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...

...Uh...

...Aw, forget it.

1 comment:

Traumador said...

you should get alex to tell tim about that ;p