Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Alien V.S. Pooh

The heading more or less says it all... poor Winnie The Pooh...


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dick Giordano R.I.P.

I was very sad to learn today that Dick Giordano, a fabulous artist and a major editorial influence at DC Comics, passed away today. I met with Dick several times when I was first getting started in comics, and he was always supportive, friendly and just a good guy to deal with. The older I get, the more I value that in people. It's a rare commodity...

I still remember sitting in my editor's office at DC looking over some frankly awful pencils for a story I'd written. Dick happened to pop in, looked at the pages with the same dismay, and told the editor to spend a few bucks and do whatever he could to get the pages into shape. I actually have a few of those redrawn originals. You would never mistake them for great, but they did come up a lot. And I can imagine a lot of folks who would have sent them to press "as is."

We lost one of the good guys today...

Friday, March 26, 2010


A dramatic heading for a much less dramatic post. But my pal Pat DiNizio, lead singer for the band The Smithereens, has just released "Confessions Of a Rock Star", a spoken-word examination of his life and work. It comes in an interesting format, as an autographed flash-drive/wristband. And besides the biographical gab, the drive also features 30 or so Smithereens demos AND Pat's live performance at the Coach House from a couple months ago. The live show, especially, is a lot of fun, with covers and Smithereens tracks and other goodies. Check out Pat's site at patdinizio.com for a list of upcoming Smithereens and solo concerts!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Comics Aren't For Kids!

Anyone interested in a somewhat scary era for comics might be interested in Steve Bissette's recounting of the great "mature audience label" controversy from 1986-ish. Basically, comics like Watchmen, Dark Knight and Miracleman were tickling the edges of the "comics are for kids!" boundary, and when the tumult made the mainstream media ("Comics Are Dirty!!"), a few retailers and comic companies pushed for labels. Which could have made certain books off-limits to some major retailers, essentially removing them from the marketplace.

Real people like my pal Marv Wolfman lost their jobs when they protested corporate decision-making, and retailers were hurt and/or lost their businesses when police busted their stores for selling what would now be PG material to minors. So it was not an insignificant moment. The series is running in chapter-chunks on Steve's blog at:


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Action GOP.Com!

I'm not exactly the best target for GOP e-mails, but I get them nevertheless. This one came today, and it just struck a chord.

Dear Fellow Patriot;

Nancy Pelosi is hell-bent on passing a government takeover of your health care, with or without a direct vote on the Senate Democrats’ bill. Nearly four years ago she condemned the sort of sleazy tactic she is now committed to using as "unconstitutional." Now she has deemed sleazy tactics necessary to furthering her Leftist agenda. There is nothing she won't do to pass this bill.

The interesting thing about this is that yes, Pelosi probably WAS calling this "deem and pass" reconciliation procedure a sleazy unconstitutional tactic four years ago. Back when, you know, the Republicans were using it over and over. So now the Republicans are condemning the self-described sleazy, unconstitutional tactic that they themselves used repeatedly. It's like the Republicans accusing Pelosi of getting ready to kick a dog. It's an awful thing to do to a poor animal, and they should know, because they kicked the shit out of that mutt four years ago!

So who's sleazier? Interesting question! I think I'll mull it while watching one of my bourbon shows...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bourbon Shows

I've watched plenty of television, but only a few programs have reached the pinnacle of being a "bourbon show." It's my version of "can't miss TV" or "glued to the chair." But in my very peculiar case, I'm talking about shows that go down better, no, shows that demand to be watched with a glass of bourbon.

Most of the time, these shows actually involve bourbon. DEADWOOD, for instance, was a total bourbon show. Characters would belly up to bars and throw back whiskey in every other scene. THE SOPRANOS was another, a total bourbon show. How could you watch Tony and his pals pouring shots at the Ba Da Bing without hoisting a glass of your own? And of course, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was a classic bourbon show. Although the episodes where Adama drank until he puked may have pushed things just a bit...

Well, I have a new bourbon show. It's JUSTIFIED on FX, and I dare you, I double dare you to sit through an episode without pouring yourself a stiff one. And that's just after seeing the pilot! But I can almost guarantee multiple scenes in bars with tall pours and ice cracking and all that great bourbon show stuff. Incidentally, and again based just on the pilot, it's a great show, bourbon aside. But bourbon makes it better!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Um, About That San Diego Con Thing...

A few weeks ago I posted a comment about attending a small local comic/media convention in Long Beach. The ease of going to that casual, friendly convention got me thinking about maybe skipping this Summer's big San Diego event for the first time in, ohh, 27 years. My friend Heidi MacDonald linked to the post and it got more attention than it deserved, but astute readers will note that I did give myself an out in case I changed my mind.

One of the biggest hassles at the last two or three San Diego shows has been in securing a convenient room at a not-insane price. The closest hotels (the Marriott adjacent to the convention center, the Hiatt next to that, and the Hilton across the street) have inevitably booked up a year in advance, at high prices. Well, something's changed. I don't know if it's the economy or the hotels opening up a lot more rooms, but I was able to get a room I wanted in my fave hotel for half what I paid last year. This was booking on my own, not off the convention's hotel site (which I believe opens up on Thursday).

It's amazing how not feeling ripped-off before you walk out the door mellows one's attitude toward the convention adventure...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Speaking Of Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery Vol. 2...

"Boris" was the only book I wound up getting in the great Amazon pricing debacle. (See posting below for the early details). Now there's consternation in the comic book world between those who believed taking advantage of the price glitch was criminal and nobody should be crying over not getting their books, versus some (on the FAR other side) who want to launch a class action suit because Amazon canceled many orders on the under-priced volumes.

I only have two points. One, re: the low price, Amazon occasionally does one day sales where they drop prices dramatically, so I'm not sure it's a given that everyone should automatically assume the low low prices were a mistake. I see $100 art books remaindered for $8.00 at Barnes and Noble all the time...

And two, I'll live sans an Incredible Hulk Omnibus. People/companies make mistakes, and that's life.

Hey Kids, Comics (Collections) - Dark Horse Edition

There are an incredible number of hardcover comic book reprint volumes coming out. There are just two...

Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery Vol. 2 collects issues #5 through #10 of the Gold Key series. I'm thrilled to see so much silver and golden age material being reprinted, but looking through this book, I'm reminded why Boris Karloff never landed high on my "collecting" list. As chillers go, these stories are about as frightening as the cheese aisle at Ralph's supermarket, and most of the art is competent, middle-of-the-road and bland. There's art by Alex Toth and "the Wally Wood studio" in this book, and while nice, even those feel like they went through the blander-izer before seeing print.

And the stories. Jeepers, it's like they weren't even trying! In one short piece, a shambling guy wearing a bear skin (!) shuffles into a village and freaks everybody out. The villagers get mad and "bear skin" skulks off, to be found by a little boy who discovers it's not a man under the bear-skin, it's a weird fish-guy! Fish guy jumps in a lake and "it's not until Spring thaw" that the villagers find a crashed spaceship on the mountainside. He was an alien! Wow! And all that in four pages!

On the the other hand, Dark Horse's Conan Vol. 1 reprints the first 11 issues of Roy Thomas/Barry Smith's Marvel version of Conan the Barbarian, and these are pretty great. It took Thomas and Smith a couple issues to find their sea legs, but they hit their stride fast and these are really good comics. Even better, they are exceptionally well written. Maybe it took being freed from the superhero world, but I think these are among Roy Thomas' best stories, and he wrote quite a few good ones. And the best is yet to come, in Volume 2, where this comic makes a quantum leap in quality with some true classics.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Things I Learned From The Internet - Special "You Think YOU'RE Messed Up?" edition...

A producer from the news show 48 Hours is expected to plead guilty of trying to extort money from David Letterman. http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/television/2092590,david-letterman-affairs-blackmail-guilty-030910.article

A California Republican Congressman noted for his anti-gay voting record was caught driving drunk. Leaving a gay bar. He confessed on a radio show that he is, indeed, gay, but justified his anti-gay votes by saying he was "representing his constituents." http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/03/the-walking-wounded-ctd-1.html

But the winner of my "worst week" -- Democratic Congressman Eric Massa decided to resign last week, citing health issues. Then he said it was to avoid an ethics investigation over inappropriate comments he made toward male staffers. Then he said he was forced out because he didn't vote for the health care bill, and that Rahm Emanuel confronted him over his vote naked. In the shower (!). Today, the Washington Post reports that Massa was being investigated for "groping" his male staffers. And tonight he's going on Glenn Beck. http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/03/gibbs_massa_allegations_are_silly_and_ridiculous_v.php?ref=fpb

Monday, March 08, 2010

Things I've Learned On The Internet Recently...

I really like a Japanese jazz pianist named Hiromi.

Sarah Palin used to sneak over the border into Canada to get health care. (http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/3/8/844045/-I-got-mine.-The-rest-of-you-can-drop-the-f*@#-dead!)

The Oscar ceremony was last night, but they made the mistake of going up against an NCIS marathon.

A Congressman named Eric Massa is resigning because of some ethics issues, but perhaps more interestingly, he appears to be a Battlestar fan! Or at least he thinks "frack" is a real word. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/08/eric-massa-ethics-probe-e_n_489804.html

Amazon may have made a mistake and listed a whole bunch of Marvel's "Omnibus" hardcovers at $9.00 over the weekend. The postage for shipping these insanely heavy books (some run 800 pages) has got to be more than $9.00. I ordered the Fantastic Four Omnibus #2, Iron Man #1, Hulk #1 and X-Men #1. That's something like 3200 pages of full color comics for $36.00. (Tip of the MV hat to Mark Evanier, url at the right, for the alert.)

I didn't learn this on the internet, but I discovered that if you drop your i-pod down a flight of concrete stairs, it will break.

One of my favorite bands, The Del-Lords, have just released their first new music since the early 90's. "Under Construction" offers up five demos of tunes to appear on their next CD. You can hear these for free on their website (http://del-lords.com) or buy a physical CD at Greatbigisland.com.

And finally, there's gonna be a Caprica summit in NYC on 3/17. Details below (thanks to Galactica Sitrep, url at the right, for the info).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010
6:30 pm ET, New York

Appearing In Person:

Ronald D. Moore, Co-Creator and Executive Producer
David Eick, Executive Producer
Paula Malcomson, "Amanda Graystone"
Alessandra Torresani, "Zoe Graystone"
Magda Apanowicz, "Lacy Rand"
Sasha Roiz, "Sam Adama"

Syfy’s new Battlestar Galactica prequel—more futuristic family saga than space opera—is a provocative, superbly crafted drama that, like its predecessor, tackles complex, highly resonant themes, such as religion, race, terrorism, technology, love, and the very nature of humanity. Like all quality drama, Caprica is not just emotionally and intellectually gripping, but also compels viewers to confront their own reality, even as they are swept up in this visually arresting, preapocalyptic world of sentient robots, avatars, and interplanetary travel.

The Paley Center will preview an upcoming episode from Caprica’s first season, followed by a discussion with members of the cast and creative team.

Paley Center Members: $15, tickets on sale now.
General Public: $25, tickets on sale Wednesday, February 24 at noon.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Aliens - Czech Mate!

I think I got a good review from a Czech news site. This is the translation:

Comics fans, however, much more zatleskají invaders who take them back again to 450 color pages. Epic cartoon series, built by Mark Verheiden on the foundations of the famous horror film, this time offering forage juice alien queen in three epic stories - Genocide, Harvest and Colonial infantry.

Of course I didn't write Genocide, Harvest or "Colonial Infantry", but I built them!