Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Wood Bookshelf...

There seems to have been a Wally Wood renaissance recently... here are the latest arrivals creaking my overworked bookshelves...

THE EC STORIES OF WALLY WOOD/Artist's Edition: Okay, this is incredibly cool but truly obsessive. IDW is putting out a series of massive volumes offering full-scale black and white reproductions taken from the actual original art by various top notch comics artists.  This edition, featuring the truly glorious work of Wallace Wood, is 144 pages, 25 x 19 x 1" and weighs in a 9 lbs!  What you get are incredibly detailed images of the original art from several classic EC stories by WW, right down to the publisher's stamps, hand-written notes, coffee stains... you can even make out the brush strokes inside large areas of black.  The detail is amazing and Wood definitely deserves the deluxe treatment.  IDW's also done similar volumes for Dave Stevens' Rocketeer and most recently Gil Kane's early Spider-Man.  The first edition is long gone and is going for $500-ish on Amazon, but search and you may find the second edition for slightly less.  So no, these are not cheap, but so it goes...

WOODWORK: Okay, you're getting physical therapy after reading the Wood "Artist's Edition" but still want more?  Check out "Woodwork", also from IDW, which is an American version of a museum catalog released in Spain in 2010.  The text is in English and Spanish and there are hundreds of illustrations in B/W and color from the entire run of Wood's career.  I am still working my way through this, and if the word definitive means anything, it means something like this.  And it's quite a bargain (on Amazon, anyhow), 352 pages for $32.00.

CAME THE DAWN (The EC Comics Library): You've seen the faux original art and read up on Wood's bio, now how about some more stories?  Fantagraphics has gobbled up the EC library and is releasing a series of hardcover collections of scattered works, including this one featuring tales illuminated by Mr. Wood. These EC stories have been reprinted many times, but there is always a new audience who didn't spring for earlier editions and deserve a chance to enjoy the goodness.  Personally I prefer EC's war books to their horror and sci-fi titles, but they're all at least interesting. These collections are relatively inexpensive ($18.00 on Amazon) with excellent (black and white) reproduction, so buy it and tell all your friends that you've got Wood!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Orson Welles On Peas

There are few things more fun than hearing Orson Welles' sonorous voice.  Except, perhaps, hearing Orson Welles chew out some British advertising twits who keep asking for more/better/different takes for their frozen peas commercial...


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hemlock Grove Is Coming Your Way! April 19, 2013!

The cat is out of the bag, the secret is out, the mystery is revealed -- at least some of it!  My latest project "Hemlock Grove" was formally announced 1/9/13.  The second original series for the fine folks at Netflix (the first being "House of Cards", which you should also watch!), Hemlock Grove will be revved up and ready on Netflix 4/19.  That's right, all thirteen episodes at once.  Binge watch, gorge, gobble, or slowly savor... it's up to you.

Just to tee it up, Hemlock Grove, based on the fine novel by Brian McGreevy, tells a mysterious tale of two families intersecting in a fading steel town.  When a series of grisly murders begin, it lands on two very different sons from these families to uncover the killer.  But there are many twists and turns and bizarre goings-on to deal with along the way...

Read the article below for more details.  And get ready for something really different... 


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Video Games. That Must Be It! Video Games!

20 little kids are gunned down by a disturbed guy with an assault rifle capable of shooting dozens of rounds without reloading, but the real problem is video games!

I could vent, but this fellow says it better and backs his views up with some quaint, obviously anti-American "facts." 


Monday, January 07, 2013


It says something about my movie-viewing priorities that I have a stack of Academy Award contending screeners collecting dust next to the DVD player, but I threw on Killdozer as soon as it arrived. A TV movie from the 70's in the "when machines come alive!" genre, I vaguely remember seeing this when it was on network television and kinda liking it.  I still do...

First off, we're talking about a great 70's cast.  Clint Walker, Neville Brand, Carl Betz, Robert Urich, James Wainwright... all stuck on a remote African island where their tiny crew is running heavy equipment, clearing an area for some sort of oil installation.  Urich accidentally drives his D9 bulldozer into a meteor that glows, fries Urich with radiation and then takes control of the bulldozer.  It's never really explained why the meteor-imbued bulldozer feels the need to kill all humans, or how charging around an uninhabited island knocking over logs furthers some sort of goal.  But maybe I'd be angry too if, after careening through the universe, my essence got stuck in a piece of construction equipment.

The best part of the movie is the extremely laconic way these guys deal with their increasingly precarious situation.  Urich is french-fried by radiation, lingering just long enough to tell Clint Walker that he saw a blue flash "enter" the bulldozer.  Foreman Walker decides to keep that rather pertinent info to himself and tells the other guys to bury Urich and get back to work.  Nobody really asks how somebody driving a bulldozer could get so irradiated his skin would bubble and turn black.  Then another worker gets flattened by the runaway dozer after trying to hide in a pipe.  They plant him next to the first guy and Walker still insists everybody should just suck it up and get back to work.  Call me a softie, but if it were my crew, I'd give them the day off.  

Only when Carl Betz (who must have spent his time between takes wondering how he went from being the lead on The Donna Reed Show and Judd For The Defense to playing an embittered scoop-shovel operator named "Sourball") admits he overheard Urich's dying declaration does Walker decide to level with the other two survivors.  But he STILL insists they need to keep working because, uhh, they might get in trouble. Like two guys out of a six man crew dying 24 hours apart in industrial accidents won't raise an eyebrow or two...

Anyhow, Walker finally decides to let the job go when his pal "Chubb" gets blown up by a D9 sneak attack.  Two things here.  One, even though Killdozer has been taken over by an alien entity, it still makes a lot of noise when chugging around, so "sneak attack" may be the wrong word.  And two, Neville Brand's Chubb was really a pretty nice guy considering he had to endure people calling him Chubb.  If they called Killdozer Chubb, I'll bet it would have been twice as mad.

Anyhow, our last three survivors take time out of being chased by Killdozer to bury Chubb's remains with the others, only to be suckered by another bulldozer move (shoving an avalanche down on the gravesite).  Now Clint's pissed and it's time for vengeance!

So there you go!  Cool 70's TV movie sci-fi at its finest.  And the made-to-order DVD looks great.  I don't know if the picture's been remastered or someone just took very special care of the original, but the color is vivid and the image quality is great. Highly recommended!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

On The Subject Of Health

Veteran comics, film and TV writer Peter David suffered a stroke a few days ago and has started the long struggle back.  You can follow his journey, chronicled by his exceptionally together wife, at his website:


Peter's wife suggests buying some of his books (especially the online ones, which I suspect pay him a much larger royalty than his Marvel work) to help them get through this difficult time. Evidently the family has health insurance, but there are still co-pays and all the stuff that insurance refuses to cover.  Anyhow, you should check out their blog and consider buying a book or two.

But Peter's predicament brought to mind the entire debate over health care and "Obamacare" and the rest. Having had my own share of health issues over the last couple years, I am grateful for the existence of the Writer's Guild and the (excellent) coverage I get through their offices. As a freelance writer turned producer, I've worked for dozens of companies over the years, but my insurance remains constant.  It is one (of the few) things I have not had to worry about since I joined the Guild 23 years ago.

When I hear people lamenting the idea of a national health care system, suggesting such a system could somehow bankrupt and destroy the American economy, I get frustrated.  Because the current mercurial, expensive and inefficient insurance system often traps people in jobs they hate simply because they need the insurance and can't risk switching because of pre-existing conditions or other issues.  Imagine how the American economy might flourish if these conscientious people, determined to keep themselves and their families covered and not become a drain on the system, were freed from being beholden to a job for insurance?  How many small businesses and entrepreneurial ventures might arise if people could follow their dreams as opposed to being chained to some dead-end job?  Having coverage has certainly liberated me and made it possible to follow my so-called dream. 

I spent almost six months in Canada last year, and socialized medicine doesn't appear to have turned that country into a post apocalyptic wasteland. Quite the opposite, actually.  We need something similar here.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Movies! I Saw Some Movies!

So 2012 turned out to be a pretty good year for movies.  I'm still catching up on screeners and screenings, but any year that coughs up LOOPER (superior science fiction) and DJANGO UNCHAINED (crazy Western) gets a big thumbs up.

DJANGO likely needs no introduction, it's Quentin Tarantino's latest and this time he "does" spaghetti Westerns like he did World War 2 movies in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS. From the opening sequence, with a new but already classic Django theme warbling in the b.g., I was hooked.  Yes, it's got some insane violence, including a wildly over the top gun-fight battle that makes the Wild Bunch look like an episode of Gunsmoke.  But the bad guys are bad and Django is good and that's what Westerns are all about.  DJANGO is funny, clever, extremely well acted and worth a trip to the theater.

LOOPER is a time travel thriller, a genre for which I have a rather obvious affinity.  Conceptually, I was intrigued that LOOPER demanded audiences accept not one, but two rather major "gimmes" re: the future world depicted.  One, that there's time travel (with the usual panoply of vague rules) and two, there's also been an outbreak of telekinesis among 10% of the population.  Usually one of these is enough... but they pull it off in grand style here.

Yes, one could argue that the criminal organization using time travel could have been a tad more creative.  In the film, they send people they don't like 30 years back in time to be executed by assassins and that's basically "it." But I don't care. A movie this creative and thought-provoking gets a big thumbs up from yours truly.


CHERNOBYL DIARIES is NOT one of the movies that made 2012 great, but I finally caught up with it because I'm fascinated with nuclear power/weapons/Chernobyl and "etc."  First off, a disclaimer about the title -- there's no diary! The movie starts with some found footage-ish material but (thankfully) drops that conceit fairly quickly and becomes a straight horror movie.  A gaggle of American tourists decide to take an "extreme tourism" trip to the empty town of Pripyat, emptied and left vacant after the nearby Chernobyl reactor exploded. But the tour van breaks down and our hapless tourists are stuck in Pripyat.  Which, wouldn't you know, has been overrun with... well, that gets into spoilers.  Avert your eyes if you want the mysteries of Chernobyl Diaries to remain exactly that...

Anyhow, the area is overrun by radioactive mutants, who, like all movie radioactive mutants, are not tragically afflicted folks consigned to hospital beds, but are in fact powerful, ruthless cannibalistic (I think) killers.  Somewhat social, since mobs of them attack newcomers, but otherwise mean little buggers.  Why the radiation hasn't reduced them to blind, stumbling wrecks like our "heroes" is left unexplained.  Oh well. There is a fascinating movie to be made from the Chernobyl debacle, but until they make it this oddball horror offshoot is resolutely "okay."  Like a lot of these movies, I get sucked in by the atmosphere and creepy-crawly scares, but when monsters start eating everyone I start checking out.


Thursday, January 03, 2013

Television In The News! 1-3-13!

We are truly living in the golden age of television!   

So, are you one of those people who misses the risky "on the edge" vibe of live television?  You won't after watching this:


Twin Peaks may be coming back?! 


More live television antics that morality groups single out when fundraising from people who would never see these moments unless they were pointed out to them.  Hence somewhat defeating the purpose of sheltering their precious eyes from such depravity, but what do I know, anyway?!


And here's some token vegetable news to fill out this huge news day!