Tagged: Images

REVIEW: Star Trek: The Next Generation 365

Star Trek: The Next Generation 365
By Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdman
Abrams Books, 744 pages, $29.95

Let me state upfront that Paula and Terry have been friends for a long time, but I adamantly maintain that they were the ideal people to write Star Trek 365 and the recently released Star Trek: The Next generation 365. Why? Because Paula has been intimately involved with the franchise since the 1980s and knows every nook and cranny within Paramount Pictures to find rare images or information. Terry is an experienced film publicist and has a keen understanding of what people like to know and has an engaging way of sharing that with enthusiasm.

Being the series’ 25th anniversary makes this a nice companion volume to the series; chock full of images, architectural and production drawings, special effects pictures, and some on set antics. Every episode from each of the seven seasons receives not only a brief synopsis but then stories about the show, told from a wide variety of angles. You get some of the best known tales such as the banana clip that became Geordi’s VISOR to lesser known stories in how episodes were conceived. Some of the best are the ones demonstrating how a kernel of a story lingered until the right opportunity, or the right writer, or both, arrived to solve the conundrum. A good example is how long it took to produce the acclaimed “Darmok”.

Given how many images Paula approved for use through the years, she knew which ones to avoid in the hopes of finding a fresh look at the series. One approach meant leaning more towards the black and white shots the still photographer took that have rarely been used, and that adds a nice quality to the book. Many of these are behind-the-scenes and between takes shots of the cast relaxing, prepping or goofing off.

To find fresh nuggets of information about the 178 episodes, the pair interviewed dozens of people who worked on the show over the eight years it took from conception to finale. As a result, they got not only interesting new anecdotes but found additional graphics for use, especially from production designer Richard James and visual effects producer Dan Curry. Effects associate Eric Alba is also credited for coming up with a variety of candid photos for use. All of this enriches the book and ensures that it’s not a retread of previously seen images or twice-told tales.

The comes with a foreword by Ronald D. Moore, who got his big break with an unsolicited script and has gone on to a creative career among the stars. The 365 series of pop culture books are nice, compact treasure troves that are well worth a look.

REVIEW: Economix

By Michael Goodwin and Dan E. Burr
304 pages, $19.95, Abrams ComicArts

economix_cover-300x426-4222079Having never taken economics in college, I find the world of high finance needlessly complicated and confusing. You spend what you need to make a good; you sell it for a reasonable profit. Repeat. The problem, though, is that the world makes it far more complicated to determine how those goods are made or what a reasonable profit might be. And as globalization has altered the way everyone on Earth lives and works, things have grown ever more complex.

Thankfully Michael Goodwin saw the need for a basic primary on how the economy currently works and how we got here. Better, he decided to really make it easy to follow thanks to using the comic format, hence the graphic novel Economix. Nicely illustrated by Dan E. Burr, best known for Kings in Disguise, the book from Abrams starts off in The Distant Past and walks us on a parallel path between what really happened and how the early economist philosophers thought it should happen.

Along the way, Goodwin makes it clear that for too long, people hewed to theories that sounded great on paper but were impractical in the real world which is why the early bubbles occurred. He also introduces us to the keep economic and political players, and how he talks about them makes it clear which ones he finds laudable and which ones deserve mockery.

This is not a classroom textbook but has a distinct point of view so the result is that some people and events have their dimensionality stripped away, leaving a caricature to make his point. This trait is on display beginning with the Industrial Revolution all the way through the modern day economic woes (the book’s information is nicely current through mid-2011 so it remains relevant).

He makes it clear that the bigger corporations got, the less and less they were to be admired. Instead, they prove to be the villains you expect in graphic fiction and while there’s a lot here that’s true, it’s certainly just one point of view. Goodwin is also harsh to many people, notably Calvin Coolidge and Warren G. Harding, who watched America’s economy grow, burst, and couldn’t figure out how to pick up the pieces. Using their own words against them, certainly sounds convincing.

Where Goodwin excels is simplifying the verbiage so even guys like me can follow it. He also pauses to show what is happening around the world, since opening trade with Asia or the Russian Revolution certainly had a bearing on American dollars and cents. The book also doesn’t expect you to remember everything, constantly pointing you back to relevant pages such as “That’s right – we live in a mixed economy, not in pure capitalism. For instance, let’s take another look at modern New York. We saw on page 24 how trying to control everything wouldn’t work…”

Obviously, the most interesting chapters are the ones covering the times we live in. The book pointedly takes us from Reagonomics through the housing bubble, pausing to chart how our National Debt has grown through various presidential administrations and the decisions they made.  Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan both get taken task in this recounting. Clearly, today’s mess began in the 1980s and continues today.  A large part of the problem was the repeal of the 1932 Glass-Steagall Act in 1998 and today, many a politician and businessman has come to regret that – note the comments sandy Weill made last week.

Burr’s artwork nicely captures the text and makes it visually comprehensible with some fun portraits of how the economic machinery works, using iconic images of farmers, merchants, businessmen, and so on. He caricatures key figures and keeps his pages packed but not cluttered. On just a few cases his page layout and balloon placement challenge even the most veteran of comics readers so this might be a tough read for some novices but its well the effort.

A text like this would certainly help high school and college students gain their first taste of financial literacy and it comes recommended for the rest of us.

Dracula World Order goes Direct to Shops and Digital

dracula_world_order_cover-294x450-3051915Former BOOM! Stuidos exec/writer Ian Brill has been teasing us all week with some images and today he finally unveiled what he’s been up to. His new book is bypassing the Diamond distribution system and while he’s not alone in this bold step, he is one of the ore high profile people doing this. Here’s the formal release:

June 8th 2012 – Los Angeles – When Ian Brill set out to write a new vision of Dracula, he called on some of the greatest talents in comics to bring it to life —Tonci Zonjic (WHO IS JAKE ELLIS?), Rahsan Ekedal (ECHOES, SOLOMN KANE), Declan Shalvey (THUNDERBOLTS, 28 DAYS LATER), and Gabriel Hardman (HULK, BETRAYAL OF THE PLANET OF THE APES). This June 13th, comic fans everywhere can find DRACULA WORLD ORDER at select retailers across the North America and exclusively worldwide digitally on comiXology across their entire platform including iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire and the web.

Following in the foot steps of Sam Humphries’ OUR LOVE IS REAL and SACRIFICE, Ian Brill’s DRACULA WORLD ORDER is self-published by the author and is offered digitally on comiXology while at the same time a very limited 300 copy print run will be available from these retailers:

  • 4 Color Fantasies in Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • Beach Ball Comics in Anaheim, CA
  • The Beguiling in Toronto, Canada
  • Collector’s Paradise in Winnetka and Pasadena, CA
  • Comix Experience in San Francisco, CA
  • Desert Island in Brooklyn, NY
  • Laughing Ogre Comics in Lansdowne, VA, Fairfax, VA and Columbus, OH
  • Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, CA
  • Midtown Comics in New York City, NY
  • Speeding Bullet Comics in Norman, OK
  • It can also be purchased online from Things From Another World.

Featuring an all star cast of today’s best artists and written by Ian Brill, DRACULA WORLD ORDER tells the story of how the greatest villain of all, Count Dracula, takes advantage of a world on the brink of economic collapse. In a world where the top 1% of the population are vampires, the rest of the human race are prisoners…or the 1%’s next meal. Dracula’s own son Alexandru leads the 99% in rebellion against the Vampire elite – in a battle that will leave you breathless.

Within four startling chapters Tonci Zonjic (WHO IS JAKE ELLIS?), Rahsan Ekedal (ECHOES, SOLOMN KANE), Declan Shalvey (THUNDERBOLTS, 28 DAYS LATER), and Gabriel Hardman (HULK, BETRAYAL OF THE PLANET OF THE APES) bring their amazing talents to Brill’s story. With Zonjic, Jordie Bellaire (BETRAYAL OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, FANTASTIC FOUR), and Stephen Downer (DRACULA: THE COMPANY OF MONSTERS, DRACULA THE UNCONQUERED) bring searing color art, with the amazing Josh Krach lettering the book. All of this under an amazing cover by Shalvey and Bellaire.

Advance praise for DRACULA WORLD ORDER:

“This would be incredibly cool even if it didn’t have some of my favorite artists working! Brill is making one of those books that get me excited about comics, and I would like to read a lot more of this. Read DWO and spread the word, this is the real deal!” says Jeff Parker, writer of HULK and THUNDERBOLTS.

Brill will be celebrating the release of DRACULA WORLD ORDER is dual signings on the release date.  He will be at Beach Ball Comics in Anaheim, CA from 12-2 and Collector’s Paradise in Winnetka, CA from 5-8.


REVIEW: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Espionage stories fall into one of two categories: thoughtful, well-plotted stories about characters forced to make difficult choices or high-tech, glossy larger-than-life adventures. Most espionage films and television have focused on the latter while the former has become a staple of modern day fiction with the acknowledged grandmaster being John le Carré. His books are difficult to adapt given the amount of plot and detail but they make for gipping reading and when brought to the screen entirely depend on the skill of the writer, director, and cast.

His best known novel is probably Tinker Tailor Solider Spy which was a wonderful miniseries starring Alec Guinness several decades back. This past holiday season, a big screen version was delivered and for the most part was overlooked by audiences. That’s a shame because as we now know, it gave Gary Oldman one of the most interesting roles of his career and brought him an Academy Award nomination for his work as George Smiley. The movie is out Tuesday on home video from Universal Home Entertainment.

The movie certainly benefitted from le Carré being a producer, but it was the skillful screenplay by Peter Straughan and the late Bridget O’Connor that boiled the novel into a digestible 2:08 movie. Director Tomas Alfredson grabbed the audience by their heads and said to them, “This requires your complete attention so focus now.” Early on, there are a series of scenes, some just seconds long that carefully build a mosaic of images and story points. We open with the resignation of Smiley and C (John Hurt), the head of MI:6, forced out in the wake of a botched mission in Budapest. Soon after, C dies from illness and Smiley is brought back in from the cold to work independently to prove whether or not a mole exists within the agency. (more…)

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and America’s Blood Centers Team Up to Support National Blood Drive

immortals-film-3-298x450-4805173Every now and then, a studio does something pretty impressive during the marketing of their movie or DVD release and want to acknowledge when someone goes above and beyond. We here at ComicMix will let you decide if Immortals was cheesy or wonderful but we will urge you to help out with the blood drive in support of the DVD release.

Nowhere near enough people donate blood on a regular basis and yet it is vitally needed every minute of every day. We’ve had enough personal experience to tell you how important this simple act is and ask that you consider making a donation at a local Red Cross if you don’t live near the venues listed below.

Check out this press release:

To celebrate the Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD release of the epic film IMMORTALS on March 6th, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and America’s Blood Centers are organizing blood drives at 30 select universities across the country starting this week and continuing through March 9th.  Students and participants will experience Director Tarsem Singh’s visually stunning film, pick up exclusive IMMORTALS premium items, while donating blood at their local college campus.

Inspired by the sacrifice that Theseus made of himself to save mankind, the IMMORTALS blood drive event will help support the work of America’s Blood Centers to fulfill their mission to help those who are in need as well as encourage others to give. (more…)

National Graphic Novel Writing Month Day 22: Following Your Own Instructions

National Graphic Novel Writing Month Day 22: Following Your Own Instructions

Outlines are important, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. They can keep you from making silly mistakes. Like having an article about outlining near the end of a writing month.

Seriously, an outline can keep you out of all kinds of trouble. If you have even a basic outline beforehand, you can get a clearer sense of your own pacing, and of the story’s overall flow. You can see where it’s going and how it will get there. And you can be sure you didn’t miss any steps along the way.

Do outlines work with graphic novels? Absolutely! If anything, they’re even more important for graphic prose than for regular prose, because you need to have an even clearer sense of how the story will break down. If you have the plot elements outlined, you can see where splash pages and close-ups and other visual features will fit without derailing the story or ruining the pacing. You can also get a sense of page breakdowns by going over the outline and seeing where action is fast and furious and where it’s slow and careful, which will give you a better idea of when to do a standard grid page and when to do quick cut-outs and burst images.

That means, of course, that you need to follow your outline once you’ve written it. Otherwise it won’t do you much good. I tend to keep my outline up in a separate window as I’m writing, so I can refer back to it as necessary. I also use a clean copy of the outline as my starting document, so I can go from point to point and flesh each one out in turn, transforming the outline itself into the full text.

This doesn’t mean you have to follow the outline slavishly, however. Things change as you write. Characters develop in ways you couldn’t have predicted. They do things you wouldn’t have expected—but that make perfect sense for them, given their personalities and situation. You could try to force them back to the details you already established, but that’s going to feel stiff and unnatural and it will show. Instead you need to let them change the story as they work their way through it. It’s their story, after all.

Just don’t forget to change the outline as well.


Crazy Sexy Geeks: Superhero Psychology Part 1 – BATMAN!

Comic book historian Alan Kistler discusses the mental state of Batman with three forensic psychiatrists of Broadcast Thought. Is Bruce Wayne a sane hero who simply uses terrorist-like methods or is he a delusional psychopath suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Join us and find out! Images are from DC Comics. Music is royalty free. SUPPORT Crazy Sexy Geeks via Paypal.com. Send ANY donations to: KistlerAlan@gmail.com
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Blame the Juice for this ‘War’ crime

Blame the Juice for this ‘War’ crime

This LJ post from urbaniak sums it all up:

I’ve enjoyed many a Jamba Juice so I was disappointed to learn that their current marketing campaign features a blatant ripoff of David Rees’s detournement classic Get Your War On.
Rees, of course, is appropriating free stock images but the Jamba Juice
campaign is not doing the same thing. They are appropriating what Rees does with those images,
right down to the way he renders his word balloons. I have no idea how
the case would hold up in intellectual property court and Rees says on his website he’s not interested in legal action (only a boycott). But it’s plain as day: Jamba Juice ripped him off.

Through the miracle of modern googling I learned that the marketing agency behind the Jamba Juice “Summer Bliss is Back” campaign is an LA shop called Neighbor. Their unintentionally hilarious website
positions themselves as paragons of crunchy, earthy, green, do-gooder,
one-world decency. According to their manifesto: “You get conscious,
inspired, ethical, engaged, genuine, positive and purpose-driven work
that grows your business and your people all the while making the world
a better place.” Ad man, heal thyself.

The worst part of it is that people are going to think that David Rees endorses this stuff.

Etch-A-Sketch Comic Art

Earlier this year I discovered the blog of the Etch-A-Sketchist. An artist whose medium is incredibly complex and heartbreakingly temporary: the Etch-A-Sketch. The child’s toy that is simple to learn but next to impossible to master. The Etch-A-Sketchist’s topics are heavily pop-culture influenced but breathtaking in their detail.

When I first discovered his site, I wrote him and asked if he ever did any comic book based images. He wrote back that he only had done a black costume Spider-Man, but I should check back at the end of the summer after all the superhero movies were released.

I made a note on my calendar program and, sure enough, there are lots to see now. I’ve posted a few after the jump.

Enjoy…. but don’t shake your screen.


No Shortage of “Watchmen” Books Planned For January

No Shortage of “Watchmen” Books Planned For January

With the much-anticipated release date of the Watchmen feature film still 7 months away, there’s still plenty of time for everyone to cash in on the buzz. ICv2 reports that Titan Books will have not one, not two, but four books hitting shelves between now and the film’s March 9 release next year.

Among the books scheduled for January release are Watchmen: The Art of the Film, a hardcover collection of images from conceptual and pre-production periods of the project, and Watchmen: The Official Film Companion, a collection of exclusive interviews with various members of the cast and crew discussing the project and story from which it’s adapted.

However, with all of the amazing visual elements we’ve been shown thus far, it was the third January-scheduled release that caught my eye:

Watchmen: The Film Portraits, a hardcover, will feature the b/w photos of Clay Enos, the official photographer on the set of Watchmen. Enos spent some of his time on the set shooting black and white portrait photographs of the lead and supporting characters, and even extras from the crowd.

Titan will also be publishing original Watchmen artist and co-creator Dave Gibbons’ reflections on the project, Watching the Watchmen, in October.