Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Penelope in repose

Fox cooks with 'Hell's Kitchen' on Monday - Yahoo! News: "The cook-off reality show averaged 6.4 million total
viewers and a 3.2 rating/8 share in the adults 18-49
demographic at 9 p.m. Monday, according to preliminary ratings
estimates from Nielsen Media Research. That was enough to win
the time period in the key demo, although a repeat of CBS's
'Two and a Half Men' at 9 p.m. averaged 9.5 million viewers and
a 3.3/9 in the demo."
NEWSARAMA - SDCC WINDING UP: IDW PANEL REPORT: "November will see the publication of a new Maze Agency miniseries by writer Mike W. Barr and artist Ariell Padilla. "

And with this news, IDW officially becomes my favorite comics publisher. (Still no official announcement of a Maze Agency trade paperback, but considering the first four or five issues featured the first professional work of superstar Adam Hughes, I wouldn't be surprised...) Sadly coincidentally, Mike W. Barr was the writer on those great issues of Batman and the Outsiders that the departed Jim Aparo drew so well.

Also in the report: new Mars stories by Mark Wheatley, following a reprint of the original, fantastic series, a book called Adventures in Oz by Eric Shanower, which probably just reprints his earlier graphic novels, but that's fine, and a 12-issue adaptation of Clive Barker's novel, The Great and Secret Show. This, and the continuing reprints, and hopefully new stories, of Grimjack and Jon Sable, Freelance.
Seen it confirmed in two places: Jim Aparo has, indeed, passed away. Very sad.
Got this from a friend (thanks, Lisa!)

Dear Red States:.
We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and
we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington,
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast.
We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially
to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.We get
stem cell research and the best beaches. We get Elliot Spitzer.You get Ken

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood.
We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.
We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs.
You get Alabama.
We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states
pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the
Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of
single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and
anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once.
you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're
apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they
don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets
coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn
up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80
percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the
pineapple and
lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of
America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90
percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the
U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the
Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with
88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care
92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the
90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists,
virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob
Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah
was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred
unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that
evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in
9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with
higher morals then we lefties.
By the way, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt
weed they grow in Mexico.

Author Unknown in New California

Some new work from Henry Selick, director of Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and the upcoming Corpse Bride (I think). And it showcases the sort of work he's planning on using in his adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Coraline.
Byrne Robotics: Jim Aparo R.I.P

Haven't seen this confirmed anywhere else, but... damn. Jim Aparo was a favorite artist of mine. I first encountered his work on Batman and the Outsiders, a team book far removed from the current incarnation of The Outsiders, in that it was actually good. Easily my second-favorite DC team book of the period, after New Teen Titans. He drew characters who looked like individuals, who communicated action and emotion and personality through body language. Not as flashy and sparkly as a George Perez or (later) Jim Lee or Todd McFarlane or whoever, Aparo was probably a better storyteller than all of them combined. His work, when he was inking himself, as he did for most of his career, always made me think of what it would look like if Milt Canniff (of Terry & the Pirates and Steve Canyon fame) were drawing superhero comics.

As time wore on, he stopped inking himself, and his art didn't look quite as good (he always seemed to be inked by Mike DeCarlo, who inked with a much finer line than Aparo used on himself). And, eventually, he retired from comics. But it's still a shame he's passed on.

Sadly, I had just emailed DC about a month ago asking them to reprint more of his stuff. In Batman in the Seventies and Batman in the Eighties, they describe him as the second most prominent Batman artist of the period, after Neal Adams, but he's represented with some shrunken reproductions of covers, a pin-up, and a three-page Outsiders sampler story that isn't even comics, it's illustrated prose. (He's the cover artist of the 80s book, but still, none of his stories...) DC did reprint his classic run on the Spectre in Wrath of the Spectre, including some follow-up stories he did in the 90s that pale in comparison (Mike DeCarlo's inking again). Those stories are great, and show why his work ought to be showcased. And it still ought to be, but it's a shame he won't be around to see it.
Over the rainbow: HappyNews.com | News.blog | CNET News.com: "People say life is all in how you see it. And by that measure, anyone paying detailed attention to the top news headlines in recent times could find themselves into a major depression.

At least that's the angle of Happynews.com, a newly launched site urging visitors to 'find some good news for a change.' "

Think I may have to actually check this site out myself...
Bush Raises Threshold for Firing Aides In Leak Probe: "President Bush said yesterday that he will fire anyone in the administration found to have committed a crime in the leaking of a CIA operative's name, creating a higher threshold than he did one year ago for holding aides accountable in the unmasking of Valerie Plame.After originally saying anyone involved in leaking the name of the covert CIA operative would be fired, Bush told reporters: 'If somebody committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.'"

The president? Changing his tune? Say it ain't so, Joe!
Black Canary Action Figure

I love the character of Black Canary just fine, I even have the Black Canary Archives reprinting all the crappy 1940s and 50s stories she appeared in, and I have an action figure of her in her "Classic" costume somewhere. But I won't be adding this to my collection. Just look at those legs! Creepy....
Harry Potter update: Read the first chapter last night, and five more tonight. About 130 pages in, and the bookmark looks like it's just a few pages from the front cover. This is going to take forever.

Enjoyed the first chapter quite a bit. Liked the acknowledgment that the war going on in the wizard world is being noticed by the "normal" world. It's reminiscent of the Doctor's comment in the first episode of Doctor Who, about how all humans do is eat chips, sleep, and watch TV, while they fail to notice the war going on beneath their feet. If the magical world is supposed to secretly coexist with the "Muggle" world, then the books ought to occasionally acknowledge the existence of that world. And, finally, six books in, they do.

The next five chapters feature the now-traditional JK Rowling slow build. You can't accuse the woman of not laying her groundwork! I know critics (you know, the folks who post things on Amazon.com like their opinions matter) consider these chapters to be unnecessary padding, and want her to get to the action faster, but I kind of like them. I like the little hints of things going on, the laying-out of clues that all make sense when the pieces come together later. But those nuggets need to be included off to the sides of other stuff going on, or they end up being spotlighted too prominently. Part of what makes the series work for me is the sense that everyone has real lives and everyday concerns. Leave out the scenes of Harry and his friends just talking, or going shopping, or going to class, and it's suddenly all about the plot and the quest and the battle or whatever, and it becomes Lord of the bloody Rings.

Going to bed now. It's two in the morning, and it's 100 freaking degrees out.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Boondocks: Sneak
Sneak peek of the look of the new Boondocks cartoon coming this fall...
Just finished watching last night's episode of The 4400, which handles the creation of a believable love interest/relationship for the main character without us having to watch it build slowly over a bunch of episodes. (They spend 10 years together in an artificial reality, created specifically to bond the two of them together so that Tom would have someone to support him through the trials which lie ahead. Considering that last episode featured his son assassinating high profile 4400 spokesperson Jordan Collier, it's probably best that he has someone to lean on...)

I may be generalizing here, but it seems like, when Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled, it brought out the usual flurry of complaints that TV just won't support science fiction programming. Well, not counting the new shows premiering this fall, off the top of my head, here are some sci-fi shows that have already made it beyond their first seasons, and are still on the air: The 4400, Lost, The Dead Zone, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Battlestar Galactica, Smallville, Medium, and Missing. And that's actually more science fiction shows than there are Law & Order and CSI shows. So what I think the so-called fans really mean is that there isn't support for shows with space ships and lasers. Whatever; those can be found a-plenty on SciFi, so shut up.

Speaking of which, going to go watch last night's Dead Zone now...
ban comic sans :: Putting the Sans in Comic Sans

And still more proof...
This is the ORIGINAL Comic Sans Appreciation Society

Oh, look! It turns out I actually don't have too much time on my hands after all...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Oh, I also watched this week's episode of Into the West, another casualty of Friday's power outage. I'm enjoying the heck out of the series, but I'm sure it's getting some negative reaction somewhere, now that the focus has become clearer and clearer. It isn't a happy tale of the brave pioneers setting out West to expand this great land of ours. It's about the human cost of westward expansion, particularly focusing on how miserably the Native Americans were treated. Every episode is awash in pain and blood and misery, and, quite honestly, I think it's about time someone made a big old fictional movie about the suffering moving into the west caused. The only way to avoid repeating our mistakes is to be reminded of them, and this is a series of cruelties that hasn't been showcased in the same way that, say, the Holocaust has been. So good for Steven Spielberg, for delivering something gripping and thought-provoking, instead of a typical feel-good traditional Western.
Just some catching up today...

Finished Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment last night, as planned. I enjoyed it, enough to want to read the next installment. And a quick check of the book's web site indicates that this series does not continue from similarly-themed Paterson novels Where the Wind Blows, and The Lake House, so I don't have to add those onto the "to read" list.

I also finished reading the first of the Spirit Archives books I had dilligently collected up until volume 8. I'd loved the Spirit stories by Will Eisner I'd read as a kid, and when the complete reprinting of the series in nice hardcover volumes was announced, I declared that a must-purchase. However, when it became apparent that I wasn't getting them read as fast as they were coming out, I stopped. New of the Darwyn Cooke-penned new series has gotten me excited again, but I don't want to start buying the books again if I'm not reading them. So, the rule is, as I finish reading one, I can buy another one. I want to say it's incredible how well these stories hold up, compared to other comics from the 1940s, but then, if they didn't, then they probably wouldn't have their place in comics history, would they?

Other news from the San Diego Comics Con International: Two new series from Brian Wood, one from Vertigo, an ongoing, and a twelve issue series from Oni. (Plus he has a miniseries coming from IDW later this year, I think.) Manga spinning off from Jim Henson films that I either love or hope to love. More information about the Disney/Slave Labor comics that I'm looking foward to, including art that even makes Wonderland look cool. A spin-off from Bill Willingham's Fables series, which is cool because I like Fables, although it mainly gives me more of an opportunity to tease a friend who Willingham hit on a few weeks back. And a bunch of other cool-sounding stuff from Oni Press, including new ongoing series from Chynna Clugston and Anthony Johnston, plus a bunch of cool sounding graphic novels. And a new Elfquest miniseries.

Nothing particularly exciting from the big superhero lines, but that may be as much me as them. I did receive some reassurance that I'll still be able to read Batman comics on a fairly regular basis without having to buy the monthly books, which now suck. (Seriously, I just read the new issue of Batman last night, and it was just sad. This, from the Pulitzer-prize winning (or nominated) creator of Pedro & Me.) There are two six-issue miniseries on the horizon from Matt Wagner, a graphic novel by Tom Fontana (creator of TV series Oz and Homicide: Life on the Street) and Cliff Chiang, and a miniseries by Paul Pope. And there's still that twelve-issue series by Andy Helfer starting next month, I think, plus a miniseries by Steve Niles and Scott Hampton in the fall.

I've come to the conclusion that the way the Batman comics are being written today, there's no particular advantage in reading the ongoing monthly comics. There isn't going to be any character development of the Batman, because he's pretty much been perfectly defined for the last forty years or so. There's no supporting cast to speak of, and what supporting cast there is all have their own comics anyway. So, better to read self-contained cool stories by top creators, than the run of the mill stuff appearing in the monthly books. And it looks like I'll totally have that option for the forseeable future.
Follow the Uranium - New York Times

Here's a great editorial about the Karl Rove thing...