Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

DARROW: FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS GRAPHIC NOVEL COVER ART

10 SCI-FI FILMS THAT MAKE YOU GO “WHAT THE FRAK?"

*INCEPTION

*DARK CITY – (Inspired by the same exact twist in the anime classic “Megazone 23” anime.)

*DONNIE DARKO – (Don’t understand it completely. Love it anyway.)

*ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND – (One of my all-time favorite films. Epic and moving.)

*FIGHT CLUB – (“I know this because Tyler knows this…” My wife Wendy had it figured out before me. Actually, I never figured it out at all. It blew my mind.)

*12 MONKEYS – (Love the moment when Bruce Willis’ character actually believes he’s insane and the doctor has to convince him he’s really from the future.)

*GHOST IN THE SHELL – (A friend I saw this with said, as we walked out of the theater, “That wasn’t ‘Anime’, that was ‘Brainime’”. He’s right.)

*BRAZIL – (I’ve seen this one over 10 times. Love it to death. The ending is a work of art.)

*PLANET OF THE APES – (What can compare to that Statue of Liberty scene? Nothing.)

*Pi – (Does the solution for PI actually contain the hidden name for God ,or the secret of unlimited wealth? What if the answer would kill you?)

BONUS
*A BEAUTIFUL MIND (not sci-fi but quite PhilDickian.)

*THE SIXTH SENSE (I had the twist figured out very early on, but it’s a crime not to mention it.)

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, July 9, 2010

THE PITFALLS OF RE-LAUNCHING CLASSIC COMICS CHARACTERS



In October of this year, Dark Horse comics will re-launch Turok: Son of Stone as part of their plan to modernize the best of the Gold Key properties, including Doctor Solar, Magnus: Robot Fighter, and even Mighty Samson (for some reason).

See press release
HERE

While I admit that I am a big fan of these characters (with the exception of Mighty Samson), and that I enjoy Jim Shooter’s scripts overall, I’m skeptical of the way the publisher is going about this re-launch. Perhaps it’s because what made these characters interesting twenty years ago isn’t necessarily what will interest readers today. So, either Dark Horse updates these characters and brings them into the anti-hero, spandex-clad comics world of today – and therefore changes the character to be something unrecognizable – or they stay true to the core of these characters and lose the majority of readers in the process.

I’ve had a look at the Doctor Solar and Magnus: Robot Fighter re-launch attempts thanks to the recent Free Comic Book Day preview flip book. The cover art on each is phenomenal, thanks to Raymond Swanland’s impeccable style, but the interior art on both is less than inspiring. Although the artist for Doctor Solar maintains a clean, simple style that feels more true to the classic Gold Key vibe, the Magnus art was just poorly executed – even amateurish at times. Although, to be fair, the Magnus script was the weaker of the two and stronger art wouldn’t have helped things all that much.

Here’s what I think the biggest challenge for Dark Horse is when it comes to re-launching these 3 classic characters: No one is looking for a re-launch of these characters. There. I said it.

For those of us who love the Gold Key comics, we scour the dollar bins (and save our money for the $60 back issues), or we purchase the gorgeous archive editions (thanks to Dark Horse for that). But what we love about these stories, and these characters isn’t something that you can update for today’s audience. They only work because they’re so unlike what’s on the shelves today. I love that Turok was a realistic looking Native American who used a simple bow and arrow and a spear to fight off giant dinosaurs and survive another day in an exotic jungle outside of space and time. No one in 2010 wants to read a comic that – every week – features another dinosaur battle, or yet another – “we almost escaped this jungle again, but maybe next week we’ll be successful” – storyline. And why should they? Those were simpler stories and simpler artists for a simpler time. I like the nostalgic quality of that artwork – especially Alberto Giolitti’s fine pencilwork in the later years. I like the self-contained stories of survival and the episodic nature of the overall series that built upon the hope of escape but consistently built the relationship between Turok and Andar.

The last time Shooter attempted to re-launch these characters with Valiant comics the result was horrific. Sure, the art by Bart Sears and Joe Quesada at the time was eye-popping, and the stories fit right in with the newly-launched Image brand of storytelling ala Rob Liefeld and Marc Silvestri, etc. But putting a machine gun into the hands of my Turok was something that no one should have ever done. Ever.

The question is, should Dark Horse tell the continuing story of these characters and pick up where the old Gold Key adventures left off? Should they pretend they never happened and start over from scratch? (This appears to be their plan). I don’t know, really. Frankly, I think either plan will fail miserably.



However, when I look at how other comic book publishers have handled their re-launch of classic characters I’m more encouraged. Dynamite has done an amazing job with The Lone Ranger with great story-telling, great covers by John Cassady and solid interior art. That one shines. I’m also fairly impressed with the Kevin Smith “Green Hornet” book and the upcoming “The Last Phantom” had my $4.99 as soon as I saw that bad ass cover by Alex Ross. (Not that I’m a huge Ross fan, mind you. But seeing the blood-drenched, two-gunned version of the Ghost Who Walks in the jungle surrounded by dead bodies made me want to know more).



Classic comic properties like these, including The Shadow, Doc Samson, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, etc., have their built-in audiences. Publishers need to know that their bread and butter is found in making those fans happy and giving them a product they’ll devour each and every month. Finding a new audience for these characters can be achieved, but not at the expense of loosing that core fan base. Maybe Dynamite got it right by publishing multiple versions of their Green Hornet property? They’ve got the cool as a cucumber Kevin Smith version, the classic retro version, and even the Green Hornet of the future version where the character can escape the constraints of the past but still riff on them as needed.

At any rate – I’m willing to give the Turok re-launch a shot, but I’m afraid they’ve already lost me on the Doctor Solar and the Magnus titles. Those characters deserve better. So do their fans.

Until they republish the old Dagar the Invincible archives (please, oh please), make mine Gold Key.
**
Visit http://www.goldkeystories.com to get your Dagar, Magnus, Dr. Solar, Turok, Star Trek fix.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU

The new film based on the short story by Philip K. Dick.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Short Sci-Fi Film: The Gift

Here's something you'll like: a tantalizing dystopian sci-fi short by commercial director Carl Erik Rinsch, called "The Gift"; featuring robots, Moscow in winter, a kick-ass motorcycle chase, murder and a big mystery; below.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

WE COULDN'T MAKE THIS UP IF WE TRIED - March 4th, 2010

A man who advertises illegal circumcision’s on Craigslist builds a flying hovercraft made out of his old barbecue, his daughter's scooter, and his wife's car and flies to Russia in order to rescue an alcoholic chimp who is sent to rehab.

*Note: This is another genius idea for a screenplay based on insane headlines from today's news. Go write that screenplay!

Friday, February 26, 2010

WE COULDN'T MAKE THIS UP IF WE TRIED

Another dose of real-life news from the internet which, when meshed together, creates the framework for an ingenious screenplay concept.

Dateline: Februrary 25, 2010

A woman so fat she can stop bullets teams up with a cop who has to kill a crazed chimpanzee and then uses music to deal with his pain. Together they steal a commercial jetpack and help Kirstie Alley’s dream booty call come true.

**

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

SCAVENGING DAILY NEWS HEADLINES TO CREATE STORY CONCEPTS

Dateline: Feb.24, 2010

A Lingerie model runs one of the world's largest drug cartels while her husband is an undercover Mossad agent spying on Hamas. Together they take on an evil vice principal at their daughter's school who has been spying on her via her laptop camera.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

PKD'S ELECTRIC ANT: THE COMIC



MAY, 2010 --
PHILIP K. DICK’S ELECTRIC ANT #2 (of 5)
Written by DAVID MACK
Penciled by PASCAL ALIXE
Cover by PAUL POPE

FROM THE MIND OF SCIENCE-FICTION LEGEND PHILIP K. DICK -
David Mack and Pascal Alixe continue their charged and visually stunning adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Ant. When most people have crises of identity, a therapist might advise them to look inside themselves for answers. But after Garson Poole, CEO of Tri-Plan Industries, wakes up in a hospital and is told he is not human, but, in fact, a robot known as an Electric Ant, he goes looking for answers by opening up his chest panel and literally looks inside himself. But what lies in there is more profound and terrifying than anyone is prepared for…
32 PGS./Parental Advisory $3.99

Sunday, February 14, 2010

THIS MAKES ME SMILE





For years now, my friend Scott Laumann and I have been talking about creating Thomas Kinkaid style paintings with grafitti and poverty and real-life to counter-act the Disney-fied fantasy of the "painter of trite".

Thank goodness Banksy had the vision to beat us to it.

Bravo.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

FRANK MILLER: THE PUNISHER -Original Art



This gorgeous orginal Frank Miller ink drawing of The Punisher was given to me by my dear friend, Lito. At the moment it's in our spare bedroom because I ran out of wall space to hang it, but it's gorgeous to look at, isn't it?

Thanks, Lito!

Friday, February 12, 2010

TEMPLESMITH: ORGINAL ART

Here's a peek at some of the great orginal art I own from artist Ben Templesmith. Ben was the artist for 30 DAYS OF NIGHT and he also works on several other titles for IDW comics.







You can see the progression of pencil sketches of the main character's face (Jenn) and then the basic outline painting, then the finished black and white, and then the final photo-shopped version with the effects added in later. Truly an amazing work. I personally feel that this is the very best example of Ben's artwork I've ever seen. And not just because it's my character.

Below is another original ink drawing from Ben that came along with all of this other great stuff you see here. This one below is an ink original of John Constantine from the book, HELLBLAZER. (It was also a film called CONSTANTINE with Keanu Reeves).



I'll post more orignal art later from Adijin and Frank Miller.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

LICHETENSTEIN GIRL



This is the coolest thing you will see all day.

Guaranteed.

More
HERE

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

BEN TEMPLESMITH: DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?



A long time ago, I used to have this crazy idea about starting my own comicbook production company. We called it PlasticAnimalStudios.com (and the link is still active).

Ben Templesmith, God bless him, did an amazing cover for our flagship title, "Digerati" and not only did he not charge me for it, he also mailed me the original art, plus a few other originals, and sent it to me from Australia. For free.

Yeah.

Anyway, the above image is from Ben's website. He was messing around with a cover idea for the book and I think it came out pretty good.

These days he's living off his royalty checks from 30 DAYS OF NIGHT and working on a few original books of his own over at IDW comics.

Nice guy. Great artist. Cool cover.

Here's the DIGERATI cover:





I'll post the originals and more of his work later.

Friday, February 5, 2010

FOR THE LOVE OF GEOF DARROW

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Scouring the net today I came across these lovelies...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

REVIEW: A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Published in 1959, this novel is what I would call an accidental science fiction classic. By accidental I mean that it mainly a thought-provoking, philosophical drama dealing with the pride of mankind and our self-destructive natures which happens to accomplish the task using great characters, vivid imagery, keen insight and a futuristic setting. In other words, the author is more interested in telling a great story and dealing with difficult issues than he is with writing science fiction. And that is why I believe it may be one of the best science fiction books I’ve ever read.

For me, great science fiction – whether in print or on screen – uses the future as a mirror to reflect back on us our own failures and foibles of character. By putting modern concerns in the distance, and dressing up our present in the clothing of tomorrow, it allows us to consider our current situation and imagine a better future for ourselves.

This book is spread over a period of a few hundred years time and sectioned off into three parts: “Let There Be Man”, “Let There Be Light” and “They Will Be Done”. In each of the three sections we are told the story of mankind after the first nuclear devastation nearly obliterates mankind. Man’s greatest knowledge is scavenged and cataloged by the monks at what will soon become the abbey of Saint Leibowitz. While most of the survivors, self-proclaimed as “Simpletons”, rage against any sort of wisdom from before the nuclear holocaust, the monks must protect the “Memorabilia” from those who are dedicated to its destruction.

But the novel, a Hugo Award Winning work of masterfully written fiction, is about so much more than this. Here we have a book that hints at the wasteland we have come to know from films like “Road Warrior” and games like “Fallout 3”, but instead gives us ordinary people who simply try to live their lives and fulfill their vows to God, and to humanity.

Miller deals with the conflicts between faith and politics, science and religion, suffering and euthanasia, survival and compassion – all without ever losing sight of his ultimate storyline which is about mankind itself.

A Canticle for Leibowitz, is easily comparable to a handful of other great science fiction novels, including “Fahrenheit 451”, “Brave New World”, and “1984”. It is thoughtful, poignant, and subtle, leaving the reader to fill in the blanks, and consider the future, in sobering visions of what could be, and what we hope might never be.

From the Amazon.com review:

Walter M. Miller's acclaimed SF classic A Canticle for Leibowitz opens with the accidental excavation of a holy artifact: a creased, brittle memo scrawled by the hand of the blessed Saint Leibowitz, that reads: "Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels--bring home for Emma." To the Brothers of Saint Leibowitz, this sacred shopping list penned by an obscure, 20th-century engineer is a symbol of hope from the distant past, from before the Simplification, the fiery atomic holocaust that plunged the earth into darkness and ignorance. As 1984 cautioned against Stalinism, so 1959's A Canticle for Leibowitz warns of the threat and implications of nuclear annihilation. Following a cloister of monks in their Utah abbey over some six or seven hundred years, the funny but bleak Canticle tackles the sociological and religious implications of the cyclical rise and fall of civilization, questioning whether humanity can hope for more than repeating its own history. Divided into three sections--Fiat Homo (Let There Be Man), Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light), and Fiat Voluntas Tua (Thy Will Be Done)--Canticle is steeped in Catholicism and Latin, exploring the fascinating, seemingly capricious process of how and why a person is canonized.

--Paul Hughes

**

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

TIMECRIMES: A REVIEW OF THE FILM



TIMECRIMES - (2007), Directed by Nacho Vigalondo. Starring Karra Elejalde

I cannot say enough how intriguing and entertaining and genuinely well-done this little independent foreign language film really is. No really. I can’t. Because to say too much is to give away this ingeniously planned story and twisty-turning plot.

The director, in an early interview, cited the fiction of Philip K. Dick as his inspiration for this film, and it really shows. The storyline turns in on itself over and over again, telling, and then re-telling the story in overlapping layers as the main character travels through time – again and again – attempting to correct his mistakes and set everything right. He must outsmart himself and anticipate his own actions and reactions in order to avoid a catastrophe that threatens to ruin his life.

Some have compared this film to that other time-travel film, Primer, and while both are low-budget, cerebral sci-fi dealing with time travel, this film is a much better execution of the concept. In fact, not only did I not enjoy Primer, I found the narrative got bogged down in attempting to explain how the time travel was accomplished rather than in telling a compelling story. This film succeeds by avoiding the “how” of the science of time travel in favor of telling an intriguing story.

This is a great little film. It will have you guessing, and then make you pause the film to stop and think about it a bit more, before you reach the end.

Highly recommended.

From the description of the DVD on Amazon.com:
The Oscar-nominated Vigalondo's first feature has elicited comparisons to time-travel movies from Back to the Future to Groundhog Day, but in its reliance on clever plotting over special effects, his thriller has more in common with the low-budget Primer. At the time of its release, United Artists announced that David Cronenberg would be handling the English-language remake, which is sure to offer up its own unique twists and turns. Like Christopher Nolan’s Memento, this jigsaw-puzzle picture calls for multiple viewings to make all the pieces fit.
--Kathleen C. Fennessy

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

MOEBIUS: ARZACH



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THE ART OF DYLAN LEE GILES

THE ART OF DYLAN GILES

I will admit, I am a biased art critic when it comes to my 14 year old son, Dylan. I’ve watched him blossom from an infant with a crayon and a toddler with a watercolor brush, into a young man whose imagination is barely contained by his ability to breathe life onto a page.

When he was four years old he painted something so gorgeous that I cannot – to this day – recreate it on my own. By the time he was in first grade he had created his own fictitious publishing company (Squishball.com) and designed the logo.

Today, his art style is highly detailed and more than a little inspired by the likes of Moebius and Geof Darrow, but I have a feeling that even this latest style of art is only a brief layover into exponentially greater realms of creativity to come.

Just check out these insanely detailed drawings he’s produced over the last month or so.

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His main blog is
HERE

GEOF DARROW vs Godzilla


Amazing.

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MOON: A Review of the film

MOON – (2009), Directed by Duncan Jones .Starring Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey

This film intrigued me long before I ever saw it on screen. The murky, reality-bending previews promised a very mind-twisting and cerebral sci-fi experience. I was salivating in my imagination with every teaser image and cinematic trailer. Then came the word of mouth and the reviews, which were all quite positive and only helped to reinforce the illusion that this was a thought-provoking, intelligent bit of science fiction storytelling.

They lied.

Whatever your first guess might be in the very early frames of this film about where the plot is going will most likely be 100% correct. Once the story catches up with your initial theory, a few seconds later, the story really doesn’t take you anywhere unexpected or interesting. I was, to say the least, disappointed.

[SPOILERS BELOW]

If you’ve seen the film, you probably had an idea early on in the story that Sam Rockwell’s character was a clone. Sure enough, once he goes outside and finds his own body at the scene of the accident, your suspicions are confirmed. After that, it’s all falling action (as we say in the fiction writing business), and that takes up about two thirds of the film.

I kept expecting another twist to the story. Perhaps when the two clones are scouting around they come upon another base just like their own, and they discover a third clone of themselves? Or perhaps when the rescue team arrives they overpower them and take their shuttle to return to Earth? Or perhaps the rescue team is another set of clones just like themselves? Or maybe when he called his daughter on Earth we get to see the original version of our astronaut character and he’s crippled, in a wheelchair perhaps, or maybe he looks into the video screen and realizes that they cloned him without his knowledge? I don’t know….but anything other than the straight ahead, deadly obvious storyline we got in this film would have been an improvement.

This film could’ve been fascinating. It could’ve played with whether our main character was insane, or actually a clone, for a bit longer before the reveal. It could’ve pulled back the curtain and revealed that this was an elaborate experiment back on Earth to test the mental stability of these clones under stress.

But no. Instead, we get a story that feels like it was written in one sitting over pizza by a pair of junior high kids who are more easily amused, and mentally stimulated, than I am.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Moebius: Major Fatal















*from Heavy Metal Magazine, Sept. '77

MOEBIUS: THE LONG TOMORROW


Serialized in 2 parts in the July/August 1977 issues of Heavy Metal Magazine.

Today I picked up the second part for a sweet trade of books at Frank & Sons, plus 4 other HM magazines from 77/78 with tons of great Moebius art. I'll post those later.