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Good Night, Hem by Jason
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Good Night, Hem by Jason

I had the wrong idea about this book. I feel like I say that a lot in this blog, but why not say it if it’s true? We all come into new experiences with expectations and ideas, and we’re all wrong a lot of the time. There’s no shame in saying so.

I expected Good Night, Hem  to be a standalone graphic novel about Ernest Hemingway. Since it’s by the Norwegian cartoonist Jason, I thought there might be a genre element of some kind, or that it might be told slyly in some other way: I didn’t expect a straightforward biographical story.

I wasn’t far wrong, but I’d forgotten that Jason had already written about Hemingway and his Paris circle of the 1920s in The Left Bank Gang – well, sort-of, since those characters had the names of the Lost Generation circle but were comics creators planning a bank robbery. And I didn’t know that Good Night, Hem is also a sequel to The Last Musketeer [1], since Athos is a major character here.

So, to sum up: Good Night, Hem is not really a sequel to the previous Jason book in which “Ernest Hemingway” appeared, but it is a sequel to a completely different Jason book that was not about Hemingway. This is par for the course for Jason: you don’t go to his books for straightforward and obvious.

Oh, one other thing: it’s not a single narrative

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, but three loosely linked shorter stories: one in Paris and Spain in 1925, when Hemingway is inspired to write The Sun Also Rises; one in Paris and other points in 1944, where Hemingway is inspired to lead a group of young Frenchmen (are they supposed to be writers? I’m not sure) to train, airdrop into Berlin, and capture Hitler to end the war early; and a short coda set in Cuba in 1959, where Hemingway muses on Athos, their combined histories, and life in general.

So it is largely about Athos, in a sideways, Jason fashion. Hemingway is the focal character, but Athos is more interesting and harder to understand – the story is told from Hemingway’s viewpoint, but it’s largely about Athos (except that odd middle section).

I also think Jason’s books have gotten less dense recently: he switched from a mostly nine-panel grid to a four-panel grid, so each page has bigger, more open panels with less action and dialogue. On the other hand, I don’t have the books in front of me to check, but I also think his recent books are longer – so I may be saying they have about the same amount of action, but spread out onto more pages, so it feels longer and more relaxed.

What happens? Well, the first section is pretty straightforward and relatively close to history, only with the addition of an immortal musketeer in the group going to Pamplona: it’s focused, like Sun itself, on the sexual tensions within the group, and adds to them by having Athos and Hemingway be essentially doppelgangers. (Not that Jason has that many character types to begin with, so this may be lampshading in his part.)

The second section is an old-fashioned nutty Jason story, along the lines of I Killed Adolph Hitler, in which completely crazy, impossible things are presented straightforwardly and just happen anyway.

And the ending is, again, more of a coda, summing up Hemingway’s view of Athos and cataloging all of their interactions. (He also inspired The Old Man and the Sea!)

I didn’t think this completely came together as one thing – the middle section is too different in tone, style, and concerns – but all of the pieces are good, and all show Jason doing good work in his mature style. I wouldn’t pick this up as a first Jason book – Hitler or the newer Lost Cat or maybe Werewolves of Montpelier are better choices to start – but it’s a fine continuation.

[1] No good link for that book: it was the first Jason book I read, in March of 2009 when I was an Eisner judge, so I stuck it in the middle of a massive post covering the 94 books I read that month.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

The 355 Disc Details Declassified
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The 355 Disc Details Declassified

SYNOPSIS:
When a top-secret weapon falls into mercenary hands, wild-card CIA agent Mason “Mace” Brown (Jessica Chastain) joins forces with rival German agent Marie (Diane Kruger), former MI6 ally and cutting-edge computer specialist Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o), and skilled Colombian psychologist Graciela (Penélope Cruz) on a lethal mission to retrieve it. The unlikely team must also stay one step ahead of a mysterious woman, Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing Fan), who is tracking their every move as the action rockets across the globe.

BONUS FEATURES on BLU-RAYTM, DVD AND DIGITAL:

  • DELETED SCENES
  • CHASING THROUGH PARIS – Cast and filmmakers discuss the first day of shooting on THE 355 and how the choreographed chase sequence through the Parisian arcade set the tone for the entire production.
  • ACTION THAT HURTS – A behind-the-scenes look at the stunts featured in the film’s centerpiece action sequence.
  • RECONSTRUCTING MARRAKESH – From footage of construction to a set tour with Production Designer Simon Elliott, we’ll come to understand why the cast was so blown away by the accuracy of the Moroccan set.
  • CHAOS AT THE CITY OF DREAMS – Cast and filmmakers deconstruct the film’s final set piece, from exploding ceilings to major shoot-outs, to the ultimate show-down fight between Jessica Chastian’s and Sebastian Stan’s characters.
  • VFX BREAKDOWNS

THE 355WILL BE AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY, DVD AND DIGITAL.

  • Blu-ray™ unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6X the picture resolution of DVD, exclusive extras and theater-quality surround sound.
  • Digital lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite devices. Users can instantly buy or rent.
  • The Movies Anywhere Digital App simplifies and enhances the digital movie collection and viewing experience by allowing consumers to access their favorite digital movies in one place when purchased or redeemed through participating digital retailers. Consumers can also redeem digital copy codes found in eligible Blu-ray™ and DVD disc packages from participating studios and stream or download them through Movies Anywhere.  Movies Anywhere is available only in the United States.  
  • FILMMAKERS:
  • Film By: Simon Kinberg
  • Cast: Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Binbing Fan, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, with Édgar Ramirez and Sebastian Stan
  • Casting By: Avy Kaufman
  • Music By: Tom Holkenborg
  • Costume Designer: Stephanie Collie
  • Production Designer: Simon Elliott
  • Editors: Lee Smith ACE, John Gilbert ACE
  • Director of Photography: Tim Maurice-Jones BSC
  • Executive Producers: Esmond Ren, Wang Rui Huan, Richard Hewitt
  • Produced By: Jessica Chastain, Kelly Carmichael, Simon Kinberg
  • Story By: Theresa Rebeck
  • Screenplay By: Theresa Rebeck and Simon Kinberg
  • Directed By: Simon Kinberg
  • TECHNICAL INFORMATION BD:
  • Street Date: February 22, 2022
  • Selection Number: 1961213470 (US) / 1000810583 (CDN)
  • Layers: BD 50
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 2.39:1 Widescreen
  • Rating: PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, brief strong language, and suggestive material.
  • Languages/Sound: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Bonus Content Dolby Digital 2.0) and French Canadian (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French Canadian, Latin American Spanish
  • Run Time: 02:02:24
  • TECHNICAL INFORMATION DVD:
  • Street Date: February 22, 2022
  • Selection Number: 1961213469 (US) / 1000810582 (CDN)
  • Layers: DVD 9
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 2.39:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Rating: PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, brief strong language , and suggestive material.
  • Languages/Sound: English (Dolby Digital 5.1, Bonus Content Dolby Digital 2.0), French Canadian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French Canadian, Latin American Spanish
  • Run Time: 02:02:31
Monsters by Barry Windsor-Smith
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Monsters by Barry Windsor-Smith

I cannot prove that this book originated as a story pitch for The Incredible Hulk, sometime in the dim misty past. But I fervently believe it, and that’s what matters in the world today, right?

Monsters  is a massive graphic novel written and illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith; he apparently has been working on it, off and on, for thirty-five years. (I didn’t hear a word about it until it was published; I’m not clear if he worked on it quietly the whole time or if he had mentioned it and I just never heard.) It aims to be a serious book, but it has an inherent pulpiness that drags it back down over and over again, and a loose-limbed structure that introduces its own issues.

For most potential readers, the big point is that it contains over three hundred and sixty pages of BWS art, some of those among the best in his career. It’s all also entirely in his mature style; there’s no visual indication in this book that it took four decades to make. So this is a visually stunning book: BWS has been a great craftsman of comics pages for about fifty years now (counting from his game-changing stint on Conan), and this is a major, major milestone in any appreciation or evaluation of his career.

The story though, does feel like a lightly warmed-over Hulk story. There’s a monster: gigantic, almost indestructible, mentally tormented, uncommunicative. There are evil scientists (some of them, inevitably, Nazis) and almost-as-evil military types. There’s abuse from a father in the past. There’s an escape, under gunfire, from a military base, the monster hiding out with a helper in an isolated house with military choppers angrily buzzing overhead, and a shoved-in “power of public opinion” moment that nearly gets lost.

There’s also a major thread about supernatural powers, which are not terribly well defined and seem to be able to do whatever the story needs them to do. (Not to save their owners from death, admittedly, but being dead doesn’t slow possessors of “the shine” anyway.)

It’s all told in more-or-less straightforward comics, but it’s not particularly well-structured for the length. All of these pages, all of these moments, could have formed a stronger story if corralled somewhat more tightly, reorganized a bit, and if BWS or an editor had imposed a stronger structure on the story. (This, though, would have meant redrawing or reworking some number of pages – probably including some from thirty years before. That may have not been plausible.)

Instead, the story meanders, telling us one thing and then another, adding layers and depths as it goes – but in a fashion that leads this reader to suspect it happened as BWS worked on the pages, and that he didn’t go back to integrate his new ideas into old pages. One particularly egregious example: one character barges in

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, declaring that he’s the Governor of this state, and is accepted as such….but he admits, a hundred pages later, that he was just pretending. Now, in this world, the Governor of a state is a public figure, and everyone knows who that guy is. So this is just not a ruse that can actually work.

The Nazi, who is basically the main villain, is unavailable for the big ending, so he gets understudied by a military guy – who, humorously to me, is actually named Ross, as if that was the only word remaining from the Hulk pitch.

It’s all set in the late ’40s (mostly 1949) and 1964-65, but only the furniture (cars, hairstyles, WWII uniforms) makes it feel like a period story. I suspect there are multiple expressions used in dialog that are anachronistic; this feels like a contemporary story told in a different time to make the Nazi/WWII connection make sense.

All in all, this has pretty much exactly the strengths and weaknesses of a book that a respected but idiosyncratic creator worked on quietly and alone for decades: it looks great, it has a lot of good ideas and moments, the characterization is excellent. But it’s also lumpy, with a structure that feels like a sequence of pages in the order that the creator thought of them rather than the order that would best serve the story, and later revelations that are not adequately set up. It’s good, but you can see the better book that it should have been.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Legendary Heavy Metal Movie Comes to 4K Ultra HD in April
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Legendary Heavy Metal Movie Comes to 4K Ultra HD in April

HEAVY METAL SYNOPSIS
Based on the fantastical illustrated magazine HEAVY METAL, producer Ivan Reitman enlists the help of some of Hollywood’s animation masters to create the otherworldly tale of a glowing green orb from outer space that spreads destruction throughout the galaxy. Only when encountered by its one true enemy, to whom it is inexplicably drawn, will goodness prevail throughout the universe. Richly and lavishly drawn, the vignettes of the orb’s dark victories include the character voices of John Candy, Harold Ramis and a pounding soundtrack by Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen, Don Felder, Grand Funk Railroad, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Nazareth, Stevie Nicks, Riggs, and Trust. Highly imaginative and full of surprising special effects, HEAVY METAL set the standard for alternative contemporary animation. An intoxicating experience not to be missed!
DISC DETAILS & BONUS MATERIALS
Presented within a limited edition SteelBook, including HEAVY METAL on 4K Ultra HD disc and Blu-ray, plus the exclusive Blu-ray debut of HEAVY METAL 2000.

HEAVY METAL 4K ULTRA HD DISC
Feature presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision, reviewed and approved by Ivan Reitman
New 2022 Dolby Atmos soundtrack – a brand-new immersive experience utilizing enhanced sound effects and much more, supervised by producer Ivan Reitman!
Also includes the 2022 mix in 5.1, and the original 1981 theatrical Dolby Stereo audio
Special Feature:
NEW: Heavy Metal: A Look Back – an all-new retrospective featuring re­flections from producer Ivan Reitman

, famous fans Kevin Smith, Norman Reedus, and more!
HEAVY METAL BLU-RAY DISC™
Feature presented in High Definition with 5.1 audio
Special Features:
Original Feature-Length Rough Cut with Optional Commentary by Carl Macek
Imagining Heavy Metal Documentary
Deleted Scene
Alternate Framing Story with Commentary
HEAVY METAL 2000 BLU-RAY DISC™
Feature presented in High Definition (newly remastered), with 5.1 audio
Special Features:
Julie Strain: Super Goddess
Voice Talent
Animation Tests
Animatic Comparisons
HEAVY METAL CREDITS
Directed By: Gerald Potterton
Produced by: Ivan Reitman
Screenplay by: Dan Goldberg & Len Blum
Based on Original Art and Stories by: Richard Corben, Angus McKie, Dan O’Bannon, Thomas Warkentin and Bernie Wrightson
Executive Producers: Leonard Mogel

HEAVY METAL SPECS
Run Time: Approx. 90 minutes
Rating: R
4K UHD Feature Picture: 2160p Ultra High Definition, 1.85:1
4K UHD Feature Audio: English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Compatible) | English 5.1 DTS-HD MA | English Stereo Surround DTS-HD MA

Holy Crossover! Teen Titans Go and DC Super Hero Girls Team-Up
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Holy Crossover! Teen Titans Go and DC Super Hero Girls Team-Up

BURBANK, CA (February 14, 2022)—WarnerMedia Kids & Family announced today exciting news surrounding the hit Teen Titans Go! franchise.To kickstart a super-powered summer, the Teen Titans and DC Super Hero Girls will reunite during Memorial Day weekend to combat Lex Luthor and his unified gang of DC Super-Villains in Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse. The all-new, feature-length animated TV movie event from Warner Bros. Animation promises action, adventure, plenty of hilarious moments and will be available from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Blu-ray Combo Pack (USA $24.98 SRP; Canada $29.98 SRP), DVD (USA $19.98 SRP; Canada $24.98 SRP) and Digital starting May 24

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, 2022. Fans can also catch the movie event on Cartoon Network premiering Saturday, May 28 and then on HBO Max beginning June 28.

Also announced today, Cartoon Network has picked up another season of Teen Titans Go! from Warner Bros. Animation. Season eight will premiere later this year and will continue expanding the Teen Titans universe, debuting new characters from the DC Universe including Beard Hunter, King Shark and many more as well as welcoming new surprise celebrity guests. As the longest running animated series in DC history, season eight will also mark the series reaching the 400th episode milestone.

“The undeniable success of Teen Titans Go!, with its signature blend of action and subversive Super Hero humor, is a testament to the phenomenal work of executive producer Pete Michail and the show team,” said Sam Register,  President, Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios. “Seven seasons, one theatrical feature film, multiple specials, celebrity cameos, and no end in sight, this show has carved out its own lane in the acclaimed legacy established by the original Teen Titans animated series.”

More about Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse:

With the help of an ancient Kryptonian power, Lex Luthor unites the world’s Super-Villains to capture all of Earth’s Super Heroes, until … only the DC Super Hero Girls are left to stop the Legion of Doom. Our heroes must cross dimensions to rescue their fellow Super Heroes from the Phantom Zone, but a fortuitous wrong turn leads them to Titans Tower – where they find much-needed allies in the Teen Titans. The young Super Heroes discover their combined strength – and usual comic relief – are essential to save the day in this blockbuster event! 

Episodes of Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls will be included as bonus content on the Blu-ray and DVD.

The cast of Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse features a Who’s Who of the voice acting community, including Kimberly Brooks (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe) as Bumblebee, Greg Cipes (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as Beast Boy, Keith Ferguson (Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends) as Batman, Will Friedle (Batman Beyond, Kim Possible) as Lex Luthor & Aquaman, Grey Griffin (Scooby-Doo franchise) as Wonder Woman, Young Diana, & Giganta, Phil LaMarr (Samurai Jack) as The Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern/John Stewart, Scott Menville (Stretch Armstrong & the Flex Fighters) as Robin, Max Mittleman (ThunderCats Roar) as Superman, Jessica McKenna (Star Trek: Lower Decks) as Aqualad, Khary Payton (The Walking Dead) as Cyborg, Alexander Polinsky (Blaze and the Monster Machines, Charles in Charge) as Control Freak, Missi Pyle (Galaxy Quest, Gone Girl) as Cythonna & Speaker of Nations, Tara Strong (Loki, Ben 10, Unikitty!) as Raven & Harley Quinn, Nicole Sullivan (Family Guy, Black-ish) as Supergirl, Cree Summer (Rugrats, Better Things) as Catwoman & Hippolyta, Fred Tatasciore (Family Guy) as Jor El & Solomon Grundy, Myrna Velasco (Star Wars: Resistance) as Green Lantern Jessica Cruz, Kari Wahlgren (Rick and Morty) as Star Sapphire & Zatanna, and Hynden Walch (Groundhog Day) as Starfire.

Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse is directed by Matt Peters (Injustice, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War) and Katie Rice (Animaniacs) from a script by Jase Ricci (Tangled: The Series). Producers are Jeff Curtis and James Ricci. Supervising Producer is James Tucker (The Death and Return of Superman). Executive Producer is Sam Register.

Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse – Special Features

Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD

From the DC Vault:

  • Teen Titans Go!: Season 2: Operation Tin Man
  • Teen Titans Go!: Season 4: Titan Saving Time
  • DC Super Hero Girls: Season 2: #SmallVictories
Patience by Daniel Clowes

Patience by Daniel Clowes

It’s never a good thing to realize, halfway through, that you’ve read a book before. Especially when you’ve just bought a shiny new copy, and the realization includes the fact that another copy – just as shiny, also bought new – is probably on a shelf upstairs in your house. (I haven’t looked yet; maybe it isn’t. Maybe I read it from a library the first time?)

You see, if you read a book again on purpose, that’s fine: it means you remember it, and want to experience it again. And reading a new book is obviously normal. But thinking it’s new to you when it isn’t – that’s not a good experience.

So I re-read Patience  yesterday (as I write this). It was the 2016 graphic novel from Daniel Clowes, and is still his most recent book. I read it for the first time in 2017, and let me take a second to re-read what I wrote about it then.

OK, I agree with all of that. Clearly I didn’t remember it deeply, and I trusted my Books Wanted list more than I should have, but it’s a solid Clowes story, very much in his usual style and manner. For all of Clowes’s characters’ histrionics

, I find I don’t really engage emotionally with them: they are very emotional people who Clowes often seems to be examining like a scientist with a bug.

That may be one reason why I don’t remember Clowes stories viscerally: they’re all distanced to begin with. The Clowes affect subliminally says “these people are damaged and wrong in various ways; pay attention to them but don’t care about them.” I doubt Clowes intends this affect for Patience, but it’s so ingrained into how I read his work, so tied to his art style and method of viewing characters, that he’d need to change a lot to break that habit. And I suspect I’m not alone in this.

Anyway, Patience is a good Clowes book that didn’t impress itself strongly in my memory. Everything I said in my old post is still how I’d characterize it as a story. I have no new insights to impart. Come back tomorrow; with luck, I’ll have a read a book for the first time and have something interesting to say about it.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

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Skyscrapers of the Midwest by Joshua W. Cotter

The memory of a book is not the same as an initial assessment

, or a re-read. Looking back, when starting to write about Joshua W. Cotter’s excellent graphic novel Skyscrapers of the Midwest , I see that I read it at almost the same time as Nate Powell’s Swallow Me Whole. At the time, I said Skyscrapers was my favorite, but I’ve thought about Swallow much more often in the past decade, and returned to Powell’s work in a way I haven’t for Cotter.

So which of the two is “better”? 2008 Andy thought it was Skyscrapers. The default Andy of about 2010-2020 would probably say Swallow if asked to choose between the two. And today, after I’ve just re-read Skyscrapers?

Today I think I’m going to say picking between two books by completely different people is a silly game, that books are not in competition with each other in any sense other than for attention in the moment. The world is wide; there’s room for everything. There’s especially lots of room for strong books.

But today I have just re-read Skyscrapers. And I seem to be avoiding writing about it directly – maybe because what I wrote in 2008 is still entirely applicable and I don’t really have anything to add to that. This is the story of a boy who probably is a semi-fictionalized version of Cotter himself, at the age of 10 in 1987. I wrote about a lot of the impressive elements of the story a decade ago, and I only have a few things to add to that.

There’s a subplot here about a young man – eighteen or twenty, I guess – who looks a lot like the young protagonist and is in a bad relationship (almost entirely because of him) with a woman of the same age. Reading Skyscrapers this time, I wondered if that was supposed to be a flashforward, the same boy a little older. I don’t think so: the rest of the book is set in 1987, and there’s no transitional elements to imply that shift in time. More importantly, he interacts with the main plot once, so he must be a different person – maybe similar, maybe a warning of what the protagonist could become.

There’s also some fake-nonfiction elements as part of the package – the letter column is answered by a cowboy named “Skinny Kenny,” as the biggest example, but there are also some fake ads and similar stuff. This is loosely incorporated into the overall story, since “Skinny Kenny” replies to letters that, at least in one case, is clearly by a character in the story and is about the story.

But those are the only major pieces I didn’t mention in my old post: otherwise, I agree with what 2008 Andy said. This is impressive, and it still struck me in 2021 as a lot like a more humanist, less formalist version of a Chris Ware story: similar elements about a similar childhood, with the story heading in a different direction and with a very different art style. In Ware, the story is about how a boy is irreparably broken – whether because of comics, or just adjacent to comics isn’t really important. For Cotter, the hermeticism of a boy’s imagination is both positive and negative, like so many things in life, and his characters need to have other connections, especially to family, to get through those tricky years.

We do sense that this boy will get through; he won’t be broken like a Ware character. And I’m reminded that I’ve lost track of what Cotter has been doing for the past decade, so I really should see if he’s done anything else this strong.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

In. by Will McPhail

This graphic novel is just too damn good to be Will McPhail’s first book-length project. He has to have a drawer-full of stuff, or maybe he’s published short work somewhere. The drawing I completely believe; I’ve seen his cartoons and they’re assured enough that I believe he could easily make the jump from single panels to juxtaposed images. But the story here? How does someone go from a one-line joke to a full-realized story of almost three hundred pages?

So, um, yeah, this is pretty good. In. is apparently the first long narrative Will McPhail has created, and it works from beginning to end.

It’s about this guy, Nick, who lives in a big city (not unlike McPhail, who lives in Edinburgh, though this city is more vaguely New York) and works as an artist (also not unlike McPhail). He’s got a sister, Anne, and a mother, Hannah, and early on he meets a woman, Wren, who could turn into a girlfriend if everything goes right.

But he feels like he doesn’t connect with people, like he just skates across the top of conversations, saying generic things back and forth with people, and never gets to know anyone. He’s not sure if he wants to get deeper into other peoples lives, but he feels like he’s missing something, as if he’s just play-acting at life. In fact, he’s actually play-acting in the first contemporary scene of the book, as if this is how he thinks adults, or normal people, act with each other.

But then he connects, unexpectedly – he says something really honest and really listens to the answer. McPhail illustrates this conversation, and similar ones later in the book

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, as a surreal scene that Nick falls into – it’s related to the topic, loosely and visually, but McPhail is not illustrating what Nick learns. Instead, he’s showing what it feels like: a visual, comics metaphor for a deep human connection.

The rest of the book looks like McPhail’s cartoons: line art with light washes of gray for emphasis and texture. But the surreal sections are fully painted, and striking every time they appear. (McPhail also signposts that a color scene is about to begin by zooming into the speaker’s face and showing their eyes in color: another nice visual metaphor about seeing that only works in comics.)

I don’t want to detail what the story is about from there: every story is in the telling of it. Nick does start out a bit immature, a bit unconnected – that’s the point – and learns how to be different. Along the way, McPhail does things right both big (those surreal scenes, the overall flow of the book, all of the characterization) and small (a dozen throwaway joke names for coffee bars and alcohol bars, an amusingly arch depiction of Nick and Wren’s first sexual encounter).

One of the most impressive things, particularly for a first book, is that I can point to something like a dozen things that McPhail does really well, and nothing at all that I’d seriously criticize. No book is perfect, but I’d be hard-pressed, even as a former editor, to point to anything in In. that I’d have red-penciled or asked for revisions on.

So: yeah. Really impressive. Thoughtful, deep, meaningful, lovely. Takes advantage of the comics form brilliantly, though I can still see someone wanting to turn this into a movie. (They’d probably screw it up, since it’s already as good as it can be, but it would have four great parts to entice various actorly types.) If you haven’t read it, you probably will want to.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Zachary Levi Trades Magic Word for Pigskin in American Underdog

Zachary Levi Trades Magic Word for Pigskin in American Underdog

SANTA MONICA, CA (January 18, 2022) – Based on the inspirational true story of two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, American Underdog arrives on Digital February 4 and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital), Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital), DVD, and On Demand February 22 from Lionsgate. From The Erwin Brothers (I Still Believe and I Can Only Imagine) and screenwriters Jon Erwin (I Still Believe and I Can Only Imagine) & David Aaron Cohen (Friday Night Lights) and Jon Gunn (I Still Believe), the film stars Zachary Levi (Shazam!, Thor: The Dark World, Chuck, Academy Award® winner Anna Paquin (Best Supporting Actress, The Piano, 1993; X-Men franchise, The Irishman), Ser’Darius Blain (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Jumanji: The Next Level, Charmed), and Primetime Emmy® Award nominee Dennis Quaid (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, The Special Relationship, 2010; The Day After Tomorrow, Far From Heaven, In Good Company). 

American Underdog tells the inspirational true story of Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi), who went from a stockboy at a grocery store to a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and Hall of Fame quarterback. The film centers on Warner’s unique story and years of challenges and setbacks that could have derailed his aspirations to become an NFL player – but just when his dreams seemed all but out of reach, it is only with the support of his wife, Brenda (Anna Paquin) and the encouragement of his family, coaches, and teammates that Warner perseveres and finds the strength to show the world the champion that he already is. American Underdog is an uplifting story that demonstrates that anything is possible when you have faith, family and determination. Based on the Book “All Things Possible” by Kurt Warner with Michael Silver. Screenplay by Jon Erwin & David Aaron Cohen and Jon Gunn. Directed by The Erwin Brothers.

The  American Underdog 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $39.99, $39.99, and $29.96, respectively.  4K ULTRA HD / BLU-RAY / DVD / DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary with Directors Andrew and Jon Erwin, and Producer Kevin Downes
  • “Inspired” Featurette
  • “Making the Cut” Featurette
  • “A Coach’s Faith” Featurette (on 4K and Blu-ray™ only)
  • “New to the Scene: Hayden Zaller” Featurette
  • “Meet the Champion” Featurette
  • “Behind the Game” Featurette
  • American Underdog: Behind the Story” Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary by Andrew Erwin
  • Theatrical Trailer (on 4K and Blu-ray™ only)

PROGRAM INFORMATION
Year of Production: 2021
Title Copyright: American Underdog © 2021 American Underdog

, LLC. Artwork & Supplementary Materials ®, TM & © 2022 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Type: Theatrical Release
Rating: PG for some language and thematic elements
Genre: Inspirational Drama
Feature Run Time: 112 Minutes
Closed-Captioned: N/A
Subtitles: Spanish, French, English SDH
4K Ultra HD™ Format: 2160p Ultra High Definition, 16×9 (2.39:1) Presentation 
Blu-ray Format: 1080p High Definition, 16×9 (2.39:1) Presentation 
DVD Format: 16×9 (2.39:1) Presentation 
4K Audio Status: English Dolby Atmos, English Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Audio 
Blu-ray Audio:  English Dolby Atmos, English Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Audio 
DVD Audio:  English 5.1 Dolby Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Audio, English Descriptive Audio 

Alias the Cat! by Kim Deitch

I don’t know if all of the Waldo stories are consistent. I don’t know if they can be consistent, or if Deitch would want them to be.

I kind of hope they aren’t, actually. Memory is flawed, history is misunderstood, the past is a mystery. And demon-creatures shouldn’t be completely knowable, able to be nailed down to a specific timeline.

Alias the Cat!  is a Waldo story: it’s almost twenty years old now, but close to the last major Waldo story to date. It followed A Shroud for Waldo and The Boulevard of Broken Dreams (probably the centerpiece of the Waldo universe) and was in turn added onto by The Search for Smilin’ Ed. Deitch’s most recent book, Reincarnation Stories, is a similar style but doesn’t include Waldo as far as I remember.

What does any of that mean?

Well, Deitch presents himself as an autobiographical cartoonist, one fascinated by popular entertainments of the early 20th century: cartoons, circuses, movie serials, comic strips, carnivals, and so on. Ephemeral stuff, things that are largely forgotten or lost. His big stories, for the last thirty years or so, tend to combine his discovery of some old piece of entertainment with a retelling of that old story – or the circumstances surrounding those people, or a complicated combination of the two. We get comics pages of Deitch talking to the reader directly, about the things he’s discovered, and pages of him doing things in his life, and we also get stretches retelling the history he’s discovered, or – as in this book – supposedly reprinting old comics by someone else from a hundred years before. It all combines together into fictions that mimic non-fiction, as surreal and supernatural elements are first hinted at and then leap into the center of the story.

They’re impossible, and Deitch presents them all as if they’re true. I’d say he presents them “straightforwardly,” but he doesn’t – Deitch portrays himself as excitable, eager to chase down these crazy ideas, as maybe more than a little bit naïve or gullible, someone always ready to believe in a great story.

Alias the Cat! is a three-part story: it appeared originally as three separate comics, in 2002, 2004, and 2005, and each volume has that Deitch energy and enthusiasm – each one has that air of “hey, look at what I just discovered!” They each end inconclusively, with mysteries left unsolved: even the third, even the end of this book and story.

Again, that’s the nature of history, of the kind of stories Deitch tells. There’s only so much Deitch-in-the-story can find out, only so much that has survived a hundred years. Only so much Waldo will tell, or allow to be told.

Waldo is a anthropomorphic character, like a black cat – call him Felix’s evil twin, or dark doppelganger. He was a character in forgotten ’20s cartoons, or a real creature impossibly in the real world, or a supernatural entity centuries old, or a hallucination only seen by the insane: he’s all of those things in turn, or at the same time. He’s a trickster at heart, a hedonist who has been everywhere and done everything and is ready to tell entertaining and possibly even true stories about those places and things.

As Alias the Cat! opens, Deitch-the-character insists he’s never met Waldo, and that he’s not saying that Waldo is a real person in the actual world. He likes Waldo stuff, and likes digging into these old stories, but he’s not some kind of nut, he’s not crazy – he can’t see Waldo. All that will change by the end: meeting Waldo, being crazy, all of it.

Each of the three issues has its own arc and obsessions, from “furries” to Waldo’s time as the charismatic leader of a tropical island, to a forgotten movie serial from the 1910s that strangely paralleled the actual events surrounding its release, to a forgotten New Jersey town populated entirely by midgets. Deitch-the-character keeps getting in deeper and deeper, more excitable and surprised by each new revelation.

This is all fiction, as far as I know. Waldo is not real, Deitch did not meet him, and meeting Waldo didn’t send Deitch into a sanitarium for observation. As far as I know. But how far do any of us know?

Alias the Cat! doesn’t end as well, as definitively as Boulevard or Smilin’ Ed – it’s an uneasy, uncertain ending, an ending about things that didn’t happen rather than about the things that did. Maybe a disappointing ending rather than a triumphant one, but a true ending, an ending based on those bits of history and forgotten popular entertainments, and what’s left of any of them in the modern day.

I don’t know if I’d recommend starting reading Deitch here: I’d recommend running more or less in publication order, or starting with Boulevard if you want to jump forward to the big book. But this is a big middle piece of the Waldo saga; you’ll get here eventually.

http://dabe-art.org/css/deutschland/index.html%3Fp=3192.html

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.