Nov 29, 2010

Spider-Man's Broadway Debut Needs a Rescue

It won't officially open until January 11 but Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark debuted on Broadway last night in previews and let's just say Peter Parker needs to work out a few kinks in his webbing.

The musical had been plagued by delays for almost a year, not the least of which was running out of money, but as they say "the show must go on" and sure enough, it finally did. Only not as perfectly as anyone involved would have hoped. The New York Times reported the show stopping five times throughout the performance due to technical difficulties. And when I say technical difficulties, I don't mean someone's microphone cutting out, I mean stars of the show including Spider-Man himself Reeve Carney was left dangling from wires just feet above the audience.

"The fourth and final pause at the end of Act I was the worst glitch of the night by far. Spider-Man had just flown and landed onstage with the musical’s heroine, Mary Jane Watson (played by Jennifer Damiano), in his arms," said The New York Times, "He was then supposed to zoom off toward the balcony seating area, a few hundred feet away. Instead, a harness and cables lifted Spider-Man several yards up and over the audience, then stopped. A production stage manager, C. Randall White, called for a halt to the show over the sound system, apparently in hopes of fixing and re-doing the stunt."

As if that wasn't bad enough, the show, which started late, was met with vocal disapproval from an audience member who was seemingly fed up. "Act II began shortly after 9 p.m. and unfolded fairly smoothly until about 50 minutes later, when Mr. White called for a pause. After a few minutes, as some audience members were stretching, a woman in the audience suddenly shouted, 'I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I feel like a guinea pig today — I feel like it’s a dress rehearsal.' She was met with a chorus of boos."

With all the money put into Turn Off the Dark ($65 million, the most expensive Broadway budget ever) and the combined musical talent of U2's Bono, The Edge and Tony Award-winning director Julie Taymor you'd think the show would have been better prepared by now. Although Carney thought the performance was a success, he revealed one reason why things didn't go so smoothly.

"We all tried our best to stay focused,” he told after the show. "That was the first time we’ve gone all the way through the show. We were writing some new stuff today. Now that we’ve run through it, I’m excited to know where it stands." The FIRST TIME they went all through the show? Writing new stuff TODAY? My middle school performance of Cinderella was better prepared.

Although many audience members were disappointed (some even asking for refunds) it's important to note that the show is in previews which means hitches are expected. It wasn't a total bust though, several of the smaller show-goers were impressed. "Parts of it were really exciting,” a six-year-old Jack Soldano told the New York Times. "I’ve never seen people flying before."

What's your opinion? Are huge technical failures expected for a new show or do you think the show should have been perfected before debuting? This is Broadway after all. Were you planning on seeing it and has your decision changed since hearing the reviews?

Nov 24, 2010

Hey, That's My Cape! - Evaluating Week One of the BATMANs

A few months ago I said too many Batmen could spoil the cowl , but where do things stand now that Bruce is finally back in town? Last week I picked up four Batman comics: Batman: The Return, Batman Incorporated, Batman: Streets of Gotham and Batman. Let’s see what conclusions I can jump to about the state of affairs already.

Read my thoughts on the first week of DC's Batman extravaganza in this week's Hey, That's My Cape! at Newsarama.

Nov 23, 2010

Complete Batman Beyond on DVD Today!

Terry McGinnis made a big splash earlier this year with his own Batman Beyond mini-series at DC Comics. In fact, it was so popular it's been turned into an ongoing title. So it's perfect timing that Batman Beyond: The Complete Series is out on DVD today.

I've already got my hands on one of these 9-disc limited edition sets and let me tell you, it is awesome. It's got all 52 episodes, creator commentary, a collectible art booklet plus 95 minutes of other special features including the Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics documentary. Makes me with I had the Batman: The Animated Series set to match.

Actor Will Friedle, the voice of McGinnis and more recently Blue Beetle in Batman: The Brave and The Bold, says his favorite part of the series was when he recorded "Return of the Joker." "Sitting between Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill for five days was pretty incredible. I learned more about being a voiceover actor in those five days than I did in the five months before that," he said, "Just watching the two of them work – how Mark got so into the character, completely losing himself in that role. And then there’s Kevin with that deep, booming voice, always sitting with his back straight and working perfectly with the microphone. It was an education."

Friedle also commented he couldn't wait to get the new script each week. "The character development was outstanding – from the new villains they’d invent to the way they brought back the old villains. And the way they treated Terry and Bruce, and their relationship. The casting was phenomenal, but even the greatest actors can’t make bad writing good – so it all comes down to what was on the page, and that’s where Batman Beyond became a great show."

Like many of us, Friedle was a big fan of Batman Beyond's precursor, Batman: The Animated Series. "This was pre-Tivo, so this was one of those shows where you had to see it every day. You didn’t want to miss an episode," he said, "So when I got a call to be the voice of a new Batman, and the series was being made with the entire team that did Batman: The Animated Series, well, that was huge."

Only a chosen few can say they've played Batman and Friedle feels especially lucky to be among them. "At the time we were doing Batman Beyond, I thought the coolest thing was telling my nephews I was Batman and not being lying to them," he said, "One time, my oldest nephew Huck came out from Brooklyn. He pulled me aside and said 'Look uncle Will, I want you to know I’m six now. I think I’m old enough to see the Batcave.' He actually thought I was Batman, which is very cool. It can’t get much better for an uncle."

Batman Beyond: The Complete Series is on sale in stores and online today.

Nov 22, 2010

Superheroes Re-imagined as Mr. Men

Ahh, nostalgia. Nothing gets us 70s and 80s-born kids excited like seeing a treasure from our childhood reemerge in some clever way. Mix it with another pop-culture item we love? Even better. Remember the Mr. Men and Little Miss series of books by Roger Hargreaves? You know, Mr. Messy, Little Miss Sunshine, etc. Well graphic Designer Steven Anderson (aka SevenHundred) has adapted their wonderful cover style to depict our favorite superheroes instead.

"I'm a 30 year old geek with an overactive imagination, a lack of interest in growing up and a pocketful of doodles and sketches," says Anderson on his Flickr profile, "I pretend to be a professional graphic designer from 9ish to 5. I stay in Glasgow with my girlfriend, cat and rapidly growing t-shirt collection." Sound like a lot of us, doesn't it? Without further ado, here's a sampling of the 82 designs he put together.

If you want to see the rest head on over to According to that site Anderson says, "The idea basically sparked from the realisation that Mr Happy from the Mr Men, looks a lot like the Comedians badge from Watchmen… and a quick doodle of this lead to the question 'Who Watches the Mr Men?' and assigning various Mr Men personalities to their Alan Moore counterparts…The Mr Bat/Batman & Mr Spider/Spider-man characters just kind of came to me as an extension of the Watchmen/Mr Men. I wish there was some kind of deep, profound meaning behind it, my childhood book collections colliding or it being a comment on the major personality traits of main stream comic characters… but really, they are just fun little re-imaginings."

Nov 19, 2010

The Evolution of Neville Longbottom

Leading up to the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, lots of people were buzzing around the famous trio - Harry, Ron and Hermione. We saw lots of galleries of the actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson and how their appearances changed through the years. But what about the Boy Who Could Have Been - Neville Longbottom? Actor Matthew Lewis may have undergone the most remarkable physical changes of the entire Harry Potter cast and I've yet to come across a gallery showing it. So I made one. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you, "The Evolution of Neville Longbottom."

In 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowlings marvelous world was brought to life for all to see. In the book, Neville was described as round-faced, short and plump with bucked teeth and Lewis fit the bill. Although down the road we learned he was fitted for false teeth and had his ears made to stick out in order to better look the part. He also wore shoes two sizes too big in order to make him appear clumsy.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, released just a year after the first film, meant the child actors didn't have much time to grow. But then...

Two years later in 2004's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Lewis, like many other members of the cast, had his growth spirt. In fact, when I first saw it, I remember not even recognizing him during the first twenty minutes of the film.

In 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Lewis grew slightly and took on the shaggy haired look Radcliffe and Grint also had in the film.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix arrived two years later. By that time, no one knew whether to call the male actors men or boys and some of us where having inappropriate thoughts for women of our age. Not me. Not for Neville anyway. Not yet.

Times were already dark for the wizarding world but in 2009's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, things got even worse. Neville was still used for comedic effect but he was also continuing to come into his own.

Now we come to the penultimate film in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Neville doesn't actually have much screen time this go around but if you've read the books you know to expect much more of him in Part 2.

And finally we come to Neville as he appears today. Or should I saw how Matthew Lewis looks today. Here he is at the premiere of Deathly Hallows last week in London. Sans Hogwarts gear, false teeth or fat suit of course. And may I say, without fear of incarceration now, he's looking quite dashing. Who could have predicted chubby faced Neville would turn out to be the best looking of the bunch? I see leading man in his future.

Nov 18, 2010

Eat Like Harry Potter

Anyone who's read the Harry Potter series knows it's not wise to do so on an empty stomach. Author J.K. Rowling is just as good at making our mouths water as she is keeping us on the edge of our seats. If you've ever found yourself craving the delectable items she included in her many Hogwarts feast scenes, now is your chance to taste them for real thanks to Dinah Bucholz's The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook!

I couldn't help but squee with joy when I first heard about this book. It's got every meal and dessert from the Harry Potter books you could ever want to taste. According to the book's website, "The more than 150 recipes were thoroughly researched and developed to please the modern American palate. Each recipe also is preceded by a short, colorful description of that dish in British culinary history."

It's hard to know where to start once you pick up the book, there's so many amazing dishes. Chapter One is titled "Good Food with Bad Relatives" and if you haven't already guessed, includes food eaten (or not eaten as the case may be) by Harry while living with the Dursley's. In it you'll find recipes for English Fried Eggs and a Gammon of Bacon, Knickerbocker Glory and Petunia's Pudding among others. Chapter Two, "Delights Down the Alley," will yield you such Diagon Alley treats as Pattington Burgers and Crumpets. Chapter Three, "Treats From the Train," brings us two of the most famous wizarding treats. First and foremost: Pumpkin Pasties, something that would make a great addition to Thanksgiving dinner if you ask me. You can also find a recipe for the ever-famous Pumpkin Juice in this chapter.

Chocolate Pumpkin Tart

Chapter Four: "Recipes From a Giant and an Elf" Hagrid may not be known for his cooking skills but that doesn't mean his creations aren't delicious in real life. Rock Cakes and Treacle Fudge come from him while you can try Kreacher's French Onion Soup or Beef Stew With Herb Dumplings. Chapter Five, "The Favorite Cook's Dishes," features the delectable creations of Mrs. Molly Weasley. How about Any-Nut Nut Brittle, Mince PIes or Vol-au-Vents? Chapter Six, "Breakfast Before Class," shows us a few of Hogwarts finest morning accoutrements like Fried Tomatoes, Sweet Orange Marmalade and Kippers.

Chapter Seven brings us to "Lunch and Dinner in the Dining Hall." Here you'll find recipes for Yorkshire Pudding, Chiddingly Hotpot and Sausage Rolls. Chapter Eight, "Desserts and Snacks at School," is my favorite section by far. Lemon Drops, Peppermint Humbugs, Treacle Tart (Harry's favorite) and Custard Creams are among the recipes for the sweet-tooth in all of us. Chapter Nine, "Holiday Fare," will come in handy this time of year. Try making Homemade Marshmallows, Christmas Trifle and Goulash. Finally, Chapter Ten gives us Hogsmeade specialties in "Treats in the Village." Acid Drops (aka Acid Pops), Cocunut Ice and Sugar Mice are just waiting to be devoured.

Whew! I told you it had everything. Bucholz is definitely dedicated to both Harry Potter and cooking and I thank her profusely for having the passion and drive to put this book together. Now I'm going to go eat something because I dangerously started writing this blog on an empty stomach. :)

Nov 17, 2010

Hey, That's My Cape! - Dissecting the Green Lantern Trailer

The trailer has landed ladies and gentlemen. Eight months from now we’ll be sitting in theaters watching Green Lantern, hopefully enjoying every minute of it. Though after seeing the first trailer that was released yesterday, some fans have mixed feelings. Myself included.

Warner Bros. hasn’t been shy on the details of the film thus far. We know many of our favorite Green Lantern characters will make cameos if not play starring roles. The great part about the trailer is how much of them we get to see. The not-so-great part of the trailer is how fast it goes. Luckily that’s what freeze-frame is for.

Head to Newsarama for this week's Hey, That's My Cape! to watch if you haven't already, and check out my breakdown.

Paul Levitz Puts 75 Years of DC Comics In One Huge Book

Former President and Publisher of DC Comics, Paul Levitz has lived and breathed comics his entire adult life. A comics fan magazine that he co-wrote and published in high school, The Comic Reader, led to his first job with the mega-publisher that is DC. With DC celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Levitz took on the incredible task of writing about its numerous characters, authors and artists and their impact on the world.

From Taschen Books, 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking is a mammoth tome you won’t be able to miss on the shelves of your local store. In fact, it will probably need it’s own table.

Read all about the ginormous (and seriously gorgeous) book and the hard work that went into it in my interview with Levitz at Publishers Weekly's Comics Week.

Nov 16, 2010

Biff Tannen's World

In Back to the Future II, Marty McFly returns to 1985 only to realize it's not his 1985 but an alternate 1985 where Biff Tannen is all-powerful and Hill Valley is a run down slum. After stumbling through town, Marty ends up at the doors of the "Biff Tannen Museum" where he looks on in horror as a video monitor shows the last 30 years of Biff's life, including him tonguing Marty's mom down on their wedding day. After all these years, the full video has finally been released to the public. recently uncovered this copy of the footage:
The 3½ minute segment was digitized from an old VHS tape which had been saved by a Back to the Future fan with family connections to the film production at the time the sequels were shot in 1989-1990. To date, the following clip is not available on any other commercial collection, including the recently released 25th Anniversary Trilogy Blu-ray Disc and DVD boxed sets.
DAMN YOU FAMILY CONNECTED FAN! Why couldn't you have brought this to their attention sooner??

Either way it's a very cool thing for BTTF fans to see. My favorite party has to be the black and white footage of Biff in kindergarten, "See Biff's humble beginnings and how he became a dominant figure among his school playmates." smacking them in the face.

If you're looking for more fun BTTF trivia and tidbits, check out another recent post by Bob Gale (writer of the films) who took some time to debunk certain myths and misinformation spread about the films over the years. Lots of interesting stuff but most importantly there's this:
There will not be a Back to the Future Part IV nor a remake of the original.

As both Robert Zemeckis and I have stated repeatedly over the years, we have no plans or desires to make another Back to the Future movie -- not a Part 4, nor a remake of Part 1. Nor does Universal or Amblin Entertainment have any such plans. How do we know? Because, per our contracts with these companies, no Back to the Future sequel or remake can even be scripted without discussing it with us first. No such discussions have taken place. We are very proud of the Trilogy as it stands and we want to leave it as is.
Thank god someone in Hollywood still has some sense.

Nov 12, 2010

Zombie Noir Gets an AWAKENING in New Graphic Novel

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead may be the talk of the town these days but it isn’t the only zombie comic book on the shelves. From Archaia Comics, Nick Tapalansky and Alex Eckman-Lawn’s Awakening stands out from the proverbial shambling horde by giving us something that’s certainly unique – Zombie Noir. And it just so happens that Volume Two is hitting stores this week.

“What I wanted to do was utilize the zombie backdrop in a meaningful and slowed down way, something which would allow the characters to first have to come to grips with what's happening, and then search for a cause and solution while the pressure slowly increased,” said Tapalansky, writer of Awakening. “It allowed us to get deep into these characters' heads to see where they were coming from, what they believed, and how issues from their pasts were impacting how they dealt with what was in front of them.”

Read the rest of the interview with Tapalansky and Awakening artist Alex Eckman-Lawn at Newsarama!

Nov 11, 2010

Hey, That's My Cape! - Return of the Dapper Men

If a girl gushing over something she loves offends you, I suggest you click away now, because I’ve read Return of the Dapper Men.

I’d leave it at that but I don’t think my boss would like it too much if my column were only one sentence this week. But honestly? That’s the bottom line, I LOVED Return of the Dapper Men. Even though I’ve heard nothing but excellent things about the new graphic novel from Archaia Comics, I somehow managed to keep myself on the fringe of what it was actually all about, so I was pleasantly surprised when I jumped in.

Check out my review in this week's Hey, That's My Cape! at Newsarama.

The Cape

Not that I want to put my faith in another superhero series on NBC but after watching this I may just have to tune in for the first episode of The Cape.

There hasn't been much talk about The Cape since San Diego Comic-Con in July which leads me to worry slightly for the show already but it's set as a midseason replacement. Here's NBC's official summary:
Officer Vince Faraday was a good cop trying to clean up a corrupt city. Framed for murder and left for dead, he suddenly found himself separated from his wife and son and forced into hiding. Now, inspired by his son's favorite comic book hero, he's taking the law into his own hands, and playing a deadly game of chess with the powerful kingpin who framed him. With the hope of one day reuniting with his family, The Cape is sending a loud message to all criminals... run.
Sounds like regular ol' comic book, right? The star of the show is David Lyons who had a previous relationship with NBC starring as Dr. Simon Brenner on E.R. And of course a superhero story wouldn't be complete without villains. In steps James Frain (formerly psycho vampire Franklin Mott from True Blood) and Vinnie Jones (Snatch, X-Men: The Last Stand). Jones plays a reptilian criminal called Scales while Frain is a billionaire who calls himself Chess. Best of all? The Cape also stars Summer Glau! She's an investigative blogger who joins with Faraday to help clean up the city.

"No one has any real powers. It’s about cunning and skill. It’s very serious in its intent. But it’s also light in the way it’s played," Frain told Entertainment Weekly. "It is closer to Batman in that the people don’t have powers. Supervillain equals job security as long as people like the show and we get picked up."

So, do you think you'll give The Cape a shot if and when it airs? Do you think it will grab an audience and stay on the air for a few seasons like Heroes did?

Nov 9, 2010

The Man Behind Semantink Publishing

You see interview after interview from the people behind-the-scenes at comic book publishers like Marvel and DC and by now you probably know their business as well as they do. But what about the smaller, up-and-coming publishers? How do they work, what are their struggles? I got up-close and personal with Semantink Publishing's Director of Publishing Benjamin Glibert in an e-mail interview recently to discuss the inner workings of the company, what they look for in potential properties and how it all got started.

Jill Pantozzi: When was Semantink formed and by whom? Where did the idea first come from?

Benjamin Glibert: Early in 2009, SanBox Inc., a media solutions firm from San Diego, was looking to expand and start a secondary corporation. There were several ideas from film to publishing to games, but it had to be a company that could not only stand on it's own two feet, but also help SanBox with their own endeavors. Eventually they decided on creating a publishing house.

I knew the gents running SanBox from college, and they knew that I had a passion for books, especially comics. I pitched them on the idea of making Semantink a small press comic book publisher that emphasizes quality of quantity. Three months later, Semantink was officially born with the release of MYTHOI.

JP: What's your personal history with comic books?

BG: I've been in love with comic books since I was a kid. A friend gave me a copy of GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD DAWN #2, and I've been hooked ever since. I'm pretty sure I could build a very impressive fort with all the long boxes I have hiding in my garage.

My favorite part about comic books is that there are always new worlds to explore and enjoy. I remember thinking I'd outgrown comics in high school, then I read one issue of PREACHER, and was sucked right back in. The same thing happened in college, but CASANOVA brought me back.

JP: As an independent publisher, what have been your biggest struggles? Has anything come easier than expected?

Without a doubt, the hardest part about being an independent publisher has been getting our name out into the public consciousness. It doesn't matter how good our books are if no one is reading them. There are so many amazing books out there for public consumption, we really have to push hard to show people that not only are our books worthwhile, but available.

On the flip side, I never would have guessed that there were so many talented individuals looking to break into comics. Daniel Touchet, the artist for our web-comic THE UNDERGROUNDS, and next year's SIM-I, was a guy that I'd known for years, but had no idea he even had an inclination towards drawing, let alone an aptitude for it. One day, he just comes up to me and starts showing me page after page of this amazing artwork.

JP: What are some of the lessons you've learned from other publishers, big and small, positives and negatives?

BG: Something that I learned early on is that the established way is not always the best way. The great thing about starting a company from scratch is that you don't come in with any preconceived ideas about how things need to get done. As an example, right out of the gate I knew that we wanted to push our single issue books digitally. When we started, digital comic books were growing, but the big companies like Marvel and DC hadn't embraced the tech yet, and companies like Image and IDW were just coming around on it.

Something that I've really tried to stay away from with Semantink is publishing books just to have them out on the shelves. It used to drive me crazy when I'd go to the LCS and see books on the shelves that were rushed out, or unoriginal, or just plain boring. With the variety of stories available, I hate to feel nickel & dimed when I get my comics. I've really tried to make Semantink a place that takes the time to craft a full story, from beginning to end. I want make sure that readers never get cheated.

JP: What are your responsibilities as Director of Publishing for Semantink?

BG: My responsibilities fall into three main categories, brand growth, talent acquisition, and financial stability.

A large part of my job is finding ways to make Semantink a name that people know, looking for new avenues of distribution and recognition. Whether it's through social networking sites like twitter or facebook, hitting up conventions, or obtaining distribution from companies like or, even if its just hosting our monthly meet-up group in San Diego, there's a thousand different ways to get our name out there, I just have to find them.

I'm also in charge of bringing on talent for the properties that we own and finding new stories to publish. We've been fortunate enough to acquire the rights to several stories, so I'm not just looking for finished work a la Image, but trying to bring in the right guys to make the properties we do own flourish.

Financial stability is by far the most tedious (yet most important) part of the job. I have to make sure that we stay in the black. If we go into the red, that's it for Semantink, and I really don't want that to happen. It's been such a great ride so far, I'd hate for it to end soon.

JP: What do you look for in creators and/or properties?

BG: When I'm looking at a potential property, there are several things that I try to consider. Is there a niche for this comic? Is it marketable? Someone might have a great idea for a comic based on the life of a tapeworm, but will people want to read it? I also want to make sure that a property has been thought out. I want to know where the story is going to go, not hope that the writer has thought out the ending.

When I'm looking to bring a creator onto a book, passion is the number one thing that I want to see. Technical skill is important, but if you love the material, you are going to put out your best work. A great example of this is the team that we have on our book, THE HEAVENS. James Ninness and Turbo Qualls would talk for hours on end, creating this entirely new world, and every time I would talk to one of them, they would be even more excited about the project. I want to know that people are going to be putting out the best work possible, not for money, but because they love the story and want readers to love it as well.

Nov 8, 2010

Awkward Embraces

GEEK GIRLS BEWARE: This might make you snort.

I present to geek girl and guy alike, Awkward Embraces, a web series by Project A Productions that shows us why so many of us are single. And it's because, well, we're nerds.

I happened upon this one after series star Jessica Mills, who might be my new favorite person, added me on Twitter. "Ok, I'll check out one episode," I thought, their website did say "Nerdy girls need love too" after all and I'm a big supporter of that statement. I spent the next hour or so watching the rest of season one and laughing my ass off.

Jessica, along with Candis Phlegm and Lyndsey Doolan, create a perfect trio of single ladies looking for love and getting themselves into extremely awkward situations. Awkward for them, hilarious for us. The series is about dating so you may be wondering where the nerdy stuff comes in. Well, Jessica is a huge geek girl. Star Trek (watch out for episode 6), Comic-Con, the whole deal. Sometimes that makes for great chemistry with her would-be suitor, sometimes they run away. Far, far away.

So ladies (and gentlemen), give this one a shot. I'm sure a lot of you will relate. And don't forget to check out the real life awkward dating stories sent in by fans for the actors to read. Some of them are as funny as the episodes.

Now where's my cameo...

Nov 3, 2010

Hey, That's My Cape! - 30 Characters, 30 Days

Whoever said comic creators were just reusing the same old characters and story ideas over and over again?

OK, lots of people. But that’s beside the point. The point is there are tons of creative folks out there just waiting to flex their imaginations to the breaking point all in the name of art. Who are these mad men and women? They are the participants in this year’s “30 Characters, 30 Days.”

What is it and who's participating? Find out by reading this week's Hey, That's My Cape! at Newsarama.

Nov 1, 2010

Talking The Walking Dead

I thought I was prepared. I'd read the comics. I'd ordered in. I turned all the lights off. And then I saw it. A female zombie crawling along the ground with only the upper half of her body left. I immediately put down my food. It's official. I've wussed out.

I'm really not a squeamish person at all but last night seems to have changed all that. In case you've been living under a rock, the event I'm referring to last night was the premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC. Let me start off by saying, it was FREAKING OUT OF THIS WORLD GOOD. Like many others I expected it to be and was not disappointed. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show broke AMC's ratings records with 5.3 million people tuning in for the 90-minute premiere. And, if you count the two subsequent repeat viewings that night it had 8.3 million according to Robert Kirkman, writer of the original comic (who must be pretty happy right now). This is fantastic news for comic book adaptations.

I haven't read all of The Walking Dead yet but I have read the first few books so I had a good idea what was coming in this episode. The atmosphere was perfect. You can thank director Frank Darabont for that. He expressed the exact tone of the comic and made the introduction to this new world easy for non-readers. My hope is that the non-comic reading zombie fans out there will love the show so much that they'll go pick up the comics as a result. (In which case...)

As far as my weak stomach is concerned, well, you can thank the little lady above. I was doing fine until we got to her. You see where the picture cuts off? Yeah, that's basically where she ends. I never thought it would happen to me but I had to put down my food after that scene. The rest of the premiere lends itself to the usual zombie look/violence but for some reason this did it to me. Regardless, the zombies looked amazing. I've never seen them look so...for lack of a better word, normal. It felt acceptable that they could be walking the streets.

This is fantastic news for comic book adaptations. It opens the door for comic series that wouldn't stand a chance of making it in the theaters but just might find a perfect home in television. Take for instance Fables. Though it was announced late 2008 it would become a series on ABC and has yet to be developed, it will allow for continual storytelling far past one two-hour film.

The Washington Post asks, "Have we found our next Lost?" Although The Walking Dead is on cable I'd have to say yes. This is the kind of show that will keep audiences riveted from week to week, especially if they've never picked up the comic. The 90-minute premiere felt like a whole movie and we've barely scratched the tip of the iceberg. We've all got a lot to look forward to as long as AMC can keep up this level of quality television. I'm just not sure if my heart can take it every week. Or my stomach.