Saturday, March 31, 2012
Today I watched The Nanny Diaries, a fluffy Hollywood romantic comedy where the characters all learn a valuable lesson and the girl gets the guy and happily ever after falls from the heavens. It was an ok film that was worth seeing, but I cannot tell a lie that the only reason I had any interest in the movie was because it starred Scarlett Johansson. A reason that my girlfriend has been very understanding about. I know that love is a strong word, but I have been in love with Scarlett since 2001's Ghost World. The respectful non-crazy infatuation has continued through-out the decade to follow.
Also in Nanny Diaries, playing Scarlett's romantic leading man, was Chris Evans. Chris played the title role in Captain America, Scarlett played Black Widow in Iron Man 2, and both will be seen side by side in The Avengers. I don't know how they could possibly make me anticipate this movie more. Maybe if it was Joss Whedon directing a Justice League movie with the same cast and budget instead (as much as I've enjoyed most of the Marvel movies of late, my heart will always belong to DC Comics). Anything short of getting stabbed or bitten by a cobra while watching the movie, I'm pretty sure that there is no way I am not going to enjoy The Avengers. Because again I must admit, script and acting and production value won't so much as matter, because Scarlett is playing a super-hero and I am a life-long card carrying geek.
Friday, March 30, 2012
You find out big news from strange places now-a-days thanks to the magic that is the interwebs. Via Nathan Fillion's Twitter-feed, learned that my Country of Canada is trail-blazing the way and getting rid of the penny.
This effects me very little, because as more and more people seem to be in the habit of, I hardly use real money at all. Almost all of my day to day financial interactions happen through credit card, debit card, online or even the rare writing of a cheque. The exception to the rule is the Mayfair of course, which is still cash only, but luckily enough I happen to get in there for free.
I don't know if it happen in five years or twenty or even in my life time, but I can't imagine that paper or coin based currency has much of an existence or importance left on this planet. I'm pretty sure that if tomorrow the powers-that-be held a press conference to let us all know that legal tender was going extinct that the universal reaction from most would be a nice big "Meh."
I'm pretty sure that future generations with their jet-packs and robot maids will look back at these caveman times and be as flummoxed by paper and coin money about as much as they will be by the concept that we kept movies that up on shelves in video-tape / disc form or that we lived in an age where ay folks couldn't get married. I will not shed a tear for the death of the penny, but I do have to make sure to cash in a couple of jars of 'em to that machine at the mall.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Started a few days of work today setting up stuff for the Juno Awards that are invading Ottawa this weekend. I'm not working on the televised ceremonies that are going on over at Scotia Bank Place, I'm working at a couple of different venues where other performances and award givings are happening. None-the-less, though not working directly on the production that he is hosting, I am going to count it as having worked on the Juno's. Hence I am now one-degree of separation away from one of our greatest Canadians of all time, William Shatner. I think that means that I get to hang out with him now and go horseback riding or something.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Don't know how it took so long for me to get around to it, but I finally watched the Batman: Year One animated film that came out late last year. I love Batman and I love DC's series of animated tv series and films, so my geek cred if shamefully hit by not dropping everything to view this film instantly on it's release to Blu Ray last October.
Warner Bros animation branch of DC Comics productions have been on an incredible run since the early 1990's. Starting with the Batman animated series, which lead into Superman, Batman Beyond and then Justice League, there was an uninterrupted run of excellent DC Universe animation on TV for some 15 years. Since 2007 or so they've been focusing more on stand-alone animated films with different voice actors and character designs, ranging from the 1950's set New Frontier, the anthology Gotham Knight, or the adaption of Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly's All Star Superman series.
Batman: Year One is an adaptation of issues #404 through #407 of Batman, written by Frank Miller (before he went crazy) and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, published in 1987. An original concept at the time that has inspired endless Year One comic book prequel tales to follow. As I will always point out, because I am a comic book reverse snob, Batman: Year One was not and is not a graphic novel, it was four issues of the comic book series Batman. I hate the term graphic novel, no one says "I'm going to see a motion picture tonight", and I kind of find the term graphic novel equally pretentious.
Anyhow, back to the topic at hand...Batman: Year One is yet another example of Warner Bros animation being the front runner in not only traditional animation comic book adaptations, but in comic book stories from cartoon or live-action form. If I could only watch one version, I'd rather watch these cartoons than even my most favorite of live-action Batman's. The same stands for Superman stuff, except even with the excellent performance of Christopher Reeve, I don't think any live-action Superman film has been all the great. The cartoons are always better.
Batman: Year One clocks in at a tight 64 minutes (plus there's a cool Catwoman short tagged onto there too), and at a little over an hour tells a better story then movies twice it's length. Bryan Cranston takes a break from winning Emmy's for brilliantly portraying drug crime kingpin's in the making to play the polar opposite character of not Commissioner yet Jim Gordon. Some people don't think that voice acting counts as acting, but much like Kevin Conroy's frequent gig as Batman and Mark Hamill as Joker, Cranston out does even Gary Oldman in the portrayal of the character. Plus, the animation is beautiful, every time I see something like this it makes me wish that hand drawn animation was still at the powerhouse levels that it was at back in the 1990's. I love PIXAR and some of the live-action comic book inspired films, but to see comic books come to life, I think it needs to be done in a traditional animation style.
You want to see a really well done Batman story, you don't have to wait until the next Chris Nolan offering, just watch some cartoons.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Yesterday I got my ninth pair of Converse and the Grant Morrison non-comic book amongst other lovely birthday gifts. I received a very hilarious Twilight birthday card, an inscribed book that got me all choked up, and that image above is a home-made card made by a very skilled and talented friend who goes by the name of Drunky. It was another memorable Mayfair night, we don't make any money running a theatre and it's a constant amount of work, but we do get perks like getting to pick an awesome movie to show for one's birthday. I will never ever get tired of watching Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Especially watching it after getting to watch some awesome trailers, in a theatre full of friends, some of whom are brandishing dollar-store Nerf like swords, with a few dozen cupcakes to eat. Then, as tradition dictates, the after-movie-party involved playing Mario Kart on the big screen. And yes, playing Mario Kart on the big screen is as cool as flying a jet-pack or being in a Fight Club with William Shatner. Tis a wonderful life.
Monday, March 26, 2012
I've always been quite honoured to share a birthday with Leonard Nimoy. When I was a little kid, my Sunday morning tradition was to watch Star Trek on CBC with my dad, well before the age of sci-fi networks and Blu-Ray box sets. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, the second movie that I ever saw was a drive-in screening of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (double-billed right after another lil' space epic called Star Wars). I watched every episode of Star Trek multiple times. I watched the excellent ones with time travel and Joan Collins, furry alien Tribbles and evil goatee Spock's...I watched all the not so excellent one's with space hippies and Spock losing his brain. And of course, Leonard Nimoy gave this silver screen it's greatest death scene of all time in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. If it is a spoiler to you that Spock dies in the end of the 1982 film, may I also spoil for you that Darth Vader is Luke's dad, Rosebud is a sled, and that the guy in Crying Games is a chick.
It is a horrible cliche, but since he has accepted, embraced and seemed honoured himself to have the Spock character in his life, may I wish Mr. Nimoy a happy birthday and hope that he continues to live long and prosper.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Yesterday we hung Star Wars ships from pre-existing ceiling hooks in the apartment, that I would guess the former tenants used to hang plants or something slightly less geek tinged from. There were five hooks and I had five vehicles, the fates decreed that this had to be. And by we hung what I mean is that my girlfriend had the skills and knowledge in which to hang the toys from wire from the ceiling, and I supplied said toys and had the idea to ask "Can we hang some Star Wars ships from those things?". Besides for the ability to get her into see free movies and a giant library of comic books for her to read, I don't really bring that much of value into the relationship.
I think this puts me one step closer to living in a full-blown Pee Wee caliber of a Playhouse, just need a fire-fighter's pole and a Rube Goldberg machine and we're all set.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
As someone who helps run a repertory movie theatre, perhaps I should not point out that I cannot believe how amazing the state of television is. Every time I chat with someone I learn of another amazing tv series that I don't have time to watch. Yes, I know that tv is still full of D-grade celebrities facing off in competition, mind-numbingly anger inducing 24 hour news channels and insulting to the human brain laugh-track sitcoms. To be fair though, there's just as many horrible books, movies or bands out there. Every genre of arts and expression has a lot of terrible in it.
TV (when ignoring reality programming and dance shows) is in a golden age of quality. World class directors, writers and actors are all working on the small screen in favour of big. And not in the embarrassing way that washed up unemployed movie stars used to slink to tv to do stuff like Walker Texas Ranger.
My newest obsession is American Horror Story, which I didn't even know existed until stumbling on an imdb article about it while researching the interwebs for stuff to write about on the Mayfair's Twitter feed. I was instantly hooked into it's soap opera horror story style, next thing I knew my girlfriend and I had watched four episodes straight. On top of the quality, it's also amazing that tv land remains fairly uncensored in terms of sex and violence. I don't know if the powers-that-be were busy bothering movies and forgot about tv, but it seems like they can get away with anything there.
If you are watching an excellent tv show, please do not tell me about it, I have so much stuff to do and so little free time in my days as it is.
Friday, March 23, 2012
Today was the day to deliver new monthly schedules for the Mayfair. Did a route that I hadn't done before 'cause someone was sick. Started around Ottawa U land (which is a maze!), then the Arts Court, then down Elgin Street. Besides for the heavy lifting and manual labour potion of the schedule delivery chore, it's actually fun at most locations. In trade for the advertising, we give out thank you free passes to the places that are nice enough to carry the guides for us. Most people react to the free pass gift like they've just been given a jet-pack or a fresh new life sustaining body part. Which is a nice compliment that the Mayfair holds such an important place in their heart that getting to see a free movie brightens their day so much. Not sure what I'm looking most forward to seeing in April, either We Need to Talk About Kevin or Redline. Though I'm in the lucky position that I don't really have to choose favorites, I kinda' just live there and see everything. If I was forced to go see only one thing all month though, it would likely be the collection of shorts from the 1940's playing under the Three Stooges Follies banner. Watching that kind of stuff at the Mayfair is like time travel.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Friday (March 23rd at 11:30pm) the Mayfair presents a special one-night-only screening of the John Carpenter / Kurt Russell cinematic classic Big Trouble in Little China. I have seen a lot of movies in my time that I think highly of, but this one is right near the top of the all-time favorite list. John Carpenter pulled off an amazing triple punch in the 80's with Escape from New York, The Thing, and Bi Trouble in Little China. A trio of incredible geek movies, all of very different tones and styles, all with Kurt Russell in very diverse protagonist roles. Big Trouble is the lightest of the three, and filled with everything you could possibly want out of a motion picture. It has kung-fu action, evil wizards, monsters, a bumbling pompous Han Solo style hero, and the Canadian content quotient of a Kim Cattrall before she did Sex and the City and you started to hate her.
If you are not a fan of Big Trouble in Little China, do not tell me or anyone else at the Mayfair, we will likely be forced to revoke your membership and ban you from the theatre.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Read today on the interwebs that my fair home-town of Ottawa has again been awarded the distinction of being the bestest city in the universe, or possibly in Canada, something along those lines.
I am very defensive of Ottawa, I love Ottawa, and if you are despairing towards it I will heartily disagree and then fight you on your thoughts (in a non-physical manner). A while back I was working with a guy who wouldn't shut up about how much he hated living here, I told him in not the most polite of tones that maybe he should move to a city that he likes then, he had no response. Another time a rather stereotypical Toronto douche-bag kept trashing Ottawa over and over again, saying amongst other humorous wit filled remarks (he typed sarcastically) that Ottawa is the city that never wakes. I reminded him that there is a reason that there is a reason why the rest of the country hates most of his city.
Ottawa is great. If you think that there is nothing to do here you are putting absolutely no effort in trying to find something to do. Last year when we had the big-shot pop-art exhibit at the gallery, and American newspaper published an article of glowing praise about how much there is to do here. They had been doing an article on the touring exhibit, had no idea what an Ottawa was (the other cities on the tour were the lines of London and New York), and fell in love with the place. Ottawa has world class museums and galleries, acclaimed places to eat ranging from fast food to high end cuisine, you can go see widely ranging forms of music on any given night of the week, and we have all kinds of outdoor activities for folks who like that kind of thing. If that's not enough there's an NHL team here, championship roller derby, cupcake shops, burlesque troupes, punk flea markets, giant community garage sales, more music festivals than you can keep track of, an animation festival, a pinball convention, every once and a while bizarre stuff like a pillow fiht league makes its way through town, and of course an 80 year old repertory theatre.
In conclusion, it is awesome here. If you disagree I will accuse you of just being jealous that in my town there's a different shawarma shop once a block or so, we have a castle filled with dinosaurs, and in upcoming weeks we have not one but two different starship Enterprise captain's coming to town.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
On the heels of Brian K Vaughan returning to comic books with Saga, some of his greatest characters have resurfaced in Marvel Comics. In a comics world that much like film and tv is filled with a lot of reboots, re-imaginings, sequels and spin-offs, Brian K Vaughan and Adrian Alphona gave us the Runaways. Too often in comics, new characters are just other versions of the established star. They are a irl or a boy or a woman or a kid, but still have Super or Bat or Flash in their name. Here we had something that was a welcome difference.
A group of original characters in an original plot-line set within the established Marvel universe. They were a bunch of kids on the run, sons and daughters of super-villains, band together into a family of friends and not a spandex costume amongst them. I loved Runaways like no other Marvel comic maybe ever, and when the creators left the series I was sad. But, when they left the writer stated that he hoped the characters would continue along in the universe under the creative talents of other writers and artists. And the wish came true when the series was taken over by the likes of acclaimed comic writers Joss Whedon, then Terry Moore, and finally an impressive if too short of a run from Kathryn Immonen. The last issue was released in 2009 before being cancelled mid-story-arc, and despite talk of a Runaways movie with a script from Vaughan, I was afraid that my favorite Marvel characters may become lost to once popular and now cult status obscurity.
It's hard to keep good characters down though, especially in comic books where writers love writing about their favorite characters. Look at any super hero team, and if there's a character or two on it who aren't quite the cultural icon of a Batman or a Wonder Woman, they are there because the writer or artist loved that character when they were a kid. If Joss Whedon does a stint on X-Men, or Patton Oswalt writes a JLA book or Kevin Smith writes some Daredevil, I bet that it's because these were their favorite comics to read when they were geeky little junior high comic book nerds.
Hence, I have a feeling that Christos Gage, the writer of Marvel's current teen super-hero book Avengers Academy, is a fan of the Runaways. And as soon as he was able to and got the thumbs up to do so from his editors, he wanted the Runaways to guest-star in his comic. I am not the biggest of Marvel Comics reader currently, and had never read or even known all that much about Avengers Academy. I could assume and piece together that it's a slight rip-off of the X-Men model of a school for super-powered teens, learning to make the best use of their powers with eventual plans to have them be actual Avengers. It's also an excuse for Marvel to have yet another comic with Avengers in it's title (Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers, Avengers 1959, etc...) to catch the eye of movie-goers who are making huge success of Avengers films like Thor and Iron Man.
Avengers Academy #27 was a good super-hero book, and my beloved Runaways characters were handled very well. Their appearance didn't seemed forced or unnecessary, the characters voices and traits were to their proper form, and it made me really really wish that Marvel would give these characters another chance. I will buy a Runaways comic, I will buy action figures, I will buy a T-shirt, I will buy a lunch box. You make something and slap a Runaways logo on it, I will buy it Marvel!
Monday, March 19, 2012
There hasn't been a real comic convention in Ottawa for a long time. The state of them has been at an ever decreasing state, with local gatherings being increasingly squeezed out by sports cards and memorabilia. I'm pretty sure recent little con's that hockey card stuff has outnumbered comic book stuff by around 75%. There have been special guests as well, but that has also been fewer and more far in-between in recent years. All of which is a shame, since the city has a great geek culture and lots of folks who go to Montreal and Toronto to spend their monies and get their annual comic convention fix.
Finally it seems that our long sub-par convention nightmare is over with the announcement of the first annual (hopefully) Ottawa Comiccon. It's organized by the same folks who have organized the ever increasingly popular Montreal con over the past few years, has a bunch of actual big time geek worshiped celebrities, and some great comic artists on hand. It's only flaw is that it's way out in the middle of nowhere by the airport instead of in a nice central location like the OCC downtown, but that is only my own lazy complaint.
People I know in attendance include Marco Rudy (who worked on After the Cape with my friend Howard Wong and is currently New 52-ing Swamp Thing at DC), Tom Fowler (who's career accomplishments include drawing Jango Fett kill me), and Kelly Tindall (who's Archie Snow artwork graces my living room wall). In the not name-dropping and not friends of me category the guest list includes Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan), Dale Eaglesham (Alpha Flight...they live in Ottawa) and Neal Adams (he drew Green Lantern / Green Arrow people! Only one of the most important super-hero story-arc's of all time).
We're also hoping to do some kind of Mayfair cross-over, show something geeky / comic con appropriate. Which shouldn't be too much of a stretch since we always have geek genre stuff anyhow. So get your Klingon costume ready and start counting down the days to May 12th and 13th.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
After an afternoon of working at the Mayfair, stuck around to watch My Week With Marilyn. Enjoyed the film greatly, possibly even more so than all the other Oscar type movies from this season. It made me really want to watch the actual film that the movie was a behind-the-scenes tale about, and see some Marilyn films in general. Her body of work is a hole in my cinematic viewing history, pretty sure the only one that I've seen is Some Like It Hot.
Michelle Williams did an incredible job in her portrayal of one of the most famous women who has ever graced planet earth. She did just as an impressive job as she did in Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine or Shutter Island. Considering where her talents have justifiably taken her, it's a little staggering to remember that a decade or so ago she was the fourth tier character on a teen soap opera.
You've got two more chances to check out My Week With Marilyn at the Mayfair, 7pm on Monday March 19th and Tuesday the 21st. I know that it's really nice outside all of a sudden, but sitting in the dark watching a great movie is way better than enjoying the outside comfort of a beautiful post-winter day.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
There hasn't been a comic that I've been anticipating as much as Saga for a very long time. An epic space opera love story about a young couple who come from either sides of an endless intergalactic war, they're newborn baby, and their attempts to survive.
It is written by Brian K Vaughan, who wrote two of my most beloved comic series in the past ten years, Y the Last Man and Runaways (he also worked on Lost and is adapting Stephen King's book Under the Dome into a TV series for Steven Spielberg). The art comes from Canadian super talent Fiona Staples. It is published by Image Comics, who in their 20th year impress me more & more with their over-all diversity in titles and level of talent that they are attracting to tackle creator owned work vs working for DC or Marvel.
Saga did not disappoint. I want to read more right now. But, as I am a traditionalist, I prefer reading the comic book in a monthly release format vs the wait for a collection option. I will have to impatiently wait for the next chapter in what in all likelihood is going to end up being another of my favorite comic book series ever.
Friday, March 16, 2012
Actor extraordinaire Ray Besharah has beat me to the punch at posting the Painted Lips & Lolly Lick Film Fest entry that we worked on together. The Fantasy is a comedic dream sequence of a story in which Ray plays a guy in an office who's pining after a co-worker. Unlike the short that we worked on for the fest last year, this one is safe to watch at work or around those who are offended by saucier cinema. I don't think that this is anything more offensive than an approximate PG. So, go ahead and check it out without fear of being judged and frowned upon by your more prudish friends, family and co-workers.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
In 1982 there was a Creepshow comic written by Stephen King, featuring art by Bernie Wrightson (I think it was actually adapted and illustrated him), based on the anthology film directed by George A Romero. Sometime after that he wrote an introduction to Batman #400, and supplied a couple pages of story for an X-Men comic titled Heroes for Hope that was published as a fundraiser for African famine relief. I could swear that he also wrote a Batman comic in there somewhere, but I must have been hallucinating that 'cause I can find no evidence of that anywhere on the interwebs.
Then twenty-five years passed by, Stephen wrote a few dozen books, had a few dozen films produced based on his stories...but no more comics.
Then Marvel Comics teased a Stephen King partnership for a while, eventually announcing a new series of prequel comics stories featuring Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower universe. Although Stephen didn't write the new stories directly, he serves as Creative & Executive Director. It marked the first time that Stephen King supervised a spin-off of his work, joining film and TV franchises the likes of Star Wars, Star Trek, Buffy, etc, in detailing expanded histories with their characters in the comic book format.
In the success of Marvel's new Dark Tower tales, and Stephen King seeming to like the idea of his stories getting the comic book treatment all of a sudden, more adaptations soon followed. Marvel has published a number of comics set around the world of The Stand (which is also connected to the Dark Tower canon), and an adaptation of the novella titled N. And this year, IDW is putting out an adaptation of Road Rage, a story that Stephen wrote with his son Joe Hill. In 2010, he actually wrote half of the first story-arc for Vertigo Comics horror western American Vampire with Scott Snyder.
I just read the adaptation of The Talisman, the excellent epic fantasy from Stephen King and Peter Straub (which also ties into the Dark Tower universe!). The comic just doesn't fly, something didn't hit it's stride in it's transformation from words to words and pictures. The art isn't great, you're never really sure exactly what's going on, and it totally just hits a brick wall and ends. There's not even really an ending...except for the fact that the book stops having pages in it. So, as much as this goes against my usual instinct, in this case I would recommend reading the non-picture version of this story.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Sometimes when one is unpacking long stowed away boxes, you stumble on unusual forgotten items of treasure...and or junk...or maybe a combo of both kinds a things. Moments ago I unpacked a box with the following contents: one action figure sized gun (likely Star Wars in origin), one Bart Simpson button, one Labyrinth movie adaptation comic, one copy of Marvel Comics version of Transformers #8 (Dinobots!), and a hologram Chicago Cubs sticker. Out of all of that stuff, the only thin a bit peculiar is the baseball sticker. Maybe it came out of a cereal box or Cracker Jacks or something like that though.
The true and genuine confusion comes from finding not one, not two, but the whole damn collection of Dazzler Comics. I now find myself in the possession of fourty-two issues of a Marvel mutant super-hero that for the most part wore roller-skates, sorta a female KISS shiny outfit, and was a pop star. I could see that I might own an issue or two that I maybe picked up at a garage sale or pulled out of a quarter bin, but a complete set? Tis truly a mystery for the ages, akin to Stonehenge, Sasquatch or UFO's. None-the-less, I will of course read all of 'em...my curiosity is piqued.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
I promise to stop gushing about all things Muppets immediately after this posting, at least for the foreseeable future. Today I was working in the box office of the Mayfair for a matinee of The Muppets. There was a posse of young guys, around 9 or 10 years old or so all buying tickets for the show. The last kid of the group had slight panic kick in upon realizing that he had lost his money, and he and his friends were pondering what to do. The next person in line was a dad with an adorable little girl in accompaniment, and he asked for tickets for she and him, and pointed at the boy who lost his cash and said that he'd buy his admission for him too. The little kid's mind was blown at the good deed, we have further proof that Mayfair patrons are awesome, and are reminded that Muppets clearly bring out the best in all of us.
Monday, March 12, 2012
A few days ago I found some old Star Wars Pepsi bottles in a box that I hadn't opened for a very long time. In fact, the box may not have been opened since 1999 or so, at the time when Episode 1 was out in theatres and I purchased and drank the product.
The highlight of my day was when upon asking the interwebs advice, I soaked said bottles in crazy hot water for a few hours in an attempt to remove the labels. With labels removed I could keep them for geek cataloging and hoarding purposes, without wasting precious space from a bunch of bottles put up on a shelf. They could be hid away in one of a number of Star Wars coffee table books that I have, and free up room for various other geek treasure to be displayed. To my pleasant surprise, the glue disappeared and the labels eased right off. Amazing stuff. That is the pulse-pounding kind of thing that actually fills me with joy and excitement. Don't judge me.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Back in the 80's, DC Comics put out an ad campaign proclaiming that DC Comics Aren't Just For Kids. I guess it made sense at the time, as the comic book industry was trying to point out that comic books are just like novels or movies or tv shows or any form of entertainment. There's some stuff that's kid friendly, and some stuff that is not. Comics have always been hindered, even to this day, by the thought that it's all stories about guys in capes punching mad scientists in order to save the world. Not that there's anything wrong with those stories...I like reading super-hero stuff.
In the 80's comics were in the midst of quite a transformation, with a landslide of diversity and quality in their storytelling. Books like Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, V for Vendetta, Vigilante, Usagi Yojimbo, Love & Rockets, Cerebus and many more were gaining heavy media attention and selling many a book to an increasing fan-base.
The backfire was that it seems like the thought of making comic books for kids seemed to be left behind. And a generation of kids grew up with books aimed at geeks in in their 20's, got bored, and a whole bunch of 'em decided to go spend all their money on video games instead of comic books.
Being a comic book reading lifer, whenever I am reading a really great kids friendly comic book I try to spread the word about it (considering that almost all the DC super-hero books are rated for Teens +, they are alas few and far in-between). Often the highlight of my comic book reading month is a super-hero comedic unexpected phenomenon that is Tiny Titans.
Every issue of the Eisner Award winning series has been produced by the team of Art Baltazar & Franco Aureliani. The plot focuses on elementary school versions of may popular well-known DC characters like Robin, Kid Flash & Aqualad...and the not quite so well known like Miss Martian, Blue Devil and Offspring. The biggest complaint and fear that non-comic readers have it seems is that they don't know where to jump into a storyline. The best part of Tiny Titans is that all the issues are self-contained. You can pick up issue one, one of the collected editions, or the recently published issue #49 and be just fine. Much like animated series the likes of Spongebob Squarepants, it's completely kid friendly, but chock full of stuff that will go over kids heads and keep parents entertained.
So, if you have a little one and would like to introduce them to the awesome world of comic books, might I suggest Tiny Titans? They'll be highly entertained, and you can read 'em too. In fact, much like when my mum bought me stuff like Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew when I was a kid, you may find yourself pretending to buy it for a kid but really buying it for yourself to read. As long as you share, they will understand.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
It seems that not a week goes by without another of the greats passing away. Today when taking a quick browse through the geek news online, was hit with the information that Moebius had died.
I do believe that my introduction to the incredible comic book artistry that was Moebius, was the Stan Lee written two-issue Silver Surfer mini-series that was published in December 1988 / January 1989. I distinctly remember thinking that this was not the average Marvel Comics super-hero book that I had before me. Others will pontificate in much greater detail about the man's amazing talents, but at twelve years old I knew that I had just been introduced to a whole new level of comic book artistry.
I can't remember exactly, but I may have seen the heavily Canadian talent content filled animated feature Heavy Metal before reading his Silver Surfer work. I watched a lot of movies that I was way to young to see, luckily I ended up not scarred for life, though I did sink a whole lot of money into co-ownership of a movie theatre. Although uncredited, Moebius' Arzach comics were the inspiration for the Taarna segment of the anthology. He also worked on films the like of Alien, Tron, Willow, and The Fifth Element. Evidently, I just learned this bit of geek trivia moments ago, he also designed the Probe Droid for The Empire Strikes Back. If the man's accomplishment's weren't enough, now I find out that he only designed the coolest robot from the best Star Wars movie ever.
Another sad day for geekdom. Go read a Moebius book. I promise that they're greta.
Friday, March 09, 2012
I've already gushed about my love for The Muppets on here a couple times. Now I have the excuse to again, since starting Saturday March 10th at 1pm, and for four other March Break matinee screenings to follow, we will be screening the film at the Mayfair.
Watching The Muppet Show is my first memory. Receiving a Kermit the Frog from Santa is the earliest gift that I remember getting. My favorite part of Disney World was the Muppets 3-D attraction. I watch Muppet Family Christmas every holiday season. Listening to the original or any of the numerous cover versions of Rainbow Connection gets me a lil' choked up every time I listen to the damn song. And soon I will add a Kermit the Frog to my tattoo collection (my birthday present to me!). So yes, I take my Muppets culture rather seriously.
Having such a love for something can backfire if the latest offering doesn't live up to your up-on-a-pedestal expectations. Especially in geek culture, despite success of Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, DC Comics...every time a new something comes out from such franchises there are fans who are crestfallen and offended and crying foul that it does not live up to their loving obsessive expectations.
The Muppets has everything you could want in going to see a motion picture. It's hilarious, there's great music, and there are some dramatic moments in which you almost forget that the actor that you're watching is made of felt and plastic. If you didn't like the latest Muppets film, I think it is safe to say you may need to re-examine your life. You may need to instigate an event that makes your tiny Grinch heart grow a few sizes.
Thursday, March 08, 2012
Even to this day there is a misconception from many that comic books are are super-heroes and Adam West Batman era sound effects or sub-par re-hashed endlessly ancient comic strip characters. There are a lot of those things in the medium for sure, but thinking that comics are all that is like thinking that movies are all, uhm...super-heroes and loud sound effects or sub-par re-hashed endlessly remakes, reboots and sequels.
One of my best friends is a big-time comic book reader, yet can't stand super-heroes. Evidence that you can be a comic geek without reading stories about brightly spandex attired madmen punching it out, tossing cars at each other and toppling buildings onto unsuspecting regular humans.
One such comic that I just read was Moving Pictures by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen from Top Shelf Productions. I've been a big fan of Stuart Immonen's art for years on various big-shot DC and Marvel Comics the likes of Superman, Avengers and Spider-man. Kathryn Immonen wrote a brief but impressive run on my favorite (and much missed) Marvel kids team book, The Runaways.
This book couldn't be more different than their previous super-heroic writing & artistic efforts. The characters are on opposite points of view in saving great pieces of art during World War II Nazi-occupied Paris. One is a female Canadian curator trying to save said great works from the Nazis, the other a Nazi officer trying to attain and catalog the works for the German empire. And if that situation isn't complicated enough for her & him, then an unexpected and somewhat inappropriate for both sides romance happens.
The artwork is black and white, simple and pretty spot-on for it's story. If you or someone you know are intrigued by the comic book medium but are intimidated by the endless catalog of reading possibilities, something like this is a great jumping in point to the comic book medium. Moving Pictures is a great quick 144 page read, and perfect if you or someone you know want to try out reading a comic, but undead demonic vigilantes with flaming skulls on motor bikes isn't quite your cup of tea.
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Most of my comic books, non-picture books and movies are unpacked and put onto their various shelves and spinner-racks. I can't help but think the next generation will look back at these early years of the 2000's (and our past) and be shocked that we bothered to keep books made of paper and movies stored on plastic discs on our shelves. I think when I'm an old man and trying to explain said human trait in hoarding to kids with 500 terra-byte hard drives in their pockets and no literature or motion pictures cramping the rooms in their homes, that they'll look at me more confused than an alien learning about some earthlings habit to cut down a tree an stick it in their living quarters on an annual basis. Then when the confusion passes, they will ride away on their flying skateboards, just like they had in Back to the Future II.
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Watched all four episodes of last week's run of Daily Show's today. Now I am intelligently and humorously all caught up on the world's current events. I wonder what it was like to live in a world where the media wasn't mocked and thought of by a sham by most? Almost seems strange to think that there was a point in recent history where journalists where trusted and respected, and comedians were left to practice funny walks and scream in disbelief at the peculiar state of household objects. Unbelievable but true!
Monday, March 05, 2012
It's time for a M themed Mayfair March madness article from (Cult)ure Magazine. This time, April Yorke and the geek-in-chief (that's me) discuss various on topic notes like the diverse range of stuff playing at the Mayfair. This month we're showing the likes of Shame, Tin Tin, Bloodsport, The Muppets, Battle Royale, War Horse, My Week With Marilyn, etc...
And as per tradition dictates, we of course delve into nonsensical divergences like Kurt Russel's giant hat in The Thing and that Werner Herzog saying anything in his crazy slow-paced heavy-accented voice is always awesome and worthwhile to impersonate.
Sunday, March 04, 2012
I encourage you to go to the Mayfair to watch movies as much as possible. Though sometimes we do show the same two movies on consecutive nights, so on such occasions where you already came to see Carnage & the Roger Corman documentary and don't want to watch the same movies two nights in a row, it's ok to stay home. I won't hold it against you and think that you are a shut-in.
On the rare evening when I'm not watching a movie at the Mayfair, I am often at home watching a movie. Thanks to the world of Netflix, there's never a shortage of bad movie to watch. I think that they may have good movies on there too, but my taste leans towards the regrettable. I prefer my valuable free time wasted by the sub-par, preferably something with a poorly executed monster special effect or below A grade actor in the starring role. Something that would upset a normal wiser person and make them say that they've wasted 90 minutes of their lives and can never get the time back.
All of these combined movie watching elements seem to of late lead me towards watching films produced by The Asylum. They have given us such mock-buster classics as Transmorphers, Termanators, Paranormal Entity, The Da Vinci Treasure, Halloween Night, Titanic II and (I kid you not) Snakes on a Train.
Tonight I watched Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. This film makes use of the public domain characters, and came out right around the same time as that other similarly titled movie starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law that made hundreds of millions of dollars. Unlike that movie though, this one has actors who are alum of the Doctor Who and Star Trek universes. Besides for Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, it also has a giant squid, a dinosaur, a robot dragon, a steam-punk style hot air balloon vehicle, and the Victorian urban legend character Spring Heeled Jack. What more could you want from a low-budget knock-off motion picture!? Well done Asylum, I look forward to your next hastily produced sham of a movie, which I will watch with great interest instead of doing something productive with my time like bettering myself through education or writing the great Canadian novel or whatever.
Saturday, March 03, 2012
It was my own fault due to the hectic nature of getting ready to move mixed with my often procrastination when it comes to doing boring grown-up chores, but I was without the internet for a whole week. Well that's not entirely true, thanks to the fact that we live in a Jetsons like future society, I at least had my Star Trek caliber smart-phone.
It is amazing how one can completely crumble and lose all track and knowledge of the outside world and current events when the internet leaves your life for one short week. Without the aforementioned smart-phone I would have been really lost. At least with that gadget I could get my e-mails, check the comic book geek news, write some Mayfair tweets and know how cold it was outside. Now I just have a truck-load worth of late-night talk-shows to catch up on. Soon I will have watched a bunch of Daily Show's and Colbert Report's and again be all caught up and informed on important world events again.
What are we expected to do in a world without the internet? Go out and buy a newspaper? Listen to the radio? Talk to other people and socialize? If we revert to that kind of behavior the terrorists have truly won.
Friday, March 02, 2012
I got to go see another free hockey game last night, it seems that the less I have time to care about and follow the sport, the more free tickets come my way. Maybe I should care less and not have time to be independently wealthy and someone will give me a winning lotto ticket.
The game was the Senators vs the Blackhawks, Chicago won 2-1, was a pretty good game to watch though. I so don't follow hockey anymore, I didn't realize that one of my favorite former Senators, Ray Emery, is the goalie in Chicago. So in my lass half full stance, the home team lost, but at least it was a loss to a player that I have the Todd McFarlane (not really an) action figure of.
I was curious if the Blackhawks had a mascot, and if it was verging on possible racially inappropriate as their logo is. Their mascot is not indeed some foam headed Native American caricature, but just some goofy looking bird. So the mascot may be fairly lame, but at least it's not blatantly racist.
My favorite part of the night was when it was announced on the jumbo-tron that the coach of the Maple Leafs had been fired. Every single person in the audience cheered. We may be rivals on the rink, but it is nice that every hockey city in North America universally can join in comradery in their hatred of the city of Toronto and it's Maple Leafs.
Thursday, March 01, 2012
Read issues 3, 4 and 5 of the New 52 series of Superman. Over-all I've really enjoyed much of DC Comics line of rebooted books. Sure, there's the inexplicable fact that they have the worst comic artist of all time working on multiple comics. Besides for the Rob Liefeld factor though, I think that there are may more good worth-reading books than ones that are a waste of your valuable comic book reading time. I recommend Animal Man, Batman, All Star Western, I Vampire, Frankenstein Agent of SHADE, Action Comics and Batman & Robin.
Although the Superman comic is good, I just cannot get over his new costume. It's not a grand change from his traditional attire, it's not the train-wreck that was Superman's 1990's lightning bolt speed-skater costume, but Jim Lee's re-design bothers me. I know that super-heroes often get teased for the underwear on the outside of their pants thing, but Superman without the red underwear on the outside of his blue pants seems just wrong. It's like he was in a rush to get out the door to go and save the world and he forgot a piece of clothing. The Flash has never had the underwear accompaniment, and there's nothing wrong with his look, but Superman somehow seems all naked now. Cover yourself Man of Steel! There are children reading those comics! Well...actually, most comic readers are in their 20's to 40's...but kids might see pictures of New 52 universe Superman and be totally scarred for life!