I've said recently that being a comics fan is less about actually liking the books you buy every month, and more about liking the behind-the-scenes drama many of these books are borne from. Superhero comics are a delicate blend of Soap Opera and Professional Wrestling at their best, and one of the best parts of Professional Wrestling is going behind the curtain to see what a Botchamania the whole business is.
I can see why that mindset would transfer rather easily to comics fandom: It's not about who Batman is beating up, or how Batman is beating them up; it's about how DC Editorial is beating up the bullpen responsible for writing the Batman. Those storylines are more involving, exciting, full of pathos and meaning than a lot of the floppies flooding your local dealer's shelves. It makes sense that longtime readers would shift their focus from the four-color methadone being sold to them, to the raw, uncut dope being manufactured in the shadowy offices with the blinds forever closed.
Writer Paul Jenkins made news for quitting DC, and then penning an open letter explaining why. BleedingCool.com then sought him out for an interview, where Jenkins went HAM on DC Editorial's "bullying" practices. And then on the BleedingCool forums, Jenkins gave a specific example of that bullying.
I would like to relay an editorial comment that I received near the end of my time writing the Dark Knight New 52 series. In one scene, I had written that Batman is sitting on a rooftop during an intense conversation, close to a person who has been injured. The editorial comment: “We’re not sure you are “getting” the character because it’s common knowledge that Batman never sits down.” This, mind you, after I had made it clear I was not going to rewrite material for the umpteenth time after it had already been approved.
Of course, that led to BleedingCool editor Rich Johnston raiding his collection to slap up image after image of proof that Batman, if the urge moves him, will cop a squat or two.
This story is amazing for a couple reasons, mostly because I can't imagine an editor trying to call a veteran writer like Jenkins on the carpet because he thinks Batman—a highly-trained, almost perfect specimen of human athleticism—can't manage the activity of sitting down. The other is that I get to post this piece of evidence to the contrary; not only does Batman sit down, he lounges. Elegantly.
For updates on further adventures from The Clusterfuck of Dunces occupying DC's main offices, visit http://hasdcdonesomethingstupidtoday.com/
After the jump, exciting pictures of Batman sitting down.
I've written about the upcoming salary dispute between Robert Downey Jr. and Marvel's movie-making division. It looks like Marvel wants to treat the talent in their films the same way they do the talent in their comics: Interchangeable, in service of the intellectual property. But that's going to be a harder sell with movies than it is with comic books, especially since it looks like Avengers director (and upcoming Marvel TV show Agents of SHIELD developer) Joss Whedon is in Downey's corner:
He is Iron Man. He is Iron Man in the way that Sean Connery was James Bond. I have no intention of making Avengers 2 without him, nor do I think I’ll be called upon to do that. I don’t think it’s in my interest, Marvel’s interest, or his interest, and I think everything will be fine. But I know that this is Hollywood and you roll with things. You have to be ready for the unexpected. But I loved working with Robert, and everybody knows he embodied that role in a way no one else can. The day he was cast, I went up to [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige and said, “You brilliant son of a bitch.”
It's a pretty great interview, and you should read it all. Whedon also talks about how he hates that there are no female-led superhero movies on the horizon:
It’s frustrating to me that I don’t see anybody developing one of these movies. It actually pisses me off. My daughter watched The Avengers and was like, “My favorite characters were the Black Widow and Maria Hill,” and I thought, Yeah, of course they were. I read a beautiful thing Junot Diaz wrote: “If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.”
It had been rumored for quite awhile, and on midnight, June 1st, the BBC declared the rumor to be true: Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor, will not be returning for the eighth series (they call them series over there, not seasons) of the long-running science-fiction program.
The mourning period for Smith's run as the Doctor lasted for all of 27 seconds. That was the space of time it took for the announcement to hit my twitter, and for the first suggestion of a replacement to come hurtling out of the yawning abyss of the internet.
Between now and Christmas Day, when the Doctor will regenerate into his newest form, there's going to be a ton of speculation as to who will step into the role. The release from the BBC made it sound as if there haven't been any meetings so far, with showrunner Steven Moffat stating "Somewhere out there right now - all unknowing, just going about their business - is someone who's about to become the Doctor."
Because I know Mr. Moffat is a considerate person, who often looks to the internet as a friendly entity with loads of great ideas, I'd like to send this balloon up, knowing that he'll spy it, haul it down, and think over the following 10 suggestions for the next Doctor very carefully.
The beloved science fiction pioneer has died, Locus Magazine says:
SF Grand Master Jack Vance, 96, died May 26, 2013 in Oakland CA. Vance was one of the most influential SF authors of the postwar period, and his visionary imagination and sophisticated, often playful use of language inspired countless SF writers, including Avram Davidson, Harlan Ellison, Matthew Hughes, George R.R. Martin, Michael Moorcock, and Gene Wolfe. His landmark Dying Earth sequence, set in the far future, began with collection The Dying Earth (1950) and continued with novel The Eyes of the Overworld (1966), Cugel’s Saga (1983), Rhialto the Marvelous (1984), and several related stories. Vance redefined the nature of planetary romance with his Big Planet (1952), and continued exploring that universe in sequel Showboat World (1975).
I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read very much Vance—a couple novellas, I think, and Dying Earth—but I've read dozens of books that wouldn't have existed without Vance pointing the way. For more Vance, check out this Mercury review of The Dying Earth from the archives.
(Via Sarah Weinman.)
We may not be fans the Amazing Spider-Man reboot franchise, but here's star Andrew Garfield being a good guy by playing basketball with some local kids DRESSED IN HIS SPIDER-MAN COSTUME. (He's apparently taking a break from the set of the Amazing Spider-Man sequel.) Kudos to Garfield for not hopping up on top of the rim and slamming the ball into the hoop, or webbing the kids into a coccoon, hanging them from a streetlight, and leaving a note for cops that reads, "Prosecute these drug dealers! Signed, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man."
The men behind Star Trek Into Darkness have thrown us ladies and boner-loving dudes a bone and released a deleted shower scene featuring a sinewy Benedict Cumberbatch in response to the completely justified criticism they've been getting over Alice Eve's gratuitous underwear scene.
Here's a screenshot of Cumberbatch showering (you can find the full clip over here):
Thanks for the pecs, but sexism doesn't work that way. Nakedness doesn't simply cancel out nakedness, and we have no context for the above shot, so we don't know where it fit into the film or why. But what any reasonable viewer who's seen Star Trek Into Darkness does know is that Eve's underwear scene doesn't make sense, even knowing its context. It was gratuitous hot naked lady flesh, pure and simple.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP.
CHALLENGE! Do you know more about Marvel super heroes than four-year-old Mia strapped in her car seat? Let's find out when we play (cue music)... DO YOU KNOW MORE ABOUT MARVEL SUPER HEROES THAN FOUR-YEAR-OLD MIA STRAPPED IN HER CAR SEAT? (audience applause)
Good luck contestants, and let's begin!
As you clearly recall, one of comedian Patton Oswalt's most memorable appearances was last month's guest shot on Parks and Recreation where he pulled off a hilarious citizen filibuster in which he lovingly describes his dream Star Wars sequel. Happily, artist Isaac Moores has made an animated version of Oswalt's speech convincing me more than ever WE NEED THIS SEQUEL.
Today saw the reveal of Microsoft's newest gaming console, the Xbox One. The console looks like a VCR from 1985, and in keeping with that motif, Microsoft spent about 2 hours telling you all the cool and interesting ways you can watch TV on it. Then there were 15 minutes of games you'll be able to play, and then there was a mocapped dog that everyone thought was cute, and that was the end. The TV stuff was a very, VERY big part of Microsoft's presentation today, and probably the largest of the TV-centric announcements came from Steven Spielberg, who told attendees via video that he will be producing a Halo TV series.
The series will be co-produced with 343 Industries, who inherited the game from Halo creators Bungie, and will premiere on Xbox Live. No word so far as to whether they'll license it out to other media providers (Netflix, Amazon,
actual television networks) or whether it will stay Xbox One exclusive.
Could this be awesome? Sure. Anything can be awesome if you get the right creative minds at the helm, and those minds hire more strong creative minds to collaborate with. If a legitimately fun adventure movie can be made out of Pirates of the Caribbean, or a decent comedy can be made out of Clue, I'm sure someone can take the collection of warmed over Aliens callbacks that constitutes 95 percent of Halo's DNA and turn it into something fresh and fun to watch. Forward Unto Dawn was a Halo webseries that many considered one of the better entries into the canon of video game adaptations. But considering the quality of adaptation in that canon....
Could this be mediocre? Sure. Steven Spielberg won't be writing anything but checks, so there's no guarantee it's going to be a good show. Terra Nova is probably the most recent example of that. Also, the overriding of appeal of Halo, tie-in books notwithstanding, is not in its story. People don't really buy Halo for its single-player. [Editor's note: I DO! :( —Erik] Nor did it become an entertainment juggernaut about 10 years ago because of that story. It became a pop-culture fixture because it looked really pretty and it had really fun multiplayer. So it's entirely possible this could become yet another example of game companies chasing a false legitimacy by trying to translate their bonafide success in gaming to a format it is not built for, and doesn't even need to maintain or increase cultural saturation.
In this week's paper, I've got a feature called "Adventure Time." It's about how fantasy—once the realm of the nerdiest of nerds—is going mainstream. You should read it!
Once you have, here's some DVD-style bonus material: When I was interviewing Powell's New Book Purchaser MaryJo Schimelpfenig for the story, she not only had some crazy stats for me about how Powell's Gold Room is pretty much Powell's Fantasy Room—
"Looking at the past 15 bestsellers in the Gold Room over the last four years," she says, "only two are science fiction, one is horror/fantasy, and the rest are fantasy."
—but she was also kind enough to take some time and recommend some titles when I asked her what books people should try if they were curious about fantasy. Here are her picks, presented in handy list form.
Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones—Yes it was a charming movie, but the book never fails to make me laugh. It's very charming in a non-cloying way, and it's a great story.
Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart—Set in a China that never was, this is a romantic adventure story, full of wonderful characters.
The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch—A pair of thieves and con artists turn the town upside down. So much fun, and Locke Lamora is a character you won't soon forget. Great book to take on a trip.
The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss—Yes, it is as good as everyone says, in fact likely a good bit better. One of my favorite books of all time that I recommend to anyone who likes fantasy or wants to try reading fantasy.
Thanks Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D for Sunday night's sneaky peek at Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D—but especially thanks for the news that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D will be in the highly coveted Tuesday 8 pm slot on ABC, AND this new super-extendo Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D trailer, which has tons more COULSON (who we are assume is some sort of clone?) and gives me yet another opportunity to write Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Okay, fine... you caught me. I've been cutting and pasting it.)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D!!
As promised/warned last week, here is the first official teaser/trailer for the most awesome, yet annoying to type, show of the fall season Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And it features every fanboy's current fave, Coulson. And his car! And somebody punching somebody else in the face with fire, I think? I dunno. Life moves fast when you're with the annoying to type Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D! (That's why you should also read io9's report on "Every single clue hidden inside the Agents of SHIELD trailer!")
So this is what we've been reduced to! Blogging about the possibility of ABC picking Joss Whedon's highly anticipated Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and the possibility of a promo for the show being broadcast during the season finale of Once Upon a Time, airing this Sunday at 8 pm on ABC.
OR you can watch what is possibly a blurry version of the clip featuring what is possibly the show which possibly features THE HULK right here.
POSSIBLY!! (And yes, this is what we've been reduced to. Sigh. I hate ourselves.)
Marvel wasn't always a media juggernaut. They've almost gone bankrupt before, and the '90s weren't kind to them, just like they weren't kind to DC, or market speculators, or anyone who ever had a foil-stamped variant issue of grimdark crosshatched bullshit with swords poured into their eyes. That was a lot of people, as such material constituted (let me consult my ass for these figures) ...87% of supehero comics' output in the '90s.
Marvel began selling characters' film and television rights to anyone willing to pay. Eventually, filmmakers like Bryan Singer and Sam Raimi figured out - in a way Roger Corman & David Hasselhoff couldn't - how to make really good movies with these characters, and the resultant avalanche of cash allowed Marvel to make moves in the film industry, leading to a reality where Robert Downey Jr. is a legitimate action star, Joss Whedon has directed a billion-dollar movie, and people kinda almost give a shit about Thor. That's pretty amazing.
Fans familiar with the comics are constantly looking ahead to the next sequel, sidequel, prequel, or crossover, because they're superhero fans, and that's what they're trained to do. And as other studios flail and fumble with achieving any level of superhero success, some of those previously-sold character rights are reverting back to Marvel. Daredevil already got folded back into the Marvel mix a while back, and now joining him are Ghost Rider, The Punisher, and Blade.
Of course, the cry to get these characters put in new movies was instant. But I think that'd be a bad call, Ripley. A bad call. A better one? Building a presence on television using these street-level heroes. After the jump for the full pitch.
No, seriously: Thanks, Obama. And thank you, White House.
Because today, I taste the sweet nectar of vindication. Not that I was particularly thirsty for it, but when someone hands you a shot from the gods, you pound that sonofabitch, and you wipe your mouth with your sleeve, and you let out a satisfying "ahhh" as punctuation.
My shot of vindictation was poured into a tumblr. The White House tumblr, specfically.
See, one of my more well-read posts here at the Mercury was this post, the one that answered one of life's most important questions. Even after the torrential deluge of incontrovertible evidence spilled forth in my genius blogtown entry, some still saw fit to come at me in the comments, and that's okay, because wrong people need a place to fart in public.
But I humbly invite all you simpletons and troglodytes to bear witness to the first missive from our White House via their brand-new tumblr:
You see that? Right there, under the PRESIDENT'S NAME?
You see where it says GIF is pronounced with a hard G?
COUNT IT, MOTHERFUCKERS.
Comments are closed because y'all aint got shit to tell me.
Something I noticed yesterday, something that's been nagging at me for awhile, dancing around my peripheral, ducking out of the way just as I turn my head, hiding in the corners of my consciousness:
I don't think people give a shit about Doctor Who so much anymore.
Before I continue: I know that what I'm about to offer up as "proof" of this phenomenon is entirely anecdotal. I didn't commission Nate Silver to collate data and pore through the stats before I yarked this up onto the internet. But I do wanna get this out there, to see if it is, in fact, just me. Or rather, me, and my friends, and their friends, and the legions of Who fans (I'm not calling them Whovians. They shouldn't either) online who seem to be responding to the back half of Series 7 with a tweedy shrug and some sideways snark at best.
It's never too early to start thinking of a Halloween costume—or a costume if you want people to believe you're the creepiest rapist ever. Check out this line of "Second Skin Star Wars Costumes" from Costume Craze. The upside is that they're only $63. The downside is seeing Boba Fett standing above your bed while you sleep.
Roger Ebert died today at the age of 70.
This is the official Chicago Sun-Times obituary for Roger, in its entirety.
Roger Ebert loved movies.
Except for those he hated.
On April 3rd, he posted a letter to readers on the Sun-Times' site, informing them that he would be reviewing fewer movies, and that his presence would be lessened online. This was disconcerting to many film fans, as there are a large group of movie lovers who have never known a time in which there wasn't a Roger Ebert, steering the discourse on film. Unfortunately, we're all going to have to get used to that concept, and a hell of a lot faster than I, personally, was ready for.
Part of what made him such an inspiration wasn't just his skill as a writer; it was that he, more than most reviewers, made it known that appreciating film meant appreciating life outside of film. He didn't just write about movies, he wrote about food, friends, politics, tragedy, triumph, comedy, and all of the myriad experiences that come together to make a full, well-lived life. And he applied the lessons learned while living that life to the movies he watched. He contextualized film in a way not many other critics did, and that's a big reason why he reached so many people. It's no surprise that Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were why I thought "film critic" was something I would like to be; It's the exact same reason most film critics under 50 are what they are.
I don't know if there's an afterlife, but if there is, I'm fairly certain he and Gene just picked up from wherever it was their last fight left off. I really wish I could hear it.
Today, The Hollywood Reporter published a long story about how Ain't It Cool News has gone from the must-read website for nerdy spoilers to a nearly defunct vanity project. It's a sad story, with a sad beginning:
It was July 2012, and Harry Knowles was working up a sweat. Eighteen months earlier, the creator-owner-figurehead of Ain't It Cool News collapsed and had back surgery to treat the effects of spinal stenosis, a chronic condition stemming in part from a 1996 fall that left him intermittently reliant on a wheelchair. So now he was walking on a treadmill at a clinic near his Austin home as part of his physical therapy.
His phone rang. Still trudging, Knowles answered. It was Roland De Noie, his business manager.
"I really f—-ed up," said De Noie in a panic. "It's all my fault." He had discovered that Ain't It Cool News — the website Knowles started in his Texas bedroom that grew to be the scourge of Hollywood, redefined the nature and pace of entertainment journalism and turned an overweight, ginger-haired self-diagnosed movie nerd into the face of a geek nation on the rise — owed about $300,000 in unpaid taxes.
When I first started using the internet on a regular basis, I visited Ain't It Cool News all the time for Buffy the Vampire Slayer spoilers and updates on movie news that I couldn't find anywhere else. Now when I make the occasional visit, it's like dropping by to check in on a high school friend who still lives in his mom's basement.
... Because next month at the EMP/Paul Allen's Place Where He Keeps All The Crazy Stuff He's Bought With All His Crazy Money, a new exhibit's opening up called "Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic." As is Allen's wont, they'll have a slew of impressive nerd artifacts on display—from Pan's face from Pan's Labyrinth (creepy!) to one of those goddamn hippie lizards from The Dark Crystal (even creepier!). Plus: the "Goblin King costume worn by David Bowie in Labyrinth" (it's unclear if Bowie's codpiece will be included here, but there will probably be a riot if it isn't), Xena's "costume, sword, and chakram," Sirius Black's prison jacket from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, original manuscripts from J.R.R. Tolkien and Jim Henson, and "additional artifacts from writers Terry Brooks, George R. R. Martin, and Ursula K. Le Guin, along with a multimedia touchscreen interactive showcasing original manuscripts, drawings, and maps created for fantasy works by Lewis Carroll, J. M. Barrie, Roald Dahl and others." There'll also be exhibits exploring role-playing, fantasy art, and a whole bunch of other nerdbait... like... say....
According to legend, the Iron Throne of the seven kingdoms was constructed out of a thousand swords. A throne used on the set of HBO’s hit television series Game of Thrones will be on display and available for visitor photo ops.
That's all from a press release, BTW; there's a bit more info at the EMP's site. The exhibit opens on April 27; totally coincidentally, I'll be there on April 27, and if any of you jerks gets between me and the Iron Throne, I'm going to put Xena's chakram to good use. (Her chakram is the metal frisbee she throws, right? I hope that's what it is. Otherwise that sentence could be embarrassing! Or erotic.)
It's an arguable point that the inclusion of Batman improves any film. Wait. It's not an arguable point. The inclusion of Batman improves any film.
Now that that's settled, let's move on to gun control.
Kickstarter began as one thing, and has morphed into something... different from that original thing. I don't know if that's for the better, or for the worse, but as the combination of high-speed internet and file-sharing democratized the consumption of media, it appears crowdfunding is going to democratize the production of media.
And it appears you have Veronica Mars to thank.
This is the link to the Kickstarter page for a Veronica Mars movie, set up by Rob Thomas, the creator of that show (as well as Party Down, another cult favorite). The gist of this Kickstarter is that he's already talked to Warner Brothers, and they've agreed that if Thomas can crowdfund a two-million dollar budget within 30 days, Warners will pick up the tab for marketing and digital distribution.
He breaks it down thusly: He needs about 80,000 fans of the show to put up $25 bucks each, which is basically the cost of a brand new blu-ray. Not that 80,000 fans will need to do that, because a few hours after launching, the kickstarter had already crossed the $100,000 mark, with at least one contributor coughing up over $10,000 in one chunk.
It's safe to say that we're going to be reigniting that friendship from a long time ago (I personally wouldn't be surprised if this thing makes its two mil by Friday, March 15th) but there are questions aside from "Oh my god, who's coming back?" "Will someone drive a truck up Logan's ass finally?" "Where's Wallace? HUH? WHERE'S WALLACE!?!"
The biggest question, and the one I'm sure many other creators are mulling over right now, is this: Instead of just accepting a cult show's early death, at best hoping for a life in the pages of an overpriced, once-a-month comic book, can we tap our fervent fanbases and come back from the dead ourselves?
The answer seems a lot more positive than anyone might previously have thought. Sure, it still depends on savvy negotiation tactics on the part of these showrunners/producers - you have to convince executives that there's some money in it for them at the end of the day - but studios seem to be pretty hungry for video-on-demand content right about now, especially since Netflix is obviously willing to upend the whole system by snatching up projects like House of Cards away from heavy hitters like HBO and AMC. Hell, Netflix has already beaten Ms. Mars to this resurrection game, commanding that Arrested Development rise from its grave.
Rob Thomas is going to get his two million. It's a foregone conclusion. The question is how fast. The faster he gets it, the more likely similar stories start popping up, even as we travel a road that takes us farther and farther away from Kickstarter's initial intent. But down that road is a future where we power on our gaming consoles/cable boxes, to not only watch what we want, when we want, where we want; we choose specifically what it is we want made.
But you're still probably not getting a Firefly reunion.
As Mary Traverse told you yesterday, Emerald City Comicon starts tonight. But if you're not interested in driving to Seattle—or if you haven't already bought tickets for Saturday, which is sold out—you should visit Flipon.TV's Emerald City Comicon page, which is livestreaming certain ECCC panels for free. If you'd like access to all the feeds and the ability to watch panels after they've finished, $14.95 will get you full access to all the convention programming, forever. It's the perfect gift for the agoraphobic comics fan in your life!
(Via Comics Alliance.)
Seattle's Emerald City Comicon is HUGE this year, and if you don't have your tickets you're probably out of luck. There's still tickets available online for Friday only, and some retailers may still have tickets available for sale in-store, but there are no tickets at the door.
If you ARE heading to the Con this weekend, holy crap there's some awesome stuff happening. Just a (very) few of the people I'm looking forward to:
• Ryan North, creator of Dinosaur Comics
• Coop (!), whose hotrods, devils, ladies, and devil-ladies are unmistakable
• Mike Mignola (!), creator/artist/writer of Hellboy
• Natasha Allegri who designed Fionna and Cake, the gender-swapped versions of Finn and Jake on Adventure Time.
• Astronaut Clayton "Clay" Anderson
• Brian Posehn (!) who, in addition to being a hilarious stand-up comedian, is a co-writer of Deadpool among other things
Don't forget to download the ECCC schedule to your Guidebook app, and bring hand sanitizer.
Peter Parker had it preeeetty lucky if you ask me. A radioactive spider bites him, and he only gets spider powers that would be convenient to a human? If it REALLY happened things would be preeeeetty different, as demonstrated in this very catchy and informative video entitled, "Scientifically Accurate Spider-Man." (Audio a touch NSFW.)
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