Friday, October 18, 2013

Somebody's bright idea: Boba Fett earrings


Pop culture roundup: Silver Surfer; Steranko; Jack Kirby; Sufijan Stevens; Bill Watterson; Superman, more!

This could be fun: A new Silver Surfer series from Marvel Comics by scripter Dan Slott and artist Michael Allred.

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I've not purchased any of IDW Publishing's awesome-looking "Artist Edition" books, but a few upcoming releases are tempting: Collections of Jim Steranko's S.H.I.E.L.D comics, a Peanuts collection and Jack Kirby's New Gods.

Jack Kirby’s New Gods Artist’s Edition will be released in March and feature five complete issues of Kirby’s inaugural Fourth World book. Kirby, often called the King of Comics, is arguably the most important and influential comics creator of all time. His work on New Gods, which he wrote as well as drew, clearly reinforces that notion. Filled with amazing imagery and giant concepts, this book will measure 12 x 17 inches.

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The great Sufjan Stevens pens an open letter to Miley Cyrus:

 “Dear Miley. I can’t stop listening to #GetItRight (great song, great message, great body), but maybe you need a quick grammar lesson. One particular line causes concern: “I been laying in this bed all night long.” Miley, technically speaking, you’ve been LYING, not LAYING, an irregular verb form that should only be used when there’s an object, i.e. “I been laying my tired booty on this bed all night long.” Whatever. I’m not the best lyricist, but you know what I mean. #Get It Right The Next Time. But don’t worry, even Faulkner messed it up. We all make mistakes, and surely this isn’t your worst misdemeanor. But also, Miley, did you know the tense here is also totally wrong. Surely you’ve heard of Present Perfect Continuous Tense (I HAVE BEEN LYING in this bed all night long [hopefully getting some beauty sleep?]). It’s a weird, equivocal, almost purgatorial tense, not quite present, not quite past, not quite here, not quite there. Somewhere in between. I feel that way all the time. It kind of sucks. But I have a feeling your “present perfect continuous” involves a lot more excitement than mine. Anyway, doesn’t that also sum up your career right now? Present. Perfect. Continuous. And Tense. Intense? Girl, you work it like Mike Tyson. Miley, I love you because you’re the Queen, grammatically and anatomically speaking. And you’re the hottest cake in the pan. Don’t ever grow old. Live brightly before your fire fades into total darkness. XXOO Sufjan”
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Check out this trailer from "Dear Mr. Watterson," a crowd-funded documentary that looks at the impact of "Calvin and Hobbes."


“Mr. Watterson has inspired and influenced millions of people through Calvin & Hobbes,” the documentary’s website explains. “Newspaper readership and book sales can be tracked and recorded, but the human impact he has had and the value of his art are perhaps impossible to measure. This film is not a quest to find Bill Watterson, or to invade his privacy. It is an exploration to discover why his ‘simple’ comic strip made such an impact on so many readers in the 80s and 90s, and why it still means so much to us today.”


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Speaking of which, here's a very rare, and recent, interview with Watterson:
Owing to spite or just a foul mood, have you ever peeled one of those stupid Calvin stickers off of a pickup truck?
I figure that, long after the strip is forgotten, those decals are my ticket to immortality.

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See 75 years of Superman in two minutes.



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Tweets:



Fab Friday: Vintage Beatles pics

LPs.












Thursday, October 17, 2013

Marvel Comics solicitations for January 2014: Uncanny X-Men Omnibus 2; Spider-Man; Captain America; Starlin's complete Warlock!

Highlights from Marvel's January offerings.

THE UNCANNY X-MEN OMNIBUS VOL. 2 HC
Written by CHRIS CLAREMONT with JOHN BYRNE, MARY JO DUFFY, SCOTT EDELMAN & BOB LAYTON
Penciled by JOHN BYRNE & DAVE COCKRUM with JOHN ROMITA JR., BRENT ANDERSON, MICHAEL GOLDEN, PAUL SMITH, GEORGE PEREZ, JOHN BUSCEMA, BOB McLEOD, KEN LANDGRAF & JIM SHERMAN
Covers by STUART IMMONEN & JOHN BYRNE
Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and John Byrne took a little reprint series called X-MEN and turned it into the all-new, all-different titan that conquered comicdom. Now, you can experience the thrills and excitement of their classic tales from “The Dark Phoenix Saga” to “Days of Future Past” and so much more in this enormous Omnibus! Including the debuts of X-universe mainstays Emma Frost and Kitty Pryde, the threat of Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Magneto’s return, Wolverine’s first solo story and a rare Savage Land adventure — plus the original ending of “Dark Phoenix” and a host of bonus stories! Collecting X-MEN (1963) #132-141, ANNUAL (1970) #4-5; THE UNCANNY X-MEN (1981) #142-153; AVENGERS ANNUAL (1967) #10; MARVEL FANFARE (1982) #1-4; MARVEL TREASURY EDITION (1974) #26-27; MARVEL TEAM-UP (1972) #100; BIZARRE ADVENTURES (1981) #27; PHOENIX: THE UNTOLD STORY (1984) #1.
912 PGS./Rated T …$99.99
  
MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN VOL. 16 HC
Written by LEN WEIN with BILL MANTLO
Penciled by ROSS ANDRU with GIL KANE
Cover by ROSS ANDRU
Peter Parker’s past comes back to haunt him in his latest and greatest Marvel Masterworks volume! Doc Ock has returned, and he’s brought the ghost of Hammerhead with him! And those two aren’t the only ones back from the grave: The Kingpin is out to resurrect his son, and he can only do it if Spider-Man dies! The danger doesn’t stop there, either, as the Punisher sets his sights on Spider-Man in an adventure guest-starring the X-Men’s Nightcrawler, dinosaurs rampage down Broadway in the war of the reptile-men, one of Spidey’s oldest foes hijacks the Spider-Mobile, and J. Jonah Jameson secures proof of Spidey’s secret identity in the return of the Spider-Slayer! Reserve your copy today! Collecting AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #156-168 and ANNUAL #10.
288 PGS./Rated T …$69.99

MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE X-MEN VOL. 6 TPB
Written by ROY THOMAS with ARNOLD DRAKE, DENNIS O’NEIL & LINDA FITE
Penciled by SAL BUSCEMA with DON HECK, WERNER ROTH & SAL BUSCEMA
Cover by NEAL ADAMS & RICHARD ISANOVE
1969: The X-Men, Marvel’s poorest-selling title, was in dire need of a shot in the arm. Enter Roy Thomas and Neal Adams, and readers witnessed one of the most amazing evolutions in Marvel history! These two titanic talents threw caution to the wind with sensational stories that brought the X-Men in synch with the thriving youth culture of the late ’60s. Adams’ lavish and dynamic visuals merged with Thomas’ challenging and contemporary stories to create a comic-book series that throbbed with the pulse of the times like none other. Thrill to the introduction of mutant mainstay Havok, the vampiric villain Sauron, the Mutates and Sunfire; battles against the Living Pharaoh and the Sentinels, a classic team-up with Ka-Zar in the Savage Land, and the return of Magneto and Professor X! Collecting X-MEN (1963) #54-66.
312 PGS./Rated T …$24.99

CAPTAIN AMERICA EPIC COLLECTION: DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT TPB
Volume 9 in the Captain America Epic Collection
Written by ROGER STERN, JOHN BYRNE, BILL MANTLO, JIM SHOOTER, DAVID MICHELINIE, AL MILGROM, JM DEMATTEIS, DAVID ANTHONY KRAFT & MORE
Penciled by JOHN BYRNE, GENE COLAN, LEE ELIAS, MIKE ZECK & ALAN KUPPERBERG
Cover by JOHN BYRNE
Even for Captain America, life has rarely been this eventful! Battling the robotic Dragon Man above New York, considering a run for president, and saving Manhattan from fiery destruction at the hands of Batroc and Mr. Hyde is all in a day’s work. And a trip to England proves to be no vacation, either, as Cap encounters the vampire Baron Blood and the chilling Ghost of Greymoor Castle! Back home in the States, our hero learns Hollywood plans to make a Captain America movie — the only problem is, his greatest foe, the Red Skull, has a very different script in mind! Finally, Cap must prevent Morgan MacNeil Hardy from rewriting the American dream — but can even Spider-Man help him stop the cyborg SULTAN from destroying Washington, D.C.? Collecting CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #247-266 and ANNUAL #5.
496 PGS./Rated T …$34.99

WARLOCK BY JIM STARLIN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION TPB
Written by JIM STARLIN
Penciled by JIM STARLIN
Cover by JIM STARLIN
At ’70s Marvel, no one mastered the startling scope and high-concept complexity of cosmic adventure like Jim Starlin! And his work on Adam Warlock set the tone for star-spanning spectacle that is considered a high-water mark to this day. Starlin evolved Warlock to the next level, imbuing the character with the inner demons of a man-god on the brink of insanity. Forced to confront an evil version of himself and the nihilistic menace Thanos, Warlock’s conflicts weren’t just knuckle-grinding throw-downs — they were epic, existential struggles for his very soul. Featuring the first-ever assembling of the Infinity Gems; the debuts of Gamora and Pip the Troll; and an all-out struggle to save the universe joined by the Avengers, Captain Marvel and Spider-Man! Collecting STRANGE TALES (1951) #178-181, WARLOCK (1972) #9-15, AVENGERS ANNUAL #7 and MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE ANNUAL #2.
328 PGS./Rated T …$34.99

Pop stuff: What I'm reading, watching, hearing, etc.

Gravity. Some critics say it's boring, Neil Tyson DeGrasse says it's fakey, but I liked it.

Seeing humans confront the dangers and vast mysteries of outer space without superpowers or sci-fi weaponry is a nice change of pace. The film brought me back to the era when all kids wanted to grow up to astronauts and the U.S. still had a sense of national unity, purpose and adventure.

If you're going to see it, do it now. It's one of the few 3-D movies worth seeing in that format. The visual effects are mind-blowing and immersive, while Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are as engaging as ever.



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Room 237. I got a kick out of this documentary, which explores some of the wacky critical theories people have about Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of "The Shining."

Maybe "conspiracy theories" is a better phrase for it.

Much like any creative work, one can let his or her imagination run wild over what Kubrick's film is really about. Is it a commentary on the plight of American Indians? Some folks think so. Was Kubrick dropping hints throughout the film that he was involved in faking the first moon landing? Could be.

Crazy stuff. But what I loved most about the movie is that instead of the usual talking head interviews, everything is done in voiceovers while footage from various Kubrick movies and other films plays. The effect is hilarious, emphasizing -- in a lighthearted way -- the absurdity of the commentators' ideas and overblown critical theories in general.



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The Haunting. Speaking of scary movies, this 1963 adaptation of Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House" is one of my favorites.

My wife and I watched it with our 15-year-old son the other night -- his first time seeing it. It still holds up, largely due to it's minimalism. It's in black and white. There are no special effects. There's no violence or gore. All the suspense and terror is conveyed via the great performances, imaginative camera work and the sounds of things -- who knows what -- going bump in the night.

Claire Bloom provides a still-edgy subtext  to the state of affairs as she taunts/flirts with Julie Harris - the troubled and frightened main character of the piece.



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When They Were Boys: The True Story of the Beatles Rise to the Top by Larry Kane. I'm about three-quarters through Kane's third book about the Beatles (I guess one is technically just about John Lennon) and have mixed feelings about it.

There's no question that Kane -- who accompanied the Fabs on their three tours of the United States in 1964, 1965 and 1966 -- has interesting stuff to say about the band. He also has a huge inventory of interviews he conducted with the group back in those days, when he was a radio newsman. But this book is an odd hodge-podge of those materials and recent interviews with various observers and hangers-on from the Beatles Liverpool and Hamburg days.

There's little new info for fans who have read the key Beatles bios and Kane's writing seems disorganized, repetitive and full of peculiar quirks.

He seems to have an odd nickname for everyone -- Beatles fan club secretary is called "Freda the Believa" -- and he insists on calling the Fabs "John's Boys, " in effort to show John Lennon's early domination of the group.

Another odd thing is that Kane doesn't seem to present straight transcriptions of his radio interviews with the Beatles -- many of which were released on LPs several years back. I'd have to go back and listen, but the quotes in this book and those I remember the Beatles speaking on those releases don't line up. And I doubt that Kane's sources always paused to call him "Larry,"as in "Let me tell you, Larrry," as they do in the transcriptions featured in this book. We get it. You were there. You really talked to these folks.

Also peculiar: Kane complains a lot about Paul McCartney's unwillingness to answer tough questions and about the sycophantic "bubble" that surrounds the ex-Beatle. You get the sense that Larry is peeved that McCartney wouldn't sit down for a long interview with him.

Ringo doesn't get much attention at all, yet there's a long, fairly interesting section that looks at the firing of Pete Best, a topic that seems to fascinate a lot of fans just as the Kennedy assassination continues to trouble some people's minds. I don't find the episode that compelling -- just mildly interesting. It's important to remember that when the Beatles ditched Pete, they hadn't released their first single, let alone become the creators of Sgt. Pepper and cultural icons who still get written about today. They were just a band switching drummers - not trying to ruin a guy's life and consign him to being a footnote of history.

Anyway, I suspect Kane's book will be quickly eclipsed by Mark Lewisohn's upcoming doorstop about the Beatles' early years, in which we'll learn much more about Pete Best and probably his grandfather, too.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

BBC Radio this week

Click the links to hear the following programs.

Paul Temple and the Spencer Affair, The suave sleuth, played by Peter Coke, investigates another murder.

Sir Alec Guiness: My Name Escapes Me. The acclaimed actor reads from his memoirs.


Fear on Four.  Series of horror and suspense tales, hosted by the Man in Black. This week: The Monkey's Paw.

The Goon Show. Classic material from one of the all-time radio comedy greats. This week: The Man Who Won the War.

The Man in Black. A creepy raconteur, played by Mark Gatiss, introduces spooky tales.

Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone. Strange and unusual sounds in music both old and new.

Between the Ears Celebrating 20 years of innovative and thought-provoking features that make adventurous use of sound and explore a wide variety of subjects. Made by leading radio producers.

Late Junction A varied mix of music, ranging from the ancient to the contemporary.

World on 3 Lopa Kothari and Mary Ann Kennedy present an eclectic mix of sounds from around the world, with exclusive sessions and concerts by leading musicians in world music.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Warner Archives releases 1987 Spirit TV film based on Will Eisner character

Announced by the Warner Archive today:
Will Eisner’s famed comic book hero makes his live-action debut in this rarely seen TV adaptation starring Sam Jones (Flash Gordon) as Central City’s most rumpled crimefighter. Shot in the line of duty, police detective Denny Colt (Jones) is thought to be dead when his body turns up missing. Allowing his enemies to believe he died, Colt dons a blue suit and mask and proceeds to fight crime as The Spirit. Aided by Police Commissioner Dolan (Garry Walberg) and in love with Dolan's daughter Ellen (Nana Visitor), The Spirit works outside the law as he attempts to bust an art forgery racket run by the notorious femme fatale P’Gell (McKinlay Robinson). Written as a series pilot by Steven E. de Sousa (Die Hard) and directed by Michael Schultz (Car Wash), The Spirit captures the tongue-in-cheek charm of Eisner’s legendary strip, “the Citizen Kane of comics” (USA Today).
Order here


New comics Oct. 16, 2013: Thor; Donald Duck; Best American Comics; Golden Age Airboy; Buck Rogers, more!

Click the links to order discounted items from Amazon.


Essential Thor Volume 7


Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor Volume 12


The Best American Comics 2013


Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Complete Newspaper Dailies Volume 8


The Complete Golden Age Airboy & Valkyrie


Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics


The Phantom The Complete Newspaper Dailies Volume 6


Wallace and Gromit: The Complete Newspaper Comic Strip Collection Volume 1: 2010-2011


Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "Christmas On Bear Mountain" (The Complete Carl Barks Disney Library)


The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics: Inside the Art of Visual Storytelling