We were just saying that we hadn’t done a Loot Unboxing (Unbagging?) in awhile and then just as we got home from school and started wondering how late we’d be up editing interview footage after getting home from seeing The Red Shoes up in LA and then we saw this month’s Loot Wear package on the kitchen counter with today’s mail. You can’t argue with the Universe.
But what is even better is that this is probably the best Loot Wear package we’ve gotten all year. This month’s Robotic theme brought us a very cool woven button down Alien shirt, a ST:NG cute Data cardi, a Mega Man T, some Bender socks & undies, and argyle Invader Zim socks. So check out our swag.
It is more than a little likely that, as you read this, I am getting a root canal.
Dentists terrify me. Not on purpose — they are not the stars of It — but, nonetheless, they fill me with dread.
I’m sure that most people who go into dentistry as a career are motivated by a desire to help others, and yet, when I go to the dentist, I can’t help thinking about this movie and this scene.
A lot (not all!) of horror fiction is about the fear and loathing of our bodies. As children, they frustrate us with their limitations. We can’t fly, and we are not tall enough to reach the cookies. As adults, they frustrate us because they no longer do the things they did when we were younger, like stay awake all night on purpose, or digest spicy food.
I’m not really a fan of horror fiction. My life as an informed citizen has enough horror non-fiction. However, I understand that fiction provides a way for humans to process our fears in a healthy way. And I enjoy Stephen King books, not because they are scary, but because he has a gift for creating characters he seems to really care about. If we didn’t care about them, we wouldn’t be frightened by the threats they face.
(A friend of mine was in arock band with King, and he says the conversations on the tour bus focused on body functions a lot.)
The horror and thriller genres are, to me, most effective in prose, when I can imagine the threats, or in movies, where a good director (and script) provide surprising jumps. Comics can’t do that, at least not in the same way. Comics can give the reader some vivid imagery, and there is no limit to the amount of blood and gore and mucus the artist renders on the page, but, in the end, it’s just a flat picture. We, the readers, come at these images at our own pace. We can rip them up or throw them across the room if we like.
For me, the primary exception is Alan Moore. From his first Swamp Thing stories, with Stephen Bissette and John Totleben, he made stories that haunted me long after I finished reading. It wasn’t just the insects (although they gave me the icks), but the way he treated the characters’ perceptions of their bodies. The stories inspired not only fear, but disgust and mistrust.
More recently, Moore has explored these issues and this imagery in Providence. I confess that I’m not a big Lovecraft fan, so these books are not my jam. Still, Moore, with Jacen Burrows, gets plenty creepy and ominous, and perhaps you will enjoy it.
There are scary stories about ax murderers and the like, but it is those with threats from within that freak me out the most. As a culture, we especially fear women’s bodies. In modern film, from Rosemary’s Baby to this week’s debut, Mother!, it seems that the men who make most movies are terrified about women’s ability to have babies. What if women decide they don’t want to? What if women want to have babies, but with somebody else? What uncontrollable forces inhabit the bodies of women that allow the creation of other beings?
There aren’t many horror movies from the perspective of the women who might have children, especially when they don’t want them. The closest I can think is Alien and, this day, I can’t watch those movies because I read the comics adaptation first. A monster who plants a fetus in my body against my will that bursts from my chest? No, thank you.
The lesson I learn from horror fiction is that I am responsible for myself, especially my own body and what happens within it. Nothing will make me immortal, alas, but the choices I made about food and exercise and how I go through life are my own. This is why it is so important to me to support Mine!. Without access to health care, people cannot make the choices necessary to live the lives we want. We need to get PAP tests and STD tests and mammograms and birth control. We need pre-natal and post-natal care. Today is the last day you can pledge, and I hope you will.
Any other being that grows in and comes out of my body should only do so with my permission. The alternatives are too frightening.
The TNT Drama, FALLNG SKIES, winds up its fourth season with a big two part finale this weekend, and then returns in 2015 to wrap up the series with 10 last episodes. We give you a quick sneak peek at how things will turn out complements of series star Noah Wylie. Plus, maybe you’ve considered playing fantasy football, but how do you get started? Yahoo now has an app for that and Yahoo Sports Expert Brad Evans previews it for us,
When I made the leap to the other side of the aisle, I did so because I had my brothers from other mothers right next to me. And because of both of them I’ve continued to push myself to do things I honestly didn’t think I’d be capable of. Thanks to Kyle Gnepper, I write this column. (OK, it helps that Mike Gold lets me.) Because of Matt Wright, I’ve gone from gingerly tiptoeing around 12 pages of simple interior art to crashing my way through 18 pages of the most complicated, action-packed work I’ve ever done. It’s because of those friends I smiled at complete strangers and pitched my wares with a steely grin, confident that the product on our li’l eight footer could stand next to anything else on the convention floor, and be considering a quality book.
I made that leap, and figured that the world of independent comic bookery was a lone-wolf business. DC and Marvel, Image, Avatar, Boom, and others – places I’d kill to be a card-carrying employee of – but knowledgable enough to know that it takes them coming to me (and me being worthy of them) that would make that dream come true. And given how cutthroat the industry felt from the outside looking in, I always assumed that the introverted artists holed up in the Alleys were happy to sell you a book, and drown their sorrows at BeerCon when the show ended; alone. Now, after half a decade in the trenches? I know now how very wrong I was.
I started in this business alone with my logo-mates in tow. I type before you now, amongst a veritable community of cohorts – all of whom share in my successes, and console me in my failures. It’s only fitting I take time out to give them their due. My column this morning is an affirmation that the Artist Alley is not a dark and scary place. In fact, it’s the most inclusive and sobering reminder that my dreams are what crush the perception of loneliness I’d anticipated long ago.
Humanity’s natural response to the order “no” is “why?” Put up a sign marked “wet paint”, and count all the people who touch what it’s hanging on. And if you bury the devil, it’s a poor idea to put him on…
THE IMPOSSIBLE PLANET / THE SATAN PIT by Matt Jones Directed by James Strong
The Doctor and Rose land on a space base orbiting around a black hole (this is of course impossible), filled with writing so old the TARDIS can’t translate it (this is of course impossible). The crew of the base explain that there’s an ancient power source at the core of the planet so strong it’s not only holding the planet in place, but generating a safe path to and from the planet (this is of course impossible). After a bit of investigation, it’s discovered that a being who claims to be The Devil (The definite article, you might say) is imprisoned at the core, and this mad geostationary contraption is its eternal prison (this is of course, even if the other stuff was possible, which it isn’t, impossible).
The beast cannot escape his prison, but his mind can, and successfully takes over one of the crew, as well as its stock of alien slaves, the Ood. While The Doctor spelunks down to the cavern in the planet’s core, Rose and the crew fight the now quite violent Ood in the station. The Doctor is left with a terrible choice – destroy the beast’s prison and doom Rose, or let her and the crew escape, along with the beast’s mind.
A very moody episode, with a well-designed set that allowed for lots of corridor runs and corner turns. The Doctor even comments at the beginning that a lot of these bases look the same, and are made from kits. It’s got a very haunted house feel, which is basically what the classic sci-fi film Alien is, as are all tributes to it. The Doctor gets a number of very nice speeches about how amazing humans are, boldly rushing in where angels fear to tread, and wanting to do things solely because they’ve not been done yet. It’s a recurring idea for the Doctor, interspersed occasionally with his comments about how blind and small-minded they are. We’re clearly his favorite race, and not simply because humans are cheaper to portray in a TV show.
It’s the premiere of another new recurring alien, the Ood. They return a few time over the course of the new series, including a much more Ood-centric story in the Donna Noble season. The Ood are played as an unintelligent hive-minded race here, a “perfect slave race” as they’re described, and there’s simply no time for the story to address that. Rose makes a passing comment about it, but it’s quickly waved off, especially after they went all red-eyed and scary, and could be classified as a threat. It’s not until the next Ood story do we get a real idea of their situation, and a more proper addressing of their status as slaves.
An Ood appeared in Neil Gaiman’s story The Doctor’s Wife, mainly because they didn’t have money in the budget to make a new alien.
While The Doctor had never met the devil himself before, he’s come close. The Demoniacs, Sutekh, and other races were believed to have interacted with humanity in the past and give it the idea of devils. Tom Baker was supposed to have fought the devil, in the guise of Scratchman, in a film written by Baker and Ian Marter titled Doctor Who meets Scratchman. It had a mad throw-everything-at-it plot, but never got past the talking stage.
There’s been a lot of high-quality books lately that reprint classic stories straight from the original. My friends at IDW do a lot of those, so they’ll be deeply depressed that I’m not going to be talking about one of theirs. And of course there’s no reason to believe a comp list wouldn’t change my attitude.
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear; in this case, about two months ago. We’re at the vaunted Baltimore Comic-Con – in specific, the Harvey Awards dinner. Walter Simonson had an advance copy of Titan Books’ hardcover collection of the Alien movie adaptation, as done by Walter and the late and much, much missed Archie Goodwin. This book was the exception that proved my point that doing an absolutely first-rate adaptation of a movie is a near-impossibility.
The needs and treasures of the comic book medium are different from those of the movie medium: we have total control of time and space and we’ve got a special effects budget that is limited only by the collective minds of the producing talent. Movies, on the other hand, have going for them music, motion and the benefit of the shared-experience. Apples and oranges.
The Goodwin-Simonson Alien was one of those rare exceptions; perhaps the best of those exceptions. Either way, it was and is worthy of this new high-quality format.
So when Walter was showing off his advance copy like a proud papa before an audience of some of the most talented people in the artform (Mark Wheatley snuck me in), I thought about doing what every other red-blooded comic book fan would think of doing: cold-cocking the son of a bitch, stealing his book, jumping into my Ford Focus and driving back to Connecticut, laughing hysterically while leaving my daughter to fend for herself.
I maneuvered into position in the darkened room, avoiding Louise Simonson. While I’d take Walter on, I do not have what it takes to take on any person who could be so gifted and so nice after working for James Warren. Then, and only then, did I have an epiphany.
I’ve known Walter for decades and decades. We lived near each other on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, we played on the same volleyball team. We’ve dined hither and yon – he once drew a massive prehistoric landscape on the linen tablecloth at a Skokie Illinois restaurant in order to “illustrate” a point. I respect and admire Walter as one of the nicest human beings on the planet… with the exception of the volleyball courts.
But that’s not why I didn’t cold-cock Walter Simonson. Clearly I’ve gotten old, an aging lion gumming his dinner in the corner of the cage while the younguns are preening themselves for pussy.
No, I didn’t cold-cock him because I remembered I already ordered the book. So stealing his simply wasn’t worth the energy.
But it was worth the wait. Buy it before it sells out.
The White Rocket Podcast debuted this week. Hosted by New Pulp Author Van Allen Plexico, the White Rocket Podcast is a one-on-one conversation with the leading figures in the worlds of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Pulp and New Pulp, Action and Adventure Literature, Movies, Comics and Television.
In episode 1, Mark Bousquet, movie reviewer and novelist, joins Van to discuss Ridley Scott’s PROMETHEUS, the sort-of ALIEN prequel– just released on Blu Ray and DVD.
Ridley Scott rarely repeats himself, avoiding formulaic sequels, useless prequels, and remakes. Instead, the stylist conjures up new works and attempts to be thought-provoking time after time. You might have bought into the hype that this year’s Prometheus is an out and out set up to his Alien, but you’d be wrong. While tangentially connected to the first successful science fiction/horror film hybrid, this film is a pure science fiction film owing plenty to Stanley Kubrick.
The movie, now out on disc from 20th Century Home Entertainment, is an ambitious production with a strong cast, surrounded by amazing visuals. While we laughed at how weak the story and characterizations were in James Cameron’s Avatar, here, we are merely disappointed the story isn’t a match for the visual virtuosity on display. While far from Scott’s best, he deserves credit for trying something different and challenging his audience.
Scott sets his story in 2093, optimistically thinking we will be regularly working in space and ready to traverse the distant reaches of the galaxy. Scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) find a map as part of a 30,000-year-old cave painting on the Isle of Skye, confirming there is sentient life elsewhere in the universe. Dubbed The Engineers, they seemingly beckon mankind to find them. The audience has already met them in an opening sequence that suggests they arrived on Earth with some goo that ignited the spark of life (and was also seen as the mummified Space Jockey way back in 1979). To discover the answer, deep-pocketed Peter Weyland (Guy Pierce) funds the construction of The Prometheus, which is thusly launched, its crew in hibernation en route to moon LV-223 and the evidence of intelligent life.
Heading up the crew is Mereditch Vickers (Charlize Theron) alongside the ship’s captain Janek (Idris Elba) with android David (Michael Fassbender), geologist Fifield (Sean Harris), and biologist Millburn (Rafe Spall). One trick he does reuse from Alien is that before long, things go horribly awry. The story has gaping, starship-sized plot holes and the grand themes – where do we come from? — do nothing to mask them. It would have been nice if the crew had more depth of character or interacted in more interesting ways.
Fassbender has the toughest job, making his eight generation android different than the others seen in earlier films making up the Alien universe. Theron is strong with her work but Rapace gives us the more interesting, nuanced performance.
Scott shot this for big screen 3-D, framing things to pop just so, and dazzle us with detail. Thankfully, that all transfers pretty nicely to the home screen and 2-D. The transfer is pretty spectacular both audio and visual.
The Combo Pack offers you the film on Blu-ray, DVD, and Ultraviolet (a larger Combo Pack with 3-D Blu-ray is also an option, with a fourth disc containing an amazing three-and-half-hour documentary by Charles de Lauzirika). The special features provided on the standard Blu-ray begins with Scott’s audio commentary, supplemented with one from co-writers John Spaihts and Damon Lindelof.
There are thirty-seven minutes of Deleted, Extended & Alternate Scenes which you can on their own or with audio commentary by editor Pietro Scalia and VFX supervisor Richard Stammers. These are all interesting to watch, several of which would have made the film stronger. The Peter Weyland Files (18:57) are culled from the Internet.
In a seasonal confluence, the movie Prometheus opens today, just as Book Expo America (BEA) ends. In 1979, I saw the first Alien at a screening in Los Angeles at the American Booksellers Association convention, the precursor to BEA.
ABA (as it was known) is the professional convention for the publishing industry. Publishers have booths with which to show their upcoming titles, and booksellers from all over the country come to see what will fill their shelves. It’s a grand event where books are glamorous, authors are rock stars, and librarians are courted. It’s changed over the years – they are even experimenting with letting consumers in this year – but it remains a celebration of ideas and literacy.
It was my first time at ABA, but the man who would be my husband was an old hand. He’d been going since 1963, when he was 12 years old. His father had taken a job with a small bookstore in Minneapolis, which had ambitions to grow and become a national chain. That bookstore was B. Dalton. As a result, my husband was used to attending, and accustomed to being fussed over by publishing houses that wanted to make a good impression on his dad.
By 1979, his dad had long since left B. Dalton, Minneapolis, the United States and the Northern Hemisphere, but John still knew his way around the convention floor. He showed me how to get free books, catalogs, and all sorts of other cool stuff.
That night, I read the book. It scared me so much that I was unable to sleep. We were staying with my cousin in a tiny little cottage in Laurel Canyon, and every noise from outside sounded like a landing spaceship to me, not a coyote.
We left the convention with plenty of time to get to the theater for the movie. I had very particular ideas about the best place to sit (near the front, in the center of the row). I had to get there early enough so that I would have my choice of seats. I’m still like that. If you’re going to go to the movies with me, you had better be prepared to be at the theater half an hour before showtime.
Once the movie started, for the first 45 minutes or so, I was in heaven. I loved the way the future looked in the film. It was the first time I’d seen a spaceship that looked like people lived in it. There was dirt and grime. People put up New Yorker cartoons. The cast was great, and I especially loved John Hurt, whom I had only previously seen as Caligula in I, Claudius.
Boy, was I upset when his character was killed off.
You have to understand. I had read the book the night before. I knew what was going to happen. I knew the good guys were going to win at the end. And yet, I was still terrified. I was sitting in my seat, peaking through my fingers, knowing that I had about an hour left to sit in the theater and wait for the monster to jump out of dark places. Finally, I decided to go. I stepped over the many people sitting in my row (since I had to sit in the middle).
My husband had too much self-respect to leave. He later told me he did his best to hide under his seat.
And now, Prometheus is supposed to explain the story of what happened before Alien. It’s directed by Ridley Scott, whose eye for detail makes his films always worth watching. It was the film my husband was most looking forward to seeing this summer.
The trailers scare me.
I like to think of myself as a good feminist. I don’t need a man to give my life meaning, to pay my rent or open my pickle jars. And I don’t expect a man to protect me from movie monsters.
But I’m afraid to go to this movie by myself. Either I’ll find the courage, or take the cat.
SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman defends the modern comic book some more.
Director Uwe Boll is no stranger to video games or controversy but remains indefatigable and is back next week with In the Name of the King: Two Worlds, his sequel to the 2006 film he made based on the Dungeon Siege video games. The new film, his twenty-fifth, stars action hero Dolph Lundgren and is a direct-to-video release from Twentieth Century Home Entertainment.
The German –born Boll spoke exclusively with ComicMix to talk about the film and his approach, which ignores his critics, many of whom cite him as the worst director working today. In turn, Boll has challenged them to box, to see who is the better person but our conversation was far from combative.
ComicMix: This is your first sole directorial work. Any reason why?
Uwe Boll: In the past, I was more a producer, such as with Alone in the Dark. Normally I’m the director, producer,, and sometimes the writer. I think it came to an opportunity to get the financing completely through Canada; so I said, “Absolutely, let’s go for it.”
CMix: Why a sequel to a dormant video game?
Boll: I liked the Bloodrayne film series, and I don’t always do sequels. I liked the first movie a lot, and while I didn’t have the financing to make a big sequel, I came up with a time traveling idea for a brand new story. It brings a little humor to the story and with a guy like Dolph, with his bone dry humor; he’s very intelligent, not a guy who can have long speeches. He’s more a character from the present, and I have all these kinds of things, sending him back to the medieval time, he can wander around asking, “Where is the toilet, can I drink this water?”
It’s an interesting new storyline, not just “let’s make a second part but only cheaper”. It’s better to be completely new, and I am actually happy with the movie. It has a lot of humor; it’s quick and entertaining. (more…)