29 May 2006

"Blacksad" Coming To The Big Screen!

Created by writer Juan Diaz Canales and artist Juanjo Guarnido, "Blacksad" is set in an alternate 50s-era America right that James Ellroy and Sam Fuller would feel right at home in, except that this world is populated by anthropomorphic animals ala "Fritz The Cat". In fact, the lead character, John Blacksad, is a humanoid panther, equal parts Kipling's Bagheera and Spillane's Mike Hammer. But "Blacksad" is hardly a gimmicky "funny animal" book, or a freewheeling satire ala the works of "Fritz"s Crumb. It's a deadly serious, often heart-wrenchingly tragic, melodrama featuring honest emotions, gloriously operatic violence, and sly satire (targets have included white supremacy, McCarthyism, and The Manhattan Project). But Gaurnido's stunning art alone makes it worth the purchase.

Director Louis Leterrier (best known for those "Transporter" films with Jason Statham) is attached to helm the feature film (which is still in the financing stage as of this writing)--no hint as to whether or not it will be animated or live-action.

Three volumes of "Blacksad" are available to English readers ( (two serials, one a sketchbook compendium) , well worth investigating. Check out a sample page from the first volume here.

Alex Toth: 1928-2006

Comics legend Alex Toth (pronounced "Toath") passed away this weekend at the age of 77. The indefatigable, journeyman cartoonist died--appropriately enough--at his drawing table. While he never achieved household name status ala Neal Adams, Frank Miller, or Todd McFarlane, his work was probably enjoyed by more people than those artists combined: after a respectable career in syndicated strips and comics, Toth designed for Hanna Barbera throughout the 60s and 70s on such classic Saturday morning staples as "Johnny Quest", "Super Friends", and "Space Ghost". His work on the latter was resurrected for Cartoon Network's "Space Ghost: Coast To Coast", and his short-lived s.f. series "Sealab 2020" provided the basis for the hilarious "Sealab: 2021". He was also an outspoken critic of his field, and was vocal in his dislike of hand-painted comics and (what he felt was) the medium's overall deterioration into "pointless nihilism" and "mature content".

Check out Toth's gallery from his official site, and read The Comics Reporter's eulogy to a great one here.

28 May 2006

Perfect For Another "Hollow Man" Sequel!

Fans of Steve Guttenberg's "The Man Who Wasn't There" who have endured decades of persecution can now rejoice in their collective prescience: MSNBC reports that an "invisibility cloak" might be a reality sooner than we thought--that is, for those of us who actually sit around pondering such things. Researchers say they are rapidly closing in on new types of materials that can throw a cloak of invisibility around objects, using "real-life" technologies. Of course, the military will be the first to benefit--possibly as soon as within 18 months.

Two separate research groups have posted papers detailing their respective theoretical methods for creating invisibility. One involves superlenses that cancel out the light from nearby objects, while the other proposes actual cloaks onto which video can be projected as a moving camouflage. Still other theories are based on "metamaterials," blends of polymers and tiny coils or wires that twist the paths of electromagnetic radiation (University of Pennsylvania's Nader Engheta published his own invisibility recipe last year).

If these geeks want the public on their side, they'd better enlist Jessica Alba as their poster girl, now...

26 May 2006

They Only Do It Because They Love You

I admit it, I miss my video iPod. I bought the 20G model early this year, paraded it around the workplace, watched "Wondershozen" and Bryan Singer "Superman" diaries at my workstation, took it to Costa Rica where I chuckled to Ricky Gervais podcasts poolside while searing my pasty Canadian flesh. Couldn't watch my MP4 converted "Kill Bill Vol. 2" or "Sin City" vids beginning to end, though--the damned battery burned out after about 20 consecutive minutes of video play. Oh yeah, and I had to return my first model after only a week, when the hard drive crashed and I lost everything. Other than that, I felt it to be money well spent, until I got a tip of the (alleged) new, improved widescreen version on the horizon, got spooked, and took the little miracle back to the big yellow-n-blue box store a few hours shy of the 30 day return cut-off.

So it's now months later, and there's still no official word on this new model. Lots of rumours. Lots of excuses. Worst of all, I'm having to make due with my el-lame-o 256Mb RCA Lyra player, because I'm sure any day now, the brainiacs at Apple will unveil the inevitable upgrade. How am I convinced? Because Steve Jobs himself has told NBC: "If you always want the latest and greatest, then you have to buy a new iPod at least once a year." Great, Steve--'cept I've got the money, burning a hole in my pocket, and we're ending month number five of 2006. So just when are you gonna release the damn thing? Read Jobs' startling confession here.

Do Androids Dream Of Blu-Ray Or HD?

Fans of Ridley Scott's classic cybernoir "Bladerunner" have been waiting for this announcement for a long time now (roughly five times the life span of your basic Tyrell Corp. replicant): Cinematical reports that the official "director's cut" is finally on the way and will hit the rain-slicked streets this September. It'll be accompanied by a theatrical release and the inevitable boxed-set blowout so you might as well scrap that cheapo Warner disc this weekend--it's the bogus "director's cut", after all, and I'm not alone in preferring the original, albeit flawed, 1982 theatrical version (bet some of you are glad you kept your Criterion laserdisc...).

Dream of DVDs, basic pleasure models, and unicorns here. And here are two (1, 2) gorgeous montages from Drew Struzan (who should be hired to provide the packaging art...)

16 May 2006

This Is What's Known As The Seven Year Kryptonian Itch...

After months of staring at the magenta "S" and contemplating "when?"--we can final behold the official "Superman Returns" North American one-sheet, and I must say, I like it. Not sure if it'll go up on the wall of the rumpus room yet--I'll wait until after June 30th. I'm sure most of us would've preferred an Alex Ross portrait, but this comp retains the mythic vibe of the teaser trailer and isn't too heavy on the Photoshop soft-edge brush like most other posters are these days.

For those of you have forgotten what a proper superhero movie poster is supposed to look like, here's a reminder of that I consider the best: 1978's "Superman: The Movie", as rendered by the late, great Bob Peak.

13 May 2006


Reuters reports that the upcoming third season of HBO's "Deadwood" (which debuts June 11th) looks to be its last. The network has opted not to renew the cast's options on the series, which releases them to pursue other projects. "Deadwood" creator David Milch is shifting his attention to his new surfing (!) drama he's developing for HBO (well, "Big Wednesday"s John Milius did write for the network's "Rome"...)

Gandolfini's rung the death knell for "The Sopranos" on more than one occassion, and yet here we are in the midst of a sixth run, with another mini-season to come our way early next year, so let's not board up the Gem Saloon just yet. All I know is--IMHO, "Deadwood" is "The Sopranos" dirt-encrusted equal in every department, and my current vote for the best damn dramatic thing ever aired on the ol' idiot box, with the possible exception of the original "The Prisoner"--and I'm gonna miss the profane poetry of Al Swearengen's philosophical musings, the anachronistic (but never gimmicky) music cues, and the show's masterful turns from absurdist comedy to gut-wrenching tragedy. All of this in the form of a western--long considered a moribund genre.

While you're fuming, check out this hombre's homemade Al Swearengen statue here. Where the @#**%!!! can I get one of these?

11 May 2006

Lutz Runs Out In Vegas

George Lutz, likely the most famous (former) resident of Amityville, New York, died yesterday at the age of 59. And despite his association with one of the last century's most enduring (alleged) supernatural ordeals--alas, his passing was due to something all-too-earthbound: heart disease. In 1975, the former land surveyor moved into a three-story Long Island home on 13 Ocean Avenue with his wife and three children, about one year after Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered his family there. According to Lutz' best-selling account, "The Amityville Horror" (written with Jay Anson), the family fled after 28 days when spirits attacked and all hell literally broke loose. C'mon, you've seen the 1979 movie: Jodie the phantom pig, screaming Helen Shaver, oozing walls, flies, James Brolin's home perm, Rod Steiger's histrionics--why did they stay so long?

(Annoying autobiographical pause: I'll never forget that during my university years, I spent several hours late one night watching Dr. Gene Scott read from Anson's book...)

Lutz stuck to his remarkable tale until his last days--even though DeFeo's defense lawyer admitted to the press that he and Lutz dreamed up the whole thing over several bottles of wine (Lutz once confessed in an interview that the story was "mostly" true...). When a second adaptation of his book was released last year, Lutz was miffed that he wasn't asked to participate and was reportedly planning his own screen followup.

(Oh, one other thing: I knew a gal who worked at my home town movie theatre that said people would call the box office asking when "For God's Sake, Get Out!" was playing, since the tag line was displayed larger on the poster than the actual title)

You can pay your respects to Mr. Lutz at the official "Amityville Horror" website--which may or may not change your mind as to the story's validity-- here.

05 May 2006

Wanted: "Dogme 95" Auteurs With Kung Fu Grip!

Well, given that we're all just a little bit ticked off at Darth George this week over yet another DVD reissue, this item is well-timed: now you can own your own little GL to drag behind your car/landspeeder, toss into the snowblower/Sarlaac pit, melt down into a skate tightener/ restraining bolt, whatever gets yer bacta flowing..

Hasbro is offering a limited-edition action figure of Georgie in full Stormtrooper regalia, albeit on with his 70s-era hair and waistline (this isn't the first time Lucas' likeness has inspired a toy--Hasbro confirmed his visage was previously used in an action figure called "George Sacul"). Now for that "bad feeling" you've all had about this: The Lucas figure is only available to participants in something called "Hasbro's Ultimate Galactic Hunt", in which fans must show proof-of-purchase of five vintage "Star Wars" action figures in order to score the Lucas trooper.

Lucas isn't the first director to have his own action figure: there's Peter Jackson as a hobbit from the "Lord Of The Rings" line, Quentin Tarantino as a "Crazy 88" from "Kill Bill, Vol. 1", Kevin Smith of course, Andy Warhol, Warren Beatty ("Dick Tracy"), Steve Buscemi, Terry Jones as "Mandy" from "Life Of Brian" (which he also directed), and even Steven Seagal (he did helm, unfortunately, "On Deadly Ground").

I waited for a Dickie Attenborough from "Jurassic Park", but it didn't happen. Nor did a Francois Truffaut from "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind". Wouldn't an official line of plastic, poseable auteurs be just the thing for obsessive film junkies who've got it all? Just think, your very own Alfred Hitchcock playset, with Tippi Hendren sold separately, whom you could torture with marathon bird attacks. Or a Werner Herzog/Klaus Kinski limited edition "Fitzcarraldo" kit where you disassemble the ship, pull it up a mountain, and rebuild it on the other side. And what Criterion completist could resist a talking Jean-Luc Godard doll that spews Marxist rants?

04 May 2006

"Number Six, Why Did You Resign As Dr. Who Number Nine?"

Patrick McGoohan's 1967 masterpiece "The Prisoner" is set to be remade into a six-part "thrilling reinvention", with former "Dr. Who" Christopher Eccleston to portray the titular character, the enigmatic and indefatigable "Number Six".

McGoohan's witty, paranoia-drenched deconstruction of Cold War-era spy melodramas ran for 17 episodes on ITV, and, for me, remains at the top of my list of all-time favorite dramatic television series. As a kid in the 70s, I happened upon a rebroadcast of the hallucinatory final episode, and had no idea what the hell was going on, but fell in love with it immediately. I remember when TVOntario ran the series once a week and concluded each installment with a commentary/analysis by Werner Troyer--in an era where sci-fi and fantasy programming was rare, British fare like "The Prisoner" and Gerry Anderson's "UFO" and unfairly-maligned "Space:1999" helped stimulate the imagination with something other than "Star Trek" and "Lost In Space" reruns until Lucas and Spielberg came along.

The new "Prisoner" series will be produced by Granada, from a pilot script by Bill Gallagher, writer of the series "Clocking Off" (I confess, I've not seen it). The producers promise a long list of "A-list" talent are seeking involvement with the re-invention.

"Like '24', the new series will entrap you from the opening scene", promises executive producer Damien Timmer. "We hope it will tap into this iconic show's existing cult following, whilst creating a whole new generation of fans." No word on whether or not McGoohan will be involved--he was cool enough to voice a parody of his character on "The Simpsons" a few years back.

Check out this piece on "The Village" itself, in actuality Sir Clough Williams-Ellis "Portmeirion" resort in North Wales (thanks, Phil L!).

Thanks George...


..I know you're busy n' all, working on that "Star Wars" 300 episode syndicated series and all those avant-garde experimental films you've been talking about since 1972 before a certain space opera saga "got in the way" of your career plans (what was it John Lennon said: "Luke happens when you're busy making other plans"...?). But I think I can speak for all aging fans of your original trilogy--those of us old enough to remember that first "Famous Monsters" cover story and the first printing of the Alan Dean F...er...your novelization with the Ralph McQuarrie cover and the Super-8 digest that's mostly Ben Kenobi talking and the audiobook vinyl record narrated by James Earl Jones and the stupid Marvel Comics spinoff with the talking humanoid green bunny and who were inspired to run off to film school to follow in your footsteps--but we wanted this two years ago! But okay, okay, no hard feelings--I'll be picking my copies up on Sept. 12 and it'll be thrilling n' all to see Han Solo shoot first again and to hear the Sy Snootles number in its original form--but when will I be able to purchase the version I can plug directly into my head so I can stop buying these bloody things over and over and over...?

03 May 2006

At Least It'll Take The Heat Off Of Rockstar Games...

"100 Bullets", the consistently-brilliant monthly comic written by Brian Azarello and illustrated by Eduardo Risso (I've never missed an issue, why haven't you?), will come to three-dimensional/interactive life in mid-2007. D3Publisher of America and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment will release videogames based upon Vertigo Comics crime series, for the console, handheld, and PC games platforms. Expect many politicians and hysterical housewives to have a conniption...

"100 Bullets has all the elements necessary to translate exceptionally well into video games," says Careen Yapp, VP of licensing and business development of D3PA. "Taking the thrilling story elements and incredible action from the comic series and incorporating explosive gameplay will make an exciting game for fans and gamers," said Scott Johnson, VP of business development for Warner Interactive Entertainment.

What Yapp and Johnson are trying to say is that "100 Bullets" is all about the never-dull subject and oh-so-game-friendly concept of revenge, and the bullet ballets that ensue. The setup of each "100 Bullets" arc is simple: when someone has been wronged in some (usually extreme) way, the mysterious Agent Graves appears and and offers him/her an attache case containing the identity of the person who ruined their life, irrefutable evidence of their injustice, a handgun, and yes, 100 untraceable bullets. The candidates are neither rewarded nor punished for taking up the offer, and receive nothing more than closure for their actions. Readers are rewarded with Azarello's witty and poetically-profane dialogue, outrageously operatic plots, and Risso's astonishing layouts.

Some of you may remember an earlier attempt to release a "100 Bullets" videogame, back in 2004, when the now-defunct Acclaim Entertainment had rights to the title. Before the company went bankrupt, a promising trailer and some juicy game screens were released--you can check them out here while they last.

The latest "100 Bullets" collection--"Strychnine Lives"--has just been released.

02 May 2006

And Thankfully, No Black Eyed Peas Cover Of "Can You Read My Mind"...

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who 'get' the advance teaser for Bryan Singer's upcoming "Superman Returns", and those who don't. If you're in the latter camp--good god people, how can you not feel a frisson of wonder upon hearing Brando's narration over Williams' "Krypton" theme, punctuated by quick glimpses of a century's worth of Superman iconography (the "s" curl, the Kent mailbox, the blur of red and blue)? Well, today you get another chance to get with the program: a second official trailer has been released, this one giving us a bit more of a sense of the film's plot, tone, and character dynamic, and above all, a chance to hear Brandon Routh speak (he looks and sounds more than a little like Tom Cruise circa "All The Right Moves"). The production design has a nice "Sky Captain"/art-deco feel to it, and the flying scenes fulfill their promise. Now all that's needed is an actual story worthy of the character. Singer has shown us twice before that he knows what he's doing with this sort of material (his "X-Men" entries, 'natch)--so I've got a good feeling the Man Of Steel is in good hands...

Behold, the Last Son Of Krypton here.

01 May 2006

"Loving You Is My Job, Larry"

He said season 5 would be his last, and he came this close to killing himself off in the last episode, but Larry David seems to have had a change of heart (yes, he has a heart) and reportedly is busy writing away for a possible (but not confirmed) sixth season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm". The source: only costar Jeff Garlin, who leaked the news during a Q&A at this past weekend's Tribeca Film Festival. Read the real deal about the event here (and a big round o' thanks to Ain't It Cool News for the scoop).

And since you were nice enough to stop by my site, here's a link to the "Curb" theme song--"Ein Swei March", by Renato Rascel.

And here's Larry David as a "South Park" character...(I'm done now...)

"The Karma In Winnipeg Is So Thick, You Need An Aqualung To Breathe"

Wow, today I came across a valid reason why I'd actually consider moving out west (besides the oil riches and the elfin charm of smiling Ralph Klein)--turns out Winnipeg is home to some very cool folks, who recently gathered to celebrate one of my favorite Brian DePalma films, the Faustian rock opera "The Phantom Of The Paradise", which I've pretty much spent most of my life defending. When "Phantom" was released in Winnipeg back in 1974, it became an immediate hit, and played for an astounding 62-week run.

Last weekend, the city hosted the second annual--and, regrettably, the last--"Phantompalooza" celebration. In attendance were"Swan" himself, the long MIA Paul Williams, along with his equally elusive costars William Finley ("The Phantom/Winslow Leach"), Jessica Harper ("Phoenix"--why didn't she have a musical career with those pipes?), and Gerrit Graham ("Beef"). Houseband "The Juicy Fruits" performed--who must've opened with "Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye" or I would have read of riots.

Check out the official site to see what fun you missed, and Canoe's full story here.