Saturday, December 30, 2006

Battlestar + Superman/Batman + Fletcher Hanks!

Fans of Battlestar might want to check out the current issue of WIZARD (#184), which features an interview with yours truly on the rest of BSG season three (sorry, no real spoilers). Big doings are in store for the ragtag fleet, and as Ron Moore and David Eick have warned in other interviews, there are some significant "difficulties" in store for some major cast members. REMEMBER, the show returns SUNDAY JANUARY 21st, at 10:00PM. New time! New day! New shows!

There's also a blurb on the rest of my first Superman/Batman arc... issue #31 shipped this week but evidently missed big chunks of the West Coast because of the snows in Denver. We're getting toward the end of the six issue epic, so you can still buy in and enjoy the excitement.

However, this issue of Wizard offers an incredible three-fer of goodness, because there's also a two page, full-color piece on the incredible Fletcher Hanks, a 1940's comic book artist currently being touted as the "Ed Wood" of comics. I don't know about that, but as a fanatic who has managed to track down every single Hanks story in original comic book form (and remember, this guy stopped producing stories in 1941, so it wasn't easy OR cheap!), I'm just thrilled to see him finally get his due. As mentioned earlier on this blog, Fantagraphics is releasing a book of "best" Hanks stories in May of '07, and you will NOT want to miss this.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

It's Stan Lee's Birthday!

And I hope it's a happy one! Co-creator of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, Daredevil, and Paste-Pot Pete! (Okay, so they weren't all home runs.) Seriously, it's amazing to consider how many stories Stan wrote over his 60+ year career, and more importantly, how many were damn good. Fantastic Four 1-102 (the Lee/Kirby run) is still pretty much the benchmark for superhero comics, and the Lee/Ditko and Lee/Romita Spider-Man are also classics. I also have a great fondness for his work with Kirby on the Tales Of Suspense run of Cappy adventures, and the first issues of Cap's own book in the late 60's. Really fantastic stuff.

I've been fortunate enough to meet Mr. Lee on a couple of occasions, even did a TV appearance with him once, and he was never less than enthusiastic, gracious and... well, he was just like Stan Lee! He was even kind enough to write me a "fan letter" early in my career, when I was just starting out with my comic book THE AMERICAN... talk about making my day! My week! My year! (It's hard not to fall into Stan-speak when talking about the man.)

So Happy Birthday, and keep 'em coming, Stan...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Name Is Bruce - Vague Update

Only an update in the sense of telling folks that the Feb. 2007 date I'm seeing bandied about as a "release date" is wildly inaccurate. It's full speed ahead in terms of post production, but everyone involved wants to do this thing right, so I wouldn't expect to be seeing Mr. Campbell's Opus for awhile yet. DO NOT TAKE THIS to imply that there are problems with the film or that anyone's having second thoughts. Trust me, this is all good! Response to the movie so far has been uniformly positive, so positive that all involved agree it's worth taking the extra time to make sure every ounce of Bruce goodness reaches the silver screen. And if MNIB takes off, expect "My Name Is Bruce - The Quickening" soon after! (That's a joke, folks, but hey, you never know!)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

BRANDED for Christmas

Finishing up some last minute holiday shopping, I came across a box set of the Western TV series BRANDED, and it has been filling the house with holiday cheer every since. Well, as much cheer as you can get from a series about a calvary officer (Chuck Connor as "Jason McCord") who, in the memorable opening credit sequense, is blamed for a massacre and branded a coward. Though (as the lengthy theme song explains), McCord's cowardice was never proven, the title sequense features an especially angry looking officer ripping off McCord's stripes, plucking the buttons off his uniform and finally snapping McCord's sword in half.

So after all that, what's the show about? Well, as the theme song says, "What do you do when you're branded, and you know you're a man?"

In McCord's case, it means you meander around the country side with your broken sword (I dunno, that would have been the first thing I would have tossed) helping folks... folks who inevitably discover you're the infamous Jason McCord. There is some especially tortured reasoning behind McCord's reluctance to speak out on his own behalf (something about refusing to impugn the crazy General who led McCord's unit into the massacre because it would give some craven Senators an excuse to attack the Indians and cause all out war -- okay, whatevah!), so McCord basically takes an enormous amount of abuse week after week after week.

Chuck Connors, whose greatest fame came when he starred in the epic film TERROR SQUAD (story by yours truly, check the IMDB for details if you have the guts!), is pretty good as McCord, and there are a wealth of guest stars, but for a half hour show it can get pretty draggy, and there are only so many times it's "fun" to watch the hero humiliated in front of a crowd/town/church/stable/brigade/sheriff and multiple little kids.

But still, one of the great title sequenses of all time. I'm off to watch season two!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Kudos Alert - Battlestar Galactica

Entertainment Weekly has just named Battlestar Galactica the third best television series of 2006, after The Wire and Friday Night Lights, and they singled out James Callis' performance as Baltar as another highlight. That's a very nice Christmas present!

And in a tip o' the hat to Battlestar producer and Peckinpah fanatic David Weddle, this year's Sam Peckinpah DVD boxset was named DVD of the year. If you've never seen The Wild Bunch, shame shame shame! Also, David's biography of Peckinpah is required reading for anyone interested in the great director's life and work. Check it out!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Evil Dead the Comic

Some people spend the holidays wrapping presents, listening to Christmas music and getting soppy drunk on spiked eggnog drinks. Me, I'm spending this Christmas staring at a very young Bruce Campbell's puss, watching and rewatching the first EVIL DEAD movie. I'm in the final stretch of adapting and expanding on the movie for an 88 page, fully painted, four issue comic book series due out sometime (I hope) in 2007.

The first movie was never my favorite of the three Ash sagas (EVIL DEAD 2 remains one of my personal top ten movies of all time), but analysing it in excruciating detail has raised my opinion considerably. Coming from a bunch of kids makin' a movie out in the woods, there are some great scares, and a star-making performance from Campbell. There's a sequense where the camera holds on Campbell's face for a long take, reacting to noises outside the house, that is touching, intense and inexplicably comic, all at the same time. (When the noises stop for a moment, Ash breaks into a relieved smile, "ahh, it's over, *whew*", that cracks me up every time!)

John Bolton is the artist on this epic, and I wish I could figure out how to insert pictures into this blog, because his work is really spectacular. If anything, he's made the ghouls even creepier, frozen in rictus stares on the page. Fans of the film will remember a scene where one of the girls-turned-demon starts to chew the stump her her severed hand; John has managed to make this even MORE disturbing than the film version.

As a writer, the "fun" of the adaptation has been in expanding on certain scenes. For the first time, we'll meet Ash and the others before they take off for the cabin, and you'll see that the "friendship" between Ash and his pal Scotty was a shaky ground even before they took to the woods. And we're also see what happened to Scotty when he took powder into the woods, only to stagger back with a torn face and broken arm. (Hint: it wasn't nice.)

Anyway, keep yer eyes peeled, this book should finally come out sometime in late 2007...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

TIMECOP Memories...

Someone below asked about my experiences with Jean Claude Van Damme on TIMECOP... unfortunately, prepare yourselves for another underwhelming Hollywood story. I visited the Vancouver B.C. set of TIMECOP for just a day (welcome to the role of writers on big features!) and only met Van Damme briefly. But while walking the Time Enforcement Commission sets, I was surprised at how I kept bonking my head on the ceiling. Turns out the entire facility had been built low so Mr. Van Damme would look, well, taller. (I'm 6' 5"...)

My only other vaguely interesting Van Damme story came during the Planet Hollywood party in New York, following the movie's premiere. Van Damme was sitting in a front window, smoking a huge cee-gar, surrounded by bodyguards, and I had to be "vetted" by his guys before I was allowed in his presense. I felt like I was asking for an audience with a South American dictator. That said, Van Damme was pleasant in all our brief encounters, so I have no dark tales to tell...

Some may be curious if TIMECOP was always intended as a Van Damme vehicle. The truth is, I wrote the movie with an "Escape From New York" Kurt Russell in mind, but the studio wasn't high on Mr. Russell at the time, and they were wild for Jean Claude after HARD TARGET. Van Damme coming aboard led to the green light for the picture, so I will always be grateful to him for that. Interestingly, a few months later STARGATE was released, and Kurt Russell's star suddenly rose dramatically. So it goes...

Oh, and one more thing... even though I have a "characters created by" credit on TIMECOP 2, I had absolutely NOTHING, ZERO, NADA to do with that project. Dark Horse's Mike Richardson and I worked up a sequel idea soon after TIMECOP was released, but that never went forward. However, a couple years later I was involved in the short-lived TIMECOP TV series on ABC, which is another story for another time...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Battlestar Galactica Makes Time's 2006 Top Ten

For the second year in a row, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA has made Time Magazine's list of the top ten shows on television. Sharing the honor with such august programs as DEADWOOD, THE WIRE, HEROES and THE OFFICE, it's nice to know somebody's noticing!

Next new episode is RAPTURE, which will resolve some of the pesky cliffhangers left over after EYE OF JUPITER. That's Sunday, Jan. 21, 2007, at 10:00 PM. Remember, we're moving to Sunday, that's right, SUNDAY. Mark your calendars, program your TiVos, tattoo your foreheads...

Friday, December 15, 2006


First, I had a great time at the Landmark Theater/TV Guide screening of "Eye Of Jupiter." It was fun to see the episode on the big screen, and I think all the writers in attendence were stunned by the size of the crowd. The line stretched across the entire Westside Pavilion and the theater quickly scheduled a second show to handle the overflow. And the post-show Q&A's were a lot of fun, too. Thanks to everyone who came out!

Those who couldn't make it (and even those who could) -- check it tonight's ep! That's right, it's "Eye Of Jupiter", written by yours truly. Action, intrigue, Cylons, hybrids, Sharon V.S. Sharon, Baltar, Centurions and more. This is the last new episode until we move to our new time and day, Sundays at 10:00, starting January 21st 2007.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

An Amusing (?) Hollywood Anecdote (First In The Series)

Early in my so-called career, I was working on a feature project for a very well known producer at a very well known studio. At some point, we wound up involved in some renegotiations because the producer wanted another draft of the script, despite my having already turned in all the contracted drafts. Since a), these producers wouldn't blow their noses unless they were getting paid and b), part of being a "professional" writer involves "money", things got a little sticky, until one of the big producer's underlings got unhinged on me and said, "who do you think you are? A big shot?!! I don't see a Mark Verheiden film festival anywhere?!"

That project eventually fell apart, but I was always struck by the underling's condescending argument. Cut ahead a couple years, and I had two #1 boxoffice movies come out two months from each other, TIMECOP and THE MASK. And in a bizarre bit of synchronicity, the movies played together on a double bill at a second-run theater in Pasadena, CA. Meaning I actually DID have a "Mark Verheiden film festival," kinda. I even took pictures of marquee in the event I ever ran into Mr. Underling again, but alas, it was not to be.

The moral of this story? Hmm. Probably the same moral you get from almost every Hollywood writer's anecdote: "producers can be real jerks!" (But some are great, honest!)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sylvester Stallone...

I'm not sure if it's an attempt to rehabilitate his career, promote the upcoming ROCKY BALBOA or simply an exercise in raw self-examination, but is running a series of Q & A's with Rocky/Rambo himself, and they have been both enlightening and very enjoyable. Even if you're not a Stallone fan, you have to admire his honesty and sense of humor. He even brings up his early porn movie, KITTY AND STUDS, and explains how he got the part. Nothing's off limits, and he skewers his own failings relentlessly.

It's too bad a little of the truly funny/wiseass attitude on view in this on-line "interview" didn't make it into his films. I was especially interesting to read about PARADISE ALLEY, a film he did soon after ROCKY. It was drubbed by the critics, but I remember laughing my head off at some of the (intentional) comedy in the movie. Especially a sequense where a wrestler is trying to get his parakeet to talk... comic genius. Honest.

And he made a couple of real gems. The original ROCKY is a darn fine movie, and FIRST BLOOD is really, really good. And CLIFFHANGER wasn't bad. Unfortunately, Stallone's following up ROCKY BALBOA with another RAMBO movie, which doesn't necessarily bode well, but so it goes...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Battlestar Season Three -- That's A Wrap!

Well, almost a wrap... there are still a few scenes and some second unit work to be done, but principle photography for BSG Season Three is just about done. Last weekend's glorious wrap party, held in scenic Vancouver B.C., was another festive affair. The liquor flowed, the music pounded and the gag reel amused.

Thursday of this week, TV Guide is sponsering a theatrical showing of Friday's episode of BSG, "The Eye Of Jupiter", in six cities across the U.S. Written by yours truly, "Jupiter" involves the desperate search for Earth, a remarkable discovery and other surprises. It's also the last new episode this year and the last episode to be shown on Friday night, as we prepare for the big move to Sundays at 10:00PM in January.

Finally, AFI once again put BSG on their list of the ten best TV shows, a "two-peat" after last year's appearance. The critical acclaim just keeps on coming!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


It's been a hectic couple of weeks. I'll have some new fun to announce very soon, but in the meantime, two thoughts:

One, I am in awe of daily bloggers who, well, blog daily.

Two, this week's BSG is another good one. Lots of cool sci-fi action and another gut punch ending. It's called THE PASSAGE and was written by freelancer Jane Espensen, of BUFFY renown. There's action, there's triumph and there's tragedy. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Superman/Batman #30!

In other news, the long in process Superman/Batman #30 should be hitting the newsstands today. It's Ethan Van Sciver's last issue as artist, but he goes out with an artistic bang! Keep your eyes peeled for Plastic Man and other guest stars! Matthew Clark takes over the art chores as of issue #31, and it's looking fantastic, so the thrills will keep coming! (For some reason, I always use exclaimation marks when writing about comics! Because it feels GOOD!!)

Superman/Batman. DC Comics. Good stuff! Check it out!

Battlestar Friday!

Another fine new episode of Battlestar Galactica this week (Friday, 9:00 PM, Sci-Fi Channel, BE THERE!) It's "Unfinished Business", written by Michael Taylor, and it's one of my personal favorites of the season so far. If you were wondering what caused the rift between Starbuck and Apollo, you will wonder no more. I suspect more than a few fans will have a tear in their eye by the end of this one. We've got your bloodied Adama, your flashbacks to New Caprica, Tyrol, Hot-Dog, and one hell of a fourth act. Check it out!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Battlestar Moves To Sunday In January...

As I relax with family on this fine Thanksgiving, thought I'd take a moment to bring the latest Battlestar update, which is: the show will be moving to Sunday nights at 10PM starting in January 2007. I had about as much to do with the time change as I did with DVD pricing and making Starbuck a girl, but it's an interesting move and one that will hopefully expose Battlestar to audiences that are otherwise engaged on Friday evenings. First, though, we gotta get the word out, so: JANUARY. BATTLESTAR. 10PM SUNDAYS. Be there or be square...

Friday, November 17, 2006

The State Of Discourse Today...

So it appears Mr. O.J. Simpson has written a pseudo tell-all called "IF I DID IT", a fictional confession in which he theorizes how he would have killed his ex-wife and a passerby waiter, IF he had wanted to kill his ex-wife and a waiter. Which, of course, he did. Our good friends at Fox are giving Simpson some prime time to discuss his "theories" and apparently $3.5 mil has changed hands in exchange for these *ahem* fictional musings.

At first this struck me as being an especially heinous example of someone profiting from their crime, but if you think about, thus it has ever been. How many bandits and murderers from the Old West wound up being feted and celebrated for their exploits in Wild West rodeo shows? Last time I toured Alcatraz, several surviving inmates met us on the way out, hawking books about their lives in stir. People seem endlessly fascinated with crime and criminals, me included.

But this one's different. I can't help remembering the graphic crime photos from the Simpson murder scene, and the horror and pain those two people must have felt as this madman, furious over a romantic rejection, slashed them both to death with a knife. There's just no way to romanticize or forgive this butchery. So I won't be watching the specials or reading the book or paying attention to the endless news coverage, and hopefully O.J. will just drift back into obscurity. And maybe we can close this particular "Wild West" show once and for all...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Forget JAMES BOND. Watch BATTLESTAR 11-17!

I've been in Canada this week, sending the big season finale of Battlestar season three off into production, but nothing will prevent me from asking/demanding/INSISTING that you watch this week's new episode of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. In "Hero", we meet a new character, learn what was what with Adama before the Cylon attack on the colonies, and discover that for every action, there is often a re-action...

That's HERO, not HEROES (you're already watching that show!). Check it out!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mystery Solved... Frank Miller's FIRST Movie...

As long as I'm taking a walk down memory lane, prompted by the New York Times article on Dark Horse's twentieth anniversary, let's peel back the mists of time for another fun fact about "the early days."

As mentioned in my last post, Frank Miller was an early member of Apa-Five, contributing dozens of pages of comics and other material. One of those comic strips was a parody of Spider-Man artist Steve Ditko's doctrinaire (and mostly self-published) "hero" MISTER A. Mister A seemed to erupt from Ditko's well known fascination with Ayn Rand's work, and was seen as an especially eccentric work from the formerly mainstream artist.

As a hero, Mister A went to great pains to explain that there is no moral equivilant of "gray" in this world, only stark black and white. Our moral choices define us forever, and in Mister A's world the penalty for going over to the "black" side was usually quite Draconian. Like, lengthy prison terms or death.

Anyway, Miller did a parody of Ditko's strip which so impressed me that I got his permission to use the story as the basis of my first 16mm student film, MISTER A-1. Shot in glorious black and white (hey, just like SIN CITY!) and starring fellow students, my college buddies and I scraped up enough dough for the raw stock and processing, utilized our school's antiquated equipment (a fifty pound old film news camera that had been donated by one of the local TV stations back in the 60's!) and wound up with 10 minute-ish, sync-sound epic. There were a host of your usual production problems (as I recall, the sound lost sync and we had to jury rig a system for getting it back on the mark), but as a first effort, what the hell, you know? Unfortunately, my cohorts and I were too poor to afford multiple prints, and when our best copy was mangled after an aborted showing at a comic book convention, MISTER A-1 returned to the shelf.

However, that was just a prelude to my next student film, this one shot in glorious color, JOHN BOY MEETS THE TEXAS CHAINSAW KILLER. (No. I'm not kidding.) More on THAT in another post...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

New York Times, Dark Horse, Apa-Five?!

The Nov. 12 Sunday edition of the New York Times features a lengthy article (in the business section) on Dark Horse Comics and publisher Mike Richardson. It's a nice and well-deserved piece that actually name-checks, well, me, as well as "My Name Is Bruce", amatuer press alliances and "Apa-Five" in passing. The latter has to be a rather esoteric reference for most folks. So here's a little more explanation...

APAs are loose coalitions of like-minded folks who self-publish their own little magazines every few weeks, which are then collated into one larger package by a "Central Mailer", and distributed on a regular basis (usually monthly) to all the members of the group. Membership is limited, anywhere from 30 to 50 to 100 depending on the group, though there are apas with all sorts of different requirements, and some have been around since the 1920's.

The magazines themselves are as idiosyncratic and eccentric as their creators. Some people write articles on items of interest, some create short stories or comics, and for many it's essentially a round-robin of commenting and discussing each other's opinions. I still belong to one apa, CAPA-ALPHA, a comics related group that's been around since the early 60's, through which I still publish my own little mag, usually devoted to whatever happens to be my crazy passion of the day. In this era of the internet and blogging, actually laying out and "publishing" a small magazine is starting to feel as old-style as in writing a snail-mail letter, but I still enjoy the entire process, right down to collating and stapling the pages.

Apa-Five, which is still going strong sans my participation, was started in 1971 (!) by yours truly, when I was still in Junior High. Early members of that group included Frank Miller (yes, the SIN CITY/300 Frank Miller), Paul CONCRETE Chadwick, Marvel inker Randy Emberlin, and artist-now-Dark Horse editor Chris Warner. We were all kids, literally kids, publishing stories and commentary that we printed using mimeographs (boy, I don't miss those messy things!) and purple-ink "ditto machines." A few years later, folks like Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley joined, along with many others. I think what many of us had in common was a desire to turn our love of comics and film into something more than just a hobby, and for some the dream eventually came true. And now my little apa is being mentioned in a business profile in the New York Times... that's more than just a little weird.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Battlestar 11-10-06

This week's episode is A MEASURE OF SALVATION, continuing Baltar's, umm, "adventures" on the Cylon baseship, while the crew of Galactica and President Laura Roslin face a fateful decision re: a potent new weapon. Intrigue, moral conundrums and Baltar under extreme pressure. Check it out!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

San Diego Comicon: Because It's Never Too Early...

The annual San Diego Comicon has been growing by leaps and bounds over the years, with 2006's event the biggest, busiest yet. I've been to every show (sometimes for just a day, but nonetheless!) since 1983, and I always have a great time. It's a crazy amalgam of comics, movies, TV, manga, and just about any other pop culture artifact that exists, and a great place to spend a ton of dough on ridiculous collectibles. I have become quite an expert in that regard.

At any rate, in an effort to lower attendence this year, the San Diego people have asked me to be one of their "special guests" at the 2007 show, July 26 through 29th. I'm not quite sure what this means, except I don't have to sweat out finding a hotel room and I suppose I'll give a panel or two during the show.

The "sweating out a hotel room" part wasn't a joke... I know any number of folks who booked their 2007 rooms before the 2006 show was over. There is plenty of public transportation around S.D. if you happen to land a room that's not within walking distance of the convention center, but if you wait too long, you may be staying within flying distance (i.e., L.A.). So if you wanna make the show, and especially if you're on a budget, you need to start planning ASAP.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Since someone asked about it in the comments, here's the scoop on the EVIL DEAD comic book adaptation. With the blessing of the Raimi/Tapert/Campbell crew, I'm writing an enhanced, 88 page (4 issue) adaptation of the first movie. Since I don't think anyone's all that interested in a beat-for-beat adaptation (if you want to see the movie, you can buy/rent it), the point here is to expand on the original film and give a little more background on Ashleigh, Scotty and the ladies, and explore the world between the narrative cracks in the movie itself. All this is told from the POV of Ash as he looks back on his experience, giving the, umm, "adventure" his own unique spin.

All this is being illustrated by the amazing John Bolton, who is painting every page. This is where the project really comes alive, because John's work is absolutely amazing, chilling and disturbing. The demons are absolutely horrifying... no kidding.

Deadline-wise, John's currently painting issue #3 and I'll be writing #4 as soon as I wrap up my current Battlestar duties. But this is definitely a "no wine before it's time" project... it's taking awhile, but I think the end product will definitely blow a few minds. Look for it sometime in 2007...

Monday, November 06, 2006

My Name Is Bruce UPDATE

I've just seen Bruce Campbell's director's assembly of MY NAME IS BRUCE, and while this is obviously biased, I'll just say it -- there are some gut-bustingly funny scenes in this baby. If you're a fan of Bruce's, umm, more "manic" style in the EVIL DEAD movies, you're gonna be in hog heaven. There is one crazy take of Bruce simply trying to get a door unlocked that had me falling out of my chair... it's great to finally see the madness come together!

Post production continues and we're still looking at a theatrical release for 2007, so keep watching your multiplex!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Books of and about COMICS

Russ Cochran, the man responsible for the beautiful black and white EC box-sets that came out in the 1990's, is back at the trough once more, initating a comprehensive hardcover EC "Archive" series, this time in full color. Slightly larger than the original comics, but not as big as the B/W reprints, the first book in the series reprints the first six issues of WEIRD SCIENCE. These are not the best of EC's Sci-Fi stories, but you can see publisher Bill Gaines and editor Al Feldstein trying to find their sea legs, and Harvey Kurtzman's stuff is great. That said, as reprints go, I frankly prefer the (much cheaper) color newsprint editions that came out in the late '90's/early 2000's. Cochran has gone to great lengths to give the color in the swanky Archive edition some softness and texture, but to get the real feel of the way the stories as they came out originally, the "comic book" versions are still the best.

Also just out is a comprehensive biography on comic artist Wally Wood, "Wally's World." (Availing in softcover and a limited hardcover edition with an extra art portfolio). Wood was a mainstay at EC and then MAD magazine, and one of the classiest comic book artists ever. Unfortunately, he was also a very troubled man, epitomized by his suicide in 1981. The bio goes into an extreme, sometimes TOO extreme detail (did we really need to know about Wood's wife's visit to the dentist?), but it also explores his time with EC, Marvel, his glory days at Tower (THUNDER AGENTS) and then the slow, bitter decline. Since I'm fascinated with comics history, and was always a huge fan of Wood's work, hey, I like the book, but it may not be for the casual fan.

Both books are available from Amazon or comic shops...

This Week On Battlestar...

This Friday's show is "Torn." As the dust continues to settle from the New Caprica debacle, a new storyline unfolds... what's going on with Baltar now that he's on the baseship? What do those crazy Cylons do when they're not plotting the destruction of all mankind?

Also, where is Starbuck's head in the wake of her four month "relationship" with the Cylon Leoben? All this, and one of the more powerful moments between Admiral Adama and his friend Col. Tigh...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

On Battlestar and Rumors...

There seem to be any number of rumors circulating about the fate of BATTLESTAR, including suggestions that the episode order has been shortened, we're about to move to NBC, Starbuck really IS a boy (no way), etc. Since I, well, work there, let's just make everything perfectly clear. The season three order was for twenty episodes. As it turned out, we had almost enough material after shooting our third show (AKA the one with the spectacular FX of Galactica on fire, swooping into atmosphere) that we decided to shoot a few more scenes and turn that into two eps, but for viewers, the result is the same. In terms of the order being cut, well, we're currently shooting episode #16 and I'm writing the season finale, so no. We're shooting them all. And I believe the "moving to NBC" thing has been thoroughly debunked, but one more time -- it's not gonna happen. And frankly, I LIKE being on the Sci-Fi. They have been extremely supportive of the show, and creatively, that's what you want and need...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

This Week On Battlestar Galactica

I've been laboring under a tight deadline, hence the light posting this week, but there's always time to remind the tens of people who check out this blog that this week's episode of Battlestar, "Collaborators", was written by yours truly and features yet another rather dark turn in the lives of our rag-tag fleet. No spoilers, I'm just sayin', I'm awfully proud of this one. Check it out!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Very Bad Nirvana

One of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures is a band called THE SHAGGS, three young girls who, back in the late sixties, we're dragged into a recording studio by their Dad about three weeks after they started playing their intruments. The resultant "album", which proud Poppa actually pressed to sell at shows, is a nightmarish and yet oddly compelling clatter of atonal singing, arythemic drumming and non-sequitur guitar strumming.

Well, the spirit of The Shaggs lives on. As the blurb at i-film says, it probably isn't right to laugh at High School students (or Junior High, it's hard to tell) as they give their all during what looks like a talent show... but this really IS the worst cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that you're ever gonna hear/see.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Today's (10/20) edition of THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER had a special section on BATTLESTAR along with a nice ad placed by CAA congratuating their clients on reaching 100 episodes... a little premature (I think we're at about 53 regular eps, not counting the mini-series) but what the heck, let's start the party early!

Next week's show, COLLABORATORS, is "my" first show of the season, and if you thought things were already intense for our rag-tag fleet, just wait...

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Descent

Catching up on another horror movie that came and went last Summer, THE DESCENT is one of those rare beasts, a monster movie that actually develops some well-realized characters. After a personal calamity devastates Sara, her five Brit/Scottish girlfriends convince her to join them on a spelunking adventure in the wilds of the American South. As they head into the cave, things begin to go terribly wrong. They find themselves trapped and going progressively deeper into the previously uncharted cave system... and then things go REALLY bad. Since the ads don't exactly hide the fact, it's not a spoiler to reveal that something else is down there with our intrepid band...

I think the most interesting thing about DESCENT is that it is a riveting and harrowing adventure even before the "monster" part starts. Indeed, my one critique of the picture is that the creature stuff seems to go on a bit too long, and it's fairly one note (though the note is an interesting one). The sense of dread and hopelessness and desperation conveyed as the caving expedition itself goes haywire is extremely well done, and the relationship between Sara and the expedition's leader, Juno, has some great character-based twists and turns. And the basic uneasiness of the caving debacle is made even darker by the knowledge that something awful is still to come. Definitely worth checking out...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Extreme Cinema

So what movie was so offensive that even Showtime, the pay cable channel that provided funding for the project, refused to air it? Check out IMPRINT, a "Masters Of Horror" episode that's just been released on DVD by the good people at Anchor Bay. Directed by Takashi Miike, whose credits include the creepy AUDITION and the over-the-top ICHI THE KILLER, IMPRINT defies convention, good taste and just about everything else... and it's also pretty good. The "story" as such is simple; an American journalist (Billy Drago), looking for his missing Japanese lover in 18th century Japan, visits a brothel where a scarred prostitute tells a rather disturbing story...

So what troubled Showtime? I suspect it was the cumulative effect of taboo-bashing sequenses. Forget Miike's old standby, torture with needles, which he uses to distressing effect here... when you've got characters tossing dead fetuses around, we're definitely entering the world of transgressive cinema. That said, unlike a lot of horror that equates in-your-face gore with horror, Miike also creates a dismal, unsettling atmosphere of dread and tension around the bloody set pieces. IMPRINT isn't just another brainless gorefest, it really wants to disturb the viewer on a visceral level, and in that it succeeds. On a one to four scale, I give it three and a half needles through the gums...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Evil Dead - The Musical

Next thing you know, some dummy will write a expanded comic book version of the original EVIL DEAD movie...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Battlestar Season Three Premiere RATINGS

Come get you some hot Battlestar Season Three premiere ratings...


Number 1 Cable Series for the Night - SCI FI Friday Reasserts Dominance

New York, NY - October 9, 2006 - Building on the summer ratings heat that brought SCI FI more than 15 million new viewers via its original series Eureka, Who Wants to Be A Superhero? and ECW, the Channel kicked off the fall with the hotly-anticipated season 3 premiere of Battlestar Galactica (October 6, 9-11pm ET/PT). In the face of stiff competition, the two-hour opener was the #1 cable series of the night. And in combination with its lead-ins, Heroes (rebroadcast @ 7pm) and Doctor Who (new episode at 8pm), SCI FI reasserted its dominance on Friday nights, with triple-digit demo increases vs. 4Q05.

The Galactica season 3 premiere delivered a 1.8 HH rating with 2.2 million total viewers (P2+) - out-delivering its season 2.5 average in total viewers (+2%), P25-54 (+7%) and P18-49 (1.4 million, +4%).

SCI FI's 7pm-11pm SCI FI Friday lineup averaged a 1.4 HH rating, 1.7 million total viewers (P2+), 1.2 million P25-54s and 1.0 million P18-49s. Compared to the same time period last year (4Q05), this reflects increases of:

+93% in P2+
+75% in HH Ratings
+120% in P25-54
+134% in P18-49

Friday, October 06, 2006

Battlestar Season Three BEGINS...

The big premiere is still ahead as I write this, but I just had a chance to see the two hour premiere on the big screen, and I am, if possible, even MORE incredibly proud of this show than ever. The advance reviews have been wonderfully positive and the buzz seems to be growing, so -- please watch! Tell your friends! Tell the friends of your friends! If your friends don't have friends, stop talking to them, but not until they promise to watch Battlestar! Are we clear?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Countdown to Battlestar Galactica Season Three

Remember, the new season starts (here in the USA) Friday night at 9:00 PM, on the Sci-Fi Channel. The two hour premiere kicks us off in high style, as the Cylon occupation takes root and the human insurgency fights back. 9:00 PM will remain the new time, so everyone check their recorders, doublecheck the TiVo, or (dear God) just remember to watch!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Customer Service

I like to scan eBay from time to time for old comics, and it's always intriguing to see what some people consider appropriate advertising copy. I mean, you put something on eBay, you're trying to sell it, right? And yet there are any number of sellers who fill their ads with bellicose boiler plate seemingly designed to ward off virtually ALL potential bidders. Below is some of the copy from an eBay ad for a copy of CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #61, which, in excellent condition, would go for four figures. Evidently the seller is cranky because the book he's offering is missing a page (!) and he doesn't understand why that prompts questions from potential bidders:


I only wish I could copy the 48pt red type...

Saturday, September 30, 2006


So it seems Dr. Uwe Boll, the esteemed director of HOUSE OF THE DEAD, BLOODRAYNE and ALONE IN THE DARK, has had enough. After his films were savaged by internet critics, he wants some payback, so he's challenged five of his harshest critics to meet him in a Vancouver B.C. boxing ring while he's directing his latest opus, POSTAL. Apparently Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery top Uwe's wishlist, but he's also listed a whole bunch of internet critics (all with hilarious pseudonyms) to meet him in the ring.

How punching out his critics will change the tenor of his reviews is hard to understand, but maybe it's all about revenge. And a little idiotic publicity. And that's all I'm saying, since I'm currently in Vancouver and wanna keep my teeth. Besides, I don't have a dog in this hunt, having never been subjected to one of Doc Boll's masterpieces. (But I have a feeling the bouts would almost certainly be more interesting than any of his cinematic endeavors... hey, who's at the door? No, Uwe, NOOOOOO --)

10/1 UPDATE: I should have more thoroughly googled Mr. Boll's bout(s), the fights happened last week. Boll knocked out all four of his critical opponents in B.C., and a fifth in Spain sometime in September. Video of the excitement is, of course, available on YouTube...

The moral of this story: never piss off a German filmmaker. EVER.

Friday, September 29, 2006


I'm writing this from sunny Vancouver B.C., where I'm spending a few days getting my next episode of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (season three, ep 14 if you're counting) into shape for shooting next week. As long as I've been doing this, I never cease to be amazed by the creativity and ingenuity of all the people involved in this endeavor. Say something as insane as "we may need an iron lung for this scene" and three minutes later there are pictures and prices on all the rental iron lungs available in Vancouver, along with suggestions on how to alter it so it fits the BG universe. (Do we actually need an iron lung for a scene? Wait and see...) The nuts and bolts of making all this come together is really something to see, a miracle of planning, logistics and the sweat and creativity of hundreds of incredibly talented people...

You know, I have a really cool job...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Name Is Bruce - In Theaters Everywhere!

As has been reported, it looks like MY NAME IS BRUCE, starring the amazing Mr. Bruce Campbell, will be getting a significant theatrical release. Details are still being worked out, but the "loving it" factor is apparently high among those with whom the decision lies. More from your intrepid reporter as it develops...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

This Exciting Life

I wish I could whip up some exciting new factoid to that would rivet readers to their chairs, but the truth is, when you're working on multiple deadlines, you're basically... working. When I was first starting out (long before I was making an actual living at this racket), I ran into any number of people who also wanted to be writers, but who seemed to spend a lot of time doing anything BUT writing. They probably had a lot more fun than stick-in-the-mud Mark, who usually spent his weekends polishing up a script for some fly-by-night producer or working on a spec. And, by the way, that's absolutely fine, there's nothing wrong with having fun. But most of these guys weren't really writers...

I attended a large rally for the Writer's Guild Of America last week, over a thousand strong, and the first thing you notice is most truly working writers have little in the way of a tan. Because to get things written, you generally have to sit down and write them. Usually inside a room, since it's tough to see a computer screen on the beach in Maui. (Though I'm sure it's possible, and I'm willing to try!) I have found no magic formula or secret trick to make any of this easier; it's all about face time in front of a computer, working out the story, outlining, figuring out the theme, playing with the language, mulling what makes one line interesting while another is less so, trying to understand the characters... it's about DOING it.

I'm fascinated by the idea of writing partners, because there must be times when stuff really DOES get written without you. And I've actually tried co-writing a few times, sometimes because I wanted to try a new way of working, sometimes because the project was assigned that way. But I've discovered over time that I'm a pretty selfish bastard; the first draft of any project is the only time I get to play in that particular world, and I'd rather not share that with anyone else.

So that's what's been going on in my little corner of Heaven the last week or so... I'm just tryin' to get it down on paper...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Battlestar And Entertainment Weekly

The current issue of ET features a nice cover article on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and some info on the upcoming season. There's a certain temporal disconnect for yours truly, since we started working on season three way back in November 2005, and I am currently working on the outline for the season three finale. Most shows aren't quite this far ahead; during my three years on SMALLVILLE, we were usually working seven or episodes ahead of whatever was airing. On BG, it's a little strange to remember/realize that audiences haven't seen anything from season three yet, while the cast and crew are beginning to eye a pencil-thin light at the end of a long, creatively rewarding tunnel...

BTW, please note that the show has moved to 9:00 PM on Friday, on the Sci-Fi channel. Our first show, on October 6, is a meaty two-hour epic that deals with the catastrophic Cylon occupation of New Caprica. For those who need to catch up on the plot machinations, Sci-Fi's put together a one-hour compilation/clip show that will painlessly bring you up to speed, check the Sci-Fi website for times...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

My Name Is Bruce Update

I haven't forgotten my blogging duties, but I am currently plowing through a multitude of drop-dead deadlines so free time is at a minimum. However, I've had a chance to review some scenes from the upcoming Bruce Campbell epic MY NAME IS BRUCE, and I am pleased to report that all is well. Bruce is in top form, and the movie just plain looks great. Kudos to director of photography Kurt Rauf for doing a fine job with some delicate night photography, and in capturing some truly majestic moments, as when Bruce plays "Captain Stryker" in our film-within-a-film, CAVEALIEN.

So prepare yourselves, friends. We've got your monsters, your sleazy movie agents, your Romanian actresses who can barely speak English, and we've got Bruce Campbell as "Bruce Campbell", perhaps the least stalwart "stalwart hero" in the history of cinema. Still no word on a firm release date, but I will do my darnedest to keep you posted.

Meanwhile, here's your MNIB quote for the day: "Come on baby, let's swap some spit."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Robert Gordon = Great Singer

Robert Gordon was pegged as being part of the rockabilly revival in the late '70's/ early '80's, along with bands like The Stray Cats, but he has continued to toil in the fields of classic American rock ever since. Blessed with a powerful baritone and wonderful taste in music, his four studio albums (originally on RCA) are all available and definitely worth checking out. Two of those albums feature the late, great Link Wray on guitar, and those are some snarling slabs o' wax. Bear Family in Germany has released a couple of stuffed-to-the-digital-edges comps collecting almost all the RCA tracks + extras, as well as finally putting out Gordon's last, uncompleted RCA effort, which went unreleased for 25 years.

Gordon's most recent studio effort, "Satisfied Mind", was released in 2005 and it's a return to form, well worth seeking out. Perhaps more interesting is a CD/DVD set featuring a live show from 2005, where Gordon is accompanied by longtime guitar hero-buddy Chris Spedding. If you want to sample Mr. G without blowing any dough, check out his website ( which offers a bunch of live downloads, tour info and other cool stuff...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Battlestar Galactica - Season Three

Now that the current issue of Rolling Stone has proclaimed BG the best show on television, maybe it's time to talk about what you WON'T be seeing in season three (starting Oct. 6 on the Sci-Fi Channel, Friday night at 10:00 PM, big two hour premiere episode, be there!)

1): All Musical episode. Sorry, not this season, though we considered changing the opening theme from the evocative drumming to Adama singing REM's "Can't Get There From Here."

2): Black and white episode. Actually, I get a lot of those, since I haven't upgraded my television since 1966...

3): It's A Wonderful Life episode. What would Galactica be like if Starbuck WAS a man? Not this season, sorry...

4): Galactica "puts on a show." Dang it, Deadwood beat us to it...

5): Comedy relief sidekick. Pauly Shore's definitely, DEFINITELY available, but we figure the show's already funny enough.

Even though I can hear the collective groan of disappointment, I think people are going to be intrigued with what we HAVE come up with... check it out!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Arrogance And Don Dixon

Despite the title of this post, it's not a tirade against Don Dixon, one of my all time favorite singer-songwriters. In fact, "Arrogance" was the name of one of Don's earlier bands, a popular outfit in North Carolina back in the 70's and early 80's that recorded a couple of major label LPs, a couple other not-so-major label goodies, then crumbled as members went on to other things. Dixon went on to produce bands ranging from R.E.M. to the Smithereens, but his greatest work can be found on his solo albums. His first, "Most of the Girls Like To Dance", spawned a radio hit in "Praying Mantis", but all of his work is worth seeking out. Genre-wise, we're talking "gritty guitar pop"...

Don married singer Marti Jones (who deserves a post of her own, but is also highly highly HIGHLY recommended) and since that glorious day they've been collaborating off and on. I caught Don and Marti on tour at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano back in 1991, and the show ranks up there with Springsteen in '78 (twice) and Costello in '79 as one of my favorite concert experiences. (Marti's live CD from that era, "Live At Spirit Square", is still available and remains a must have in any music lover's collection...)

Anyhow, Don has a plethora of new tunes available for the devoted. First up is his latest studio album, "The Entire Combustible World in One Small Room." A song cycle revolving around "rooms", at first blush you might detect a whiff of pretension, but trust me, but this is a wonderfully melodic, evocative work. It's available on Amazon, and you should buy it "new" so Don gets a few pennies. "Combustible" made it's digital debut at efolkmusic. com, where you can download the CD cheap, and also find a number of other unusual/previously unreleased tracks from both Don and Marti. I highly recommend the live version of "Praying Mantis" from Don's compilation CD "Notepad #38", a rave-up, horn-sectioned bit of high energy madness. (And when do we get the ENTIRE concert, please?) Finally, Arrogance-the-band reformed a couple of years ago for a few shows, one of which has been put up for sale at It's more high energy fun, and definitely worth the downloading fees...

So join the Dixon brigade! He's got a place over at that lists upcoming concerts, if you get a chance to see him, run, don't walk...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Lea Hernandez

Sad news, but we can help. Hope I'm not breaking any blogger etiquette by pulling this verbatim from another site, but somehow I don't think anyone will mind...

FROM NEWSARAMA.COM, written by Gail Simone:

Early this morning, the Texas home of award-winning writer/artist Lea Hernandez, my friend and co-creator of the graphic novel Killer Princesses, caught fire and burned. Half her house is now gone, and the rest is smoke-damaged. In addition, she lost at least six of her family’s beloved pets, two dogs and four cats. If you knew Lea, you’d know how devastating that is.

She’s lost a great deal of her family’s possessions, including irreplaceable art. She doesn’t yet know the full accounting of what’s been lost at this time.

Most know Lea as the brilliant creator of such works as Rumble Girls and Cathedral Child. She drew the Marvel Mangaverse Punisher book, and has drawn for Transmetropolitan, among many other accomplishments. She is also the co-founder and original editor for Girl-A-Matic, one of the most important venues for female-friendly comics created to date.

She’s also my friend, and it’s entirely possible I wouldn’t have a career in comics if she hadn’t asked me to write Killer Princesses for her to draw.

And finally, Lea is one of the last great firebrand hellraisers in comics.

Lea has two (wonderful, amazing) special needs children and right now they need a place to stay and some clothes to wear. More than that, they need
some help, and fast, in the form of donations to her paypal account. Lea’s a proud person so I’m going to ask FOR her. This is important, and a great chance to do a wonderful thing for a creator who has consistently enriched this industry we all love so much. Please, take a moment and send WHATEVER YOU CAN to Lea’s paypal account and help make this time a little bit less painful for someone who would do the same for you if the positions were reversed.

If you’re a retailer, I ask that you set up a donations jar. If you’re a creator, I ask you to think of how devastating this would be to your career and donate what you can. If you’re a reader, I’m asking you to take a moment and hit the paypal link. You’ll be doing something heroic and you’ll feel great about it, I promise.

Read what Lea had to post on a neighbor’s computer while wearing her pajamas at:

Donate (PLEASE) to her paypal account at:

Finally, if I understand the story correctly (as told to me by Lea’s good friend and current Girl-a-matic editor), it was Lea’s daughter hearing the smoke alarm that allowed the family to get out in time, so for God’s sake, do everyone you love a favor and CHECK YOUR SMOKE ALARMS.

Thank you so much for helping. Really, any amount you can send will make a difference. That’s all I can say.

Sincerely and gratefully,

Gail Simone

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Battlestar Galactica Webisodes

Ten glorious new "webisodes" for BATTLESTAR GALACTICA are being unveiled starting today at the Sci-Fi Channel's website. There is a nice article in today's New York Times about the project, which discusses everything from the genesis of the project to the thorny issues they have raised between NBC/Universal and the Writer's Guild. Perhaps along those lines, the NY Times article left out one of the most important facts, which is that the webisodes were written by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle. Who did a heck of a job, and I mean that in the sincere "not-Michael Brownie" way...

While watching the webisodes won't be essential to understanding the new season of BATTLESTAR, they are compelling in their own right and do set the stage for some intriguing character revelations in season three. And make no mistake, these are full blown, produced stories, with many from the main GALACTICA cast playing roles. Check 'em out!

Dr. Feelgood - Down By The Jetty

I've been a fan of the English band "Dr. Feelgood" for awhile, and EMI UK just did us a big favor by releasing a 2 CD "Collector's Edition" version of their first album, "Down By The Jetty." Originally released in January 1975 in semi-mono, this is a classic slab of bluesy/R & B rock features the late/great Lee Brilleaux on vocals. Dr. Feelgood continues to play to this day, sans Brilleaux, but this is really their stand-out recording. This collector's edition features both the original mono mix and the never-released stereo version, which was rejected at the time for feeling too unbalanced (too much bass on one side, too much everything else on the other) but frankly it sounds fine to me and adds a nice dimensionality to the tunes. There are also multiple bonus tracks, some live, and a nice booklet that discusses the band's history and the recording of the "Jetty" album. Amazon has it!

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Best Chuck Norris Movie

LONG WOLF MCQUADE. Some might prefer CODE OF SILENCE, made just after LONE WOLF, and indeed CODE comes a close second. (CODE was originally written for Clint Eastwood, but for some reason he passed.) But LONE WOLF is an early 80's action masterpiece, from the Morricone styled musical riffs to "McQuade's" super-charged truck and Barbara Carrera's incredible, umm, acting. And what a supporting cast... L.Q. Jones, Robert Beltran, Dana Kimmell (from FRIDAY THE 13th Part 3), R.G. Armstrong and of course David Carradine as the evil "Rawley."

Not to digress, but the one section of ENTER THE DRAGON that always left me feeling less than fulfilled was the closing battle between Bruce Lee and the old guy with the replaceable hand. Even with the tiger claw and iron fist gadgets, the old guy wasn't even in Bruce's universe, let alone ball-park. But Carradine actually had some martial arts chops, so the final fisticuffs in Lone Wolf are actually respectable.

Best scene: the bad guys beat the crap outta McQuade then bury him alive, but inside his truck (!). McQuade finds a stray beer, has a gulp, then fires up his truck's supercharger and roars up out of his grave with enough force to run over a bad guy in the process. Sweet.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Doiby Dickles - Sidekick From Hell

What the hell was the deal with this guy? I eBayed a nice copy of GREEN LANTERN #13 (Fall 1944) hoping to read some exciting Alan Scott adventures, but instead I was "treated" to multiple stories essentially starring "Doiby Dickles", with GL playing HIS sidekick. I realize the Dead End Kids were popular film characters back then, but were comic book audiences really clamoring to see this simpering, Brooklyn-ese spouting dimwit MORE than Green Lantern?

Somebody's probably already done Mr. Dickles in, but if not, I'm half tempted to bring the guy back in an issue of SUPERMAN/BATMAN so I can drop an anvil on his head. (Or better yet, let golden age Green Lantern Alan Scott do it for me.) Dat'd teech da bum.

Money, Comics, Movies

I just read a column by comics writer Mark Millar mulling the future of the industry and the way some/most comics writers are also working in film and television. No argument there, but I was a little surprised by the dollar figures Mark tossed around re: option payments and etc. Specifically this quote: "A self-contained three issue mini-series is now enough to get you a movie deal and, even if you aren’t writing the screenplay yourself, you can expect anything from 500,000 dollars to even a million for single picture rights, the same again for sequels and prequels and that’s not even counting DVDs, TV rights and merchandise."

Now, I am not privy to Mark's personal finances, and if he's managed to secure that kind of advance for one of his properties, more power to him. But numbers like that are certainly not the norm, especially for self-published and/or creator-owned properties. In fact, I suspect that once you pull Frank "Sin City, 300" Miller out of the equation, nobody's getting that kind of green just for optioning a property.

Indeed, in my experience, the biggest guaranteed up-front payment comes from actually writing the screenplay. You get that whether the movie's made or not. So when I was breaking into the business, that was always a drop-dead negotiating issue. You want my property, I write the screenplay.

All of which is a long way of saying that an up-front option (essentially putting a hold on the property for a set period of time, anywhere from four months to years, while the producer tries to set up the project) for the underlying rights to a comic book property is usually much, much lower than Mark's figures. These six and seven figure payoffs only occur only when the movie/TV show is produced. Meaning you may get, say, a $25,000 option payment against $500,000/$1mil/name-the-insane number if the movie is eventually produced. But as is well known, the chasm between "optioned" and "produced" can be wide indeed. For most folks, that initial option payment is the only cash they're ever going to see...

Monday, August 28, 2006


So easily one of the best television shows ever has come to it's "regular episode" end, and while I eagerly await the pair of two-hour movies that are supposed to wrap up the various storylines, I am also desolute... because there has never been a show like DEADWOOD. Brilliantly written and acted, it dared to create characters as cruel and unredeemed as any in television history (yes, even including the SOPRANOS), and then methodically, impossibly managed to redeem them. Well, sorta...

The final episode's conundrum, in which an innocent woman had to die to save the life of another, was truly remarkable. On the one hand, Ian McShane's Al Swearington was committing cold blooded murder, a killing so foul even one of his loyal henchmen tried to prevent it. But the reasons for the killing were also unexpectedly compassionate (Al was trying to save the life of Trixie, the one whore he had allowed himself to love, even after she left him), and his penance in the end was so heart-felt, that despite his denials, we could feel the torment in his soul. Television just doesn't get any better.

However, DEADWOOD fans have reason for cheer, because writer/creator David Milch's next show, about surfers down on the rough and rugged California/Mexican border back in the early 60's, looks to be just as fascinating and complex.

But I'll sure miss Al, Bullock, Tolliver, Jane and the rest...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Battlestar Convention

I gave a talk with fellow Galactica writers David Weddle and Bradley Thompson at a Burbank BATTLESTAR GALACTICA convention today. I thought it went quite well, but then I'm biased. Convention promoter Adam Malin (of Creation Con fame) always treats me right, and the fans were great. I'm still waiting for the other show to drop (I must have said SOMETHING stupid), but for now I'll bask in a little feel-good...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Getting A Little More Serious...

So I figure folks might have a few questions about some of my projects, ranging from the SUPERMAN/BATMAN comic to the upcoming MY NAME IS BRUCE feature to my work on the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA television show. So I'm going to try to be a little more blog-active for awhile and see what happens. If you post a question, I'll try to answer it... unless I don't, but don't take that personally.

First, a little on MY NAME IS BRUCE. That particular feature project was hatched from my filthy mind in the Fall of 2004, after I'd been inspired by the nine-issue run of THE ADVENTURES OF ALAN LADD comic book. I'm sure some of you are thinking, "come on, Mark, THE ADVENTURES OF ALAN LADD? Do we look that gullible?" But there really was an ALAN LADD series, honest, published by DC Comics back in 1949/50. And it really is worth seeking out. In the first few issues, the actor Alan Ladd finds himself embroiled in various adventures, like being kidnaped by pirates. The key panel, the one that really got me thinking, was one where a pirate, forcing Ladd to shovel coal into the boiler of a steam ship, cackles about his prize. "Ah haaa, look at the great Alan Ladd now!" Something about the gestalt of that moment really struck a chord.

I've also been a fan of Bruce Campbell's since EVIL DEAD 2, which I (honestly) consider one of the great movies of the 1980's. I've been lucky enough to actually work with Bruce on a project (an episode of the late, mostly unlamented TIMECOP series I did for ABC back in '97), and ever since I've been scheming to find a way to do a movie with him. Enter my friend Mike Richardson, who also knew Bruce, and who also happens to own Dark Horse Entertainment. When he told me he'd lined up financing for some lower-budget features, I pitched him my BRUCE idea. What if Mr. C were kidnapped by some small town folks who mistook him from the hero from the EVIL DEAD movie? And when he actually does battle with some demonic force, he's hopelessly incompetent? And why is this blog suddenly like a Donald Rumsfeld monologue?

Needless to say, Mike responded to the idea, and so did Bruce. We had a story meeting in late 2005 to go over the plot, then I went to work crafting a screenplay designed to capture the essence of Campbelliana. Mucho toil later, voila! MY NAME IS BRUCE went before the cameras in August of 2006, and the world is a much better place for it!

By the way, for those budding writers who may read this -- this was BY FAR the smoothest transition from "pitch" to "screen" I've ever enjoyed in my so-called career. Trust me, the road is usually infinitely rockier. But I'll save those tales for another time...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


People often ask me, "what's it like, working on a television series like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA?" Actually, not that many people ask, because I don't go out of my way to mention it in casual conversation. Partly because I'm just a shy guy (all together now, "ahhhhh"), but also because it can lead to more conversation that I need, given the moment. Like the other day at my Doctor's office, where I was waiting to get a minor surgical procedure done, and the Nurse couldn't stop referring to BATTLESTAR as STAR WARS GALACTICA... now do I try to correct her or grin and bear it as she approaches with the anesthetic needle? I decided she could call it anything she wanted as long as she numbed my pain sensors adaquately...