Saturday, January 29, 2011

In the January 17 issue of New York Magazine writer Michael Schulman wrote a preview of the Spider-Man Broadway musical Turn off the dark in which he was less than flattering about what he saw:
—at sixty-five million dollars, the most expensive Broadway musical ever staged—those elements have been compounded by death-defying aerial stunts, which, despite safety tuneups by the director, Julie Taymor, have resulted in a stream of ghastly headlines. At a flying demonstration in October, a cast member broke both wrists when he was catapulted across the stage during a slingshot maneuver. (Another actor broke a toe the same way.) Then, in previews, a lead actress sustained a concussion when she was hit in the head by a rope while standing offstage. (She later quit.) And, shortly before Christmas, a performer fell off a thirty-foot-high platform and suffered a hairline skull fracture, internal bleeding, and four broken ribs, among other injuries. He got out of rehab last week
In the article he quoted several people who said that they were going to the technical dress rehearsals in the hopes of seeing someone get hurt. Talk about your bread and circuses.
Needless to say, the latest news is that there have been more injuries and the show has been pushed back, yet again to a March opening.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Archie celebrates Earth Day

Hey, here is a cool item we came across recently. You all know how much we love specialty-themed comic books, well Archie Comics is doing a special Earth Day comic, which we think is a very cool idea.

ARCHIE & FRIENDS DOUBLE DIGEST #4
“Adventures in the Wonder Realm” Part 4. “Bottle Battle!”
“Adventures in the Wonder Realm” continue as Archie, Jughead and Betty fight for their lives against angry food and rock creatures standing between them and freedom! Will Veronica and their new friend Cheroby help the team in completing all the different levels? Or will they be lost in the Wonder Realm forever?
In “Bottle Battle!” the kids discover what happens to your bottle of water after you drink the water. It a special story honoring Earth Day!
SCRIPT: Stephen Oswald and Angelo DeCesare
ARTIST: Joe Staton and Bob Smith
COVER: Joe Staton, Bob Smith and Tito Pena
Shipping Date: 3/23/2011
On Sale at Comic Shops: 3/30/2011
Newsstands: 4/12/11
Digest, 160 pgs, 30 lb newsprint, Full-Color
$3.99 US

We don't need no Steekin' book!

So, in a new article, Julie Taymor (the director of the problem-plagued Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark) she went on about how the play is more about the spectacle than about than actual story, “You can do spectacle on Broadway with no book and have a very successful show.” I found this quote particularly interesting, as it was essentially what Tim Burton said about the first two Batman films he directed (I spoke extensively about this in this blog's first post).

Burton had said that there were many great Batman stories, but his films weren't any of them. He then, like Taymor now, are more interested in the “make it look pretty and people will come” school of thought (which of course gave rise to crap like “Reality TV” and shows like Jerry Springer. In ancient Rome it was referred to as Bread and Circuses.

I dispute this soul-killing nonsense, as the stupid-sounding crap that it is.

Of course you need stories, that is what Stan, Jack, Steve, JRSr, and many others since have given us that made us love this medium as much as we do. Story is the thing Ms Taymor, Mr. Burton not spectacle. Spectacle is the the voice that says “fans don't want company-wide crossovers, but we’re going to do another one anyway” (You listening Joe Q.?)

You want to sell more comics? write better stories. It really is that simple. Too bad no one is listening.

First the CCA, now Wizard, what will be eliminated next?

The other day we told you all about the (long over due) demise of the Comics Code Authority. Well, by now everybody on the planet (at least those in the comics industry who still bothered to read Wizard under the mistaken impression that it somehow still reflected what was “hot” in comics), has already learned, Wizard Magazine is also dead.

Yep, according to a former employee, on Friday apparently all staff members were sent home and then before the kickoff of the Jets/Steelers playoff game, everyone was essentially notified that they didn't need to show up on Monday, the office had been shut down and moved to a new location, and they would be told when and where to pick up their personal effects. There was also no conversation about severance or unemployment pay.

There has been some talk of converting the magazine to an on-line format and taking the company public, but there still seems to be no clear plan as to how any of that is to happen.

One has to wonder what will be the next comicbook-related company to bite the dust, will be, Perhaps only the Shadow knows for sure..

Monday, January 24, 2011

Silver sponsors announced for Free Comic Book Day event

As comicbook fans around the world already know, May 7, 2011, will be the 10th straight year, that funnybook fans get to celebrate Free Comic Book Day. So, if you are a fan of this uniquely American art form , you should locate and travel to your local comicbook shop and avail yourself of one of the over 30 expected free comics that are being made available to fans on this “fan appreciation day” from dozens of publishers. Yes, you did read that correctly, on Saturday, May 7, 2011, comic book shops around the world will give away comics absolutely free to their patrons (check with local shops for their participation and rules).

Back in December, the Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) Committee announced the top 10 Gold sponsors for the day, well; recently, the Committee released the Silver Sponsors for the event. There are 27 comics that are part of the Sliver level as well as one HeroClix toy that will be available to shops to be distributed on that day, the Silver sponsors include Archie, Marvel and DC (which are also Gold level sponsors), as well as numerous returning publishers, (Aspen, Bluewater, Bongo, Boom!, Dark Horse, Fantagraphics, Gem, Image/Top Cow, Oni, Radical, and more).

The comics range from books targeted specially to kids, all-ages books, as well as comics aimed for older readers. All of the comics are intended for general audiences with no “adult” comics in the mix. While many of the comics are designed as “samplers” that offer up portions of stories from up-coming comics offered by the publishers, others are reprints of previously-issued material, while still others contain all-new material, specifically created for FCBD (making them highly sought-after collectible items).

Free Comic Book Day was designed by industry insiders as a way to promote comics not only to their own aficionados of their own industry (that is to say people already reading comics, just not “theirs”), but as a form of an outreach to people who don’t (or used to) read comics. In fact, it is the stated goal of the organization to reach out to those individuals who might be unfamiliar with either the comic book specialty market, or comic book shops. It is for this reason that every year the individuals and companies behind Free Comic Book Day launch a massive promotional campaign heralding the event and spreading the gospel of comics to potential readers everywhere.

As stated, in addition to the nearly 40 comics that will be made available on Saturday, May 7, 2011, there will be at least one HeroClix character (DC Heroclix: Green Lantern Figure) that is being made available. (HeroClix is a role-playing collectible miniatures game — originally designed and produced by WizKids and now owned by NECA — where players construct teams of comic book heroes and villains to play out battles between the teams in turn-by-turn plays on a grid-style map.)

As followers of this blog already know, we are huge fans of this day (hey it is Our Birthday, Christmas, Chanukah, The 4th of July, and Thanksgiving all rolled into one). Personally, we know that we are going to be at the Third Annual Bronx Hero Convention meeting and greeting our fans, So if you are in that area, then feel free to stop by and say “Hey.”

In the mean time, we’ll just have to prepare, and wait. Enjoy Efendi!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lazy Teenage Superheroes

This is kind of cool, someone made a short film about “Lazy Teenage Superheroes” that is actually pretty watchable and very cool. First up, the trailer for the short film:




See, I told you it was cool, not for the short film itself (which is actually even cooler).




Yeah, wicked-cool, eh?

BND/OMIT (Another Spidey rant)

OK, I finally got (almost) caught up with my Spidey reading, which means that I’ve finally read the travesty that they are calling One Moment In Time. First of all the thing that makes it a travesty is that it took them two years and four issues to tell this story, Second they made us suffer through yet another padded out explanation of why Pete and MJ never got married, and explain away the truly horrible travesty that was Brand New Day and the inexplicable deal with the devil, er, Mephesto that was foisted on us loyal fans as a truly horrendous example of a bad idea followed by flawed writing and worse execution. (I really don’t have the time to go into all the reasons for the preceding, you’ll just have to take my word for it.)

Anyway, let me say this about OMIT, it was a bad story for many reasons, but especially because it was totally unnecessary. Partially because Dan Slott solved Peter’s identity problem as an incidental part of Avengers, The Initiative issue #7, and partially because it simply danced around the entire deal with Mephesto.

I’m willing to admit that I enjoy the return of Harry Osborn especially as he has gone back to being Pete’s best friend. I love that Flash is also back, especially as the returning hero (I’m sorry that he lost the use of his legs), I hate the way the story was told, and I hate that it was a forced story rather than something that was organically grown out of the series as it was progressing. I also hate the fact that setting the clock back to the ’70s is editorial’s attempt at moving it forward.

Personally, I would have done things differently, still, no one asked me.

Anyways, I just wanted to say, that even though I really hated BND, what lead up to it, and OMIT, I did however like aspects of this final arc in ASM #647 (especially American Hero, the story with Flash). Truthfully, while I hated the concept and execution the story itself was much better than most of the past two years. I will also admit that the new storyline Big Time is also much better than most of BND, which is baffling, because, if they had writers that could write this good, and stories this worth telling, why in the name of Steve Ditko did it take them this long to get around to telling them?

It is enough to make me want to read Indie comics...Oh wait, I do!

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's dead, Jim.

In 1954, (due in part to Fredric Wertham's book, Seduction of the Innocent, and partially due to the Senate subcommittee hearings on the matter of violence in comics) the comicbook publishers of the US formed the Comics Code Authority. Over the years it was the CCA’s responsibility to “keep comicbooks safe for kids” as it were, well back in May, June and July of 1971 Stan Lee wrote three issues of Amazing Spider-Man (#s 96–98) that had a subplot dealing with drugs  that was rejected by the CCA, Well, Stan felt that the storyline was important enough to include so, in defiance of the Authority, he published the comics anyway. A few short months later, DC published Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85 (Sept. 1971) that also had a drug reference, but this comic was approved by the code (as it had been altered to allow the depiction of drugs addiction in a negative light).

In 2001 Marvel finally broke with the code, adopting an internal rating system to identify the content of their books, well this January, DC followed Marvel’s lead and abandonded the CCA.
As of January 2011, DC Comics titles will no longer carry the Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval. In 2011, DC Comics will employ a rating system consistent with that of the rest of the industry, as well as with our digital releases, which already utilize a rating system. As for our Vertigo comic books, they will not utilize the rating system, because they will continue to be labeled as “For Mature Readers”.
This leaves only Archie Comics that submits their books to the Authority for approval.


************ADDENDUM**********

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Long may it wave

OK, so I was on the Marvel Comics Web Site today, checking out Comics on Sale and I came across the cover for Captain America #616:

And, well I couldn't believe that they hung the U.S. Flag behind Cap backwards. Yeah, that’s right, backwards. You would think that someone would research this stuff before illustrating it.
8. When the flag is displayed in a manner other than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out. When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window it should be displayed in the same way, that is with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street. When festoons, rosettes or drapings are desired, bunting of blue, white and red should be used, but never the flag.
This stuff just makes me crazy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Spider-man Timeline

I didn't do this, but a buddy turned me on to this very cool Spidey Timeline that originally appeared at Bleeding Cool.


totally cool, eh?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Key to your heart

No, I haven't gone sappy, chick-lit" on you all, this is the name of a very well-done, Manga-style ash can comic produced by a friend of mine. Jennifer Allen (who was introduced to me by my pal Hot Pants, Liz Ortiz. Jen, Like Liz is a fan of Manga, proven by this entertaining ash can.

The story starts out with Hikari celebrating her 16th birthday, which should have been pretty much like any other day, only including party and presents. However, there seems to be a mysterious fellow who is stalking her, and when he catches up with her, demands she turn over a key. Only Hikari has no Earthly idea what he is talking about. As can be expected, this day turns out to be anything but ordinary.

Truthfully, I'm a usual reader of Manga, but I have read enough to say that this one is an excellent occidental version of the genre, right down to the “backwards” way the comic is constructed (being read from right to left, rather than the “normal” way. It also involves a cute young girl, in a short, flaring skirt, and contains all of the other traditional elements of Manga.

More importantly, it is an easy read, with an understandable story that flows coherently throughout the small book. Plus it is wonderfully rendered in clean lines and contains solid storytelling techniques. Further it makes me want Jennifer to continue the story, and produce a longer tale.

Her web site is www.sweetsakura.net, only I’m not entirely sure that it is active just yet. Hopefully it will be available soon, and we can all enjoy the firuyter adventures of Hikari. In the mean time, you’ll just have to hope to catch Jennifer at a local con (she'll probably be sitting with Liz and/or Shawnti).

Looking for an All-Ages comicbook?

While there are those that say “All Ages” and really mean something that they've “dumbed down” for kids, there are others, like the very talented comicbook writer, illustrator Jay Piscopo, who has created a throughly unique, and quite entertaining character in his new comic The Sea Ghost #1 (Nemo Publishing Group, $3.99).

Sea Ghost originally appeared in Piscopo’s graphic novel series, Capt'n Eli, and is clearly influenced by Piscopo’s love of Aquaman, and creators like Alex Toth, and Ramona Fradon. The story told in Sea Ghost #1 is sparkling, straightforward, and throughly entertaining, but don’t just take my word for it, head on over to Jay’s site and snag a copy of your own.

Don’t forget to tell him that we sent you!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The New Spidey!

OK Kids, you’ve probably already seen these (I know that I have  — several times) but here are the first released photos for the new Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield, on the set for the up-coming (re-boot) film.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's the end of the (Spidey) world as we know it

Well, kids, the first review of the (not yet ready for prime time) Spider-Man Broadway play is in, and, well, it doesn’t look great for our hero...
From weak performances to laughable music numbers, nearly every single problem facing "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark" stems from its convoluted story. Director Julie Taymor and Glen Berger wrote the book, providing audiences with a story that's as difficult to follow as it is disrespectful towards Spider-Man's established character. Deviations from Marvel lore are to be expected; this production is meant for the mainstream masses, not the Wednesday Warriors, after all, and nearly every single comic book adaptation goes through its fair share of changes. But the musical's creative departures are both arbitrary and insulting towards Peter Parker's core beliefs.
Which leads me to wonder, why, with a proven storyline that that has held up for nearly 50 years, why would you change everything so drastically? Anyway, for the full text of this review, go here.

Personally, I want it to actually open because I'd really like to see the “final” version (that is to say not one that is in transition).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This just in

Just got a few new packets of some wicked cool stuff from some funnybook folk.

First up, I got a packet from Marvel with comps of my Official Index to the Marvel Universe #9 (for which I’m a contributor).

Then I received a packet from Dynamite Entertainment which contained several of their Green Hornet comics, and a copy of Stan Lee’s new book on creating comics.

Finally I received a package from  Jay Piscopo which contained his nifty new comic Sea Ghost. as well as The Undersea Adventures of Capt'n Eli.

So, even though I’m snowbound today, I have loads of new reading material to keep me occupied.

How cool is that?

Now ain't that a punch in the nose?

No, really, a punch in the nose. In recent posts we've been talking about Phoenix Jones the real life superhero who has been patrolling the dark, mean streets of Seattle,WA these past few months. While that may sound a tad odd, if you haven’t been following this blog, you don’t know the half of it. You see, Phoenix has been doing this in a mask and cape, armed with only his wits and a stun gun.

Yeah, you read that last part right. Well his last time out, he didn’t fare so well, you see, he got his nose broken by two actual criminals.

Jones, who was the subject of a bunch of articles and news reports about a month ago, is a weird dude who walks around Seattle in a costume and sneakers, apparently trying to stop crime. He did not do so well with this particular crime, however:



“With great responsibility...” indeed.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Out for Blood?

They say that people go to car races hoping to see spectacular crashes, Hockey games to see fights, and and trapeze acts secretly hoping that an artillerist will fall. We all know that whenever we are driving and see a car accident we slow down to see "what happened," so it should come as no surprise that, these days, there are many New Yorkers who are going to see technical preview performances of the Broadway musical New Yorker Magazine.
Through it all, ticket sales have soared, which raises an uncomfortable question: are people paying to see calamity? At a preview last Tuesday, members of the audience seemed conflicted. Outside the theatre, Alaina Schwartz, aged twelve, who had come from Long Island with her family, was asked if she hoped to see someone fall. “Yes! Yes!” she said. “I’m weird about that stuff. Like, there was a roller coaster and it kind of fell backwards, and I was kind of wishing that I was on that roller coaster at the time that it fell.” Her father, Steven, looked concerned. 
“I hope somebody falls but they’re O.K.,” her sister Alexa, fourteen, said.
A third sister, Stephanie, nine, objected: “If something goes wrong, that’s bad luck for us!”
In the lobby, Allie Bauer, a Yale junior, said, “There’s a certain allure to this being a very dangerous performance.”
“You’re more evil than I am,” her classmate Will Moritz said, eating a Twizzler.
After thinking it over, he added, “If I could see someone fall from the rafters but not go to the hospital—just magically get up—then I’d be down.” (He’s majoring in psychology.)
Matt Clements, a cameraman from midtown, had come to the show with his girlfriend. “She wants to see blood,” he explained.
The rest of that New Yorker can be found here

Tickets for the show can be purchased here

Monday, January 10, 2011

And the hits just keep on coming

with the dawn of the new year, thing on Broadway look even worse for our pal Spidey.
You can add Bill de Blasio, the New York City public advocate, to the list of nemeses that Spider-Man will have to battle en route to his much-delayed Broadway opening. In a letter sent to the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs, Mr. de Blasio warned that the Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” may be violating consumer protection laws by not clearly distinguishing its preview period (when the show is still considered a work in progress) from its post-opening performances (when the show is a finished product), and could face fines.

Noting the premium cost of Broadway tickets, which can run $150 or more, Mr. de Blasio wrote: “At those prices, consumers deserve to know what they are purchasing, and there is a real difference between seeing an unfinished show in previews versus one that has officially opened. That many shows do not advertise that they are in previews, either in promotions or at the point of ticket sales, is unacceptable.”

Just wondering if this will ever open.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

OK, NOW I've seen everything!

My buddy Joe Martino is the creator/writer/illustrator of a very cool Arcana comicbook entitled Shadowflame. He just turned 40 and his family threw him a surprise birthday party. This was the cake...


How cool is that? check out the new Shadowflame graphic novel on Amazon. It collects the four issues of the regular comic as well as severl pin-ups. Plus it sports a very cool John Byrne cover.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Real life Superheroes

We've heard the stories about real life superheroes patrolling the streets of various cities around the country, well, now we've actually have video evidence of them.




And we thought that we were a tad off because we just read (and wrote) about them.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What if?

Marvel has, over the years, produced a couple or three series revolving around the concept of “What if...?” That is to say, they take a specific story line, and then pick a critical point in said story, and extrapolate a new ending based upon changing a single element (i.e.; Captain America survived WWII, the irradiated spider bit someone other than Peter Parker, the Fantastic Four had different powers, etc.). These stories range from excellent to, well highly implausibly and sometimes (believe it or not) simply incredibly poorly conceived and badly written.

Initially these stories generally dealt with seminal events in Marvel's rich history, as the series progressed, it would be safe to say that the stories became less-and-less "critical" events and more-and-more circled around recent marketing events (“What if...last year's company-wide crossover ended differently?”) making the series less-and-less readable, eventually leading to its cancellation.

Over the past couple of years, Marvel has revived the title, but as a series of disconnected one-shots, again revolving around recent storylines. Hence the topic of this Blog. I picked up a couple of the most recent “What If...” comics, only to learn that I probably would have been better off if I hadn’t. Dark Reign and Grim Hunt were the ones I acquired, and while Dark Reign wasn’t so bad, the Grim Hunt issue was terrible. In the first instance the story dealt with the repercussions of Clint Barton (Hawkeye/Ronin/Giant Man) actually having carried out his threat to kill Norman Osborn during the height of Dark Reign, and the second dealt with Spidey snapping during Grim Hunt and killing Kraven.

As stated the premise of the series is to explore alternative story line possibilities based on the altering of a single element they work best when they show the ripple effect of that change (think The Butterfly Effect), however very often to make a story work, more than one unrelated event has been changed (in the Grim Hunt variation for some reason Luke Cage has offices on the Raft). Still that's not the only problem with the story. Yes Spidey was run through a gauntlet by the Kravenoffs during Grim Hunt, but I’m still not sold that he would have either actually killed Kraven or done all of the other things he did in this version.

Change an event, sure. So twist and corrupt a character so that they act totally our of character to make the new story line work? I think not. No, This Spidey story simply doesn’t work for me. Sorry guys, better luck next time out.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Foreign Fast Food Toys

So, while my son was traveling around the Mid-East this past couple of months, (and surprised us on Christmas Eve by returning home unexpectedly), he brought me a couple of  fast food toys (one from Burger King (Turkey) and one from McDonald’s (Egypt)

Ya just gotta love that kid.



Check out the Aribic writing on the package


This package has instructions in Turkish as well as English


Pretty cool, eh?
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