
    "We get compelling storytelling and a fresh outlook on over 40 years of character continuity," says Ruwan Jayatilleke, director of development at Marvel, in New York. "And obviously we're going for a crossover audience. Increasingly we're seeing these [comic] books collected into graphic novels.

    "When you have stories from well-known creative types like Joss Whedon or [sci-fi author] Orson Scott Card, or Reggie Hudlin," he continues, "there's more of a mainstream audience going to Barnes & Noble or Amazon or even discovering their local comic book shop."

    Baltimore Sun: Mad about manga

    The Baltimore Sun is the latest mainstream newspaper to discover that strange manga stuff all the hip kids are into nowadays:
    [Y]oung fans can always get their fix at the library. The Baltimore County Public Library has been adding to its collection and now has more than 2,800 volumes in its branches, 330 different manga titles in all.

    "It's definitely one of our highest circulating collections," says Jeff Doane, a librarian in the Towson branch young adult section. "The whole system is suddenly realizing [that manga isn't] a one-hit wonder. These books are read to pieces. That's pretty cool."

    The story also cites manga circulation figures from
    [S]ales in the U.S. have more than doubled from $55 million in 2002, according to ICv2. USA Today reported that its 2005 best-selling book list included a number of graphic novel titles, more than triple the number as compared to the year before, and the most popular form was manga. Harlequin Books has started publishing some of its romances in manga form.

    Mainstream press on NY Comic-Con

    Both USA Today and Publishers Weekly have round-ups of New York Comic-Con. (Second link via The Beat.)

    Octavia Butler, R.I.P.

    Science Fiction writer Octavia Butler has died. She was 58. According to the Associated Press, Butler, "the first black woman to gain national prominence as a science fiction writer, died after falling and striking her head on the cobbled walkway outside her home, a close friend said Sunday."
    Butler began writing at age 10, and told Howle she embraced science fiction after seeing a schlocky B-movie called "Devil Girl from Mars" and thinking, "I can write a better story than that." In 1970, she took a bus from her hometown of Pasadena, Calif., to East Lansing, Mich., to attend a fantasy writers workshop.

    Flash, ahh ahhhhhhh!

    Defenders of the Earth, the 1980s animated TV series produced by Marvel Productions and featuring King Features Syndicate comic-strip heroes Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, and Lothar (promoted from being Mandrake's sidekick), is reportedly coming to DVD in the near future. BCI Eclipse has the rights.