As promised, here is Part 2 of our adventures at D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center. In this video we take a look at some of our favorite things (Harrison Ford, Chris Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Teen Beach Movie, etc) and ask some expo-goers what their favorite things have been over the weekend. There’s also plenty of cosplay, some Broadway stars, new Disney things to acquire, and a special “hi” from Markiplier!
Tagged: Star Wars
It’s no secret that we are huge Disney fans. It was, after all our first fandom. We love the movies, the TV shows, the Parks, the Broadway musicals – omg, just everything. And then you go throwing Star Wars and Marvel into the mix. (Plus, the Anaheim Convention Center has really amazing food choices, so we might just go to any con they decide to throw there.)
Last weekend, the super Disney fandom organization, D-23, held it’s 4th Expo (if someone is keeping score – this our third one we’ve attended) and lots of great announcements were made and tons of stars were there, and unlike Comic Cons, we could easily point out the origins of even the most obscure cosplay. There were also exhibits, concerts, signings, and panels.
There was so much going on that we had to break our coverage into two videos.. This one talks about some of the major announcements like Johnny Depp being inducted into the Hall of Fame, the new Star Wars lands in both Disney World and Disneyland, a preview of Disney Shanghai, and Disney Animation & Pixar’s newest movies.
Until next time….May the force of Tinkerbell’s pixie dust come with great responsibility.
Sadly, there’s no way to actually experience everything (and I gave up on the FOMO some time ago), but I did manage to experience a ton of the stuff that was on offer. So much, in fact, that I think it’s going to take me about five posts to cover it all! So today, I’m sticking with the basics – the con floor and exhibits, some exclusives I scored (and coveted but missed out on!), free swag, cool cosplay, Artist Alley, and some of the stuff that goes on outside.
If you’ve been to SDCC before, you know just trying to see what you want to on the con floor and surrounding “activations” outside can be mega-challenging and exhausting. The hall is large, the activations spread out, and the crowd…well, let’s just say you aren’t going to be sprinting from booth to booth or buying any exclusives without a pretty big wait. Of course, that’s because there’s so much cool stuff to see and buy. So much, in fact, that it would take me forever to describe it, and so instead I put together this handy album of the stuff I stopped to take pictures of.
Favorite merchandise bits on the floor include this amazing Men In Black replica; upcoming collectible Marvel keychains from Monogram that will include Deadpool and X-Force Deadpool; and the Entertainment Earth booth’s many cool items, including this Boba Fett stool (there’s a whole set). Speaking of Entertainment Earth, while visiting their booth, I also got a chance to speak with Jason Lenzi, co-founder and co-owner of Bif Bang Pow!, which has partnered with Entertainment Earth to provide some cool products through their store. You can check out the interview here.
One thing any fan of miniatures, building sets, display sets, or the like really must check out is McFarlane Toys’ amazing building sets of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones characters and scenes. They caught my eye for their small scale and detail, and after talking with the Prototype Development Director I learned that Todd McFarlane’s idea was to have the individual pieces and sets (for kids approximately 8+ to adult collectors) be able to all be put together (including the characters, which come in pieces to be put together or mixed-and-matched) into larger scenes according to preference, and to have the larger building blocks (e.g. buildings) work with other brands. The Walking Dead ones are available or becoming available now (including e.g. Daryl on the highway and the Winnebago, and the hospital doors, due out in October), and the Game of Thrones collection, Series 1, will be out in December 2015 to early 2016 (series 2, including e.g. The Wall with Jon Snow, is due out in January 2016). The amount of detail in this product is great – including things like barbed-wire-topped fences in The Walking Dead line that can be angled if, for instance, you want your walkers to be “pushing the fence down.” Everything looks to be of good quality, and doors open, wheels move, grass is flexible, and more. They have everything from blind bag minifigs to sets of 5 figures in case you want to, for instance, quickly build up your Walker army (and the blind bags are labeled W for Walkers or H for Humans so you can at least have some idea of what you’re going to get). I love it; and I also learned they have their eye on additional licenses for the future (and maybe even some Spawn stuff, like a build your own alleyway). Can’t wait to see what else they come up with.
Along with all the cool stuff to look at, I picked up some fun exclusives and swag. My absolute favorite (since I missed out on the Hasbro matchbox-sized Ant-Man, which sold out in a hot second) is the Avocados at Law tee from the Digital PIMP booth, although the Fogwell’s Gym and Agent Carter shirts from Marvel are hella sweet, too. I was also pleased with the Supernatural “Swan Song” car with army man from CineQuest.com, pretty much everything from Quantum Mechanix (lots of Firefly stuff, including a mini Serenity and Firefly playing cards complete with IOUs!), and my ridiculously large Espionage Cosmetics nail wraps purchase. In the free swag category, getting the Google Cardboard viewer was awesome, and I was also well-pleased with my exclusive Firefly poster from QMx, my Little Twin Stars fan from Sanrio, the Comic-Con Mad Libs from Penguin, and of course the Entertainment Weekly mag with Deadpool on the cover. Because Deadpool. I also swung by Dark Horse and picked up plenty to read, including Mind MGMT and Lady Killers, which I’m looking forward to.
Outside in the surrounding areas, this Hand of God promotion was pretty freaky – and also pretty amusing when some of the ardent religious protesters who always appear near the convention center during Comic Con got mixed in. They were clearly confused, at first thinking they’d walked into a crowd of like-minded individuals – until they heard some of the slogans being chanted by the Ron Perlman look-alikes.
The activations included the Assassin’s Creed obstacle course, which a lot of people stopped to watch (increasing the crowd difficulty issue, but I get why they stopped – it was pretty damn cool!). Other outside stuff I was delighted to find included the Hello Kitty Cafe truck. I totally bought Hello Kitty macaroons and petit fours (tasty!).
But seeing exhibits and buying things isn’t all there is to do. There’s also a metric ton of great cosplay around, including favorites of mine like this epic Poison Ivy, this giant Groot, this somewhat Victorian female Captain America, this hilariously awesome Pikachu Deadpool, and the woman cosplaying my favorite Effie Trinket outfit. I love all the thought and work that people put into their cosplay, and how much joy they get out of it.
And of course, there’s also the entirety of Artist Alley to visit. I swung by to catch up with some favorite creators like Janet Lee, Reilly Brown, Sanford Greene, and Dustin Nguyen; and also visited Mark Wheatley‘s booth in the exhibits area. It’s always nice to take a few minutes to check out one of the main reasons SDCC even exists – i.e., the comics. And Artist Alley is a great place to do that.
Whew! I think that might just about cover the highlights of my con floor experience. Hope you enjoyed it! And fear not – there’s lots more to come. Stay tuned for coverage of convention panels, the Her Universe Fashion Show, Nerd HQ, and some of the fun party and nightlife stuff I checked out.
And until then, Servo Lectio!
“Last Wednesday I stupidly dropped my iPhone in the bath, and my life has sort of spiraled almost out of control.” • Patrick Stewart
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but just in case – I’m a spoiler whore. Yep, I’m one of those geeks that absolutely love to suss out information, be it in print or by streaming video, about a movie or television show that I absolutely can’t wait to see! It’s foreplay, you see. Gets me all hot and bothered and excited and really ready, if you know what I mean. (All us Star Wars: The Force Awakens nerds – which pretty much includes the entire population of the planet – should know exactly what I mean. C’mon, admit it – “Wet did you not get when the Millennium Falcon you saw in the first trailer?” asked Yoda.)
Of course, the marketing suits get this. The really good marketing suits understand exactly what to give, what to reveal – or not reveal; the really bad ones don’t. Case in point: go check out fellow ComicMixer Arthur Tebbel’s latest “Box Office Democracy” review of Terminator: Genisys. Go on, I’ll wait….
Im-not-so-ho, Arthur is absolutely right. Dead on. The “big reveal” in the movie’s trailers reminds me of the “big reveal” in the previews and ads for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock – the death of the U.S.S. Enterprise, NC-1701. The ship was as much a character in Star Trek as was New York City in Sex and the City (which is why, im-not-so-ho, the second Sex movie failed so miserably, because the Big Apple was missing for 99.9% of the story.)
So why do the bad marketers do this? Two theories: (1) they believe the movie really stinks, it’s dead in utero, so they are desperate to fill the theatres, because, after all, if the movie doesn’t make a profit their jobs could be just as dead; and (2) they just don’t a fucking clue.
• • • • •
Go read Denny’s latest column, The Grand Old Flags. Dennis, you hammered the proverbial nail on its head. And I also grew up with all the rules about the flag – they are so much a part of me that when I see Grand Ol’ Glory still waving in the wind (or lying like a dead sloth against its pole) at night I’m surprised and just a little bit, teensy-weensy disturbed. (By the way, did you see Republican Representative Jenny Horne’s impassioned, tearful, and wonderful speech in South Carolina’s Statehouse last Wednesday? If not, I highly recommend you search it out.)
• • • • •
The San Diego Comic-Con will be over by this time, but instead of being in California this past weekend I will have been in Indianapolis to celebrate the wedding of my cousin Delightful Devin to the Marvelous Maria (as Stan Lee might put it).
Only I hope I made it.
Did you ever have “one of those days” on which you wish you had never gotten out of bed? No, not just “one of those days,” but one of those days which leaving you wishing that, to paraphrase Captain James T. Kirk in response to Spock telling him that “we have three days to live over again (“The Naked Time”)“not that day.”
This past Wednesday I got up, took a shower, got dressed, left my apartment, and took the stairs down instead of the elevator, heading off to work. (I take the stairs pretty regularly, only rarely choosing to go down via elevator. Up is another matter, even though I know I should, since it’s “good for me.”) Only last Wednesday something happened, I don’t know what, my heel got stuck or my ankle turned…
…anyway, down I went, six stairs, trying to catch myself, only to end up on the floor of entry foyer to my apartment building. And I was in pain.
I mean, P-A-I-N!
So many things went through my head in nanoseconds – I broke my leg, I broke both legs, I’m alive, I didn’t break my neck, god, it hurts, I need help, shit, I left my cell phone upstairs, I need help, I need help, I need help…
“Help!” I said weakly.
“Help!” I said with a little bit more energy.
Nobody. Of course, it’s 6 in the morning!
I couldn’t stay on the floor. Besides, I attended the “Walk It Out” School of Medicine: “Get up. You’re okay. Don’t be a baby. You’re just shaken up. You’ll be okay.” So I gingerly stood up.
Okay, that works. Maybe, thankfully, thank you God, I didn’t break anything. Get to the car. Get to work. Someone there will help you. Doctors. Nurses. X-Ray machine.
I took one step.
Okay, hobble, sidle, shuffle, slide. Out the apartment door. Down the stoop like a “real grandma.” Thank God I got a parking spot right in front of my building. Got in the car. Turn the ignition. Slowly join the traffic.
I was still thinking, “I don’t think anything’s broken. Couldn’t work the gas pedal or the brake if it was.” But then I think, “Shit, what if it’s adrenalin, what if I’m like Bruce Banner and I’m just hyped up? Fuck it, keep driving.”
I get to work somehow. Hobbling, sidling, shuffling, sliding. I don’t bother clocking in, don’t bother changing into scrubs. I sit down in one of those “wheely-chairs,” roll over to the sink, turn on the tap, raise my legs, and stick my feet under the cold water. It helps a little. I sit there.
My friend and co-worker, Kathy, will not take “no” for an answer. She gets me on a gurney in PACU (Recovery Room). My buddy Frank brings me two ace bandages. Kathy brings me more ace bandages and an ice pack. Ace bandages surround me. Kathy says none of the doctors are in yet. “Why did you come in?” she asks. “I didn’t know what else to do,” I said. Or something like that. I’m also wondering why the hell I did come in, why didn’t I just drive to the hospital (I work in a surgical ambulatory center), what if my ankle, or both, are broken, I’m supposed to go to the wedding this weekend, shit, it hurts.
Dr. Reiss, ace anesthesiologist, bless her, is in. I asked her to take a look. She does. “I don’t think anything’s broken,” she says. I break down and cry a little bit. I ask her for a hug. She gives me a good one.
My boss comes to see me. She wants me to go the ER at the hospital. How to get me there? I don’t want her to call 911, I don’t want to go in an ambulance to the hospital, which is just across the street. Claudia, super PACU nurse, has a brainstorm. She calls hospital transport. My boss wheels me down in a wheelchair.
I’m brought right in. And when the registrar asks me for my driver’s license, the second worse thing happens on this fucked-up, miserable day:
My driver’s license is not there!
Where the fuck is it!
Shit! Shit! Shit!
Oh my fucking god how the hell am I gonna get on the airplane for the wedding?
I swear to you, that was the order of my thoughts.
• • • • •
Did Mindy break her ankle, or ankles? Did she find her driver’s license? Did she make to Delightful Devin and Marvelous Maria’s wedding?
Tune in next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, to find out.
War is always a horror story. Terrible things are done and people kill one another in violent ways for what must have seemed very good reasons to them at the time. Sometimes, not always, the war is necessary. Opposing Hitler and the Nazis in WWII was necessary; wasting lives and dollars in Iraq was not.
The Civil War seemed necessary and inevitable. The United States was lurching towards the conflict since the country was founded. As Abraham Lincoln said in his “House Divided” speech on June 16, 1858 (a speech considered by many to have lost Lincoln the Senate election in Illinois that year), “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.” The issue would have to be settled and settled in blood, in war, with horror.
This past week we observed the 152nd Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the climatic battle between the forces of the North and the South. The war would go on until 1865 but at this point it became a war of attrition. The South was not going to win after Gettysburg. The killing, the horror, would go on.
The Battle of Gettysburg is also the setting for Tom Mandrake’s and my new project, Kros: Hallowed Ground. Coincidently, we launched our Kickstarter campaign on the eve of the anniversary. (You can find our Kickstarter right here)
Oh… and we added vampires.
You might ask yourself, “Why did you do that, John and Tom? Surely the events of that great battle are dramatic enough on their own.” They are, and don’t call me Shirley.
The difference is that we’re not telling the story of the Battle of Gettysburg; we are using the Battle as the setting and the backdrop for the story we are telling. The Battle of Gettysburg is a huge tale and has consumed many, many books from different authors in its telling. While you can tell the story from many different perspectives according to who you focus on, there is no one character of the battle that can be called the main protagonist or antagonist. That’s not ideal for graphic fiction; you want one central character around which the story revolves. That’s what we’ve done.
“But why vampires?” You are insistent on that, aren’t you?
I’ve long been interested in what I call narrative alloys – combining elements of one genre with another. Robert E. Howard created Conan and other sword-and sorcery works by combining historical fiction and what was referred to as “sword-and-sandal” with supernatural stories, especially monsters. When I created GrimJack, I smushed together sword-and sorcery with hard-boiled noir detective fiction. When creating Agents of the Empire in Star Wars, I combined James Bond with Star Wars.
In combining the Civil War with horror fiction, I’m hoping to underscore the horror that was the Civil War. Too often I’ve read fairly bloodless accounts that focus on dates and names, troop movements and the order of battle. I think your skin should crawl when you read about the Battle of Gettysburg. We give you two Battles of Gettysburg; one by day and one by night. The concept is that Civil War battles would call to vampires who, like carrion birds, descend on the battlefield when the cannons and the rifles fall silent. The vampires come to feed on the wounded. Imagine for yourself the horror you would feel if you were badly wounded and still lay upon the ground where you fell and then, in the dark, a monstrous creature comes to suck the remaining life out of you and you are helpless to stop them.
That makes my skin crawl and I’m betting it will do the same for you.
Our protagonist is a vampire hunter – a dampyr – named Kros. This time, however, he discovers that he cannot fight alone and soldiers from both the North and South must come together to fight a greater evil that may literally consume them and everyone they care about. I want the reader to see the Battle through new eyes and to feel it viscerally. Tom Mandrake will make that happen. He is doing the best work of his storied career; his art creeps me out sometimes and I know what’s coming!
You can get a peek at all this at our Kros: Hallowed Ground Facebook site and, of course, the Kros: Hallowed Ground Kickstarter site.
Tom and I are editing ourselves on this which you might say makes us unsupervised. We intend to make Kros: Hallowed Ground the way we want it to be. What we want is to make your skin crawl.
Fans willing, we’ll do just that.
From radio talk show host to stand up comic to being the author of Amazon’s #1 most pre-ordered book, Stephanie Miller is many things. She talks with us about the current political scene (duh), why radio died and how the most important tool in her arsenal is (as she puts it) “filth”. Plus Grant Bowler gives us great detail on the new season of DEFIANCE and where his character is headed this season on the SyFy series.
We’re back in a couple of days that visit to the set of TYRANT and a look at SyFy’s new series, KILLJOYS. Follow us on Twitter now here.
Last weekend, while my column was here, I was not. I was an invited guest at WonderCon out in Anaheim, CA, and I had a great time. It reminded me of San Diego Comic Con (who owns WonderCon) back before SDCC got so huge and overwhelmed with media stuff. WonderCon was mostly about comics and that felt very cool.
My duties were pretty light – two panels and two hour-long autograph sessions and one video interview. I didn’t have a table (my own fault) so I had a chance to walk around unfettered and unsupervised and see what I wanted. I didn’t realize fellow ComicMix columnists Jen Ernst and the Tweeks were also in attendance or I would’ve made an effort to get together with them and say hello and exchange stories about Mike Gold.
One of the big impressions I had was the sheer amount and quality of cosplayers in attendance. Every corner of fandom was there – comics, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, every sf movie or TV show you could think of. Some were mash-ups of different groups, such as Princess Merida (Brave) as a Jedi. I was dazzled.
What I initially thought was an interesting cosplayer turned out not to be a cosplayer at all. A guy with a bullhorn outside the security gates was haranguing everyone; turns out he was a Westboro Baptist-type preacher going on about sin and Jesus and the devil; I wasn’t listening very closely. Side observation: why do so many of these preacher types go on about the devil so much? They talk more about him than Jesus, it seems to me.
Anyway, his church also had some placards up with red letters against a yellow background with variations of “Jesus is Lord.” My second day there I saw one such sign inside the security barrier and wondered how they got past the guards. Then I realized it was being held by a Stormtrooper, probably from the 501st, and in red letters against a yellow background it said, “Vader is Lord.” Well played, 501st; well played.
I got to see some of my fellow professionals during the Con; my fellow Legends scribe Len Wein was there and we exchanged heart surgery notes. I had a triple bypass last October but Len had a quadruple bypass only six weeks before. (He’s so competitive.) I would not have been at the Con in his shoes and I hope all the fans really appreciated his being there. Len is one of the nicest guys in the biz and goes that extra mile for the fans.
Dan Jurgens stopped by while I was having breakfast on Friday ,which was nice. I later stopped by his table and we shot the shit about some of the old days at DC.
I also met up with Barbara Randal/Kesel/Kesel Randal/Randal Kesel/whatever. We ran into each other outside the Convention Hall and that is a very difficult trick to pull off. The odds against meeting anyone you know at one of these things is astronomical.
Barbara, I and my late wife Kim Yale were good friends back at DC when Kim worked there and it was still headquartered in NYC. Barbara has hardly changed at all and that should be illegal. I myself am old and weathered and show my years as any decent person should.
I went to a panel that Barbara was moderating called “What Does an Editor Do” which was fun, quick paced, and informative. A really good panel. During Q&A I asked her and her panelists who was an example of a good editor in the past. Barbara nailed it with her answer: “Archie Goodwin.” Boom! There it is. Great writer, great editor.
I also met some other professionals for the first time – Marc Andreyko and Tom King. Marc you may know from his version of Manhunter, which starred Kate Spencer. Kim and I had worked on a Mark Shaw Manhunter series so that gives us a bit in common.
We were both hanging around the Con booth for different reasons and I was trying to think of some way of introducing myself without sounding like a dweeb. Evidently, he was doing the same and we finally broke the ice and had a great conversation.
You may know Tom King from his current work on Grayson as well as his novels. He came up to say hello and introduce himself during one of my autograph sessions. A really nice guy and I enjoyed meeting him; he confessed he was a little nervous about meeting me. (I can give him names of people who can tell him how and why I am not so impressive.) I told him stories about how I dweebed out in meeting some of those pros I revered (Jack Kirby, John Broome, and Will Eisner). Tom and I got along fine after that.
Both Tom and Marc mentioned how my work on Suicide Squad really impacted them. That always surprises me when I hear that. These guys are hot, young and very good writers. All false modesty aside, I’m sometimes surprised that people remember what I did; I was just trying to do my best at the time. Like I always do.
The two autograph sessions went very well. Both lasted an hour each and I was busy right through each hour. I got to chat with some of the fans and see some of my old work which was sort of like seeing old friends. A couple of the fans had my very first work which was an eight page story in the back of the first issue of Warp, the first comic from First Comics.
The two panels were fun. One was my solo panel – all about me, a subject I know fairly well and can talk endlessly about. It was a relatively small crowd so I had them all move down to the front of the room and I sat on a chair in front of them and we just chatted. I told stories, held forth about writing, and everyone seemed to have a good time.
The other panel was about working on Star Wars and the room was packed. I shared the podium with several of my fellow workers and we fielded answers from the crowd. Towards the end, I asked the audience a question, one that I felt went to the very heart of Star Wars.
Did Han shoot first?
The answer was a deafening “Yes!”
A good Con, all in all. I want to thank everyone connected with it and thank them for inviting me and taking really good care of me. I had such a good time I’m hoping to go back. If I have the money, I would pay my way.
And for those who know me, you know that’s a high compliment.
I’ve worked on/created a number of characters in my writing career, trying to define them through my writing. They exist first in my head and then become incarnated through my words and stories and the depictions by the artists. In some ways, they are like my kids – my murderous, nasty kids.
In the movie Stranger Than Fiction (one of my Mary’s fave films and the most atypical Will Farrell movie ever), the writer of a novel finds that her lead character – who she was planning to kill off – is a real person and comes face to face with him. I don’t think I’d ever want to do that for the main reason that I tend to make the lives of my protagonists pretty miserable. If I’m their creator, I’m a pretty asshole god. I have very good reasons for doing these terrible things – it reveals character and makes a better story. At the same time, I’d never want to meet any of them face to face. I’ve given them cause to do really nasty things back to me.
This is not a situation likely to come up… except that every now and then one of the characters goes walkabout. They slip away from my stories and show up elsewhere, doing and saying things that I never gave them to do or say.
With Jan Duursema I’ve created lots of characters for Star Wars in the Dark Horse comics I did for almost a decade. Two of them – Aayla Secura and Quinlan Vos – have shown up elsewhere. Both of them have shown up on the animated series, The Clone Wars, and Aayla went live-action in Episodes II and III of the Prequel Trilogy. In the animated series they gave her a French accent which threw me a bit – I never heard her that way in my head when I wrote her. In Episode III she was gunned down by her own troops who continued to fire shots into her back when she was down. That was harsh to watch. My baby!
Even my character GrimJack has done walkabout a bit. I was – and am – a big fan of Roger Zelazny’s Amber series of novels. Evidently, Zelazny was also a fan of GrimJack. In one of the later books, he introdued a character called Old John. Oh, you might have been using an assumed name but I knew it was you, Gaunt! Zelazny described him to a tee and caught his personality perfectly. We later got Mr. Zelazny to do an introduction to a GrimJack graphic novel. That was so cool!
The character that I created who has done the most walking about has to be Amanda Waller, the leader of the Suicide Squad. She has had the most incarnations in a variety of looks of anyone that I’ve created. Amanda has shown up in animated features on both TV and in films, video games, and television shows. On Smallville she was played by Pam Grier – which is beyond cool – and in Arrow she is considerably younger and more svelte. Hey, it’s the CW.
She’s also been in movies. Angela Basset played her in the Green Lantern movie. Okay, I know mostly no one liked the GL movie but – Angela Basset?! That’s amazing right there.
And, of course, there’s the Suicide Squad movie that starts filming any day now where she will be played by Academy Award nominated, Tony award winning star of How to Get Away With Murder actress Viola Davis. Boo-yah!
Amanda also sends home money. Every time she appears outside of the comics, I get what they call “participation”. If they reprint my work with her in TPBs, I get money. My Star Wars kids? Not so much. GrimJack? He would but so far he hasn’t. But the Wall? Oh yeah. Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money – you bet. I love that Amanda.
It is interesting to see characters that you created or defined show up elsewhere (for example, I defined Deadshot although I didn’t create him). Sometimes it feels a little surreal. As I said, they started up in my head and then to see them and hear them walking around doing and saying things that I never wrote can be weird. It’s also nice. My kids are out in the world with their own lives. That’s interesting to experience.
Of course, would it kill them to call home now and then? Well, maybe not Gaunt.
“Well, more wealth than YOU could imagine!”
DeAgostini Model Space makes incredibly detailed model kits, and in celebration of the release of their Millennium Falcon model they’ve estimated the total cost of building your own Corellian YT-1300 light freighter. One must assume Han Solo’s special modifications would be extra.
I love movie and television soundtracks. I’ll often use a given soundtrack while I work, letting it fuel my writing. I can’t listen to music with lyrics in them; that interferes with my process. I’ll get themes, characters, even scenes or whole plots from the music. Soundtrack music is in service of the story that the film is trying to tell; it’s a part of the narrative, heightening the emotion that’s being invoked.
I have my own particular favorites. The composers usually have a large body of work but certain key works resonate within me – Jerry Goldsmith’s Chinatown and Patton, James Horner with Field of Dreams, Shaun Davey’s Waking Ned Devine, Elmer Bernstein’s To Kill A Mockingbird (has there ever been a more beautiful and evocative theme?) and, of course, The Magnificent Seven.
I’ve also been very fond of Alan Silvestri’s score to Forrest Gump but that one is hard for me to listen to anymore. It was also one of the favorites of my late wife, Kim Yale. We had it playing in the background on the morning that she died; in fact – as the last notes of the last track played, Kim gave out her last breath. The music will always be with me but I can’t physically listen to it very much.
What I find amazing is how many great composers in movies and television have the last name of Newman. It’s a fascinating family; the musical DNA runs strong through these people. Alfred Newman (1901-1970) was the scion of the family and has won more Oscars for soundtracks than any other composer. He worked on The Grapes of Wrath, Ball of Fire (I love this film!), Twelve O’Clock High, The Grapes of Wrath and How The West Was Won among many, many others.
He composed the theme for 20th Century Fox which is still in use today. You’ve heard it at the start of every Star Wars movie (although, alas, you won’t hear it in any future episodes since the franchise is now owned by Disney). He was the general music director at Fox for decades starting in 1940 and when he left, he was replaced by his younger brother, Lionel Newman.
In his younger days, Lionel was the accompanist for Mae West on the vaudeville circuit (which must have been an interesting job). He composed the music for the John Wayne film, North to Alaska (one of my fave Wayne films as I was growing up) as well as a passel of TV shows like The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. He was also the music director for TV shows such as The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, and Batman.
Alfred Newman sired other soundtrack composers, notably David Newman and Thomas Newman. You may know David from his work on the Disney animated version of Tarzan. He was also the composer on Serenity, the feature film follow-up to the TV series Firefly, a particular favorite in our house. It’s a really lovely piece of work. He also did the music for Galaxy Quest, that wonderful homage/send-up to Star Trek.
Thomas Newman is a prolific and talented composer and one of my absolute faves of the modern breed. His work is stunning, be it on the James Bond film Skyfall or Pixar movies such as Wall-E and Finding Nemo. He scored the films based on two Steven King works, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. He did the theme for the TV series, Six Feet Under, one of my favorite TV themes of all time. It’s quirky use of percussion sets the tone for the series itself.
One of the most played soundtrack CDs in my collection is the music Thomas Newman wrote for Road to Perdition. As he often does, Newman makes great use of minor chords, suggesting melancholy and loss. I have a strong streak of melancholy myself, always have, and it just responds to this music. Heart breaking and breath taking.
Last, and certainly not least, we have Alfred’s nephew, the astounding Randy Newman. Randy is a pop singer and composer par excellence; you must know his songs like “Short People,” “It’s Lonely At the Top,” and “I Love L.A.” among so many others. One of my fave pop writers/composers of all time.
Given his pedigree, it must have been inevitable that he would also take up soundtrack composing. You must have heard his work on The Natural, all the Toy Story movies, Seabiscuit and Monsters Inc (for which he finally won an Oscar after 15 nominations). If memory serves, his first words of his acceptance speech as he gazed out at the audience was, “Don’t you pity me.” He is a man of great wit, a dry humor, exquisite musical sensibilities, and a great sense of narrative. As you may guess, I am a fan.
There are some composers whose soundtrack albums I would buy without even seeing the movies. The Newman clan rank high on that list. They have, as an aggregate, just too much damn talent. It’s unfair to others, I know, but they make me happy.