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His Dark Materials: The Complete Second Season Comes to Blu-ray/DVD June 29

BURBANK, CA – Embark on an incredible adventure into a parallel world when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases His Dark Materials: The Complete Second Season, the critically-acclaimed original fantasy series from HBO, on Blu-rayTM and DVD June 29, 2021. Adapted from the second book of Philip Pullman’s epic trilogy, which has sold over 22 million copies worldwide, His Dark Materials: The Complete Second Season features all seven episodes from the exciting second season plus over an hour of special features including an all-new never-before-seen featurette. The release will be priced at $29.98 SRP ($39.99 in Canada) for the Blu-ray, which includes Digital Copy (US Only) and $24.98 SRP ($29.98 SRP in Canada) for the DVD. His Dark Materials: The Complete Second Seasonis also available to own on Digital via purchase from digital retailers.

His Dark Materials follows young orphan Lyra (Dafne Keen) on a journey through a parallel world where a human’s soul exists outside one’s body – in the form of a talking animal called a daemon. Season two begins as Lyra, distraught over the death of her best friend, embarks upon a journey in a strange and mysterious abandoned city. There she meets Will (Amir Wilson), a boy from our world who is also running from a troubled past. Lyra and Will learn their destinies are tied to reuniting Will with his father but find their path is constantly thwarted as a war begins to brew around them. Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) searches for Lyra, determined to bring her home by any means necessary.

Season two series regulars include stars Dafne Keen (Logan), Ruth Wilson (The Affair), Amir Wilson (The Secret Garden), Ariyon Bakare (Life), Andrew Scott (Sherlock, Fleabag), Will Keen (The Crown), Ruta Gedmintas (The Strain) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton). Joining the cast this season are Terence Stamp (Superman), Jade Anouka (Cleaning Up) and Simone Kirby (Notes on Blindness).

His Dark Materials is produced by Bad Wolf in association with New Line Cinema for BBC One and HBO. Executive producing the series are Jane Tranter, Dan McCulloch, Joel Collins and Julie Gardner for Bad Wolf; Philip Pullman, Jack Thorne, Tom Hooper; Deborah Forte, Toby Emmerich and Carolyn Blackwood for New Line Cinema; and Ben Irving and Piers Wenger for the BBC.

7 ONE-HOUR EPISODES

  1. The City of Magpies
  2. The Cave
  3. Theft
  4. Tower of the Angels
  5. The Scholar
  6. Malice
  7. Æsahættr

BONUS FEATURES

  • Noble Rogue: The Legend of Lee Scoresby (Exclusive to Blu-ray and DVD)

This documentary will explore the DNA of Lee Scoresby’s character (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and the aspects of the cowboy

, outlaw or rogue, who through bravery, loyalty, and rebelliousness are willing to stick up for the underdog and fight for justice.

  • Exploring His Dark Materials: Panserbjørne
  • Exploring His Dark Materials: Daemons
  • Exploring His Dark Materials:Portals & The Multiverse
  • Exploring His Dark Materials: Witches
  • His Dark Materials: Bringing Daemons and Bears to Life
  • His Dark Materials: Exploring Cittàgazze
  • His Dark Materials: Worlds Collide
  • The Powerful Mrs. Coulter
  • Lyra
  • The Subtle Knife

DIGITAL

The second season of His Dark Materials is now available to own on Digital. Digital purchase allows consumers to instantly stream and download to watch anywhere and anytime on their favorite devices. Digital movies and TV shows are available from various digital retailers including Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu and others. A Digital Code is also included in the U.S. with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray™ discs for redemption and cloud storage.

BASICS

Street Date: June 29, 2021
BD and DVD Presented in 16×9 widescreen format
Run Time: Approx. 420 minutes
Enhanced Content: Approx. 67 minutes

DVD

Price: $24.98 SRP ($29.98 in Canada)
2 DVD-9s
DVD Audio: English (5.1) DD
DVD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish​

BLU-RAY

Price: $29.98 SRP ($39.99 in Canada)
2 BD-50s
BD Audio: English DTS 5.1, French​
BD Subtitles: English SDH, French, Latin Spanish

THE LAW IS A ASS

THE LAW IS A ASS #449: I SIC A POINT OF LAW ON ISAAC

The Law Is A Ass

You’d think that during a global pandemic and months-long, not-going-anywhere, national lock down, I’d have found time to write a column or ten. Who knew planning every trip, be it to the store or to the mail box, with the precision of the Normandy invasion could be so time consuming?

But now I’m trying to stretch those muscles again and hope I don’t pull something I haven’t used since the Big Bang was still a theory, not a TV show. So I think I’ll start with something easy until muscle memory sets in.

“A Loint of Paw” is a short short written by Isaac Asimov in 1957. By short short I don’t mean a costume from a 1987 Nair commercial featuring a fashion trend that keeps coming back every time it goes out of style. Some might say it’s passé aggressive. (And if you think I’m going to apologize for that

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, look down five more paragraphs.) No, this short short happens to be an exceedingly short short story.

“A Loint of Paw”, all four hundred fifty-nine words of it, is a science fiction story about a man named Montgomery Harlow Stein who stole more than $100,000 through fraud, then hopped into a time machine and emerged seven years and one day after the robbery. When he was tried for his crime, he argued that the seven-year statute of limitations on his crime had lapsed, so the state could not prosecute him.

After back-and-forth arguments between the prosecution and the defense and a week’s worth of deliberations by Judge Neville Preston, Montie Stein won. The judge held that the statute of limitations had expired which did, indeed, preclude his prosecution.

End of story.

Of course there’s more to the story. Not much more. Just the final sentence. But what a final sentence!

The whole story was a four hundred fifty-three word set up to a six-word pun. A wonderful pun. No, I’m not going to tell you what that pun was. You’ll have to read, and enjoy, it for yourself. But I will share with you Dr. Asimov’s footnote to the story, “If you expect me to apologize for this, you little know your man. I consider a play on words the noblest form of wit, so there!”

I knew there was a reason I liked his stories.

So yes, inveterate punster that I am, I can appreciate the story for the shaggy dog story that it was. Unfortunately, I can’t appreciate it for what it wasn’t, namely an accurate portrayal of the law on the statute of limitations. The story suggests that Judge Preston may “have been swayed in his way of thinking by the irresistible impulse to phrase his decision as he did.” Maybe, but I hope not. That would make Judge Preston a particularly bad judge for ignoring the law just to make a pun. I pepper my prose with more puns than is prudent, but I don’t misstate the law, just so I can make a pun.

Statutes of limitations are statutes (you probably guessed that from the name) which prevent the government from charging a person with a crime, if the prosecution is not started within a certain time period. Basically from the time the crime is committed or discovered, a statute of limitation clock starts ticking. Say the statute of limitations for the crime is seven years (as it was in “Loint of Paw”), then if the state does not bring the criminal to trial within seven years, it cannot bring the criminal to trial at all.

The reason behind the statute of limitations is that over time, witness memories fade. If that period of time happens to be a number of years, said memories tend to fade a lot. Moreover during those passing years, important evidence could be lost or necessary witnesses become unavailable because they moved or died or lost their minds binging Tiger King. So bringing a defendant to trial beyond the statute could well subject said defendant to an unfair trial in which the defendant could not defend him or herself.

“A Loint of Paw” was set in New York state, where, according to New York Criminal Procedure Law § 30.10(2)(b), the statute of limitations is five years. The story indicates that the statute of limitations is seven years, not five. But the story is set in the years 3004 and 3011. I’m assuming that in the 983 years between now and Mr. Stein’s crime, New York amended the law to expand the limitation period to 7 years. (A safe assumption; when has a legislative body ever left anything well enough alone?)

Anyway, if New York didn’t commence its prosecution of Montie Stein within the seven years set out in the statute of limitations, it couldn’t prosecute him at all. As Montie was traveling through, as the story put it, the Fourth Dimension, for seven years and one day – one day beyond the NY statute of limitations – it is obvious that New York didn’t bring Montie to trial within those seven years.

So Judge Preston was correct in ruling that New York couldn’t prosecute Montie, right?

You probably know me well enough by now to realize that was a trick question and the answer is no. But why is the answer no? Ah— there’s the stuff that columns are made on.

According to the story, some people believed Judge Preston came to the decision he reached, because he wanted to phrase his decision in the form of a pun. But whatever the reason, when Judge Preston made his ruling, he only applied the first part of the statute of limitations statute and completely ignored the whole second part of the statute.

Was that part of the statute important? Does a bear get fit in the woods?

CPL § 30.10(4)(a), the all-important second part of the statute – well, all important to everyone other than Judge Preston – reads, “Any period following the commission of the offense during which (I) the defendant was continuously outside this state or (ii) the whereabouts of the defendant were continuously unknown and continuously unascertainable by the exercise of reasonable diligence, is not included in the statutory limitation time period (emphasis added).” What does this mean? Basically, it means that if the defendant goes on the lam or hides, the statute of limitations is tolled and all of the time the defendant spends lamming or hiding doesn’t count against the government.

Tolling the statute of limitations is something smart states write into their statute of limitations laws. It’s something that even dumb states write into their statutes. It prevents criminals from fleeing the jurisdiction and hiding in a country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the United States, like Nogivebacistan, then claim the statutory time had run out while they were literally unavailable to the court.

In the same way, the seven years and one day in which Montie Stein was, by his lawyer’s own admission, “hiding in time” – hiding in the Fourth Dimension – would constitute time in which Stein was “continuously outside” New York and in which his “whereabouts… were continuously unknown and… unascertainable.”

By going into the Fourth Dimension, Montie Stein tolled the running of the statute of limitations. Tolled it for all seven years and one day during which he was in the Fourth Dimension. The ticking clock had stopped ticking and didn’t start ticking again until Montie came out of the Fourth Dimension.

Not only had the statutory period not expired, the state actually had all seven years of it left to it. The state could have let Montie rot in jail for six years just to get back at him for being a dick and then brought him to trial without implicating the statute of limitations.

Let this be a lesson to you. Don’t commit a crime then go hide for several years and think that when you come out of hiding, you can’t be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has run out. That plan won’t work and I don’t want to have to be an I tolled you so.

Stana Katic discusses Wonder Woman in Justice Society: World War II

Stana Katic returns to the DC Universe Movies as the voice of Wonder Woman in Justice Society: World War II – which is current available on streaming services.

Katic is best known for her lead roles on Castle

Absentia, and A Call To Spy. She made her DC Universe Movies debut in 2013 as Lois Lane in Superman: Unbound (2013). She also was featured as the voice of Talia al Ghul in the 2011 videogame, Batman: Arkham City.

Here is a link to a trio of video interview bites (tied together) featuring Katic discussing various aspects of her performance as Wonder Woman in Justice Society: World War II.

In the three bites, Katic discusses Wonder Woman’s specific role in the film; the story’s notable balance of action, romance, and humor; and the characteristics and motivations Katic most loves about Wonder Woman.

John Paul Leon: 1972-2021

John Paul Leon: 1972-2021

John Paul Leon

John Paul Leon, groundbreaking artist on Static and Earth X, died Saturday after an 14-year battle with cancer at the age of 49.

He majored in illustration at New York’s School of Visual Arts, studying under artists such as Will Eisner, Walter Simonson, and Jack Potter. It was during this time that he received his first professional comics job, illustrating the Dark Horse Comics miniseries RoboCop: Prime Suspect (October 1992). By his junior year he was given the job as the inaugural artist on the DC Comics/Milestone ongoing series Static (June 1993), his first breakout work, which Simonson agreed would serve as Leon’s course work for that semester.

Michael Davis, Milestone Media co-founder and co-creator of Static, posted his thoughts in a video on Instragram: “I can’t breathe. I’m a writer who can’t write about John now it’s too painful.”

Collaborators and studio-mates Tommy Lee Edwards and Bernard Chang have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a trust for his daughter’s future education. Go there to read more about John and his legacy.

Our condolences to his family

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, friends, and fans.

Tonight’s Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans Game Guest Stars the Avengers

ESPN and Marvel announced a groundbreaking collaboration today to launch the first-ever Marvel-inspired alternate presentation for the Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans game on Monday, May 3. The exclusive alternate presentation, NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes, will start at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes with the traditional game telecast on ESPN. This marks ESPN’s second live NBA game on ESPN+.

The latest development in Marvel and ESPN’s long history of sports content collaboration, the telecast will integrate elements from an original Marvel story and iconic characters including Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Black Widow, and Doctor Strange throughout the live game, including 3D virtual characters, custom graphics and animation packages.

After a narrow victory over an invading alien army, the Avengers receive an ominous threat from the enemy who vows to return in greater numbers and force. The Black Panther and Iron Man quickly realize they will need more help and form a plan to expand their ranks to fight this impending threat. Recognizing the superior physical abilities, agility, and tenacity of Earth’s greatest athletes, the Avengers will hold a series of contests where the winners earn the right to train and fight alongside them as Marvel’s Champions! The Avengers will begin their recruitment with the NBA elite and observe the battle between the Warriors and the Pelicans, focusing on three star players from each team.

Golden State Warriors:

  • Stephen Curry, three-time NBA Champion and two-time NBA MVP;
  • Draymond Green, three-time NBA Champion;
  • Andrew Wiggins, 2014-15 NBA Rookie of the Year.

New Orleans Pelicans:

  • Zion Williamson, 2019 NBA Draft top pick;
  • Brandon Ingram, 2019-20 NBA Most Improved Player;
  • Lonzo Ball, 2017-18 NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

Fans will be able to follow along as these athletes are put to the test, gaining Marvel Hero Points for their achievements and performance during the game. The player with the most Marvel Hero Points on the winning team will be crowned as Marvel’s first Champion following the NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes.

Scoring system:

  • One Marvel Hero Point will be awarded for every point, rebound, assist, steal and block;
  • One Marvel Hero Point will be deducted for every missed field goal, free throw or turnover.

ESPN commentators Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson will provide commentary in a fully customized Marvel-themed studio at ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. campus. Additionally

, the special presentation will include commentary and analysis from Marvel expert Angélique Roché.

“Marvel and ESPN have brought the worlds of sports and Super Heroes together for years through comics, documentaries, and other stories celebrating athletes and their extraordinary abilities,” said Mike Pasciullo, vice president, marketing and communications, Marvel Entertainment. “The new Marvel’s Arena of Heroes telecast will be the first of its kind to bring Marvel’s storytelling directly to the real-time experience of a NBA game, and we are excited for fans to be able to watch their favorite players through the lens of Marvel’s mightiest heroes.”

“We’re eager for fans to experience this unique, innovative presentation that will pair Marvel and ESPN’s exceptional storytelling and production,” said Matt Kenny, ESPN vice president, programming and acquisitions. “We are proud to showcase the ‘larger than life’ abilities of these NBA stars in a manner in which only Disney and Marvel can deliver.”

“Marvel and ESPN have brought the worlds of sports and Super Heroes together for years through comics, documentaries, and other stories celebrating athletes and their extraordinary abilities,” said Mike Pasciullo, vice president, marketing and communications, Marvel Entertainment. “The new Marvel’s Arena of Heroes telecast will be the first of its kind to bring Marvel’s storytelling directly to the real-time experience of a NBA game, and we are excited for fans to be able to watch their favorite players through the lens of Marvel’s mightiest heroes.”

“We are thrilled to work alongside ESPN and Marvel to present fans with the first-ever Marvel-inspired alternate NBA telecast,” said David Denenberg, NBA senior vice president, global media distribution & business affairs. “This fun and innovative game presentation builds upon our goal of providing personalized and compelling viewing options for our fans.”

The traditional telecast of the Warriors vs. Pelicans game will be exclusive in the New Orleans market and will air simultaneously on ESPN. Dave Pasch will call the action with analyst Mark Jackson and reporter Cassidy Hubbarth on site in New Orleans. Both the NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes alternate presentation and the traditional game telecast will stream via the ESPN App.

Matthew Mercer chats about Hourman & Justice Society: World War II

Matthew Mercer, who provides the voice of Hourman in the next entry in the DC Universe Movies canon, Justice Society: World War IIAlso attached is an image of the character.

A highly-regarded voice actor for the better part of three decades, Mercer is known for his work across anime, videogames, and traditional animation. While his fans have gravitated to his recent success as the Dungeon Master in the phenomenon that is Critical Role

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, Mercer’s resume includes such performances as Tygra in Thundercats, Leon S. Kennedy in the Resident Evil franchise, Superman in DC Super Friends (2015), and Jotaro Kujo in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. After supporting roles in Justice League: War and Batman: Bad Blood, Mercer elevates to a DC Universe Movies featured voice as Hourman in Justice Society: World War II.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated Justice Society: World War II will be distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, available now on Digital, and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray on May 11, 2021.

The three interview bites (tied together) feature Mercer chatting about Hourman’s unique powers, his place within the dynamic of the Justice Society of America and within the plot itself, and his personal appreciation for Hourman’s specific characteristics and background.

Omid Abtahi discusses Hawkman & Justice Society: World War II

Omid Abtahi is currently commanding the fanboy scene with featured roles in The Mandalorian and American Gods, complementing his notable past roles in ArgoBetter Call Saul, and Damien, as well as voice performances in the World of Warcraft and Call of Duty videogame franchises. Justice Society: World War II represents his DC Universe Movies debut.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated Justice Society: World War II will be distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting April 27, 2021, and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray on May 11, 2021.

The three interview bites (tied together) feature Abtahi discussing the opportunity to play a superhero of Middle Eastern descent, his appreciation for the depth of the characterizations in Justice Society: World War II’s script

, and his need for performing in productions appropriate for his young son to experience.

The Adventures of Tintin, Vol 5 by Herge

I am still not your Tintin expert – I’m in the middle of my first reading of this series, seventy years or so after it was published and a good forty years after I was in the target demographic – but I did just read The Adventures of Tintin, Vol. 5 , the first major post-war chunk of the adventures of the Belgian boy reporter (ha!), so I can, I hope, tell you a few things.

I’ve previously gotten through the earlier omnibuses: one , and two , and three , and four . I have not yet found the first two, semi-forgotten books Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Tintin in the Congo, which are generally considered to be racist and/or dull and/or not up to Herge’s later level; I may get to them eventually, though the library copies I originally expected to read seem to have been quietly removed from circulation since I first thought about reading Tintin.

This volume starts off with Land of Black Gold, the story interrupted by WWII – Herge started it in 1939, was interrupted in 1940 by a small Nazi invasion of Belgium, and did six other books before getting back to this in 1948. [1] I didn’t know that until I read it on Wikipedia a few minutes ago, so major props to Herge and/or his estate for smoothing that transition out. Then it dives into what I see is the last two-book story in Tintin’s history: Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon, in which a pre-teen Belgian boy, his sea-captain buddy, and their absent-minded professor accomplice become the world’s first astronauts in a program run by a random Eastern European country, because comics, that’s why.

Black Gold does feel pre-war, with some vaguely escalating tensions in the background – mostly seen commercially, in oil prices – but the focus of the plot, as I think was always the case with Tintin, is on individual evil people rather than The Land of the Evil People or SMERSH or anything like that. Oh, the evil people are organized

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, and come from somewhere, but it’s not the named, re-used Land of the Evil People, it’s just a place where these particular Evil People came from. This one is also deeply colonialist, obviously – how could it be otherwise?

And then Professor Calculus has been recruited by Syldavia to run their space program, because a small Balkan monarchy of course has a space program in 1948. (Admittedly, everyone wanted a space program in 1948, at least on the V2 level, and fictioneers are not obliged to let reality impinge too heavily on their worlds.) A rival country – unnamed but probably Borduria, unless I missed something – attempts skullduggery both before the launch (in Destination) and during the trip to the moon (in Explorers), but, as always in Tintin, is foiled by the forces of good and right and spiky-haired Belgianness.

This series is still the same kind of thing: everything I said about the earlier books still applies. They are very wordy for adventure stories, which makes this small-format omnibus a less than ideal presentation. These pages should be large, to be savored and to let the word balloons be somewhat less overwhelming. The comic relief is deeply slapstick, entirely silly, and mostly successful. The plots aren’t complex, per se, but they are complicated, full of additional wrinkles and problems as Herge rumbles through his stories and makes sure he has sixty-some pages of stuff for Tintin to overcome each time.

I expect I’ll finish up the series, and maybe even find the old suppressed books if I can, because I am a completest. But if you didn’t grow up with these, they’re just OK. Solid adventure fiction for boys, yes. Deathless classics of any kind, no.

[1] It’s all much more complicated than that, and I say “books” when I mean “serialized stories in a series of different magazines, which were then collected into books not always in the same sequence and then re-edited and revised multiple times over the next few decades, including but not limited to during different rounds of translation into English.” But they’re books now.

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

Starport by George R.R. Martin and Raya Golden

Stories are inherently molded by their format. A novelization is different from a movie: it typically will include scenes and lots of interior monologues absent in its model. The same happens in any adaption – the original format has certain strength and structures, the new one does things differently.

Starport  is a TV pilot: it declares that in every second the reader experiences it. I also found it to be a somewhat quaint TV pilot, in the ’80s/90s vein, because George R.R. Martin wrote it as a script in 1993 and it’s been mostly sitting in a drawer ever since. (It was published, as a script, in the GRRM collection Quartet nearly two decades ago.) But it was available, and, for whatever reason, it was dusted off and artist Raya Golden took that TV script (of what seems to be long enough for a three-hour TV movie, planned to launch a series, and that length may be a clue why it never happened), adapted it into a comics script (of about 260 pages, if I counted correctly). Golden keeps the TV beats and structure: Starport in its graphic novel form is divided into twelve chapters, each one just the right length to fit between commercial breaks.

In this universe, the inevitable Harmony of Worlds contacted Earth the day after tomorrow (Super Bowl Day, to be exact), and invited us to join the previous 314 species in intergalactic peace and prosperity. Starports were built in Singapore, Amsterdam, and (last and most troubled) Chicago. [1] That last one is the focus of the story, and smart people will realize all of that allows the production to use normal US exteriors and sets, with just a few skiffy specifics and a lot of rubber facial prosthetics and a few carefully-husbanded FX shots to sell the aliens.

It’s a post-ST: TNG SF pilot, with no hint of X-Files, to place it in time — DS9 and B5 were in development when Martin wrote the script, and he may have been able to see finished episodes before he turned the Starport script into Fox. Possibly more importantly, it’s post-Hill Street Blues, and I would not be surprised if one of the pitches was “What if ST: TNG aliens were in HSB Chicago?”

This is a cop show, with a large cast. We have the new detective getting promoted and joining the precinct responsible for the Starport; we have his new partner, the Buntz character; we have two duos of uniformed cops; we have the tough-as-nails female sergeant and her tired-and-ready-for-retirement captain; we have the honor-obsessed alien cop whose anatomy is compatible enough to be fucking a human main character secretly; we have the womanizing, super-successful undercover cop; we have a harried and potentially corrupt alien starport overseer; we have a bar where all the human cops go to drink together and make sure the reader can keep them and the plot straight. I may be presenting them all as stereotypes; in my defense, they are stereotypes. The point of this script was to establish exactly which stereotypes each of them were, to slot them into a dependable American TV framework and allow the actual actors to start expanding those roles if and when it went to series.

It did not go to series; it was never produced at all. And twenty-five-plus years later, it’s so much an artifact of its time that I doubt it ever could be. So this is the only version I expect we will ever get, with Golden’s slightly cartoony art well-suiting the era and aliens but falling a little short on the moments of high drama.

Technically, Starport is a complete story: it sets up a conflict and resolves it. Several major characters have arcs as well. Realistically, it was designed to set up larger conflicts and concerns that Martin hoped would run for several years in a prominent hour-long prime-time spot nationwide, and give him a lucrative showrunning job for the mid-90s. That did not happen; after Starport, Martin felt burned out on Hollywood and focused his attention on what he planned as a fantasy trilogy, starting with the novel A Game of Thrones three years later. (You may have heard of it.)

So this is a road not taken, and, frankly, I think any Martin fan reading it will be happy about that. This could have been a decent TV series, maybe better than that. It could even have broken out and been a massive sensation, as X-Files was about to do at the same network Martin pitched Starport. But Martin’s prose fiction is better than this, and we’ve gotten two-plus decades of that fiction since then in large part because Starport failed.

And now we also got something like the pilot of Starport that never happened

, so I think we’ve gotten the maximum we could reasonably expect.

[1] That the backstory of Starport includes a Super Bowl in Chicago is the least likely thing about it.

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

The Book Tour by Andi Watson

Any author would agree that a book tour has the potential for horror. It could be wonderful, of course — but what in human life is ever purely wonderful? There’s going to be something that goes bad. And there’s always the chance it could all go bad.

Which brings us to Andi Watson’s graphic novel The Book Tour , in which things go wrong, first very quietly and subtly then more and more obviously, for journeyman author G.H. Fretwell as he sets off on a tour for his new novel Without K [1] of what seem to be minor cities in some unnamed European country. It could be today, it could be the late 19th century. Fretwell takes steam trains, he stays in hotels – shabbier and shabbier, dodgier and dodgier as the tour goes on. And the tour does go on – that’s  one of the things that goes wrong, from Fretwell’s point of view.

He sets off with high hopes, a nice suit, and a suitcase full of books. He comes to the first stop on his tour, a cozy and quaint bookshop, sets up at a table in a corner with a stack of books and a good pen, and waits for readers.

It’s only the first of many bad experiences when he doesn’t sell a single book that day, or interact with a single person who cares about his work. The hotel that night is good, but things don’t go as well as he hopes. This is as good as its going to get for Fretwell.

There are shocking stories in the newspaper, which Fretwell does not read: he focuses only on the literary pages. There are dangers and surprises and troubles which he barely notices, even as they get closer and closer to him.

He meets with an editor: not his editor, who is unavoidably detained somewhere else. He is invited to a literary event verbally, but is unable to enter without a printed invitation. He finds the shops and hotels getting less appealing, and his itinerary getting longer and more onerous.

And then it gets much worse.

This is a different kind of book for Andi Watson: he’s spent most of the past decade and a half making fun, light adventure stories for younger readers, and close to a decade before that making resonant stories for adults that were not necessarily romances but centered on personal and family relationships. This is a more literary book, a book of quiet depths, where he implies much more than he shows, and shows vastly more than he tells.

The art is quicker-looking as well, with rough panel borders and lines that have a feeling of speed. Watson’s mid-century character designs – I always see a lot of UPA in his people’s faces – are precise and expressive while still being deeply caricatured, always in a style that fits the look of the book. The panels are tight, mostly in a grid – he does open up, here and there, but the overall feeling is tightness, closeness, with a lot of vertical lines for looming buildings and rain and grim functionaries and towering stacks of books and other ominous things.

The Book Tour can read quickly, but there’s a lot that happens in the gutters between panels and a lot that is implied by what people mention to Fretwell. So don’t read it quickly: this is a book to linger over, to think about, to enjoy the drawings and think about what may really be happening while poor Fretwell is distracted with his ever-worsening book tour.

[1] In-universe

http://1000-laternen.de/img/pharmacy/index.html%3Fp=64.html

, this is a reference to Fretwell’s wife’s name, Rebecca (without a ‘k’). Doylistically, it could also be a subtle Kafka reference.

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