Jun 28, 2008

Nerdy News

Sad news to report once again in the world of comics. Artist Michael Turner passed away last night in California at the age of 37 after a long struggle with cancer.

April 21, 1971 - June 27, 2008

Turner is probably best known for being the co-creator of Witchblade with Brian Haberlin and Christina Z for Top Cow in 1995. He also created his own comic publishing company, Aspen Comics (Aspen MLT Inc.), in 2002. Hi creator-owned series' Fathom and Soulfire were also on his lists of accomplishments.

Over the course of his career, Turner contributed to many DC and Marvel comics titles. His Marvel work included variant covers for Civil War and Wolverine: Origins. Most prominently he drew all the covers for the DC's Identity Crisis and illustrated the return of Supergirl in her six-issue arc in Superman/Batman.

If you would like to make a charitable donation in his name, his requested charities were The American Cancer Society and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.


Sigh. The Buffy Tarot deck I told you about a few months ago and updated a few weeks later has been canceled. My good blogging buddy Geekboy was actually the first to break the news to me. I've been out of the loop the last few days because of a lack of internet at my house (don't ask). It's not even back yet and I've been blogging from my real job or other peoples houses when I can.

Anyway, Dark Horse has a message up on their site that reads:
Please Note: Due to circumstances beyond our control, Dark Horse will not be producing the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Tarot Deck. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, but no existing orders will be filled. We appreciate your support of this program, and again apologize to those who placed advance orders and to fans alike.
I always hate the "circumstances beyond our control" answer. Just tell us what the circumstances were. Rights issues? Printing costs too high? What?! I'm not the only one disappointed by this as seen on the Whedonesque board.

More news as I get it, or rather when Geekboy fills me in. :)

Jun 26, 2008

I'm partial to redheads.

Comic Book Resources has an interview up with J.T. Krul talking about his issue of next month's weekly mini-series The Joker's Asylum. I was very interested to begin with about the premise of this series where the Joker himself narrates the tales of five of Batman's most notorious Rogues. Needless to say, issue three has me particularly excited as it focuses on Poison Ivy. The cover and interior art for this issue is by Guillem March who I'm not familiar with but who may have drawn one of my favorite Ivy covers ever. Honestly that's how much hair have on my head.

The series, with a different writer and artist each week, begins July 2nd with the Joker up first followed by the Penguin, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and Two-Face each consecutive week.

Jun 23, 2008

Wall-E computes on all platforms

Part two of my Wall-E preview brings us to the video game developed by Heavy Iron Studios for THQ. Walking in, I wasn't really expecting much from the game. I assumed it would be directed entirely at kids and be too simple for me to find it interesting. I learned the hard way that not all kid games translate to adults. Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue (DS), I'm talking to you. My six-year-old niece would have found Nemo challenging but it left me bored. Fortunately, even though the Wall-E game is aimed at youngsters, it's accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

There's always a lot of lead time with animated features. The Disney/Pixar movie Wall-E took about four years to make and THQ was there along the way in order to get the best possible product made. Sometimes THQ would get ahead of Pixar but they were always communicating to make sure they were going in the right direction. Wall-E Director/Production Designer Ralph Eggleston believes that for the first time, "The THQ game has really captured the flavor on every level of the movie."

Gameplay has Wall-E traveling from Earth to the Axiom Starliner in nine different worlds. On some you'll be solving puzzles, others you'll be shooting, racing or flying. You can have up to four players in mulitplayer challenges and mini-games that you unlock along the way. Lyle Hall, the V.P., Product Development and General Manager of Heavy Iron Studios is very pleased with how the game is set-up. "We get a chance to sort of expand on moments in the film and give you things in the game that you actually might not see in the film for more than a few seconds or are alluded to," he said. So even though the game was released today you may want to see the movie this weekend first so you can appreciate some of the in's-and-out's.

The game begins with Wall-E on Earth doing his job. Picking up trash and turning it into cubes. "We decided as we saw the film to use that as his primary weapon to interact with the world," explained Hall. Vending machines throughout the game supply Wall-E with different kinds of trash cubes to be used for different kinds of effects such as a "heavy cube." Wall-E must also turn himself into cube form in order to traverse certain obstacles.

While on Earth there are actually many Wall-E's that no longer function. "He's not the only Wall-E that exists and as he moves through the space he can find other robots that he can use to repair himself so that he can do different things that he was not able to do previously," said Hall. Also, being solar-powered, Wall-E can use solar stations to heal himself when needed.

Wall-E's love interest EVE is also a playable character. She even gets a few boards to herself. One of them has her zooming through the engine tunnels of the Axiom which are not seen in the movie. She also has a very different play-style since she's a much newer robot. One of EVE's talents that comes in handy is her flight capability. "We've actually got two levels in which you play both Wall-E and EVE together," said Hall, "EVE can pick him up and she can carry him to high places or far places that they couldn't get to if Wall-E tried to jump there by himself." It's very reminiscent of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 where Tails could be used to fly Sonic to those hard-to-reach spots.

Just like in the movie, Wall-E eventually leaves Earth for the Axiom. "He's got a lot of different tools on the ship that he didn't have on Earth," said Hall. One of those tools is another type of trash cube, this time it's an "energy cube." The adorable compulsive cleaner robot Mo shows up to clean up your mess and you must distract him with more trash to make a getaway. At one point, Wall-E even gets a laser gun to defend himself against security droids. Watch out when you hit the freeway of humans on the ship. Here we get a glimpse into the future of the human race, we ride around in hoverchairs all day that feed us all the information we need.

Obviously the graphics for the XBOX 360 version of the game look a lot better than the Wii but for those of you who enjoy using the Wiimote the developers put a lot of effort into making the most use out of it. "The controls for the Wii are really dynamic," said Hall. "EVE can fly and she can shoot and she can fly and shoot at the same time," he continued. All you have to do is point the Wiimote where you want her to go. You can also use it to throw trash cubes at targets.

At the time of the preview the Playstation 3 version of the game was not available to be displayed but Hall explained it would be similar to the other consoles except with a few different levels. However, he said the DS version would be quite different, "We actually have 100 rooms and the goal is to get out of each room and use Wall-E's ability with his different kinds of cubes and his ability to throw them." Similar to Portal, you must place certain cubes on platforms to weigh them down. "There's about five or six different cubes that we actually don't have on the console games that are unique to the DS," said Hall. The main action happens on the upper screen while the touch screen is used to pick up cubes and throw them. You also get to play as EVE for a short bit as well but overall it seems the DS version is much more contained in it's environments.

Parents, don't be ashamed if you're playing it long after you're children have gone to bed or if you don't have kids and you just want it for yourself. Wall-E the video game has set the standard for all future Pixar related titles. You can be sure they're already hard at work at the next one and that it will be even more impressive. For me it'll be hard to compete, Wall-E's my new best friend.

Johnny-5's still alive in Wall-E

It's not lost on many people that Disney/Pixar's new Wall-E looks a lot like Johnny-5, the reflective glassy eyes, the tank-tred wheels, the lovable nature. But in my opinion, it's something Wall-E lacks rather than something he has that puts him ahead in the game. The ability to speak.

About two months ago I attended a preview of clips from the film as well as demos from the video game both of which are being released this week. I was already anticipating the film for it's title characters precociousness but I was more impressed when I found out there's not a whole lot of dialogue in the film at all. In fact, there's really only one main character who talks, the Captain, voiced by Jeff Garlin. "We went back to studying a lot of early silent films to create this film," said Director/Production Designer at Pixar, Ralph Eggleston. "It was very difficult because everything had to be done visually."

Placing the success of a animated film in the hands of a main character who doesn't speak was a bold move by Pixar. Wall-E and the other robots in the film make only noises, which sometimes can resemble words, but they were left in the hands of a master. Ben Burtt of Star Wars fame. His sound design brings the oldest, and only, robot left on Earth to life better than any actor could have.

Wall-E stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth class. His job, along with others like him, was to clean up Earth after humans abandoned it for the Axiom Starliner. "He's been there for 700 years," said Eggleston, "and you'll find he's evolved a personality on his own by finding bits and pieces of stuff around the planet." Day in, day out, Wall-E continues his job cleaning up Earth by compacting trash into cubes in his body, then popping them back out and piliing them on top of countless others. Sometimes he finds objects that interest him and brings them back to his home where he lives with his pet cockroach. Of course, the only creature still living on the planet.

Wall-E's monotonous life is finally disrupted when another robot lands on Earth. EVE is her name and Wall-E becomes instantly smitten with her but she's on an important mission. Of course EVE stands for something too but telling you would give away part of the plot. Needless to say EVE completes her mission and takes off again but not before love-sick Wall-E is able to hitch a ride without her knowing.

Soaring past a sign on the moon that reads "Outlet Mall Coming-Soon" Wall-E's eyes are already wider than ever before. Finally landing on the Axiom he sees all types of new robots that are very different from him. For one, they are all impeccably clean and a robot you'll come to know as Mo takes a compulsive interest in cleaning Wall-E. But Wall-E has no time to spare and sets off to find EVE. "He finally does track her down and she wants to send him home after fear for his own safety but he won't give up the fight so easily," explained Eggleston. It's easy to see there's something more going on here than just cute robots. My guess is Wall-E saves the day and looks adorable doing it.

Up next, Part Two of my Wall-E coverage: Wall-E the video game

Jun 22, 2008

I may not have been alone, but I was in the dark.

You couldn't pay me to walk around New York's Central Park, alone, at night. So why is it that's what Eden Games is asking me to do in the new, Alone in the Dark? Because it's scary, that's why.

Last night I got a preview of the new game hitting stores this week. I only got to see about the first board or so but I liked what I saw, or could see, rather. Hence the "dark" in the title. But don't worry, it's not long before you find the obligatory flashlight, or you know, your building goes up in flames.

Speaking of flames, you're going to spend a lot of time setting them and putting them out. You won't get bored with it though because it's entirely unpredictable, kind of like a real fire. Plus it looks amazingly realistic. Lucky for you the fire extinguisher never run out.

You play the typical amnesiac who has no idea the hell he's just woke up in. And with all the fire, it might as well be. There's some sort of demonic force at work which I only got a small look at during my preview. Bloody rips form in the walls that move like tentacles and suck people into the floor, wall or ceiling. A helpless (read, annoying) damsel gets possessed and leads you to believe you're a part of all the crap that's going down. Luckily all that fire comes in handy with these demon people. As long as you hit them in the right spots, setting them on fire will dust them like the vamps in Buffy.

Since I didn't get to see much of the game I'll be honest and say I got bored with it pretty quickly. I didn't even get to see the park. Though there seems to be a lot of room for a quick progression and a lot of fun. Items in the game have an almost limitless variety of combinations for use. If regular bullets aren't good enough for you, add some alcohol to them and you've got fire bullets. Players with a big imagination will likely be creating some stuff that will become popular on game forums and wind up being the standard.

Playing into television drama fans, Alone in the Dark follows the new episodic format last seen in the Lost video game Via Domus. You get a preview of the next episode when you finish one and see a "previously on" type of recap the next time you load up. Oddly enough you have the ability to fast-foward if the game gets to hard. Blasphemy to hard-core gamers but it sounds like a great idea to me. The last thing I want to do is get frustrated enough with a game to never finish it so I hope other games follow suit down the road.

Anyone looking forward to this? Play the original?

Jun 20, 2008

Torchwood Case File #421623

In what's obviously straight out of an episode of Torchwood, a UFO was spotted flying over Cardiff earlier this month. Well, Jack did tell us the twenty-first century is when it all changes.

The art department at The Sun were kind enough to whip up this nifty illustration so we could see exactly what happened. The three-man police crew narrowly avoided being hit by the unidentified craft as they were about to land then proceeded to give chase until they were forced to turn around because they were low on fuel. The helicopter is equipped with hi-tech surveillance gear yet the craft was not caught on film. The crew could see the object with their naked-eyes but not with their night-vision goggles. 

The South Wales Police gave a statement yesterday saying, "We can confirm the Air Support Unit sighted an unusual aircraft. This was reported to the relevant authorities for their investigation." 

My favorite quote comes from Breitbart.com who also ran the story. After explaining the object was "flying-saucer shaped" as reported by The Sun, the police response was apparently, "Err..." Much like the response you'd get from someone who'd just been given an amnesia pill...

A girl can dream, can't she?

I was just chatting with my boyfriend about the new Wanted movie. His co-worker has seen it already. 

Boyfriend: Ethan said it's an awful movie.
Me: Well Ethan apparently doesn't know how much I love Angelina Jolie.
Boyfriend: Ha, weirdo.
Me: They had me at that scene with her lying backwards, flat on top of the train.
Boyfriend: God help us if you weren't handicapped.
Me: :-) I'd be the worlds deadliest assassin.
Me: Hmm, I may have to blog this.

Jun 18, 2008

Smack one, save one, put one in prison.

I never did like that Lana Lang. Always lurking. Popping up every few years to remind Clark she's still alive. Oh, and by they way, not married anymore! Hint, hint Clark. The other woman, the poor man's Lois Lane if you will, saved by Superman time and time again. This time Lana, it's personal.

Superman/Batman wrapped up it's K arc today with #49. Stop reading now if you don't want to be spoiled. At Wizard World Philly Shane Davis hinted at a surprise ending that no one had yet picked up on. Well here it is: Lana Lang is a bitch.

If you haven't been following the book, Superman and Batman have been hunting down every piece of kryptonite on Earth in order to destroy it. They thought they were done until they found a rather large deposit in the possession of the U.S. Government. Eventually they discovered the kryptonite had been sold to them by LexCorp. Makes sense right? Only, Lex hasn't been running his company since he's been on the prison planet, Lana has.

Superman confronts Lana while Batman storms the building to figure out where the source of the kryptonite is located. Lana explains she was doing it for the greater good. LexCorp was in the hole and thousands of people depend on the company for survival. By arming the government against one of her oldest friends she was saving people. You know who else saves people Lana? SUPERMAN!

Batman finds the deposit of kryptonite they were looking for and Superman tells Lana it's over. Not so fast. She tells them there isn't one deposit, there are thousands and any attempt to go after them will force her to press a button which would release the kryptonite into the atmosphere as dust. Essentially she'd cover every inch of the planet making it unlivable to Superman and his super relatives. He calls her bluff and...she presses the button.

Clark is obviously crushed and immediately heads to the JLA Satellite for refuge. Luckily this catastrophe has a solution. Toyman (Toyboy?) Hiro has self-replicating spider-bots that clean on the microscopic level. They've got Earth clear of kryptonite up in no-time. In exchange Hiro got honorary membership in the JLA and a date with Powergirl.

Clark will probably never trust Lana again, nor should he, but he still knows there may come a time he might need to be taken down and he entrusts Batman will the last piece of kryptonite. On the last page we see Batman placing the kryptonite next to every other color kryptonite he's in possession of. No surprises there.

While reading Catwoman #80 today it hit home that the series has been canceled. I'm still really upset about that and suggest fans write to DC to get her back. It worked with Manhunter right? I actually didn't know when exactly it was set to end so I checked and we've got two more issues to go. The picture above will be the cover for #82 and has Selina looking more Audrey Hepburn than ever.

I'm not the only one who knows how important Catwoman is. In this weeks DC Nation column art director Mark Chiarello tells us the story behind "The Real Power of the DC Universe" poster that was given out during the NY Comic Con. Apparently Catwoman was never supposed to be in it and Adam Hughes took it upon himself to add her after repeated attempts to convince Dan Didio she should be included. I always thought it was a cool idea to have her there standing out as the only one dressed in black. But anyway, it's a fun story that's worth a read.

AAAAAND the creepy award for the week goes to....drumroll please...RED TORNADO!

Justice League of America #22 was focused on getting Red Tornado back into a body instead of drifting in the JLA computer. He's been a little depressed, granted, but while talking things over with his wife Kathy he tells her he watched Kendra and Roy having sex recently. Ewwww! Skeevy! Oh and the best part is, instead of Kathy yelling at him for being a peeping-tom, she jokes about how there's gotta be some porn on the JLA computer he can watch instead. Huh? Makes you wonder what else he's been watching...

Jun 17, 2008

Half & Half

Less viral marketing, more straight up movie is what we got this week. Why So Serious, one of the sites that's kept us shaking in anticipation like a heroine junky for anything Dark Knight related, has a thirty-second clip from the film. It features our man Harvey Dent freshly um, from the oven. You don't really see much, but it's enough to know his would be a tough face to wake up to in the morning. 

Jun 16, 2008

Nerdy News

Believe it or not, The Greatest American Hero is back. Just not exactly how you'd imagined.

William Katt, star of the 1980's TV show, will be guest-starring on Heroes this coming season. Katt joins the ranks of other cult stars to appear on the hit show; George Takei and Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek fame and Joanna Cassidy from Bladerunner.

"I just filmed it last week," Katt told Newsarama. "I play a really, really wonderful, seedy, smarmy-mouthed reporter that goes after [blank]." I was spoiled by the name he gave and didn't want to do the same to you. You can click the Newsarama link you really want to know.

Adding to his superhero cred Katt has voiced characters on the animated Batman and Justice League series and is co-owner of a new comic book publisher called Catastrophic Comics.


In other related news, Heroes own Hiro, Masi Oka will be starring along side Steve Carell in the film version of Get Smart in theaters this Friday. He'll also be continuing his Get Smart role in GS: Get Bruce and Lloyd, a direct-to-dvd spin-off which supposedly runs parallel to the film.


April 7, 1946 - June 15, 2008

Sadly I must report the passing of a movie legend. The gifted Stan Winston died yesterday in his home surrounded by family after a seven year battle with multiple myeloma.

I don't use the term legend lightly here. His career in the field of special effects, make-up, animatronics and creature effects spans decades. He began his behind-the-scenes career at a make-up apprenticeship program at Walt Disney Studios in 1972 and eventually went on to create his own Stan Winston Studio for effects.

It's hard to decide what Winston was most famous for because he had such a vast array of classic and successful films. He was responsible for all of the Terminator films including the forth-coming Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, which were groundbreaking in their time and continue to impress. He won his first of many Oscars for his work on James Cameron's Aliens. With the cult classic Monster Squad he brought us five iconic youth-chasing monsters to fear for life. Edward Scissorhands wouldn't have been the memorable character we love today without Winston. Another cult favorite, Galaxy Quest, made us feel even better about being nerds. Then of course there was his work on the Jurassic Park films which made dinosaurs truly real to us for the first time. 

More recently Winston worked on two comic book films, Constantine and this years Iron Man. Besides the new Terminator film he was linked to several other future releases like Shutter Island, Avatar, G.I. Joe and a possible fourth Jurassic Park film. Stan and his innate talent will be sorely missed but he left us a lifetime of memories.

Nerdy Bird goes Footloose, News at 11.

I had a considerably non-nerdy weekend attending my friends wedding. Though the groom once gave me a Samwise Gamgee action figure...

Actual Nerdy News later today. :)

Jun 13, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen...

I give you, the infamous, Black Manta.

Jun 12, 2008

I'll take a MoCCA, with EXTRA ICE.

That's all I could think about while heading into the city for the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) Art Festival last Saturday. It was definitely one of those fry-an-egg-on-the-hood-of-your-car days. My temperature gauge read 101 degrees when I parked but it was my friend Jen's birthday so I persevered. 

The programming for the weekend was held at the MoCCA Gallery with the main festival, including sketch tables, located in the Puck Building in lower Manhattan. There was a small issue getting into the Puck Building for me seeing as how there are stairs. There's a lift on one of the entrances but no one was immediately available with the key to use it and sitting still and baking in the sun was not on my list of things to do that day. A fast acting cleaning woman grabbed my friends and I and brought us around back where, surprisingly, there were no stairs at all. Of course, that was near the dumpsters, but it was infinitely simpler and I thanked her profusely for it.

We took a quick spin around the first floor but it was far too crowded for me to actually take in anything I was seeing. Though I did happen to spot a few people at the tables that I recently added on Myspace which was funny. It was later than I expected due to a friends mishap with sausage earlier in the day (don't ask) so I headed up to the 7th floor to get myself in line for some sketches.

Unfortunately I was too late to see Patrick McDonnell, the creator of my favorite comic strip Mutts. I met him at the NY Comic Con two years ago and had him sketch in two of my books then though so it wasn't too big a loss. The other person I had come to see was Cliff Chiang. I met him at the NY Comic Con this year but it was the last day so a sketch wouldn't have been possible. I was determined to get something this time so I went right to the table where you pay (the proceeds went to the museum) but they didn't have his sheet out yet because he wasn't there. I decided it was best to wait right there so I didn't wind up being last in line. Cliff showed up and remembered me from the NYCC which was cool too.

I wound up being second in line behind a nice fellow from The Comic Collective whose name I sadly cannot remember (if you're reading this, sorry). We had a nice chat and he had Cliff sketch him a Hellboy. I bought a sketchbook to start a themed collection of drawings and thought about what I would want a whole book of. I didn't really want to pick just one particular character, instead I came up with the idea to have artists draw me instead. A bit narcissistic, I know, but I figure it should be interesting to see how they each interpret me. I told Cliff he could draw me in the scooter or not and he asked if I wanted a superhero spin on it. I said sure and told him a few of my favorites. Wouldn't you know? Out of the bunch he picked to draw me as Zatanna. I absolutely love it! Thanks Cliff!

By the time the sketch was done my friends had already circled the entire place twice and I had been sitting in a room with the sun beaming in on me for about two hours. Strangely enough, even with the temperature outside and the amount of people indoors, it didn't really smell at all. Quite an unexpected relief. Also unexpected was spotting Jackson Publick just as I was about to leave. Most people probably wouldn't know what he looked like but after two NY Comic Con Venture Bros. panels he's not hard to spot. He was in the middle of a conversation so I just popped in quickly to introduce myself and say hello. He was very nice. Geez, that sounds kind of dumb doesn't it? "He was very nice." I should have made up something awesome like, I convinced him to let me voice a character on the show (*cough*I do voiceovers Jackson!*cough*) or he called in the Guild of Calamitous intent to get me away from him or something. Oh well.

Jun 11, 2008


Yup, still can't look at it without wanting to cry in the corner. Just thought I'd let you know.

Jun 9, 2008

Who guards the Mouse Guard?

Put simply, it's creator David Petersen who wards over Guard members Saxon, Lieam and Kenzie. In a sense, he's in charge of protecting the whole of Mouse Guard civilization itself. I recently got a chance to chat with David about how that world is expanding.

The Mouse Guard members have been seen fighting numerous foes like snakes, crabs and bats. Any chance we'll see the sworn enemy of mice, a cat, anytime soon? Petersen says no, "Seems too cliche for me. Besides, Mouse Guard is all about the medieval and natural world. I think if something that resembled a domestic house-cat wandered in, it would seem too modern." Seeing as how MG is set in that realm and with the many unique characters we've seen so far in the books it seems an obvious choice to take it to the next level: The Mouse Guard role-playing game.

The game was written by Luke Crane who has an already established role-playing system called Burning Wheel. It's familiar territory for him to turn a comic into a RPG, he created Burning Empires out of Christopher Moeller's two Iron Empires graphic novels. Petersen himself is no stranger to RPG's either. "My friends and I played a lot of games; D&D, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rifts, Gurps, Robotech, Heroes Unlimited, Champions, Shadowrun, Amber. We even made a few or played storytelling games without dice," he said. Due to everyone's schedules Petersen says they opt for board games that can be finished in one sitting now, "Though the old crew has asked me to run a Mouse Guard adventure for them when the book comes out."

As to the actual game play for MG, Petersen says, "You still have a character sheet, roll dice to determine conflicts, act as a party and work towards a goal." The difference between MG and other RPG's is a large emphasis on not just stats, but developing your character to include as many details as possible. "Through a series of questions you answer as you create your characters, you develop who their parents were and what they did for a living, what your Guard mentor focused on in training, what all their names are, who you have good relations with, who you have poor relations with," he explained. Similar to having an alignment in D&D, in MG you have a belief. "Saxon's could easily be 'the best answer to any problem is found at the tip of my sword,'" commented Petersen, "Throughout the game you have to play your character that way. If not, there are mechanical rules to punish your behavior." Basically it's harder to do a task that's against your inner belief.

Now that you're thoroughly excited to play the MG RPG (like me!), when and where can you get it? "We are really hoping the printing can be done and in stock for Gen Con in August," said Petersen. Diamond has solicited the book so it will be easy to order it from your local comic shop. There's already a bit of MG merchandise out there already including the PVC set of Saxon, Lieam and Kenzie (who guard me from spiders at night), a statue of the trio and a plush Lieam. An oversized, slipcased, black-and-white version of Fall 1152 is in the works as well. "Unfortunately, the printing/proofing issues for the vellum inserts, embossed cover and slipcase have hurt the production turn around," said Petersen. It's aimed for a fall release. More regular issues of MG and a soft-cover of Fall 1152 are on the way following a restructuring at Archaia Studios Press

Possibly the most exciting answer to come out of my chat with David was the news that Mouse Guard is going to be made into a movie. "We have a producer attached and we are working with a screenwriter to adapt the Fall story and elaborate on it to make a film," said Petersen. The producer he's referring to is none other than David Kirschner. Besides producing all of the Chucky horror movies and one of my favorite films, Hocus Pocus, Kirschner has been involved in numerous animated features during his career such as Curious George, Titan A.E., and The Pagemaster. Coincidentally enough, Kirschner got his big break producing another film about mice; An American Tail. The MG movie is still in it's very early stages and so far there's no timetable for a release.

Besides being focused on all things Mouse Guard, Petersen has a children's book deal with Harper Collins. "[It's] about a rabbit who has to search for a Valentine's Day gift on a very snowy Valentine's Day morning," he explained. He said the release date for that probably won't be until 2011.

I don't just love Mouse Guard because it's adorable (very!), I love Mouse Guard for it's wonderful storytelling. It's my favorite non-superhero comic out there. Above is the delightful little sketch David drew for me at Wizard World Philly that I told you about earlier last week. He whipped this up for me in no time and I'll treasure it forever. He's a truly gifted artist and an all-around nice guy. If you've never read MG, do yourself a favor and pick up Fall 1152 for starters, you won't be disappointed.

Jun 5, 2008

The floor's on fire.

My copy of LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Trilogy was dropped at my doorstep yesterday. I showed an overwhelming amount of restraint by not playing it right away so I could finish my DC panel article. I however could not call out of work to play a video game so I only got to play the first board before I left the house today. What I did play was...wait for it...ADORABLE! (Clack, clack, clack, clack)

They hooked me immediately by letting Indy jump out of the school window to escape into the outside world and kept me going digging up artifacts. It was pretty much a given I was going to love this game, I love Indiana Jones and I loved the LEGO Star Wars games. I got it for my Nintendo DS because I think the LEGO series fits incredibly well with it. Even after completing Star Wars it's the game I'll most go back and play on the DS if I need a bit of fun.

The only downside so far I'm afraid to say has been the use of the whip. I know I only played one board but it takes some getting used to. It's easy enough to swing with it because it's basically done for you but as far as hitting things goes it's a bit difficult to aim directly. I resorted to punching the enemies I first came upon because the whip wasn't going anywhere near them. 

Anyway I'm off to play it probably into the early morning hours!

Oh, and I'd like to take a second to thank Redhead Fangirl for adding me to the Comic Blog Legion. Us redheads gotta stick together you know? 

Jun 4, 2008

DCU: Crisis Now! If not now, when?

Misdirection is a common form of deception often used in magic. Nothing up my sleeve, right? What people often forget is that misdirection is also a literary device most commonly used in detective novels. If you don't get my specific meaning there, I'll just go ahead and say that DC Comics is no stranger to misdirection.

Ok, was I being too vague? Of course by detective I'm referring to Batman. There couldn't be more misdirection going on in Batman R.I.P. if they tried. Possibly in an even further move towards that direction, the mysterious identity of the villain actually responsible for what's going on in that book wasn't mentioned once at Saturday's DC panel at Wizard World Philly. That's not to say that other huge story points weren't given away. Spoilers for the current and some of the future projects in the DCU ahead.

"I apologize if I'm gonna take six or seven of your questions. This really is the FINAL CRISIS. Ok? We're really going for it this time," said Senior VP/Executive Editor Dan Didio, "When we come out, we come out with a clear cohesive direction for the DCU." Didio led the DCU: Crisis Now panel that included Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler, Jimmy Palmiotti (Jonah Hex, Powergirl), Jim Calafiore (Gotham Underground, Batgirl mini-series), Tom Derenick (Reign In Hell), Shane Davis (Superman/Batman, Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns), Franco and Art Baltazar (Tiny Titans) and Ethan Van Sciver (Green Lantern, The Blackest Night). Didio gave the readers a guide to the coming crisis, "The official rule of Final Crisis is it doesn't cross off into the monthly series. Anything that takes place that has to deal with the particular story of Final Crisis is all going on in different mini-series and one-shots."

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond is one of the new mini-series and it's going to be a little different from the rest. "This is probably the thing Grant Morrison is most excited about, even more so than anything else, because he's gonna take Superman through the Multiverse and he gets to do it in 3-D," said Didio excitedly. That's right, you're going to be getting a pair of 3-D glasses with this issue. But wait, there's more. "It's not only just 3-D for us but it's also 3-D for Superman. He has his eye colors changed, one eye is blue and one eye is red," revealed Didio.

If you've been following the K story arc in Superman/Batman you've only got one issue left. Artist Shane Davis hopes everyone has been enjoying it and says we're all going to be surprised by the ending. "There's been hints at things in every issue that I haven't really seen anybody pick up on on the message board at all," he said. "You shouldn't be reading those things, you know that right?" scolded Didio.

Conversation did eventually turn to Batman R.I.P. but Didio didn't need to bother telling us about it. Instead he had a fan fill everyone in on what's been going on. This actually happened a few times during the panel, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. A fan also thanked Didio for bringing back Stephanie Brown, a.k.a Spoiler. Didio said you're welcome but continued ominously, "It's nice to bring somebody back in case somebody else goes away." When Stephanie returned in the last issue of Robin it all seemed a bit too easy. "You might have gotten a neat little answer there but there's a lot more intrigue that comes out from this story," Didio explained, "It's not that simple." If you thought you'd start getting your answers in this weeks Robin/Spoiler Special, you were wrong, that was just some alone time for the pair.

Of course Batman is also involved in DC's new weekly series Trinity, along with Superman and Wonder Woman, in stores today. The first half of the book is told by the same creative team every issue, Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley but the second half will change. "We don't even want to call it a back-up anymore," said Didio, "it's really a story that supports what's going on in the front without focusing on the three leads."

Reign in Hell is a new mini-series that will involve most, if not all of the magic characters in the DCU. Keith Giffen is the writer and Tom Derenick is now the artist. "[Keith] has a vision for what the DC Universe's version of Hell should look like and feel like and it's nothing you've ever seen before," Derenick said, "Think H.R. Giger on acid." A fan asked if there was any chance of tying DC's hell into Vertigo's hell. "The easy answer is, no chance in hell," laughed Didio.

The subject of Barry Allen was eventually brought up. A fan talked about him like he was already back to which Didio had to respond, "Did we ever officially say Barry Allen is coming back?" Didio posed the question to Ethan van Sciver who got very scared and didn't want to be asked about it. Ian Sattler didn't want to be asked either so Didio settled on this hypothetical situation, "If Barry Allen ever came back, a perfect place for him to come back is the middle of a major crisis event. Just the same way, but if we did a Final Crisis it should not just be about one Flash, but ALL Flashes." Bart too? "All Flashes," Didio put simply. 

As far as a new creative team for the Flash goes Didio was trying to pass the buck, "Um, I don't know, Ethan, what's going on with Flash?" Van Sciver replied emphatically, "Don't ask me!" The games continued later on in the panel after a fan asked Van Sciver about Plastic Man, which he said is shelved for now. "I just have something really big that I'm working on now that I'm NOT GONNA TALK ABOUT," Van Sciver said, raising his voice. Assumptions should not be made, Van Sciver is also rumored to be working on something with Wonder Woman writer Gail Simone.

As usual, there was a lightning round for fans to ask yes or no questions. Here are a few:

Is Damien really Bruce's son? - Met with silence and uncomfortable looking faces.
Will Selina Kyle ever emerge again in Bruce Wayne's life? - Yes (We saw her in todays issue of Detective Comics and she was PISSED.)
Martian Manhunter really dead? - Yes. Sorry.
Barry Allen coming back? - Yes.
Will Barbara Gordon walk again? - No. Never. (Thank you Dan!)

Shane Davis, Franco and Art Baltazar

On the less serious side of comics we have the new kid-friendly Tiny Titans series by Art Baltazar and Franco. There seems to be almost no limit on the team members they might be using, not to mention the cuteness level. Blue Beetle apparently has a talking back-pack. "They just think he's a weird kid," said Baltazar. A fan asked if Terra would be making an appearance, Baltazar responded, "She throws rocks." Though Dan Didio had to give the team a call at one point to ask them why the Tiny Titans were going to be in outer-space, "[Baltazar] said, 'Oh, they're flying home to Starfire's house to clean her room,' I'm like, oh ok that makes sense." But will Connor Kent be showing up? "Maybe in their hearts for right now," says Baltazar.

At one point a female fan asked where the long-awaited All-Star Batgirl was. "J.G. got a little busy," said Ian Sattler. That wasn't a good enough answer for her though and she continued to press for answers as to it's completion. "Actually it's fully complete, we all have copies, we're not sharing it with you," joked Didio, "Now that you put it that way, we're NEVER going to share it with you."

Some of the other women from the DCU will be getting some more attention soon. Arist Jim Calafiore will be doing a Batgirl mini-series that he says will address the changes she went through in the One Year Later stories. It will also include a new character who is a relative of hers. While living in Wayne Manor, "She's not supposed to be going out and doing any super-heroing," said Calafiore. But of course she can't help herself. The much talked about, but rarely seen, new Batwoman will apparently be making an appearance in Final Crisis: Revelations fighting Killer Croc.

Jimmy Palmiotti couldn't pull himself away from the innuendoes to tell us much about the new Powergirl series he's working on with Amanda Connor. "Everything about this book is big," he said, "We also have in your face action. I could go on ALL day." He pretty much did, Ian Sattler started to wrestle the mic away from him whenever Powergirl came up.

Magic is also considered an art that entertains. Captain Carrot and the Final Ark was definitely an entertaining little series. Any plans to pick up on it's mysterious ending? Didio hopes so, "Did we ever announce the Zatanna book?" The panel became confused. Did they just slip up? It was said something with Paul Dini and Zatanna was a possibility during the NY Comic Con panel but no, nothing had actually been announced. Didio needed to go hypothetical again, "If Zatanna had her own book, you might see something along those lines somewhere down the road. Just saying if."

Now have you seen through my clever ruse? I used the art of misdirection on you just like any great magician would have. I told you everything that was going on in the DCU just so I'd be able to tell you Zatanna is getting her own book. !ahctoG ;-)

Jun 3, 2008

Grab the handle, push the button.

Season three of the Venture Bros. premiered Sunday night on the Cartoon Network, without the Venture brothers or the Venture father for that matter.

The season opener consisted mainly of The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend being interrogated by the Guild of Calamitous Intent with the Henchmen and Brock thrown in as well. Don't get me wrong, I thought the episode was hilarious but what an odd choice to not include any of the Ventures.

Director/Creator Christopher McCulloch, a.k.a. Jackson Publick recently did an interview with the NY Daily News where, besides chatting about the new season, he weighed in on the new Indiana Jones film. "I think yet another of my inner children died," he said. According to the Daily News, Publick and his partner-in-crime Doc Hammer almost forgot to get excited about the premiere episode because they are so busy. The team won't be taking a break between seasons three and four. "Everyone is too busy to notice and even the premiere party is going to be a week late," said Publick.

Besides the show itself, Publick and Hammer have something really fun for fans who have been starving for some kind of Venture Bros. merchandise: The Official Venture Bros. Shirt of the Week Club. In a plan of pure marketing genius, the guys have decided to sell a new t-shirt each week to correspond with each new episode this season. Once the week is over, the shirt will no longer be sold. Thirteen shirts for thirteen episodes. You can buy any one you want separately or you could join the actual club, receive all thirteen plus a bonus fourteenth that will only be offered to subscribers. I don't have $250 to spend on t-shirts but I will keep a look-out each week a pick up a few of them that I like the most.

Jun 2, 2008

Wizard World Philly In Pictures

I hadn't originally planned on attending Wizard World Philly. Then I remembered, I'm too poor to go to the San Diego Comic Con, so why not? I had everything set to go when I realized, I didn't have anyone to go with.

It wasn't that no one wanted to go, it was just that no one could go. I'll say it, there were a few shameless bribes but even my friend Chuck turned down the free fun. Oh well, I wasn't going to let that stop me. What might have, however, was the fact that I underestimated the Pennsylvania Convention Center's camouflaging ability. I don't know if I came at it from the wrong angle or what but I had no idea I was driving through the center until I came out the other side. There were no handicap spots right out front either which didn't help. And then it started to rain. I did manage to find street parking just a few blocks away but walking in the rain was not pleasant. At that point I was glad I decided not to go in costume. Finally I was in, I could dry off and...F#@%! I left my Nerdy Bird business cards in the car. Out and back one more time then.

Once I was back in the building I dried off my scooter and headed to the floor just in time to see this girl's father telling her to beat up Black Manta. Now as entertaining as that is by itself, I'm curious, where does one buy a Black Manta head? Is there a factory that churns these out? Conversely, how would one go about making a Black Manta head? I'm always impressed at what cosplayers can do but stuff like this is particularly intriguing. I've seen Storm Trooper uniforms for sale but I've not once come across a Black Manta head. Also, how do you see? If anyone knows the answer I really want to know.

I got to the convention a bit later than I had planned so I took a quick spin around the floor before I headed to the DC panel (more on that later in the week). I stopped in my tracks when I saw a full-size Tardis. I'm usually pretty good at taking pictures of myself but there was no way I'd get the whole thing in with me. Luckily I notice a gentleman taking his own picture of the Tardis. I asked him if he wouldn't mind taking a picture of me. He took one and showed it to me. Hmm, he didn't get the top of the Tardis in. I asked him to take another one but hold it length-wise. I assumed that was the problem. He came back and showed me an almost identical picture. He was so nice, I didn't have the heart to ask him to take another one. 

Don't worry, I didn't cut my hair (yet), it's just not showing here. Don't you just love my flaming roots though?

Storm Trooper action figures come with their own back-drop!

Lou Ferrigno, the Hulk, appeared along the row of wrestlers at the convention. His arm was the size of my head and that's saying something. He'll be making an appearance in The Incredible Hulk this month.

The Delaware Valley LEGO Users Group had an impressive booth set up. It had lots of things I love, Batman, a Tardis and Storm Trooper LEGO men! I didn't even know they made them, now I want one. It's a good thing they had Plexiglas up or else I might have been tempted to swipe their Poison Ivy. She's a hard one to find.

I adore Dobby but I don't think I'd ever be able to fall asleep with this in my room.

Considering I went alone I had a pretty good time. I got to meet a lot of cool people for the first time like Luke from The Quarter Bin and Mark Torres and Mike from The Comic Book Novice     weekly radio show, which you can listen to online if you're not in their area. Mark is also writing The Chosen Few, a comic penciled by Jade Smith and inks by Peter Palmiotti and Michael St. Martin.

Speaking of artists, the highlight of the convention for me was getting to chat with Mouse Guard creator David Petersen. I didn't know he was at the NY Comic Con until the last day I was there and then I kept missing him so I was overjoyed to see him sitting here in artist's alley. We had a really nice chat and I was fortunate enough to walk away with an adorable little sketch that will make me happy every time I look at it. I'll have more on David later in the week as well.

Thanks to everyone at Wizard World Philly for making my first convention with you a pleasant one. Now that I know where to find you, I'll be back.

Jun 1, 2008


Some very upsetting news has reached my ears today. The Courthouse Square set used in Back to the Future was destroyed in a fire early this morning.

The fire started around 5 a.m. in Universal City, California. The Universal Studios Hollywood theme park was closed for most of the day as a result. Damaged or destroyed in the fire were their King Kong attraction, a New York street set, an alley from The Sting and Courthouse Square.

A video vault was also severely burned in the fire although another vault containing master versions of classic movies was able to be salvaged in time. Tens of thousands of videos were lost but copies are in existence. Universal Studios' president Ron Meyer said, "Nothing irreplaceable was lost." The cause of the fire has yet to be determined at this time.

The Courthouse Square set was not only used for the Back to the Future films. Scenes were shot there for famous movies like, To Kill a Mockingbird, Bye, Bye Birdie, Gremlins, Weird Science, and Batman & Robin as well as televisions shows like The Twilight Zone, Knight Rider and most recently, Ghost Whisperer.

The Back to the Future series are some of my favorite movies of all time. When I found out years ago that the Clocktower set was a permanent part of Universal I knew I'd have to go one day to visit it. They have a tour that goes through that and a few other sets. Looks like I waited too long. I suggest watching Back to the Future tonight in memoriam.