Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"The Eve Upon Us"

Here's wishing everyone a real ducky and safe Halloween!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Reviews: "The Creeper" & "Hellboy"

The new DC limited series, "The Creeper" (written by Steve Niles, art by Justiniano & Walden Wong), thus far, is a good example of how pretty pictures can't save a poor story.

This is an attempt of updating yet another old DC character into the "modern" DC Universe, and as usual, the writer wants to take all of the real fun out of the book and turn the character into a darker version of the original.

In this story, Jack Ryder (The Creeper's alter ego) is injected with a nano-technology serum which was supposingly created to regenerate destroyed skin tissue: a "smart skin", it's called.

However, when Ryder first becomes The Creeper, it is like there's no big surprize to him at all. I dunno. Say, someone stuck this needle in my stomach full of an unknown substance and I suddenly became this highly atheletic person with yellow skin and green hair and "whatever the hell is this red-thing that's supposed to be growing out of my back", and instant healing abilities of the X-Men's Wolverine, I really think it'd be more of a shock. But obviously NOT to Ryder. He even creates a name for himself (i.e., "The Creeper") right out of thin air when asked who he is. This is all just a bit TOO unimaginative and poorly handled by writer Steve Niles to me.

Also there's this matter of a "smart skin". Yeah. So smart it knows how to make itself look like gloves and boots...and trunks. Albeit that DC wouldn't want The Creeper to have this long, flowing green pubic hair between his legs, but really. The formula knew how to make clothing??? Have I really missed that much by reading the first two issues of this limited series?

Then he tells one guy that he's known as "The Creeper". By who (or is that, "whom")? Who knows he's The Creeper outside as a few bad guys he told that to while beating the crap out of them, and to The Batman in the second issue?

I can see why Steve Ditko is pissed at comics these days.

And...I hate to give two poor reviews in a roll here, but I watched the animated Hellboy: Sword of Storms flick on The Cartoon Network last night. Just barely, however as it was so boring I had a difficult time trying not to fall asleep during its running time of 90 minutes, crammed with commercials every ten of that.

If you're looking for any indication that Mike Mignola is involved in this flick outside of the names of the characters being the same, you probably want to pass on seeing this. It certainly lived up ("down"?) to any expectations I had read about it well over a month ago. (Best to just re-watch the live-action movie again and not waste your time on it.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"Late October"

After being disapointed with seeing The Ultimate Avengers first animated flick, I wasn't so sure I wanted to see the second one. But recently Cartoon Network showed it and with nothing really better to do, I watched. I surprized that it was so much better than the first.

Differences aside from The Avengers of which I grew up with (and noted of what I did or didn't like in that flick in a previous post), this second one was okay. For one thing, Thor was played down from being nothing more than an ale guzzling chump. A more spiritual side was shown to the character, and it was more in keeping with his "old-English-speaking-self" that I read probably all of in the 1960's. More of his godly nobility was shown.

The Hulk was also down-played and Bruce Banner's keen scientific mind amped. What was shown of The Hulk was used well.

And that's about all I can comment on regarding that without releasing any spoilers for those who might not have seen it yet and care to.

Picked up three new comics this week. For a change, one was (speak of the devil) a Marvel: Hulk 99. Looks like I stepped right into the middle of a storyline with the character being on some alien planet. Seems The Hulk, also, has a more logical mind these days. Interesting to read an issue after some time now. The cover really attracted my attention.

Picked up Detective 824, which is also part of a continuing story involving some of Batman's old villians (The Penquin and The Riddler) going straight and making their fortunes "legally". But, you know those two. I'm sure it won't be long until they're bad guys once again.

Also got the current issue of Green Arrow (67, I think), which has Oliver Queen out on this island or some such thing hanging around with an oriental fighting instructor. (Yawn.)

While at an antique mall this week I picked up around 30 cheapies to read, mostly from the 1990's. About half of them were the DC-Milestone titles, such as Icon, Hardware,Deathwish,Blood Syndicate. Even though I find these entertaining enough, I just never really got into the whole Milestone experiment. Save for one title, of course, Xombi, which reads more like something pubbed under the Vertigo banner.

My father-in-law turns 76 today (Happy Birthday, Bill!) Went to see him yesterday and hauled in literally 50 wheelbarrows full of wood for him, and stacked it all up. Pretty stiff and sore today. Went out and raked leaves and hauled them off for a good three hours just to try to work the stiffness out (now my back is hurting). Raking leaves is such a useless task, though, as it's raining leaves so much by the time I finished it looked like the lawn was never touched.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

"Reviews, Comments, Yada-Yada"

What?!? Two posts this close together? I've got waaayyy too much time on my hands! But, I did have a few things to mull over and comment about, so...

Personally I think Alan Moore has become too jaded about previous attempts of adapting his work onto the screen. If someone offered to adapt some of my own material and gave it just an iota of the original feeling I had put into the work, I'd be thrilled. Which is why I can't understand how he could have his credit completely removed from the V for Vendetta film (which I viewed recently on DVD).

Scenes from it looked like they jumped right off of the pages from the series, and it was a pretty decent adaptation. Sure, there were some changes made, but I thought those necessary for anyone to relate to the material today (since this was written 20 years ago, since it was first published by D.C. Comics in a regular comic book format, and appeared in serial format before that in a British magazine).

The costuming and makeup was top-notch, the special effects excellant. There's a few draggy parts in this movie, but no more so than the series in places itself.

It didn't have the campiness or just outright bad writing the the "Swamp Thing" flicks had (altho' I think probably that was adapted more from the original ST series), or was it totally re-done to suit the needs of some popular movie star such as in the case of "Hellblazer". Nor was it pretty much all re-written like "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". And it was a better, all the way around flick, than "From Hell".

I give this movie an : "A".

Moving right along... Here's something that might interest you to see (since I think I recently mentioned working on a new comic strip). It's the stages of how I do a page.

Sometimes my breakdown ideas get drawn on whatever I have handy; a napkin, paper bag, etc.

It's then broke down into the penciled stage, and finally the finished inks.




And along...Updating aside, The Legion of Super-Heroes animated series is pretty good, or at least this first episode that I've gotten to finally see, was, as they go back in time to get Super(boy)Man and bring him to the future to help battle The Fatal Five. I find it's style somewhere between the other animated DC stuff and Japanese animation, making a good balance. Characters are redsigned a bit, but not so much so that they are unrecognizable. Also watched The Batman episode which followed. This new season looks much better as they've finally eliminated that "pointed chin" look and added Dick Grayson (today he was adopted by Wayne and became Robin after his parent's death at the circus).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Watched X-Men 3: The Last Stand, and here are a few thoughts on this flick. It's got spoilers, so if you haven't seen it yet and don't want to know about it, stop now.

First, I really don't like the way Wolverine steals the whole X-Men movies. He may be the most popular of the team, but i dislike how original storylines have been re-written just so it can feature the character. I didn't like Cyclops being killed off early in this movie, and Wolverine being present (rather than Scott) when Phoenix dies.

Next, I didn't like the way Jean's turning to Phoenix was blaimed in part on Prof. X. "Mastermind", in the original storyline, pretty much unleased her Dark Phoenix persona. And I do realize that it'd taken many more than three flicks to go thru the whole deal in the X-Men comics about the "Hellfire Club", but then, I think there's way too much crammed into these flicks anyway. I'd like to have seen at least 5 or 6 films in the series before we ever got to The Phoenix Saga to expand more on The X-Men's long history as a team.

I still hate the leather outfits.

Can't say that I cared for Magneto being shown as somewhat benevolent early in this film while he and Prof. X visited Jean Grey as a young girl. I don't recall this ever being stated that they worked as a team anywhere in the series (although I could be incorrect since I haven't followed this book "faithfully" for the past 20 years).

I didn't like Prof. X being killed off by Jean, even if at the movie's conclussion, we see perhaps he wasn't. I still believe the professor's mind is stronger than Jeans, albeit she Phoenix or not.

The lack of relationship between Professor X and The Juggernaut. (Aren't they supposed to be half-brothers?

No Russian accent with Colossus.

Rogue losing her powers (and Magneto, possibly, as well).

Things I did like: The use of all of the original X-Men somewhere in this movie, even if they didn't all battle together AS a team.

Kelsey Grammer as "The Beast" (although he could have been a bit more articulate).

The large number of various mutants used in the film. By my count, there's 15 main players: Prof. X, Magneto, The Angel, The Beast, Marvel (Jean Grey) Girl, Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, Iceman, Mystique, Rogue, Juggernaut, Kitty Pride, Colossus and Pyro.

Stan Lee's 3 second cameo (pay dat man anudder "$2.50").

Storm's new "doo". She was always changing in the comic,anyway.

The lack of any real "down time" in this movie. I hate to say "fast paced", but it was, and it kept me interested all of the way throughout the film, whether or not I thought the adaptation was faithful or not. It kept me entertained, and that's the whole idea of watching a movie in the first place.

And I'm sure there's other things I could say one way or the other about this movie that I've since forgotten. Overall I think The X-Men flicks are still the best written of all of the Marvel adaptations, and I think as well that Marvel has it all over DC in making movies about their characters (but DC still has better animated versions). I give this flick a : "B".

Okay, so much for that review. Oh yes. I have picked up a copy of V for Vendetta on DVD and as soon as I watch it I'll give some opinions as well.

In other things, my wife and I went to see her father recently. He's still in good spirits, but I can tell his health is quickly going down hill. There's just so many things he cannot do these days that a scant year ago it wouldn't have bothered him. Yesterday while we visited, I went out and mowed his lawn, pulled up weeds, emptied his overrun gutters, etc., worked around doing "this and that" for several hours. He still drives to various places, does his own shopping and the like, but he seems to have just a lot of bad days.

Since we were gone all day I didn't do any yard work, but it really needs it around here again. Leaves are covering everything, gutters over-flowing. Might as well wait until the weekend and just let them fall for a few days to even see if I can actually see a difference as I do the work.
Picked up a 1/2 dozen or so new comics at WaldenBooks. I limit myself to spending no more than $20 at a time on new comics due to their high cover price anymore. This usually lets me purchase 6 titles. This time it was an all-out DC purchase by buying Action Comics #843, All-Star Superman #5, 52 (Week 22), Krypto the Superdog #1, Supergirl #10 and Superman #656.

This issue of Action has the new "Aquaman" character. Can't say I even know what happened to the OLD Aquaman. This seems to be a younger and much less experienced version, but with all that's happening in new comics these days it doesn't surprize me that I've missed some stoyline along the way. As with the last few issues of this title, the cover looks like the front page of a newspaper.

All-Star Superman, written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely, continues to be one of my favorites. These stories seem to all happen pretty much outside anything else going on in The D.C. Universe, with Clark Kent not being married to Lois Lane. It's a more simple version of The Man of Steel in many ways, but better written than some of his other titles.
This was my first experience with reading an issue of 52, and I liked it very much. Week 22 deals with "Will Magnus", creator of The Metal Men, and also has a 2 page recapping of the Hal Jordon "Green Lantern" origin. I found it entertaining enough to wish I could read the first 21 of these.
Krypto the Superdog is just an out-right fun comic, and even if it is kiddy par, it's great to see a character such as Krypto finally get his own title after being around for over 50 years. The stories are based mostly on the t.v. animated episodes, with a retelling of his origin in issue #1, and a Superman appearance. We also see "Streaky the Supercat" and "Bat-Hound" along the way. I probably will never buy another issue of this, but I'd recommend it to any younger comic book reader.

In Supergirl this time she decides to go to high school as a student, and adopts the ol' "secret I.D." thing, and sort of learns what it's like to be a human teenager. The trials and tribulations of such are a quick lesson to her. Very good story here by Joe Kelly.

And in the current issue of Superman we have one of his basic "fight someone who's about as strong as you are" story, but with a little surprize at the ending with the reappearance of one of my fave 1980's characters, "Arion, Lord of Atlantis"! Hope I get to catch the next issue just to see what that's all about!

older comics I've picked up recently include a Superboy #86 from 1961, which is the 4th. app. of "The Legion of Super-Heroes" and a classic early silver-age battle between Superboy and the young Lex Luthor where Supes battles his krytonite men (one of those great memories that I bought off the stands when I was 9 or so), 3 misc. issues of Badger (just because I always liked the character, and one of them has a story by Steve Rude in it), a copy of Captain Confederacy #4 (the Epic series), three issues of Englehart & Leialoha's Coyote (an excellant series), a copy of Power of The Atom #1 (a title I never read originally, so I thought I'd give it a look-over), Vertigo Rave #1 (from 1994; has short app.'s by Animal Man, Shade, Sandman and others in the Vertigo titles), Xombi #4 (a title that SHOULD have been by Vertigo; wish I could read all of those), and a copy of Jack Katz The First Kingdom #9. I've read all of these FKs at one time or another, but didn't realize that some had cover coloring by Jim Steranko!

Dat's it for now; enjoy the typos!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"Into The First Week Of October"

It appears that October is now upon us. My how time do fly! Honestly, this year seems to have just whizzed past me. I look back on what I've actually got accomplished around the house this year, tho', and it's considerable.

Like the 10 inches of insulation blown into the attic, all new panes of glass, new shingles and new siding on the side of the house that was damaged by last March's tornado & hail, all of the windows and trim and other places around the exterior has been repainted, parts of the garage have been repainted, and with new wood added to the back and a gutter/downspout added on one side, a garden shop storage building added on to the rear of that garage, remortaring some of the brick-work around the base of the house, a new window sill in the front, new shelves added to the bathroom, the living room painted, and other this and that's which needed fixing. I still have plenty more to keep me occupied with this old place, however; much of which is planned for the next year.

I've taken inventory on my comics and seen that I've added at least 1, 600 books to my collection so far this year, and completed some sets such as Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Bacchus, Shade (save for one issue) and almost completed a set of the '96 Supergirl series. I've picked up many silver-age books, too, mostly D.C. from the 1960-63 period. I've concentrated more on my "Legion" app.'s and added several early ones to that. I've also been able to pick up several old l.p.'s I've been wanting, and a few DVD's.

I've concentrated more on doing new artwork in the past few months and nearly have a complete story finished. But...that's not the whole story, here...

You see...way back in 1989 I was still producing "small press" booklets: minis and digest-size stuff. I was popping out several books because I had a lot of ideas, and was seeing which one might or might not work. This friend of mine was letting me use his copier and only charging me for the paper, and I put them altogether and stapled all of them myself so I had very little real cash tied up in any of it. In the process I was able to get a lot of copies of various titles "out there".

Then the copier went on the blink, and anywhere else I wanted to have my stuff run off it was going to cost just too much to do, and around that time, I also changed jobs so I had less time to work on anything serious. Finally I stopped pubbing small press completely. Looking back over that particular time, I see that I put out around 2 dozen minis and digests. There was 2 issues of "The Misadventures of Elmo", 7 issues of "Kelpie", a "1950's Man" special, a one-shot called "The Holistics", 4 issues of "Shirt Pocket Comics", 4 issues of "Mr. Mad", 3 issues of "Upperground" (the first of which was actually printed photo-offset), a "Krazy White Mud-Man from Y'ranus" special, a "Clown Woman" mini, and an issue of misc. art from various contributors caled "Hodgepodge" (I think that was all of them). I had also gotten artwork published in around 3 dozen minis done by other people, and started an APA (which lasted 3 issues before an new editor took it over), was a contributor to another APA, plus was doing art for a Kentucky sci-fi 'zine, and even had some articles published in a handful of professional magazines, and a few spot cartoons (and/or, designs) in various independent comic books. (Damn! I was pretty prolific back then!)

But I could never find that one strip, you know? The one that I could really stick with, keep my interest, and bring into a full-fledged storyline that I could continue. It didn't mean that I just stopped doing comic strips completely. On the contrary, I probably have well over 200 pages of artwork that I've done and never published since that time, plus several full sketch books. The fact that today's comic artists are 1/2 my age or less, 3 times as fast and 10 times as good never kept me personally from doing artwork, even if I was just doing it for my own enjoyment. (I just consider the unpublished "stuff" as practise.) And, besides, I've never considered myself a "great" artist; I work more on being a good story-teller.

And then, back late last year, an idea for a new strip began to take form. It contained aspects of several other strips I had around, and I began an outline for it. Eventually it progressed into a full tale, which is my current project. Over on that link I have titled: "My Unpublished Work" you can see a finished page from this new story. When you clink on that link, the art will appear and if you go down to the bottom, right corner with your arrow, a little grey & red "box" will appear. Just "click" on it and it'll bring the artwork up to a size you can read. You'll need to read this page of artwork "counter-clockwise wiuth the center panel last for it to make sense. (You can never tell; you just might find a little "Secret Message" in one of those panels!)

And... what else?

Got outside and raked my yard for the first time this Autumn, although within one hour afterwards, you could barely tell I touched it. Also got up on various parts of the roof with my extended prunners and cut back several over-hanging tree limbs, and then hauled all of that away. Plus I cleaned out my gutters. Raking and gutter cleaning with have to be repeated, probably, 5 times before that's finally completed for the year.

I've already had a few of the local candidates come by trying to get my vote for offices such as mayor or sheriff (or whatever). I think it "stuns" them a bit when I make them stay for at least 15 minutes and answer several questions that I have and ask them how they stand on some local issues. Usually all they do (or expect) when they come by to solicite votes is shake someone's hand, hand them a card and a free ink pen or some such thing and ask for the person's support. Me? I make them work for my vote. No promises; don't want them to tell me about anything they'll do (which most won't anyway). I just want to know how they really feel about what occures in local politics.

Listened to a copy of "Cheap Thrills" l.p., by Big Brother & The Holding Co., starring the vocals of Janis Joplin (of course), released back in 1967. Found an inexpensive & playable copy, and it was nice to have one again after selling my original in The Great L.P. Sell-Off of '82 when I was out of a job and needed the extra cash just to live on back then. This to me was Joplin's finest l.p., and it has one of my favorite jacket illustrations drawn by underground comix artist, Robert Crumb. Slowly but surely I'm restoring my old record collection, in fact, I'd say it's 95% complete of the stuff I truely would like copies of again. In many way, the recordings I have around today area much better lot than they were when I sold off 60% of them 24 years ago.

The new X-Men flick has been released, but I've yet to rent it. I haven't even seen "V for Vendetta" yet because everytime I go to rent it, it's already gone out, but with this new flick being a hot one I'm sure I'll get to watch VFV, easier now. Whenever I view either of them, I'll give my opinions.

I did watch the 2006 "Teen Titans: Trouble In Tokyo" animated film which showed on The Cartoon Network recently. I found it much edgier than the regular series. In fact, there's a sequence where Robin beats literally the bloody hell out of his opponent; even "kills" him! Now we do learn that this was not a human later on in the flick and that the blood was something else, but the appearance of such was there, as well as the violence, so it may be something one would want to pre-view before letting their children see it. (Just a thought.)

And this time I've covered my personal happenings, some comics, artwork, music and movies. Guess that pretty much brings me up-to-date.