Tagged: John Carter

DENNIS O’NEIL: Doonesbury Envy?

Doggone that Martha Thomases, anyway! I was all set to use this week’s column to dissertate on Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury comic strip, but Martha stole my idea before I even had it and wrote a piece on the same subject. Probably did a more thorough job, too, but now we’ll never know, will we?

Happy, Martha?

For those of you who have spent the whole of the last week in your local theater watching and rewatching John Carter and so have missed the news cycles, what that scamp Trudeau did this time was to use the platform his strip affords him as a venue for bleak humor about the indignities forced by Texas poobahs – those are male poobahs – on women seeking abortion. Trudeau wasn’t attacking the right-to-lifers per se, but only an unnecessary and humiliating “medical” procedure done down where the stars at night are big and bright.

Trudeau isn’t new at this kind of activity. He’s been doing it for the past 42 years, ever since his work began gracing the nation’s funnysides. He was once called an “investigative cartoonist” and he is that, often calling attention to stories local newsfolk might have neglected. (There’s additional detail in Martha’s piece so go on, read it! I certainly don’t care!)

Trudeau is more than a cartoonist, though – he’s something very valuable; he’s one of our national jesters. I’d nominate him, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and Stephen Colbert for jesterhood and I bow to them all and aver that this quartet is worth a long ton of conventional pundits. They use humor to help us swallow some pretty bitter pills. We laugh, but we also swallow.

One example: From Stewart’s Daily Show, I learned that GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum claimed, publicly, that in the Netherlands, the elderly were being euthanized against their will – a lie so egregious that it should have immediately disqualified Santorum from elected office. I didn’t see it anywhere else (though surely Stewart wasn’t the only source of the item. But it wasn’t splashed big in my local paper – the one that’s banished Doonesbury to a website – and it should have been).

These entertainers have a long and honorable provenance. Remember King Lear’s jester, all you English majors? He was a teller of truth in clown’s clothing. And Shakespeare didn’t pull the character from thin air: In Renaissance times, jesters were given license to both jest and criticize their masters. It’s said that Queen Elizabeth the First once chastised a jester for not being critical enough.

You think Rollickin’ Rick got on the horn with Stewart and said something like, “Hey, Jonny, what’s the haps? You should’ve reamed my ass”)?

No, I don’t either.

RECOMMENDED READING: As I’ve mentioned in an earlier column, I try not to recommend books I haven’t read. I don’t know if there’s a Doonesbury collection somewhere in this house, but since I’ve been reading the strip on and off for about 40 years, and a lot more on than off for the past decade, I feel confident in urging you to hurry to your local bookstore and get anything with Garry Trudeau’s name on it. If you really scamper, you might get there before Martha Thomases…

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases (go figure!)


DENNIS O’NEIL: “I’m a rambler, I’m a gambler…”

But before we get to this week’s topic, John Carter (of both Mars and East St. Louis), I’d like to apologize to the students and faculty of the State University of New York at New Paltz for the talk I gave there on Friday, during which I allowed myself to ramble…

But you want to know what’s pathetic? An old fossil, his dome a’shining, unable to remember if he ever edited (or wrote) a John Carter of Mars comic book.

One more thing about New Paltz… I’m not sure why I rambled – I did have notes laying there on the table in front of me. But ramble I did and, again, I apologize…

John Carter? Yes, John Carter. As most of you know, there is a major movie, in 3-D as well as the plain vanilla 2-D, just released and undoubtedly playing at a theater near you – here in Nyack, the nearest screens are at the Palisades Mall and we’ll probably saunter up there one day soon. We didn’t go on opening day because I’d promised to speak at New Paltz…

Yeah, about New Paltz: I think I was okay until I asked for questions from the people in front of me – handsome, lovely young people! – and let me assure everyone that the questions were and are not to blame, the fault is entirely mine….

But I was telling you about John Carter: I know I once worked on a title that featured some John Carterish material, probably adapted from the work of John Carter’s creator, Edgar Rice Burroughs… By the way, did you know that he also created Tarzan of the Apes, which was his big, big success…

I should mention to you kids at New Paltz that I often ask for questions from the audience or class or whatever I’m talking to – well, actually, there’s no particular reason I should mention it, it’s just that I want to mention it…

And while we’re on the subject of mentioning – did I mention that John Carter is one of my oldest friends? That I was best man at both his weddings? Wait…this might be confusing. I wasn’t at the wedding or weddings of John Carter of Mars, assuming he was ever married – did he make an honest woman of Dejah Thoris?… no, my John Carter is from East St. Louis, Illinois, though he now lives in Northern California near San Francisco, which has always been one of my favorite cities, even before John Carter – the one who never got to Mars…never even got as far as the moon, unless he did and neglected to mention it to me – even before that John Carter took up residence in the Bay Area and that’s got to be something like forty years, more or less, and single-parented one of my favorite people, Katie, who teaches psychology in Washington State…by the way, I’m also fond of John Carter of East St. Louis’s other offspring, Dylan, who lives and works in Missouri – I haven’t seen either of John’s children in years, though I did exchange email’s with Katie and had a phone conversation with Dylan…

Five hundred and twenty eight words already? Where does the space go?

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases and the Doonesbury Strip-Tease

Derrick Ferguson Gets Himself To Mars To See JOHN CARTER

Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Produced by Jim Morris and Colin Wilson
Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon
Based on “A Princess of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs
It was while waiting in the theater lobby for my wife after we had just seen JOHN CARTER that I heard a snatch of conversation that most likely was duplicated in one way or another in movie theater lobbies all across the country.  It went something like this; “It would have been a better movie if it didn’t try to rip off so many other movies.”
If I was not the sweet, gentle soul you all know and love I would have put that worthy in a serious headlock and informed him that the book the movie JOHN CARTER is based on, “A Princess of Mars” was written back in 1912 by Edgar Rice Burroughs who just about created the sub-genre of science fiction which could well be termed “Sword and Planet.”  With his series of novels set on the Red Planet, Mr. Burroughs also created a template for heroic adventure fiction that has has been homaged, borrowed, copied and downright stolen from then until now.  John Carter is the great-great grandfather of dozens, if not hundreds of heroes in comic books, novels, movies and television.  Not to mention the influence the books has had on writers, artists and scientists.  Most American astronauts will claim “A Princess of Mars” along with “Star Trek” as the major influence in them wanting to be an astronaut.  The importance of Edgar Rice Burroughs, his creation of John Carter and his vision of Mars simply cannot be overstated.
But that’s enough of the history lesson.  You’re here to find out if I think JOHN CARTER is worth your time and money.  Okay, for a change I won’t make you read the whole review to find out.  Yes.  JOHN CARTER is most definitely worth your time and your money.  Not having read the book in quite some time I’m not going to swear to the faithfulness of the adaptation but most of the major scenes rang true to me and they’re what I wanted to see and I wasn’t disappointed.
John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a former Confederate Army soldier who goes west to prospect for gold after The Civil War and finds a whole cave full of the stuff.  He also finds trouble from a Union Captain (Bryan Cranston) and some bloodthirsty Apaches.  This leads to Carter being trapped in the cave and transported to Barsoom, which is what the inhabitants of that planet call Mars.
The bewildered Carter is captured by Tars Tarkus (Willem Dafoe) the Jeddak (king) of the Tharks, the fierce Green Warriors of Barsoom.  Standing some seven feet tall with tusks, and a double torso with four arms, they are the first clue to the bewildered Earthman that he isn’t in Virginia anymore.  But it’s not as if Carter is entirely helpless.  Due to the lesser gravity of Barsoom and his denser bone/muscular structure he has the strength of a hundred men and is able to leap incredible distances.
Meanwhile, over in Helium which is home to the human looking Red Martians, they are realizing that they cannot win their long war with their hereditary enemies, the Zodanga.  Arraignments are made to marry the Princess of Helium, Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) to Zodanga’s ruler, Sab Than (Dominic West).
However, Dejah Thoris doesn’t think much of this at all and runs away, an act which leads her to being captured by the Tharks and meeting John Carter.  Once she sees his extraordinary abilities, combined with his exceptional swordsmanship, she sees a way out of her marriage and a way for Helium to win the war.  However, unknown to all, there is a third faction at work in this conflict.  The Holy Therns, led by Matai Shang (Mark Strong) have been secretly manipulating conflict between the various tribes and races of Barsoom for thousands of years for their own hidden purposes.  And they’re not about to let a wild card like John Carter interfere in the plans they have for Barsoom.  Or Earth…
The sheer joy of seeing a major motion picture based on anything written by Edgar Rice Burroughs probably prevents me from seeing any flaws in the movie.  Taylor Kitsch wouldn’t have been my first choice for John Carter but after seeing him I don’t know who else could have played the role so well.  He commits himself fully to the story and the character and there was never a moment he wasn’t convincing. 
As Dejah Thoris, Lynn Collins has a lot to live up to as Burroughs described her in the books as being so impossibly beautiful that any real woman would have a hard time fulfilling that description but she does the job admirably.  And her role in the story is fleshed out considerably by having her be a scientist/swordswoman  as well and not just a princess to be rescued.
Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkus and Thomas Haden Church as Tal Hajus, a rival Thark warrior do a superb job of giving the giant green warriors personality but Dominic West’s character could have been a better villain.  He’s little more than the errand boy for the Holy Tharns but West is such a good actor, I’m willing to let it go.
And maybe it’s just my thing, but when a movie costs as much as JOHN CARTER, I appreciate seeing it up on the screen and I certainly did.  This is a big-budget movie that actually does look like a big-budget movie with some really astonishing sets and eye-popping locations.  This is how a larger than life movie with larger than life characters is supposed to look.  Not like a TV movie on steroids.
Bottom line: I liked JOHN CARTER a lot.  It’s a movie made by talented folks who respect the source material and delivered what I was looking for and that’s more than enough for me.  Enjoy.
132 minutes
Rated PG-13

MIKE GOLD: John Carter Returns To Earth

I was about 14 years old when Ballantine Books started their reprint series of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars. Being a science fiction fan, a character fiction fan, and fan who’s attracted to anything numbered sequentially, I devoured the series. I re-read the first five books about 12 years ago and I enjoyed them, albeit with a nostalgically jaundiced eye.

I was both amazed and, oddly, not surprised (they’re two different emotions) when my father told me he was a John Carter fan. He started reading them around 1928 – by then, the first book was about 16 years old. Sharing this bond was quite comforting: both John Carter, my father, and I were created in Chicago over a 38 year span.

There have been numerous comics adaptations. The first was for the newspapers and for Dell Comics, created by Burroughs’ son John Coleman Burroughs. Gold Key tried a few issues; despite Jesse Marsh’s art, they were pretty lackluster. Later on, both DC and Marvel got into the John Carter business – sequentially – and those projects attracted an amazing line-up of artists, including Murphy Anderson, Dave Cockrum, Ernie Colón, Larry Hama, Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, Frank Miller, Walt Simonson, and Mike Vosburg. Whereas the latter Marvel issues were written by Chris Claremont and Peter Gillis, the majority of the DC/Marvel runs (by far) were penned by Marv Wolfman, and that stuff is among my favorite of his. And that says a lot. Later on, Dark Horse did some crossovers with Tarzan, and John Carter even popped up in the waning days of the classic Tarzan newspaper strip. Currently, both Dynamite Comics and Marvel are publishing the character – the latter is tied into the new movie, and the former is tied into a lawsuit.

There had been a great many attempts to bring John Carter to the screen, both large and small. If you dig around, you’ll find the legendary cartoonist Bob Clampett’s test footage and sketches – they were amazing, and I wish he was able to sell the project. I remember going to the International Licensing Show in the early part of this century and seeing a huge display for an upcoming movie adaptation – some stunning artwork, particularly in their mammoth backdrop. Sadly, none of these projects came to be. There was a movie released just a couple years ago starring Antonio Sabàto, Jr. and Traci Lords, but because I’m a nice guy who always maintains a civil tongue, I won’t mention it again.

This Friday, John Carter of Mars finally makes his big-time movie debut. Produced by Disney – not coincidentally the owner of Marvel Comics – if you haven’t seen any of the trailers, commercials or ads for the movie you just might be Stevie Wonder. For many, many reasons, I have set the bar for John Carter pretty high. My dad died six years ago, so I won’t be able to see it with him. But I notice my daughter Adriane is pretty excited about the movie, and I hope to extend the family bond to her this weekend.

By the way, this is John Carter’s 100th anniversary. If you’re planning on sneaking a cake into the theater, please, don’t light the candles.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil



See “John Carter” And Get A Chance For Tickets To Next Year’s Super Bowl

johncarter_worldofmars_1_cover-e1311022888802-296x4501-9710413Disney announced today that they have collaborated with the NFL to give viewers an opportunity to enter “The Journey to the Super Bowl Sweepstakes” with an ad for “John Carter” that will run during the Super Bowl XLVI broadcast this Sunday.  The Grand Prize winner will receive a trip for two to Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 in New Orleans.

Viewers who are interested in entering the sweepstakes should tune into the game and watch for the “John Carter” commercial. During the airing of the 30-second spot, a code will be revealed. Viewers can then go to NFL.com/JohnCarter and input the code to be entered. The Grand Prize is a trip for two to Super Bowl XLVII on February 3, 2013. The trip includes a 5-day/4-night trip for the winner and guest to attend the game, two tickets to Super Bowl XLVII and access to Game Day hospitality at the stadium.




IDW Publishing has released their solicitations for books releasing in April 2012. Here are some of their pulpier offerings.

 Written, art and cover by Darwyne Cooke.

Fresh from his efforts on The Hunter and The Outfit, Darwyn Cooke now sets his steely sights on The Score, the classic Richard Stark Parker novel from 1964. Parker becomes embroiled in a plot with a dozen partners in crime to pull off what might be the ultimate heist — robbing an entire town. Everything was going fine for a while, and then things got bad. Considered one of the best in the Parker series, The Score is the perfect vehicle for Darwyn Cooke to pull out all the stops and let loose with a book that has all the impact of a brutal kick to the solar plexus!

160 pages, $24.99.

 Written by Paul Dini, Walter Simonson, Tom Taylor, art by John Paul Leon, Bill Morrison, Colin Wilson, covers by Darwyn Cooke, Dave Stevens.

The second star-studded issue of Rocketeer Adventures streaks into the skies with three high-flying tales of derring do! We start with a story on a grim battle field and race to save a soldiers life. Next up Is a jealous Cliff keeping an eye on Betty in his own inimitable way. Last is a run-in with a Hollywood icon in danger!
Another 25 pages of gorgeous art and stories — and all for the price of a regular 22 page book!

32 pages, $3.99.

 Written, art and cover by John Byrne.

Byrne releases his latest creation, MI-6 agent Michael Swann. In Swann’s opening adventure, “The Damocles Contract,” the secret agent is called on to stop a defecting British scientist from granting the Soviets complete nuclear dominion over the free world… promising ample doses of intrigue and espionage.

120 pages, $19.99.

 Written by Andy Hartnell, art by Chris Madden, covers by J. Scott Campbell and Chris Madden.

It all comes down to this! Join us in our action-packed, final issue as Abbey, Sydney and the rest of the Danger Girl team finally track down the mysterious Peruvian treasure. But when our heroes infiltrate the enemy’s fortress — only to find themselves facing a surprise fraternity of villains — will they ever manage to fight their way out? Find out as the year’s sexiest and most dangerous event concludes!

32 pages, $3.99.

Written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, art and cover by Michael W. Kaluta.

Following up the Disney-produced motion picture that just hit theaters, relive this classic adventure tale from Edgar Rice Burroughs. John Carter and his ‘Barsoom’ experiences are re-imagined in gorgeous chapter illustrations by comic legend Mike Kaluta!

240 pages, $17.99.

 Written by Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell, art and cover by Alex Toth.

Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell continue their comprehensive review of the life and art of Alex Toth in Genius, Illustrated. Covering the years from the 1960s to Toth’s poignant death in 2006, this oversized book features artwork and complete stories from Toth’s latter-day work at Warren, DC Comics, Red Circle, Marvel, and his own creator-owner properties… plus samples of his animation work for Hanna-Barbera, Ruby-Spears, and others — as well as sketchbook pages, doodles, advertising art, and other rarities provided through the cooperation of Toth’s family and his legion of fans. Two of Toth’s best stories are reproduced complete from the original artwork: “Burma Skies” and “White Devil… Yellow Devil.” A full-length text biography will chart the path from Toth’s increasingly reclusive lifestyle to his touching re-connection to the world in his final years. Fans of comics, cartoons, and all-around great artwork revere Alex Toth. See why Genius, Illustrated — along with its companion volume, 2011’s Genius, Isolated — are being praised as the definitive examination of the life and art of The Master, Alex Toth!

288 pages, $49.99.

 Written by Roger Hill, art and cover by Wally Wood.

Wally Wood’s career is legendary among the annals of comic’s history. He rocketed to fame working on Will Eisner’s The Spirit newspaper strip and became one of the most talented artists working for EC Comics during the 1950s. Wood also became a star of EC’s satire comic called Mad, which went on to even greater success as a magazine, allowing the artist to apply his amazing talents in a broader spectrum. When the comics industry fell on lean times during the mid 1950s, Wood segued into the field of science fiction pulp illustration, providing over 200 beautiful drawings and several color cover paintings for the digest magazines; particularly Galaxy. Wood left behind a legacy of great art, much of which has never been reprinted. This book will feature them all. Long time Wally Wood historian Roger Hill has spent the past twenty years pulling together the history of Wood’s involvement with the pulp digests and tracking down original art for this project. Over half of the images have been pulled from the originals or from Wood’s personal file copies, allowing Wood fans the finest possible reproduction!

160 pages, black and white, $29.99.

Written by Jonathan Maberry, Nancy Holder, Yvonne Navarro, James A. Moore, Gregory Frost, John Everson, Keith R.A. DeCandido, and Scott Nicholson.

A sweeping threaded narrative of the global phenomenon known as the Vampire Wars.

Mankind has been silently infected by millennia-old bacteria unknowingly exhumed by a scientific expedition in Antarctica. Now, in some rare cases, a person’s so-called “junk DNA” becomes activated, and depending on their racial and ethnic heritage they begin to manifest one of the many diverse forms of the “others” that are the true basis for the legends of supernatural creatures. These aren’t your usual vampires and werewolves — it goes much deeper than that.

Conceived by Jonathan Maberry, V WARS features stories from various “frontlines” as reported by such contributors as Nancy Holder, Yvonne Navarro, James A. Moore, Gregory Frost, John Everson, Keith R.A. DeCandido, and Scott Nicholson (as well as Maberry himself, of course).
The result is a compelling series of tales that create a unique chronicle of mankind’s response to this sudden, hidden threat to humanity.

384 pages, black and white, $24.99.

You can learn more about IDW and their books at http://www.idwpublishing.com/.

Review: Lord Of The Jungle #1

Reviewed by Joshua Pantalleresco
Lord of the Jungle is Dynamite’s Adaptation of Tarzan.  I have to admit I was both enthusiastic and skeptical when I heard of this book.  I was skeptical because Tarzan’s depth of character is rarely explored.  His animal cunning is always apparent, but one of the things that always got me was how intelligent Tarzan is.  He taught himself to read in the original novels.  That kind of intelligence is often missed as part of the character. 

The first two images of the comic are two skeletons.  It’s a very grisly image and hints at the tragedies that occur in this issue.  Yet the third panel managed to dispel one of my misgivings immediately.  Tarzan is learning how to read.  This is going to be an intelligent Tarzan.  The contrast on that first page is very fitting.  There is a kind of beauty in the jungle, yet there is a grim, savage reality and it’s all displayed on page one.  

The rest of the issue takes place twenty years prior when Tarzan’s parents John and Alice were stranded in the jungle by pirates.  There, John and Alice are forced to survive the hostile environment they have found themselves into.  Now the ending if you have read Tarzan is obvious, that said there’s definitely a few touching moments in the first issue.
One of my favorites was when Alice and John defended themselves from a mighty gorilla.  John picked flowers for Alice when a bull ape came from nowhere and attacked.  Both characters managed to protect each other and it gave the scene a very triumphant feel to it and showed how much of a team they were when they worked together.  It mirrored nicely with the end when John died defending the baby by himself.    Tarzan at that point is taken in by the apes. 

Arvid Nelson did a fantastic job with adapting Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter series with Warlord of Mars, and so far it seems he is going to repeat that magic here.  Arvid is faithful to the original material and manages to add and expand moments that were in the novels.  He’s off to a good start adapting this great classic to comics.

I really love Robert Castro’s pencils.  I love his ability to contrast beautiful moments with terrifying imagery.   He’s able to balance some of the horrors of the jungle with some amazing shots.  The opening page is living proof of this, but he manages to do it again and again in the issue.  That one shot of baby tarzan is surrounded by panels of monsters and tragedy.  My favorite image in the book is the landscape shot of Lord Greystroke’s home on page two.   It felt very majestic, even as a shadow of its former brilliance.

Simon Bowland and Alex Guimaraes deserve credit.  The storybook on page one is just brilliant and fun lettering.  It added a kind of innocence to the scene that was sorely needed.

All in all, this is a solid book and a nice addition to any pulp reader’s library.  For one dollar you can’t go wrong.  Hopefully the rest of the series has the same quality throughout.

JOHN OSTRANDER: Prognostications 2012

Crap. Crappity crappitry crap.

It’s New Year’s Day. If it was New Year’s Eve I could look backwards and wax philosophic about 2011. But here we are smack dab in the middle of New Year’s Day, Day 1 for the year 2012, so I really should be looking ahead and prognosticating about what the year will bring especially for comics and related media.

I’m a crappy prognosticator.

Years ago, I read a squib in a newspaper about how a Japanese cell phone company had worked out how to add a camera to their phone and I thought, “What a stupid idea. They’ll have these crappy little photos and how good could the lens be and so on. Who would want that?”

Well, everyone, as it turned out.

Before that, I read another little squib about how the Dean of St. Paul’s cathedral in London was going to do a controlled jump with a parachute from the top of the church to bring attention to a rock opera that was premiering called “Jesus Christ Superstar.” And I thought, ‘What a stupid idea. A rock opera? About Jesus? Who would want to go see that?”

Well, gobs and gobs of people, as it turned out.

So I’m not the world’s foremost prognosticator. The Great Criswell I ain’t.

This year, however, it may not matter. The Mayan calendar ends with 2012 and some people predict that means the world is going to end in 2012. Heck, they’ve already done a big, loud, lousy movie about it. How you can take such a potentially fantastic event and make a lousy movie about it is beyond my – wait. The director was Roland Emmerich, wasn’t it? He’s also the one who directed Anonymous which says Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare’s play (piffle, I say!). And the producer/director of the heinous Godzilla remake. Never mind.

Okay, I grant you that maybe this isn’t real strong evidence. I mean, just because the calendar I have on my wall ended last night didn’t mean the world ended. Not if you’re reading this. I bought another calendar. And if the Mayans were all that sharp as prognosticators, why didn’t they chop up every single Spaniard they met into tiny little pieces?

In 2012, we have The Avengers movie coming out, the new Spider-Man movie, The Dark Knight Rises, and even the first of The Hobbit movies. The first of The Hunger Games movies, the next James Bond movie (Skyfall) will also make their appearances. Heck, based on the latest trailer, I’m hyped to see John Carter. This doesn’t even include the stuff that I don’t know I’ll want to see yet. I didn’t know about Hugo until relatively late this year and that may be my favorite film of 2011.

Seriously, would any sort of just and loving god end the world before Mary and I get to see The Hobbit?

Wait, That’s right. I’m agnostic. Said so last week. Doesn’t matter; I’m not going to believe in the Mayans either. We’re going to have 2012 and it’s going to be fun. Despite the Mayans, despite the elections, there are good times waiting out there.

As Stan (the Man) Lee himself was known to say: “Face front, True Believers! Because that’s there the future’s coming from!”

Words of wisdom for us all. Happy New Year, folks.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell