Not to pile on poor little pornographers, but I think, if this image is any indication, that Sinful Comics is going to be hearing from Marvel’s lawyers too. And Sony’s. And probably the lawyers for Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffudd.
And the hell of it is, the artist is pretty talented and could probably find work in the regular comics industry.
One of the more disturbing things about Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg! was how many little things it got right– from the use of digital actors (later to be used in former studio-mate Frank Miller’s films) to some of the overarching political threads. Chief among those in Flagg! was how the powers that be, after taking as much money out of the US system as they could, relocated their corporate headquarters to Mars and acted as absentee landlords.
Fast forward to today, where Halliburton announced they’re moving their corporate headquarters to Dubai. Halliburton (Dick Cheney’s old company) has millions of no-bid contracts from the US government, including a lot of jobs critical to the war effort in Iraq, and they’re not going to pay any taxes on their profits. Oh, and if they’re not a US company, that means they can get around sanctions on US corporations doing business with Iran. And a foreign company will be doing a lot of things for the US military, which could be a major security risk. What fun.
With 300’s $70 million opening weekend, everyone’s eyes lit up. No one expected this number, with the best estimates at least $20 million lower. Now everyone is scrambling to read the tea leaves and try to understand what just happened.
A few thoughts from our corner of the universe. First, this will make 2007 the best year ever for comic book movies. There are six feature films scheduled for release this calendar year and I will guarantee you that combined, they will add up to huge box office receipts.
As a result, this will fuel future comic book-into-movie activity. It also makes Frank Miller a suddenly bankable name. Forget his work on Robocop 2 and look at Sin City and now 300. Once he begins directing The Spirit later this year, expect that to get onto a release schedule ASAP.
Projecting ahead, there are five more comic book movies have firm release dates for 2008 with at least two others penciled in (see schedule, below).
I’ve said all along that the comic book adaptations will continue until there are enough flops to sour Hollywood on the genre. This year opened with Ghost Rider opening to surprisingly huge numbers and then had legs. With 300, the reverse seems to be happening. I suspect production heads will fast track properties in the various studio pipelines and we’ll see one or two more movies added to 2008 and 2009 could possibly get jam-packed even though all that’s for certain that far out is the next Bryan Singer Superman release and Captain America.
Mark Evanier posted the sad news that Arnold Drake passed away this morning.
Drake was a prolific writer for comics, prose and film, refusing to be typecast. In the early 1950s he wrote It Rhymes with Lust which can be argued as America’s first graphic novel (readers can judge for themselves when Dark Horse reissues this later in 2007).
While best known today for creating Deadman, Drake also wrote a wide variety of titles, mostly for DC Comics featuring the Doom Patrol, Space Ranger and Tommy Tomorrow. Given his versatility, he also handled Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis and the delightful Stanley and his Monster.
Drake was outspoken about the changes he saw happening to comics in the 1960s, as Stan Lee and his Marvel cohorts rewrote the rules. As a result, he was in the forefront at demanding improved working conditions and tried to wake DC’s editors up that there was finally some serious competition for readers.
The efforts led to his removal from DC assignments although he would return to write now and then into the 1980s.
His last effort, a proposed Doom Patrol graphic novel, was in the works at the time of his death.
To help combat a growing trend, the Virginia health department has commissioned a "fotonovela" – a comic book that uses photographs instead of art, also known as fumetti – to educate Spanish-speaking girls younger than 18 about how they can avoid being coerced into unwanted sex.
Citing cultural tradition, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN Latinas lead the nation in teen births with a birth rate more than double the national norm. Young mothers are extremely reticent to name the fathers of their children.
According Paz Ochs, the Richmond VA Hispanic liason who helped create the fotonovela, "We wanted something that would be appealing. There’s some people that might not realize that this is even against the law." Health care workers in Illinois, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Indiana and Florda have contacted the Virginia Department of Health for more information.
According to this article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, teenagers are reading more now than they have in decades. Not only that, but they’re "buying books in quantities we’ve never seen before," says Booklist magazine’s Michael Cart, who also notes that "publishers are courting young adults in ways we haven’t seen since the 1940s."
The reasons for the surge, besides a high teen population at present (over 30 million), include more quality young adult literature in just about every genre, with fantasy and graphic novels being particularly in vogue. But it’s not just buying – teens are also visiting libraries in greater numbers, and many librarians are seeing a greater circulation of teen fiction than adult fiction.
Oddly, the article doesn’t really credit online activity for this upswing; it actually notes, "The staying power of books is especially remarkable given the lure of YouTube, MySpace and other techie diversions." But as any teen or adult can tell you, you need to be able to read, and read well and fast, in order to fully partake of online "techie diversions," and once you’re reading stuff you like, you’re bound to read more.
I was listening with keen interest to Mike Raub’s interview with my old friend, DC publisher and president Paul Levitz, available on the current (#12) ComicMix Podcast. Back in the days of papyrus scrolls, Mike, Paul and I were in an a.p.a. (amateur press association; a forerunner of the Internet) called Interlac. It was great fun, and if I’m not mistaken it’s still around in the more capable hands of those who still own staplers.
Anyway, Mike asked Paul for his opinion as to the single greatest change in the comics medium in the 35 years since he ran a massively influential fanzine called The Comic Reader. Without dropping a beat, Paul talked about the acceptance of the comic art medium.
A couple hours later I found myself debating which would be the least expensive way to see the movie 300: my AARP card or the first-showing matinee. Linda and I piled into the car and drove up I-95 to watch the carnage. I’m referring to the movie, and not I-95.
Later on TiVo showed us the latest episode of Ebert and Roeper, where 300 lead the discussion. Mind you, I regretted the passing of the show’s original co-host, Gene Siskel. Unbeknownst to much of humanity, Gene was a serious fan of Roy Thomas’s Conan work and at one time had at least three complete collections. But then again, he might have reviewed the movie through the eyes of a comics’ fan. I doubt that, but roll with me for a while longer.
Roeper reviewed the movie and loved it. He commented at length about the evolution of the graphic novel-based movie without once referring to costumes and capes (oddly, 300 had both – but you get my drift) and Frank Miller’s influence on comics, film, and our culture in general. He spoke of Miller’s work the way arts critics speak of Martin Scorsese, John Lennon and Philip Roth. Not a single word was condescending. Not one.
And it’s about time. Paul’s perception is right on the money. In earlier days we would look to the movies as justification for our four-color passions, as if to say “see, somebody else is taking us seriously.” That played a big, big part in our enthusiasm for Richard Donner’s Superman – The Movie. Today, we no longer need to prove anything to anybody.
Previously, I stated in this column that respectability might be the death of us. I still feel that’s a possibility: I’d hate to see the comic art medium be taken as seriously by its fans as those many rock’n’roll enthusiasts who lost their sense of humor and perspective a long time ago.
But if respectability is the death of comics, at least we’ll get a well-written obituary.
Earlier today, Dateline Hollywood Daily speculated that the movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel 300, which brought in well over $27 million Friday night in only 3,103 theatres, "looks set to shatter the record for biggest March opening ever," amassing "what is likely to be a $60+ million weekend." And that’s with the time change and the relatively balmy weather in the northeast this weekend! Now AP’s David Germain reports that Warner has estimated the weekend’s take at $70 million, which would break last year’s $68 million record for the Ice Age sequel, which played in 850 more theaters. It’s also about $5-10 million more than the movie cost to make.
Maybe we shouldn’t be that surprised, considering the amount of buzz the film has generated among everyone from women happy to see something catering to the female gaze to political bloggers interpreting parallels between the Battle of Thermopylae and the current situation in Iraq to enthusiastic action-flick audiences just in it for the blood and guts.
It’s not very often that a movie comes along with something for just about everyone — it even serves as a great discussion topic for those who’ve seen it and don’t particularly care for it!
Out in Austin, Texas it’s South by Southwest (SXSW) week, with two festivals and a conference going on. While most tech types are attending the Interactive trade show and festival for creative web developers, designers, bloggers, wireless innovators and new media entrepreneurs, there’s also a film fest/conference going on, with plenty of world premieres.
One of those is the documentary Confessions of a Superhero directed by Matt Ogens, which "chronicles the lives of three mortal men and one woman who make their living working as superhero characters on Hollywood Boulevard." Cinematical has a review of the docu. Hey, at least they don’t have to wear giant animal heads like those poor kids up in Anaheim…
ComicMix’s own Brian Alvey is out there, and maybe we can press him into making his CM debut with a full report!