Tagged: Los Angeles Times

REVIEW: BBXX

BBXX
By Jerry Scott and Rick Kirkman
335 pages, Andrews McMeel Publishing, $35

babyblues-20-collectionIn the early days of 1990, a brand new comic strip debuted, perfect for parents of young children and universal in its humor. Coming from veteran writer Jerry Scott with art by Rick Kirkman, Baby Blues was a pretty quick hit, still running in hundreds of papers. Now in its 23rd year, Andrews McMeel recently celebrated the success with the release of BBXX: Baby Blues Decades 1 & 2.

Unlike a lot of strip collections, this comes with extensive commentary from both creators, annotating and riffing on what prompted particularly strips, gags, characters, and visuals. As a result, this becomes an interesting look back at the development and evolution of a strip that went from two parents and an infant to a five-member family. It caught fire quickly, earning the Ruben Award for Best Comic Strip of the Year in 1995.

Looking back, Kirkman’s early art for parents Wanda and Darryl is simple, emphasizing oversized heads for the bodies with exaggerated features, notably noses. He provided more background detail at first and has simplified his work to the point where there are now just suggestions of background detail.

Each generation appears to create its own family strip with the Nuclear Family of post-World War II represented by Hi & Lois and Family Circle while today we really have Zits! and Baby Blues. All four continue to run, the former two out of inertia while the latter two remain relevant with their contemporary humor. Scott and Kirkman are devoted to focusing on what it means to raise children from birth through toddler-hood through the addition of siblings. The strip opened in 1990 with the birth of Zoe while brother Hammie was added in 1995 with Wren arriving in 2002. As a result, the parents have aged very slowly, from 20-somethings wondering “Now what?” to 30-somethings trying to juggle three distinct personalities and overflowing schedules.

Baby Blues panel1Over the course of the nearly 800 strips in this collection, the last of which is from their 19th year, 2009, you can watch subtle evolutionary changes. Not only in Kirkman’s art but in the gear parents tote around, the technology being used and the children’s fascination with ever grosser objects or fears. The one constant has been their minivan; the same model has been used from the outset. We also get a hilarious breast milk gag that was done to amuse the creators and which was accidentally sent to the editor, who was out that week so it went out to the newspapers. The gag raised nary an objection, much to their surprise. The Los Angeles Times, though, asked for a substitute strip which is reprinted here for the first time.

Hammie was added largely because Scott finally had a child and Kirkman was experiencing the tribulations of having a second child. “There’s a noticeable shift in the strip that began to take place when Hammie arrived. The characters started to become a little more complex, and the situations, broadened.” This is another reason why the strip grew, endured, and remains entertaining after two decades.

Scott notes in Chapter Three, the period when Wren was introduced, as showing the parents had actually learned a few thigns along the way, making new mistakes instead. He noted “as with real parenting, things inevitably even out to a steady DEFCON 3 or 4. At least until middle school.” We can hope they allow the characters to reach that level and see what happens next.

The book contains some great insight into how the strip and its characters were developed with interstitial Scrapbook sections throughout this entertaining collection. The final chapters look at their critics and the creation process so you really get a nicely rounded look at this universal family and their place in the comic strip world.

A Game of Thone Season One Coming in Deluxe Edition

While we’re sweltering in the summer heat, we have to be reminded that Winter is Coming. At least so says the Stark Family of Winterfell. HBO has just announced the forthcoming deluxe release of A Game of Thrones season one, in a handsome package for the holiday season.  Read the details in this press release:

New York, N.Y., July 11, 2012 – Season one of the television phenomenon Game of Thrones will be available for the first time on Blu-ray with HBO Select (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy* in one box set) this fall with the release of Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season Collector’s Edition. The beautiful collector’s box set is designed with the sigils of the four main houses and comes with a premium dragon egg paperweight, a Blu-ray bonus disc of season two, episode one, as well as all of the bonus materials and interactive features from the original DVD and BD releases for only $99.97. This limited edition set is the perfect gift for any Game of Thrones fan!

Based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling series A Song of Ice and Fire, the sweeping fantasy saga instantly became one of the network’s biggest hits and the fastest selling TV on BD titles of all time. The Emmy® award winning show, which has been called “tantalizing” (Los Angeles Times) and an “HBO Triumph” (Boston Globe), follows kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars and noblemen as they vie for power in a land where summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime. As two powerful families engage in a deadly cat-and-mouse game for control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, betrayal, lust, intrigue and supernatural forces shake the four corners of the Kingdoms and the bloody struggle for the Iron Throne will have unforeseen and far-reaching consequences.

Blu-ray (5 discs) – includes all DVD features plus:

•           Blu-ray Complete Guide to Westeros – an interactive compendium of the noble houses and lands featured in season one, PLUS 24 exclusive histories of the Seven Kingdoms as told by the characters themselves done with animated illustrations that provide more information on the background of Game of Thrones.

•           In-Episode Guide – in-feature resource that provides background information about on-screen characters, locations, and relevant histories while each episode plays.

•           Anatomy of an Episode – an in-episode experience that explores the creative minds and colossal efforts behind episode six, “A Golden Crown.”

•           Hidden Dragon Eggs – find the hidden dragon eggs to uncover even more never-before-seen content.

DVD (5 discs):

•           Complete Guide to Westeros – an interactive compendium of the noble houses and lands featured in season one.

•           Making Game of Thrones -an exclusive 30-minute feature including never-before-seen footage from the set and interviews from the cast and crew.

•           Character Profiles – profiles of 15 major characters as described by the actors portraying them.

•           Creating the Show Open – an inside look at the creation of the Emmy®-winning opening title sequence for Game of Thrones

•           From the Book to the Screen – executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss along with author George R.R. Martin talk about the challenges of bringing Martin’s epic fantasy novel to life on HBO.

•           The Night’s Watch – an in-depth look at the unique order of men who patrol and protect the Wall, a 700-foot ice structure that separates the Seven Kingdoms from the darkness beyond.

•           Creating the Dothraki Language – an insightful glance into the comprehensive language created for the Dothraki people in Game of Thrones.

•           Audio Commentaries – Seven audio commentaries with cast and crew including David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, George R.R. Martin, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Mark Addy, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Bryan Cogman, Harry Lloyd, Daniel Minahan and Alan Taylor.

Game of Thrones series regulars include (in alphabetical order): Mark Addy as King Robert Baratheon, Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy, Sean Bean as Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Ser Jaime Lannister, Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Michelle Fairley as Lady Catelyn Stark, Aidan Gillen as Petyr Baelish (“Littlefinger”), Jack Gleeson as Prince Joffrey Baratheon, Iain Glen as Ser Jorah Mormont, Kit Harington as Jon Snow, Lena Headey as Queen Cersei Lannister, Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Bran Stark, Harry Lloyd as Viserys Targaryen, Richard Madden as Robb Stark, Rory McCann as Sandor Clegane (“The Hound”), Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark and Maisie Williams as Arya Stark. The series is executive produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss; co-executive producers, Carolyn Strauss, Guymon Casady, Vince Gerardis, Ralph Vicinanza and George R.R. Martin; producers, Mark Huffam and Frank Doelger; directors include Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, Alan Taylor and Tim Van Patten; writers include David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson and George R.R. Martin.

Harlan Ellison releases four new books

Harlan Ellison releases four new books

Harlan Ellison, once called “the 20th century Lewis Carroll” by the Los Angeles Times, invites you to explore his 56-year career in four new books.

These four volumes, designed to bring Ellison’s writing to a new generation of readers while collecting rare works for his long-time fans, gather classic stories, entertaining essays, unpublished teleplays, and the author’s never-before-reprinted second novel from 1960.

Win a Copy of “Griff the Invisible”

Win a Copy of “Griff the Invisible”

Back in August, I told you about Griff the Invisible, a small indie film about a would-be super-hero feature the terrific Ryan Kwanten. The movie opened and closed in the blink of an eye, probably while you were on line to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and you missed out.

Vivendi Entertainment is releasing the film on Blu-ray and DVD on November 15 so you get a second chance at catching this charming film.

Better, we have been given three DVDs to give away. Here’s what you need to do in order to win:

By 11:59 p.m., Saturday November 12, tell us what super-power you most desire and how you would use it to fight for truth and justice. The final decision of the ComicMix judges will be final.

In case you missed it, here’s the trailer.

Synopsis

Griff (Kwanten), a shy and awkward office worker by day, finds escape from his ordinary life by assuming the identity of a fantastic superhero each night. Griff’s secret is jeopardized when he meets Melody (Dermody), a cute but unconventional daydreamer. She quickly becomes fascinated by his idiosyncrasies, which are equal only to her own. In the face of mounting pressure to live in the “real world,” it’s up to Melody to rescue GRIFF THE INVISIBLE for the sake of herself, Griff and their newfound love for each other.

(more…)

‘Eclipse’, ‘Toy Story’ Income Gone With The Wind

‘Eclipse’, ‘Toy Story’ Income Gone With The Wind

This was not a great week for big
box office blockbusters. Let’s look at this week’s quarter-billion dollar money
machine.

Twilight: Eclipse took
a dive!

Okay, let’s define “dive.” Eclipse made $161 million in its first
five days, and that’s good by anybody’s standards. But… It brought in 43% of those bucks in its first day. After that,
it was just another big movie. Even the opening day revenue was down 6% from New Moon. So where did this drop-off
come from?

Women.

No kidding. They accounted for 80%
of the New Moon audience, but only
65% of the Eclipse audience thus far.
But $161 million, plus another $100 million overseas (that’s more than a
quarter-billion bucks, or $36,000 a minute!),
seems like a lot of money, doesn’t it?

In Hollywood, perception rules the
day and reality doesn’t save your job. Eclipse
was expected to exceed the $200 million brought in by Transformers Two during its had a five-day start. If you don’t make
your projections, you’re a failure – at least temporarily.

So is Eclipse a bomb? Certainly not. Is it a disappointment? Yes it is…
thus far. The missing repeat business enjoyed by the previous two Twilight movies might come in
eventually, but one thing is sadly clear: the Twilight saga has lost some if its bite.

Now you’d have to be some sort of
Russian commie to hate Toy Story 3,
wouldn’t you? Well, the Rooskies certainly did not love Toy Story 3. It bombed. It took in less than $5 million in its
first ten days. Shrek Forever After
did almost eight times that business.

According to the Los Angeles Times, adults found Toy Story 3 to be too much of a kids
flick. Okay, fine. But does Russia have a shortage of children? As it turns
out, yes it does. Russia has endured terrible heat waves in its metropolitan
areas, and kids have been hustled out to cooler climates. Still, $5 million
sucks. Toy Story 3 was the first of
the series to be released in Russia, so perhaps the adults felt lost in the
backstory. I saw Home Alone 2 without
seeing the first one, so maybe I can understand that.

Well, maybe not.

It’s always fun to watch Disney
take one in the neck, but I can’t help but believe that bombing in Russia would
have made Walt Disney a happy man.

AFI Lists 2008’s Moments of Significance

AFI Lists 2008’s Moments of Significance

The American Film Institute has been issuing a variety of year’s best lists and over the weekend, a new one came to our attention:

AFI Moments of Significance may include accomplishments of considerable merit; influences with either a positive or negative impression; trends, either new or re-emerging; anniversaries or memorials of special note; and/or movements in new technologies, education, preservation, government or other areas that impact the art film, television and digital media.

The AFI Moments of Significance selections are listed below:

Slumdog Millionaire
— A Celebration of the Global Film

Slumdog Millionaire
stands as a monument to the possibilities of cross-cultural storytelling. Danny Boyle’s masterwork is rooted in the worlds of Dickens and Dumas but captures their spirit with a visual and narrative splendor that serves as a cinematic passport to a vibrant, modern India. A love story at its core, the film is also a powerful reminder that our global obsession with money leaves many of the world’s children in need.

Also of significance, Slumdog Millionaire is a signpost in America’s search for greater authenticity in its stories. Subtitles — once an inconvenience to American audiences — are now expected and, in fact, demanded to confirm the universality of our daily, global experience.

Other films that reflect this cultural shift include Gran Torino, The Visitor, Australia and television’s Heroes.

Television and New Technologies Provide a Global Oracle for America’s Presidential Race

America’s historic presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain mesmerized a global audience like a long-running television series. Television and Web coverage played to each other’s strengths, as every nuance of the long, arduous campaigns was accessible for public celebration and scrutiny.

During this process, Obama not only won the election, but also took his place among those statesmen—from FDR’s "Fireside Chats" on radio to JFK’s telegenic performances in debates and news conferences—whose mastery of a new medium captured the public imagination.

Obama harnessed the power of the Internet for both messaging and fundraising, communicating with e-mails, online videos and social networking. His campaign crescendoed with a 30-minute infomercial that was transmitted simultaneously over several broadcast networks and cable channels in the closing days of the campaign.

New technology also helped to engage American citizens at unprecedented levels, most notably with CNN’s "Magic Map," which brought a greater understanding of the electoral process to a new generation.

(more…)

Joss Whedon is OK With Friday Nights

Joss Whedon is OK With Friday Nights

Joss Whedon told the Los Angeles Times that if he were running Fox, he would also have scheduled his new series, Dollhouse, on Friday nights. It will debut on February 13, paired with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

"It’s not a slam dunk, ‘We love everything you’re doing’ slot. Everybody knows that," he said. “The executives I’m dealing with are canny guys."

The current executives at the network are not the same ones who played games with his last series, Firefly, and then summarily dumped it when the show was slow to find its audience.  The new execs have shown a willingness to let the series be sampled. “They’re bringing down expectations regarding how big of an audience they think it will bring in the beginning, and then as the show progresses. They need to do that."

"If I were an executive, I would have put it on Friday too, honestly,” Whedon added. “And not as a dig. The people who want this will find it, and hopefully more will as well. Fox is aware that TV just doesn’t exist the same way. People watch it online, on DVD, on their TiVos. It’s not the end of the world, but of course everyone’s been predicting the end of the world for Dollhouse‘since it was announced."

Whedon also noted that while Fox executives will likely have to wait patiently for building returns on the show, he hopes fans will be just as patient with the story line. "We’re trying to create something that’s more than the sum of its parts. And not just in an ‘Oooh, we’re heavy with mythology’ way. Dare I say we’re reaching for something more philosophical? Am I allowed to say philosophical? Or does that just mean my show will fail?"

‘Wonder Woman’ Movie Rumors

‘Wonder Woman’ Movie Rumors

Some Wonder Woman news popped up over the weekend.  First, there was Beyonce Knowles telling Geoff Boucher at the Los Angeles Times that she’d love to portray the Amazon Princess.

"I want to do a superhero movie and what would be better than Wonder Woman? It would be great. And it would be a very bold choice. A black Wonder Woman would be a powerful thing. It’s time for that, right?" she said.

She has appeared in Austin Powers in Goldmember, Dreamgirls, and Cadillac Records in addition to her pop music career.  Knowles indicated she has personally expressed her interest to both the studio and representatives at DC Comics.

The shapely and fit performer was ready for the revealing and tight tradition outfit as first designed by artist Harry G. Peters.  "I would definitely have to keep it right for that costume. The way that Lynda Carter wore it, she was sooo fine. She was amazing. I saw her costume at the Met. Her waist was unbelievable. It was pretty crazy, actually, her proportions. But I love Wonder Woman and it’d be a dream come true to be that character. It sure would be handy to have that lasso. To make everybody tell the truth? I need that. It would come in very handy."

The 27 year old also noted, "When you think about the psychology of the heroes in the films these days, they are still a lot of work, of course, and emotional. But there’s also an action element that I would enjoy."

IESB is reporting rumors that Warner Bros. may be circling back to McG to direct the long-stalled movie.  The man is currently in post-production on Terminator Salvation and was scheduled to direct the Superman reboot before walking off the project prior to Bryan Singer’s involvement. He was also interested in The Losers which went to Tim Story before the studio reassigned it to Sylvain White.

“Let me be very clear about this, I don’t know if he has been signed on or if his is just one of the names being circulated by the studio or if in fact it’s McG himself lobbying for the gig. Could be any of the three,” the site wrote.

“I double checked with a few other industry insiders and after a few phone calls they confirmed of hearing his name circling Wonder Woman as well.”
 

More ‘Dollhouse’ Woes

More ‘Dollhouse’ Woes

Joss Whedon’s new series Dollhouse cannot seem to avoid being examined in great depth.  Yesterday, Fox consigned it to the dreaded Friday night at 9 p.m. slot and then the Los Angeles Times ran a report on continuing production delays and concerns.

The show shut down production for two and a half weeks in September as Whedon and his team rewrote scripts and refocused the direction. The initial pilot was scrapped in favor of an all new introductory episode.

The Times wrote, “On Thursday, it became obvious that the problems persist. Production on the seventh episode, which is supposed to begin Monday, is being delayed at least a day because the script was in such bad shape, according to a source who requested anonymity. The script for the sixth episode also had big problems, causing production delays that left the cast and crew very frustrated, the source said.”

The article went on to note that Whedon is rarely seen on the set, instead spending his time with the writers. "We have yet to gain any momentum," an inside source told the Times. "The network wants to tone things, and Joss is trying to figure out how to give them that and still do the show he wants to do."

Fox President of Entertainment Kevin Reilly  was an early supporter of the series, telling the Times,  "He had me at ‘hello’ I was kinda drunk with the surprise of it all. He laid out the whole concept but I think it was one of those things where I heard every other word of it."

That ardor may have cooled given the time slot.  Meantime, a new teaser ad went live earlier this week so you can get a feel for the premise for yourself.


 

‘Doonesbury’ says Obama Won

‘Doonesbury’ says Obama Won

Doonesbury was the first media source to call tomorrow’s election for Barack Obama.  Garry Trudeau delivered strips via the Universal Press Syndicate last Wednesday including one for Wednesday where soldiers in Iraq are seen watching a television where the announcer calls the election for the Illinois Senator.

Newspaper editors around the country have been put in a difficult position considering the pages that normally run the strip tend to close long before the polls. There’s concern of looking silly should Arizona Senator John McCain be declared the victor.

When queried by the Los Angeles Times about this, the comic strip’s creator Garry Trudeau replied, “polling data gives McCain a 3.7% chance of victory. There’s a greater risk that their presses will break down on Election Day. So I’ve been encouraging editors to choose hope over fear. And reminding them that if I’m wrong, it’ll be my face that’ll be covered with egg, not theirs.

I’d be a lot more worried about the country than the strip. One reporter has already suggested I just carry on with an alternative universe in which Obama wins. It’s not a crazy idea . . . "

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds told the paper, "We hope the strip proves to be as predictive as it is consistently lame."

Nervous newspaper editors were offered repeats of August comic strips to run the remainder of the week.  Ther’s no knowing howmany of the 1400 clients will carry the strip or cave in and go with the repeat. Opinion among editors nationwide has been diverse although not as divisive as the opponents have been.

"I thought it was funny," said Michael Weinstein, features editor for the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina. "But it’s an accuracy issue. We won’t know the outcome of the election until Wednesday.

"It’s just a matter of humor. Is the strip funny if McCain wins? Satire humor is a real difficult subject."

The Chicago Tribune
’s Tim Bannon said, "we are reserving the option of running the strip on Wednesday, but we of course would not typeset until we confirmed the result of the election." The Cleveland Plain-Dealer is running the strip as is. "If he’s wrong, he’s wrong," said Debbie Van Tassel, assistant managing editor/features.

Editor John Robinson agrees and wrote at the News and Record of Greensboro NC’s blog, “Risky? Reckless? Not for a cartoonist, but there’s some discussion on the journalism listservs that suggests that this assumed outcome of Tuesday’s election is a limb too far for newspapers.”

"I don’t understand that concern, given Trudeau’s cartooning history," he adds. "I’m thinking that if McCain wins, the embarrassment is Trudeau’s, not ours. Isn’t there anyone who doesn’t think he’s liberal? Besides, if McCain does win, just imagine how much fun it will be to watch how Trudeau handles the turnabout.”

The Los Angeles Times announced they were hedging their bets, not running the strip Wednesday but Thursday if Obama wins. Should McCain win, they will opt for the repeat strips through Friday.