Saturday, August 31, 2013
Another sketch I got at last weekend's Fan Expo. This one from Archie Comics writer / artist Fernando Ruiz. I think everyone involved in Archie Comics likes Jughead the best, he seems to be the go to character sketch to do. I bought a newspaper strip of original art off of him. The coolest thing is that Archie Comics are a rarity in today's digital world, in that they still do their word balloons by hand vs typing 'em up on the computer. So, you can still actually read the comic. If I was rich and had a lot more wall-space, I would have bought a stack of them.
Friday, August 30, 2013
I am a ginormous fan of the now extinct Mirage Comics group, and their long time publishing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles books. I miss the red head-band Turtles greatly. I was pleasantly surprised to bump into longtime TMNT artist Michael Dooney at last weekend's Fan Expo. I bought an awesome pencil art print off of him, and he drew me this sketch. I think it's Leonardo.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
I got to bump into my friend Tyrone McCarthy at last weekend's Fan Expo in Toronto. Tyrone did a comic book called Corduroy High back in the day that I was a fan of, and we have been running into each other at conventions for years now. He got into the production side of things with Guerilla Printing a few years back. I think that running a business and the ins and outs of fatherhood has kept him a bit distracted from the artwork side of things. Happily he has a brand new children's book out called Ninja Cat, which is the perfect gift for any kid that loves cats or ninjas or both.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
I saw a pair of great films tonight at the Mayfair. In fact, it may have been the best crowd reaction for back to back films that I've seen all year. Both films had the patrons laughing through-out, and both garnered a big round of applause at their conclusions.
The Kings of Summer is an immensely impressive feature directing and screenwriting debut. The story follows a trio of teenage boys who run away from home to live of the land like real men and build their dream-house in the woods. It features some great new-comer performances and the brilliant fatherly comic stylings of Nick Offerman. The movie stands shoulder to shoulder with the legacy of coming of age tales the like of Stand by Me, Breaking Away and even the John Hughes catalog.
The second film on the agenda was This is the End, a Canadian content filled comedy featuring countless death, rampant destruction and no less than the apocalypse. If you like the guys in this movie, which I do, you will very likely laugh from start to finish. It's filled with a truck load of great cameo's, and does not pull it's punches in terms of gore, scares and monstrous demons either. It's a horror movie that just happens to be hilarious, with the added funk gimmick that everyone in it is playing exaggerated nut-job versions of themselves.
Do yourself a favour and catch both of these movies. We screen them again at the Mayfair on Thursday August 29th - The Kings of Summer at 7:00pm and This is the End at 9:00pm.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Sometimes I'm a sucker for limited edition things. If it's a tin lunch box or a special edition blu ray or an art print that has a number / then another number, that just might push me over the top in whether I will purchase it or not.
At the same time, I have never been a great fan or supporter of the variant cover craze that popped up in comic books in the 1990's, and has made a comeback the last few years. I am not going to buy six different versions of the same book just because they have different artists. Or, if it's a comic that comes bagged because there's a trading card or something included, I'm not going to buy multiple copies to keep one pristine. I'm just going to buy one copy and open it up. I haven't even put a comic in a poly-bag and a board in years. Take that mint condition!
I was none-the-less suckered into getting a couple of Archie variant exclusives at Fan Expo this past weekend. I faltered because I wasn't paying attention, I thought that it was at least two different Archie offerings. It was in fact the same issue of Betty & Veronica #267, just with a pair of different Canadian themed covers. The interior has nothing to do with Canada either, it is a rather strange tale with Betty & Veronica re-imagined into a Little Mermaid style tale.
I find myself becoming more and more a fan of Archie. I'm especially appreciative that they introduce characters like Kevin Keller, that they're putting out a kid friendly super-hero line, and that they continue to do weird things like their soon to be published zombie horror book featuring the Archie characters. Hence I'm not too upset about being tricked into buying two copies of the same book. Plus they claim that there were only a mere 400 of each cover produced. Collector's items! I will bag and board them and resell them one day and be rich.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Back from the big city of Toronto and the insanity that is Fan Expo. I heard a crazy rumour that Fan Expo is now the 2nd biggest geek convention in North America after Comic Con. I don't know if that's true, but considering how many people were there, it would not surprise me. It's always an overly hectic few days between seeing friends and schmoozing and then just trying to get in a bit of shopping. It's always a nice time when countless thousands of nerds get together to revel in what they love.
On the trip back home I read the first volume of the cannibalistic cop comedy Chew from Image Comics. It further makes me believe that Image is hands down the most diverse and best comic book publishers in the biz. I've said it before, but if you are looking for some good stuff to read, you will easily find something from them.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Went to a Toronto eatery for brunch called Starving Artist. A lovely little place that had a teevee inside playing old time cartoons, where I got to eat tasty vegan waffles. My friends who were accompanying me had more meat based fare, so if you are of a more carnivorous persuasion you'll have no shortage of selection. As an extra bonus, the place is swarming with roughly one bazillions wasps. Wasps in bug form, not as a descriptive of a sub-genre of human. Nothing makes a meal taste more delicious then keeping dangerous bitey flying insects at bay.
On the subway to Fan Expo, I picked up a newly released magazine for the upcoming Toronto International Film Fest. I flipped through looking at their selections, then happened on the page with ticket info. To purchase a regular adult movie ticket, it will cost a Torontonian a whopping $23.50. If you are going to a fancy red carpet event, that will run you a whopping $45 bucks! To watch a movie! I have been told over and over again that TIFF is a terrible festival in terms of regular person attendance, that it was horribly over priced and most of what they have will be at other theatres soon after. It's not like Fantasia, where it's filled with rarities and tiny independent selections. I didn't realize it was so terribly over-priced though. I tossed out the magazine in disgust.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
It seems like just yesterday I was a video store clerk and my friend Al Kratina was a young customer of side-kick level proportions. Cut to fifteen years later and I'm sleeping on his couch while I visit Toronto and he's on a panel for a teevee series that he wrote. Got to attend the panel tonight at Fan Expo, where he got to sit before a crowd and squirm under adulation from his director, actors, and those in the crowd. His show is called 24 Hour Rental, and is a dark crime genre comedy that takes place around a video store.
The best part of the night was that Al got to introduce myself and our friend Kelly to one of the actors from the show, Michael Biehn. Michael Biehn has of course appeared in Grindhouse, Tombstone, The Abyss, Terminator and Aliens. Aliens just happens to be Kelly's favourite movie of all time. I have high praise for it too, I even once had a cat named Ripley. So, we got to shake hands and managed to avoid embarrassment via geeky gushing fumbles of worship. I didn't break down and ask if it was cool that time when he killed Aliens or battled a Terminator. A rogue nerd interrupted us while we were meeting him as Michael was lauding compliments Al's way. I almost intercepted the geek with a whisper of "Now's not a good time...move along.". He was one of those geeks that gives geeks a bad name, but we all came out of the awkward interaction unscathed.
The clips looked great. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the final product. You can find information about 24 Hour Rental on Facebook and on Twitter under @24HourRental, it will premiere in Canada on Super Channel sometime before the end of 2013.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Up somewhat bright and horrendously early to head to Toronto for Fan Expo. I am glad that I have friends in high places who can get me in as their +1, because if you are buying a ticket for the weekend, it will cost you at least a nerdy arm and or leg to gain admittance. I'm sure a fun time will be had by all though. If you are in the convention centre neighbourhood, be sure to drop by my soon to be publisher, Mirror Comics and say hello and buy some stuff!
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Watched Man of Steel at the Mayfair last night. Much like every single Superman movie that preceded it, I find it a very perplexing and difficult piece to give opinion on.
Even the Richard Donner directorial efforts that many a comic geek and cinema fan stick up on a pedestal, I find far from perfect. In fact I think 1978's Superman: The Movie is mayhaps the most split-decision opinion I have ever felt. I think the movie is filled with classic moments of adventure and wonder, some great performance, and one of the best score's ever to accompany a motion picture. It also is hindered by some horribly cheesy clunky moments (like Lois' poetry) and what I decree as the worst ending to a good movie ever made. Even as a kid I thought that having your hero spin the world backward to make time reverse was bad script-writing and scientifically improbable, even in a world with a guy from another planet who can fly and has god like strength. At the same time, I think that Christopher Reeve's performance is one of the most impressive ever to grace the silver screen, and proves that the Clark / Superman thing could in fact work.
Superman's II through IV get worse as the number's get higher. Each does have it's moments though. Even the one with Richard Pryor and the one where Superman goes on a quest for peace have a few shining moments. Maybe after you pulled out giant portions of each film, they could be puzzle-pieced together into one really good four hour mega-movie. Then there's Superman Returns, which had the best of intentions but became a confusing bit of a mess. Was it a sequel...was it a re-make...I don't think anyone still knows quite what it was.
That leads us to the sixth Superman movie, a re-boot of the franchise that has gone all Dark Knight and is simply called Man of Steel. It comes from the team behind the Dark Knight trilogy, the director of other comic adaptations Watchmen and 300, and sets our Kryptonian hero in a more real world type of surroundings. And there-in may lay the big flaw in this whole pitch. I respect exploring a decades old character in a new light, I don't fear change in looking at an old character in a new way. If you look at that other mega-popular DC character Batman as an example, I enjoy numerous incarnations of the character. I like the Adam West 1960's version, the Michael Keaton 1980's / 90's version, different animated incarnations, and all kinds of different comic book alternate universe interpretations of the Batman. So, I don't mind a new take on Superman for this new millennium.
Realism and comic book fantasy is a tough line to mesh. I find it hard enough to accept a Superman with no red underwear, do we really want a Superman that has a collateral damage kill-count in the thousands in his climactic super villain battle? There was also a part where Pa Kent essentially told lil' Clark that he should have let a bus load of kids drown in order to protect his secret identity. That bit of dialog actually actually made me sit up in my seat for a second, not believing what I had just heard. I'm just not sure who they wanted their target audience to be in this movie. I can't imagine it being all that appealing to a kid, yet there are action figures and lunch box merchandising. I can't imagine a kid zooming about with an action figure of this version of Superman, imaginings about the joys of flying and fighting bad guys.
This movie is pretty good science fiction if you have never heard of Superman and have no attachment to the character. As a Superman movie though, I think I was left rather saddened and offended. Not the best reaction to what should have been a big fun summer blockbuster. And I'm not even that big of a Superman geek.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
If you live in or are visiting the city of Ottawa, and you have not been to Zen Kitchen, you should drop all other plans that you might have and get there as soon as you can. I went tonight for the first time, and it makes me sad that I didn't go and eat there at a much earlier date. I shared a tapas and dessert plate, and in-between had gnocchi as my main course. I not only had never had gnocchi before, I'm pretty sure I've never heard of it. It was one of the most delicious food-things that I have ever tasted ever. Where has it been all my life? In conclusion, quit your job, flip a table, push that old lady out of your way, steal a car, and get yourself to Zen Kitchen for an amazing meal.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
It's almost time for the third annual FAKE TRAILERS, REEL FESTIVAL! This Thursday August 22 at 9:15pm, join us at the Mayfair for an evening of real trailers made for fake movies made by local and international filmmakers. You'll see clips from feature films that are never coming to a theatre near you by filmmakers from here in Ottawa, and Montreal, Vancouver, and even locations as far away as Germany. That will be followed up by real vintage trailers from bizarre grindhouse oddities, cult classics, and cinematic fan favourites...all presented on 35mm! Another distinctive and rare movie-going event that could only happen at the Mayfair.
Monday, August 19, 2013
As per usual, I had a long list of things that I should've been working on this-afternoon. Instead I watched Age of Dinosaurs on the Netflix. If your movie has a dinosaur in it, I am going to watch it. This new cinematic classic comes from The Asylum, who also brought the masses the current phenomena that is Sharknado. This movie has both dinosaurs and Treat Williams...it was everything I could've hoped for.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
More and more I find myself getting bored with comic book super-heroes. I think a lot of that has to do with writers and artists leaving the mainstream in favour of doing their own creator owned work. Some of it might have to do with the fact that I've read a bazillion comic books featuring super-heroes, and maybe it's all starting to get a bit repetitious. The last big Marvel cross-over, Age of Ultron, was a train-wreck of uninteresting storytelling. Not only was it boring, but it pissed me off 'cause by the time it ended it just felt like a complete waste of my time. Nothing happened that deserved to be spread over multiple issues along with a whole bunch of crossovers. DC hasn't been doing much better, and my intake of reading of the New 52 has decreased rapidly.
Then I noticed that with my latest comic book delivery, from the last two weeks, not a single purchase from the big two publishers. Abe Sapien and Buffy the Vampire Slayer from Dark Horse, East of West, Satellite Sam, Savage Dragon and Saga from Image, Quantum & Woody from Valiant, and Doctor Who from IDW. A reminder to folks that even if you might be interested in reading comics and you've outgrown the super-hero mainstream, there are still plenty of comic book offerings for you to try out. There's less and less that I'm looking forward to at DC and Marvel (there's a Harley Quinn book on the horizon drawn by Amanda Conner at DC, and Hawkeye continues to be great at Marvel), and more and more from all the other publishers. And as a geeky footnote, the Doctor Who comic is just as good as the show. Very impressive.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
It's the finale of the Rideau Valley Girls 2013 home season as the Sirens take on the Misfit Militia from Alliston, Ontario. The doors to the Jean Marc Lalonde Arena (1523 DuParc Avenue in Rockland) open at 5:30pm and the game starts at 6:00pm. Tickets are $10. For all other pertinent information, check out the RVRG website. I will be there helping out with score-keeping and pretending my best that I am neutral and don't care about Ottawa winning.
Friday, August 16, 2013
I have been reading Savage Dragon since 1992, meaning that I have been consistently reading the universe from the imagination of Erik Larsen every month to month and a half for well over two decades. That's a rather staggering statistic, especially considering that he has written, drawn and supplied the cover for every single issue. That just doesn't happen now-a-days. When Image Comics was founded, it was meant to be for creators to work on their own characters. Erik was the only one to actually follow through with his commitment to his comic book world.
Savage Dragon has been a cop, a super-hero, an outlaw, a father, and he's run for president. He's met up with Hellboy, the Ninja Turtles, and Superman, he's even battled the Mars Attacks aliens. Another fun gimmick is that the comic has aged in real real time, a true rarity in the genre. All of the characters have aged two decades, just as it's readers have. The comic has consistently featured amazingly imaginative plot-lines, stories not afraid to hit the character with giant universe shaking changes.
The latest issue, Savage Dragon #190, is currently in stores and online. If you go and get it in a comic store, you can get the limited edition Archie Digest sized issue...I got both versions.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Joss Whedon's adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing into a modern day cinematic tale has been greatly anticipated and highly anticipated by Mayfair patrons. It finally hits the Mayfair's screen tomorrow night.
The movie features a who's who of actors from the Joss Whedon teevee and movie repertoire, with actors from pretty much every project he's worked on over the past seventeen years or so (Buffy, Angel, Firefly / Serenity, Dr Horrible, Dollhouse, Cabin in the Woods, and The Avengers). If by some crazy chance that you've never heard of Joss Whedon, but are a Shakespeare nerd instead, this is a great jumping on point to bear witness to his great talent at writing for and directing a large ensemble cast.
Plus, the movie might be in the trivia and record books as the biggest financial turn-around for box office blockbuster to tiny financial return. The Avengers made a billion dollars and stands as the third biggest box office movie of all time. Much Ado About Nothing was shot for no money and barely found distribution and a theatrical presence. A supremely minute fraction of the audience who watched the Marvel heroes save the world will then turn around and partake in a modern day, black & white, no-budget retelling of a classic stage-play. Their loss is the Mayfair's gain. I am equally as excited to see this movie, that was shot at the director's house, as I was his previous big budget summer blockbuster.
Much Ado About Nothing premieres tonight at 7:00pm, with follow-up screenings on Saturday August 17th at 3:30pm & 6:00pm, Sunday August 18th at 6:00pm & Wednsday August 21st at 7:00pm
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Took a couple days, but finally got to watch Breaking Bad 5.9...which is really kind of Breaking Bad 6.1. Television scheduling is so confusing now-a-days. There is such an insanely high anticipation for these final eight episodes, it would seem easy for this final push to fall short of super-fans expectations. This episode was just as amazing as one would have hoped, and I have a feeling that the wrap-up of the series will live up to the series deserved hype. Once this episodic perfection of a series is all done, I have a feeling that they might just call it a day and stop making any more teevee all together. Seven more episodes until teevee is retired.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
An indie romantic murder spree tale is not for everyone. Edgar Wright's name being attached to a project has never lead me wrong before though (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim, Attack the Block), and his executive producer credit on The Sightseers continues that streak. This supremely dark comedy drama had my enthralled from start to finish, and when the end title credits began I was sure that I had just seen what was easily one of the most impressive movies of the year.
The Sightseers screens at the Mayfair tonight at 7:00pm, and Wednesday August 14th and Thursday August 15th at 9:15pm.
Monday, August 12, 2013
I'm all turned around on my opinion of Marilyn Monroe. Without proper research, I had thought that the Marilyn persona was at it's worst an enormously outdated anti-feminist and offensive caricature. I stand corrected now having seen Niagara last week, now followed up by Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I've flip-flopped over to see her as a greatly talented comic genius.
You can catch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, part of the Mayfair's ongoing mini Marilyn Film Fest, tonight at 7:00pm.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
I'm not one to advertise non Mayfair related movie screenings in Ottawa, but last night we watched Ghostbusters at the Centretown Movies Outdoor Film Festival. The screen was crooked, the projection quality wasn't great, there was a tiny V shaped cut in the screen, and none-the-less it was a heck of a lot of fun. The crowd was big, the weather cooperated, my dog was sitting on my lap, we ate delicious food truck delicacies, and of course Ghostbusters is one of the greatest movies ever made. Ottawa has so many fun things to partake in! To quote Winston Zeddemore, "I love this town."
Next Saturday night we'll be screening A Hijacking at the Mayfair. If you go see it instead on the Friday or Sunday night screenings, you have my permission to go see Dirty Dancing at the Outdoor Film Fest on Saturday. Remember not to put baby in a corner.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
I am glad that I wear big headphones in lieu of tiny ear-buds. Because when I am listening to the Pod F. Tompkast while walking my dog late at night, and I am laughing maniacally at the hilarious comedy styling, it might seem evident that I am listening to something funny and am not some kind of crazy person.
Friday, August 09, 2013
I'm pretty sure that Image Comics is the best publisher in the medium. They are not the best-selling of course, DC and Marvel have the strangle-hold on the #1 and #2 parts month to month thanks to their deep base of world famous iconic super-hero's. In terms of quality stories and art and immense diversity, I do not think that Image can be beat.
Th latest Image book that I have fallen in love with is Satellite Sam, which has it's first two issues currently available from comic shops or in digital form from Image's website. I took notice of the comic due to it being written by Matt Fracton (who writes Hawkeye, whish is by far the best comic that Marvel puts out) and drawn by Howard Chaykin (who is easily one of the greatest comic artists of all time).
As aforementioned, I have grown to trust the folks at Image to put out quality product, so I didn't even really research what th book was about beyond it's creative team. From the cover, I had thought it was some kind of sci-fi tale. In fact, it is even cooler then that. It is a story from the pioneering days of television, a company producing a live bad sci-fi series, and the murder of one of the cast members. It is even presents in glorious black and white, and it is beautiful. Check out Satellite Sam, another great example of non-super hero storytelling in the comic book form.
Thursday, August 08, 2013
Tonight I went out for dinner and got vegetarian pizza with Daiya cheese replacing cow cheese. On the positive side of things, it's nice that I can get a tasty vegan approved meal at an everyday run-of-the-mill pub. On the negative, why am I charged $3 bucks extra for cow cheese to be replaced with Daiya cheese? It's not like they had to throw away the other option in order for my request to go through. They took one thing that cost money, did not use it, and used another thing that cost money in it's place. If you are getting extra bacon on your burger or poutine instead of fries or ice cream with your pie or butter on your popcorn...I understand the additional fee. I don't get charged extra for a veggie burger instead of a meat burger. I don't get charged extra for a Coke Zero instead of a Coke. I don't understand being charged for a topping in lieu of a different topping. That is my complaint of the day. None-the-less...the pizza was tasty.
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
Frances Ha is not for everyone. I have a feeling that a few friends of mine who aren't a fan of Woody Allen dialog or the uncomfortable side of the work of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant would not be enthralled by these cinematic stylings. In fact, the sticking of a foot in one's own mouth and digging a deep hole of conversational embarrassment that happens often in the movie, might make some flinch and cringe in the same manner as a cowardly type watching the scariest of horror movies.
I, on the other hand, rather loved co-writer and star Greta Gerwig's take on the struggles of life in NYC from the female perspective. Her Oscar nominated writing partner Noah Baumbach directed the film, and it features some beautiful black and white cinematography. Makes me wish there were more films still shot in black and white, especially ones filmed in NYC.
Take a chance on what wraps up to be a delightful and quirky character driven comedic drama with Frances Ha - screening tonight (Wednesday August 6th) and tomorrow (Thursday August 7th) at 9:30pm at the Mayfair .
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
One of my favourite genres in all of movie lore is that of crime doesn't pay. The latest to stand alongside cautionary tales such as Fargo and A Simple Plan and Cassandra's Dream and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, is The Bling Ring. The film is adapted from a true story by screenwriter / director Sofia Coppola, Oscar winner for Lost in Translation, her latest exploration of the dark side of fame and fortune.
It's not necessary to like the central characters of a story to like it. This movie is definitely filled will unlikable brats, horrible parents, the dregs of Hollywood, and the shame of a community that is filled with talent but encourages avarice and sloth. Once the movie starts rolling and the teen crime-wave is underway, you are torn between a weird mix of hoping they get away with it and hoping they get caught. The mark of a well crafted movie though, is that despite not identifying or approving of the protagonists within it, you still admire the movie. And I really liked this movie a lot.
Plus, to really scar your childhood depending on how old you are, there's a scene where a Californian valley-girl accented Emma Watson spins around on a stripper pole.
The Bling Ring screens tonight (Tuesday August 6th) at the Mayfair at 9:00pm.
Monday, August 05, 2013
Sunday, August 04, 2013
Saturday, August 03, 2013
Friday, August 02, 2013
I'm often guilty of posting news on upcoming events the day before the thing happens. The Rideau Valley Roller Girls have posted info on their upcoming game that happens on Saturday August 17th on the outskirts of Rockland at the Jean-Marc Lalonde Arena located at 1523 DuParc Avenue. The awesome derby action of the RVRG Sirens battling the Misfits Militia will be well worth the trek to the wilds of a land even past suburbia. For all the pertinent info, go check out the RVRG site.
Thursday, August 01, 2013
The concept of Archie: The Married Life focuses on the adult life of the decades long teenage characters from Archie Comics. To add a bit of a Run Lola Run / Sliding Doors twist to things, they avoided making either Betty or Veronica camps furious by telling both possibilities. In one world, we see what happens if Archie marries Betty, in the alternate universe we see what happens if Archie Marries Veronica.
I've greatly admired Archie Comics for a long time, and especially appreciate their continued success of pushing the envelope and not resting on tradition. This particular book spun out of a concept from long time Batman film producer Michael Uslan, was written by one time DC Comics editor and writer of hundreds of comics (including Superman, Star Trek, Aquaman & Conan), and illustrated by Norm Breyfogle (maybe my favourite Batman artist of all time). Not names that would traditionally associate with Archie books.
The Married Life is a fascinating soap-opera style look at the realities of every day life after the safety of high school and university / college. It takes familiar characters and throws all kinds of conflict and obstacles at them, with the added slightly sci-fi extra twist of of telling a pair of possible outcomes for our not teen anymore heroes. I look forward to reading the next couple of phone book sized volumes. Not only are these really great Archie stories, and it's impressive that they can keep putting out stories of interest after all these decades, these are just really good comics period.