Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Dark Horse Comics April 2009 solicitations: Kurtzman's Trump, Creepy Archives Vol. 4

Dark Horse Comics has announced it's releases for this April (although, actually, it looks like some of these titles don't come out until June). Here's what looks good to me:

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BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #24
Written by Jim Krueger, penciled by Cliff Richards, inked by Andy Owens, colored by Michelle Madsen, covers by Jo Chen and Georges Jeanty.
Faith. Giles. Let's catch up!
In a one-shot issue, Krueger fleshes out the go-to girl for dirty deeds, Faith, and her new partner, Giles. After her last thankless escapade, where she put a stop to Buffy-hunting Slayer and kindred spirit Lady Gigi, Faith decided that though she's determined to be finished with bloodshed, she's not ready to leave misguided Slayers (like Gigi) with nowhere to turn. Fast-forward to the present . . . bloodshed still abounds, and the Faith-and-Giles team is still finding out what it really means to help those chosen to slay . . .
40 pages, $2.99, in stores on April 1.

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PLAYBOY'S TRUMP! THE COMPLETE COLLECTION
Written and art by Harvey Kurtzman and various.
Launched in January 1957 by Harvey Kurtzman and Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, Trump partnered Kurtzman with many of his "usual gang of idiots" from his time at Mad -- famous humor artists such as Jack Davis, Al Jaffee, and Wally Wood. They were joined by such dynamic humorists as Arnold Roth, comedians Mel Brooks and Doodles Weaver, and TV writer and novelist Max Shulman (creator of the character Dobie Gillis, who appeared in dozens of stories, a movie, and the popular TV series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis). Though it lasted only two issues, this first effort after Kurtzman's historic split from Mad was the breeding ground for the magazines Humbug and Help!‹and would ultimately lead to the more than thirty-year run of Kurtzman and Will Elder's landmark character Little Annie Fanny in the pages of Playboy magazine.
Trump! reprints the only two issues of the magazine, released in January and March of 1957. Trump! features the contributions of the following artists and writers: Harvey Kurtzman, Harry Chester, Jack Davis, Will Elder, Al Jaffee, Wally Wood, Arnold Roth, Russ Heath, Mel Brooks, Doodles Weaver, Max Shulman, and many others.
144 pages, $19.95, in stores on June 17.

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CREEPY ARCHIVES VOLUME 4
Written and art by various.
Pulpy, smart, and scary, the stories in Creepy constituted some of the best short-form horror fiction ever told in comics. With legendary comics writer/editor Archie Goodwin both editing the magazine and crafting most of its storytelling, Creepy was at once a newsstand favorite with fright fans, and a vaunted showcase of fine comics art for serious fans of the art form. For decades, the only sources for these stories were the expensive collectible original issues. Now Dark Horse is collecting all of the original material from the history of Creepy magazine into a hardcover archive library! Collecting Creepy issues #16-#20.
240 pages, black and white, $49.95, in stores on June 24.

Pop links: Steve Gerber Web bio, Spirit Archives delayed,

An anonymous author is posting an autobiography of the late comic book writer Steve Gerber (creator of Howard the Duck) online. Peculiar idea, but the chapters up so far contain lots of detail and great illustrations.

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DC Comics' last volume of "The Spirit Archives," Vol. 26, due out last week has been delayed until June, the publisher reports.

That means it'll come out after the Dark Horse Comics-published "Spirit Archives Vol. 27," which reprints stories from that company's The Spirit: New Adventures title of the late 1990s, which featured Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Neil Gaiman, Eddie Campbell, Mike Allred and other taking on Will Eisner's masked character. The Dark Horse book will be out in May.

AMC streams The Prisoner free online

In preparation for a new take on one of the coolest TV series ever, AMC is re-airing all 17 episodes of "The Prisoner" on its Web site.

AMC also has a "Prisoner 2009" site where you can get updates on the new version, which features Jim Caviezel as Number Six, the show's protagonist who is banished from society to the mysterious Village and Ian McKellen as his nemesis, Number Two. The series reportedly also include an appearance by original Number Six, and the show's creator, Patrick McGoohan.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New comics Jan. 7, 2009

Here's what looks good to me this week. Click title links to order items from Amazon. Proceeds help support this site.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #21
A Joss Whedon-scripted issue, I believe.

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DC UNIVERSE ILLUSTRATED BY NEAL ADAMS VOL. 1
I don't know if this includes any of Neal's overbearing re-coloring as did DC's Adams' Batman hardcovers, but it'll be good stuff nevertheless.

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SHOWCASE PRESENTS STRANGE ADVENTURES VOL. 1
A big slab of Silver Age sci fi.

SUPERGIRL COSMIC ADVENTURES IN THE 8TH GRADE #2
Got the first issue of this for my daughter. It's a smart, funny youth-aimed story.

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LUCKY LUKE TP VOL 14 DASHING WHITE COWBOY
More of Goscinny/Morris' funny Western.

See other recent comics new releases
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New Lost season 5 blog

It's getting near premiere time for "Lost" and, as readers of this blog know, I'm a big fan of the show.

However, I figure not all of you are. That's why I've decided that, for the upcoming season, I'm gonna post all my "Lost"-related stuff at a separate site:

Lost Season 5

So, if you like "Lost," check it out. I've already posted lots of photos and info on the upcoming season and will post my observations, theories about all this season's episodes.

No fear, though, I'll still be posting daily on various and sundry pop cultural topics right here at Pop Culture Safari as well.

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Pop links: Lennon MBE found, no more monthly comics?, is Miller's Spirit really off the mark?, more!

The MBE that John Lennon returned to The Queen in 1969 has been found in a royal vault.

The star was awarded the MBE along with the rest of The Beatles in 1965, but later decided to send it back as a form of protest.

In a letter addressed to The Queen, Lennon wrote:
"Your Majesty, I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against 'Cold Turkey' slipping down the charts. With Love, John Lennon of Bag."

The medal, which has lain untouched for years, was found in a cabinet at the Chancery Department Of The Royal Household, reports The Daily Telegraph. It is still in its original presentation case, and is accompanied by Lennon's protest letter.

Beatles historians and fans are now calling for the MBE to be put on public display, either in a museum or at Lennon's childhood home in Liverpool, Mendips, which was donated to the National Trust by Yoko Ono.


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Should we dispense with monthly comic books and just publish trade paperbacks? The editorial director of Harris Comics thinks so.

A monthly comic series loses a small fraction of their audience from one issue to the next due to the natural attrition of serialized storytelling. No serialized story will keep 100% of its readers with each succeeding installment. On average the typical comic probably loses 10% of its readership per issue. That may not sound bad but stretch those losses over the course of twelve or twenty-four issues and suddenly a comic that sold 25,000 copies its first issue is no longer breaking even within a few years of its debut. At that point a publisher has to decide whether to keep going or cancel. Now imagine if instead of one monthly a publisher had decided to launch many simultaneously, believing that a larger set of offerings would make their company look more impressive. Maybe a company could offset the losses making up for it with related trade paperback sales and other merchandise. But say they have a half dozen or a dozen titles bleeding that much. The losses start piling up exponentially. That scenario has played out many times over the last few years and why you’ve seen new publishers fall as quickly as they have risen.

I grew up buying comics at the news stand and, later, the comic book shop. I love that monthly fix. But, more and more, I buy comics in collected format. For one thing, it's cheaper. For another, many of the monthlies produced now are being created with the collection in mind--so why not wait and read them all at once.

Dispensing with the monthlies would probably result in better comics, actually. By trying to create comics for both formats, the stories actually suffer in their organization and pacing. Few of today's monthlies stand up as strong 20-odd page works. Often, story-telling is drawn out and slowed down, just to fill the page count for the eventual collection. And the resulting collections often don't read as strong books unto themselves.

Once the industry makes a decision on how it wants to tell stories--in 20-page snippets or in 100-odd page books--we'll have better told stories.

The end of monthlies also would likely spell the end of silly big event crossovers and other marketing gimmicks in favor of individual, though longer, stories that focus more on original plots and characterization that isn't as steeped in continuity.

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Kyle Baker, sarcastically, shows that maybe Frank Miller's take on the Spirit isn't as off the mark as some people, like me, think.

It's a well-done piece and, I have to admit, I haven't seen Miller's film yet. I should, if only so that I can gripe about it fairly. My reservations about it (which have prevented me from shelling out the dough to go see it) are based on what I've seen in teasers and my general opinion of Miller's past work.

I stand by my opinion that Miller is essentially a one-trick pony: He takes a property, darkens it up and says "look at how clever I am." And, as a result, he's badly damaged the superhero genre, resulting in books that confuse grim nihilism and exploitation for maturity and stealing away characters that once were safe for young children to enjoy and admire from the youth audience.

I'm talking about Batman, not the Spirit, here. I realize that the Spirit was created for an adult, newspaper-reading audience. But, after Miller's "Dark Knight," pretty much the entire mainstream lines of DC and Marvel have become dark and ugly in tone and inappropriate for pre-teens. And I just can't forgive his role in that development.

At the same time, though, maybe I shouldn't let that predispose me to hate Miller's "Spirit." If and when I see it, I'll share my thoughts about it.

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See, this is the Batman I remember! (Well, maybe he doesn't have to always be this nice...)

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From Geek Orthodox: Superhero bottle caps!

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Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton has died, Billboard reports.

Asheton and his drummer brother Scott formed the Stooges with Iggy Pop in Ann Arbor in 1967. Amid a music scene that also reared acts like Bob Seger and the MC5, the Stooges stood out for their reckless abandon, theatrics and pummeling style, a clear precursor for punk and alternative rock.

Monday, January 05, 2009

New DVDs, CDs Jan. 6, 2009: Battlestar Galactica season 4, vintage Doctor Who, John Peel and more

Click the links to preorder discounted items from Amazon. Proceeds help support this site!

DVDs

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Battlestar Galactica - Season 4.0

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The Tudors - Season 2

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Doctor Who: War Machines

Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday

Mannix: The Second Season

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John Peel's Dandelion Records

CDs

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Art of Field Recording, Vol. 2 by Various Artists

Other recent New Releases

New music I like: Jim Jones Revue



Pop links: Buck Rogers by Frazetta, NYT on Elder and Von Eeden's Jack Johnson

Golden Age Comic Book Stories presents some Buck Rogers comic book covers by the great Frank Frazetta.

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Missed this over the holiday break: A New York Times piece about the late Mad magazine cartoonist Will Elder.

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Also from The New York Times, a review of Trevor Von Eeden's new graphic novel about boxer Jack Johnson.

Who's the new Doctor Who?

I'm a bit late with this one due to being on vacation, but, here's some news from the BBC:

The BBC today announced that Matt Smith has been cast in the role of the Doctor in the iconic BBC series Doctor Who.

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Smith will be the 11th Time Lord and will take over from David Tennant who leaves the show at the end of 2009. He will be seen in the forthcoming fifth series that will be broadcast in 2010.

The identity of the new Doctor was revealed on a special edition of Doctor Who Confidential that was broadcast on BBC One today (3 January) at 5.35pm (17.35 GMT).

Matt Smith said of his new role: "I'm just so excited about the journey that is in front of me. It's a wonderful privilege and challenge that I hope I will thrive on.

"I feel proud and honoured to have been given this opportunity to join a team of people that has worked so tirelessly to make the show so thrilling.

"David Tennant has made the role his own, brilliantly, with grace, talent and persistent dedication. I hope to learn from the standards set by him.

"The challenge for me is to do justice to the show's illustrious past, my predecessors, and most importantly, to those who watch it. I really cannot wait."

Matt Smith, 26, grew up with his family including one sister in Northampton. He was head boy at Northampton School For Boys where he excelled at sports, music and drama.

Initially, Matt wanted to be a professional footballer and played for Northampton Town Under-11 & 12s, Nottingham Forest Under 12, 13 & 14s and Leicester City Under 15 & 16s before a back injury forced him out of the game.

Following his injury, and with the encouragement of one of his teachers, Jerry Hardingham, Matt decided to join the National Youth Theatre.

It was during this time that Matt first gained attention at the Royal Court Theatre when he was cast in the play Fresh Kills, directed by Wilson Milam, whilst still at the University Of East Anglia where he was studying Drama and Creative Writing.

Already a stalwart of the National Youth Theatre, his performance at the Court led to a variety of theatrical experiences at the National Theatre: in the award-winning History Boys (directed by Nick Hytner), On The Shore Of The Wide World (directed by Sarah Frankcom) and also in the acclaimed trio of plays Burn / Citizenship / Chatroom (directed by Anna Mackmin).

These roles led to Matt's first outings on the small screen, alongside Billie Piper in Phillip Pullman's period detective stories, The Ruby In The Smoke and The Shadow In The North (both BBC One), where he played Jim, right-hand man to Billie's detective heroine Sally Lockhart.

These pieces were followed by the lead role of Danny in the BBC Two series Party Animals, the brilliantly observed drama set in the world of young politicians.

Matt has recently completed work on Moses Jones for BBC Two, directed by Michael Offer, in which he plays the lead role of Dan Twentyman, alongside Shaun Parkes in the title role.


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Action figures: Cute, cuddly Doctor Who figures on the way

Character Options has released info on a batch of cartoony Doctor Who "Time Squad" figures due out later this year.

Here's a look at a few:

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More Doctor Who action figures at Amazon.