Author: Van Jensen

Review: ‘Shmobots’ by Adam Rifkin and Les Toil

Shmobots is a pretty stupid book on its face. And it’s pretty stupid inside too.

Government negligence leads to a city full of worthless robots (termed [[[Shmobots]]]), and three of the laziest ones hang out with a guy and do pretty much nothing with their lives.

The humore here — from writer Adam Rifkin — is all pretty obvious, heavy on robot cliches and slacker jokes we’ve heard before. Yet the book has an undeniable charm, no doubt because its creators acknowledge those faults and even celebrate them.

Sure, the lead robot character is a carbon copy of Bender from Futurama, but he’s used (at least this is my guess) to make fun of the stupid humor genre even while revelling in it.

There is a more involved plot than I let on: the robots and human friend are constantly looking for money, while unknowingly they’re being stalked by the Shmobot Killer. The plot advances at a marijuana-soaked pace.


‘Harry Potter’ 6 Trailer Online

‘Harry Potter’ 6 Trailer Online

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is out in theaters in November, and the first trailer is now online. Watch it below.

Also, I just saw the documentary Jesus Camp last night. Did you know that Harry Potter is a warlock and he’s evil? Talk about subtle. I didn’t pick that up from the books at all.



Margaret Cho Writes a Comic

For anyone in that weird cross section of humanity that enjoys Margaret Cho and superhero comics, this next item of news is sure to bring nirvana to your soul.

Cho is doing a comic book called Last Hero Standing, a riff on the Last Comic Standing reality TV show, I guess.

Here’s the info:

Cho has joined up with Märchen Dreamfaktory’s Creative Director, Tony Mark, to create a graphic novel. With a working title of Last Hero Standing, the comic will follow the exploits of super heroine Misty, an aspiring comic and the only super hero to survive an all-out attack from the super villains.

"Margaret’s fans will definitely recognize her edgy humor," says Mark. "I think the premise gives her a lot of room to express herself in her own voice, but also the freedom to have fun in a way she never has before."

Utilizing the in-house talents of Art Director Gary Laib and artist Chris Ewald, Märchen Dreamfaktory plans to have the graphic novel on shelves by early 2009.

Video of the ‘Watchmen’ Owl Ship

In case you’re one of the 18 people on planet Earth who didn’t go to San Diego last weekend for Comic-Con, you’ll be interested in this video from TV Guide, which gives a pretty extensive tour of the inside of the replica Owl Ship from the upcoming Watchmen movie.

Quick…what’s lime green, weighs 9,000 pounds and came all the way from Canada? If you said the Watchmen’s Night Owl ship, then give yourself a pat on the back. was lucky enough to score an up-close look from the driver’s seat of the actual ship used in next summer’s movie based on the DC Comic. The ship is used by the group of ragtag superheroes who come out of retirement to investigate the slaying of one of their own. It doesn’t really get much cooler than that.


Review: ‘Burma Chronicles’ by Guy Delisle

With all of the past year’s insanity in Burma — mainly monk uprisings and government oppressions — you’d think Guy Delisle’s nonfiction comic Burma Chronicles would be especially topical. But you’d be wrong.

As is Delisle’s style, he passes up on the chance to take an expansive view of the country where he lived for six months (he’s written previously about stints in Pyongyang and Shenzhen).

Instead, the book is almost self-centered in how it simply recounts Delisle’s experience as the husband to a Doctors Without Borders. He depicts himself as the ultimate average Joe, a dude content to live life as it comes.

Most of the cartoons are of little moments, like Delisle venting about the sporadic electricity (and sporadic air conditioning), or his hunt for ink to finish a book.

That isn’t to say he doesn’t experience Burmese culture or interact with the locals. He does, but the majority of what he includes in the book are little innocuous windows into the country.


Zack Snyder on the ‘Watchmen’ Director’s Cut

Zack Snyder on the ‘Watchmen’ Director’s Cut

Director Zack Snyder has said he’s trying to stay faithful to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen graphic novel, but that has left Snyder with a whole lot of material and a whole lot of cutting ahead of him.

Slash Film does a good job of sorting through Snyder’s comments about his film adaptation, leading to some speculation on what could be in store for future director’s cut releases.

It was already announced that there would be an animated Black Freighter movie being released around the time when Watchmen hits cinemas, but apparently the extent of its involvement in the Watchmen mythology won’t end there. Snyder made mention that they’ve also filmed the transitions featured in the graphic novel that take the main storyline into the Freighter comic. So even though those wouldn’t be a part of the theatrical cut, they would show up the “super duper director’s cut,” as would the other creations they’ve been working on.

Being that the film is already running at about 3 hours, and Warner Bros. wants to cut it down to 2 and a half, this makes me wonder if they’ll actually be releasing two different director’s cuts: one with the original cut of the film, and one with the extended new cut. If that were the case, that would mean the extended version would probably be running at about 5 hours or more. As much as I love all things Watchmen related, that does not sound ideal. I would love to see Snyder’s full 3 hour cut, but adding in more content beyond that seems excessive. I understand the desire to incorporate the outside footage, but I don’t want to see the flow of the storyline get repeatedly chopped up by hopping between that and stuff that’s only thematically related. I assume it’s issues like these that made creator Alan Moore claim the graphic novel was unfilmable. Some of the things he did with the comic are things you just cannot translate straight to a movie. Which isn’t to say I’m not excited to see the extra footage; I just think the segments will operate more smoothly as its own entity.

Much more at the link, including quotes from Snyder.

Most Embarrassing Moments of Autobiographical Comics

The Onion A.V. Club offers yet another entertaining and creative look at pop culture, this time ranking the "most unflattering moments" to appear in autobiographical comics.

They come up with a list of 30 instances of awful humanity, though I’m sure the list could’ve been much longer. For instance, not a single mention of Jeremy Tinder is an Asshole, which seems like a goldmine for this type of enterprise.

Here’s a sample from Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis:

When a boyfriend cheats on her, she falls apart; eventually, she makes a sullen escape back to her family in Iran, where she mostly finds them comforting, but she itches under the loss of liberty. Caught away from home in makeup and with a male friend, she distracts her potential persecutors by inventing a charge against a stranger, and self-righteously abusing him as he’s carted away to who knows what unpleasant fate. But the worst part comes when she later brags and laughs about her cleverness to her grandmother, who righteously, furiously reminds her of her family history and her responsibility to others.

The Comic Book Wedding Program

Artist Dusty Higgins recently sent over what is pretty much the coolest thing since the wheel made of sliced bread: a wedding program drawn as a comic book.

Did I mention the bride and groom fight ninjas?

In addition to being an editorial cartoonist and illustrator, Dusty draws some comics. So, naturally, when his wedding was coming up this summer he asked his bride-to-be if he could draw their wedding program.

She agreed, surprisingly enough.

What you see at right is the result, the cover image as Dusty and his now-wife fend off attackers on their way up the aisle.

From what I’ve heard, the wedding went off without a hitch, or a ninja attack.

A larger image and inside pages after the jump.


Review: ‘The Number’ by Thomas Ott

The sequence of numbers 73304-23-4153-6-96-8 sit at the top of each page of the superlative new horror graphic novel The Number by Swedish artist Thomas Ott..

Those repeated numbers create a cadence to the book, a dark rhythm drummed into readers’ heads that’s further instilled through Ott’s consistent use of four panels per page.

The wordless story follows a prison executioner who discovers a slip of paper marked only with the previously mentioned number. As the man notices bits of the number turning up in his life, he decides to place his fate in the number, taking it for a wild ride of good luck.

But after a night of gambling success, the man wakes to find the dream turned ugly, and the number only leads him farther into darkness.

It’s not terribly difficult to predict where things end up — after all, the book begins with the quotation “Good people are always so sure they’re right,” from a woman who was executed in prison.

The worthiness of the book lies instead in the way in which Ott unspools his protagonist’s demise. The story moves along briskly, and Ott transitions effectively from the sedate beginning into the surreal and terrifying conclusion.


How Matthew Goode Got the ‘Watchmen’ Gig

You may have heard of actor Matthew Goode. He was in Matchpoint and The Lookout and has a big new movie coming up called Brideshead Revisited.

Oh, and he plays Adrian Veidt in that little Watchmen flick.

In an interview in the Orlando Sentinel about his role in Brideshead, Goode also shared some interesting background on how he got the Watchmen role:

His nerviest turn to date, in The Lookout, is what he says got him the role that will almost certainly make him world-famous. He is Adrian Veidt, "Ozymandias" in the new film of the acclaimed graphic novel, Watchmen, one of the most anticipated movies of 2009.

"I’m auditioning on my hotel room toilet, in front of a sheet [a video audition], reading two scenes, one of which has me remembering that I’ve killed 15 million people," he says, laughing. Brideshead wouldn’t have prepared him for that. "I got that part because of The Lookout.

"I hadn’t read the [graphic] novel, but I did, and went, ‘Oh my God! This is ridiculous. So complicated. But [W atchmen] is everything you want to play as an actor, all those gray areas, and in a movie millions and millions of people are dying to see."