28 August 2005

Trembling Before Greatness: Comics Legend Neal Adams

This year's Canadian National Comic Book Expo offered the usual embarrassment of riches for fans (insert obvious "geek" joke here) of every possible medium and splinter genre: sci-fi TV and film, fantasy role playing games, Japanese anime, cult horror, and of course, a certain four-colour medium still inching towards respectability. The top draw (rimshot) for your humble narrator was the rare chance to meet the great Neal Adams--probably the pop-culture figure with the most direct cause-and-effect influence on my career, since it was his work and only his work that I shamelessly copied as a youngster and through my student years held up as the penultimate standard of illustration excellence (I didn't say I was as good as Adams, but a mere mortal can have dreams...). The always- outspoken Adams was a young turk who not only revolutionized the look of Silver Age comics with his dynamic realism and experimental techniques, but he became a champion for artists' rights, crusading (and winning!) for increased rates, ownership of original art, reprint fees, medical coverage, and pensions. Thirty years after he stopped drawing "Batman" and left DC Comics to form Continuity Studios, his rendering of the character remains definitive. Click here to see the master in action as he creates the recently famous (even though he first drew him in "Batman" #232 back in 1971) R'as Al Gul step-by-step.

14 August 2005

So To Paraphrase W.C., Mr. Parkes: "Never Work With Children, Animals, Or Scotsmen"?

Film snobs be damned, I really want to like Michael Bay. He's got a great eye and loves to entertain audiences--he's like H.B Halicki with an unlimited bank account. Too bad for every movie Bay's helmed that delivers on its premise (The Rock, Armageddon), he's hatched an excruciating turkey (Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys 2). But he redeemed himself with this summer's spirited clones-on-the-roam bomb "The Island", for which I seem to be a fan club of one.

The film's own weasely producers, Walter Parkes and his wife Laurie, won't be joining: incredibly, they're blaming the stars Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor for its poor showing. The Parkes' have staged a nasty smear against the esteemed thesps with Johansson's talents taking the biggest beating. According to the Parkes': "Those are superstars of the future, not superstars of the present. Even lesser television actresses, quite honestly, would have more connection to that audience." Like who, exactly? Daphne Zuniga? Markie Post? (what exactly is meant by that audience?). Read their feeble tirade here. And expect their next film to headline Edie McClurg...

Let's Hope They Served Him Some "Hot Coffee", If You Get My Drift...

They've caused me a few near-aneurisms since I first stood before a Defender console in the K-Mart foyer back in the Reagan era--but videogames have yet to kill me. Rather, the moral guardians of my youth thought "Fangoria" and "D&D" would kill off my generation first. Unfortunately, some obsessive sap in Seoul, South Korea (one of the most wired countries in the world) died of heart failure immediately after finishing his mammoth online gaming session in an Internet cafe--50 hours!

28-year-old "Lee" began his online battle game at a Taegu cybercafe on Aug. 3 and only left his spot over the next three days to go to the toilet and take brief naps. Lee had recently quit his job to spend more time gaming and after he failed to return home (to his mother, big surprise), former colleagues tracked him to the cafe. Lee promised he would finish the game and then go home. He died only minutes later. "We presume the cause of death was heart failure stemming from exhaustion," a police official theorized.

I must say, I've been scared straight by this story. Having just finished "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" this past week (I began it last December, so I'm well past Lee's fatal 50th hour), I'll be sure to pause for macrobiotic snacks, yogic meditation, and home-decorating shows (to slow my racing heartbeat) before committing myself to my next challenge: "God Of War".

03 August 2005

"Beat The Geats" At TIFF 2005

Sturla Gunnarsson's film version of "Beowulf" will make its world premiere at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival, celebrating its 30th year. Adapted by Andrew Rai Berzins from the Old English poem (dated approx. 1100 A.D.--so expect some changes purists!) and focusing on the first half of the epic tale (the dragon will appear in the sequel), "Beowulf And Grendel" (full title) stars Gerard Butler, Sarah Polley, and Stellan SkarsgÄrd, and was shot last autumn on authentic Icelandic locations and offers a grittier, meditative approach to what could have been an orgy of CGI (that'll likely come with the rival Zemeckis production, adapted by Neil Gaiman, due next year). Now, if that sounds a bit too arty (read: "boring"), know that several major action sequences were storyboarded by yours truly and there'll be no shortage of monsters and mayhem to go with this unique take. Check out the official site. An expanded gallery of my storyboards will be posted here shortly.