As advertised, 8 Bit Groan Zone is pretty, well, groan-worthy. The jokes are every bit as awful/clever as what you'd find printed on Dixie cups or Bazooka Joe wrappers. The art, though, elevates the book from a throwaway zine to an actual conversation piece. Main's art is suggestive, sweaty, and grotesque in the way that lots of old Zap Comix were. The longer you look at it, the filthier it seems. I didn't notice Dig Dug's nutsack until the second time I thumbed through the book, but there it was. Dig Dug. With a nutsack. Talking to a lady. Nostalgia!
Meanwhile, over in classier climates, the Sequential Art Gallery is showcasing Benjamin Dewey's brilliant and hilarious Tragedy Series. If you haven't scrolled through all of the Tragedy Series yet, then do yourself a favor and kill a few hours laughing at the sadness of people, objects, and animals that are not you. Single panel cartoons a la The Far Side are something of a lost art at the moment, but Dewey is a sterling example of the genre. In my correct and unhumble opinion his drawings and captions of strange situations are consistently better than Larson's drawing and captions of strange situations, and you should look at them, both in Internet and on-a-gallery-wall form.
Lastly, Floating World is hosting the release party for Delusional, a collection of work by Farel Dalrymple. "Otherworldly" is definitely the best word for Dalrymple's work, and his illustration and cartoons tend to be dense, strange, and suggestive of alien dimensions. The guy's stuff looks like how classic science fiction feels, if that makes any sense.
There you have it: Three entirely worthy comics events within mere blocks of each other. Get out there, ambulate, and sip other people's wine, comics nerds. You have no excuse to stay inside and argue with your cat.
Marc Webb's unasked-for Spider-Man reboot (Sony has to keep cranking these things out, lest the movie rights to the character revert to Marvel) was a surprising thing: On one hand, it felt rushed and mercenary, but on the other—thanks to across-the-board great casting and a Spider-Man who was actually funny—it was a big improvement over Sam Raimi's Spider-films. More or less everything was great about Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man except for the script. And scripts are... kind of important? If you're telling a story?
Hopefully they put together a screenplay that does't suck for the whoa-that-was-fast sequel (*sound of Sony frantically cranking*), which features new writers (Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who're behind everything from Star Trek to Transformers to Sleepy Hollow) and about five billion bad guys: in a bid for long-term franchise viability, it looks like Spider-Man 2 is setting up something like the Sinister Six, an association of bad guys who HATE Spider-Man and like hanging out together. So far there's Jamie Foxx as Electro, Paul Giamatti as Rhino, Dane DeHaan as some kind of Goblin, and, in the trailer, a glimpse of Doctor Octopus' arms and the Vulture's wings. That leaves one spot open. I'm hoping it's filled by a bitter Tobey Maguire.
So much superhero news it's like suffocating under a pillow made of back issues, being pushed into your face by the heavy hand of Hollywood.
(Speaking of which: Did you know the MPAA & RIAA are teaming up to place anti-piracy curriculum in elementary schools? Sure, mathematics and language skills are important, but not nearly as important as putting the fear of the almighty fine into file-sharing first graders )
In a welcome change of pace, Marvel is in negotiations to hire a writer for their new Daredevil show. It doesn't feel like this is how things are usually done. Normally what happens is a lot of worry over who will be cast as the superhero, what the costume is going to look like, how to rough up the concept 'til it carries a grit rating somewhere between "Ron Swanson's sandpaper" and "Rooster Cogburn", and then some writers are thrown at the mess and told to make it stand up and run around for the viewing audience.
But instead, Daredevil's first hire might be Drew Goddard, most recently credited with helping Damon Lindelof save World War Z at the finish line, as well as writing/directing The Cabin in the Woods and writing Cloverfield. His TV work features credits on LOST, Angel, Alias, and Buffy. It's a pretty decent resume. If he's got the job, I hope he knows that working from either Mark Waid's or Brian Michael Bendis' comics runs puts him about 20 steps ahead of the game. He can pretty safely avoid whatever it was Kevin Smith did with the guy.
Speaking of which: For some weird reason, it was decided that Kevin Smith having seen the Batsuit Ben Affleck will wear in the Man of Steel sequel is somehow legitimate news. Multiple sites reported on it. Apparently it's going to look kind of like Jim Lee's rendition of the suit? Apparently we're supposed to take the fact that Kevin Smith is excited by this as a good sign? Apparently we're supposed to forget that Kevin Smith is excited by fucking everything? He compared Revenge of the Sith to both Othello and Hamlet. He went out on tour with Jay & Silent Bob's Groovy Cartoon Movie like a proud uncle. I mean - Kevin Smith's been legitimately excited about THIS:
So the fact he's "excited" to see the high-budget, nipple-free jammies (Smith was oddly specific about this) his pal will wear in a Superman movie doesn't mean much. Although this is what a Jim Lee-drawn Batsuit looks like, and it would be pretty cool.
My only request? Stop cutting holes in the mask so we can see the actor's eyes, as if that's actually added anything of note to a Batman portrayal. Batman's eyes should be angry white triangles. It's not like we need to see Affleck's eyes. SPOILERS: He'll be squinting. He's playing a grumpy, fascist, sociopathic vigilante wearing over 50lbs worth of caped gimp suit, talking to/fighting with a lunkheaded pretty-boy hayseed alien from Kansas.
Speaking of which: Man of Steel is available on Blu-ray/DVD today. Erik liked it. I thought it was pretty good, too. It wasn't great, there's too much David Goyer in the movie for it to be that. The editing didn't do it any favors, either. And for whatever reason, even though the dialog, characterization, and editing presented more than enough reason to take fair shots at a pretty imperfect movie, the narrative surrounding the film very quickly became centered on the "millions" of people Superman personally murdered in the movie when he "flattened" entire "miles" of Metropolis single-handedly. Which a) never happened and b) is a stupid thing to note if you're, you know, actually watching the movie. And now you have a chance to revisit it! It's got a leather Kevin Costner doll/kite that delivers platitudes every now and again, and a Michael Shannon who is very much disdainful of America's agricultural training facilities, and Superman beating up an Intergalactic Dubstep Machine, among other things. You should check it out if you haven't.
So here's a super conflict-of-interesty post: This Thursday, Alison and I are hosting the TENTH installment of our Comics Underground comic book performance series. The basics: We take over the Jack London Bar (529 SW 4th), provide a stage and a projection screen and some mics, and invite the best and most fun comics creators in Portland to perform their work. Sometimes whiskey bottles are broken to make sound effects, there's usually some shouting, occasionally there's music, every once in a while some people wear gorilla masks. We fill up the place, experience some excellent comic books, everybody has a good time, the end.
This time around, Comics Underground has a western theme and boasts three fantastic creators: writer Kelly Sue DeConnick will be showing some of her phenomenal new book Pretty Deadly (there might be some singing involved); writer Frank Beaton has recruited Trek in the Park's Atomic Arts crew to bring his great short story "Someplace Like Hell" to life; and Dark Horse Comics Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie will be reading a fantastic comic inspired by Serenity... AND giving people a first look at the brand new, eagerly anticipated Serenity series, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind.
Tickets are $3-5, but since Alison and I are revered and beloved for our generosity, we're giving away a pair on Blogtown. Entry details are below; you have until 4 pm today to enter, and I'll email the winner shortly thereafter. Everybody who doesn't win: Scrounge up a few bucks and we'll see you on Thursday. Doors open at 7:30, event starts at 8, and this one's going to be pretty great.
That Portland sure seems like a nice place to spend my money!
Portland-based cartoon journalist Joe Sacco has written and drawn about the Middle East, Bosnia, Portland, and most recently World War I. For his latest project he’s going back to the Balkans. Srebrenica, is a webcomic that looks back on a massacre in the Balkans through the eyes of one improbable survivor. The project is something of a first for Sacco in that he’s never done a webcomic. Based on the promo video it's apparent that the comic is animated, with all kinds of things that the reader can click on and drag about. As a
comics dork sequential art enthusiast I've found motion comics to be pretty hit-and-miss, but Sacco generally knows what he's doing and can hopefully make the quasi-animated style work.
A big strength of Sacco’s is that his reporting is very often about specific people, places, and events, even as his subject matter seems grand and sweeping. Footsteps in Gaza and Safe Area Gorazde both focus on discrete incidents within the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Balkan wars, respectively, and both bring a certain amount of personal focus to events that often seem to involve crowds and nations as opposed to, you know, people. Srebrenica seems to be going in that same direction.
Sacco’s publishing the comic through Acuerdo, a new multilingual publication that’s supposed to debut at the highly specific time of “this Winter.” So far Acuerdo itself looks… uneven. Several bits of texts on the site are very obviously and poorly translated into English, and the site seems to have more ambition than promise. The publication seems to be a little bit Vice, a little bit NPR, and definitely has potential but... they're obviously in the embryonic stages of being whatever it is they'll end up being. Sacco is, by far, the biggest thing that the publication has going for it, and one overriding reason why I’ll be checking out their debut later this winter. Whenever that is.
It's not only the swelling music and the voice of Ian McKellen that makes this thing feel particularly Lord of the Rings-y, I don't think: X-Men: Days of Future Past is inspired by one of the most beloved stories in all of the 48 billion X-Men comics, and director Bryan Singer, no doubt eager to make everyone forget about Jack the Giant Slayer, seems intent on cramming in everything else he can think of, too. Am I going to complain about this? No. Because (1) Days of Future Past already looks like it'll be way more fun than the forgettable X-Men: First Class, and (2) the second I complain about an X-Men movie that looks too epic is the second that my 12-year-old self jumps into the future and kicks me as hard as he can in the junk.
BUT HERE IS A COMPLAINT I WILL LODGE. How do you make a trailer for this movie and somehow not include a bunch of footage of Peter Dinklage as swingin' '70s evil genius Bolivar Trask? Let us correct that injustice with a single still image, and let us hope that the next trailer is all Dinklage, all the time.
As my review of All Is Lost in this week's paper strongly indicates, I'm a shameless, gawping fan of Robert Redford. Had the whole Marvel-taking-over-Hollywood thing happened a few decades earlier, it's hard to imagine they wouldn't have tried to cast Redford as Captain America—and now that's in his late '70s, he's the perfect guy to play a government agent who's older, wiser, and maaaaybe a little sinister. Redford pops up quite a bit in the new trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, looking predictably awesome as someone who apparently knows a lot more than Cap.
As someone who wasn't very keen on the first Captain America, this thing looks more to my liking: as a character, Captain America is at his worst when he's a jingoistic cheerleader, and at his best when he's used to highlight how vastly far away America is from its ideals. Nothing demonstrates that better than
an Edward Snowden a good political thriller—especially if it allows me to retcon one of my favorite movies, Sydney Pollack's Three Days of the Condor, into being the first Marvel movie. Now we know how Redford got into S.H.I.E.L.D.!
They tackle songs of Peggy Lee, Nick Lowe, Irma Thomas, Tom Waits, Roger Miller, Lee Hazlewood, and lots more, not always picking the most obvious songs, but finding secret gems with real heart and magic. Take a listen to a couple tracks, including Michael Hurley's "In the Garden" and the Kinks' "I Am Free."Jealous Butcher is releasing it on vinyl, in a limited edition of 100 with handmade covers, on November 1. That night, the band is playing what is likely to be their only show with the lineup that appears on the album—the record release show takes place at the Alberta Rose Theatre, and the album's producer, Adam Selzer, will also perform at the show in an unconventional way.
Selzer recently wrote a graphic novel based on his experience touring as a solo acoustic opening act for a band in Germany back in 2003, which he shortly discovered was a Christian rock band. Ami Go Home, illustrated by Nick Choban, is an experience of the sometimes comical mismatch, and Selzer will read from it as pages are projected, also performing the music as it occurs in the story. This also seems like a fine time to mention that Selzer's former band, Norfolk & Western, is performing a reunion gig at the Doug Fir on Wednesday, November 27 with a full lineup of Selzer, Rachel Blumberg, Peter Broderick, Dave Depper, Amanda Lawrence, and Cory Gray. That is going to be excellent.
Shelley Short and the Sure Shots w/Adam Selzer, Michael Hurley; Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta, Fri Nov 1, 8 pm, $12, tickets
Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson doesn't give interviews very often, but Mental Floss has one, and—from what they've put online, at least—it's great. Watterson is always an interesting dude (as you'd expect from a guy who casually admits that "Calvin and Hobbes created a level of attention and expectation that I don't know how to process"), but in this, he touches on why there'll never be a Calvin and Hobbes movie, those stupid truck decals, and what's currently happening to comic strips (and, it might be worth extrapolating, art in general):
I like paper and ink better than glowing pixels, but to each his own. Obviously the role of comics is changing very fast. On the one hand, I don’t think comics have ever been more widely accepted or taken as seriously as they are now. On the other hand, the mass media is disintegrating, and audiences are atomizing. I suspect comics will have less widespread cultural impact and make a lot less money. I’m old enough to find all this unsettling, but the world moves on. (Via.)
If you don't read comics, you might not be aware of the fact that we've got some serious hotshots living in town: brilliant, genre-busting, hilarious writers who also happen to write the characters that Marvel movies are based on. If you haven't read Matt Fraction's spy thriller Casanova, start there—you'll like it, I promise, and you'll be reading his ongoing series Hawkeye before you know it, superhero fan or no.
(Related! Fraction's wife Kelly Sue DeConnick is also a total badass—she's currently writing Captain Marvel—and an outspoken feminist in the often shitty-to-women world of mainstream comics. FEMINISM! I CAN'T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT! The Atlantic just ran an article about her, and women in superhero comics in general, which is totally worth a read for its perspective on DeConnick, even if I want to take a red pen to it so bad I can hardly stand it.)
Things in mainstream superhero comics can get better for women and minorities, as this Atlantic profile of Marvel Comics writer Kelly Sue DeConnick attests. Marvel is trying, slowly, to bring more female characters to the forefront.
"I think that the message is that no one is 'other,' that white males are not the 'default human being,'" DeConnick said on Comic Con's final day, crystallizing her credo.
I think the glaring overabundance of white dudes on their movie slate is causing Marvel some embarrassment as they move more and more into the public eye. (It probably helps that strong female character advocate Joss Whedon is spearheading their movie universe, too.) Whatever the behind-the-scenes reasons, I'm glad they're pushing for a broader, more inclusive array of superheroes.
Part of the reason PROMETHEUS disappointed so many was due to the richness of the universe it was playing in. ALIEN is considered one of the best horror movies ever made due to its design, its atmosphere, the shudder-inducing nastiness of its titular fanged penis-monster. And PROMETHEUS just took a lot of the potential for good storytelling in that universe, and farted all over it.
Some left the theater with that scent still burning their nose, and said "Yunno what? Fuck it. There's some cool ideas in here, but they're so borked at this point, that... look, can someone call a do-over and restart the whole damn thing?"
Today, Dark Horse Comics said "Sure, we can do that":
Dark Horse has been operating under a cloudly little dilemma since last October, when Disney bought Lucasfilm, calling into question Dark Horse's future in Star Wars comics. There's still been no official word on the fate of Star Wars at Dark Horse, although it seems really hard to believe Disney would pass up the opportunity to return the series to Marvel. Either way, it seemed a good idea for Dark Horse to come up with a plan for filling that void.
Their plan: get writers Chris Roberson (Edison Rex, I, Zombie), Chris Sebela (High Crimes) Joshua Williamson (Masks and Mobsters, Ghosted) and Paul Tobin (Bandette, Colder), get 'em in a room with editor Scott Allie and artist Patric Reynolds, and figure out how to create a unified comics universe focused on Aliens and Predators.
This isn't exactly a reboot. The interview Rob Bricken posted over at io9.com makes sure to point out that none of the "canon" (again, such as it is) will be contradicted by these new books. But they're not going to go linking and winking at past movies or comics, either. For all intents and purposes, these are brand new takes on this universe, with new protagonists finding themselves having to face Xenomorphs, Predators, and even Engineers.
For more information on which writer's got which book, what they have planned, and more looks at Patric Reynolds' gorgeously horrifying concept art for the series, go read io9's quadruple-stage interview.
In this week's Books section, I reviewed the obnoxiously punctuated S.H.I.E.L.D. by Steranko: The Complete Collection, a 300-plus-page collection of a whole bunch of Nick Fury-centric stories, the majority of which are both written and drawn by Jim Steranko. (Early on, the stories are written by Stan Lee and Roy Thomas, and the art is laid out by Jack Kirby—but pretty soon, those dudes just figured out the best thing to do was leave the twenty-something Steranko to his own devices.) Here's the start of the review:
The first page you should read in S.H.I.E.L.D. by Steranko: The Complete Collection is the final one. That's where you'll find Jim Steranko's biography, which I suspect was written by Jim Steranko. It begins by noting that Steranko's "one of the most controversial figures in contemporary culture," adds that "as an escape artist, his death-defying performances inspired the character Mister Miracle and the protagonist of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," and concludes by matter-of-factly stating that in addition to revolutionizing comics, Steranko "has been a musician, photographer, male model, ad agency art director, sideshow fire-eater, typographer, magician, designer, publisher... the list goes on."
What does a man like that look like, you ask? Like this! STERANKO!
This post is partly about my review (go read it!), and partly to draw attention to the remarkable, groundbreaking work of Steranko (go read his comics!), but also to note that we're living in a weird and blessed sort of Steranko renaissance—not due to any new work by the man, but due to the fact that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which Bobby recapped yesterday) has a whole lot to do with the S.H.I.E.L.D. comics Steranko made in the late '60s, and also due to the fact Steranko recently joined Twitter, where—with a long-form style he's dubbed "TNT" ("Twitter Narrative Technique"), he's telling I.N.S.A.N.E. stories from his life. If you read no others, read this one. Then this one. A sample:
I should also note that Steranko's recapping Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for the Hollywood Reporter, and it is exactly as fascinating as you would imagine.
In conclusion, I am delighted by all of this. STERANKO!
This week has been rich with goodness—a steady stream of really awesome entertainment flowing straight into my face. Here, I'll share the wealth. (And by "wealth, I mean "recommendations," not cash money, because there's a dusting of moths currently living in my wallet.)
1. Videogame: Play Gone Home. Alison piqued my interest with her blog post about this riot grrrl-soundtracked videogame by local game developers the Fullbright Company. But it was reading Ben Coleman's upcoming feature (out in our September 18 issue ) about the unique game that made me buy it ($19.99 for PC and Mac). Described as a story-exploration game and set in an Oregon suburb in 1995, Gone Home is the first true videogame I've played in over 15 years. The less you know about the story the better, but it's a fucking treat of a game—a delightful and subtle mix of teenage romance and mystery. Highly recommended.
2. Film: Go see The World's End, guys! It's soooo good and touching and wholly funny. And you really can't beat seeing the pub-crawling, sci-fi comedy with a bunch of laughing moviegoers. I thought it was by far the best of Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost's loose Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. But to be fair, I didn't give Shaun of the Dead much of a chance back in 2004. (Hey Netflix Instant: Let's see that one again.) The World's End is at the Hollywood this week (and other theaters).
3. Comic Book: Read Locke & Key. This series is my favorite comic book—nay, book!—EVER. The horror-mystery series started five years ago and its second-to-last issue came out on Wednesday. That is a lot of month-by-month waiting for a story that is intensely gripping, scary, and thrilling. Get thee to a library or comic book store to catch up on the intricate mysteries of the Locke family and their magical ancestral mansion. Quick, before the very last issue comes out!
4. Cabaret: I have high hopes for Meow Meow and her cabaret show with the Oregon Symphony. When writing up our blurbs for the Time-Based Art Festival guide, I got really excited about seeing the Australian cabaret diva (Sat Sept 14, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, tix). Based on the clips, she's a va-va-voom chanteuse with the heart of a glamorous clown. I'll report back on the TBA blog, but this looks promising.
5. Roller Derby: And finally, my favorite thing to get stoked about: junior roller derby! The hard-hitting monsters of Rose City Rollers' junior derby league, the Rosebuds, are playing a double header on Saturday. It's zombies vs. rainbow kids, and Star Wars dames vs. riveting Rosies. I feel like I harp on this a lot, but junior roller derby is the pure distillation of roller derby at its most fun—these teenage gals are enthusiastic, tough (REALLY tough), and kick-ass athletes. And they throw epic halftime dance parties. Rosebuds Double Header, Sat Sept 14, The Hangar at Oaks Park, 6 pm, $14-20, tix
And it is a really, really great sale. Here's a couple picks to get you started:
March: I haven't read it, but this book—written by the civil rights icon and senator John Lewis and inked by the fantastic cartoonist Nate Powell—has been getting really great reviews everywhere from NPR to the Washington Post.
Blankets—I mean, duh. If you haven't read Craig Thompson's lovely memoir, do yourself a favor and pick up a fancy hardcover copy for only $25.
The Ticking—I love, love, love the work of Renee French; her art is beautiful and funny and spooky, and the stories she tells are unsettling and often profound. The Ticking is about a strange-looking boy who finds solace in art. Alternately, Micrographia is a book about dung beetles.
The story follows Tara Chace, a British Intelligence agent who tries to stop an international terrorist plot after her identity is compromised and as her personal demons spiral out of control....
Sources tell Variety that Fox had long wanted give Page a franchise after working with the young actress in various Fox and Fox Searchlight projects. This property gives Page that and could do for Page what the Jason Bourne franchise did to lift Matt Damon’s profile.)
Variety goes on to note that Leverage's John Rogers is writing the adaptation (here's a good interview with Rogers). I like the sound of this, and I like the idea of Page playing Chace, and if you haven't, you should read Queen & Country because it's great. That is all.
*Full disclosure: Rucka's been a guest—a few times!—at the comics event Alison and I put on, Comics Underground.
This news is all over the nerd internet. Here's Rob Bricken's summary at io9:
J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman have announced they'll be leaving as the [creative] team on Batwoman, citing DC's editorial interference and in particular, the publisher's refusal to allow characters Kate Kane/Batwoman and her partner Gotham City police officer Maggie Sawyer marry each other.
When this iteration of Batwoman was created, the media went crazy over the fact that she was a lesbian. Except for the typically loud (but proportionally very small) right-wing blog response, the feedback was almost entirely positive. (The character even won a GLAAD Award.) The comic has bobbed along on mostly positive reviews for years now, but this will probably mark the end of that good will. In a post titled "Heartbroken," Blackman explains the situation in a little more detail:
Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series. We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end.
DC Comics has been in editorial turmoil for years now, and that turmoil has been made public most often in the form of upset creators leaving titles with very little warning. There's even an internet clock called hasdcdonesomethingstupidtoday.com, and it's updated with alarming regularity. But maybe DC's biggest mistake in recent years was soliciting a Superman story written by hateful homophobe Orson Scott Card, and the lesson DC seems to have learned from that controversy is: Don't make any waves on LGBT issues at all. Don't be pro-gay. Don't be anti-gay. Just don't make waves.
Good luck with that.
I stopped reading DC's superhero comics soon after they relaunched the entire line. It was too stupid, too creatively void. I liked Williams and Blackman's Batwoman comic, but I quit reading it because I knew it wouldn't be long before editorial bumped the two from the book. I figured they would get bounced over their refusal to take part in some stupid crossover or something, but this is even more disappointing. Fuck DC Comics and their repeated lack of support for the gay community. It's now officially a trend.
As part of Marvel's practice of announcing things literally years before they will occur in any meaningful way, they've announced that James Spader will play the eeeevil robot Ultron in The Avengers 2: Printin' Money.
James Spader will face off against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as the villain in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the sequel to 2012’s record-breaking Marvel’s The Avengers. The Emmy Award-winning actor will play Ultron in the Avengers’ much anticipated return to the big screen from writer/director Joss Whedon. The film comes to theaters on May 1, 2015. (Via.)
NOW THE ONLY QUESTION REMAINS: HOW WILL JAMES SPADER PLAY THE EEEVIL ROBOT ULTRON? As I see it, he has three options; let us hope he chooses wisely.
WACKY LINCOLN ULTRON?
SKEEVY, PEED-ON-BY-JACK-NICHOLSON WOLF ULTRON?
NERDY STARGATE ULTRON?
Perhaps I should explain this one. This is a slideshow, you see, set to Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack," featuring still images of both Spader and actor Michael Shanks (okay, it's mostly Michael Shanks) playing the adventurer scholar Daniel Jackson in the film Stargate (Spader), as well as the spinoff television series Stargate SG-1 (Shanks), and... man. The internet. Anyway, maybe this means Michael Shanks can play Ultron in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
In conclusion, wow. Wolf is a weird movie. SUEDE SHOES! ASPARAGUS!
Last night, the internet ERUPTED with NERD RAGE
just as it does when anything meaningless happens when Warner Bros. announced that in the sequel to the surprisingly solid Man of Steel, Batman will be played by none other than BEN AFFLECK.
Just as fanboys flipped their shit when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, Twitter and Facebook lit the fuck up with furious, panicked admonitions about how terrible the casting was, along with some impressively lazy jokes about (A) Matt Damon being Robin or (B) Batman and Daredevil now being the same person. The difference, though, is that now—in part thanks to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight frown-porn trilogy—everyone on the planet is now a Batman fan. Ideally, this cultural shift would make public discourse about such urgent matters less annoying and trivial, but instead it appears that everyone on the planet has decided to start emulating whiny fanboys. THANKS, INTERNET.
To solve this problem—to decide, once and for all, if the casting of Ben Affleck was a good idea—the Mercury's two biggest Batman fans, myself and Bobby Roberts, will now have a point/counterpoint debate. We're going to solve this shit, so that you can shut up about it. YOU'RE WELCOME, INTERNET.
ERIK HENRIKSEN: POINT: It's a safe bet that anyone complaining about Batfleck hasn't seen Extract, Argo, The Town, To the Wonder, Gone Baby Gone, or anything else Affleck has done in the past decade. Affleck will make a great Batman—not only does he have enough self-respect to avoid repeating Christian Bale's ridiculous "angry muppet" voice, but he's also smart enough to have learned to play up his charm and intelligence without getting bogged down in the smarminess that marked some of his early roles. And Affleck—like his pal Damon, and like another Batman, George Clooney—has figured out that the best career route in Hollywood is to only attach oneself to projects that have the potential to be legitimately good, even great. For me, Affleck coming on board Man of Steel 2: This Time Featuring a Character People Actually Care About is a better indicator of the film's quality than either Nolan or Zack Snyder's involvement.
Alternately, sure, Affleck could have just said fuck it and taken tens of millions of dollars to put on a little mask—but even if that's the case, I'm still pretty sure he'll be great. He'll probably be a little less preposterously serious than Bale, which will definitely be welcome, but also a little more grim than Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, Clooney, or (god bless him) Adam West ever were. Sounds like a good middle-ground to me.
BOBBY ROBERTS: POINT I will let director Joe Carnahan address the throng of complainers who took to Affleck's exposed ankles last night like a ballpit full of Langoliers:
Would I be happier if Affleck was directing? Sure I would. But having the guy who wrote a Best Screenplay and directed a Best Picture peering over Zack Snyder's shoulder can't hurt, right? At the very least, it's a brilliant mental image: Snyder looking over his shoulder. Oscar-Winner Batman staring back. Snyder gulping, pulling at his Tap Out V-neck with his index finger, trying to figure out how to make a movie that isn't airless and hollow to some degree.
It's not like Affleck has to carry the movie. He's a supporting character. It's a sequel to Man of Steel, with Batman in it. Affleck usually does pretty decent work as part of an ensemble. For example, here's a scene from Boiler Room, aka Diet Glengarry Glen Ross, sweetened with Ribisi!
This sequel will still be Henry Cavill's movie. Affleck just has to play opposite him while looking good in a Batman costume, hopefully without sounding like his tongue is an ocean, poured into a fishbowl mouth. If Kevin Costner can essay a good performance in a Zack Snyder movie, I don't know why Affleck couldn't.
It's just remarkably strange, the froth of ground teeth and spittle that foamed up on Twitter and Facebook almost instantly. It's so knee-jerk that if you'd told me a cartoon doctor had hit Twitter in the knee with a rubber mallet, I'd have believed you. Hollywoodland exists as proof the man can put in a nuanced performance. Not that we need all that much nuance: It's fucking Batman. Further, it's a Batman inspired by Frank Miller's conception of the character, meaning the dramatic range starts at "God" and ends at "Damn."
Would I still prefer Jeffrey Dean Morgan, or Josh Brolin, or Idris (Michael) Elba (Fassbender)? Probably. But Affleck isn't the same actor that was the bomb in Phantoms, yo (ugh), and 2013 is not 1998. There's been a lot of time, and obviously, a lot of growth on Affleck's part. There are lots of things to worry about if you care to expend the effort actually worrying about a Superman movie with Batman in it. There's the fact Snyder is still directing, and David S. Goyer is still writing. There's also the fact that there isn't a finished script and the movie is already set to open in the summer of 2015. But worrying about Ben Affleck damaging the glory of the Goddamned Batman seems really low on the—
EDITOR WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY: COUNTERPOINT Uh, huh... very interesting, or how about this? GET BACK TO FUCKING WORK. All of you! It's one thing to watch Erik and Bobby masturbating into a sock—they didn't even notice that their "point/counterpoint" didn't have a fucking counterpoint!!!—but this idiotic, useless argument is just further proof that "nerd culture" is DEAD. And you all killed it, with your stupid, pathetic, corporate ass-sniffing. Think DC cares if you think Ben Affleck would be a good Batman or not? They don't. You fell right into their insidious marketing trap to promote this ridiculous children's movie, AND lost a day of actual more important work in the process. SO. On behalf of every employer in America, shut your fucking mouths, put away your baby toys, and GET... BACK... TO... FUCKING... WORK. (Jesus Christ, you people.)
Hi friends, I'm taking off my Mercury hat but leaving on my Mercury fingers to tell you about tomorrow's installment of Comics Underground, the quarterly comics reading series that Erik Henriksen and I produce.
We've got a great show tomorrow night: Periscope Studio member Terry Blas will be presenting an excerpt from his charming webcomic Briar Hollow; cartoonist Kory Bing has a story from her long-running fantasy/adventure/coming-of-age comic Skin Deep (I dare you to start reading it and not lose half your afternoon); and Eisner-winner Greg Rucka will talk about his new—and totally badass—comic Lazarus (pictured above).
It's going to be a fun show, and if history has anything to say about it, it'll be packed—which is why we're offering ONE LUCKY WINNER a chance to win two tickets, and a pair of reserved seats at the Jack London. All you have to do is email me your name by 10 am tomorrow for your chance to win, with SPOT SAVED in the headline of your email. I'll notify the winner in the morning; everyone else, the show is tomorrow (Thursday) at the Jack London Bar, 529 SW 4th, underneath the Rialto; doors at 7:30 pm, show at 8ish, tickets $3-5 sliding scale.
To be a fan of anything is to be an amateur casting director. There’s more joy in imagining potential entertainments than in their actual consumption; it’s why we leave a movie after waiting patiently for the now-traditional mid-credits stinger, and immediately start brainstorming ideas for the sequel the instant our feet touch lobby carpet. The announcement of the latest inevitable reboot is met with all the enthusiasm of having to clean out the catbox, until we catch ourselves playing in that grimy sand, pushing recycled ideas around like kitty pickles; What if Spider-Man did this? What if the Terminator did that? What if so-and-so was the Doctor?
This past weekend, a new Doctor was chosen. Peter Capaldi is a great actor, and a wonderful choice, not only for the energy he can bring to the role, but for the fact he’s a massive Doctor Who nerd. But there was still disappointment to be found, partially because you just can’t please everybody, partially because he’s in his fifties and not conventionally attractive, and partially because he’s the twelfth straight white dude to play the character. Thirteenth, if you count John Hurt, who is playing a one-off version of the Doctor in an upcoming special.
Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s current emperor, took time during the half-hour live press event announcing Capaldi to throw shade at the idea that the Doctor could be anything but a white guy, namechecking Dame Helen Mirren’s volunteering for the role, and smirking up a one-line dismissal about how he can’t wait until a man is chosen to be Queen of England.
So with those specific TARDIS doors clicked shut, pop-culture addicts have to move onto other scenarios with which to disappoint themselves, scenarios that almost always involve the same guy:
Tomorrow is the release party for Batman '66—a comic return to the days when Bats wasn't such a goddamn Grumpy Gus—at Bridge City Comics, which of course reminds me of the campy late '60s Batman TV series, and this hilarious vintage record recorded by Burt Ward (who played Robin) with a veeeeerrrry interesting cohort. From Dangerous Minds:
This song, believe it or not, is actually a collaboration between Burt Ward, better known as “Robin” on the 60s Batman TV series, and Frank Zappa. Long circulated on variously titled bootlegs, “The Boy Wonder Sessions” were recorded in 1966 with Mothers of Invention (and Velvet Underground) producer Tom Wilson at the mixing desk. Mothers Jimmy Carl Black, Elliot Ingber and Roy Estrada are present, however Zappa doesn’t actually play on these sessions, although he arranged and wrote most of the material recorded. Note the bit that sounds like Zappa’s later “Duke of Prunes” composition near the end.
Check it out, it's hilarious and screams Zappa!
Portland is considered something of a Mecca for the comic book industry. Neither of the big two publishers (DC/Marvel) live here, but plenty of writers and artists who work for those companies do. The Northwest is home to imprints like Top Shelf, Dark Horse, Oni, and multiple Eisner-nominated comic book shops.
As such, there are a lot of people living here who think "making comics" is a legitimate career pursuit. Not a risky one, not an iffy one: legit. There are enough residents with their name printed on the cover of various floppies and trade paperbacks that it seems completely plausible, if not probable, that "comic books" could be a a valid career choice.
Considering the names on those covers printed in the largest font do tend to be the writers', a lot of people think the best way into comics is via the side that doesn't do so much of the sketching, or tracing, or whatever they do. Inking. That shit. And since most of the biggest stars in the industry are the writers, it really does seem like that's the best bet.
Today, Leia Weathington, creator of The Legend of Bold Riley and winner of the 2013 Stumptown Comics Fest award for Best Writer (conflict-of-interest alert: I produce her podcast) lit up Twitter like Colonel Kilgore calling in an airstrike. The truth-infused napalm came in response to a conversation started by this tweet from After Houdini creator Jeremy Holt.
Weathington's response, collected and storified by friend/colleague Erika Moen (Bucko, Oh Joy, Sex Toy) not only puts paid to the notion that artists exist in comics solely to execute the vision of the almighty writer, but sheds light on just how "easy" it is to break into comics, even in a Mecca like Portland:
There's a lot more to read, and thanks to Erika Moen, the whole thing is available here. And if you were considering a career in the industry, click that link, and take a minute or two to think on whether or not you really want to break into comics if you're not willing to regard an artist as "your people."
A bunch of viral marketing for X-Men: Days of Future Past went online a few hours ago, and I'm not going to post any of it because I don't feel like posting ads for a movie that doesn't come out for 11 goddamn months. HOWEVER. I will make ONE exception, which is posting this Days of Future Past image of Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask. Trask—in the comics, at least—is an EVIL WALT DISNEY* who builds GIANT ROBOTS that are designed to EXTERMINATE MUTANTS! Here's Dinklage as Trask, sometime in the '70s. It is a glorious thing to behold.
X-Men: Days of Future Past will come out on May 23, 2014, which is so incredibly far away that all sorts of things could happen before then: You could get hit by a truck! You could get pregnant and have a baby! Someone close to you could die. We could decide to start taking care of each other and advancing humankind rather than continuing to wallow in our own filth! You could win the lottery! You could find a testicular lump. You could find a way to make your daily existence marginally less pointless! You could fall in love! You could be murdered! You could murder someone! WHO KNOWS! So let's hold off on getting excited for yet another X-Men movie for at least a few more months.
That picture is still awesome, though.
*Trask first showed up in X-Men comics in the '60s, long before anyone could possibly ever imagine that one day the Walt Disney Company would shell out four billion dollars to buy Marvel lock, stock, and barrel. Given Marvel's current corporate owners, my guess is the whole Disney-as-mad-scientist thing probably wouldn't go over so well today.
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