Sunday, December 28, 2008

In the Spirit of Christmas...

Recently Will Eisner's classic comic book character The Spirit was released to theaters as a film written, produced and directed by Frank Miller. Although Miller has worked in film for quite some time and received a partial credit for the adaptation of Sin City to film, this is his true debut as a director.

Obviously this is a big deal. Miller's genius in comics is sometimes disputed, but most agree that his work on Daredevil, the Dark Knight Returns, 300 and Sin City have earned him his fame.

But as I said, Miller's work in film stretches back for years, mostly in the screenwriting process. Perhaps if you search your memory you may still recall...

...Robocop 2. This is a much-maligned film with Robocop's war on drugs. Roger Ebert once held it up as an example of all that had gone wrong in American film making. Miller himself has disowned the movie, but the film was a beneficial bit of experience which ensured that Miller would maintain greater control over his work in future projects. He also passed this lesson on to those who followed him; sure enough, plenty of comic book writers were in the film business through the 1990s.

Writers such as Jeph Loeb. Although he is best-known today for being fired from Heroes and in his own way is as divisive as Miller amongst comic book fandom, he is one of the best-selling creators in the industry and won particular notice for Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Hush.

But years before either project, Loeb brought his savvy to the world of film with his magnum opus production...

...Firestorm. No, this has nothing to do with the DC super hero of the same name. This stars Howie Long, who came to film from the NFL (where so many great actors were born). Long portrays a smokejumper who battles convicts in the Wyoming forest. I have never seen this film, although I do hope there is a scene where Long bellows at the convicts to "GET OFF MY FOREST!"

Bad example. I'll move to one of my favorite comic book creators-turned filmmakers, Joseph Harris. In point of fact, Harris began in film but his comic book work on cult favorites such as Slingers and Bishop had a higher profile than anything else he had produced at the time. Fortunately, after moving on from comics his film career swiftly began to soar as he wrote & produced...

...Darkness Falls. The film was originally meant to be called "Tooth Fairy" as the villain of the movie is - I'm not making this up - the Tooth Fairy. Someone wisely changed the title to Darkness Falls, a properly generic and uninformative moniker guaranteed to forever confuse it with a 1999 movie of the same name. What else can I say? It's the Tooth Fairy. It stalks people in the dark. We've all seen this movie before only with different monsters and actors.

I'm starting to wonder if comic book people really belong in the world of film. I mean, what good have they ever done? If the best they can offer is Gerry Conway & Roy Thomas' Conan the Destroyer, maybe they should all pack it in? Perhaps some talent are best suited to one medium rather than all media?

Film people who do comic books are okay though. Take William Katt, star of the tv show the Greatest American Hero. He's recently started a new comic book series which promises to demonstrate the full breadth of his versatility in a way television could never capture. His project is...


...Aw, forget it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On sale this week!

Two titles of mine from Marvel see their release this week: the Spider-Man Brand New Day Yearbook, a colourful collection of character biographies with a rundown of the past year's worth of Spider-Man comics and volume 6 of the current Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe which spotlights such luminaries as Kid Colt, J. Jonah Jameson, the Juggernaut, Ka-Zar and Lockheed the dragon.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Across my desk

I couldn't quite believe this blurb from the book Climate Change Policy: Challenging the Activists:
"...As one author shows, the policy activists have form: alarmists have been wrong, time and time again, about ecological disasters. However, the authors of this monograph have more humility than their critics.
I instantly question any man who informs me he's more humble than his opponents. It brings to mind part of Steve Taylor's song Smug:
"I wanna talk to them about smug people, they think they're so good. They ain't good. No, they ain't good at all, I'll tell you why. You wanna be a good man, you look at me. I'm gonna talk to you about mercy 'cause I got it, I'm gonna talk to you about righteousness 'cause I got it. I'm good. I'm humble. I'm better than you. You wanna be a humble man? You look at me and say, "Brother how can I be humble?" I don't know how you can be humble; it took me a long time to get this way, but thank God I've arrived."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Credit where credit is due...or lacking

In the March solicitations you might also notice this:




You know he's the best there is at what he does -- now find out where, when and why he did it with dozens of highlights both from Wolverine's time as X-Man and Avenger, and from the century's worth of adventures that preceded it! After more than 30 years of hints, memories and flashbacks, the pieces of Wolverine's past are gathered together for the first time! The teams he's joined and the women he's loved! Triumphs, tragedies and the saga of the son who was stolen from him! With appearances by Captain America, Nick Fury, the Hulk and more! 32 PGS./Rated T+ ...FREE!

I hate to disappoint my fans (both of you), but I did not write this comic. The true author is my friend Ronald Byrd. Ronald is the world's foremost authority on Wolverine continuity and has already had articles on the subject published elsewhere, in addition to all his work in the Marvel handbooks. Ronald deserves his kudos for being able to understand the twists, turns and oft-times malarkey of Logan's world.

As for me, be on the lookout for War of Kings Saga in February...that one I did write.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Michael in March

March sees two books from me, the latest installments of their respective series:



Marvelous mutants (Maggott, Magik, Magma, Magneto, Marauders, Marrow, Marvel Girl, Mastermind, Maverick, Meggan, Mercury, Layla Miller, Mimic, Mr. Sinister, Moonstar, Morlocks, Morph, Multiple Man, MLF, Mystique)! Mighty Avengers (Mantis, Masters of Evil, Mockingbird, Moon Knight, Moondragon, Namor)! Fantastic friends and foes (Alicia Masters, Medusa, Mr. Fantastic, Mole Man, Molecule Man)! Spider-foes (Molten Man, Mysterio)! History's greatest fiends (Maestro, Mandarin, Master Khan, Mephisto, MODOK, Morgan Le Fay)! Monsters (Man-Thing, Morbius)! The world of MC2! Heroes old (Miss America) and young (Victor Mancha)! Mille the Model? It can only be the latest volume of the most comprehensive Handbook of the Marvel Universe ever assembled! 240 PGS./Rated T+ ...$24.99


Continuing the chronicle of the Marvel Universe, starting with Spider-Man (from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #113 on), Iron Man (from IRON MAN #6 on) and the X-Men (from UNCANNY X-MEN #126 on). Follow the history of the Marvel universe as it unfolds month by month with the All-New Official Index to the Marvel Universe. Each issue provides synopses for dozens of individual comics, including back-up strips, introducing you to the characters, teams, places and equipment that appeared within, providing vital information about first appearances, where they last showed up and where they appeared next! 64 PGS./Rated A ...$3.99

Monday, December 15, 2008

History lesson

I was a little interested to notice this article on the trying times NBC is going through. It seems that television ratings are down 10% overall and to stave off bankruptcy the network is talking about slashing programming hours.

So what could possibly be driving down audience numbers? Three syllables, rhymes with "minternet." I've voiced my disdain of television before and it's partially because the internet offers on demand entertainment rather than adapting my life to network television scheduling. I really don't mind waiting for a network to post their shows online the next day or week, the urgency is really lost on me (but at least the networks get something out of their online advertising, I suppose).

Musing on this, it seems that part of how the networks are maintaining solvency is by producing more reality & talk television. I wonder if in the coming decade we'll see a drastic reduction in the amount of dramatic television. There's already been a noticeable drop in the fortunes of the situation comedy over the previous decade.

As a fan of Old-Time Radio all of this made me think of how the North American radio market tried to compete with television starting in the late 40s. As sponsors repositioned their money to television there was a gradual dip in the number of hours of network radio programming. Advances in syndication technology helped cut some costs and probably kept dramatic & comedic programming alive for a few more years, but most of the talent went where the money was; by 1955 almost all of the great radio talent had become television talent (even if, as in the case of Bing Crosby, they much preferred the radio medium).

Obviously the medium of radio still exists but while original dramatic & comedic programming are still occasionally heard, in no way do they dominate the airwaves. Radio is largely the province of music, news and talk.

So this is where I'm wondering how long until North American television goes the same way. Radio endured almost two decades until the last network shows ended in 1962. I expect the medium of television to survive, but with a change of content. There will likely always be a place on tv screens for syndicated programming, movies, news and talk but I wonder if within two decades the original dramatic & comedic network programming will all exist on the internet.

Then again, maybe the internet & television will both be run into the ground by some bright new technology which combines the inclusiveness of the internet with the convenience of television. Interesting times.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Van Johnson, RIP

This has not been a great year for the leading men of Suspense. Earlier this year, Richard Widmark passed away and today Van Johnson died.

I'm sure that like Widmark he's best known for his film work, but to me, both of these men are names I know from my Old-Time Radio hobby. Like Widmark, he took a few turns at starring in episode of Suspense, including "The Singing Walls" in 1944, which was an odd Cornell Woolrich story that just about worked; in 1949 he starred in "The Defense Rests" which I really liked - he played an ex-convict employed by a law firm who was framed for murder. Others included "Salvage," "Stranger for a Killer" and "Around the World." He also had a great guest appearance on Jack Benny once.

Anyway, I'm torn being surprise at Johnson having lived to 2008 and surprise that Johnson won't live past 2008.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

For Dark Reignphiles: Dark Reign Files

Back on Section 241 I ran the "classified" solicitation for Dark Reign Files and promised to deliver the text when the data was lifted.

Last week Secret Invasion#8 came out, so the full solicitations were released online and in a (free) "Special Dark Reign Edition" of Marvel Previews.

Here you go:

Written by Michael Hoskin

Bring on the bad guys! It's the latest mighty Marvel handbook, straight from the files of Norman Osborn! The Dark Reign's chief power broker assembles a case study of professional criminals on the superhuman grid - scrutinizing threat, loyalty, influence, power and expendability. In the words of the Green Goblin himself: "Our purpose is to know our enemies - and our enemies' enemies - as we do ourselves."

64 PGS./Rated T+...$4.99

FOC - 2/5, On-Sale - 2/25

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Moving day

For most of the last two years I've been blogging at Section 241. Unfortunately, the blog imploded upon me last week and shows no signs of recovery. So, welcome to the new blog! This blog will do many of the same things my old one did - promote my upcoming comic book work, whine and lament the television medium, overthink recent reads and attempt to doublethink the news. It should be fun.