Friday, July 07, 2006

Comic Book Resources - CBR News - The Comic Brief: "The Shadow and Doc Savage are returning to thrill fans old and new.
Anthony Tollin has acquired the license to reprint the original /Shadow/
and /Doc Savage/ pulp novels, and will be publishing trade paperback
reprints in partnership with Nostalgia Ventures, Inc., a leader in the
field of radio and television nostalgia. These/ Shadow/ and /Doc
Savage/ volumes are officially licensed by Conde Nast, the owner of the
famous properties."
I haven’t seen it yet, but yesterday, at work, a normal teenage girl volunteer proclaimed Superman Returns to be the best movie ever. And a female coworker who doesn’t read comics thought it was great, too. So, really, I don’t much care what comics fans think about it at this point.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

If only more comics companies would understand that the best way to sell a new comic is to actually let people read some of it...

Comic Book Resources - CBR News - The Comic Wire: "Oni Press is way excited to announce the release of Matthew Loux (F-STOP)'s gnarly new graphic novel SIDESCROLLERS -- a hilarious story of friendship, small town desperation, a pack of scouts, summer, God cats, Satanic cats, football, Street Fighter, junk food, romance, rock, and roll."

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hollywoodland on Yahoo! Movies: "An exploration of fame and identity, inspired by one of Hollywood's most infamous real-life mysteries. The drama follows a 1950s private detective (Adrien Brody), who, while investigating the mysterious death of 'Superman' star George Reeves (Ben Affleck), uncovers unexpected connections to his own life, as the case turns more personal. The torrid affair Reeves had with the wife (Diane Lane) of a studio executive might hold the key to the truth."
As planned, I read the first book of Love the Way You Love and the fifth book of Love As a Foreign Language last night. Both are in Oni Press’s little digest format, whatever it’s really called, which has become one of my favorite comics formats. (I even ended up buying the first book/issue of Borrowed Time because it was published in that format.) I like having something that’s a longer, more substantial read than a normal-sized issue of a comic book, but short enough that I’m not sitting down for an hour to read it. Plus, I’m a sucker for a serialized story, being forced to read through an ongoing story at the pace set by the publication schedule, and not being able to just turn the page and immediately see how a cliffhanger is resolved.

Anyway, it wasn’t much of a surprise that I loved them both. Love As a Foreign Language has been a favorite since the first issue. I’m not sure when I became such a big J. Torres fan, but it was his name that sold me on this series. The fantastic art by Eric Kim is icing on the cake. It’s a very funny, very human, very relatable romantic comedy, given a special twist by making the main character a Westerner (Canadian, to be specific) living in Korea. And the story has unfolded at a relaxed, natural pace. If it was told in a normal comics format, the pacing would have had to be more rushed, which would have spoiled the effect.

Sadly, it looks like we might just have one issue to go, at least as far as this storyline goes. Hopefully, the creators and publisher will continue the series, but I take nothing for granted any more.

Fortunately, there’s Love the Way You Love to take its place. While James S. Rich may not be as established a comics writer as J. Torres, I’ve become such a fan, just from two books. (So totally looking forward to the third...) So it’s great to see his knack for creating very human-feeling characters can survive without the internal-monologue prose. Like Love As a Foreign Language, it appears that this is a story which will be unfolding at its own pace, so again, having the longer page count helps. Right now, the setup seems a little obvious (boy and girl meet, love at first sight, only she’s engaged to a jerk), but I’m trusting Rich to make it a little more interesting.

Plus, there’s the art by newcomer Mark Ellerby. Not as slick and polished as, say, Eric Kim, he draws some very distinct and expressive characters. It’ll be interesting to see if, when I read The Everlasting, I picture the world as looking as if Ellerby had drawn it...

So, top marks all around.

I also watched the first half of the AMC original movie/miniseries Broken Trail tonight. And you could argue that a brand-new, never-before-seen TV movie isn’t exactly an American Movie Classic. I would argue that if a Western starring Robert Duvall and directed by Walter Hill isn’t automatically an American classic, then nothing is.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

With this week’s episode of Doctor Who, I think we may have another big division that will split fandom right down the middle: Those who think the Ghostbusters joke is funny, and those who have no souls.
Okay, so far too long since I’ve actually written anything of substance here. And I’m not about to start now... :)

Been sidelined by life for the past few months, and just haven’t had the energy to write anything, to be honest. Well, not entirely true. I’ve been writing anime reviews for a soon-to-be-launched website that some friends and I are starting, and that’s taken up all of my available attention span. However, with the launch of that site approaching--sometime in August, I believe--I figured it was about time to start posting stuff here again, in hopes that readers from that site might find their way here.

So I’ve been averaging about one anime DVD a week the last month or two. I won’t go into what all they’ve been, or what I thought, since that’ll all be on the site, obviously. But what I’m going to try to do here is talk about other TV shows, books, movies, and comics that I’m reading or watching, to supplement the reviews on the site.

I always enjoy the summer season of TV, because there’s so much less pressure to watch everything I want to see. (The answer, of course, would to be to watch fewer shows during the course of the year, but the thing is, there’s just less I want to watch in the summer.) Currently enjoying:

Deadwood on HBO. Probably the best series on TV, as far as I’m concerned, so of course it’s coming to an end. But at least HBO is wrapping the story up in a pair of TV movies, instead of just leaving it hanging. (Yes, whoever decided that Carnivale had come to a natural end, I’m talking to you.) Definitely the most idiosyncratic writing and acting of any TV drama, possibly ever, but no less hard-hitting or dramatic as a result. Definitely one for the ages. (And thank you to Fox Home Video for getting David Milch’s NYPD Blue DVDs coming out regularly again after too long a hiatus. Please keep it up.)

Rescue Me on FX. Deadwood may be a better show than Rescue Me, but they’re both so good, it’s hardly worth making the distinction. I had drifted away from this one towards the end of last season, just from the weight of too much TV, but I do have the DVDs to catch up. Meanwhile, this season has been fantastic. By turns hilarious and tragic, Denis Leary’s Tommy Gavin is every bit as complex and conflicted as Ian McShane’s Al Swearengen on Deadwood, and just as fascinating to watch. Even if sometimes it’s like watching a train wreck.

Hell’s Kitchen on Fox and Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America. Bad boy Brit chef Gordon Ramsey’s two TV series return, and it’s almost like watching two different guys. In Hell’s Kitchen, he really seems to be playing up his meanness for the American audience, as if he’s been instructed to out-Cowell Simon Cowell. He’s more balanced and reasonable on Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares, but still not soft-spoken. Sadly, this season’s competitors on Hell’s Kitchen aren’t up to par compared to last year’s. There’s nobody this year that I can see running their own restaurant, and it feels like they’re more into playing the game than they are trying to forge a career. So it’s harder to find someone to root for. Still, it’s worth watching, if only because it’s one of the few reality shows that has a tangible prize that the players have to prove themselves worthy of winning.

Hustle on AMC. Who would have thought that the third season would make it to the US so close on the heels of its British airing? It’s still the most fun show on TV, as far as I’m concerned, and really points out how last year’s American thief/caper shows got it wrong, and why they failed.

Waterloo Road on BBC America. Very much in the mold of the idealistic young teacher coming in to reform a tough school genre, but the cast makes it watchable.

Hex on BBC America. Trying so hard to be Buffy, but replacing the soul and imagination with sex. But it’s sex with hot chicks, and it’s the summer, so I’m okay watching it for the time being. (It was touch and go during the two-hour premiere, but the hour long episodes end before they wear out their welcome.)

Sharpe on BBC America. I never watched these movies, starring Sean Bean as a soldier during the Napoleonic Wars, when they aired on PBS. But I’m loving them now. Very straightforward, macho, swashbuckling adventures, with charming actors playing charming characters. A new favorite.

The 4400 on USA. The surprise science fiction hit that just crept up on me. It’s doing a good job balancing stand-alone episodes with an ongoing arc, and definitely has me coming back to see what happens next. Too much of the dialogue is a little too TV-unnatural, but it’s got a good enough cast and a twisty enough plot that I’m willing to overlook it. And this may be the first science fiction series ever with a kid who isn’t annoying. Go figure.

The Dead Zone on USA. Now in its final season, it also alternates nicely between stand-alone episodes and its ongoing arc. If it’s guilty of anything, it’s of underusing its supporting cast (series regular Nicole de Boer hasn’t appeared in any of this season’s first three episodes) but I suppose that’s better than shoehorning someone into an episode just because they’re under contract. I suspect there’s been a certain tightening of the belts at USA, since The 4400 lost a major cast member at the beginning of this season as well. (And if the promos are to believed, they’ll lose another one next Sunday.)

And I’m also watching the new series of Miss Marple on Mystery on PBS, and the Crimes of Passion movies on BBC America. I’d never really watched a Marple story before, but the season premiere featured new crush Sophia Myles, so I had to watch it. And I’m hooked. They’re light and fun, and apparently not particularly faithful adaptations of the original novels. (The second one, By the Pricking of my Thumbs, shoehorns Miss Marple into a Tommy & Tuppence novel, for example.) But I haven’t read any of the books, and I’m enjoying the series on its own merits. So there. (I also caught a Poirot movie last night, Murder on the Blue Train, because it guest-starred Hustle’s Jaime Murray, and enjoyed that quite a bit. So maybe I needs to read me some Agatha Christie.)

Speaking of reading, I’m just scratching the surface of Charles de Lint’s latest novel, Widdershins. I’ve been a fan of his for years, and this one looks like it’ll be just as good as the rest. He apologizes for using this novel to follow up on and--possibly--wrap up an ongoing story line from his short stories and a previous novel, since he prefers his books to completely stand alone. But all of his novels set in the fictional city of Newford make all sorts of references to earlier stories, so I think he may be deluding himself a little here.

Most likely to be read next: the second book of Abadazad by JM DeMatteis and Mike Ploog. Spun off from their failed comics series (well, the comic didn’t fail; the publishing company collapsed out from under them), this series is a great mix of prose and comics, trying--and mostly succeeding--to create a modern-day series with the flavor of L. Frank Baum’s original Oz books. Bursting with color and imagination, I’m hoping for a long, long run of books.

And the next comic I’m planning on reading is Love the Way You Love by Jamie S. Rich and Mark Ellerby. The last book I read before starting the de Lint one was I Was Someone Dead by Rich, and I also really liked his first novel, Cut My Hair. This comics series ties into the characters from Cut My Hair and his upcoming novel, The Everlasting, and he’s becoming one of my favorite new authors. He started out as an editor at Oni Press, and I had a negative opinion of him there. As much as I loved the comics he was editing, in his editorials and everything, he seemed to have an air of, “Oh, look how hip and cool I am.” And I had the sense that Cut My Hair was very much a “Hey, let’s talk about the music that I like” sort of book, and if you weren’t into post-80s punk, there wasn’t much point in reading it.

Well, I did end up reading it, and it didn’t end up being much like I had expected. It was much better, and pretty much spoke to me and my thoughts and fears about loneliness and relationships and all that. And I Was Someone Dead even more so. So now I’m a fan.

(Plus a new issue of Love As a Foreign Language. Does it get any better than this? Well, I suppose it does if Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba's Casanova manages to come out every month...)

Okay, all caught up now, I think.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Movie critic Ebert seriously ill - Yahoo! News: "CHICAGO (Reuters) - Movie critic Roger Ebert was in serious
condition at a Chicago hospital on Sunday following an
emergency operation to repair complications from an earlier
cancer surgery, the Chicago Sun-Times said on its Web site."