Author: Kaylee Byram

Evan Rachel Wood and Chris Evans Star in Frank Miller’s Gucci Commercial

Evan Rachel Wood and Chris Evans Star in Frank Miller’s Gucci Commercial

We’ve all seen artsy and nonsensical commercials for designer products — commercials that leave you thinking, “what the hell does that have to do with perfume?” Well, Frank Miller may soon leave us with those exact thoughts. He’s directing a commercial for Gucci Guilty, a new fragrance for women. Miller hasn’t worked on a flick since production of The Spirit back in 2008, but Miller’s new project definitely has a cinematic punch to it. 

Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler, Across the Universe) plays what seems to be the typical Frank Miller female role — a femme fatale (though you can’t expect too much character development in a commercial). Chris Evans (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Captain America) plays her tall, dark, and handsome male counterpart. The monochrome look and noir theme are distinctly Miller’s style, similar to Sin City or The Spirit. The commercial will feature music by the Friendly Fires, and will premier during the MTV Video Music Awards on September 12.

Frank Miller would be one of my last choices to assign the task of pitching a product to women, since his perception of women seems a bit skewed. Still, news of the commercial has peaked nearly everyone’s curiosity, and it looks like an edgy and provocative short film. Miller has scored points in the advertising department for sure. Check out the teaser for this fragrance advertisement:

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Froggy Evenings

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Froggy Evenings

Warner Bros.’ Michigan J. Frog, the singing and dancing, top hat-wearing, cane-wielding amphibian, is a character that has been around since the 1950s. He made his debut in a 7 minute animated short titled One Froggy Evening, which is now one of the most renowned animated shorts in history. I remember watching this cartoon as a kid, and at that time I saw it as nothing more than an entertaining romp with a frog. It’s funny how you eventually learn to appreciate certain things you grow up with. In the case of One Froggy Evening, I still think it’s an entertaining romp with a frog, but now I know it’s “culturally significant”. At least, that’s what the Library of Congress said. If anything, the song “Hello My Baby” will be stuck in my head for a while.

Here’s a 3D remake of the first few minutes of the original One Froggy Evening:

And here’s the sequel, Another Froggy Evening, which shows how long Mr. Frog has been kicking it up in the history books:

Adult Swim’s ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the Animation’ Premier

Adult Swim’s ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the Animation’ Premier

As most of us know, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is coming to theaters everywhere this Friday, August 13. However, the movie isn’t the only Scott Pilgrim piece premiering this week. Universal Studios asked [adult swim] to create something promotional for the new film, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the Animation is what the network cooked up.

Titmouse, Inc., Chris Prynoski’s animation studio and long time contributor to [adult swim], produced a two-part animated Scott Pilgrim short that will premier Thursday, August 12 on [adult swim] between midnight and 12:30 AM during commercial breaks. It will also be available online at [adult swim]’s website, and at the [adult swim] and Scott Pilgrim Facebook pages the following day, August 13.

The animated short depicts scenes from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels that were left out of Edgar Wright’s film. The four minute short tells the story of Scott’s high school life, where he meets Lisa Miller and befriends Kim Pine, who later becomes the drummer for Scott’s band Sex Bob-Omb. The art is recognizably influenced by O’Malley’s work. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World actors Michael Cera, Allison Pill, Mae Whitman and Jason Schwartzman provided voices for the short.

Here’s a short clip from the animation:

Here’s the promo shown on television:

Ted Stevens: 1923-2010

Ted Stevens: 1923-2010

Former Senator Theodore Fulton Stevens and four others died in a plane crash August 9, 2010 in southwest Alaska. Stevens was the Senate’s longest serving Republican, with a political career that spanned from 1961 to 2008. He helped make Alaska the 49th state, and pushed for the construction of bridges, rural water systems, military bases, the trans-Alaskan pipeline, and more in order to improve and lay a foundation for the state. He was considered a great Alaskan, and a formidable political opponent.

Yes, but why are we mentioning a politician here?

Stevens was a fan of Marvel’s green powerhouse, the Incredible Hulk. When he faced his toughest challenges, he donned an Incredible Hulk tie to show he meant business. Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said, “When I see the Hulk tie on Ted Stevens, I know he’s pumped up.” In response, Marvel sent Stevens Hulk paraphernalia and threw him a Hulk-themed party. Stevens often joked about his notorious angry and crotchety demeanor, saying, “I didn’t lose my temper. I know right where it is.”

Stevens is also quoted for describing the internet as a “series of tubes.” Many references have been made to his understanding of the internet, including several made on The Daily Show with John Stewart.

When Stevens left the Senate in 2008, Senator Mitch McConnell said, “I think it is safe to say,
without any fear of contradiction, that no senator in the history of the
United States has ever done more for his state than Senator Ted Stevens.” Condolences to the families of Ted Stevens and the four others who died: Theron “Terry” Smith, William “Bill” Phillips
Sr., Dana Tindall, and Corey Tindall.

Webcomics You Should Be Reading: ‘String Theory’

Webcomics You Should Be Reading: ‘String Theory’

Have you ever wondered why mad scientists are so intriguing? Many of us can’t help but be fascinated by this type of character. Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, Dr. Horrible — they are all brilliant, eccentric, and villainous. We know their experiments and actions are in terrible taste, but they’re so darn crazy that it’s fun to watch them work. They are like a train wreck, as in you know they’re bad but you can’t look away.

The infuriating yet lovable Dr. Herville Albert Schtein is among these mad scientists. This quirky genius is from Beckey Grundy’s webcomic “String Theory.” The story takes place in a late 2050’s alternate universe, where the Cuban missile crisis went horribly wrong. The story focuses on the laboratory in which Dr. Schtein and his fellow scientists work with plasma wave converters, super magnets, and fluffy test rodents.Very technical stuff. The webcomic begins soon after a deadly lab explosion, which leaves Schtein with two new things to look forward to: a pair of bio-mechanical eyes, and a replacement assistant. However, Schtein’s excessive jerkiness discourages people from staying in the same room with him, which is an obvious problem for his new assistant, Delia Osgood. Though Schtein is the best-of-the-best, his superiors are losing patience with his behavior. He must set aside his disdain for people if he doesn’t want to be canned, or worse, one-upped by his arch rival Professor Langstrom.

Schtein may be an ass, but we can’t help but want to see what will happen to him next. Grundy’s character-based story draws readers in, and does a great job of making an unlikable person, surprisingly, likable. The plot has interesting twists and turns, but this webcomic seems far from over. It feels like Grundy has quite a bit of story left to tell, and I am personally looking forward to every update. Mood wise, the plot goes up and down. There are comedic moments along with several sinister situations. Perhaps a better way to describe it is that the basic plot is serious and mature, but a layer of lightheartedness keeps it from getting overwhelmingly dark.

The first half of the story is in black and white, though some color was thrown in on occasion. The more recent pages have been in full color, which is lovely. Well, as lovely as the gloomy atmosphere allows. The character designs are great, and Grundy has a talent for making them distinct and fun. Emotions are captured very well through the character’s expressions and behavior, and they are a delight to watch in action.

If you’re looking to get a fix of mad scientist adventures, I’d recommend “String Theory” for your reading pleasure. I don’t envy this Schtein fellow, what with him being neurotic and disgruntled, but it sure is entertaining to watch his mind at work!

#SDCC: The 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International Masquerade – UPDATED

#SDCC: The 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International Masquerade – UPDATED

The 36th annual Comic-Con Masquerade, sponsored by HBO’s True Blood, happened last night with 36 entries and 126 performers scheduled to entertain and awe thousands of convention goers. The Masquerade has been a runway for all the best costumes the Con has to offer. 

To participate in the contest, the costumes must be original, and participants are required to send photos of themselves creating their costumes. Costumes that have been entered in previous SDCC Masquerades or have won in previous contests are not allowed– which means that means audiences get something new to be dazzled by every year.

Since there is no theme, costumes can depict characters from movies, comics, video games, anime… anything the creator wishes. There’s no telling what to expect, which is part of what makes the Masquerade so exciting. Coordinator Martin Jaquish and other staffers look forward to the contest every year, and are eager to see what people can come up with.

This year, entries included “12 Signs of the Zodiac”, Mothra girls, and a mashup between the hit show Glee and Marvel’s X-Men, titled Mutant Directions.

We’ll have more photos and video up over the next few days as decent copies become available, along with the final results of the judging.

Updated 9:45 7/25: Videos from the Masquerade are slowly being posted online. Here are the “Best in Show” winners, the Vegas Villains.

Be sure to check out these performances, too. There were some great sketches this year!


#SDCC: ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and how it all comes together

#SDCC: ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and how it all comes together

The popular CBS sitcom Big Bang Theory had its day at Comic Con on Friday. A special screening and Q&A were conducted by the cast and crew of the show. Wil Wheaton moderated the panel, and members included actors Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar, and Simon Helberg, and executive producers Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady.

The Bare Naked Ladies surprised the audience when they came out on stage
to play the full version of the Big Bang Theory theme song. Hundreds of fans sang along with the band, which was made simple since printed sheets of the lyrics were handed out prior to the panel. Here’s video:

Fans asked the stars geek-appropriate questions, such as “If you were a superhero, what ability would you have and what would be your name?” Nayyar would be Awesome Man with the ability to make things awesome, and Helberg would have the power to fly but would not tell anyone so he could join a basketball team and jump in the air longer. 

The panel talked about the show and what it has been like working on it. Parsons commented on Sheldon and Penny’s relationship, saying, “There is absolutely chemistry. Sibling chemistry. And don’t you say otherwise.” (Several fans push for a relationship between these characters.) They spoke of how the cast plays ping pong in between shooting, and how Cuoco was the first among them to get a Kindle. 

It was revealed that Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, will guest star in season four. Mayim Bialik of Blossom will also be back in season four as Sheldon’s potential love interest. Wheaton himself is likely to come back as Sheldon’s arch-nemesis. When a fan suggested that the crew film an episode at Comic Con, Lorre and Prady shot down the idea, Lorre adding, “We’re an indoor cat,” and they wouldn’t know how to film at a convention.

#SDCC: ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’ – UPDATED

#SDCC: ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’ – UPDATED

Byran Lee O’Malley’s popular Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series came to an end earlier this week with the release of the final volume, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour. The series has been basking in popularity for quite some time now, especially since word of Universal’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World movie got out. In fact, the Scott Pilgrim Comic Con panel was all about the upcoming movie.

There were thirteen members of the panel, plus the moderator: director Edgar Wright, creator O’Malley, Michael Cera, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza, Kieren Caulken, Ellen Wong, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick, Mark Webber, Allison Phil, Brandon Routh, Satya Bhabba, Mae Whitman… and Schwartzman’s amazing mustache. There were surprise appearances by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who both starred in Wright’s action-comedy Hot Fuzz. They are not in the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World movie, but the audience loved their presence all the same. Oh, and Cera sported a Captain America suit– an obvious homage to Chris Evans, who is off filming Captain America.

The cast discussed how they spent months training for fight scenes, and how some had to learn to play musical instruments. Wright spoke of filming in Toronto, the setting of Scott Pilgrim and home to members of the cast and crew. He also announced that the movie will be in 2D, to which he added, “How do you feel about watching a film with sunglasses on?”

There was talk of Ubisoft’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World video game. The game has a retro style, similar to old school 8-bit games. If you haven’t noticed, there are many tie-ins to video games throughout the film. Sound effects from Tekken, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Zelda can be heard; Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) mentions “getting a life” as he snatches a floating 8-bit sprite version of his face from the air; a tag line for the film was “This summer it’s on like Donkey Kong.”

After introductions, discussions and Q&A, Wright jumped off stage and led hundreds of fans with 1Up buttons to the Balboa Theater for a special screening of the movie. Fans fortunate enough to posses the buttons excitedly marched with Wright to the theater, while the rest will have to wait for August 13, when the film will appear in theaters– unless you catch the showings tomorrow and Saturday.

UPDATED 10:25 7/23: Video, as expected, has started to leak out. Here’s the cast coming on stage from an… interesting angle.

“Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour” was Midnight last night

“Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour” was Midnight last night

Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour was released last night at midnight in select locations and is already at #16 on Amazon’s best seller lists. According to Oni Press, over 150 comic shops all over the United States and Canada participated in early release parties. Oni said fans had “midnight releases to all day shindigs, costume contest, door
prizes, give-aways, rock concerts, and street parties” to enjoy. Creator Bryan Lee O’Malley joined the fun at Toronto’s block party, the center for everything Scott Pilgrim. O’Malley had a signing while bands Hurry Hard, Chang-A-Lang, Sister, and Soft & Wet rocked out in the spirit of the Scott Pilgrim universe.

This is the sixth and final volume in O’Malley’s graphic novel series. The story revolves around Scott Pilgrim, a slacker who plays bass guitar in the indie rock band Sex Bob-Omb. Pilgrim falls for Ramona Flowers, but he must defeat her seven evil exes before he can date her. The fun, entertaining series gained a huge fan following, making way for more media donning the Scott Pilgrim title. Ubisoft is currently developing the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World video game, which has a retro gaming aesthetic and a musical sound track by Anamanagichi, a popular 8-bit punk band. The highly anticipated Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
will arrive in theaters August 13 this summer. 

Mr. Pilgrim will also make an appearance at the San Diego Comic Con on Thursday, July 22, where a panel with the Scott Pilgrim movie cast, director Edgar Wright, and creator O’Malley will talk about the upcoming film and show a sneak peek of the “epic of epicness.”

Although the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series has come to an end, fans still have a movie and video game to anticipate. If you missed the early release parties, pick up a copy of Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour today.

Xeric Grant Winners Announced

Xeric Grant Winners Announced

The Spring 2010 Xeric Grant
winners have been announced. They are…

  • Margaret Ashford-Trotter (Thunder in the Building #2)
  • Jason Brubaker (reMIND)
  • Jonathon Dalton (Lords of Life and Death)
  • Wei Li (Lotus Root Children)
  • Jed McGowan (Lone Pine)
  • Ansis Purins (Zombre #2: The Magic Forest)
  • Brittney Sabo and Anna Bratton (Francis Sharp in the Grip of the Uncanny! Book 1)

A total of $32,761 was awarded to these seven projects.

The Xeric Grant was established in September 1992 by Peter Laird, co-creator of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. Over $2,400,000 have been awarded since then to committed, self-publishing comic book creators from the US and Canada and to qualified charities and non-profit organizations in western Massachusetts. Laird believed the Xeric Foundation’s grants were an appropriate way to give something extra to the world of comics. Over the past eighteen years, hundreds of projects have been honored with a Xeric Grant, including Adrian Tomine’s “Optic Nerve,” Dawn Brown’s “Little Red Hot,” Santiago Cohen’s “The Fifth Name,” and Toc Fetch’s “Kids of Lower Utopia.”

The grant is offered twice a year, and the next deadlines for upcoming grants are September 30, 2010 and November 1, 2010. After the Foundation’s panel, made of established members in the comics
industry, selects the finalists, Laird personally picks the winners.

Congratulations to the talented winners of the 2010 Spring Xeric Grants!